Friday 9 September 2022

Thursday of Week 26 Year 2

We sometimes come across persons who seem to be good to us or treat us well, and some of such persons become our friends. We treat them as friends but do such persons really treat us as friends without any terms or conditions, or do they treat us as friends only when it benefits them or is convenient to them? Such friends are known as fair-weathered friends, who only become friends when times are good, and when times are not so good, they may abandon us, or even persecute or betray us.

In today's reading, we come across examples of fair-weathered friends. Job’s friends had initially come to console him but they ended up telling him that he was being punished by God for doing wrong. Instead of being consoled by his friends, his friends persecuted him. When faced with such friends, what did Job do? Job responded to them by these words: "I know that my vindicator lives." Even though there seemed to be no sign that God cared for Job, yet Job had a spirit of abandonment to God, and had absolute confidence and trust in God.

What about us? When we are faced with difficulties or even persecutions in our lives as Christians, would we be willing to follow Job's example in having a spirit of abandonment to God, letting God take control? Would we allow such friends to influence us and cause us to ruin our relationship with God, or like Job would we persevere and trust in His providence? May we continue to do God's will with zeal and trust, and glorify Him with our efforts and with our lives.

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Saturday of Week 25 Year 2

One of the realities of life we need to be aware of and prepared for is that human praise and admiration can be very fickle, and people who were once allies or friends could become rivals or enemies when the circumstances do not benefit them. At any time, we can gain and lose the praise and admiration we get from others, and if we depend only on such praise and admiration, we may find ourselves bitter and disappointed when things are not good for us.

In today's Gospel, we are told: "At a time when everyone was full of admiration for all he did, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘For your part, you must have these words constantly in your mind: “The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men.”’" Jesus Himself, who performed a lot of miracles, healed many, and said many inspirational and good things, was eventually condemned, despite of all He had said and done. This shows that as followers of Jesus, we should not rest on our laurels and bask in human praise and admiration, since such things are temporary and could change so easily and quickly. Instead, let us take up our cross and follow Jesus, not seeking human glory, but by giving God the glory.

Saturday of Week 23 Year 2

Saying that we are Christians is easy, since mere words are easy and cheap, but how many of us are really follow Jesus' teachings and commandments faithfully and completely? There are some of us who may be Christians only in name, but we want to do our own thing and according to our own way. There are some of us who may claim to be Christians, but we follow only those teachings and commandments which are beneficial or convenient to us. How many of us are humble and willing to accept and follow Jesus' teachings and commandments in its entirety, even those teachings which are hard or challenging for us to follow?

In today's Gospel, Jesus admonishes us: "Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord” and not do what I say?" It is easy to say that we are followers of Christ, but it is certainly not easy for us to be steadfast and faithful in following all that He has told and taught us and not just pick and choose those teachings which we like. Being a Christian is not just accepting Jesus and listening to Him, but also acting on His words and growing in His ways. May we act upon His words, and help others to do the same, for His glory.

Saturday of Week 22 Year 2

What does it mean to “Keep holy the Sabbath” and what is the reason for this commandment? The Sabbath rest was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God’s goodness and the goodness of his work both in creation and redemption. It was intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment. So Jesus’ disciples were scolded by the scribes and Pharisees, not for plucking and eating corn from the fields, but for doing so on the Sabbath. But is this what keeping holy the Sabbath really mean, where absolutely nothing could be done?

In today's Gospel, Jesus defending His disciples by asserting that human need takes precedence over ritual custom. He reminds the scribes and the Pharisees of what David and his companions did. In their hunger, they ate the bread of offering which only the priest can lawfully eat. Then he concludes with these words, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” What Jesus is trying to tell the scribes and Pharisees and us too, is that the Sabbath is meant to be used to honour the Lord in the way you treat your neighbour, while celebrating the Lord’s Day. Instead of being over legalistic or petty, we should seek the good of our neighbour in all situations with respect and kindness. May we make every effort to honour the Lord in our work and in our rest.

Friday 22 July 2022

Saturday of Week 20 Year 2

Throughout the years and in different parishes I have been assigned to, I have come across people who seem to have so many ideas and suggestions to make, and yet when they are asked to carry out such ideas and suggestions, they would suddenly back off and say that they are too busy, no time, unqualified and so many other excuses made. For example, there are people who have suggested that the church needs new leadership for different ministries, or that such ministries should have new blood to lead for a change, but when such persons are asked to take on such leadership, they all of a sudden have cold feet and try to push the task to others. Indeed, coming out with lots of ideas and suggestions is easy, but carrying them out is a different matter.

In today's Gospel, Jesus told the people to listen to what the scribes and Pharisees tell them since they occupy the chair of Moses, but not to be guided by what they do, since they do not practise what they preach. The scribes and Pharisees knew how to talk, since talking is easy and cheap. But only talking is not going to bring any improvement or change if there is no action, since action speaks louder than words, or one should walk the talk.

What about us? Do we know only how to talk and make all sorts of suggestions and demands, without any further action or without getting ourselves involved? Are we willing to do our part in seeing that what we suggest is carefully considered, planned and eventually materialised? May we learn to be humble and zealous in doing what is right, and glorify God in all we do.

