Wednesday, October 22, 2014

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 23-10-14

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

The difference between school and life is that school teaches you lessons and then gives you a test; life would give you a test and then you learn the lessons.

While in school, life seems so simplistic and idealistic and we are quite optimistic in our outlook on life.

But the reality sinks in when we face the hard knocks and hard landings in life and we become realistic and stoic and maybe even get rather pessimistic about life.

In the gospel, Jesus was as realistic as He could be when He said to His disciples: I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already.

And He even added on by saying: There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over.

If what Jesus said is not alarming, then at least it should be puzzling, because isn't He the Prince of Peace who came to bring people together and to be reconciled with God?

The truth of what Jesus is saying is that life is not as simple and ideal and perfect as we would like to imagine it to be.

His fire of truth burns away our false perceptions of life and of the world and puts us to the reality test.

But it is with faith that we will learn the lessons of life. And it is also with faith that, as the 1st reading puts it, we will be able to grasp the length and breadth, the height and the depth of the meaning of life.

Faith will help us understand what school has taught us and what life has shown us. But it is with the love of Jesus that we will know what all that means to us.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 22-10-14

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

It is said that the best way to avoid disappointment is not to expect anything from anyone.

That may be practical enough if we want to live our lives not bothering about anyone and also not wanting anyone to bother us.

But the fact of life is that we live with others. And in living with others, then they will bother us and at the same time we will also bother them, whether we like it or not.

And that would also mean that they would expect something from us and we will also expect something from them.

In the gospel Jesus said that we must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour we do not expect.

So Jesus is expecting us to be ready at all times, and yet we cannot expect Him to tell us when He is coming. And to make it even more unnerving, He tells us that He will come at an hour we do not expect (Sigh!)

But if we understood what the 1st reading tells us then we would not be afraid or feel stressed about when Jesus will come.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul tells us that we have been given the Holy Spirit for our inheritance, and that it is according to God's plan from all eternity that we should be bold enough to approach God in complete confidence through our faith in Jesus.

So it means that God is expecting us to come to Him at any time we want. He will always be ready for us and He will not disappoint us especially when we turn to Him in our need.

So there is no need to wait for the Lord. He is waiting for us. So let us communicate with the Lord always. He is waiting for us, and He is expecting us.

Monday, October 20, 2014

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 21-10-14

Ephesians 2:12-22 / Luke 12:35-38

There are many wise sayings concerning the virtue of patience, and here is yet another one.

Patience is not about how long someone can wait. It's about how well they behave while they wait.

An example would be when a loved one is away for a long period of time. While waiting for the return of the loved one, there will be many options available.

While waiting, there can be an involvement in another relationship (otherwise called two-timing). Or flirting. Or cheating even.

Or simply just lovingly keep on waiting until the loved one returns. That would be what true love is.

And that is also Jesus is saying in today's gospel. Those who wait for their master's return can only do it faithfully when they wait lovingly.

And their reward will be beyond their expectation - their master will even serve them upon his return.

If Jesus rewards so abundantly those who are faithful to him, then how do we ourselves treat those who have been faithful to us?

Do we at least make it known to them that their faithfulness to us is a treasure to us and that we can only hope to be equally faithful to them when the time calls for it?

Let us give thanks to the Lord for His faithfulness to us and for those who have been with us through thick and thin. They are indeed "God-sent".

Sunday, October 19, 2014

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 20-10-14

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

It can be said that life is the most difficult exam. Many people fail because they try to copy others, without realizing that everyone has a different question paper.

Who among us can say that we never desired to be richer, higher and have more.

We get these desires not out of nowhere, but from looking at others and then wanting to get what they have and even be who they are.

In the gospel, Jesus has a teaching for us that will help us in looking at life when He says: Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man's wealth is not made secure by what he owns even when he has more than he needs.

Then He tells a parable about a rich man who had a bountiful harvest and made plans for securing his future with his wealth.

And he was called a "fool" because he thought that his wealth was the security for his soul, without realizing that his wealth may belong to him but his soul belongs to God.

We can say that the rich man failed in the exam of life because he was foolish enough to think that his wealth can save him.

But as the 1st reading will remind us, that is by the grace of Jesus Christ that we have been saved through faith. Not by anything of our own, but by a gift from God. Not by anything that we have done, so that nobody can claim the credit.

Let us not be so foolish as to fail in the exam of life. We must realize that there is no greater wealth in this world than peace of mind and that God loves us with so much love and He is so generous with His mercy that He has already given us a place in heaven.

We only need to be grateful and thankful to pass the exam of life.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mission Sunday, 18-10-2014

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

The job market in Singapore is a tight and dense market, but there are still jobs available.

