Thursday 25 June 2020

Saturday of Week 23 Year 2

Why do some people choose to do evil? It seems strange that some people would do so, but each and every one of us are free to choose. In life, we make many choices, some good, some not so good. But the reality is that we take responsibility for our choices, and face the consequences should such choices turn out to be not so good. Even in our spiritual life, we can choose to grow closer to God, or we could choose to drift away from Him. Eventually, we need to make an ultimate choice, to do good, or to do evil. We call such an ultimate choice a "fundamental option" where we make a choice for keeps, as there is no middle ground.

In today's reading, St. Paul cautions us: "My dear brothers, you must keep clear of idolatry... I have no desire to see you in communion with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot take your share at the table of the Lord and at the table of demons. Do we want to make the Lord angry; are we stronger than he is?"

St Paul is cautioning us to keep clear of idolatry, since once we walk down that path, there is no turning back and such a choice would lead to our ruin. St. Paul is also cautioning us that, at the end of the day, we cannot share at the table of the Lord and at the table of demons, since we can only make one choice. May we choose wisely, since such a choice is for keeps and our eternal future is at stake.

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Saturday of Week 22 Year 2

It is tempting and easy for us to begin interpreting church teaching according to our whims and fancies, or even according to our benefit, preference, convenience and advantage. When a certain church teaching is not to our liking, some of us begin to question why such teachings are there in the first place, and some even begin to try and circumvent such teaching. For example, when it comes to the 10 commandments, how many of us have tried to interpret the 10 commandments according to our liking? For example, you see a mango hanging just slightly outside the fence of your neighour's garden. We are told in the 10 commandments not to covet or steal. But when we see the juicy, ripe and deliciously looking mango, would we adhere to the 10 commandments, or would we begin to make excuses to take the mango?

In today's reading, St. Paul tells us to "Keep to what is written." St. Paul was referring to the Scriptures and to the written teachings that were handed to the Christian community at Corinth, because the Christian community at Corinth were beginning to interpret the teachings for their own convenience and advantage, especially where such teachings seemed too demanding and affected them personally. What St. Paul was doing was to help the Christian community at Corinth to come to their senses and to help them grow spiritually according to what they have been taught.

What about us? Are we willing to stick to the teachings of our Christian faith? Or have we begun to pick and choose what is pleasing or convenient to us, and change or ignore teachings which we do not agree with or find uncomfortable? May we not stray from true and proper Christian teaching, and help others to do the same, as we strive to grow spiritually and grow closer to God.

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Wednesday of Week 21 Year 2

Have you ever been lazy in your life? Some could be lazy in doing house work, and this could result in an unkempt appearance or a messy house, which then could attract unwanted creatures such as rats, mice, snakes, cockroaches, centipedes and other nasties. Some could be lazy in office work, and this could cause one to fall behind in their deadlines and workloads, and could even lead to one losing his or her job. Some could even be lazy in caring for their health, thinking that one is in the pink of health, and this could lead to serious complications later in life, and could even lead to an untimely death. Laziness can come in many forms, but it is laziness in our prayer life, in our spiritual life and in our relationship with God which we need to watch out for.

In today's reading,  St Paul cautions us: "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we urge you, brothers, to keep away from any of the brothers who refuses to work or to live according to the tradition we passed on to you. You know how you are supposed to imitate us: now we were not idle when we were with you..."

When we are lazy or idle, we begin to neglect many things, including our spiritual life. We think that we are fine, but the truth is we are not that fine. We sometimes hear the saying: "an idle mind is a devil's workshop." When one has too much time in one's hands, is lazy and does not utilise the time properly, one could begin to waste time doing frivolous or unnecessary things, some of which could lead one to commit even more serious sins. Are we guilty of being lazy or idle? Are we using time wisely? Do we realise the consequences of being lazy?

Monday 22 June 2020

Wednesday of Week 19 Year 2

I believe each of us, at some point of our lives, would have done something wrong to another person, or another person would have done something wrong towards us. When a person has done something wrong towards us, how do we respond? Do we try to deal with the issue in a gradual and amicable way? Or do we go straight away to higher ups, and demand that such higher ups deal with the person? What about if we are the ones who have done something wrong towards others? Would we be humble and willing to make amends, talk things through, seek forgiveness, and move on?

In today's Gospel, Jesus said, "If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector."

As you can see, dealing with another person who has done something wrong is not an easy or quick matter. It requires patience, persistence, firmness, compassion and mercy towards the other person, instead of taking the easy way out, wash our hands off any effort to dialogue with the person, and get higher ups involved to "kena" or "give it nicely" to the other person. We ought to be against the wrongdoing, not the wrongdoer, and try to help the other person grow and change for the better, instead of belittling or humiliating the other person, possibly to boost our pride and ego. Have we been charitable and loving towards those who have wronged us?

