Friday, 11 May 2018

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Why do some of us blame others when something goes wrong? Some blame others because they desire to be recognised, appreciated and respected. Some do so because they want to appear good in the eyes of others. Some do so because they think that they are above mistakes, faults and sins. Some do so because they want to hide their true selves which they are afraid to reveal. In reality, when we blame others we are looking for a scapegoat whom we burden with our guilt. This is exactly what happened in the first reading where Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.

In today's Gospel, Jesus was teaching the people. He was told that His mother and relatives were looking for Him, and Jesus said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother." This tells us what discipleship is all about, namely, the hearing and doing the will of God. Some people seem to think that Jesus showed lack of respect for Mary by replying in this way. But that is farthest from the mind of Jesus. To Jesus, family ties are not what matters. Mary’s motherhood was important and necessary and therefore she was to be blest for it. But what really matters is to hear and do the will of God. Thus they are the ones who are blest.

By blessing those who hear the word of God and do it, Jesus has put an end to the vicious cycle of blaming. He has placed responsibility where it belongs: on our shoulders. When we allow God to enter our life, when we discover God in the hearing and doing of His will, we also discover ourselves in the process. We discover that before God, we are naked and transparent. We discover that blaming others is a form of pride and others suffer for our mistakes, faults and sins. We discover that there is nothing we can hide from Him and thus we have to be responsible for our acts. Why so? Because hearing and doing God’s will is something between God and us. He not only sees our acts but our motives, too. Blaming others does not take away the guilt from us. We may fool people but we cannot fool God. There is nothing we can hide from God. Moreover, in hearing and doing God’s will, we also discover that others, like us, are also building a relationship with God. Since we share the same goal with everyone else, we are to help instead of blaming others, so that ultimately, we are doing God’s will. Then we do not only become responsible for our acts, we also become responsible for each other, and in doing so, we become true disciples of Jesus.

How do we begin true discipleship? The beginning of discipleship is conversion: "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand." To repent and to be forgiven - to be converted - is to begin our journey to God which consists in first accepting and then doing something about our self-centredness and our sins and then letting God take over. When we accept our faults and sins and be sorry for them, we are reconciling with God which leads to reconciliation with others. It is when we embrace reconciliation with God and with others, we begin to be true disciples.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Our Lady, Mother of the Church - Memorial

What does it mean to be a church? Is a church merely a building? Of course not! A church is more than a building, since the early Christians did not even have proper buildings which we call churches today. Instead, a church is the faithful; the people of God; the community and body of Christ; united as one in love, charity, faith and prayer. There is no room for individualistic attitudes or personal agenda, since as church we are sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters in Christ.

In our church communities, we have one person who has been guiding us and praying for us and with us since the early times of Christianity. That one person is our Lady, Mother Mary. In the Gospel, when Jesus was dying on the cross, He gave Mary to the beloved disciple, and in doing so, gave Mary to us, His disciples. In the reading, we see Mary with the apostles, joined in continuous prayer. Mary did not stay aloof or keep to herself, but was there praying for and with the apostles, after Jesus was taken up into heaven. The readings show us that Mary is also our mother, and that is why we celebrate "Our Lady, Mother of the Church" today.

With Mary as our mother, let us continue to trust in her love and care, and follow her example in reaching out to others in love and prayer. Let us offer our presence as she did, to all in need, especially the sick, the aged, the destitute, the downtrodden, and many more, so that in all we do, God may be glorified.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Thursday of Week 13 Year 2

In today's reading, the prophet Amos kept warning the Israelites of the impending doom which would happen to them if they did not change their ways and return to the Lord's path. But Amaziah the priest of Bethel, influenced the king of Israel into thinking that the prophet Amos was a fraud, a fake and a troublemaker. Not only that, Amaziah dared to challenge and chase away the prophet Amos, by saying: "Go away, seer; get back to the land of Judah; earn your bread there, do your prophesying there. We want no more prophesying in Bethel; this is the royal sanctuary, the national temple." By saying so, Amaziah was convinced that God would not allow anything to happen to the nation and to the temple, since he believed that God was with the nation and resided in the temple. But what Amaziah failed to realise is that it was God who had sent the prophet Amos to warn the Israelites, and that God was not confined only to the temple.

What can be learn from this? When we are proud and egoistic, we fail to listen and take heed of God's voice and warning. We begin to think that we are ok and nothing will happen to us. But we may realise when it is too late, that we had been only fooling ourselves into complacency and a false sense of security. May we learn to walk humbly in God's ways, take heed of His promptings, and let Him be our guide.

