Friday 19 April 2019

Saturday of Week 13 Year 1

Some people think that being the firstborn means one would have certain privileges and benefits compared to subsequent offspring. In some countries and cultures, this may seem the case, as the firstborn, especially male firstborn, is looked upon as the one to uphold the family name or family pride; and the firstborn is given special treatment, including better things, better education, better food, and other perks.

But the reality is, when it comes to God, the firstborn is not necessarily God's choice. One example of this could be found in today's reading, where Jacob managed to trick his father into getting the inheritance and special blessing supposingly reserved for the firstborn. Esau was the firstborn but he seemed to have no concern for spiritual matters, whereas Jacob was sneaky and a cheat, but God chose him to be the leader of His people.

What does this mean to us? It means that God's ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts, and what He had allowed to take place is eventually for His purposes and His glory. May we surrender ourselves to God' plan, and let Him use our talents and abilities for His greater glory.

Friday of Week 13 Year 1

I sometimes come across people who say they do not go to church any more because they have a problem with certain persons in church, or they think that the church is full of hypocrites, or they think that the church is full of sinners. Such persons think that only good people or saintly people should be in church, and everyone else is damned or condemned. But the reality is, the church is not a hotel for saints or even a museum for saints; it is a hospital for sinners.

In today's Gospel, we are reminded why Jesus came. Jesus came not to call the virtuous, but sinners. Just as Jesus came to call sinners, the church is also following Jesus' example to call sinners to come and be forgiven and strengthened, especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharist. So if the church is inviting all to come and abide in the Lord, especially sinners, let us not shun or avoid those who have sinned. Rather, let us learn to grow together as one family of God, and together grow in relationship with Him.

Monday of Week 13 Year 1

When we come for confession, we ask God for forgiveness and mercy because we have sinned. Sometimes, the sin we have committed may be venial sins; other times our sin could be mortal sin. Yet, we make effort to plead to God to forgive us and help us not to sin again. However, when others have wronged us or sinned against us, are we willing to be just as forgiving and merciful to them, just as we ask God to be forgiving and merciful towards us?

In today's reading, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had committed grievous sin, and the outcry against them had come up to the Lord. We also hear of Abraham pleading for mercy from God not to destroy the two cities. Because of Abraham's pleading to spare the innocent in these cities, God was willing to spare the entire cities for the sake of so few innocent persons. This shows us that God's mercy is incomprehensible and knows no bounds.

If God could spare entire cities for the sake of a few innocent persons, what about us? Are we still finding it so difficult to forgive and be merciful towards others who have sinned against us? May we learn to follow God's example and be forgiving and merciful towards others, just as He was merciful towards the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and just as He is merciful towards us.

Sunday 7 April 2019

Thursday of Week 12 Year 1

I sometimes come across people who can come up with lots of suggestions and ideas, but the interesting thing is when such persons are asked whether they can follow through with such suggestions and ideas, they suddenly back away or give all sorts of excuses. For example, I sometimes hear of people saying that the priest should make more time for house visits, but when asked whether such persons are willing to help the priest identify houses which may need such visits, and where possible accompany the priest to such houses, such persons suddenly back down from their suggestions.

In today's Gospel, Jesus said to his disciples, "It is not those who say to me, "Lord, Lord," who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven." As Christians, are we merely making suggestions without taking ownership of them, or making a commitment to follow through such suggestions? Are we merely, as the Gospel says, saying "Lord, Lord," and refusing to do our part in sharing the Good News? May we walk the talk, not just utter words, since action speaks louder than words.

Wednesday of Week 12 Year 1

It is interesting to observe how some people can be so easily duped by certain so called preachers, who appear to preach the Good News, but what such preachers are actually doing is preaching their own version of the Good News, or perhaps a "feel good" version of the Good News. Some such preachers are adept in customising the Good News to appear to suit such people, but such preachers have hidden intentions, sometimes, even with tragic consequences.

Today's Gospel warns us "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them." That is why we must be vigilant, and help others who could be so easily fooled by such preachers or false prophets. Sometimes it may be necessary for us to be the "bad guy" or "bad girl," and try help such persons come to realise their folly. Let us not allow such falseness or fakes infiltrate our communities; and ensure that only that which is true is shared.

Tuesday 2 April 2019

Saturday of Week 11 Year 1

What do we look for when it comes to strength or being strong? Is strength or being strong a physical thing, where one is able to use one's muscles or energy to accomplish feats? Or is strength something to do with one's talents and abilities? When we focus on such strength, some of us begin to feel very proud, boastful and egoistic of such strength. But as Christians, what sort of strength should we really be focusing on?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "In view of the extraordinary nature of these revelations, to stop me from getting too proud I was given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to beat me and stop me from getting too proud! About this thing, I have pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me, but he has said, ‘My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.’ So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong."

The reading reminds us that ultimately, we should not be depending or focusing on our own strengths. Instead, we should be focusing on God's grace and power, since it is God who can give us strength which far surpasses anything which we could ever have or what we think we have. May we give thanks to God even in our weaknesses, and let Him use us for His glory.

Friday of Week 11 Year 1

What do we look for in life? Do we look for wealth and property? Do we look for fame and popularity? Do we look for titles and admiration from others, especially our peers? While it is true that we need to have some of these worldly things to survive, how long would we be able to cling on to such things? When we return to the Lord, would we be able to bring such worldly things with us? Of course not! Such worldly things would need to be left behind, and would no longer mean anything to us. Then what is to become of us then?

In today's Gospel, Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moths and woodworms destroy them and thieves can break in and steal. But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworms destroy them and thieves cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

The Gospel cautions us that treasures on earth are only temporary, whereas treasures in heaven are permanent. The strange thing is that some of us are making so much effort to store up that which is temporary, to the detriment of that which is permanent. Are we willing to have a change of heart, and make more effort to focus on that which is permanent, without neglecting our living needs while here on earth?