Saturday of Week 19 Year 2

We sometimes hear of persons blaming their parents and ancestors for the mess they are in. Such persons seem to think that the actions and wrongdoings of their parents and ancestors would cause them to be punished or greatly affected, as if such actions and wrongdoings would be passed down from one generation to the next. Instead of taking responsibility for themselves and striving towards change and conversion, such persons conveniently think that there is nothing they can do about it, and that the sin is beyond their control; and others are blamed for causing them to be in the situation they are in.

But today's reading makes it clear that God holds each individual responsible for his or her own sin. The reading tells us: "Why do you keep repeating this proverb in the land of Israel: “The fathers have eaten unripe grapes; and the children’s teeth are set on edge” 'As I live – it is the Lord who speaks – there will no longer be any reason to repeat this proverb in Israel. See now: all life belongs to me; the father’s life and the son’s life, both alike belong to me. The man who has sinned, he is the one who shall die.'" The reading also adds: "House of Israel, in future I mean to judge each of you by what he does – it is the Lord who speaks. Repent, renounce all your sins, avoid all occasions of sin! Shake off all the sins you have committed against me, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!"

So what does this mean? It means that we cannot find a scapegoat or make excuses and put the blame on others for sins committed, and that there is no such thing as the consequences of sins or wrongdoings being passed down from one generation to the next. We are responsible for our spiritual growth and well-being and we can choose to avoid all occasions of sin, with God's grace and help. May we make every effort to break the vicious cycle of blaming, and instead take responsibility for our words and deeds, and glorify God in all we say and do.

Tuesday 12 July 2022

Saturday of Week 16 Year 2

It is easy for us to condemn and complain about certain persons or groups in church who we think are sinning or behaving in an inappropriate way. Not only that, some of us may avoid getting involved in any church activities or even leave the church, because we think that the church is full of hypocrites or is full of sinners. Some of us think that only good people or saintly people should be in church, and everyone else is damned or condemned. But if we understand what being church means, we would realise that the church is for both saints and sinners, and all are called to holiness, all are called to repentance.

In today's Gospel, we come across the parable of the wheat and darnel. Instead of having the darnel removed quickly and in doing so, risk removing the wheat as well, the landowner allowed the wheat and darnel to grow together, until the time of harvest came. Once it was time to harvest, then only was the wheat and darnel separated. In the same way, God allows the church to have both saints and sinners present, and both are given ample chances and opportunities to grow in relationship with Him. But God is not going to wait too long for us to change our ways. When the harvest comes, would we be among the wheat, or would we end up among the darnel? Ultimately, it is our choice to make.

Sunday 12 June 2022

Saturday of Week 11 Year 2

Once upon a time, watches were generally marvels of mechanical engineering, especially those watches which are made to tick manually, one tick at a time. Back in the day, such watches were usually not cheap, yet they lasted quite long and did not need much maintenance. Occasionally, one would need to wind the watch so that the mechanism would continue functioning, but other than that, there was no need to meddle with the insides of the watch, unless absolutely necessary. Later, other ways of enabling such mechanism to function were introduced, but the basic concept of such watches remained manual.

In today's Gospel, Jesus is telling something related to such watches. What is He trying to tell us? Don't worry, be happy, take one tick at a time. You may not solve everything one shot, but given time and patience, and with God's help and providence, you will get there according to His will and His purposes. Even our heartbeat cannot be accelerated, otherwise we would get into serious trouble with our health. So let us tarry on one tick at a time, knowing that God knows what is best for us, and in all we say and do, let us give God the glory.

Monday 14 February 2022

Saturday of Week 7 Year 2

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us: "‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’" Why would Jesus consider a little child as being part of the Kingdom of God?

Children are seen as weak and vulnerable in the eyes of society. Yet such weakness and vulnerability is seen as important elements for one to be part of the Kingdom of God. When one is weak and vulnerable, one would trust God more, just as a little child trusts his or her parents for care and security. So when we look at the sort of qualities a little child has, we can begin to understand what Jesus is trying to tell us. Jesus is telling us that we should become like little children, always depending on God's providence. When we become like little children, we learn to let go of our pride, ego, and prejudices, and grow closer towards being part of His Kingdom.

Saturday 12 February 2022

Saturday of Week 6 Year 2

One of the challenges that some of us face is to control our tongue and know when to speak and when to keep quiet. When we see someone doing something which we perceive to be wrong, we have the strong urge to talk to another person about it (in other words, to gossip with someone else), or swiftly condemn the person with so called righteous indignation. However, how many of us are willing to take the trouble to check the facts carefully, and if really found to be true beyond reasonable doubt, are willing to approach the person to address the issue? Or do we conveniently lash out or condemn the person, thinking that we are right in doing so?

In today's reading, St. Paul cautions us: "So is the tongue only a tiny part of the body, but it can proudly claim that it does great things. Think how small a flame can set fire to a huge forest; the tongue is a flame like that. Among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a whole wicked world in itself: it infects the whole body; catching fire itself from hell, it sets fire to the whole wheel of creation. Wild animals and birds, reptiles and fish can all be tamed by man, and often are; but nobody can tame the tongue – it is a pest that will not keep still, full of deadly poison. We use it to bless the Lord and Father, but we also use it to curse men who are made in God’s image: the blessing and the curse come out of the same mouth. My brothers, this must be wrong."

From the reading, we can clearly see that the tongue may be tiny, but it can cause a lot of damage to oneself and to others, if we do not learn to control it properly and speak only when and where necessary. May we strive towards keeping our tongue under continuous check, so that we may use it properly and correctly to build ourselves and others, and give God the glory.