Saturday, 15 December 2018

Saturday of Week 1 Year 1

Every once in a while, we come across people who have mastered the art of putting on an appearance or seem to have a "poker face," where real thoughts and emotions are hidden or buried, and what is shown is merely an illusion. For example, such a person may be angry with someone or something, and the person may be fuming or seething with rage, but because the person does not want others to see the true self, the person may appear calm and pretend as if everything is fine, though in reality, the anger is eating him or her from the inside.

While we may be able to appear in a certain way and give others a false impression, one thing we ought to realise is we cannot fool God. Today's reading reminds us of this fact: "The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely: it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts. No created thing can hide from him; everything is uncovered and open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give account of ourselves."

So let us not be naive to think that nobody knows our thoughts and actions, since God is watching us. Instead, let us cast aside our falsehoods and be real and genuine, while doing our best to remain in God's care and guidance, for the betterment of our eternal future.

Monday of Week 1 Year 1

It is not easy for some of us to let go of something. For example, some of us find it difficult to let go of our wealth and property; some find it difficult to let go of our children or loved ones; some find it difficult to let go of our habits or certain ways of doing things; others find it difficult to let go of their pride, prejudices or pre-conceived notions. But what do we Christians need to let go of?

In today's Gospel, Jesus said to Simon and his brother Andrew: ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him. Jesus also called James son of Zebedee and his brother John at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him. Notice that when Jesus called, these men were willing to let go of all, including their families, relations and livelihood to follow Jesus.

What about us? If Jesus were to call us to follow Him, are we willing to let go of certain things, even to the extent of letting go of all, or are we still clinging on to certain things, come what may? May we be willing to let go of our old lives, and put on a new life in Christ, trusting in His providence and care, and glorifying Him in all we say and do.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Saturday after Epiphany

How many of us have trust and confidence that God listens to our prayers? Perhaps we may say that we have trust and confidence, but how many of us would have trust and confidence that God would answer our prayers? Perhaps this is where our trust and confidence may be tested, since God does not necessarily answer our prayers according to our expectations or demands, but according to His will and for His purposes. When God answers our prayers in a way quite different to what we hope for or expect, would we still let His will be done?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "We are quite confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything, and it is in accordance with his will, he will hear us; and, knowing that whatever we may ask, he hears us, we know that we have already been granted what we asked of him." The reading tells us that God listens to our prayers in accordance with His will, not ours, and that if we ask for something in accordance with His will, then we can be confident that He will hear us. The question is: are we asking in accordance with His will, or is what we are asking for laced with self-interests and self-centered desires?






Saturday, 13 October 2018

Saturday of the 2nd Week of Advent

Years ago, I recall receiving an e-mail about a lady who was looking for a Mr. Right. In other words, the lady was fishing for a husband. It so happened that the lady came across a building with a sign saying: "Search a Husband Here." Also, there was another sign saying: "You can enter this building only once and stop at each floor only once." The building had 7 floors and the lady excitedly entered the lift at the ground floor. When the lift reached the first floor, the doors of the lift opened and the lady saw a sign in front of her saying: "Enter here for a husband who is handsome and strong." The lady decided to remain in the lift, curious to know what the next floors would be. At the second floor, the sign in front of her said: "Enter here for a husband who is handsome, strong, and a good cook." The sign at the third floor said: "Enter here for a husband who is handsome, strong, a good cook, and loves children." The lady became more and more curious and excited, and she decided to remain in the lift and see what the other floors would reveal. As she reached the fourth, fifth and sixth floor, the sign in front of her on each floor revealed even more fantastic capabilities and attributes of the men supposingly to be found at each floor. Finally the lady reached the seventh floor and when she got out of the lift, all she saw was a flight of stairs going down, and a sign which said: "No men can be found here, since no men could ever meet your expectations at this level."

Today’s gospel tells us about a Mr. Right, the right man to foretell the coming of the Messiah. According to the scribes, the prophet Elijah is the right person to prepare the coming of the Messiah, since they believed that Elijah was the precursor of the Messiah, and that Elijah was a terrible man preaching doom and destruction. Yet when John the Baptist came and announced the coming of the Messiah, somebody greater than him, the scribes did not accept him as Mr. Right. For them, John’s person and message was not up to their expectations. He preached about baptism and personal conversion, not about the terror that will go with the day of the Lord. For them John was not Elijah, not Mr. Right. Yet, the irony is, John actually turned our to be Mr, Right, not according to our expectations, but according to God's plans.

What about us? Have our expectations clouded us and prevented us from accepting the message of John the Baptist, the actual Mr. Right, and prepare the way for the Lord? May we open our eyes, ears and hearts, so that we would be able to let the message of John the Baptist change us, so that we would learn to walk in God's ways and glorify Him in all we do.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

When we were young, some of us may have seen movies concerning the 10 commandments. We were also reminded in Catechism classes, during Mass and in various church activities about the 10 commandments, and how the 10 could be categorised into two, as Jesus mentioned in today's Gospel: "This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these."

However, if we examine today's readings and Gospel carefully, we would realise that actually, there is really only one commandment: “Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” This is the greatest and only commandment. All other commandments flow from this great commandment, the source of all commandments. If we are able to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength, then we don’t have to worry about the others, since we would naturally obey and follow the other commandments.

