Thursday, October 8, 2015

27th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 09-10-15

Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2 / Luke 11:15-26

Many disasters and tragedies like wars, or a plane crash or a terrorist attack, can be traced down to human negligence or human failing or human wickedness.

But what about natural disasters and calamities like earthquakes, floods, volcano eruptions, etc, where innocent lives are lost.

Maybe because it is called "natural disasters" we tend to make God accountable for it. We even call it an "act of God". Maybe because we can't find a more convincing and consoling answer to it.

In the 1st reading, we hear of a terrible invasion of locusts that ravaged the land. The scourge was disastrous, but the prophet Joel saw it from a spiritual and religious perspective.

He saw it as a sign of the coming of the day of the Lord.

He urged the people to repent and to turn to the Lord with weeping and fasting, and the priests to pray for deliverance.

Similarly in the gospel, the case of the diabolic  possession and exorcism was used by Jesus as a means to proclaim that the kingdom of God is close at hand.

When disasters and tragedies happen around us, we lament and grieve and maybe even blame God for what  has happened.

But can we also see it from a spiritual and religious perspective. Because out of chaos, a new creation comes forth.

We can give in to hopelessness and be scattered. But let us gather in faith, and with Jesus, we await a new creation and a new revelation.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

27th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 08-10-15

Malachi 3:13-20 / Luke 11:5-13

Generally speaking, we want to be good people and more so if we call ourselves Christians, which means we want to live our lives according to the teachings of Christ.

Yes, we want to be kind and compassionate, to be loving and forgiving. And modestly speaking, we can manage to do that half the time.

But the other half of the time is when we want to go eye for eye and tooth for tooth. 

And when we can't because we are not able to, then we will resort to what the people were saying in the 1st reading.

Admittingly we would say what they said: It is useless to serve God; what is the good of keeping His commandments or of walking mournfully before the Lord of hosts? The arrogant are called blessed and they prosper, these evildoers; they try God's patience and yet go free!

And we would also wish that what the prophet Malachi spoke about concerning judgement for the wicked would come about as soon as possible so that they will get what they deserve.

No doubt there will be judgement for the wicked but we don't have to hasten it for them or look forward to their retribution.

On the contrary, it is our duty to pray for their conversion and salvation. Otherwise our Christian identity is not anything special and we would be doing what the people in the world would be doing.

And in the gospel, Jesus has this to tell us about the parable that He told: If the man does not get up and give it to him for friendship's sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.

Yes, it means that Jesus wants us to look at evildoers with friendly eyes and persist in returning evil with good so that they can be saved.

Let us ask for this, and where two or three gathered together in name of Jesus pray for this, then it will be granted.

Let us persist in praying, just as Jesus persisted in looking out for the lost in order to save them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Our Lady of the Rosary, Wednesday, 07-10-15

Acts 1:12-14 / Luke 1:26-38

Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. And this feast is also extended to the whole month of October in that October is also known as the month of the Rosary.

The Church urges that the Rosary be recommended to the faithful and that its nature and importance be explained.

It is recommended to the faithful because it is a compilation of prayers simple enough to be prayed by children, and by families, and by prayer groups.

The nature of the Rosary prayer is not just repetitive but it is actually a chant prayer where the prayers are actually repeated so that it goes deeper into the heart and at the same time helping to keep the focus.

What is important in the Rosary prayer is that the prayers are rooted in Scriptures and it has deep spiritual meanings when we are aware of what we are saying.

The "Our Father" or "The Lord's Prayer" is a prayer that is taught by Jesus Himself and it is the prayer of the Church and a prayer that we ought to know.

The Hail Mary prayer is a combination of scripture verses from the gospel of St Luke and a petition to Mother Mary to pray for us.

In the apparitions at Fatima and Lourdes, Mary urged us through the seers to pray the Rosary. It is a prayer in which she assures that she will be praying with us.

