Wednesday 4 October 2017

Saturday of the 2nd Week of Advent

In the world, people often look at qualifications and experience when hiring a person. When a candidate is being chosen for elections, he or she may not necessarily have the proper abilities, but may be chosen because of his or her popularity or clout among important or powerful figures in the political party. Looks, popularity, having close relationship with powerful figures, qualifications and experience are some of the criteria when it comes to choices made in the world.

That is why, if we look at today's Gospel, the scribes did not recognise John the Baptist as Elijah who has come to see that everything is once more as it should be; but treated him as they pleased, since he did not meet their worldly criteria, since Elijah preached doom and destruction, but John the Baptist preached about baptism and personal conversion, which was not what the scribes expected. But what the scribes failed to realise is that God's ways are not their ways, and His choices need not meet their expectations. Would we end up like the scribes, expecting choices to be made according to our terms, or would we put our trust in God, and let Him decide what is best for us?

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Saturday of the 1st Week of Advent

We often take for granted the many things that God has given us. Sometimes, we even forget to say thank you to God, or pray before a meal, giving thanks for the food we are about to receive. But just imagine for a moment... if God were to start charging us for each and every blessing or gift He gives us... would we be just as grateful or thankful, since we are paying instead of getting it free? Fortunately for us, the God we know is a loving and generous One. He does not need all these material things and money. He even created us out of nothing.

In today’s gospel, Jesus teaches us: “Without cost, you have received; without cost you are to give.” Jesus lives this teaching because He himself cures the sick; lets the blind see, expels demons, feeds the hungry with His words and material food; restores the dead to life; cleanses the lepers and so on  without asking for any payment. Jesus shows us that the very nature of God is to give. God is a Giver. Because He is a Giver, we have received many things. Likewise, we too ought to follow God's example and be givers, instead of hoarding things only for ourselves. May we receive without cost, and also give without cost, and give God the glory.

Monday 2 October 2017

Saturday of the 2nd Week of Advent

There are times our understanding of the right person for the task at hand may not necessarily be the right person to God. For example, we sometimes wonder why a priest is posted to a particular parish, especially where the priest seems less energetic than previous parish priests. Or perhaps some may wonder why a certain person was chosen to become the bishop, even though there seem to be other candidates who seem better qualified or experienced. But as we know, God's ways are not our ways, and he choices turn out to be for the better in the long run.

In today's Gospel, we come across another example of how our understanding of the right person differs from God. According to the scribes, members of a learned class in Jesus’ time, the prophet Elijah is the right person to prepare the coming of the Messiah. Elijah’s return to earth is the great sign that the expected Savior is coming as prophesied by another prophet named Malachi, who prophesied that the precursor of the Messiah is a terrible man preaching doom and destruction. John the Baptist came and announced the coming of the Messiah, somebody greater than him, but the scribes rejected John the Baptist, since he preached about baptism and personal conversion, not about the terror that will go with the day of the Lord. What the scribes failed to realise is that, as already mentioned, God's ways are not their ways, and in fact, John the Baptist was Elijah, who came to prepare the way for the Lord.

What can we learn from this? At the end of the day, we must realise that God has a plan and purpose for persons chosen. His choices may not jive with our choices, but His choices are best. Would we still doubt His choices, just like the scribes did, or would we trust in Him and let Him be our guide?

Sunday 1 October 2017

Saturday of the 1st Week of Advent

When we were young and we did something wrong, our parents may punish us or scold us. Some of us may have even received a caning or a whack on the hand or butt. When our parents punish or scold us in this way, does that mean they hate us? Of course not! They punish or scold us because they love us, and in some cases use disciplinary actions to teach us the consequence of what we did. In this way, we would learn not to repeat the same wrong doing again, since we know what the outcome could be.

Likewise, when God punished His people, and us too, He is doing so not because of hate. He does so because He loves us and disciplines us so that we would walk in His ways. In today's reading, we see the kind of God we have, who "On that day the Lord dresses the wound of His people and heals the bruises His blows have left." Even though God had dealt blows to His people, He was kind and compassionate in dressing the wounds and healing the bruises inflicted. So what does this mean to us? It means that God is a loving God, who disciplines us so that we may become better persons. May we make every effort to walk in His ways, and let Him be our help and guide.