But are we really following this great commandment? If we examine our lives, we may come to realise that we may be actually breaking the first commandment of loving God. How so? Whenever we are hit with misfortune, some of us may have run to temples. Others resort to feng shui, or divination and crystals to ward off bad luck or for protection, instead of depending on and trusting in God's help. Also, some of us have made other objects our gods. For some it could be money, while for others possession. There are some who consider power as their god. Whenever, we do any of these, we have broken the first commandment.

So what do we do? Remember what the wise scribe had to say to Jesus in today’s gospel: “To love God with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.” Total unconditional and undivided love for God is what is required of every person. In other words, we let God to be God of our lives.

What about the second commandment then – to love our neighbour as ourselves? We need to realise that it is impossible to love others as ourselves; to love others unconditionally; unless we love them with the love of God. It is only when we place all our love unconditionally with God will we be able to love others as God loves them. Thus, let us pray that we will listen to Jesus' voice, inviting us to love God with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength, so that we may truly love our neighbour as ourselves.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Friday of the 1st Week of Advent

I once sat next to a blind beggar and observed him as he was trying to beg for a few ringgit. I was quite amazed at how this blind beggar had developed a heightened sense of touch, hearing and smell, even though he could not see. Just by the sound of a coin dropping onto his bowl, he could decipher correctly how much it was. By feeling the paper money, he could tell a RM1 note from a RM5, RM10 or RM100.

Today’s Gospel tells us about two blind men following Jesus and crying out. They might not see Jesus, but their heightened sense of hearing led them to Jesus. When Jesus entered a house, they approached him there, since their heightened sense of hearing and smell helped them encounter Jesus directly. Not only that, when Jesus asked if they had faith in him to heal them, they responded positively. Because the blind men had complete trust and faith in Jesus, they were healed of their blindness and their sight returned.

What about us? Would we have faith and trust in Jesus to heal us, especially from our spiritual blindness? Even though we may be able to see clearly, we may be spiritually blind, especially when we sin, when we have ego and pride in our hearts. May we, like the beggars in today's Gospel, have complete faith and trust in Jesus, and be regular in going for confession and receiving Him daily at Mass, so that Jesus can heal us and enable us to physically and spiritually see clearly once again.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Saturday of Week 34 Year 2

A lot of diseases such as heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes can be prevented and controlled. What is important is we need to be disciplined in our diet and keeping our weight and stress levels in control. But for some of us, when it comes to preventive measures, we don't usually see the benefits of being vigilant. So what happens? Some of us begin to slacken and not take care.
Then while we are lying on the hospital bed in pain, then only we start regretting for not taking care of our health and our body.

The same also goes for our soul and our eternal future. Jesus in today's Gospel warns us: "Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap." If we are not vigilant; if we slacken in our spiritual health and allow sin to permeate in our soul and neglect to cleanse ourselves from sin by going for confession, we may find ourselves regretting for not taking care of our spiritual health. By then, it may be too late, and we may find ourselves away from God.

So let us not neglect our health and our body, and at the same time let us not neglect our spiritual health, lest we find ourselves suffering physically or even spiritually. Let us remain vigilant and watch ourselves, so that when the time comes, we would be better prepared to meet the Lord.

Monday of Week 34 Year 2

Being a widow or even an orphan during the time of Jesus was no easy experience. Society at the time of Jesus was such that the man of the house was the sole breadwinner, and the wife and children were totally dependent on him. To be a widow meant having to fend for herself and maybe even to depend on public charity, and sometimes little or even no help is given. Thus, being a widow or an orphan meant being part of a vulnerable and defenseless people.

In today's Gospel, we come across a poverty-stricken widow putting in two small coins into the treasury. Despite the fact that the widow was extremely poor, she was still willing and generous to put in, from the little she had, all she had to live on. Jesus in turn gave everything He had, all He could give, just to save us. If the widow and Jesus could give everything, what about us? Would we be willing and generous to surrender it all to God and for the growth of the church?

Friday, 24 August 2018

Saturday of Week 33 Year 2

We sometimes here people saying words like: "a thorn in my side."  What they basically mean is that someone or something has been continually causing problems for them, and the sooner they are able to get rid of such problems, the better. For example, some couples may have had money problems as a thorn in their side since the day they got married; or health inspectors are a thorn in the side of most restaurants; or custom officers have been a thorn in the side of crminals involved in smuggling activities due to raids and confiscation of smuggled goods.

In today's reading, we come across another example of a "thorn in my side." In the reading, two prophets who have been a plague to the world, were finally killed by the beast that comes out of the Abyss. This caused the people of the world to be glad about it, since they thought that the "thorn in their sides" have been finally gotten rid of. But God had other plans, and "after three-and-a-half days, God breathed life into them and they stood up, and everybody who saw it happen was terrified; then they heard a loud voice from heaven say to them, ‘Come up here’, and while their enemies were watching, they went up to heaven in a cloud." The thorn in the sides of the people of the world could not be silenced or stopped, since God is with them.