Wednesday of Week 13 Year 2

In today’s gospel two men from the country of the Gadarenes were healed at the expense of some pigs. Jesus allowed the devils who had possessed the two men to leave the men, and enter into a large herd of pigs some distance away. As a result, "the pigs charged down the cliff into the lake and perished in the water."

When the townspeople heard what had happened, what did they do? Instead of rejoicing and being grateful to Jesus, the townspeople implored Jesus to leave. Instead of appreciating the healing and saving power of Jesus, they did not welcome Jesus into their town. Why did they respond in this way? Perhaps it may be because, the townspeople were more concerned about the loss of the pigs and the potential profits to be made. The townspeople seemed to value more about material wealth and possession, instead of Jesus' presence and salvation.

What about us? Do we value God more than our material possessions? Are we going to welcome Jesus in our lives or let Him go? Some of us may say that we value God more, but do we really mean what we say, or are we just putting on a show, while we continue to cling on to our wealth and possessions, instead of giving glory to God? May we come to realise what is more important, more valuable, and more lasting, and change our ways, while we have the opportunity and time to do so.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Wednesday of Week 10 Year 2

Just imagine for a moment you are in a room full of so-called priests who believe that their god is true and all-powerful, how would you feel and respond? Some of us would feel quite uncomfortable and may even begin to wonder whether we are in the "wrong crowd" so to speak. Some of us may fear for our lives, and some may even go to the extent of joining those so-called priests, just to save their skin. How many of us would stick to our guns, stay committed and steadfast to our faith, and let God deal with the situation, even if it means that we may face persecution, ridicule, or even death?

In today's reading, the prophet Elijah faced a precarious situation where he was confronted with 450 priests of Baal. Even though Elijah was clearly outnumbered, he also knew that he had God on his side. With confidence and trust, he challenged the priests of Baal to implore their so-called god to send down fire to burn the holocaust. In the end, it was the priests of Baal who lost the battle and had to eat humble pie, as the bull they prepared was left untouched, whereas on Elijah's side, "the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the holocaust and wood and licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this they fell on their faces. ‘The Lord is God,’ they cried, ‘the Lord is God.’"

What about us? Would we become so easily disheartened or worried when we seem to face incredible odds? Or would we be like Elijah, knowing and trusting in God's providence? May we not let ourselves falter from our faith, remain steadfast, and know that God would help us according to His terms and for His glory.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Tuesday of Week 9 Year 2

When we want something, we would go all out to get it, hopefully in a legal, fair, just and proper way. For example, if we want to win a marathon, we would train our bodies by putting lots of practice in running marathons; we would go to the gym often to tone our muscles; we would eat nutritious food so that we would build energy; we would ensure we get enough rest; and we would not give up no matter how long it takes. All these efforts are made to achieve something in this life. But what about our spiritual life? Do we take as much effort or go all out to grow in relationship with God, and prepare ourselves for that which is more permanent?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "You should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come... So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace. Think of our Lord’s patience as your opportunity to be saved. You have been warned about this, my friends; be careful not to get carried away by the errors of unprincipled people, from the firm ground that you are standing on. Instead, go on growing in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ."

What we achieve here on earth is only temporary, and may one day be forgotten or become irrelevant. But God is patiently beckoning us to come closer to Him and to walk in His ways, and attain that which is premanent or eternal. May we open our eyes and come to realise what really matters in the end, and do our best to live lives without spot or stain, so that the Lord would find us at peace and ready to meet Him, when He calls.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Saturday of Week 14 Year 2

I sometimes wonder whether we are living in an era where people are becoming more and more complacent or taking things for granted when it comes to sin. For example, when it comes to Lent and Advent, the number of faithful who come for the Sacrament of Reconciliation seems to depend on when and where confession takes place. At the beginning of Lent or Advent, the number of faithful who come for confession seem so few, so much so that at times, it seems as if the number of priests who have come to listen to confession are more than the faithful present. Yet, towards the end of Lent or Advent, the numbers seem to swell up tremendously, and the priests present find it difficult to cope. Some faithful even take their sweet time to come, sometimes quite late at night, and expect the priests to still be there.

In contrast to the way some faithful are when it comes to sin, today's reading tells us of the prophet Isaiah who had a mystical vision of the holiness of God. The prophet confessed his sinfulness, and subsequently he was cleansed and healed of his sinfulness, because he experienced the overwhelming glory of God. Not only that, the mystical experience also made him readily and willingly respond to God's call to be His messenger.

