Sunday, 6 June 2021

Saturday of Week 12 Year 1

Imagine you are a childless couple and are already getting on in years, and you had guests at your house. While having a meal, one of the guest suddenly says: "I shall visit you again next year without fail, and your wife will then have a son." How would you respond? Quite likely some would say, "don't be silly, my wife and I are too old"; some might say, "oh come on, don't talk rubbish, factory closed long time ago (the 'factory' here refers the fertility period of a woman, before she hits menopause)."

This is exactly how Sarah in today's reading responded when she heard such words. In the reading, "Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, ‘Now that I am past the age of child-bearing, and my husband is an old man, is pleasure to come my way again!’" Yet, the guest in the reading did not take it as a joke or a laughing matter and re-emphasised, "Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the same time next year I shall visit you again and Sarah will have a son."

Now, this does not mean that elderly childless couples should get worried or concerned about conceiving at an old age and bearing a child. If it really happens, then we should praise God for such a miracle. But what it means is, if God can enable Sarah to conceive at an old age, just imagine what He can do for us if we are to consistently pray and ask Him. May we not laugh or scoff at such things, since God can make a way, even though there seems to be no way. May we put our trust in Him, and let Him do what is best for us, for His purpose and glory.

Saturday of Week 11 Year 1

Today's Gospel tells us not to worry, since worry would not solve anything. Instead, worry could cause us to do things in a rash manner or in a way which could make things worse. The problem with some of us is we worry and fret about so many things in life, that we neglect to trust in God and walk in His ways. We fail to realise or even admit that many things in life are beyond our control and worrying and fretting will not solve anything.

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. Let us not one day end up with regrets later for not taking things as they come and letting God take care of things. After all, if God can provide the many things around us with what they need, surely He would provide us with what we need at the right time and at the right place, according to His plan.

Immaculate Heart of Mary

How many of us actually try to take the time to ponder about the many things that have happened in our lives? Do we ponder about things good and bad, or have we been living life day in day out without much of a thought? Sometimes a certain significant event or situation has happened. Do we stop to ponder or think about such a situation or event?

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, just like mother Mary did, we are invited to 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. The many things that have happened in our lives no longer become normal or insignificant, since through such things, we learn to encounter God in many different ways.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Saturday of Week 9 Year 1

Why do we get involved in various church activities and ministries? Do we do so because we want to serve God and His people? Or do we do so because we want to gain some recognition or fame? Do we serve because we want to glorify God in all that we say or do? Or are we trying to gain glory to boost our pride and ego? Are we serving because we want to be respected and noticed? Or are we humble enough to serve quietly, sometimes unknown and unappreciated, but nonetheless continuing to serve with dedication and commitment?

In today's Gospel, "Jesus said, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men who swallow the property of widows, while making a show of lengthy prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.’"

Have some of us become like the scribes, who appear to be serving but expecting to be noticed and recognised? Or are we able to resist the need to be recognised and admired, check our motives and intentions, and serve not for ourselves but for the glory of God?

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Saturday of Week 8 Year 1

When we successfully complete a task or a job well done, some of us would try to grab credit or glory. Some may try to claim that the task or job was done through one's own effort, and in some cases, put others down to lift oneself up. While it may be good to give credit where credit is due, how many of us would be willing and humble enough to give God the glory for the task or job done?

 In today's reading, we see how credit and glory is given to God for the gift of wisdom. The reading tells us: "Thanks to her I have advanced; the glory be to him who has given me wisdom! For I am determined to put her into practice, I have earnestly pursued what is good, I will not be put to shame." Not only credit and glory is given to God, the wisdom received would be put into practice. Wisdom is not meant for one's gratification or to show how capable or great one is, but ultimately to give glory to God. Are we using wisdom properly for the good of others and for the greater glory of God?

Friday, 21 May 2021

Friday of Week 8 Year 1

In today's Gospel, we come across Jesus cursing a fig tree which had no figs on it. Some of us may initially wonder whether Jesus was acting irrationally or weird, since the Gospel tells us that Jesus felt hungry and seemed annoyed that He could not find any figs, only leaves, since it was not the season for figs. However, if we look carefully at the text, we would discover that Jesus was actually using symbolic language to mean Israel, especially the scribes and Pharisees, who had so stubbornly held to their ways of doing things and their self-righteous behaviour and attitude, instead of repenting and returning to God's ways.

If we look at ourselves, have some of us become like the scribes and Pharisees? Have we so stubbornly held to our ways of doing things and our self-righteous behaviour and attitude, instead of repenting and returning to God's ways. Have we been like the fig tree, which produces fruit only according to season, and at other times we can behave and do as we please? Let us be mindful, lest we end up like the fig tree, withered to the roots; because of our pride, prejudice, selfishness, lack of forgiveness, and stubbornness; as well as our refusal to truly, consistently and wholeheartedly do all things for the glory of God.

Thursday of Week 8 Year 1

It is easy for some of us to feel as if we are useless, or not good enough, or not capable enough, or some other reason. When we feel this way, we begin to think as if God had made a mistake in creating us, and some of us even think that we should not have been born. Some even go to the extent of having suicidal thoughts, and tragically some even go to the extent of making such thoughts a reality.

But today's reading reminds us that we are part of the works of the Lord, and that "the work of the Lord is full of his glory." Not only that, the reading reminds us: "How desirable are all his works, how dazzling to the eye! All things go in pairs, by opposites, and he has made nothing defective." This shows that God does not make a mistake and each of us are special and have got a purpose, which is ultimately to glorify Him. Perhaps we may not have fully realised our purpose, so let us not dwell in pity or even despair. Instead, let us focus on God and let Him guide us, so that in all we do we give Him the glory.