What does this mean to us? As Christians, we are called to be "a thorn in the side" of others, especially when it comes to doing what is right and just. We may face troubles or presecution, or even put to death, but we should not be worried or concerned, and continue being "a thorn in the side," since what we are doing is not for our own gratification or glory, but for the glory of God.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Saturday of Week 32 Year 2

What does it mean to be a Christian? Some say that being a Christian means following the ways of Christ; some think that being a Christian means praying and observing church laws and precepts; some think that being a Christian means to reach out to the poor, marginalised, destitute, the lost, the little, and so on. All these efforts are good and they have their purpose, but perhaps one area which some of us should look at is supporting the mission of the church, especially in funds contributed and other supporting roles, so that those doing mission could focus on their duty.

Today's reading reminds us that "It is our duty to welcome missionaries and contribute our share to their work." This means that we not only need to encourage and support them, we also need to see to their upkeep and for other works of charity they may endeavour. As we know, doing God's work involves expenses, as nothing is free, and the more we are willing to contribute to missionary efforts, the more people can be sent to reach out to others, especially in areas where some of us may not be able to go ourselves.

Thus, we need to ask ourseves: are we contributing fairly and generously for the growth of the church and for its missionary efforts? Sometimes the little extra we offer could go a long way towards helping the church to continue in its efforts in bringing the Good News to all.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Wednesday of Week 32 Year 2

Two angels were sent to gather the prayers of petitions and the prayers of thanksgiving from the people. One angel had a basket to collect the people's needs and requests, and the other angel had a basket to collect the thanksgivings. When both angels had completed their rounds, the angel carrying the basket of people's needs and requests was full and overflowing, whereas the angel carrying the basket of people's thanksgiving was light, as there were very few thanksgiving prayers. Seems surprising, but the reality is that some people are more concerned about their needs and wants rather than the need to give thanks.

In today's Gospel, we see a similar situation. Ten lepers were cured by Jesus, but only "one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him." The question we need to ask ourselves is this: have we become so accustomed to only asking for help, and expecting to receive help sooner or later or even think that we are entitled to receiving help, that we have taken for granted the help we have received and neglected to give thanks? Have we become demanding in expecting our needs and wants to be fulfilled, and failed to be appreciative and be grateful and thankful when such needs and wants are fulfilled?

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Saturday of Week 31 Year 2

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Organisations use KPIs at multiple levels to evaluate their success at reaching targets.When it comes to our spiritual life, we also have a form of KPI which we need to watch out for. What sort of KPI are we talking about?

In out spiritual life, one KPI of our spiritual condition and relationship with God, is connected to our relationship wirh money: do we use money or do we serve money? One good example of how one should use money and not serve money is St. Paul. In today's reading, St. Paul tells us: "I have learnt to manage on whatever I have, I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength."

What about us? Have we learnt to be like St. Paul and use money for the glory of God? Or have we allowed ourselves to become enslaved by money and serve money? May we come to realise our spiritual situation, and do something while we have the time and opportunity to do so.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Wednesday of Week 31 Year 2

Some people think that following Jesus is easy. Such persons are taught that all they need to do is to accept Jesus as their personal saviour and that is all: no challenges, no suffering, and they think that they have gotten a lifetime membership with Jesus. But the reality is that following Jesus is not as easy as it seems. There are certain conditions attached to following Jesus.

In today's Gospel, Jesus puts three conditions for those who want to follow Him. They are: 1) "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and his mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple," 2) "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple," 3) "anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple." The first condition means that we should never love anyone else or even ourselves more than Him. The second condition gives new meaning to the word "cross," where it means 'suffering. 'Bearing one's own cross' means to be willing to suffer for the sake of Jesus. The third condition does not mean we cannot have wealth, but it means we must not allow the accumulation and possession of things to come between us and God.

All these conditions sound impossible to observe, doesn't it? That is why, as the Gospel also tells us, we need to count the cost and think carefully before we commit to becoming Jesus' disciples. Being a disciple would be difficult, and some of us may be tempted to give up. But let us not give up or despair, as we have Jesus to help and guide us. Let us persevere as Jesus' disciples, as the rewards are out of this world.

Tuesday of Week 31 Year 2

We sometimes come across people who think that their qualifications or social status gives them the right to certain privileges or benefits. Some of such persons even go to the extent of belittling others, or look down on others, just because they think others are not up to their standards or expectations. By behaving in such a manner or having such attitude, are we showing good example as Christians? What sort of attitude should we have as Christians?

In today's reading, St. Paul tells us about Jesus: "His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross." Even though Jesus was God, he chose humility and to serve others, instead of lording over others and behaving in a proud or conceited manner. Are we willing to be humble and follow Jesus' ways?

Saturday of Week 30 Year 2

What is a dilemma? A dilemma is a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially ones that are equally undesirable. For example, we may have heard of the expression, "between the devil and the deep blue sea," or "between a rock and a hard place," where either choice would lead to undesirable results, but at the very least, one result could be less difficult to accept compared to the other.

In today's reading, St. Paul spoke of a dilemma. But St. Paul's dilemma was of a different kind, where there were two options or possibilities and both of which were good for him. St. Paul's dilemma, was like a best case scenario or even a "happy" dilemma, where remaining alive would enable him to guide and strengthen the community, while remaining in Christ; or facing death which would mean that he would be forever with Christ. Though St. Paul would have wanted to be forever with Christ, he also realised that to stay alive on this earth would be a more urgent need for the sake of the community. So, St. Paul chose to survive and stay, and continue to serve for the the good community and glorify God.