Just as Mother Mary prayed with the disciples of the early church as we heard in the 1st reading, she is also here with us in the present day Church when we pray the Rosary. Let us entrust ourselves, our Church and our world to her intercession.

Monday, October 5, 2015

27th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 06-10-15

Jonah 3:1-10 / Luke 10:38-42

Attention and distraction are opposites and contrary to each other.

But the difference between them is more than just an idea of being opposite and contrary to each other.

In the 1st reading, the difference could been seen in Jonah's attitude and its consequences.

Initially, when God called Jonah to go to Nineveh, he decided to run away from the Lord. He gave in to his distractions, whatever those distractions may be.

The consequences was that he endangered the sailors' lives and caused distress wherever he went and to whoever he met.

But when he finally decided to pay attention to God's call, he went to Ninevah, and he went into the city and there, after a day's journey he preached in these straightforward words: Only forty days more and Nineveh is going to be destroyed.

The effect of his words brought about an amazing act of immediate repentance from cattle to king.

In the gospel, Jesus told Martha not to worry and fret over so many things, because she was distracted with all the serving.

Jesus is also telling us not to be distracted and fret and worry over so many unnecessary things.

We need to keep focused on the Lord and to pay attention to what He is showing us and to reflect and meditate on it in prayer. That will keep us from the distractions of sin and living an unfocused life.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

27th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 05-10-15

Jonah 1:1 - 2:1, 11 / Luke 10:25-37

There are many characters in today's parable of the Good Samaritan.

Each character had a different attitude towards the wounded man.

To the lawyer who tried to disconcert Jesus, the wounded man was a subject of discussion.

To the thieves in the parable, the wounded man was someone to abuse and exploit.

To the priest and the Levite, the wounded man was a problem to be avoided.

To the Samaritan, the wounded man was a human being who needed immediate help.

So now, who is the wounded man to us?

Indeed there are many wounded people around us - some may be wounded by an unhappy or broken marriage;  some may be hurting by painful and abusive relationships; others may be hurting from being neglected and living lonely and miserable lives.

But these wounded people may remind us of ourselves, in that we are also wounded by our own sins.

In the Eucharist, Jesus heals and strengthens us so that we can get up and turn to God and walk in the way of life and love.

And just as Jesus heals and strengthens us, so may we go forth and heal and help those who are wounded and hurting.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

27th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 04.10.2015

Genesis 2:18-24 / Hebrews 2:9-11 / Mark 10:2-16

The month of October reminds us of many things. It reminds us that it is the last quarter of the year and like the toilet roll, the closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

Before we know it, the school term will come to an end, it will be a time to go for holidays, Christmas will be soon and we will wonder what kind of bonus we are going to get.

But before we move on too fast, the Church wants us to pause and holds out the Rosary before us. Yes, for the Church, the month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. And why is it so?

It began at a place called Lepanto on the coast of western Greece.

A great naval battle took place there on the 7th October 1571. A hastily gathered coalition Christian fleet from European Catholic states set sail to face the mighty main fleet of the Ottoman Empire which was sailing in from the east.

The Christian fleet was greatly outnumbered by the Ottoman armada. The Pope at that time, Pope Pius V, called on the Church to be united in a Rosary crusade to help the Christian soldiers in that battle.

Because defeat for the Christian fleet would mean that Christian Europe would be overrun by the Ottomans and that would mean the end of Christianity in Europe.

Furthermore, the unity of the Catholic Church was severely weakened by the Protestant Reformation which began in 1517.

So by 1571, the Pope could only call upon a handful of loyal Catholic states to unite and fight the invading Ottomans. 

Also, the Ottomans took advantage of a disunited and weakened Christian Europe to launch an attack and were confident of a victory.

So the two forces clashed at the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea. 

And after 5 hours of intense fighting, the Ottomans were decisively defeated, and the Ottoman advance was halted and the Mediterranean Sea was freed of Ottoman occupation.

