Friday 31 January 2014

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

All of us are given choices in life. We can choose good things, or we can choose bad things. It may seem strange that a person would want to choose bad things, but some people have resorted to choosing bad things due to one reason or another. For example, a person who is addicted to alcohol may choose to buy alcoholic drinks, even though that the person is aware that too much of such alcoholic drinks is detrimental to one's health. However, the urge to have a drink is great and it would require much willpower and help from others to overcome such addiction.

The same principle can also applied to today's reading. We are given a choice in today's reading to choose life or death. While it may seem strange for people to choose death, we can see examples of a culture of death in today's world, where people are willing to commit abortion or use contraception for one's own convenience and personal gratification. This is where today's reading is a stern reminder to us: choose life and you will live and increase; choose death and you will most certainly perish.

In our lives, are we continuously making a decision to choose life? Do we value and take seriously our eternal life, or are we only interested and focused in this life on earth? Let us choose carefully and not end up regretting later.

Thursday 30 January 2014

Ash Wednesday

Today we begin the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. The imposition of ashes on our forehead reminds us that we are from dust and to dust we shall return. However, there is more to Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent which we can learn and reflect.

Often in our lives, we are busy with so many things. We are busy with our work, our family life, our social life, but how busy have we been with our relationship with God? Sometimes, in the midst of the hurry-burry, in the midst of the rat-race, we may have forgotten to take a good look at ourselves and see how we are progressing spiritually. The season of Lent is an opportunity to do just that.

During the season of Lent, we are encouraged to do more praying, fasting and alms-giving. These
three major means of penance would not mean anything if they do not ultimately lead us to an inner conversion, a change of heart. Are we willing to take an honest look at ourselves and work towards a better relationship with God and with others? Are there areas in our life which we have been neglecting that we should address? Let us not confine our conversion to a better person only during Lent, but also continuously and consistently do so, for the betterment of our soul.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Tuesday of Week 8 Year 2

For some of us, life tends to be encumbered with all sorts of thoughts. We think about our present situation and the situation of our family. Some think about the future and what is going to happen to their family and themselves. Others think about their financial situation, be it good or not. If we are not careful and become too engrossed with these thoughts, this could lead to all sorts of fear and anxiety.

Today's reading reminds us "Free your minds, then, of encumbrances; control them, and put your trust in nothing but the grace that will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Do not behave in the way that you liked to before you learnt the truth; make a habit of obedience: be holy in all you do, since it is the Holy One who has called you, and scripture says: Be holy, for I am holy." If we say we trust in God, then we should not be thinking too much about these other things which can distract us from our relationship with God. We do need to do our part, but there are some things and some situations which we cannot be fully in control of. There is a song called "que sera sera, whatever will be will be." Perhaps we should be more trusting to God, and let whatever will be will be.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Monday of Week 8 Year 2

Some of us may be attached to certain things, way of life, people, habits, etc. We seem to be unable to let go of these attachments, since we may feel that these attachments belong to us and us alone. One form of attachment which people tend to fall into is wealth, be it money and/or property. A person could be so attached to wealth that sharing it or giving it away could pose a problem. Wealth becomes like a god to some, as they think that their happiness depends on what and how much they have.

When wealth becomes more important to us, then we may fall into the same trap as the rich man in today's Gospel. Like the rich man, we may have forgotten what is more important to us. In another part of the Gospel, we are reminded that we cannot serve 2 masters, God and wealth. In today's Gospel, the rich man may seem to have observed the commandments, but his heart is not attached to God, his heart is attached to the vast wealth he has. What about us? Have we become like the rich man, only concerned about our wealth, and forgotten or ignoring God? Can we bring our wealth with us when we die? Certainly not! But sometimes some of us only realise this when it is too late and we are about to leave this earth. Are we setting ourselves up for eternal happiness or otherwise?

Monday 27 January 2014

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Some of us are worry-warts. We worry about our finances, our future, our children's future, our health, our job, our retirement plans, what to eat, where to go for holiday, etc. Some people even worry that they have nothing to worry about.

Certainly, we need to do our part and work hard for our families and ourselves. But we should not become too concerned to the point where it becomes sinful, as we are eaten up by anxiety, fear, and despair. Today's Gospel and readings are not telling us to become irresponsible and expect others to provide for us. Instead, we should note:
  1. Stop worrying. What can you gain from worrying and how would that improve our situation?
  2. God sees us as extremely valuable and precious.
  3. We are citizens of God's Kingdom and we should "Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well."
God knows our needs and would grant them if we ask with persistence and with sincerity. Are we willing to let God guide us and help us?