What about us? If we were to face a "happy" dilemma like St. Paul, would we be willing to set aside our personal desire to be forever with Christ, and continue to guide the community entrusted to us? May we continue to humbly walk in God's ways, and help others to do the same.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Tuesday of Week 30 Year 2

We sometimes take for granted small things or small matters in life. We think that such small things or small matters are not worth our time or attention. But sometimes, small things or small matters could later turn out to be big things or big matters. For example, a child misbehaves and throws a tantrum to get what he or she wants, but the child's parents think that it is a small matter, and lets the child have his or her way. Then when the child is already grown up, the parents later realise how rude or demanding the child is, and they are at a lost as to why their child has become like that. But the reality is, by giving in to the child's demands, the parents had sown the seeds of selfishness, entitlement, pride and ego into their child. By then, it is already too late, and the child's attitude and behaviour could not be changed.

Today's Gospel talks about mustard seed and yeast, which at first appear to be small things. The tiny mustard seed grows into a large tree and attracts numerous birds seeking food and shelter. Yeast is a powerful agent of change, and when it is added to dough, transformation takes place and produces rich wholesome bread when baked. God’s kingdom also works in a similar way, starting what seems small in the hearts of men and women who are receptive to God’s word.  It works unseen and causes transformation from within.

What do we learn from this? We learn that small things can become great, when we cultivate patience, fortitude and hope. We must be patient and hopeful and with God's grace, wait for the planted seed to grow and gradually become a tree. May we do our part in building God's kingdom, no matter how small our part may be, so that God could transform what seems small into something great, for His glory.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Saturday of Week 29 Year 2

Some people think that they can buy their way to heaven. In certain so-called Christian sects, such persons are taught that the more they give their wealth and property, the more blessings they would get from God, and the more wealthy they would become. Such teaching seems to imply that the poor and the destitute would never have a place in heaven, since heaven seems reserved only for those who have the wealth and clout. But is this true Christian teaching? Does God favour only those who are rich and wealthy?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "Then we shall not be children any longer, or tossed one way and another and carried along by every wind of doctrine, at the mercy of all the tricks men play and their cleverness in practising deceit. If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow in all ways into Christ, who is the head by whom the whole body is fitted and joined together, every joint adding its own strength, for each separate part to work according to its function. So the body grows until it has built itself up, in love."

The reading reminds us that it is through living by the truth and love that we shall grow in all ways into Christ. The reading also cautions us not to be so easily tossed one way and another and carried along by every wind of doctrine, at the mercy of all the tricks men play and their cleverness in practising deceit. What this means is we should take care to follow the ways of Christ, and not allow ourselves to be influenced by certain so-called Christian sects, who preach contrary to the Gospel. May we be prudent and walk in Christ's ways, glorifying Him in all we do.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Tuesday of Week 29 Year 2

Some people think that having patience refers to how long someone can wait, but perhaps another way of looking at patience is about how well someone is able to behave and conduct themselves with integrity and with justice and fairness, while they wait. For example, supposing two persons are planning to get married, and one needs to go away for work or for some important reason for quite a while. While waiting, one or even both persons could get involved in another relationship, or flirting may occur, or even cheating may take place. On the other hand, if both persons are serious about their relationship and serious about marriage, then they would lovingly keep on waiting with patience until the loved one returns.

In today's Gospel, Jesus teaches us the meaning of true patience: "See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes." By waiting faithfully and lovingly, the servants would later discover a reward beyond their expectation - their master will even serve them upon his return.

If those who are faithful to Jesus are rewarded beyond their expectation, then how do we treat those who have been faithful to us? Do we reward them beyond their expectation, and also be just as loving and faithful to them? Or have we taken them for granted, or even taken advantage of them?

Monday, 13 August 2018

Saturday of Week 28 Year 2

When important people or VIPs (Very Important Persosn) are invited to a function or an occasion, we often recognise the presence of such important people by saying sentences like: "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are proud to acknowledge the arrival and presence of so and so in our gathering tonight. Let us welcome them with a thunderous applause." We take pride in their being with us not only for their importance and the position they hold in the community, but also for the outstanding works they may have contributed to the community, for the exemplary lives they may have lived and for the difference they may have made in the lives of many.

But when it comes to Jesus, do we have the same pride just like we have with important persons, more so especially since Jesus is our saviour, our Lord and God? Do we acknowledge with pride and conviction Jesus' presence in our lives before others? Do we acknowledge the difference that our Lord Jesus has made in our lives? Or have we become shy or fearful to mention about Jesus, even though He is not shy or fearful towards us?

In today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us: "I tell you, if anyone openly declares himself for me in the presence of men, the Son of Man will declare himself for him in the presence of the angels. But the man who disowns me in the presence of men will be disowned in the presence of God’s angels." May we be enthusiastic and joyful in declaring Jesus in the presence of men, and give Him all the glory.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Saturday of Week 27 Year 2

No matter where we go, we would encounter laws and regulations. Each country, each state, each city, town or suburb would have certain laws that need to be observed, for the good of all. Such laws are supposed to protect those who follow what is stipulated and also deters wrong-doing. Thus, the law is like our guardian and it is expressed in the form of law-enforcement officers, and sometimes the courts may come into the picture.

