Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thursday within Easter Octave, 24-04-14

Acts 3:11-26 / Luke 24:35-48

We may have heard about the recent news of the discovery of the computer bug called "Heartbleed".

It is causing anxiety and panic because that bug seems to steal passwords from server sites and that can cause accounts to be hacked into and also give rise to identity thefts.

As the name of the bug goes, it really makes our heart bleed because we are so dependent on the internet nowadays and passwords are a form of security for our internet accounts.

In the 1st reading, we heard that Peter and John got the attention of the excited crowd by working a miracle of healing a crippled man.

Peter took to opportunity to preach about Jesus and how they accused Him and had Him killed.

When the people heard this "they were cut to the heart" (Acts 2:37). But of course Peter didn't leave them there with their hearts bleeding.

Peter also consoled them by saying that neither they nor their leaders had any idea what they were really doing. Also it was the way God carried out what He had foretold, that Christ would suffer.

In the gospel, when Jesus appeared to His disciples, He also didn't make their hearts bleed for what they had done to Him in His hour of need.

Rather He healed their hearts and opened their minds to understand the scriptures so that they can see how it was written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.

Furthermore, in the name of Jesus, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations.

Our hearts bleed because of our sins. Jesus wants to forgive our sins and heal our hearts. May we be witnesses of His healing love and may we bring that love to others.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wednesday within Easter Octave, 23-04-14

Acts 3:1-10 / Luke 24:13-35

The novel "A Tale of Two Cities" was written in 1859 by Charles Dickens. It is about a story of two cities, Paris and London, and the drama of the people in between.

In a way, it was a comparative study put in fiction form of what was happening in one city against what was happening in another city and the consequences.

Well, we also can use the phrase "a tale of two cities" to compare two individuals or two groups of people with differing fortunes.

And maybe we can also use it for the comparison between the characters in the two readings of today.

There is Peter and John in the 1st reading and  Cleopas and his companion in the gospel. It was like a tale of two cities: one group was full of faith, the other was losing faith; one group was confident, the other was despondent.

But still, there are similarities between these two groups: they had Jesus with them, although the latter group did not recognize Him until later on.

Peter and John also went through the darkness of despondency when they lost faith and couldn't see Jesus. That was what Cleopas and his companion went through in the gospel.

But eventually, they recognized Jesus in their midst, and it was Peter who expressed the conviction in this way: I have neither silver nor gold, but I will give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!

So in whichever state or whatever fortune we may be in, let us know that Jesus is with us. May our eyes be opened in the Eucharist so that we can receive Jesus in our hearts, and of what we receive may we also give totally to others.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tuesday within Easter Octave, 22-04-14

Acts 2:36-41 / John 20:11-18

Human postures are what we do everyday and there may be no special significance to it.

But human postures in a religious context or in a ritual have a significance, e.g. sitting, standing, kneeling, prostrating, etc.

Postures in the bible context also have a significance. For example, Jesus would sit when He was teaching.

In the gospel, we heard that when Mary stooped to look inside the tomb, she saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet.

And then they asked her : Woman, why are you weeping?

And in the next instance when Jesus appeared to her, He also asked her the same question : Woman, why are you weeping?

We may wonder why the two angels were sitting at where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and the other at the feet.

In that teaching posture, the two angels were already showing that something had happened, that Jesus is not dead, and that He was not there in the tomb.

Yes, Jesus is risen, He is not dead or lying among the dead. We rejoice because by dying He destroyed our death and by rising He has given us new life.

May our everyday postures, and more so our liturgical postures, express the new life we have in Christ and the joy of the Resurrection.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Monday within Easter Octave, 21-04-14

Acts 2:14, 22-33 / Matthew 28:8-15

If we woke up today without having to go to work or have nothing much to do, then we won't feel like getting out of bed even if we are wide awake.

We will only get on the way and move quickly when there is a sense of urgency, and when there are tasks ahead that need our attention.

When Jesus rose from the dead, a number of people were also "awakened" and immediately they had some urgent tasks ahead.

In the gospel, we heard that the women were filled with awe and great joy and they came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.

While the women were on their way, another group was on another way and also in haste.

The soldiers who were guarding the tomb went off into the city to tell the chief priests all that had happened.

So two groups went off hastily with two urgent stories to tell. And the outcome of both stories have survived until this day.

Jesus rose from the dead and He conquered sin and death. The light of His resurrection also shines through the darkness to awaken those who sleep in lies and falsehood.

So for us, everyday there is something to wake up to, and it's something urgent and needs our immediate attention.

We wake up with the truth of the resurrection and that is what we must immediately live out for the day.

It's either we wake up to the light of truth, or we may just sleep-walk in the darkness of lies.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Sunday, Year A, 20.04.2014

The celebration of Easter is often called the greatest celebration of the Church.

But that does not mean that the other great feasts of the Church like Christmas and the Annunciation and Holy Thursday are not that great a feast.

The greatness that is meant here is that it is the high-point and the climax of the celebrations of our faith.

And Easter also sheds light as well as reveals the subtle meanings of the other feasts.