Sunday 26 January 2014

Housekeeping - Week 7 Year 2

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

23 February 2014 - 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
24 February 2014 - Monday of Week 7 Year 2
25 February 2014 - Tuesday of Week 7 Year 2
26 February 2014 - Wednesday of Week 7 Year 2
27 February 2014 - Thursday of Week 7 Year 2
28 February 2014 - Friday of Week 7 Year 2

Friday of Week 7 Year 2

When we say we would do something, do we really mean it? Sometimes we say "yes" but our hidden meaning is "no." Other times, we say "yes" but actually mean "maybe." But how many of us are consistent when we say "yes" and really mean "yes?"

Today's reading reminds us: "do not swear by heaven or by the earth, or use any oaths at all. If you mean ‘yes’, you must say ‘yes’; if you mean ‘no’, say ‘no.’ Otherwise you make yourselves liable to judgement." Sometimes we get caught in a situation where we make a promise and are unable to keep it. We may only end up embarrassing ourselves and create problems because of our folly. This is why we should not simply make oaths or promises without seriously and carefully considering the consequences. Why "cari pasal" or "look for trouble" in this way? Are we committing ourselves just to please others and hopefully look good? Or are we doing so to glorify God?

Saturday 25 January 2014

Thursday of Week 7 Year 2

Are we a just people? Do we treat others fairly? Some of us have maids helping to care for our loved ones at home. Are we just in our treatment towards them? From time to time, we hear horror stories of maids, factory workers and other migrant workers being mistreated. Some are even being paid pittance for the amount of work they do. Some don't get a rest day, because some of us think that we had paid a huge sum to hire them and bring them into the country, and we think that it is right for us to get the most of our money.

However, today's reading serves us a warning: "Labourers mowed your fields, and you cheated them – listen to the wages that you kept back, calling out; realise that the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. On earth you have had a life of comfort and luxury; in the time of slaughter you went on eating to your heart’s content. It was you who condemned the innocent and killed them; they offered you no resistance." When we mistreat other people for our own gain, we are only bringing condemnation towards ourselves. We may not experience punishment here on earth, as we think that we are clever enough to circumvent the law. However, we forget that God is watching us. Are we ready to answer Him when we meet Him face to face?

Wednesday of Week 7 Year 2

Every now and then, we hear people say: "I am proud of my accomplishments" or "that man became rich because he is a self-made man." Also, we hear in advertisements on television selling products with words like: "Proudly produced by XYZ Corporation." Is it wrong for us to be proud? If we are proud because what we are doing is ultimately to glorify God, then that is a different matter. But how many of us are proud in this way? How many of us would take credit and think that we did it our way and succeeded? When we become proud, we become so full of ourselves and think that we can do without God's help.

This is precisely what the reading warns us. The reading says: "You never know what will happen tomorrow: you are no more than a mist that is here for a little while and then disappears. The most you should ever say is: ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we shall still be alive to do this or that.’ But how proud and sure of yourselves you are now! Pride of this kind is always wicked. Everyone who knows what is the right thing to do and doesn’t do it commits a sin." Have we forgotten who we are and where we come from? Let us take heed and change our ways, walking humbly before God.

Friday 24 January 2014

Tuesday of Week 7 Year 2

How content are we in life? Some of us may be guilty of wanting more and more of things and even people, causing us to commit sin in our pursuit to attain what we want and satisfy our desire (which can never be fully satisfied). Today's reading tells us: "Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force. Why you don’t have what you want is because you don’t pray for it; when you do pray and don’t get it, it is because you have not prayed properly, you have prayed for something to indulge your own desires." The problem that we face is, are we praying to God for our own selfish wants, or have we learnt to pray for His glory?

Instead of focusing our efforts in attaining temporary things here on earth, perhaps we should take heed of what the reading reminds us: "Give in to God, then; resist the devil, and he will run away from you. The nearer you go to God, the nearer he will come to you. Clean your hands, you sinners, and clear your minds, you waverers. Look at your wretched condition, and weep for it in misery; be miserable instead of laughing, gloomy instead of happy. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up." Are we wanting to be with God for eternity, or are we setting ourselves up for an eternity away from God? Let us choose wisely, as we have only one choice.

Thursday 23 January 2014

Monday of Week 7 Year 2

The minds of people are not easy to understand and discover. People can sometimes play games or pretend by putting up a front, hoping that others will not realise who they really are. Even people who appear to be respectable or upright could have a hidden side. There is more than meets the eye for some people, and unless one is very observant, one could be misled by such people.

