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.