Thursday, September 18, 2014

24th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 19-09-14

1 Cor 15:12-20 / Luke 8:1-3

We may wonder if following Jesus then would be any easier than following Jesus now.

At least going by today's gospel passage, we would have guessed that following Jesus would mean being on the road always.

Jesus made His way through towns and villages preaching and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God.

With Him went the Twelve and also some women and several others who provided for them out of their own resources.

So there was always this uncertainty of what was going to happen next. And they were like living from hand to mouth. And shelter for the night was not guaranteed.

Having understood that, being a Christian nowadays, and especially in Singapore, seems rather comfortable and acceptable.

Yet, when life becomes too comfortable and secure, then like what St. Paul said in the 1st reading: If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are the most unfortunate of all people.

Because we will forget what the Resurrection is; we forget what dying to ourselves is; we forget what suffering is; we forget what it means to provide for others out of our own resources.

Following Jesus then is not any easier than following Jesus now. In fact it may be more difficult and challenging. Some would even have to face the mortal peril of losing their heads for being a Christian.

But in the face of challenges and difficulties, our hope in Christ is not just in this life. There is a higher life beyond. When we rise up to the challenges and difficulties, we will also rise to that life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

24th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 18-09-14

1 Cor 15:1-11 / Luke 7:36-50

A spade is much bigger than a spoon. In a certain way they both look similar.

But the spade cannot do the work of a spoon, and neither the spoon can do the work of the spade.

In short, they are important in their own roles.

And that brings to mind the tendency of comparison. Comparison brings about the death of uniqueness and with that the death of joy.

In the gospel, Simon the Pharisee may be seen as self-righteous and critical of those who have gone wayward.

And that springs from that tendency to compare. He compared that woman with a bad name with his self-righteousness. He may even have compared Jesus' behaviour with that of his.

And even in the 1st reading, St. Paul seemed to be comparing himself with the rest of the apostles when he said that he was the least of the apostles and that he hardly deserved that title.

But he concluded by saying that what mattered was that he preached what the apostles preached, so that his listeners will come to believe and have the same faith.

So when we do not compare ourselves with what the others around us, we will certainly gain much more time and energy to look at ourselves and strive for what is good and holy.

And just like the spade and the spoon, both being important in their own roles, may the Lord God enlighten us on what our calling is and to fulfill that important role in our lives.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

24th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 17-09-14

1 Cor 12:31 - 13:13 / Luke 7:31-35

We have often heard criticisms about others and often the focus seems to be on the one who is being criticized.

But if we are wise and matured enough, we would wonder about the one who is criticizing.

And when we think deeper about it, criticisms say more about the criticizer than about the one being criticized.

And by their criticisms, we may come to see that those who criticize others may not fully understand the situation and the circumstances and as well as the people they are criticizing.

In the gospel, Jesus described those people that criticized Him and John the Baptist as being like children shouting to one another while they sit in the market place.

They were like playing games and in a way making fun of the messengers of God, calling one possessed and the other a glutton and a drunkard.

Certainly, criticism is not child's play because the aim is to find fault and to put the blame on others when things are not to their liking or when things go wrong.

But if criticizing others is like child's play, then the way of love is certainly for the matured and the wise.

As the 1st reading puts it - love is patient and kind, never jealous, never boastful or conceited, never rude or selfish, does not take offence, is not resentful, .

Love take no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.

These words about love and these words of love are for those who want move away from criticizing to loving. May we make these words our own and bring about love in the world.

Monday, September 15, 2014

24th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 16-09-14

1 Cor 12:12-14, 27-31 / Luke 7:11-17

It is said that a rich man is not the one who has the most but the one who needs the least.

That is so true because for one who is not contented, more is never enough. In fact, even having everything is not enough.

What is said about the riches of the material world can also be said about the gifts of the spiritual world.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul mentioned about the gifts of prophecy and interpretation, teaching, working miracles, healing, leading, etc.

But the human heart may not be contented with just what it had been given. It may succumb to envy or jealousy and start to desire for other spiritual gifts that it has not.

The passage in the 1st reading ends off with St. Paul urging us to be ambitious for the higher gifts.

To be able to receive any higher gifts, we ought to be aware and contented with the present gifts.

In the gospel, we heard that Jesus raised a dead man back to life and gave him back to his mother.

The gift of life is indeed the greatest gift that we ever have on this earth.

And when we relish and cherish this gift of life then we will be ready for the higher gift, and that is eternal life.

When we realize that then we indeed truly rich.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Our Lady of Sorrows, Monday, 15-09-14

Hebrews 5:7-9 / John 19:25-27 or Luke 2:33-35

In our journey through life, we have walked the path of sorrow and grief. And many times too.

