Saturday, October 22, 2016

Mission Sunday, Year C, 23.10.2016

Isaiah 2:1-5 / Ephesians 3:2-12 / Mark 16:15-20

At the beginning of the week, we gathered all Mass offering envelopes that were in the boxes and we began recording the Mass offerings.

While we were going through the Mass offering envelopes, there was one particular envelope that we thought was rather peculiar. 

The Mass was for thanksgiving, and it was offered for a taxi driver.

The person who offered the Mass did not write down his or her name. There were no other details in the Mass offering envelope.

That sparked off a discussion about why the Mass is offered. We wondered if the taxi driver had asked the person to offer a Mass. 

Or could it be that the taxi driver had went out of his way to serve the person and so the person offered a thanksgiving Mass for him.

Whatever it is, it inspired us to pray for that taxi driver and all taxi drivers and their passengers safe on the road.

That might also bring to mind a joke about a taxi driver and a priest who died and went to heaven. The angel greeted them. He takes the taxi driver to a large mansion, then takes the priest to a smaller house. "Wait," said the priest, "Why does the taxi driver get a nicer house than me?" The angel looked at his book and said, "It says here that when you preached, people slept, but when he drove, people prayed!"  : )

Well, let us also pray for taxi drivers who bring us safely to our destinations.

Taxi drivers have this responsibility and mission to give us a comfortable ride and bring us safely to our destination.

And when we think about it, then we as Christians also have a responsibility and a mission.

Today the Church celebrates Mission Sunday and we are reminded of this responsibility and mission. And it is none other than Jesus who reminds us of this.

We heard Him say in the gospel: Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News to all creation.

And He continues with this: These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.

As much as it may sound exciting, we may just end up wishing, wishing that we could see these signs, wishing that we can also perform these signs. And it is rather embarrassing to say that we may not have even accomplished any one of those signs.

For example, we pray for the sick and lay our hands on them. We can only hope they recover. And if they don’t then we just shrug our shoulders and we leave it at that.

But can there be more than that? Because Jesus tells us to go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News. 

And the essence of the Good News is that we must believe the good that God has planted in us and it is with this goodness in us that we can give a Christian response to evil and danger and sickness.

There is this story on the television program “60 minutes”. It was about a family with a religiously devout mother, a rather shy father, and their 10 year-old daughter who was wheelchair bound due to some spinal deformity.

Every year, the family make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, where healing is reported to occur. They were being interviewed by a reporter who was a typical sophisticated, secular man, and he was giving the family a hard time for being so gullible to miracles.

At one point, the reporter turned to the little girl and asked: When you pray, what do you pray for?

She replied: I pray for my daddy that he won’t be so shy because it makes him quite lonely.

That stopped the reporter for a few seconds, but he pressed on ahead, questioning the family’s purpose, and saying to the mother that they spend so much money every year going to Lourdes and there is still no miracle.

Then looking at her husband and her daughter, the mother answered: Oh you don’t get it. We have our miracle.

So do we get it? Do we know what miracle the mother is talking about? Or are we like the reporter who doesn’t seem to get it?

When we think about it, the good that God has planted in us is the miracle, and it is with the goodness that is within that we proclaim the Good News.

Today, we have 17 young children who will be receiving Holy Communion for the first time.

For these 17 young children, they will receive Jesus into their hearts and be filled with the goodness of God.

Indeed, a miracle is happening to them, and a miracle is also happening to us as we too receive Holy Communion.

We too are being filled with the goodness of God so that we can see the good in everything and give thanks for everything.

Yes, we give thanks to the parents and catechists who prepared these children for their First Holy Communion.

We give thanks that even in our struggles and difficulties and sickness, we can still see the miracles that God is working in us and through us.

We give thanks for simple things like taxi drivers who give us a comfortable ride and bring us safely to our destination.

It is in giving thanks that the Good News is proclaimed.

So let us proclaim the Good News at all times, use words if necessary, but give thanks always, because that is what is Good News is all about.

Friday, October 21, 2016

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 22-10-16

Ephesians 4:7-16 / Luke 13:1-9

As we look at our world, we may notice a certain disparity.

There are the first world countries, i.e. the developed countries, and then there are the developing countries, and then there are the third world countries.

Some people have come up with this weird idea  that God had blessed the first world countries and left out the underdeveloped countries.

Maybe that idea is implicitly connected to the age-old thinking that misfortune has a certain connection with sin.

It is because of this sin that a person or a nation forfeits God's blessings.

In today's gospel passage, Jesus outrightly rejects this sort of thinking.

Yet Jesus went on to say that if His listeners do not repent, then they too will perish.

In other words, a person or a nation that rebels against God is on the road to disaster.

Even for our nation, we may have come this far because of a strong pragmatic direction and determination.

Yet we also cannot deny that God has blessed our nation with progress and stability.

Hence, we have to always look back at the spiritual values of faith and morality.

For us Catholics, the urgency is even greater.

As the 1st reading puts it, each one of us has been given his own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it.

We should not be tossed one way or another and carried along by every wind of false teaching or deceit.

Rather we should live by the truth and in love so that we shall grow in all ways into Christ.

May Christ be our only way and our only goal.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 21-10-16

Ephesians 4:1-6 / Luke 12:54-59

Let us say that we are about to leave home to come to church and we see dark clouds and hear the rumbling thunder.

