Tuesday, July 5, 2022

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 06-07-2022

Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12 / Matthew 10:1-7   

We may think that in the face of adversity, what will happen will be that people will only want to care for themselves and that it will be survival of the fittest.

Even in the time of the early Church, there were persecutions against Christians and it was thought that Christianity will be eradicated and the Church will crumble away.

But contrary to what was expected, the Church and Christianity grew stronger in those times of adversity.

But when there were no more persecutions and adversities, and there was peace and stability, somehow complacency crept it.

That was similar to what happened to Israel in the 1st reading.

Israel was a luxuriant vine, yielding plenty of fruit. But the more the fruit increased, the more idol altars were built. 

The richer Israel became, the more unfaithful it was to God and turned to idol-worshipping.

It may sound rather strange, but stability can lead to complacency, whereas adversity can be turned into fidelity.

May we heed what the Lord said to His people at the end of the 1st reading:

Sow integrity for yourselves, and reap a harvest of kindness. Break up your fallow ground; it is time to go seeking the Lord until He comes to rain salvation on you.

Let us not be complacent, but always seek the ways of the Lord and be faithful to Him.

Monday, July 4, 2022

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 05-07-2022

Hosea 8:4-7,11-13 / Matthew 9:32-38    

Just a general reading of the gospels can give us a sense that it was an exciting time when Jesus was around.

All that sounded very exciting and especially when Jesus summoned His disciples and gave them authority to heal diseases and drive out evil spirits.

Yes, all that sounds very exciting at that time.

Yet it is no less exciting now. Because we are the current day disciples.

The imagery that Jesus gives us is a crop that is ripe for harvest.

And that is the urgency. If there is no harvesting, then consequently the crop will be rotting.

And to think that there are people out there who will be rotting spiritually just because we are not answering the call to be disciples of Jesus is a sad and disturbing thought.

The call to discipleship is first and foremost to be labourers of the harvest, and that is going to be tough work.

Yes,  we pray for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

But we also need to pray for ourselves that we will be awakened by the call to be labourers of the Lord's harvest.

It's going to be a lot of tough work, but it is always exciting, because the one who is calling us is none other than Jesus Himself.

And He will be our reward, for in Jesus there will be abundant blessings of peace and joy.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 04-07-2022

Hosea 2:16-18, 21-22 / Matthew 9:18-26   

Life may not always be easy-going or smooth-sailing.

But at least most of us can say that life is stable enough.

But at some point in life, we will come to a bump and everything just falls apart.

It may be a financial problem, a crippling illness, a broken relationship, or something that just puts life to a stop.

When such things happen, we can either curse and swear and blame everyone for our troubles.

Or we might come to our senses and see what to do and how to get out of it.

In the gospel, the official and the woman with the hemorrhage somehow knew what to do.

They turned to Jesus for help and they got the answer to their prayers.

Let us learn from that official and that woman to turn to Jesus when we meet with life’s dead-ends or when life falls apart.

When we are down to nothing, Jesus will lift us up to something.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

14th Ordinary Sunday, Year C, 03.07.2022

Isaiah 66:10-14 / Galatians 6:14-18 / Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

Whenever there is some work to be done, one of the first questions that will be asked is this: What is there to be gained from it, what is the reward? 

And if the work is unrewarding, and there is nothing to be gained from it, then who would ever want to do it? 

There is this story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. 

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody was got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. 

Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. 

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. 

The story may sound funny but the underlying message is about responsibility and accountability. 

And that story unfolds in companies and organizations, right down to the home. 

Yes, the fact is that when there is some difficult and unrewarding and unglamorous work to be done, we are a bit of that everybody, somebody, anybody and nobody. 

In the gospel, Jesus says that the harvest is rich, but the laborers are few. 

And we know why the laborers are few - because everybody was sure that somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it but nobody did it. 

And Jesus also pointed out why the laborers are few. Who would want to be like a lamb among wolves, and be subjected to stress and tension? 

Who would want to do some rough and tough work and get nothing in return? Who would want to face rejection and criticism, despite the good intentions and sacrifices. 

Given the above, it is not surprising that the laborers are few, though the harvest is rich. 

