Thursday, January 29, 2015

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 30-01-15

Hebrews 10:32-39 / Mark 4:26-34

Now and then, we come across this hypothetical question : If you can live life all over again, how would you want to live it. What do you want it to be like?

So in other words, it is about a new beginning, or a re-start, or a re-birth, or whatever terms that can be used.

So the focus and the attention is on the starting. But how about the ending?

There can be many new beginnings and re-starts but what will the ending be like?

In the gospel, Jesus talked about humble beginnings but great endings.

The 1st reading emphasized that between the start and the end, we must be faithful until our souls are saved.

Indeed, we are not the sort of people who would draw back and are lost by it.

In fact, we should not be that sort of people because of what we believe.

We believe that God has prepared a great and glorious ending for us which would be eternal.

Let us not lose sight of it and keep walking faithfully towards it in faith.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 29-01-15

Hebrews 10:19-25 / Mark 4:21-25

Nowadays there is an emphasis on rights, be it human rights, workers rights, women's rights, civil rights, right to freedom of worship, etc.

Rights can be defined as a moral or legal entitlement to have or do something.

And along with rights come duties and responsibilities which uphold the rights.

So it can be said that rights come with a price, and that is there are duties and responsibilities to be fulfilled.

The 1st reading says that  through the blood of Jesus, we have the right to enter the sanctuary of the Body of Christ, the Church.

That right would entitle us to the blessings of God and to whatever grace necessary to fulfill our Christian mission.

And the 1st reading also states that as we go in, we must be sincere in heart and filled with faith, our minds sprinkled and free from any trace of bad conscience and our bodies are to be kept pure.

But if we cannot even fulfill that Christian duty and responsibility of being freed of sin, then like what Jesus would say in the gospel, we are like a lamp put under a tub or under a bed.

Because as members of the Body of Christ, any sin that we commit cannot be kept hidden and sooner or later it will be brought to light.

So let us listen to the message of Christ and be faithful to our Christian duty and mission so that that we will be entitled to the fullness of the blessings from God.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 28-01-15

Hebrews 10:11-18 / Mark 4:1-20

The moment we are born into this world, we immediately come into a world of need.

We need to be fed, to be clothed, to be taken care of, to be loved - we are in need.

And as time goes by, we will also be called upon to fulfill the needs of others - to feed them, to clothe them, to take care of them, to love them.

And then we also begin to realize that there are other deeper needs - the need to be understood, the need to be accepted, to be forgiven.

The 1st reading has this line - When all sins have been forgiven, there can be no more sin offerings.

But we also know that as much as we have been forgiven from all our sins, we still continue to sin.

That is why the Sacrament of Reconciliation continues to be celebrated. That is why the Eucharist continues to be celebrated.

It all points to the fact that we need God - we need His love, we need His forgiveness and mercy, we need His blessings in order to keep the faith.

But we also must remember that we need God not just for ourselves. We need God so that we can bear a harvest of a thirty, or a sixty or a hundred fold.

We must bear a harvest so that we can fulfill that need of others - that need for God so that all other needs will also be fulfilled.

Monday, January 26, 2015

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 27-01-15

Hebrews 10:1-10 / Mark 3:31-35

For those who are maturing in their prayer life and deepening their spirituality, one of the questions they will face will be that of God's will.

Essentially, the question will be what is God's will for them in their lives.

But before we want to know what is God's will in our lives, a more fundamental question is:  Do we know what we want for ourselves?

When we know what we want, then we will go and get it done. It is almost as simple as that.

In the gospel, we heard that the mother and brothers and sisters of Jesus were outside and they sent a message asking for Him.

The reply of Jesus was rather puzzling - "Who are my mother and brothers?" And then He said this - Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.

The mother and brothers and sisters of Jesus were asking for Him. But do they know what they want from Him? Do they know why they were asking for Him in the first place?

And that brings us to the 1st reading when it said - God, here I am! I am coming to do your will.

When we ask what is God's will for us, then we must be prepared to put our lives into His hands and like Mary at the Annunciation, we must be ready to say "Be it done according to Your will".

And like Mary who had to learn moment by moment how to be the mother of Jesus and to do God's will, may we learn moment by moment how to be brothers and sisters of Jesus and do God's will.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sts Timothy and Titus, Monday, 26-01-15

2 Tim 1:1-8 or Titus 1:1-5 / Luke 10:1-9

The apostles were disciples of Jesus, and in turn they too had their own disciples.

These disciples not only learned from the apostles the truth of Jesus, they also helped the apostles with the mission of spreading the Good News.

St. Paul was given the title of apostle although he was not one of the chosen twelve apostles.

He also had his disciples and today the Church honours two of them - St. Timothy and St. Titus.

In a way, they were closest to St. Paul and he often mentioned about them in his letters and also wrote letters to them.

He also made them take charge of the churches he had founded.

The main criterion for making them leaders of the new-found churches was not because of their abilities. In fact, St. Timothy was considered young in years and maybe even a bit timid.

But what St. Paul saw in them was faith, and that was enough for him to entrust the care of the churches into their hands.

Yes, as Jesus said in the gospel, the harvest is rich but the labourers are few.

Let us pray for more labourers, and may those chosen labourers be people of faith and dedication and courage.

It is our responsibility and duty to pray for these labourers. It is also our duty and responsibility to respond if we are called to be one of those labourers.

Certainly prayers are important. When we pray and God answers our prayers, it is that He wants us to trust in His abilities.