In today's reading, St. Paul said that the Law was the guardian of the people until Jesus Christ came along and then they could be justified by faith. The Law was there for the people to keep to it and follow it. Yet the problem here seemed like in just keeping to the precepts of the Law, people could be doing so without any faith and only out of fear, instead of out of love and out of a desire to grow closer to God. With Jesus, we are justified by faith and are no longer under the law as our guardian, but we become sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

The question we need to ask ourselves is this: are we still stuck in keeping the law out of fear and just to get ourselves out of trouble; or have we grown in faith in Jesus, and keep the law out of love, and also observe the law of love in all we say and do?

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Friday of Week 27 Year 2

When it comes to learning music, such as learning to play the piano or guitar or violin, there needs to be study of theory and practical. Without theory, we may not understand or appreciate what constitutes acceptable or good music, and the practical aspect may be compromised. Theory without practice would not bring us anywhere, since we may know the theory of music, but we would not know how to play the instrument. Thus in music, both theory and practical are needed, so that we would be able to harmonise and improve our musical talent.

In today's reading, St. Paul emphasised faith in Jesus Christ over the blind practice of the Law. The blind practice of the Law without having faith in God would result in the meticulous keeping of  rules and regulations, just as one would only be blindly learning music theory without having a clue about why we are doing so and how we could put such theory to good and practical use. It becomes like a "monkey see, monkey do" situation. This would lead to a contradiction on what we say and do, compared to what we are supposed to believe in.

Thus, let us not just blindly follow rules or blindly have faith, but have some proper formation on our faith, so that we would have some understanding of what we believe in and why we believe. In doing so our faith in Jesus would grow and mature as we walk in His ways.

Saturday of Week 26 Year 2

Nowadays I notice more and more people becoming proud and arrogant in their attitude and behaviour. For example, I see people driving on the road as if the road belongs to them, or they think they can weave in and out of traffic to get to where they want, with little regard for the safety of others. Some drive big vehicles or four wheel drive vehicles, and think that the size of their vehicle entitles them to bully other vehicles or cut into other people's lane. All these incidences and attitude make me wonder... have some people lost their sense of politeness, courtesy and especially humility? Humility is the quality of having a modest or low view of one's importance, and it seems as if more and more people are forgetting their humble beginnings, as they become more affluent, or are supposingly having higher education, or they think they have better standing in society.

In contrast, today's reading tells us of Job's humility. The reading tells us: "This was the answer Job gave to the Lord: I know that you are all-powerful what you conceive, you can perform. I am the man who obscured your designs with my empty-headed words. I have been holding forth on matters I cannot understand, on marvels beyond me and my knowledge. I knew you then only by hearsay; but now, having seen you with my own eyes, I retract all I have said, and in dust and ashes I repent." Job was willing to remain humble and seek forgiveness from God, instead of sticking to his pride and ego. As a result, the reading tells us that God blessed Job with wealth, property, offspring and other things, much more than Job could ever imagine.

What about us? Are some of us still holding on to our pride and ego, with a sense of entitlement? Or have we learnt to become more like Job, willing to humble ourselves and let God be our help and guide? May we be willing to walk humbly in God's ways, and glorify God in all we say and do.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Thursday of Week 26 Year 2

One reality of doing God's work or preaching the Good News is that we may face much opposition and persecution, even the possibility of being put to death. When we are faced with such opposition and persecution, what do we do? Do we slowly lose our zeal or even give up in our efforts? Do we run away and go only to places which seem safe or where we feel accepted? Do we pick and choose where we want to serve? Or are we willing to serve fervently and with much zeal, come what may?

In today's reading, Job’s friends had initially come to console him but they ended up telling him that he was being punished by God for doing wrong. Instead of being consoled by his friends, his friends persecuted him. When faced with such friends, what did Job do? Job responded to them by these words: "I know that my vindicator lives." Even though there seemed to be no sign that God cared for Job, yet Job had a spirit of abandonment to God, and had absolute confidence and trust in God.

What about us? When we are faced with difficulties or even persecutions in our lives as Christians, would we be willing to follow Job's example in having a spirit of abandonment to God, letting God take control? May we continue to do God's will with zeal and trust, and glorify Him with our efforts and with our lives.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Wednesday of Week 25 Year 2

We sometimes bring more than what is necessary when it comes to a holiday or a trip. I remember many years ago when my grandmother was younger and able to travel, and she planned to visit and stay with an uncle and his family in Singapore for a few weeks. We were at the train station in Kuala Lumpur to send her off and I was quite perplexed to see so many bags being loaded onto the train. My dad remarked: "Wow! Are you moving house or something?" Altogether, she had about 5 big bags and they were quite heavy, and I wondered how my grandmother, who was quite small sized, would be able to managed all that luggage during the trip.

In contrast to the number of luggage brought by my grandmother, Jesus in today's Gospel "called the Twelve together and gave them power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, ‘Take nothing for the journey: neither staff, nor haversack, nor bread, nor money; and let none of you take a spare tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there; and when you leave, let it be from there."

By not carrying additional or unnecessary luggage or burdens, the apostles were freer to go about doing their duty in preaching, teaching and healing, instead of being saddled or slowed down by such baggage, while being dependent on God's providence and care to keep going. When we get our priorities right and focus on what we are called to do, God would surely take care of us, and often times we may even get more than we need. Are we willing to trust and let God be in control, while we glorify Him in all we say and do?