If we realise, just as the prophet Isaiah did, the magnitude of God's holiness, and how incompatible sin is to God, then surely we should make every effort to go for confession more often, instead of just waiting for Lent or Advent to come by. Have some of us become so lax or have a "tidak apa" attitude or "don't care" attitude when it comes to sin? Or have some of us have the misguided notion that sin should be accumulated into one lump sum before seeking confession? Let us not be caught off guard or unprepared, and make more effort to seek confession when possible, as our eternal future may be at stake.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Saturday of Week 13 Year 2

In the Old Testament, God raised prophets every once in a while to remind people of who they are, and how they should live and behave. When a prophet prophesises, the prophet says: "It is the Lord who speaks", to emphasise that the prophecy is not the prophet's own words or invention, but it is God who speaks through the prophet.

Today's reading not only demonstrates this point, but it also gives the people hope of the future where something wonderful is about to happen, where there will be restoration and blessings to come. However, such hope comes with conditions attached. The people are foretold of the will of God and his future plans for his people, and that they are to cooperate with God’s intentions through prayer, patience, persistence, and obeying with faithfulness. Also, the people are foretold of what needs to be done in the present, where they are to called to repentance and to go back to the ways of the Lord. This means that, in a nutshell, the people need to do their part with cooperation and repentance, for the prophecy to be fulfilled.

In our present times, such prophecies of hope were fulfilled when Jesus came, to bring us out of mourning and sadness, and lead us to rejoicing and gladness. Jesus came to save us from our sins and restore our relationship with God. The question is: are we cooperating with repentance, so that Jesus could transform us and help us?

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Saturday of Week 12 Year 2

The Temple that king Solomon built was a huge and magnificent building. Huge blocks of finest stone were used to build it, and it was decorated with gold and silver ornaments. It was the pride and glory of Israel and a belief that God dwelt in their midst in that Temple. Because the temple appeared to be impressive and seemingly indestructible, the Israelites began to have a false sense of security, and became complacent in their faith, thinking that God would always be on their side, come what may. But the Israelites were soon rudely awakened and shaken to the core, when king Nebuchanezzar of Babylon conquered Jerusalem and his army laid the Temple to waste.

This was the basis on which the book of Lamentation in today's reading tried to put into words the sorrow and grief of the people, when they realised that they had been been putting their trust and dependence in the wrong place. Instead of being faithful to God and walking in His ways, they had walked in their own ways, thinking that the Temple would always assure them of God's presence. As a result, the people realised their folly too late, and ended up in exile and captivity.

We too could also fall into the same trap. We may have become complacent in our faith, especially when we have church structures and magnificent buildings around us, and we begin to put our trust in such structures and buildings, while we continue to commit despicable acts, instead of putting our trust in God and walking in His ways. May we open our eyes and realise that we are only creating our own illusions and false sense of security, and do our best to remain at rights with God, seeking forgiveness through the Sacrament of Confession when possible, lest we too end up in exile and captivity through our own negligence.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Saturday of Week 11 Year 2

When we look at time, we know that time is divided into hours, minutes and seconds. Each second passes by one moment at a time, not too fast, not too slow, just right. Eventually, the seconds reach a point where it completes a circle, making it 60 seconds, which then becomes a minute. Likewise, each minute eventually completes a circle, making it 60 minutes, which then becomes an hour. So, as we can see, time is in no hurry and does not need to worry about completing the circle, since it eventually completes it anyway.

Today's Gospel tells us not to worry. Just as time goes through a circle, each of us go through a circle of life; and whether our circle is big, and we hope to live a long life with few problems; or the circle is small and our life is shorter due to one reason or another; it does not matter, since the circle will one day be completed according to God’s plan and providence.

The problem with some of us is we begin to worry and fret about so many things in life, that we neglect to trust in God and walk in His ways, and we do not fully enjoy the circle of life that God grants us. But the reality is, our circle in life is not in our control, and worrying and fretting will not solve anything. What's more, if we do not enjoy the many things God grants us as we move on throughout our circle of life, we may one day end up with regrets later. So instead of worrying or fretting, let us leave it in the hands of God, be grateful and thankful for the many things God grants us, and remain in His care.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Saturday of Week 10 Year 2

What is the difference between interest and commitment? When we speak about interest, we are speaking about the interest to do something only when circumstances permit; or if it is convenient to do so; or if there is some sort of incentive or benefit to it. But how many of us are willing to take it to the next level, where we become committed to the task without excuses, even if it means much inconvenience, challenges, or difficulties? For example, when we speak about preparing bacon and eggs for a meal, the chicken merely provides eggs as its involvement, since it is convenient for it to do so. But the pig has to offer its life as a total commitment, so that ham could be provided as bacon. Are we merely content in being like the chicken, providing only that which is convenient; or are we willing to be like the pig, even to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice?