Today's reading reminds us that "If there are any wise or learned men among you, let them show it by their good lives, with humility and wisdom in their actions." How many of us are genuinely wise or learned? We may have plenty of degrees, doctorates or other qualifications, but does that really make us wise? Sometimes we see such people with so called high qualifications behaving in a manner quite the opposite. Are we living good lives, with humility and wisdom in our actions? Or are we hiding behind our intellect, while in actual fact our hearts remain darkened and cold?

Wednesday 22 January 2014

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Over the centuries and decades of human history, we have seen much anger, hatred, revenge, opposition, defiance, destruction, etc. as people are unable to love and forgive. It seems easier to get back at others than to forgive, reconcile, let bygones be bygones and move on. Perhaps there is a certain amount of pride and stubbornness which makes people behave and react in this way.

However, today's Gospel and readings remind us of the need to love. Often we may think that love is only for those who love us. We find it difficult or impossible to love those who hate us. But if we consider the big picture: when we continuously and consistently love others, regardless whether they are friends or otherwise, these people may slowly change their attitude or behaviour towards us. Love is capable of transforming foes to friends, if we make effort to love genuinely. However, we should note that love is not just a feeling, it also requires action. We need to show love towards others, by being good to them, praying for them, being generous to them, etc. It is when we show true and genuine love towards others over time, people begin to change, and our environment changes too.

Often, we may try to take the easy way out by being nasty or indifferent towards those who are mean or difficult to us. We may feel as if our time and effort could be used for other things. But it is through God's grace we can love and help bring peace on earth. If each of us make effort and not give up so easily, if we are willing to be consistent and make sacrifices, then perhaps we may all truly be God's children.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Housekeeping - Week 6 Year 2

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

16 February 2014 - 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
17 February 2014 - Monday of Week 6 Year 2
18 February 2014 - Tuesday of Week 6 Year 2
19 February 2014 - Wednesday of Week 6 Year 2
20 February 2014 - Thursday of Week 6 Year 2
21 February 2014 - Friday of Week 6 Year 2

Friday of Week 6 Year 2

Whenever we sing the hymn "They will know we are Christians," I wonder whether we are fully aware of what we are singing. Sometimes we sing without realising the meaning or implications of the song. We get carried away with the melody, but do we mean what we sing?

In today's reading, we are reminded that "Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead." Also, the reading tells us that "A body dies when it is separated from the spirit, and in the same way faith is dead if it is separated from good deeds." We say that we have faith; we believe in God; we recite the creed every Sunday; we call ourselves Christians; but is our faith merely words? Is our faith all talk but no or little action? Let us show our faith by the way we behave; the way we live; the way we love others, regardless of who they are or whether they are our family, friends, or even those who are against us; then only would people "know we are Christians by our love."

Monday 20 January 2014

Thursday of Week 6 Year 2

I have observed that at times and in some churches, some people tend to treat a person according to the person's appearance, the way a person dresses, or according to the person's status or rank in society. When a person is well dressed or has got a title or something, some may treat such a person like a VIP. But when a beggar or shabbily dressed person comes to church, some of us may begin to form all sorts of thoughts and assume all sorts of scenarios, whether good or bad. This is precisely what today's reading is warning us: "Can’t you see that you have used two different standards in your mind, and turned yourselves into judges, and corrupt judges at that?"

Today's reading also tells us that "the right thing to do is to keep the supreme law of scripture: you must love your neighbour as yourself; but as soon as you make distinctions between classes of people, you are committing sin, and under condemnation for breaking the Law." Are we segregating and treating people differently in church? Have we forgotten that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of how we look or who we are? If we are continuing to treat people in such a manner, how different are we compared to the world? Are we followers of Christ, or have we allowed the ways of the world to corrupt us?

Sunday 19 January 2014

Wednesday of Week 6 Year 2

How conscious are we when we say something? Are we aware of what we are saying? Do we realise that words, once said, cannot be taken back? Proverbs 12:18 tells us: “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” In today's reading, we are also cautioned to "be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to rouse your temper; God’s righteousness is never served by man’s anger." There is a reason why God gave us two ears and one tongue, and sometimes we end up saying more than we should and are unable to listen because of the noise generated within us and around us.

Think carefully before you say anything. Your tongue can be a weapon far mightier than any weapon created by humankind. You can make or break someone with a simple comment. Are you speaking your mind, and meaning what you say with a lifestyle and actions to match? Sometimes we say faster than we think, and that could only make us look foolish at the end.

