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.