In today's reading, we come across Elisha who was called by Elijah to follow him, where Elijah threw his cloak over Elisha as a sign to follow him. Elisha initially showed interest in following Elijah, by offering to follow him after kissing his father and mother. But when confronted with a choice between showing interest and making a commitment, Elisha chose to make a total commitment in following Elijah, by slaughtering the two oxen he had, using the plough to cook the oxen, and then giving the meal to his men to eat.

What about us? We say that we are followers of Jesus. We say that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. But are we following Jesus only out of interest, when it is convenient to us? Are we brothers and sisters in Christ only when it is beneficial to us? Or are we totally committed in following Jesus, walk in His ways, and truly live and behave as brothers and sisters in Christ?

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Saturday of Week 9 Year 2

It is easy for some of us to be attracted to certain so-called church teaching which appeal to our needs, wants and desires. For example, some may have become quite influenced with certain so-called church teachings, where financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one's material wealth. Quite often, such donations are to be given to the so-called church where such teaching is popularised. But if we consider rationally for a moment: can we really bribe God or try and scratch His back, expecting Him to scratch ours in return? Are such so-called church teaching what Jesus taught us?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching. The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then, instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths. Be careful always to choose the right course; be brave under trials; make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work, in thoroughgoing service."

The reading reminds and cautions us not to allow ourselves to be led astray and turn to teachings according to our tastes, or turn to myths, but remain steadfast to the truth, come what may, with patience and with the intention of teaching. May we always choose the right course; be brave under trials; and not falter in preserving the truth, while continuing to follow in the Lord's ways, and Glorify His Name.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Saturday of Week 8 Year 2

Some people think that when it comes to salvation, all they need to do is to call upon the Name of Jesus and they are saved. They are also given the impression that salvation requires a personal relationship between themselves and God. It seems as if all they need to do is to take care of themselves, to each his or her own, so to speak. But is that what Christian salvation all about? Is being a Christian an individualistic affair, where one is to be concerned only with one's spiritual growth in Christ?

Today's reading dispels many of such assumptions. The reading reminds us: "But you, my dear friends, must use your most holy faith as your foundation and build on that, praying in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves within the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you eternal life. When there are some who have doubts reassure them; when there are some to be saved from the fire, pull them out; but there are others to whom you must be kind with great caution, keeping your distance even from outside clothing which is contaminated by vice."

From the reading, we can clearly see that accepting Jesus is not enough, since one must also build on one's faith; be consistent in prayer life; remain in God's love; and be patient in waiting for the mercy of Jesus Christ. Not only that, one also needs to reach out to others, while showing kindness and mercy to those who may have become hardened in their sinful ways, but also being cautious not to allow ourselves and others to follow such sinful ways. Would we be willing and humble in our efforts to help ourselves and others to remain faithful in God's ways, and show good example to all?

Monday, 26 March 2018

圣周星期三

我们教友之中很有可能受到耻笑,一种不同形式的迫害或是侮辱。其中最令我们痛心的莫过于受到别人的出, 尤其是好友或家庭成员。你以为他们可以依靠或是信得过,可是他们扁扁反过来狠狠地咬你一口。更可恶的是他们的举止并不是反叛你那么简单,而是为了金钱地位和财产的关系,才出此下策。这种人为了得到物质上:有如金钱,财产 和名誉地位的暂时拥有欲,他们千方百计地出卖你。

正因为这种关系,耶稣在今天的福音中提到:“ 但是出卖人子的那人却是有祸的!那人若没有生,为他更好。”但一个人为了金钱,名誉,地位或财富,选择出卖另一个人时, 他已经把别人的生命看成一文不值. 天主把我们当着宝贝看待,可是那些出卖者却当我们是废物,时间到了就任由他们处置或抛弃。我们是否那么容易被金钱或利益所影响,而轻易出卖他人,最终毁掉自己的大好前途?难道这些人不觉得自己和其他人的生命,比起世俗间的金钱,财富,名誉和地位更为珍贵吗?而且这些物质的享受不过是过眼烟云而已!

圣周星期二

你们知道自己生活中的方向吗?你们的目标清楚吗?有些时候,这花花世界里的事物会误导或引诱我们偏离最终的方向。因此,有些人觉得人生不过是求生存,把孩子们抚养成人,在社会中留下一些纪念。总有一天,孩子们长大出外工作时,我们已经年老力衰,白发苍苍,体弱多病,再也无法工作而只能靠养老金或是私下储蓄来过活时,我们怎么办?何去何从?