Tuesday of Week 6 Year 2

When we commit sin or fall into temptation, it is interesting to see how some of us behave. Some readily admit their sin and go for confession to seek forgiveness from God. Some try to make all sorts of excuses or denials, saying that they sinned because someone else had caused them to sin, blaming their spouse, their children, their parents, their friends, even their cat or dog. Some even start talking about other people's faults, hoping to divert attention from their own sin.

Today's reading remind us that "Everyone who is tempted is attracted and seduced by his own wrong desire. Then the desire conceives and gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it too has a child, and the child is death." The sins we commit is because of our own fault, not others. We had a choice and we chose to commit sin, due to pride, envy, jealousy, selfishness, etc. No one can force us to commit sin. So we should be humble enough to admit it and seek forgiveness, and not try to deny it or sweep it under the carpet.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Monday of Week 6 Year 2

When faced with difficulties, trials and persecution, how would we respond? Today's reading tells us that when we face such trials, we should "try to treat them as a happy privilege; you understand that your faith is only put to the test to make you patient, but patience too is to have its practical results so that you will become fully-developed, complete, with nothing missing." Sometimes we may feel as if we are not getting anywhere with our trials, but our trials are helping us to be humble, to be patient, and to depend on God's help.

And when we seek God's help, the reading also reminds us that we should "ask with faith, and no trace of doubt." Some of us may pray to God, but when we do not get a reply, some may begin to wonder whether our prayer would be answered. Are we expecting God to be at our beck and call? No! God will help us according to His time, not ours. After all, are we ultimately striving to let His will be done, or are we trying to let our will be done? Let us let God be God, and continue to trust in His providence.

Friday 17 January 2014

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

How deep or mature have we become in our relationship with God? Some people think that praying the rosary is good enough. Some people think that going for Mass on Sundays is sufficient. Others think that getting involved in certain church activities is good enough. But ask yourself... Have you grown deeper and more mature in your relationship with God? If not, why?

Today's Gospel warns us that "unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven." The scribes and Pharisees were more interested in observing the letter of the law, and in doing so neglected the spirit of the law. As a result, they became so inflexible, lacked common sense and preferred to lord it over others by telling them what to do, but they did not practice what they preached. Jesus in today's Gospel also reminds us that it is not enough to just observe the commandments, but one should understand and observe the full implications of the commandments (both letter and spirit) and make every effort to love God and neighbour. For example, we may not actually kill a person, but the fact that we are putting a person down to the point of destroying his or her self-worth and dignity, we are "assassinating" that person.

If we call ourselves Catholics, then we should be mindful about our relationship with God and especially with the people around us. Let us not become self-righteous like the scribes and Pharisees, but learn to be loving and forgiving, just as God is loving and forgiving towards us.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Housekeeping - Week 5 Year 2

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

9 February 2014 - 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
10 February 2014 - Monday of Week 5 Year 2
11 February 2014 - Tuesday of Week 5 Year 2
12 February 2014 - Wednesday of Week 5 Year 2
13 February 2014 - Thursday of Week 5 Year 2
14 February 2014 - Friday of Week 5 Year 2

Friday of Week 5 Year 2

When a healing is taking place, we need to ask ourselves: is the healing to give glory to God? Or is the healing to be used to show off to other people how great the healer is? Sometimes it is best for the healing to be done in private, as not everybody likes to be looked upon as a test subject.

Today's Gospel tells us about a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech. Jesus showed his considerateness for this man's predicament and removed him from the crowd. Perhaps the man would have felt embarrassed or uncomfortable being stared at while Jesus healed him. So Jesus took him aside privately, touched his tongue with spittle, and healed him, so that he could be released of his impediment, his faith awakened and strengthened, and freely proclaim the Good News of God. Symbolically, at RCIA, we conduct the rite of ephphatha, which is the opening the senses, where the ears and mouths of the elect are blessed so they may hear the Word of God and profess it.

Are our ears opened and tongue released? Are we using them to hear and proclaim the Good News? Let us seek the Lord's healing if we have been dormant or lukewarm, and go forth to share the Good News to all.

Monday 13 January 2014

Thursday of Week 5 Year 2

Sometimes, we need to be given a hard knock or a good shock to awaken and strengthen our faith. When we are given things so easily, we may become complacent or take things for granted, and think that anything and everything would be given to us on a silver platter.

Today's Gospel gives us a classic example of having one's resolve tested. Jesus appeared to be insulting to the pagan woman. But if we read closely, he is actually testing the woman to see how serious she was in having her daughter cured. This woman responded to Jesus' so called "insult" with wit and faith -- "even the dogs eat the crumbs". Because of this, Jesus praised the woman for her faith and for her love. She made the misery of her child her own and she was willing to suffer insult in order to obtain healing for her daughter, and while doing so, she showed her indomitable persistence. As a result, Jesus gave her what she wanted.