It would be sheer laziness and even rather stupid if we don't bring along an umbrella, even if it is not raining yet.

Even if for whatever reason we don't expect it to rain, it is not that difficult to just bring along an umbrella.

Neither would it be too difficult to read the signs of God's presence around us and to feel the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us.

But it would require a bit of sensibility as well as sensitivity on our part.

We need to exercise some sensibility and to ask ourselves whether an act or a deed is worth doing or not, as in whether it is a good or bad act or deed.

We also need to exercise some sensitivity and to ask ourselves how we feel about what we say or think about others, as in are they worth saying and thinking about.

So in what we think, say and do, we need to ask if it is worth it. Because what we think and say and do is also a reflection of our self-worth.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul implores us to lead a life worthy of our vocation. Our vocation is a call from God to be His children.

And that means to bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience, as well as exercising some sensibility and sensitivity in what we think, say and do.

Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross to save us. May we live our lives worthy of His love for us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 20-10-16

Ephesians 3:14-21 / Luke 12:49-53

Two words that begin with the letter "l" and have four letters each are "like" and "love".

As much as these two words have similarities, they may also have differences.

Usually we would use the word "like" for things. We would say that we like this style of clothing, we like to eat this type of food, we like to use this kind of stationary, etc.

To use the word "love" for things would be a sort of exaggeration, because love is used in an intimate manner for persons.

The 1st reading tells us that with faith in Jesus, we will be planted in love and built on love so that we will be filled with the utter fullness of God.

In other words, God has planted His love in our hearts, and with faith in Jesus, we will grow in the love of God and bear fruits of love.

Where there is love there will be peace. But that doesn't seem to be what Jesus is saying. In fact, He said that He came to bring division.

But the division that Jesus is talking about stems from the love of God that makes us see the difference between people and things.

People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos and divided is because things are being loved and people are being used.

May the love of God empower us to begin a journey towards loving people.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 19-10-16

Ephesians 3:2-12 / Luke 12:39-48

We all know how unpleasant and frustrating it is to wait for someone or for something.

We just have to remember the last time we missed the bus or the train, and we have to spend the unproductive time waiting for the next one to come.

Or if the delivery person or the repair-man tells us that he will come between a certain time.

We may have no other choice than to just sit around and wait.

Not only can it be boring, the time is like wasted away.

Yet as much as we don't like to wait, let us also realize that the Lord is waiting for us.

He is waiting for us to respond to His promptings and to use the gifts and talents that He has bestowed upon us to reach out and serve others.

There is always someone waiting for us to help them in their troubles, to show love and care, to listen and to share.

In the 1st reading, we knew why St. Paul was so zealous and fervent about his mission.

Because he knew that what was entrusted to him was a gift of grace from God.

He knew that much was entrusted to him and much was also expected from him.

The Lord has entrusted us with His love. May we not wait any longer to put His love into action.

Monday, October 17, 2016

St. Luke, Evangelist, Tuesday, 18-10-16

2 Tim 4:10-17 / Luke 10:1-9

To serve God by proclaiming the Good News is never an easy task.

From the 1st reading, we get to see that St. Paul had to struggle and endure a difficult time.

His band of co-workers had split up and some had even gone against him.

His only consolation was that St. Luke was with him, and he made it a point to say it.

From the few occasions that St. Paul mentioned him as his beloved physician, and from what St. Luke wrote in the Gospel and in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, we get to see what the person of St. Luke was like.

He was a committed friend of St. Paul, and he paid special attention to those that were forgotten or pushed aside by society.

He wrote about Jesus reaching out to the poor, the lowly, the outcasts, the sinners and women.

What he knew about Jesus, he wrote it in his gospel, and he certainly carried out in his life.

His commitment to St. Paul in his time of need bore witness to that.

As we read the gospel according to St. Luke and mediate on it, a challenge is also awaiting us.

We too have to write another account of Jesus.

It is going to be an account that is not written in words but in actions for all to see.

From that gospel of our lives, others will be able to see who Jesus is.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 17-10-16

Ephesians 2:1-10 / Luke 12:13-21

Every now and then, we might find ourselves asking ourselves what is the meaning of our lives here on earth.

And depending on how we have been brought up and what values we were instilled with and what we are influenced with, we will have a variety of answers.

Answers like: to be happy; to be comfortable; to enjoy life; to be rich; to be successful, etc.,

How many of us can truly say that life is a journey of discovering God? Because many of us live our lives pursuing our physical and sensual desires and our own ideas.

That is because, as the 1st reading puts it, we were "following the ways of the world, obeying the ruler who governs the air, the spirit who is at work in the rebellious."

We were like the man in the gospel who had his own ideas about life and wanted Jesus to be his judge and arbitrator.

And Jesus tells us the parable of the foolish rich man who wanted to store up treasures on earth for his own enjoyment only to have his life taken back by God.

Certainly that tells us that we should be storing up eternal treasures in heaven instead of hoarding treasures here on earth.

Yet the 1st reading reminds us that we are a treasure in ourselves - we are God's work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning He had meant it to be.

And that is the true meaning of our lives - to discover that we are the treasures of God and it is within us.