这一切事情都会历历清楚在我们脑海里浮动。也可能好像依撒依亚先知说的,“我白白勤劳了,我枉费了气力而毫无益处。”但是,不久后他又反省地说,“但是我的权利是在上主哪里,我的报酬在我的天主面前。我在上主眼中是光荣的,天主是我的力量。”我们可能从别的方向寻找平安,喜乐和幸福,然而由始至终天主就是最好的方向。

到头来我们还是要问问自己:我们是否在生活中兜兜转转,更有时候失去方向,好像有些人应用GPS(Guna Pun Sesat:应用也迷失); 或者是已经在生活中调整自己的节奏,用偏向天乡的GPS(主是我们最丰富的资源/ 救世主。)

Sunday, 25 March 2018

圣周星期一

在世人眼光里的仆人和天主的仆人,所付出的服务都有很大的分别。普通来说, 一个人所付出的的服务都有个别的利益关系。比如说一个职员为了要讨好老板或是上司或是有关人物,不惜付出任何代价的服务。一旦该职员得偿所愿,他(她)们将会寻找另外途径,把握大权,升官发财为了得到别人的认可。类似的人将把职场的地位看成战场或是把整个世界看成是“狗吃狗” 地方。而且这种人会不惜付出任何代价或牺牲为了达到目的。他们会使出各种阴招把一切阻碍或是敌对,一一击败,弄垮,而囊括各种利益或财富,中饱私囊。

今天的读经一里,描写一个恰恰相反的上主的仆人。他所做的一切并不是为了自己的利益而是为了光荣上主,就如读经理提到:“看哪,我的仆人,我所扶持,所拣选,心里所喜悦的,我已在他的身上倾注我的神,叫他必将公理传给外邦。 他不喧嚷,不扬声,在街上也听不到他的声音。破伤的芦苇,他不折断。将熄的灯火,他不吹灭。他凭真实将公理传开。 他不灰心,也不丧胆…..” 这段经文所描述的仆人是上主所拣选和约定的仆人,和我们世俗仆人的作为有天渊之别。“我上主,因仁义召叫了你,我必提携你,保护你,立你作人民的盟约,万民的光明,为开启盲人的眼目,从狱中领出被囚禁的人,从牢里领出住在黑暗的人….” 正当世界蒙蔽我们的眼睛,好使一些人能够得利时,上主的仆人便来开启盲人的眼睛;当世界囚禁我们时,祂便来释放;当世界把我们蒙蔽在黑暗中时,祂带给我们光明。总而言之,天主的仆人所做的一切,目的在于光荣祂的圣名。

现在问题是我们如何去选择自己处世的方针:我们是否对世界观越来越沉迷?或者是越来越接近作为天主仆人应有的态度?总而言之,希望大家在寻找生活时,不要对世界观的引诱所沉迷而断送永生的道路!

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Saint Matthias, Apostle - Feast

Not many of us realise the implications of what love means. Some of us think that we are loving the way God loves us, but actually more often than not, our love has got strings attached. Our love tends to be a selfish love, a "what's in it for me" love, or a love with conditions attached. For example, some of us say that we love a person or something, but what we really mean is we like the person or thing, because the person or thing is good to us; or beneficial or advantageous to us in some way. But how should we as Christians truly love?

As Christians, we can truly love when we remain in Christ’s love, and we can remain in Christ’s love when we keep his commandments, as Jesus reminds us in the Gospel: "Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love,” Not only that, our love needs to be unconditional, even to the extent of sacrificing our lives, as the Gospel reminds us: "A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends." Love, from a Christian perspective, means that one must put Jesus and others above ourselves, even to the point of losing one's life for others.

The question we need to ask ourselves is: are we wiling to love totally, unconditionally, willingly and happily? Are we willing to truly love the way God loves us, so that Jesus' own joy may be in us, and our joy be complete? May we be docile, willing and humble in set ting aside our pride, our ego, and our prejudices, and love all completely, just as Jesus loves all completely.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Saturday of Week 7 Year 2

I sometimes come across people who appear to be praying fervently, and when asked why they are praying this way, one reason I hear is because there is some sort of trouble or sickness involved. Praying for God's help when trouble or sickness is involved, is fine, but what about times of happiness and joy? Also, what about praying for the needs and intentions of others, especially people who we don't like, or who have hurt us, or who are our enemies? Do we pray only for ourselves and those who are good to us?