What about us? When we do not get our prayers or demands answered, are we able to be persistent and patient like the pagan woman? Let us not be so easily discouraged when the Lord tests us as He does so to help us grow even stronger in faith.

Wednesday of Week 5 Year 2

Is what you are eating halal or haram (clean or unclean)? If you are a Muslim or a Jew, then you would need to worry about this, as there are certain types of foods which cannot be eaten, as it is haram or not kosher (or unclean). However, in today's Gospel, Jesus is more interested with what comes out of us that makes us unclean, instead of what we eat. The scribes and Pharisees had become quite extreme in their practices when it comes to what can be eaten, and they were paying more attention to that instead of caring for their souls. But Jesus is reminding them that "It is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean." These are more serious matters to be addressed, because the stain or uncleanness does not only affect a person physically, but the stain or uncleanness especially affects a person spiritually.

Today, Jesus is reminding us the same things as he did to the scribes and Pharisees. Are we unclean? Are our souls stained because of what has come out of our hearts? What are we doing to address this situation before it is too late?

Tuesday of Week 5 Year 2

The Pharisees are an interesting lot. When we observe their behaviour, we could in some ways begin to feel empathy for them, as they have so many minute details, laws and instructions that need to be observed and followed. It is stifling for them, but because of years of conditioned living, it became extremely difficult for them to break out of their mindset. Certainly not a great way to live life, when you have been living in such an environment for years.

However, having so many rules and regulations is no excuse to ignore the true essence of God's laws. To put it simply, God's laws can be summarised into love God and love neighbour, and as Jesus taught and showed in many ways, one's neighbour is not restricted only to one's friends or acquaintances, but also others, including one's enemies. In today's Gospel, we see how the Pharisees were so engrossed in maintaining and observing their numerous traditions and practices, that they put aside the commandment of God. We too could fall into the same trap, if we start treating rules and regulations as more important than God's commandments. This is not to say that we can forget about rules and regulations and do whatever we like. But the idea of having rules and regulations is to serve God and build God's Kingdom, with love, mercy and compassion; not to use such rules and regulations to build our own kingdom and lord it over others. The question is: whose kingdom are we ultimately building?

Sunday 12 January 2014

Monday of Week 5 Year 2

Healing takes place in many different ways. Sometimes, we see the immediate results of healing. Other times, the results may not be so obvious. However, if the Lord heals us, He does so completely. Modern medicine may be able to heal us, but there may be side effects which may occur, due to the use of certain medicines or certain medical procedures.

Today's Gospel shows the complete healing of many of the sick. These folks were healed by touching Jesus, even if it is merely "the fringe of his cloak." This shows the amount of faith they had on Jesus. They fully believed that Jesus would cure them and in return, they were fully cured.

In today's world, some of us may put our trust in modern medicine. While there is nothing wrong about that, we should also not forget the spiritual dimension. Sometimes, modern medicine is unable to heal us, due to one reason or another. But if we trust in God, and continuously and consistently pray to Him for healing, we know that God will do what is best for us. We may not get the results we want, as sometimes the result we hope for may not necessarily be best for us. However, are we willing to be persistent and ask God for His help, knowing that He will care for us?

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Each and every one of us has got a purpose in life. Our purpose in life ought to be to serve others and show good example, not just by words but also by deeds. Today's Gospel reminds us that "You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world..." Salt in itself is useless. It becomes useful when mixed with food to improve its taste. Light in itself is also useless. It becomes useful when it illuminates the night and guides us on our way. In the same way, each and every one of us are called to be useful in different ways while proclaiming the Good News.

However, lest we become complacent, thinking that it is sufficient to just proclaim the Good News, today's Gospel also reminds us: "In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven." Our words in themselves don't mean anything, if they are not accompanied with good deeds. In the Letter of James, we are reminded: "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." Christianity is not just talk, as talking is easy, talking is cheap. We are also reminded to walk the talk, to show what we mean, to mean what we say.

There is a Malay saying: "Cakap tak serupa bikin" which roughly translated means: "What you say is not the same as what you do." Are we all talk and no action? Are we just blowing hot air, knowing only how to yak away, with the possibility of ending up gossiping? Or are we making effort to show the Good News, with our words and actions?