Saturday 20 June 2020

Saturday of Week 18 Year 2

How patient are we in letting God's will be done? We sometimes expect God to answer our prayers quickly, or to help us when we turn to Him for help, but by doing so, are we really letting God's will be done, or are we actually demanding that our will be done? For example, if we are stricken with a serious illness, would we expect God to heal us quickly, or would we be willing to be patient and let God decide what is best for us?

In today's reading, God reminded Habakkuk: "if it comes slowly, wait, for come it will, without fail. ‘See how he flags, he whose soul is not at rights, but the upright man will live by his faithfulness.’" Habakkuk was reminded that God's will would be done, not according to his terms, but according to God's terms, and all that was needed was patience and trust.

What about us? When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we are reminded: "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done." Would we be willing and humble enough to let God's will be done, while we remain patient and trust that God would make a way, even though it may take some time? Let us not be so easily disheartened or give up or even despair. Instead, let us remain faithful in God's love and care, and let His will be done.

Saturday of Week 17 Year 2

It is never easy to tell it as it is, or to tell the cold hard truth. I believe most people prefer to say or hear good news, and try as much as possible to avoid bad news. But the reality is that at times, bad news is necessary to help us grow, or to wake us up on certain realities, or even to protect us from possible harm. Also, at times, bad news could actually turn out to be good news after all, if one were to look at it from a different point of view.

In today's reading, the priests and prophets wanted to get rid of the prophet Jeremiah, as he had prophesied against the city. But Jeremiah was prophesying bad news not because he enjoyed saying bad things or for the fun of it, but to warn the people of the consequences of not amending their actions and listening to God's voice. The priests and prophets were not willing to listen to bad news from Jeremiah, but ironically, it was the city officials and the people who chose to do so, since they were convinced that such bad news was necessary and a wake up call for all to buck up and change their ways. Because of this, the city officials and the people refused to get rid of Jeremiah.

What about us? How would we treat bad news? Would we, like the priests and prophets, try to prevent bad news from circulating, or would we, like the city officials and the people, accept such bad news and change our ways? Sometimes bad news could actually save us from mortal danger, or even spiritual danger; and help us become better persons. May we learn to accept news, both good and bad, act upon such news for our own spiritual good, and continue to walk in His ways.

Thursday 18 June 2020

Friday of Week 16 Year 2

How loyal are we in our lives, when it comes to our family, our spouse, our workplace, in society, and even in a country? Are we loyal only when it befits us, and when things are not to our liking or not going our way, we run away or look for alternatives? It is easy for some of us to become disloyal, especially when we are more concerned only about ourselves, and perhaps our loved ones. But how many of us are willing to set aside our ego, our pride, our need for personal gratification, and remain loyal, come what may?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "Come back, disloyal children – it is the Lord who speaks – for I alone am your Master." The question we need to ask ourselves is this: are we willing to be loyal at all costs, through thick and through thin, and continue remaining loyal even when we face persecution or even death? When it comes to our relationship with God, would we remain loyal to Him, knowing that He will guide and help us no matter how tough the situation may be?

Saturday of Week 15 Year 2

In today's reading, we see examples of persons who "plot evil, who lie in bed planning mischief! No sooner is it dawn than they do it – their hands have the strength for it. Seizing the fields that they covet, they take over houses as well, owner and house they confiscate together, taking both man and inheritance." Such persons don't think about God, and they don't even bother about Him. But to these evil doers, God has this to say: Woe to those who plot evil" and "your necks will not escape; nor will you be able to walk proudly."

When we hear of such evil persons, some of us may condemn them or even shun them, but while it seems easy for us to condemn such persons for doing evil, what about us? Have some of us also committed such evil at some point of our lives? Are some of us persisting in doing evil and committing despicable acts, even after hearing such warning from God? May we examine our lives carefully, and avoid falling into evil, for the betterment of our eternal future.

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Saturday of Week 14 Year 2

Have some of us become more and more complacent or taking things for granted when it comes to sin? For example, I have noticed that when it comes to Lent and Advent, the number of faithful who come for the Sacrament of Reconciliation suddenly increases or surges, sometimes to a point where the priests present find it difficult to cope. But what about other times of the year? Do people only have sins to confess at certain times of the year, and they are sinless at other times?

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 the prophet Isaiah Isaiah could recognise the magnitude of God's holiness, and how incompatible sin is to God, then what about us?. Have some of us become so lax or have a "tidak apa" or "don't care" attitude when it comes to sin? Or do some of us think that sin should be accumulated into a longer list or litany, before seeking confession? May we come to realise the seriousness of sin, and go for the Sacrament of Confession as soon as possible, to mend our relationship with God, and for the betterment of our eternal future.