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Saturday of Week 24 Year 2

I recall reading an article about the burning of paper gifts, paper houses with what seems to be lots of servants in them, even paper modern products such as computer, car and hand-phone, as if such products and facilities would still be needed when one dies and is in what some believe to be the afterworld. In the article, I learnt that the original intention for the burning of such items was not for the afterworld, as some seem to believe, but to remind one of impermanence and detachment from such things, since such things cannot be physically brought with us when we die.

In today's reading, we see a similar situation about not being too concerned with things on earth, as such things are also impermanent and one should be detached. The reading tells us: "Someone may ask, ‘How are dead people raised, and what sort of body do they have when they come back?’ They are stupid questions. Whatever you sow in the ground has to die before it is given new life and the thing that you sow is not what is going to come; you sow a bare grain, say of wheat or something like that, It is the same with the resurrection of the dead: the thing that is sown is perishable but what is raised is imperishable; the thing that is sown is contemptible but what is raised is glorious; the thing that is sown is weak but what is raised is powerful; when it is sown it embodies the soul, when it is raised it embodies the spirit."

Just as a seed dies and transforms into something better, our bodies too will die, decay and eventually turn to dust, but our souls will become better and glorious, especially if we have been maintaining a good relationship with God. This is why we should make more effort in growing in relationship with God, and not be too concerned with worldly wealth and power, since such things won't last. Are we putting our priorities right, and letting God be our guide and happiness?

Thursday of Week 24 Year 2

It is easy for some of us to become attracted and distracted by so called church teaching from various other sources. We sometimes lose focus on what is true, genuine church teaching, because the teaching we read or hear from such other sources appears to come from some so-called authoritative figure, or the teaching itself seems appealing to us, or such teaching seems to satisfiy our interpretation of what being church and being a follower of Christ means. But how do we know for certain whether such teaching is genuine or bona fide?

One way of ensuring that such church teaching is genuine is to read or hear such teaching from certified or official sources, and such teaching should jive or flow from the apostles, as St. Paul reminds us in today's reading: "Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, the gospel that you received and in which you are firmly established; because the gospel will save you only if you keep believing exactly what I preached to you – believing anything else will not lead to anything." As we can read, St. Paul is telling us that he is the genuine authoritative figure, instead of listening to so called other authoritative figures who may only lead us astray.

So what does this mean to us? It means that we must be prudent and discern what we read or hear, and scrutinise the source of such teaching. This is to ensure that we do not lose our way in our faith, and we should also guide others so that they too will not lose their way. May we make every effort to ensure we read and hear only true and genuine teaching, and share such genuine teaching to all.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Wednesday of Week 24 Year 2

It is inevitable that no matter where one serves, no matter what one does, one would somehow have one's share of critics or people who cannot accept or agree with almost everything or even to the point of everything of what one says ot does. This is because there are people who only want things done in a certain way, or they cannot accept what another does no matter how good and just it may be, or they only accept things which meet or surpass their requirements and expectations. Anything else would only encounter the displeasure or wrath of such persons.

In today's Gospel, we see examples of how we can never satisfy or please everyone, especially when it comes to service and mission. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us: "‘For John the Baptist comes, not eating bread, not drinking wine, and you say, “He is possessed.”'The Son of Man comes, eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet Wisdom has been proved right by all her children.'"

At the end of the day, we need to ask ourselves sincerely: are we performing service and mission to please and satisfy others, or are we doing so for the Glory of God? Are we more concerned about getting praise, acceptance and recognition from others; or are we more concerned about doing God's will? May we put our priorities right, and ultimately in all we say and do, give God the greater glory.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Thursday of Week 23 Year 2

What is a scandal? A scandal is an action or event regarded as morally or legally wrong and causing general public outrage. Scandals come in many forms, including embezzlements that have ruined the good name or good reputation of banks; politicians having affairs; aid for the poor and hungry being siphoned off by the rich and those in power; even wealth of certain nations being robbed by those in power, causing such nations to end up in serious debt and poverty. Even the church has seen its share of scandals, including sex abuse cases, power struggles, schisms, heresies, certain corrupted practices for material or temporal gain, and so on. When a scandal happens, the trust and confidence of those affected could be reduced, or even to the point of being lost completely.

In today's reading, St. Paul talked about a different kind of scandal. He warned about eating foods that are sacrificed to idols, which could cause a scandal among the faithful, especially those who are weak in their faith. Some of us may think that it seems hardly a scandal, but in those times and even today, it would be enough to cause another's downfall in the faith. This is why we must always remember that whatever we do or say is not a private affair, especially when it comes to witnessing as Christians. The consequences of our unwise and imprudent words and actions could spread farther and wider than we think. May we be alert and discern what we say and do, so that we say and do what is just and right, for the glory of God.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Monday of Week 22 Year 2

Not everyone in this world is gifted in public speaking or have the gift of the gab. When it comes to speaking clearly, effectively, dynamically and captivatingly, one needs to treat public speaking as an art, and so training as well as practice is necessary. However, when it comes to preaching the Word of God, what sort of criteria do we really need? Do we apply the same criteria as public speaking? To some extent, the criteria required for public speaking applies, but there are some key differences. What sort of differences are there?