Saturday 11 January 2014

Housekeeping - Week 4 Year 2

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

2 February 2014 - Presentation of the Lord
3 February 2014 - Monday of Week 4 Year 2
4 February 2014 - Tuesday of Week 4 Year 2
5 February 2014 - Wednesday of Week 4 Year 2
6 February 2014 - Thursday of Week 4 Year 2
7 February 2014 - Friday of Week 4 Year 2

Friday of Week 4 Year 2

When a person is weak and self-centred, he or she may do things to please others or to win recognition and approval. Sometimes such people may make promises which are difficult to fulfil, and when confronted with possible embarrassment or ridicule for being unable to keep the promise, he or she may be more than willing to fulfil such promises, even though such promises could lead one to greater wrongdoing or even commit sin.

In today's Gospel, we see King Herod who was an example of such a weak and self-centred person. He was so easily tricked by his wife who got her daughter to dance for Herod and entice him to do what she wanted. This led to the death of John the Baptist, even though initially "Herod was afraid of John, knowing him to be a good and holy man, and gave him his protection. When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him." Are some of us like Herod in one way or another, wanting and willing to save face at all costs? Are we so easily duped into making promises without thinking carefully the consequences?

Friday 10 January 2014

Thursday of Week 4 Year 2

As Christians, we are constantly reminded to go forth and preach the Good News. This command is not to be taken lightly, as it is one of great urgency and importance. Today's Gospel reminds us of this great urgency and importance: "Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.'"

Each of us are called to go forth and preach the Good News. Sometimes along the way, we may be distracted with all sorts of other attractions, and we may lose our focus and concentration in our duty. Let us learn to not be attached to all these other attractions, and depend on God's providence, so that we can be effective in bringing Jesus' message to others.

Wednesday of Week 4 Year 2

One of the reasons why a priest or a religious is rarely sent back to his home parish to serve is because people tend to assume they know much about the priest or religious. Also, some people may think that just because the priest or religious is a local boy or girl, they think they can manipulate or control him or her. Some people may also not have that much respect or acceptance of the priest or religious, especially since they think they know really well his or her family, his or her background, etc. This may make it challenging or difficult for the priest or religious to function properly or effectively at his home parish.

Today's Gospel also reinforces this matter. Jesus was not accepted among his home-town people as they thought they knew his family and he really well. This made it difficult for Jesus to perform any miracle at his home-town and only managed to cure a few people, especially because of the people's lack of faith in him.

When we are faced with this kind of situation, let us consider our options. Are we able to function well in our mission at our home-town? Let us not be apprehensive to voice out our concerns to the relevant authority, so that they can decide what is best for our home-town community and what is best for us.

Thursday 9 January 2014

Tuesday of Week 4 Year 2

How much do we really trust Jesus? Are there some among us who doubt that God can really help us? Today's Gospel shows us the amount of trust the haemorrhaging woman had towards Jesus. This woman had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years and no doctor could cure her. Nothing in the medicine world could do anything to help her. And yet, this woman had faith that Jesus could cure her. The Gospel tells us that "she came up behind Jesus through the crowd and touched his cloak. And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint."

Sometimes our modern medicine or modern science may not be able to help us, since there are many things that modern medicine or modern science has still not fully understood or discovered. When this happens, we may be given the impression that there is no hope or all is lost. Some of us may even go for treatment from bomohs, shamans, medicine men, etc, thinking and hoping that these may be able to cure us. However, let us take the example of the haemorrhaging woman and trust that the Lord will care for us and do what is best for us. Are we willing to let God take control and help us?

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Monday of Week 4 Year 2

When we are in trouble and the Lord helps us out of our mess, how would we respond? Some of us may think that we had had a lucky escape. Some may begin to think that it was actually through our own effort that we managed to get out of trouble. However, how many of us would be genuinely grateful to God for His help?

In today's Gospel, the demoniac begged to be allowed to stay with Jesus. But Jesus would not let him but said to him, ‘Go home to your people and tell them all that the Lord in his mercy has done for you.’ In this way, the demoniac was preaching the Good News by sharing his story with his people, instead of keeping it to himself and clinging on to Jesus. If we are in a similar situation, would we be excited to share the Good News with others? Would we be grateful and thankful of God's mercy?

Monday 6 January 2014

Presentation of the Lord

Many of us spend a lot of time waiting. We wait for the baby to be born, we wait for our children to grow up and be independent, we wait for our retirement, we also have to wait for people who are late, we wait for the bus or train and whatever. But many a times, whatever we are waiting for shows up sooner or later.

In today’s Gospel, we see Simeon and Anna waiting, they had waited for a long time, and finally their hope was fulfilled. When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple, God's ancient promise of sending a Saviour was fulfilled with the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. God has come to save His people and the blessing and lighting of candles and the procession is to symbolise that the light of salvation is already shining on the Church and on the world. The light of salvation is shining and yet we still wait. We wait for the day we can finally be with the Lord eternally.