Monday 8 June 2020

Saturday of Week 13 Year 2

In today’s Gospel we could see fasting in two different perspectives: The first perspective is that of John’s disciples and the second perspective is that of Jesus. According to the first perspective, fasting is viewed as an obligation, or something which has to be done, whether one likes it or not. This is why John's disciples questioned: “Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?" The second perspective, that of Jesus, tells us of a deeper meaning of fasting. Jesus responded to John's disciples by saying: “Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast."

Jesus wanted to show to John's disciples that fasting is not merely a legal demand or done just to fulfil a law; instead it is a way of becoming closer to Him. In other words, we could come to an understanding that with Jesus, no fasting is necessary or needed; but away from Him, no amount of fasting suffices. When we fast just to follow the law, such fasting lacks merit and lacks meaning, whereas fasting by observing the spirit of the law brings fullness to our sacrifice, and guides us closer to Jesus. Perhaps we should re-examine our view of fasting and see whether it is something imposed on us or forced upon us, or an avenue and opportunity for us to restore and build our relationship with the Lord.

Sunday 7 June 2020

Saturday of Week 12 Year 2

I still remember at one parish I served: there was this man who had been ill for quite sometime. His family and he were non-Catholics and not even Christians. I was quite surprised when his family came to ask me to pray over him because they believed that prayers are very powerful for his recovery. It was indeed an expression of faith. While praying over him, I saw in them the calmness and surrender not expected from a non-Catholic family. The man got better, and the family eventually attended RCIA and got baptised.

In today's gospel, Jesus was amazed at the deep faith of the centurion who was a Gentile. Even though the centurion was not a follower of Jesus, he still believed that Jesus can heal. Because of such faith, Jesus healed the centurion's servant.

What can we learn from this? When we have faith in God, God can make many things possible. All we need to do is to trust and believe that God will help us, not according to our time and our way, but in His time and His way. May we have faith like that centurion, a faith that continues to rely and trust in God’s power even if things do not happen the way we want and the time we expect.

Saturday 6 June 2020

Friday of Week 12 Year 2

How many of us can really rely on our leaders or even kings and royalty in our country? If there is trouble and our country is on the verge of being overrun or conquered by enemy forces, would our leaders, kings or royalty be willing to stick with us and defend our country to the very end? Quite likely, our leaders, kings or royalty would flee, leaving others to defend our country as best we can. It seems as though one's own survival and personal interest takes precedence over the interest of the country, as far as some leaders, kings or royalty are concerned.

In today's reading, we see an example of a king who took more interest in his own survival, and not so much on the interest of the kingdom. In the reading: "...the king made his escape under cover of dark, with all the fighting men, by way of the gate between the two walls, which is near the king’s garden – the Chaldaeans had surrounded the city – and made his way towards the Arabah. The Chaldaean troops pursued the king and caught up with him in the plains of Jericho, where all his troops deserted. The Chaldaeans captured the king and took him to the king of Babylon at Riblah, who passed sentence on him. He had the sons of Zedekiah slaughtered before his eyes, then put out Zedekiah’s eyes and, loading him with chains, carried him off to Babylon."

From the reading, we see two examples where one's personal interest takes precedence. Firstly, King Zedekiah was not bothered about the city and more concerned about his own survival, and he made his escape with his fighting men. Then when the Chaldaen troops caught up with him in the plains of Jericho, his own troops deserted him, leaving him to his fate. This shows that at the end of the day, not everyone who claims to be our leaders have the interest of our city or country at heart, since at times, personal interest takes precedence. However, we do have a leader or king who would not desert or abandon us. That King is our loving God. Shouldn't we then pay more attention and hope on our loving God, knowing that He would protect and care for us, and not abandon us?

Immaculate Heart of Mary

I believe many of us would have tried our level best to remember by heart the many things we learnt at school, such as certain phrases in a language, or certain mathematical formula, or some other matter, especially when we were told that such things may come out during the exams. However, more often than not, such things would only be remembered, but not really pondered upon or questioned. Then when we leave school upon completing our studies, how many of us would still remember all those things we had tried to remember by heart?

Our mother Mary, whose feast of the Immaculate Heart we celebrate today, did not just remember things; she pondered over the events and experiences in her life. Mary would have pondered over the joy of the first Christmas, and also the sorrow and grief at Calvary. In today's Gospel, it was the worry and anxiety of looking for Jesus and after finding him at the temple, the surprise at the answer He gave, that Mary also pondered in her heart. Mary remembered and pondered in her heart all these events and experiences and much more.