Today's reading reminds us of who we should pray for and why we should pray: "If any one of you is in trouble, he should pray; if anyone is feeling happy, he should sing a psalm. If one of you is ill, he should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him. The prayer of faith will save the sick man and the Lord will raise him up again; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven."

Whether we are happy, sad, sick, or even healthy, we should pray at all times, not just for ourselves, but for others also. Not only we should pray at all times, we should also pray with faith, confident and trusting that God would help us and do what is best for us, according to His time and His purposes. Would we be willing to come humbly before Him in prayer, and let Him take control, so that His will be done?

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Saturday of the 7th Week of Easter

We know that our primary duty as Christians or followers of Christ is to proclaim the Good News. Sometimes we may have become distracted or diverted from our duty, due to various circumstances, such as family matters, sickness, a recent loss of a family member, issues at work, issues at church, and so on. However, such various circumstances ought to be seen as learning experiences to depend more on God's providence and not on our own strength.

In today's reading, St. Paul did not lament about being in chains despite his innocence, but he took the opportunity to proclaim the Kingdom of God despite wearing those chains. St. Paul stayed focused on Jesus, doing His will, and depending on His providence instead of his own strength, and avoided wallowing in his predicament or unfortunate situation.

What about us? Would we be humble and willing to stay focused on Jesus and do His will, come what may? May we not allow ourselves to be distracted by the ways of the world or by the situation we are in, and focus on the ways of Christ, as we continue to depend on His providence and love.

Saturday of the 6th Week of Easter

For a message to be clear, accurate and effective, a person must not only get the facts right and accurate, but also the person must receive such facts from a reputable source. This is because, as we know, all sorts of so called facts are circulating around, and much of such so called facts could turn out to be mostly true but with some slight inaccuracies; or entirely false, or even true but needing additional support to make such facts rock solid.

In today's reading, we come across Appolos who "though he had been given instruction in the Way of the Lord and preached with great spiritual earnestness and was accurate in all the details he taught about Jesus, he had only experienced the baptism of John."Appolos may have had his facts accurate, but he needed additional coaching and instruction about the Way from Priscilla and Aquila, so that he had a reputable source to depend on and refer from. Not only that, the reading also tells us that Appolos "was able by God’s grace to help the believers considerably by the energetic way he refuted the Jews in public and demonstrated from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ." This shows that, not only does a person need to have accurate facts with reference from a reliable and reputable source, the person also needs God's grace to make such facts rock solid.

What can we learn from this? We can realise that at the end of the day, mere facts alone are insufficient. We need supporting evidence to reinforce the facts, and such supporting evidence comes from reliable and reputable sources. However, this is not enough. We also need God's help, so that the facts being preached are ultimately from His grace and for His glory.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Saturday of the 5th Week of Easter

Some of us find it difficult to let go of control. We want to be in charge of our destiny and to build our lives according to certain ideals which we may have, some of which may have been influenced by our family, friends, peers and society. However, as followers of Christ, we cannot always have control, especially when it comes to where we are supposed to serve. This is because we are to serve where the Holy Spirit leads us, where we are most needed, not where we would be comfortable in, or where it would be convenient to us.

In today's reading, we are told that Paul and Barnabas "travelled through Phrygia and the Galatian country, having been told by the Holy Spirit not to preach the word in Asia. When they reached the frontier of Mysia they thought to cross it into Bithynia, but as the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them, they went through Mysia and came down to Troas. One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and appealed to him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us.’ Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the Good News."

As we can see from the reading, Paul and Barnabas had no control over where they were being told to preach, and that they had to change course according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Yet, Paul and Barnabas were willing to be humble, docile and obedient, going where they were told to go, and not according to where they pleased.

What about us? Would we be willing to let go of control and let God lead us? Would we be willing to listen to God's promptings and do His will, not ours? May we, like Paul and Barnabas, be docile and humble enough to go where we are told, so that we could be used as His instruments to bring the Good News to others, and to glorify Him.

Saturday of the 4th Week of Easter

Among the many sins a person could commit, one which is quite dangerous and could lead to even greater sins, is the sin of jealousy. A person can become engulfed in jealousy due to thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, and envy over relative lack of possessions, status or something of great personal value. As a result, a person who is jealous could become blinded in pursuing what one lacks, even to the point of committing great evil or despicable acts.