Until we are finally together again with the Lord, let us, like Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna, wait for the Lord in prayer and be ready to do His will when He calls.

Housekeeping - Week 3 Year 2

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

26 January 2014 - 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
27 January 2014 - Monday of Week 3 Year 2
28 January 2014 - Tuesday of Week 3 Year 2
29 January 2014 - Wednesday of Week 3 Year 2
30 January 2014 - Thursday of Week 3 Year 2
31 January 2014 - Friday of Week 3 Year 2

Friday of Week 3 Year 2

When some of us do something wrong, we may try to sweep it under the carpet, or try to create a ruckus or distraction so that the initial wrong committed may hopefully be forgotten. Some of us may even try to destroy the evidence of our initial wrongdoing. hoping that no one would be able to discover and use such evidence against us. Today's reading shows us an example of trying to hide or destroy the evidence of wrongdoing. King David had committed sin by sleeping with another man's wife, causing Bathsheba to become pregnant. Then he tried to hide the evidence by encouraging Uriah to go home and spend some time with his wife Bathsheba, hoping that Uriah would later think that the pregnancy was caused by him. When that failed, David got rid of Uriah instead.

If we look at today's reading carefully, we can begin to discover that when we sin, we may end up committing greater sin while trying to cover up the initial sin. Why are we so afraid, when we have a loving and merciful God, who is willing to forgive us if we are truly repentant and seek forgiveness? It seems silly for us to try to hide or destroy the evidence, as we cannot hide from God. Let us take courage and confess our sins, instead of trying to hide and get ourselves into more trouble.

Sunday 5 January 2014

Thursday of Week 3 Year 2

Many of us have got some form of skill, talent or know-how which could be put to good use, especially in building God's Kingdom. Some are happy and willing to offer their abilities. However, there are some who seem to be stingy or unwilling to do so. Why is this so? There are many reasons. For some, they feel shy or inadequate, even though they really are competent and good. Some refuse to help because of pride or stubbornness, only wanting things done their way or no way. Others feel they have been hurt or angered by other faithful or even a priest, and they have been unable to find it in their hearts to forgive and move on.

While we empathise with such people, we should also take heed of the warning today's Gospel tells us. Today's Gospel reminds us that we are all called to be lamps to be put on a lamp-stand for all to see, not to be hidden. Also, we are reminded that: "The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given – and more besides; for the man who has will be given more; from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away." We ought to utilise our abilities for the glory of God, because if we don't, we may in time lose such abilities. Are we wasting away our abilities for our own selfish pursuits? Or have we been humble enough to offer our abilities to God? Let us remember that God is patient and generous to us and He will reward us more than we can imagine.

Saturday 4 January 2014

Wednesday of Week 3 Year 2

How generous are we towards others? How generous are we in our time and wealth towards charitable pursuits? How generous are we in our time and wealth towards the church and church activities? Sometimes we ask so much from others and from the church, but how much do we happily and willingly offer in return? I remember some parishioners coming to me, saying, "Father, the weather is so hot. Why not we air-con the church?" I reminded them that it is easy to air-con the church, but are they willing to be generous in helping pay for the maintenance, electricity bill, etc to keep the air-cons functional? When confronted with such a response, many of these folks merely smiled and dropped the matter. Seems to me like there are some people who are more than willing to make suggestions, but are less willing to make these suggestions materialise.

In today's reading, we see how king David wanted to build a house for God. Perhaps he felt it was not proper or fitting to let the presence of God remain in a tent. Perhaps he may have felt a little guilty or uncomfortable. But whatever reason he may have, God was even more generous than king David. God assured king David that his house and sovereignty will always stand secure before Him and his throne be established for ever. There seems to be no limit to God's love and generosity. The question is: are we willing to be generous to others just as God was generous to king David and to us? Are we so calculative towards our time and wealth, or have we learnt to care and share generously?

Tuesday of Week 3 Year 2

When we read today's Gospel, some of us may take offence with what Jesus said. Some of us may say that Jesus seems to be "kurang ajar" or impolite or even arrogant towards his family members, whether immediate or extended. However, the point of the Gospel passage is not to belittle Jesus or to show His negative side. The point of this passage is to remind us that our relationship with God and with Jesus should go beyond familial or blood relationship. We are related, associated or connected to Jesus when we do the will of God. This means that it is not enough to merely have blood relations with Jesus. Anyone can say that they know Jesus or they are adopted sons or daughters of God. But that is not enough, they should also "walk the talk" and show their relations with Jesus through their good works and exemplary lives.