But the job market has also changed over the years.

In the past, getting a job in Singapore would mean we would be working locally and we won't expect to be going anywhere out of the country.

Even going for business trips would mean that it is for a few days or a couple of weeks and then we will return to home sweet home.

We know of expatriate professionals (expats for short)  working here and sometimes we would even envy them for all the perks that they get, but we would not think much about working overseas for an extended period of time.

But now, things have changed. The job market has changed.

Singaporeans are being stationed overseas and working there for extended periods of time on contract basis.

It has even become such that if you decline an overseas posting, then your career might come to a standstill

In fact, an offer for an overseas posting may be considered as a promotion and an advancement in the career.

(But for diocesan priests like myself, an overseas posting is very unlikely because diocesan priests are ordained for the local Church).

Nonetheless, an overseas posting is both exciting and challenging.

We will probably get the perks and the frills of an expat, and maybe even get much more than when we are working in our own country.

At the same time, it can be challenging in having to adapt to the new environment and meeting up to the expectations of the new posting.

And it can be quite stressful and even distressful to be away from the comfort and security of home and country.

In the gospel, we heard that as Jesus showed Himself to the Eleven after His Resurrection, He also said to them: Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News to all creation.

In no mistakable terms, Jesus was giving His disciples an overseas posting, and they cannot decline it, they can't reject it and it is also non-negotiable.

Today, as the Church celebrates Mission Sunday, we are reminded that like the disciples, we are called and chosen and sent.

But it does not necessarily mean that we have to go overseas. Essentially it means that we are sent to people.

Because Roman 10:13-15 has this to say: For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But they will not ask His help unless they believe in Him, and they will not believe in Him unless they have heard of Him, and they will not hear of Him unless they get a proclaimer, and they will never have a proclaimer unless one is sent.

Yes, we are sent to people to bring them the Good News of Jesus Christ.

But we must also remember that people don't care about what we know until and unless they know that we care about them.

The prerequisite for the proclamation of the Good News is that we care for the people that we are sent to.

Last Tuesday at the Singapore Sports Hub, there was a friendly international match between Brazil and Japan. The match ended with Brazil winning 4-0.

But what was interesting was what happened after the match. After the match, the Japanese fans, though disappointed with their team's defeat, did something amazing.

They immediately took out light blue plastic bags and collected all the trash in the section of the stadium where they were gathered.

And it wasn't the first time they were doing it. In the World Cup in June, they also did the similar thing.

Those Japanese fans showed that even though they were in a foreign country, they cared about the environment and respected the people of the country.

And in the disappointment of defeat, those Japanese fans displayed true sportsmanship.

In the sport that is often marred with hooliganism, what the Japanese fans did was very edifying. Maybe it's the Japanese culture, maybe it's their way of life, maybe it's their upbringing. Whatever it may be, we can learn something from them.

Mission Sunday reminds us that Jesus sends us out to people, and the first thing that we need to do in order to witness to the Good News is to respect the people and to care about what they care about, even if it means picking up the trash.

We are sent to our family members at home, to our colleagues at our workplace, to the people that we meet along the way, even to the people in Church.

When these people know that we care about them and respect them, then it is the sign that the Good News is proclaimed.

So people are waiting for the sign. The Lord Jesus wants to give them the sign. May we be that sign that the Lord will work for them, so that the Good News will be proclaimed.

Friday, October 17, 2014

St. Luke, Evangelist, Saturday, 18-10-14

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 meditate 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.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 17-10-14

Ephesians 1:11-14 / Luke 12:1-7

If two is company and three is a crowd, then we may wonder what is a thousand. Or even thousands.

For those of us who don't like crowds (who likes crowds anyway?) a thousand or thousands would be too overwhelming.

We would feel like a drop in an ocean and being swirled about and pushed all over and being trampled upon.

In the gospel, we heard that the people were gathered in their thousands and they were treading on one another.

Obviously the stronger ones were overwhelming the weaker ones and they were being pushed far behind with no chance of seeing Jesus or hearing Him.

And here Jesus gives a teaching as He says: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.

Because no one is forgotten in God's sight, especially the weaker ones. The truth is that God cares especially for the least, the last, the lost and the lowly.

As the 1st reading puts it: we have heard the message of truth and the good news of our salvation and have believed it.

We don't have to scheme and push and shove others out of our way or even trample upon them in order to get what we want or to prove our worth.

We are worth more than hundreds of sparrows. Jesus even sacrificed His life on the cross to show us our worth.

Even if we feel that we are lost or the least or the last in the midst of thousands of others, let us not be afraid. God has not forgotten us. He never will.