In today's reading, we are told: "When they saw the crowds, the Jews, prompted by jealousy, used blasphemies and contradicted everything Paul said." Not only that, the Jews were so jealous that they "worked upon some of the devout women of the upper classes and the leading men of the city and persuaded them to turn against Paul and Barnabas and expel them from their territory." Great evil was committed, just because the Jews were jealous that Paul and Barnabas were attracting a bigger crowd than they could muster.

What about us? Have we allowed jealousy to run our lives and blind us to what is true? Have we become so jealous that our pride and ego is more important than doing the will of God? May we take caution and guard ourselves against being blinded with jealousy, since all we say and do ought to be for the glory of God.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Saturday of the 3rd Week of Easter

Most of us are fortunate to be living in a place where there is generally peace and security. When we are experiencing such peace and security, what do we do? Do we use such peace and security to better ourselves or take necessary steps or precautions to ensure that peace remains? Or have we become complacent, taking such peace and security for granted, and possibly losing our alertness or preparedness for possible incidences?

In today's reading, we are told that the churches throughout Judaea, Galilee and Samaria were left in peace. However, these churches did not become lax or take things for granted. Instead, they were building and fortifying themselves; they were living in the fear of the Lord, with full faith in Him; and they were filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit while remaining in His guidance.

What about us, especially when it concerns our spiritual lives? Are we building and fortifying ourselves by growing closer to God? May we not procrastinate and be caught off-guard or unprepared, and make every effort to remain alert and prepared as best as we can, while remaining in the Lord's guidance.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Saturday of the 2nd Week of Easter

Some of us seem to think that we must be in control of everything. We find it difficult to let go or to let others help. This is because some of us are perfectionists, or we lack trust in the abilities of others. However, the reality of life is that, in many instances, it is necessary for us to let others help. This is because we cannot possibly do everything or control everything, especially as we age and become less able to manage. Also, by involving others in the task at hand, we may free ourselves time for other matters, including rest, recreation, family time, and more.

In today's reading, the apostles realised that it was not possible for them to devote themselves to the spiritual needs of the community and at the same time attend to the physical and practical needs. So what did the apostles do? They delegated authority to seven men of good reputation, who would see to the physical and practical needs of the community, while the apostles continued to devote themselves to prayer and to the service of the word. In this way, both the spiritual and physical needs of the community could be attended to.

What about us? Are we willing to delegate authority to others so that they could help in sharing the Good News through different ways? May we learn to let go of our need to be in control, and delegate where necessary, so that we can devote ourselves according to our vocation, and in all we say and do, God may be glorified.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Easter Saturday

We know that faith is a gift from God, and how we read the bible and accept the teachings of the faith depends on whether or not we received this gift of faith from God. If we have not received the gift of faith, then no matter how much we read the bible, no matter how many talks we attend which are conducted by powerful preachers, no matter how many books we read on theology, we would be reading only from an intellectual and academic level. However, sometimes we may have received faith, but because of personal interest, pride and ego, we choose not to let the faith develop and transform us. We want to be in control, or to maintain the status quo, resulting in that faith being seen as a threat, even though we may be at a lost as to how to counter it.

In today's reading, we see an example of how faith was evidently present, but the rulers, elders and scribes refused to allow such faith to change their lives. Even when presented with indisputable evidence of the man being cured, of which "they could find no answer."; and even though they admitted: "It is obvious to everybody in Jerusalem that a miracle has been worked through them in public, and we cannot deny it."; these rulers, elders and scribes still chose to go against such faith, out of sheer arrogance, pride and stubbornness.

What about us? Do we accept faith humbly and let God transform us? Or has faith become merely an academic exercise for us, to be used only when it suits us and benefits us? May we come to realise how precious and life-giving faith is, and let God transform us into something better.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

主受洗节

主耶稣从来没有犯罪也不需要藉着洗礼去得到罪恶的宽免。那么为什么祂要接受洗礼?为了满足人类对祂的期望和希望,祂选择洗礼与人类融合在一起并分享祂的人性和神圣的天主性。 他为了拯救罪恶的人类,甘愿屈尊就卑,降生尘世,而并非罪恶昭彰人类邀请祂的降来。

耶稣的受洗正是祂传道工作的起点。祂的传道工作受到天父的肯定,因为耶稣受洗当天, 祂看到圣神化身白鸽降临在祂的头上。更有声音传自天上说,“这是我的爱子,我满心喜爱他。”这就正好说明耶稣和天父的关系是非常密切。因此我们也要追随耶稣的榜样,保持我们与天父之间的良好关系,更要执行一切善事和正义来光荣天主。

受洗后的我们已经死于罪恶,并在基督内渡新生活。到底我们是否真正了解洗礼的意义?受洗后的我们,在生活上的点点滴滴,言行举止方面是否有正确的改变?是否有履行基督徒的责任,传扬福音而光荣天主?希望大家不会推卸责任,更要衷心地实行天主的圣意。

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Saturday of the 5th Week of Lent

Throughout history, humankind has been divisive in many ways. People divide themselves according to ethnic group, according to the colour of one's skin, according to the amount of wealth one has by differentiating the rich from the poor, according to the level of education or status in society, and much more. Such divisions lead to prejudice, discrimination, and unfair policies and practices, which often support one group at the expense of the other. However, this is not the way God intends us to live from the beginning. We are all part of humankind, and we should be united and loving with one another, not divisive and conceited.