For example, at Easter, we celebrate the Resurrection – Jesus rose from the dead and conquered sin and death.

The Resurrection showed that Jesus is divine – He rose from the dead.

But it also points to His humanity – He suffered, died and was buried.

And that is what we celebrate at Christmas – that Jesus, the Word of God was made flesh; divinity also took on the nature of humanity.

So Easter sheds light and also reveals the subtle meanings of the other celebrations of our faith.

Easter is also the greatest feast of our faith because when we truly understand the meaning of Easter, we will also begin to understand what our faith is all about.

In the gospel, we heard about the empty tomb. Mary of Magdala came to the tomb and she saw that the stone had been rolled away and she ran to tell Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved.

They ran to the tomb. They saw the linen cloths on the ground, and the cloth that had been over His head.

The gospel ended off by saying that till then, they had failed to understand the teachings of scripture, that He must rise from the dead. But later on, they would understand.

Today we had 13 infants who are to be baptized soon in this Mass.
We see the ordinary signs of our faith being used: water for baptism, oil for anointing, baptism garment and the baptism candles.

We hear prayers and see the ritual gestures being performed.

In all this, are we able to grasp the deeper meanings of our faith, especially in the Resurrection of Jesus?

Jesus rose from the dead and He has given us new life and He will also give new life to these 13 infants through baptism.

And later on we will renew our baptismal promises and we will be sprinkled with holy water.

And for this Easter, the Church is giving you a bottle of holy water. 

We want to emphasize that it is holy water that is being given and its put into a respectable and dignified holy water bottle.

When we truly understand the meaning of holy water, then we won’t put holy water in a reused mineral water bottle.

Because holy water reminds us of our baptism into Christ and by His suffering, death and Resurrection, He has saved us and will lead us to understand the deeper mysteries of our faith.

So bring the holy water home and bless the home with it, because the home is the first place where we will live out our baptismal promises and make it a holy dwelling for God.

Bring it to your workplace and bless your work-station, because it is there that we will offer up the work of our hands for the glory of God.

And of course, let us use the holy water to bless ourselves and our children, so that we will set our hearts on the things of above even while in the midst of the things of earth.

And may we be that holy and consecrated people who are redeemed by Christ, to proclaim the marvelous works of God.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday, 18-04-14

Today is Good Friday. Today is the day when we recall what happened to Jesus on the cross - His suffering and death.

Human suffering is terrible, and innocent suffering is horrible. 

When we truly understand the sufferings of Jesus on the way to Calvary and on the cross, we might want to call today "Sad Friday" because of the emotions that are evoked.

But it is called Good Friday and indeed it is, because Jesus suffered and died for our good, He died for our salvation.

And as we behold Jesus on the cross, we may remember those times of our own sufferings and there were people who came to our help and to relief us of our sufferings.

Jesus suffered and died on the cross. But that was not the end of it. God did something about it. And He did it for our good.

So when we come across others in their sufferings, we can no longer pass them by and think that it is none of our business.

We must do something about their sufferings, or even to have a share in their sufferings.

To do nothing about human suffering is certainly not good at all. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday, Year A, 17.04.2014

We are gathered here this evening as Church and in union with the whole Church, to commemorate the Institution of the Lord’s Supper, which is also called the Holy Eucharist.

All three readings talk about a remembrance. In the 1st reading, the Lord instructed Moses and Aaron on the preparations of the Passover meal.

And the Lord also said, “This day is to be a day of remembrance for you, and you must celebrate it as a feast in the Lord’s honour. 

For all generations, you are to declare it a day of festival forever.

Similarly in the 2nd reading, St Paul recalled that night of the Last Supper when Jesus took bread and wine and consecrated it into His Body and Blood.

Jesus gave it to His disciples and told them to do it in memorial of Him.

And so we are here this evening to recall how with the first Passover meal, Israel gained their freedom from slavery in Egypt.

And more so we are here this evening to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ as we follow His mandate to celebrate this in memory of Him.

The gospel also talks about the Last Supper. Jesus was at the table with His disciples.

The gospel began by saying that Jesus had always loved those who were His in the world, but now He showed how perfect His love was.

They were at supper, and then Jesus got up from table, removed His outer garment, and then taking a towel, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and wipe them with the towel.

That action stunned the disciples, so much so that they couldn’t react, nor make sense out of it.

And could we make any sense out of it? What has the Eucharist got to do with the washing of feet?

Jesus was Master and Lord and High Priest at the Last Supper. He had already given His Body and Blood to His disciples. Why would He also want to wash their feet?

The meaning may be found in what He told Simon Peter: If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me.

Jesus washed His disciples’ feet so that they will follow in His footsteps. Not just His disciples but we as well.

He washes away not just the dust of the feet; He also washes away the dirt of slavery and the weariness of the burden of sin that makes us drag our feet.

He washes our feet clean so that we can be free to follow Him.

From here, Jesus will walk on to face the cross and offer up His Body for us and pour out His Blood to save us.

Do we understand what He has done for us?

Will we follow in His footsteps? 

We let Jesus wash us first, and partake of His Body and Blood.

And then may we do for others what Jesus has done for us.