Are we doing the will of God? Sometimes some of us may be carried away, thinking that being adopted children of God is sufficient. However, as James reminds us in his letter: "Faith Without Works Is Dead (James 2:14-26)." Let us not be complacent and do our part in building God's Kingdom.

Friday 3 January 2014

Monday of Week 3 Year 2

When we depend on God in whatever we do, we know that He will guide and help us. We see this happening in today's reading. When David was anointed king, not everyone was excited or supportive about him being king. The Jebusites did not accept David as king and even dared to say: "You will not get in here. The blind and the lame will hold you off. (That is to say: David will never get in here.)" But David captured the fortress of Zion, and he did so not on his own accord, but because "the Lord, the God of Hosts, was with him."

Sometimes we try to depend on our own strength and abilities to accomplish something. At times, our efforts may not bear the kind of results we hope for. However, as king David has shown us, we can accomplish greater things if we are humble and patient enough to seek God's help. Are we still refusing to let God be our dependable guide?

Thursday 2 January 2014

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

In many human institutions, we tend to see quite a bit of politics going around. We see favouritism happening. If you are in the good books of the leader, you may get extra perks or benefits and in some cases, no one could touch you or attempt to discredit you. The term "blue-eyed boy (or girl)" comes to mind here, as the person favoured may be seen by the leader as being spotless.

However, as followers of Christ, we are reminded that God has no favourites. When we have favourites, then we may be guilty of falling into factions, claiming to be for this leader or for that leader, just because the leader whom we are supporting is partial and nice to us and in an effort to protect our interests, we maintain a healthy relationship with that particular leader. However, we need to ask ourselves: Who are we serving in ministry? Are we serving Christ or are we serving ourselves? If we are serving Christ, then we ought to, as the second reading reminds us, "make up the differences between you, and instead of disagreeing among yourselves, to be united again in your belief and practice." We should avoid favouring one leader from another and instead focus our energies in preaching the Good News.

Moreover, if we are followers of Christ, then we should remain joyful in His light, since His light dispels the darkness of fear, uncertainty, anxiety; the darkness of sin which weights us down. Let us make every effort, as Jesus reminds us in the Gospel, to "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand." May we learn to dwell in the light of Christ, while striving to avoid any form of darkness which could ensnare us, including the darkness of favouritism, and grow together as brothers and sisters in His radiant love.

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Housekeeping - Week 2 Year 2

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

19 January 2014 - 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
20 January 2014 - Monday of Week 2 Year 2
21 January 2014 - Tuesday of Week 2 Year 2
22 January 2014 - Wednesday of Week 2 Year 2
23 January 2014 - Thursday of Week 2 Year 2
24 January 2014 - Friday of Week 2 Year 2

Friday Week 2 Year 2

There are times we may realise that we are not merciful and loving enough. Sometimes, we demand justice at all costs, and when we have gotten justice, we may not be fully satisfied or happy.

Today's reading shows us that David's men wanted justice against Saul and they thought they had an excellent opportunity to claim justice and get rid of Saul. But David chose to be merciful to Saul, even though Saul was all out to destroy him. David even forbade his men from harming Saul in any way. This shows the uprightness and character of David.

Have we learnt to be merciful and loving? Or are we always demanding an eye for an eye? Some of us may have asked God to forgive us our trespasses, but we may fail to realise that we too need to forgive others who trespass against us. Let us strive and learn to be more loving and forgiving, for "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. (Mahatma Gandhi)"

Thursday Week 2 Year 2

Jealousy is the fear that something which we possess will be taken away by another person. When we are jealous, we could begin to commit greater sins to prevent others from possessing what we think is rightfully ours.

Today's reading tells us that Saul was jealous of David because of David's increasing popularity. Because David was becoming more popular, Saul began to worry that he may eventually lose his kingship to David. As a result, Saul began to think of ways and means to get rid of David to ensure the kingship remained his. We see another classic example of this where king Herod tried to get rid of the infant Jesus by killing the Holy Innocents. Saul and Herod were both very jealous men and they had no qualms about killing their competition in an effort to preserve their authority.

What about us? Have we been so jealous that we belittle or put down others? Sometimes in ministry, some of us may have been jealous of others who are more capable and talented. We may think that a particular position in a ministry belongs to us, and we may commit sin when we gossip, commit character assassination, etc. just to preserve the status quo. Are we humble enough to be willing to nurture others and help them grow so that they can one day take over leadership of a ministry? Or has jealously made us blind and hardened our hearts?