In today's reading, Ezekiel tells us of how God will reunite His people who had been scattered, exiled and divided, into one people, and He would be their God and they would be His people. This reading reminded the Israelites and us too, that ultimately,  we should be one people under God. We should be children of God, instead of being divisive and prejudiced against each other. But the question is, are we united as one people under God? To some extent we are, but we are not entirely united yet. In fact, at times, it seems as if we have become even more divided. Yet we should not give up hope or despair, since God will eventually unite us completely. We just need to have faith, trust in God's help and providence, and wait patiently for the Lord to gather us together into one.

Saturday of the 4th Week of Lent

It is easy for some of us to seek revenge towards those who have cause us harm or grief. We feel that we have been wronged greatly, and we want the person or persons who wronged us to suffer. But if we consider for a moment, what is the motivation behind wanting revenge? Isn't it because our pride and ego has been hurt, and we want to supposingly heal our pride and ego by causing hurt to the other? But the reality is that, revenge is never justified, no matter how grievous the original harm may have been. In fact, seeking revenge is only for one's personal gratification and to puff up one's ego. So what's a Christian to do when one has been wronged?

Perhaps a solution could be seen on how Jeremiah in today's reading dealt with people who have wronged him. The reading tells us: "But you, the Lord of Hosts, who pronounce a just sentence, who probe the loins and heart, let me see the vengeance you will take on them, for I have committed my cause to you." Instead of giving in to revenge, Jeremiah chose to leave it to God to do the judging. Instead of trying to salvage his pride and ego, Jeremiah chose to remain humble and let God be in control, knowing and trusting that God would not abandon him. It is wise for us to do the same.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Saturday of the 3rd Week of Lent

It is easy for us to take God for granted, especially when we have received so much from Him in different ways. Some of us forget to say grace before meals or even grace after meals, and we do not thank God enough for the good things we have and the many blessings He has given us. Some of us may have even become presumptuous about God's mercy and forgiveness, that we take it for granted and not feel real contrition, remorse, and sorrow for our sins. Some think that God would forgive us anyhow, and we neglect going for confession, which is required for our sins to be forgiven.

When we take things for granted and become presumptuous towards God, we begin to take God's mercy and forgiveness too lightly. Such attitude of taking things for granted and being presumptuous can be found in today's reading, where the people said: "Come let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us; he has struck us down, but he will bandage our wound; on the third day he will raise us and we shall live in his presence." The Lord responded: "What am I to do with you? This love of yours is like a morning cloud, like the dew that quickly disappears." It seems like the people were only giving lip service, instead of practising true love and knowledge of God.

What about us? Have we become like the people in today's reading, where we end up saying and doing things only to puff our ego and swell our pride? Have we become presumptuous, taking God for granted, instead of walking humbly before Him? May we come to realise such attitude, and change our ways while we have the opportunity to do so.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Saturday of the 2nd Week of Lent

In certain ethnic groups, traditions and customs, the deity is seen as a being to be feared. Persons belonging to such ethnic groups or adhere to such traditions and customs would do all they can to appease the deity, by offering the best of their produce, or offer money, hoping that the deity could be "bribed" into leaving them in peace and harmony. Some such ethnic groups, traditions and customs may even have a practice of sacrificing an animal, or even to the extent of offering human sacrifices, hoping that the deity would be appeased.

However, today's reading paints us quite a different picture of God. In the reading, we are told: "What god can compare with you: taking fault away, pardoning crime, not cherishing anger for ever but delighting in showing mercy?" Unlike a deity that is fierce, vengeful and prone to meting out punishment, we have a God who takes fault away, pardons crime, does not cherish anger, and even delights in showing mercy. Thus, let us not be afraid of God, rather let us go to Him with humility and docility for forgiveness, comfort and guidance, knowing that He will not abandon us. Let us also delight in showing mercy towards others, just as God is continuously showing mercy to us.