And so it would be more convenient to just look away and let the harvest rot, than to be a solution to the problem. It is more convenient to run away from the fire than into the fire. 

But just as Jesus sent His disciples into the harvest, so too Jesus is sending us to serve in the Church as well as in the world. 

And it is not about doing some work. It is about the labour of love. 

When we do a work because no one is there to do it, it is the labour of love. 

When we do a work and no one is looking, that is the labour of love. 

When we do some thankless work and our names are not even mentioned, or that someone else takes the credit, that is the labour of love. 

So, whether in church or in the world, whether in the workplace or at home, there is a harvest and Jesus wants to send us to the harvest. 

But He waits for us to say “yes”. It is not about everybody or somebody or anybody to say yes. It is about you and me. 

It is about saying “yes” to Jesus and be laborers of love in the Lord's harvest. 

And there is a reward actually. Our names will be written in heaven. As well as the names of those who we will bring along as laborers of love in the Lord's Harvest.

Friday, July 1, 2022

13th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 02-07-2022

Amos 9:11-15 / Matthew 9:14-17      

It goes without saying that the quality of the agricultural produce of the land depends very much on the weather.

Yet another fundamental factor is also the stability of the land, i.e. the political and social condition of the people living on that land.

If there were wars and bloodshed and unrest, would we expect the land to bear quality produce even if the land was fertile?

And if grapes were planted during a time of turmoil and distress, what will be harvested could be sour grapes that are neither edible nor used for wine making.

In the 1st reading, the planting and the harvesting of grapes was in the background of a land that was restored and the people were at peace.

Yet, it must be remembered that the rich harvest of grapes, the sweet taste of wine and the joy it brings to a people at peace was the work of God who restored the land and blessed the people.

In the gospel, Jesus also talked about wine and wineskins, and He said that no one puts new wine into old wineskins.

It may simply mean that the new wine of restoration and blessing cannot be put into the old wineskins of turmoil and distress that comes from unfaithfulness to the Lord.

By now we should know the dire consequences of being complacent and being unfaithful to the Lord.

Yet, as much as the Lord is merciful and restores us and blesses us so that we can have peace in our lives, may we also prepare new wineskins for our hearts so as to receive and treasure God's blessings.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

13th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 01-07-2022

Amos 8:4-6, 9-12 / Matthew 9:9-13   

It is not really easy for someone who has done wrong to get back onto the track of life again.

Even if they truly repent of their wrong-doing, their guilt remains etched on the minds of people.

For example, for those who have been released from prison, the label "ex-prisoner" will always be in the minds of those who know them.

And as long as people keep harping on guilt, then life is being drained away. Even if one has repented and made amends for the guilt, the chains of the past bind them again when others recall the guilt.

Often, those with a guilty past are made to feel that self-respect and self-worth count for less than zero.

That was the case with Matthew the tax-collector. He gained his wealth but he lost his worth. He got his revenue but lost his respect.

And it is indeed surprising that of all the virtuous people, Jesus would call such a person who is less than zero in the eyes of others.

It will take some time for us to understand that the Divine Healer came for the sick.

It will take some time for us to understand that the Saviour came for the sinner.

But in the meantime, what we need to show to those who have done wrong is to show them the mercy of God.

Because we ourselves will need that mercy when we fall.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

13th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 30-06-2022

Amos 7:10-17 / Matthew 9:1-8  

Whenever we listen to someone speaking, we would surely want to understand what the other person is saying.

But are we trying to understand what is being said from our own interpretation?

Or do we try to understand what the person really means?

Of course, it would be easier to understand what is being said from our own interpretation.

To try to understand what the other person really means would entail further questions and clarifications, and more time and effort will be needed.

In the gospel, when Jesus said to the paralytic that his sins are forgiven, the scribes immediately denounced it as a blasphemy.

In the minds of the scribes, only God can forgive sins. And they would rather hold on to their opinion and judgement rather than to seek clarification and enlightenment.

Likewise, in the 1st reading, if only Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, had wanted to understand the prophecy of Amos, he could have averted a tragedy for the nation. 

So to truly understand what someone is saying, then time and effort is needed on our part. 

And to truly understand someone, then love will be needed.

God will give us that love, if only we truly want to understand