In today's reading, St. Paul said that he preached without any show of oratory or philosophy, although he did mention about great "fear and trembling." Also, when it came to preaching the Word of God, it is the power of the Holy Spirit complimented with the spirituality and conviction of St. Paul that mattered more. While St. Paul preached in a sensible and logical manner, it was more of the power of God that opened the hearts of his listeners, and so the one who preaches is merely an instrument in proclaiming the Good News and giving glory to God.

When it comes to preaching, it is tempting for us to seek attention, power and prestige, since our preaching could bring us quite a crowd. This is where we need to be humble and realise, just as St. Paul did, that ultimately, our preaching is not for our personal gratification, or to boost our ego, or to glorify ourselves, but to give all glory and honour to God.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Saturday of Week 21 Year 2

One reality in life is that, for most of us, we come to this world and go from this world without the rest of the world ever noticing us. Not many of us can become rich, popular, powerful or famous; and even if we do become rich, popular, powerful or famous, such things are only temporary. Though we try to make a name for ourselves, to desire for attention, to bask in the limelight or to be just famous and popular; all these things will one day wane or be lost.

In today's reading, we are challenged with a question: what is there to boast about? The reading reminds us: "it was to shame the wise that God chose what is foolish by human reckoning, and to shame what is strong that he chose what is weak by human reckoning; those whom the world thinks common and contemptible are the ones that God has chosen – those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything. The human race has nothing to boast about to God... As scripture says: if anyone wants to boast, let him boast about the Lord."

What does this mean to us? It means we must never allow ourselves to be seduced by riches, popularity, power or fame, and become proud, egoistic and conceited, since all these things won't last. God could take these things away from us just as easily as these things were given to us. How we stand before people is not as important as how we stand before God. May we learn to remain humble and docile, and for whatever good we do, let us give thanks and praise the Lord.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Monday of Week 21 Year 2

What is the difference between hurting someone and harming someone? Some of us think that there is no difference and the two mean the same thing, but actually, there is a difference between the two. For example, if a person stabs you at your abdomen with a knife, then that person not only hurts you but also harms you; but if a surgeon is handling that knife, then it might hurt you, especially when you wake up from anaesthesia, but it will not harm you. In our spiritual growth, telling someone a hard truth with the intention of fraternal correction might hurt that someone, but will not harm him or her, and it would actually be helping that someone.

In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus calling the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites and blind. Was Jesus hurting them? Surely. Was he harming them? Not at all. Jesus was actually giving the scribes and Pharisees a shock treatment, with hope that they may see the error of their ways and repent. But did the scribes and Pharisees get Jesus' point and change their ways? No, because they had become so obstinate, proud and conceited, so much so that they had become indifferent and oblivious to the hurt.

When we become indifferent and oblivious to the hurt like the scribes and Pharisees, we may actually be harming ourselves. How so? We may be harming ourselves spiritually, and slowly drift away from God's ways and end up doing our own thing. May we take notice of the hurt we experience in our spiritual journey, and let God transform us for our spiritual good.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Saturday of Week 20 Year 2

I find it amusing listening to people who seem to have so many ideas and suggestions to make, and yet when they are asked to carry out such ideas and suggestions, they would suddenly back off and say that they are too busy, no time, unqualified and so many other excuses made. For example, there are people who have suggested that the church needs to have a better car park system, and they even suggest that a multi-storey car park should be built to accommodate the number of parishioners cared by the church. However, when such persons are asked to take charge of such a project and see it through, they all of a sudden have cold feet and try to push the task to others. Indeed, preaching ones ideas and suggestions is easy, but carrying them out is a different matter.

In today's Gospel, Jesus told the people to listen to what the scribes and Pharisees tell them since they occupy the chair of Moses, but not to be guided by what they do, since they do not practise what they preach. The scribes and Pharisees knew how to talk, and everything they did was to attract attention and make them appear as if they were holy and pious. But being holy and pious is not just about words, but more so about action, or action speaks louder than words, or walk the talk, so to speak.

What about us? Do we know only how to talk and make suggestions and demands? Or are we willing to do our part in seeing that the task at hand is done? May we learn to be humble and zealous in doing what is right, and glorify God in all we do.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Monday of Week 20 Year 2

When we meet with an accident or have a bad fall, we may fracture our hand or leg. Such a fracture could cause tremendous pain, and we may require surgery and even have the affected leg or hand be put in a cast to enable the fracture to heal. Sometimes the fracture may take quite some time to heal, and we need to bear the pain while healing takes place. However, when we sin, do we feel the pain of a fracture in our relationship with God? Do we make effort to put our sinful ways in a cast, especially by going for confession and doing penance, so that the fracture in our relationship with God could heal over time?

In today's reading, God told the prophet Ezekiel that he was about to lose his wife but he was not to mourn or grief. The reading also tells us that God had said: "I am about to profane my sanctuary, the pride of your strength, the delight of your eyes, the passion of your souls." In other words, God will allow His Temple to be destroyed by enemies and the people were also not to mourn or grief. Why were the people not to mourn and grief? Precisely because they had sinned, and Ezekiel would be a sign to them that a fracture has occured in the relationship of the people with God, and the people would experience the pain of this fracture and learn that the Lord is God.