Today, as we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we are invited to have a contemplative heart and ponder about the many times we have experienced God in our lives. When we remember and ponder in our hearts, we become more aware of God's presence in our lives, and we begin to deepen our hope and confidence in God, come what may.

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Saturday of Week 10 Year 2

One of the challenges we face when dealing with persons of different cultures is that in some cultures, speaking plainly and clearly is expected; whereas in other cultures, the 'face' is so important that persons of such cultures would try their level best not to cause another to 'lose face.' When the 'face' is important, some persons would try to break the news, whether good or bad, in such a way that the other person would not be 'embarrassed', so to speak. Such an approach has led to misunderstandings and even ill-feelings, when different cultures clash.

As Christians, we too have a 'Christian culture' as shown in today's Gospel. The Gospel tells us: "Do not swear: All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no." When we swear, we may be trying avoid another from 'losing face' but in doing so, we may sometimes find ourselves unable to fulfil what we swore; or we may even end up telling lies. May we come to realise the importance of saying what we mean and meaning what we say, and all that we say and do, we give glory to God.

Tuesday 2 June 2020

Saturday of Week 9 Year 2

One thing we need to be careful about is when we come across certain church teachings which seem too good to be true, or sound strange. When we come across such teachings, we need to discern whether such teachings end up appealing to our needs, wants and desires, instead of what the church actually teaches. This is because those who teach such so-called church teachings often have got a hidden agenda, and not for the good of the church. Perhaps one key question we need to ponder is this: are such so-called church teaching really 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 cautions us not to be so easily duped or led astray by such teachings, but remain steadfast to the truth, with patience and with the intention of teaching. May we always choose to preserve the truth, and help others do the same.

Friday of Week 9 Year 2

Being a Christian is never easy. Anyone who claims that being a Christian is easy is either not really living a Christian life, or they may be lying. This is because as Christians the ways of Christ quite often do not agree or do not comply with the ways of the world. For example, as Christians, we are told to love, even to love our enemies; but the world tells us to hate others, or try to put others down to lift ourselves up, and only love ourselves and be concerned only about ourselves.

When we do not follow the ways of the world, and instead follow the ways of Christ, what happens? Today's reading tells us: "You are well aware, then, that anybody who tries to live in devotion to Christ is certain to be attacked; while these wicked impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and deceived themselves You must keep to what you have been taught and know to be true; remember who your teachers were, and how, ever since you were a child, you have known the holy scriptures – from these you can learn the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."

What does this mean to us? It means that following the ways of Christ is not going to be a bed of roses or a walk in the park. We will face many trials and tribulations, and as the reading tells us, we are certain to be attacked in some way. It also means that we must not let ourselves go astray, or give up and end up following the ways of the world. Instead, we must have faith in Christ Jesus, and remain steadfast in such faith. Are we willing to endure much challenges in the world, with hope and trust that Jesus will save us?

Friday of Week 9 Year 2

Among the Jews, the most common title for the 'Christ' was, 'Son of David.' In today's Gospel, the purpose why Jesus then said "The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand and I will put your enemies under your feet." (which is actually Psalm 110:1), is to show to the crowds and the Pharisees that the Christ was more than a descendant of David because David calls this descendant of his, “my lord.” This is to show that David views the Christ as his Lord and superior.

So what does it mean to acknowledge Jesus as Lord? To acknowledge Jesus as Lord means that we should owe our full submission and loyalty to Him. If we owe our full submission and loyalty to Him, then He is our Lord and the Master of our lives instead of the many earthly things such as: our passions, the love of money, alcohol, drugs, and so on; which may distract us or which we may pursue as if these things matter more and may have become like our "lord" instead of Jesus. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: do we really give to Jesus our loyalty? Or have we allowed ourselves to divert our loyalty to other 'lords'?

Tuesday of Week 9 Year 2

Growing in holiness is not something we can do in an instant. We may be used to getting so many other things done instantly; such as withdrawing money from an ATM, or making a cup of coffee; but when it comes to growing in relationship with God and growing in holiness, it takes time and effort. We may experience temptations along the way, and some of us may commit sin; but we are constantly reminded to get up, seek forgiveness, move on and use such experiences to help us grow spiritually, as we let our loving God help us and guide us.

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."

As the reading clearly tells us, we need to be patient and long for the Day of God to come, and while doing so, we should be living holy and saintly lives. Of course, living holy and saintly lives is not easy, especially when we face so many challenges and temptations in the world. This is why our focus should be on Jesus, and let him take control of our lives. While it is necessary for us to live and survive in the world, we should not let worldly attractions overwhelm us or distract us from our ultimate goal. May we stay focused in our quest to be with Jesus, and help others to do the same.