But before the Christian fleet set sail, all the soldiers were given rosaries and it was said that the Christian soldiers fought with swords in one hand and rosaries in the other.

The victory was credited to the Virgin Mary’s intercession, and even Pope Pius V, who was hundreds of miles away from the battle scene, had a foreknowledge of the victory when he gave thanks for victory even before the battle ended.

Though the victory was termed “miraculous” yet it does not mean that no lives were lost or that no blood was shed.

About 7500 Christian soldiers died, and on the Ottoman side there were about 20,000 dead, or wounded or captured.

The Christian fleet lost 17 ships, but the Ottomans lost 50 ships, and 137 ships were captured and about 10,000 Christian slaves rowing the Ottoman ships were freed.

Certainly a major defeat for the Ottoman Empire from which they never recovered and it was indeed a miraculous and religious victory for the Church.

The intercession of Mary was reinforced in the faith of the Church and the Rosary earned its reputation as a powerful form of prayer.

But the Rosary is not just a simple prayer prayed by soldiers and sailors in a war zone.

It is simple enough for children to pray it and they must be taught how to pray it. 

They may not know what the repetitive prayers of the Rosary means, but Psalm 8 tells us that on the lips of children and of little ones, God has found praise to foil the enemy and to silence the foe and the rebel.

It’s just like how we say “Amen” at the end of the prayers at Mass. 

We may not even remember what was prayed but our collective “Amen” means that the prayers will be presented to the Lord.

Similarly the prayers of the Rosary said by children has the ability to call upon the power of God in times of distress.

But children won’t know how to pray the Rosary if we the parents and adults don’t teach them how to pray.

Donoso Cortes used to say : "Our world today is in a poor state because there are more battles than there are prayers".

And many of the battles are fought, of all places, in the home.

As in a war, there are no unwounded soldiers. In other words, in every war, there will be casualties.

And just as in a war, so it is in a divorce – there will be casualties. 

And the first casualty in a divorce is love – God’s love.

And following that will be the next casualty – the children. 

The end of world would not be caused by a nuclear holocaust. The end of the world would come about when there are no more prayers and when children don’t know how to pray anymore.

The month of the Rosary reminds us that it is our duty to teach our children how to pray the Rosary and to pray it with them.

Some people may say that the Rosary is monotonous repetition of prayers. Père de Foucauld used to say: "Love is expressed in a few words, always the same, repeated time and time again "

But it is precisely out of these monotonous repetition of prayers from the lips of children and of little ones, God has found praise to foil the enemy and to silence the foe and the rebel.

And out of the lips of children and of little ones, God will put an end to wars in the world and the battles at home.

A Rosary a day will keep the war away.

So let us pray the Rosary and pray it with our children every day.

Friday, October 2, 2015

26th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 03-10-15

Baruch 4:5-12, 27-29 / Luke 10:17-24

The month of October is traditionally called the month of the Rosary. 

One reason is that it is because the Feast of the Holy Rosary is on the 7th of this month and there is a story as well as a history to it.

The Rosary is not just a traditional prayer but also a popular prayer. The clergy say it, the laity say it and even the children say it; it is that simple a prayer.

Though simple, it is surprisingly an effective and powerful prayer. Popes and saints have recommended it as a prayer for beginners as well as for those who have advanced in spirituality.

“The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.” -Saint Padre Pio
“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.” – Blessed Pope Pius IX
“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” – Saint Francis de Sales
“Say the Holy Rosary. Blessed be that monotony of Hail Mary’s which purifies the monotony of your sins!” -St. Josemaria Escriva

Yes, the Rosary is a powerful prayer against evil and also for the conversion of sinners.

The Rosary is a channel to obtain the power that Jesus promised His disciples to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy.

But it also requires the humility of a child for the power to God to be manifested through us.

Let us also ask Mary to pray for us to follow her in her way of humility and obedience and may we offer our prayer together with her in the Rosary.