Wednesday of Week 8 Year 1

Learning a new language could be a challenging experience, especially if one is learning the language as an adult. At times, the language itself could be, by nature, difficult to learn; or it could contain words specific to a certain gender, making it a challenge to know when and how to switch the words according to the gender. Because of this, we sometimes could end up seeing stars, or are in a daze, when we are struggling to pick up the basics of the language. However, after a while, we begin to get a hang of it and we may soon find ourselves becoming more and more proficient in the language.

In today's Gospel, the disciples who were following Jesus were dazed and were apprehensive. They had heard a lot of heavy teaching from Jesus about the cost of following Him, about persecutions and about service. What Jesus had been teaching the disciples is a different kind of language - the language of love and service. At first, the disciples could not comprehend what Jesus was constantly trying to teach them, since the language of love is not so straightforward. But eventually, they began to get a hang of it, and became more and more proficient in the language.

What about us? Have we become more proficient in the language of love? Are we able to communicate the language of love in the same way and manner Jesus taught His disciples and also us? May we make effort to get a good understanding of the language of love, practice it constantly, and encourage others to do the same, while giving glory to God.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Saturday of Week 5 Year 1

Life can be seen from an optimistic or pessimistic point of view. I recall a story of twin boys who were given their birthday gifts, and both were given the same thing: a huge pile of dung. One boy sobbed bitterly saying, "Oh what a mess. What a useless pile of dung. What can I do with this pile of dung? I don't want this useless pile of dung." The other boy was very excited and exclaimed, "Yahoo! If there's this pile of dung, there must be a horse somewhere nearby!" If we received such a gift, how would we respond?

In today's Gospel, we are told: "His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get bread to feed these people in a deserted place like this?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’" The disciples seemed pessimistic about feeding the crowd, but Jesus was optimistic and even gave instruction for the crowd to sit down on the ground. In the end, Jesus fed the crowd and even seven basketfuls of the scraps left over were collected after that.

What can we learn from this? We can learn that Jesus was not looking at limitations; rather He was more interested in possibilities. When we look at life from an optimistic point of view, we begin to see the many possibilities that could happen, if we are willing to consider such possibilities no matter how small they may seem and take time to make it happen with God's help. May we seize such opportunities with enthusiasm, and glorify God in all we say and do.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Saturday of Week 4 Year 1

It is good to have zeal and make effort to preach the Good News. After all, we Christians are commissioned and sent forth to do so by our Lord Jesus. However, as with many things in life, there needs to be a time and place for everything. If we spend too much time in one thing, we may end up neglecting another thing, to our detriment. For example, in our efforts to preach the Good News, we may neglect taking care of our health, and as a result, we may face serious health consequences. Such health consequences could cause us to be unable to continue preaching the Good News, whereas if we had been balanced in taking care of our health while preaching the Good News, we would be able to preach the Good News for a longer period.

In today's Gospel, we are told: "The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves."

From the Gospel, we can see that even Jesus and the apostles would take a break whenever they can, to take care of other matters while being diligent in preaching the Good News. This means that we should not be extreme in our efforts, but do things in a balanced way, so that we could continue fulfilling our duty harmoniously. May we learn to know the right place and the right time to do different things, so that we could continue to give glory to God in all we say and do.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Saturday of Week 3 Year 1

How much faith do we have in God? Do we have faith that God will guide and help us according to his ways and terms, or are we expecting faith to be according to our own terms? We sometimes say we have faith, but we want faith to be according to our expectations and convenience. How many of us are willing to have faith in God, and surrender to His thoughts and His ways, even though at times it may difficult for us to accept?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen. It was for faith that our ancestors were commended." The reading reminds us that we should have faith that God will take care of things, and let His will be done, instead of constantly trying to have things our way. May we let God be in control, and glorify Him in all we say and do.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Saturday of Week 2 Year 1

I believe many of us would want to keep clean and maintain good hygiene. After all, who among us would want to emit an odour or stench? We make so much effort to clean ourselves by bathing regularly, and even spend time grooming ourselves and putting on all sorts of sweet smelling perfume, so that we would look and smell good. All these efforts are to put on a good external appearance. But how many of us have spent an equal amount of time and effort to keep our internal appearance clean, especially in our spiritual life and our soul? Have we been regular in going for confession, and growing in relationship with God, or have we been focusing only on the externals?

In today's reading, we are reminded: "The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer are sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement and they restore the holiness of their outward lives; how much more effectively the blood of Christ, who offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God through the eternal Spirit, can purify our inner self from dead actions so that we do our service to the living God."

When we are regular in attending Mass, receiving Holy Communion, and going for confession regularly, we are letting the blood of Christ purify our inner self, our soul. We are inviting Christ to take control of not only our outer selves, but especially our inner selves. May we not waste the many opportunities given to us to let Christ purify us, so that we would learn to grow closer to God, and glorify Him in all we say and do.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Saturday of Week 1 Year 1

We sometimes come across persons who seem to be quite adept in putting on an appearance, so that others may think that such persons are a certain way, but the reality is that their true self could be quite different from what is perceived. For example, we see some persons behaving one way when it comes to persons of authority, but with others, especially with subordinates or even with certain colleagues, their attitude and demeanour could be quite different.

It may seem as if we may be able to appear in a certain way and give others a false impression, but we ought to realise that we cannot fool God. Today's reading reminds us of this fact: "The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely: it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts. No created thing can hide from him; everything is uncovered and open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give account of ourselves."

The question we need to ask ourselves is this: are we willing to cast aside our falsehoods and be real and genuine? Or are we still insisting in sticking to our masks or appearances? Let us not forget that God sees all and knows all. Instead, let us make more effort to remain true and grow in relationship with God.