But when we pray and it seems that God does not answer our prayers, then it could be that He wants us to trust in our abilities.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

3rd Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 25.01.2015

Jonah 3:1-5, 10 / 1 Cor 7:29-31 / Mark 1:14-20

When we were in primary school there was a science question that we would love to answer because we know the answer.

Also it’s because the answer is so “obvious” and we just can’t miss it.

And so what is that question? Here it is – What is the biggest animal in the world?

The Blue Whale. The blue whale is a marine mammal. It measures around 30 metres (98 ft) in length and 180 metric tons (200 short tons) or more in weight, it is the largest known animal to have ever existed.

Oh yes, such a big marine mammal would certainly capture our imagination and fantasy, maybe because most of us have not seen a real blue whale before.

(By the way, there was a skeleton of a blue whale found in Port Dickson in 1893 and it was displayed in the National Museum until 1969.)

The whale (blue or otherwise) is such a big animal that it even found its way into the Bible.

We will surely remember that story of the big fish that swallowed Jonah and he was in the belly of that fish for three days before it spit him out on the shore.

That big fish is believed to be a whale although quite a bit is left to the imagination.

One day, a teacher was talking to her primary 1 class about whales when a little girl had a question.

Little Girl: “Do whales swallow people?” Teacher: “No, even though they are much bigger than a person, they have throat pleats that filter their food of krill and plankton.

Little Girl: “But my mummy says that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.” Teacher getting agitated: “Blue whales cannot swallow people.”

Little Girl: “Well, when I get to heaven I’ll just ask Jonah if he was really swallowed by a whale.” Teacher, getting a bit flustered, said: “What if Jonah went to hell?”

Little Girl: “Then you go and ask him.”  : P

Whether Jonah was really swallowed by a whale or not, in the 1st reading, we heard that the word of the Lord was addressed a second time to Jonah and he was told to go to Nineveh to preach.

That was the second time. So what happened at the first time?

At first when Jonah was told to go, he said no. God told him to go east, Jonah went west. God told him to deliver a message of fire, but he headed for the water. And that was where he got swallowed by that big fish.

Obviously for Jonah, to answer God’s call was not an easy thing and it took three days in the belly of that big fish for him to come to his senses.

It was only after then that he realized that it was time to do what God had told him to do.

It was such a contrast in the gospel passage as we hear how Jesus called His disciples. He called them to follow Him and they left everything and followed Him.

It sounded so easy for the disciples to answer the call of Jesus.

But we must remember what Jesus said before that – The time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe in the Good News.

Yes, the time had come for Simon and Andrew, and James and John, to realize that Jesus was calling them to something better and something higher.

They were fishermen and so their profession was to catch fish. So the more they catch the better.

But it is said that the things you own will end up owning you.

They were catching fish for a living but if the meaning of life is just to catch fish, then their lives might just end up being swallowed by a big fish, just as Jonah was swallowed by a big fish.

Yes the time has come for Simon and Andrew, and James and John to answer the call of Jesus.

The time has come for us too, to know that Jesus is calling us to believe in the Good News.

We only need to give God our time to serve Him, but more often than not we say we have no time.

Then maybe we need to listen to this poem “No Time” - 

I knelt to pray but not for long, I had too much to do.
I had to hurry and get to work, for bills would soon be due.
So I knelt and said a hurried prayer, and jumped up off my knees.
My Christian duty was now done, my soul could rest at ease.
All day long I had no time, to spread a word of cheer
No time to speak of Christ to friends, they'd laugh at me I'd fear.
No time, no time, too much to do, that was my constant cry,
No time to give to souls in need, but at last came the time, the time to die.
I went before the Lord, I came, I stood with downcast eyes. 
For in His hands God held a book; It was the book of life.
God looked into His book and said "Your name I cannot find, I once was going to write it down...But never found the time"

Of course the ending is just to wake us up. God surely will have time for us. In fact He has given us all the time in the world.

But as the 2nd reading says – our time is growing short. 

If our time is not offered back to God and to do what God is calling us to do, then time will swallow us and we will always end up with no time.

The time indeed has come for us to believe that when we do what God wants of us, and that primarily will be to serve Him in our brothers and sisters, then it will always be a time of Good News.

Friday, January 23, 2015

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 24-01-15

Hebrews 9:2-3, 11-14 / Mark 3:20-21

If you have children of your own, then let us speculate on this scenario.

Let's say that one of your children tells you that he or she wants to go to some under-developed country to do missionary work and to help the people improve their lives and to share with them the love of Jesus.

What will be our reaction? Whatever our reactions might be, they are certainly more than mixed.

We might be asking questions like: Why can't you do something more normal like most people? What is there to gain from it? How does it help your future? What would people think?

Maybe that was why the relatives of Jesus were worried about Him and thought that He was not thinking right.

He had already done certain things that they were not prepared for and didn't know how to handle.

He threw away the security of a job and a home to become an itinerary preacher.

He hung up His safety when He took on the scribes and Pharisees. (You can't get away with that and in fact He didn't.)

He didn't bother about what people would say regarding His company of friends.

Following Jesus involves taking risks. We may have to throw away our superficial security, hang up our flimsy safety precautions and turn a deaf ear to the criticisms and discouragement around us.

But when others think that we are out of our minds, or maybe when we wonder if we ourselves are out of our minds, then Jesus will come and take charge of us.