Wednesday, July 15, 2020

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 16-07-2020

Isaiah 26:7-9, 12, 16-19 / Matthew 11:28-30 

To desire to be rich, it is necessary to work hard.

To desire to be healthy, it is necessary to keep fit.

To desire for something good, then it is necessary to know what is really good.

The 1st reading tells us what goodness is:
"The path of the upright man is straight, You smooth the way of the upright.
Following the path of Your judgements, we hoped in you, Lord, Your name,Your memory are all my soul desires."

As much as following the ways of the Lord is to be desired, yet our profane desires are for things that lead us away from God.

But the 1st reading also tells us where we will end up with these profane desires:  "Distressed,we search for You, Lord; the misery of oppression was your punishment for us.

In life, what we desire most is peace and joy.

Jesus exclaimed in the gospel : Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.

Let us heed the call of Jesus to go to Him, so that we may know His ways and walk in His paths, and find peace and rest in our lives.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 15-07-2020

Isaiah 10:5-7, 13-16 / Matthew 11:25-27

To have faith in God means that we look and see with the eyes of faith and we also understand with hearts of faith.

To be a person of faith means that our faith is integrated into every aspect of our lives, and we see the hand of God shaping every event and every experience.

Yet if we put ourselves in the shoes of the people of God who were listening to the 1st reading, would we be able to see the hand of God directing the power of our enemy against us?

Yes, we have sinned, we have provoked the Lord, we have turned away from the Lord and have been unfaithful.

Our enemy have pillaged and plundered us, and stamped us like mud in the street. Will the Lord not have pity on us and save us from being cut to pieces?

Yet to have faith in this kind of horrible situation is certainly challenging but nonetheless it is critical to have that bit of faith in God.

Because we must believe what the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah in the 1st reading: Does the axe claim more credit than the man who wields it, or the saw more strength than the man who handles it?

To have faith in a critical situation also means that we have hearts like that of children who believe that  God will protect us and will not let us break beyond our strength.

Yes, the hand that hurts is also the hand that heals, and we must see the hand of God directing and shaping every event and experience in our lives for our good.

To have faith means we must be able to see further and deeper and to see God in all things.

Monday, July 13, 2020

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 14-07-2020

Isaiah 7:1-9 / Matthew 11:20-24

When faced with a hungry person, it is utterly useless to preach to him about the love of God.

The most sensible thing to do is to give him some food and that will indeed show him the love of God.

Hunger has no logic and hence people will not listen to whatever promises of food that will be coming. The hunger has to be addressed immediately.

If hunger has no logic, then fear can cause panic. In the face of mortal danger, fear can make people hysterical.

In the 1st reading, we heard that the hearts of the king Ahaz and the people of Judah shuddered when they got the news that the enemy was approaching to attack them.

The immediate thing to do would be to run away and save themselves and to each his own. For those remaining, they could panic and be hysterical as they wait for death to fall on them.

Yet in all that chaos, the Lord spoke. And He assured His people that what the enemy planned to do won't come true; it would not be. But on one condition: But if you do not stand by me, you will not stand at all.

The people will have to decide - either to stand by the words of the Lord, or they give in to fear and panic.

Yet in the gospel, the story was quite the opposite. The people had seen the miracles of Jesus, and yet they refused to repent. And as it is, those places mentioned in the gospel now lie in ruins.

And for us, we have heard the words of the Lord; we have seen His love for us in the Eucharist.

We now have to make the decision - either we stand by Him, or we won't stand at all.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 13-07-2020

Isaiah 1:10-17 / Matthew 10:34 - 11:1

The Eucharist is the highest form of worship in the Church because it is Jesus who offers Himself to the Father, and we unite with Jesus in His sacrifice.

Hence the Eucharist is indeed the source and summit of our faith and life.

In the Eucharist we receive an outpouring of God's grace as we receive Jesus in Holy Communion.

Yet at the same time, it may bother us to see that the celebration of the Eucharist may seem so bland and the Catholic life and spirituality seems so lethargic.

If that is the case and if we are asking ourselves why, then the 1st reading may shed some light into our question.

It seems that God is lamenting that the sacrifices that were offered to Him were unclean and blemished and unworthy.