In fact, no one can ever say that they don't know what sadness or sorrow or grief is all about.

And maybe too many people have walked that path that each one has a sad story to tell.

And it is quite frustrating when you want to share a sadness that has overcome your heart with another person and then that person tells you that yours is nothing compared to what he is going through and then you hear another sad story that makes you even more depressed and frustrated.

Today, as we  remember our Lady by one of her titles "Our Lady of Sorrows", we know of her grief and sadness as she stood by the cross and watch her son being crucified to death.

That sword of sorrow pierced deep into her heart, and we who have experienced sorrow and grief would know what she had gone through.

Much had been said of her sorrow and much more can be said. But on this feast of "Our Lady of Sorrows", we stand with Mary at the foot of the cross.

We now tell her the sorrow in our hearts and as we stand with her by the cross may we also receive the strength and consolation that Jesus will give us through the power of His cross.

Jesus and Mary had gone through their share of sorrow and sufferings and they want to be with us as we walk the path that they had walked.

May the strength and consolation that they give us in turn empower us to be with those who are suffering and in sorrow so that we will be companions with them in their sufferings.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Sunday, 14-09-14

Numbers 21:4-9 / Philippians 2:6-11 / John 3:13-17

To say that God sent His only Son to die for our sins is certainly not wrong but it may not be that entirely right either.

As a matter of fact, Jesus did die for our sins and He died a cruel death by crucifixion.

Jesus was nailed to the cross and was flaunted before the face of God as if to mock God for sending His Son to earth.

If it had all ended on the cross, then evil would have scored a victory because God did nothing to prevent or save Jesus from the cruelty and death on the cross.

Yes, God did not save Jesus from death. But since God did not save Jesus from death, then how would Jesus dying on the cross save us from our sins.

Well, God did not save Jesus from death. But God saved Jesus out of death (Hebrews 5:7). And that gave the whole twist to that cruel death by crucifixion.

It  is because God saved Jesus out of death by raising Him from the dead, then by the resurrection of Jesus we too are saved from our sins.

St. Paul, in the 2nd reading reiterates that when he said Christ did not cling to His equality with God but emptied Himself, and He was humbler yet even to accepting death on the cross.

But God raised Him high and gave Him the name above all other names and all creation will bend the knee at the name of Jesus.

So for St. Paul, the death of Jesus on the cross is the essence of our hope, although the cruel death on the cross seems to exclude any kind of hope.

But more than just a sign of hope, the cross is also the sign of love. Although that seems to be pushing the meaning of the cross to its limits already.

But the gospel tells us that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.

For God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world but so that through Him the world might be saved.

So saying that God sent His only Son to die for our sins may not be wrong but it is not the whole picture.

God sent His Son to love us and the price of that love is death on the cross.

But that love was so powerful that even the meaning of the cross was changed, for the cross of death has now become the cross of love that triumphs over sin and death.

So the holy and precious cross is now raised aloft for the Church and for all the world to see.

For in the cross is life and love, forgiveness and healing, redemption and salvation.

Let us kneel before the Holy Cross and venerate it for it protects us and the powers of evil and darkness cower and flee before it.

Let us also pray with the Cross so that we will faithfully and courageously follow Jesus in His way of the Cross and may we also glory with Him in the Cross.

Friday, September 12, 2014

23rd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 13-09-14

1 Cor 10:14-22 / Luke 6:43-49

We may say it is easy to differentiate between a good person and a bad person. At least it is easy to spot a bad person.

A bad person does what is obviously evil and there is no question about evil concerned, e.g. murderers, terrorists, rapists, loan-sharks, drug-pushers, human-traffickers, etc.

At the root of the evil that these people commit is none other than the evil influence of the devil himself.

As St. Paul puts it in the 1st reading, those who commit evil are in communion with the devil himself.

It is not just about eating food that is sacrificed to demons. It is about being in communion with the devil and taking on the nature of evil.

In the gospel, Jesus talked about a hidden kind of evil and maybe a more sinister one.

He said that no sound tree produces rotten fruit, nor a rotten tree produces sound fruit.

But what looks like a sound tree can produce rotten fruit. In other words we may not be committing obvious evil and we may look like good people to others.

Yet, there may be some evil lurking within us that makes us sin. And in sinning we come into communion with no other than the devil.

That also happens when we call Jesus our Lord and yet we do not do what He tells us. Then we are building our house on sand.

We may look good in fair weather but we will not withstand the test of goodness.

Let us turn to our Blessed Mother and ask her to pray for us so that we will do whatever Jesus our Lord tells us.