Just as a fracture of our hand or leg causes us tremendous pain, do we feel the pain of a fracture in our relationship with God, or have we become numb or even indifferent towards the pain? May we take responsibility for the many fractures that occur in our relationship with God, as a result of our sins, and be willing and humble to be healed by our loving Lord, even if much pain may be experienced, for the good of our eternal future.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Friday of Week 17 Year 2

It is not easy for us to stand alone when it comes to upholding truth, righteousness and good principles. We may find ourselves isolated, shunned or even despised by those around us, since we have chosen to do what is right, instead of what is popular or agreeable to others. But if we look at our lives and purpose as Christians, are we called to be accepted and popular, and in doing so commit sin? Or are we willing to stick to following God's ways, even if it means being treated as an outcast, persecuted, or even face the possibility of being put to death?

In today's reading and Gospel, we see two examples of what it takes to stand alone for what one believes in and what is right. In the reading, the prophet Jeremiah was not accepted because he only had "bad" news for the people. Even though the priests and prophets in the Temple of the Lord wanted the prophet Jeremiah dead for what he said, the prophet Jeremiah refused to budge from saying what is right. The "bad" news the prophet Jeremiah told the people was for their own good, with hope that they would change their ways and return to the ways of God. In the Gospel, Jesus highlighted that a prophet is not accepted among his own people. He too had to stand alone in the face of rejection and even opposition.

But when we stand alone for what is just and right, we are actually not alone, since God is with us. May we remain steadfast in doing what is just and right, even if it means being alone in such a task, since what we do is not for our own gratification, but for the glory of God.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Monday of Week 17 Year 2

We all know that personal hygiene is important to ensure that we live healthy lives. One aspect of personal hygiene that we pay attention to is clothing, more so when it comes to undergarments. We would ensure that we wear fresh and clean undergarments, and ensure that those that have been worn or soiled are washed and dried. Wearing used or soiled undergarments would not only cause unpleasant smells to be released, certain diseases as a result of using such used or soiled undergarments may even occur. Moreover, when we do not wash such used or soiled undergarments, such undergarments may eventually end up useless or unusable, since the dirt or soiled parts may eventually become too entrenched in the fabric to be removed. The only thing that one could do when this happens is to throw away such undergarments, since such undergarments have become spoilt, good for nothing.

In today's reading, the Lord ordered Jeremiah to get a loincloth, wear it and without washing it, hide it among some rocks and then after a time take it out. By doing so, such loincloth had obviously not only become soiled, but also unusable, spoilt, good for nothing. The reading tells us that God chose His people to be His own and He bound Himself close to them, just like a loincloth is bound close to a person. Yet they did not listen to Him and followed the dictates of their own hearts and in doing so, became corrupted like the loincloth, spoilt, good for nothing.

What about us? Are we slowly becoming like that loincloth, eventually becoming soiled, unusable, spoilt, good for nothing? May we make every effort to change our ways and grow closer to God, instead of following the dictates of our own hearts, and risk jeopardising our eternal future.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Friday of Week 16 Year 2

How loyal are we in our lives, when it comes to our family, our spouse, our workplace, in society, and even in a country? Do we seek only benefits, perks and advantages when it befits us, and when things are not to our liking or not going our way, we run away or look for alternatives? For example, if our spouse is stricken with a serious disease, would we remain loyal to him or her, or would we start looking elsewhere for gratification? When the company is facing difficult times, do we care only about ourselves and leave, looking for better prospects, or are we willing to stay and weather out the storm? When our country is going through turmoil and corruption, do we stay to do what is right and help rebuild the country, or do we run away and look for greener pastures?

It is easy for some of us to become disloyal, especially when we are more concerned only about ourselves, and perhaps our loved ones. But how many of us are willing to set aside our ego, our pride, our need for personal gratification, and remain loyal, come what may? Even when it comes to our faith, do we remain loyal when certain teachings or practices are not to our liking? Or do we run away and look for some other faith which benefits us?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "Come back, disloyal children – it is the Lord who speaks – for I alone am your Master." Ultimately, we need to choose where our loyalties lie. If we choose to remain loyal to God, then we need to come back to Him and walk in His ways. May we choose wisely and not end up following the dictates of our hearts, and in doing so, risk our eternal future.

Saturday of Week 19 Year 2

Some cultures and persons seem to think that sins committed by their parents and ancestors would cause them to be punished or greatly affected, as if such sins would be passed down throughout generations. Such cultures or persons begin to think that there is nothing they can do about it, and that the sin is beyond their control; and some begin to blame others for the situation they are in, instead of taking responsibility for themselves and striving towards change and conversion.

But the reality is this. today's reading makes it clear that God holds each individual responsible for his or her own sin. The reading tells us: "Why do you keep repeating this proverb in the land of Israel: “The fathers have eaten unripe grapes; and the children’s teeth are set on edge” 'As I live – it is the Lord who speaks – there will no longer be any reason to repeat this proverb in Israel. See now: all life belongs to me; the father’s life and the son’s life, both alike belong to me. The man who has sinned, he is the one who shall die.'" The reading also adds: "House of Israel, in future I mean to judge each of you by what he does – it is the Lord who speaks. Repent, renounce all your sins, avoid all occasions of sin! Shake off all the sins you have committed against me, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!"

So what does this mean for us? It means that we cannot find a scapegoat or put the blame on others for sins committed. We are responsible for our spiritual growth and well-being and we can choose to avoid all occasions of sin, with God's grace and help. May we make every effort to break the vicious cycle of blaming, and instead take responsibility for our words and deeds, and glorify God in all we say and do.