Simply because the hearts of the people were unclean and wicked and hence their offerings and sacrifices were just a reflection of the state of their hearts.

How can God's grace enter into hearts that are contaminated by sin and wickedness?

And how can we say that the Eucharist does not seem to have any effect when it is we who are at fault?

Jesus comes with a sword to cut away the sin and wickedness in our hearts so that we can be made a worthy offering to God.

May we detest our sins and turn to Jesus who will cleanse us and heal us and make of us a worthy offering to God, and in turn receive peace and joy from Him.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

15th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 12.07.2020

Isaiah 55:10-11 / Romans 8:18-23 / Matthew 13:1-23
The word “destiny” is a powerful word and it is also a thought-provoking word. 

But what is the meaning of destiny? There are many shades of meaning but not one that can really express it in its essence. 

Destiny can be said to be events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future.

Destiny can also be understood as a future scenario determined by decisions an individual will make. 

There are certainly more shades of the meaning to Destiny and so it can be quite difficult to define destiny given that there are many other factors involved. 

But what is the Christian understanding of destiny? 

We would have heard before that Jesus said this of Himself: The Son of Man is destined to suffer, die and rise again. 

So the Christian understanding of destiny is connected to God’s will. 

Jesus came to show us how to do the will of God. And in doing the will of God, Jesus understood His destiny as having to suffer, die and to rise from the dead. 

In the 1st reading we get a glimpse of the will of God and how it directs the destiny of nature:
Thus says the Lord: ‘As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.’

So the rain and the snow fulfilled their destiny by watering the earth. In turn the earth gave growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for eating. 

But in the gospel, we hear of a parable in which some of the seeds that were sown were not able to fulfill their destiny of bearing a harvest. 

But it is a parable that shows us that quite often we are the obstacles of our own destiny. 

The Word of God leads us to know and do the will of God. And the Word of God are like seeds that are sown in our hearts. 

When our hearts are hardened by pleasures and desires, or by resentment and disappointment, God’s Word cannot take root. 

When our hearts are distracted or disturbed by worries and anxieties, God’s Word cannot take root.

When our hearts are poisoned by sin and unfaithfulness, God’s word cannot take root. 

But like the sower, God continues to sow His Word on our hearts. 

May we listen, may we see, so that we will be forgiven and healed, and then we will be able to do God’s Will and fulfill our destiny in our lives.

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 11-07-2020

Isaiah 6:1-8 / Matthew 10:24-33 

Generally, it can be said that every person has had some kind of spiritual experience of the divine presence.

It can be anything from a deep quiet moment of peace to a unique encounter with an apparition.

In the 1st reading, the prophet Isaiah seemed to have a heavenly vision of the glory and the holiness of God.

It was an amazing vision as well as an exhilarating experience.

But what the prophet Isaiah experienced was a deep sense of his sinfulness.

But he wss cleansed of his sinfulness when in his vision he saw a seraph took a live coal and touched his lips.

But what was equally amazing was that Isaiah offered himself to be sent on the mission to be God's messenger.

So as much as we may wish to have an experience of God, let us also remember that a mission comes along with an experience.

It is a mission to be God's messenger, and it will bring healing for others as well as for ourselves

Friday, July 10, 2020

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 10-07-2020

Hosea 14:2-10 / Matthew 10:16-23   

If there is a passage in the gospels that we would rather not listen to, it would probably be the passage in today's gospel reading.

In this gospel passage, Jesus talks about danger and persecution and betrayal.

But there may be one sentence that will catch our attention and imagination.

Jesus instructed His disciples, and also to us, to be cunning as serpents and harmless as doves.

And before that He say that He is sending us out like sheep among wolves, and we know what wolves will do to sheep.

Then He gave the images of two creatures and their characteristics - the cunning (or shrewd) serpent and the harmless (or docile) dove.

As much as it may initially seem contradictory, both characteristics are needed in order to survive and even overcome a dangerous and hostile world.

And we should be able to understand that we need that wisdom (like that of a serpent) and humility (like that of a dove) in order to live out our Christian calling and to be disciples of Jesus.

Let us ask the Lord Jesus to grant us that wisdom and humility.