Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Guardian Angels, Thursday, 02-10-14

Exodus 23:20-23 / Matthew 18:1-5, 10

Among the many religious items that I have is a figurine of a guardian angel with wings spread wide and with hands reaching downward.

I do pray to my guardian angel, whether as a devotional prayer, or whenever I am driving.

Because in one section of the Creed, we profess the existence of not only the seen but also the unseen, the visible and the invisible, or what we call the spiritual world.

Yet somehow, whenever we talk about the spiritual world,  what may come to mind may be ghosts and haunted places.

Today as the Church celebrates the feast of guardian angels, we also acknowledge the existence of the spiritual world.

But it is a spiritual world of angels whom God has sent to protect and guard and guide us.

What God has assured His people Israel in the 1st reading, i.e. the protection of an angel, He also assures the Church and each of us.

This is also what Jesus is affirming in the gospel. And He even says that our guardian angels are always in the presence of God in heaven. And they are also here by our side.

So let us pray daily to our guardian angels whom God has sent from above.

If you know this traditional prayer to the guardian angel, then let us pray together :
Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God's love commits me here.
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Wednesday, 01-10-14

Isaiah 66:10-14 / Matthew 18:1-5

Today is the feastday of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. 

St. Therese is the Patroness of the Missions; St. Francis Xavier is the Patron of the Missions.

Whereas  St. Francis Xavier went far and wide all around Asia and as far as China to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ and baptized many, St. Therese did none of the above.

She spent her religious life cloistered in a Carmelite convent in Lisieux. As much as she wanted to go to Asia to help set up a foundation there, ill health was her obstacle.

Yet, within the four walls of the convent in Lisieux, she developed a missionary spirit by doing little deeds with great love.

As her union with Jesus grew deeper, she offered all her sufferings to Jesus as an act of union with Him on the Cross.

She had the desire to be a missionary, a martyr, a saint. In the end she found what her true vocation was.

She discovered this when she read 1 Cor 12:39 "Strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way"  – the way of love.

St. Thèrése wrote: "I understood that the Church had a heart and that this heart was burning with love." In delirious joy she cried out, "O Jesus, my love, my vocation, at last I have found it. My vocation is love!"

With that she began to see what her mission was as she wrote: I feel especially that my mission is about to begin, my mission of making God loved as I love him, of giving my little way to souls. If God answers my desires, my heaven will be spent on earth until the end of the world. Yes, I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth.

We often think that when one gets to heaven, one will enjoy eternal light and eternal rest from labour.

Yet, St. Therese tells us that her mission continues in a greater extent in heaven, and she even promised: I will let fall from Heaven a shower of roses.

Let us pick up the blessings of roses from heaven and follow St. Therese in her missionary spirit of doing little deeds with great love for God and others.

Monday, September 29, 2014

26th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 30-09-14

Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23 / Luke 9:51-56

There is only so much of setbacks and suffering that we can tolerate and endure.

When there is no more that we can take, then we snap and we will let fly without reservations, our frustrations and our grievances.

What we heard in the 1st reading is not just Job complaining about the tragedies that had happened to him.

He was lamenting bitterly to the extent that he even cursed the day he was born.

Who would not empathize with him at that point in time.What happened to him was beyond comprehension.

It was only much later that Job would come to terms with God's plan and purpose for him.

In the gospel, the hotheaded disciples James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to burn up the Samaritan village that rejected Jesus.

They probably did not understand why Jesus would not allow it and He even rebuked them.

Only much later would they understand and comprehend who Jesus was and what He came to do.

If Jesus Himself can show understanding and tolerance, then we too must learn from Him.

With understanding and tolerance, God will slowly reveal His plan and purpose for us.

But when we give in to our frustrations and grievances, we might just forfeit God's revelation to us.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Monday, 29-09-14

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 or Apocalypse 12:7-12 / John 1:47-51

As human beings, we can't avoid being influenced and maybe even affected by spiritual happenings.

But we may be more inclined to believe that there are evil spirits roaming around to scare the wits out of us and even to harm us, than to believe in angels that look like cute chubby babies with wings.

But in the spiritual world of the unseen and the invisible, if we believe in the existence of evil spirits, then all the more we too must believe in the presence of angels.

Today we celebrate the feast of three archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

All three names end with "el", which is the old Jewish word for "God".

The name Michael means "Who can be like God?" - it is a name that has the form of a rhetoric question.

Gabriel means "the power of God". He announced the Good News of salvation to Zechariah and Mary and manifested God's saving power.

Raphael means "the healing power of God". He brought about God's healing power in the book of Tobit.

Though God is unseen, yet through these three archangels, He manifested His power and presence.

Indeed, who can be like God, who is so almighty and loving that He saved us through His Son, and forgave our sins and healed us of our transgessions.

We just need to praise and glorify the Lord God with the response from the psalm: In the presence of the angels I will bless you, O Lord.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

26th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 28.09.2014

Ezekiel 18:25-28/ Phipippians 2:1-11/ Matthew 21:28-32

Life has many contradictions, many paradoxes and many reversals of fortunes.

What may seem to be a good thing may turn out bad.

What may seem to be a bad thing may turn out good.

But we can only see the present in its limitation, we can only comprehend the here and now.

We don’t know about the future, so we judge everything as good and bad according to how we see it now.

For example, if one of our children is rather slow, or naughty, or not very pleasing to us.

What will be our attitude towards that child, as compared to the rest of our children who might be cleverer, or smarter, or better looking or more capable?

Surely we will favour the “better” one.

As for the other one, we will just have to accept him although we will not have much hopes or expectations from him.

Yet, life has shown us over and over again that there are many paradoxes and many reversals of fortunes.

This is also a recurring theme in the Bible, that the first will be last and the last first.

Jesus told parables like the rich man and Lazarus, the prodigal son, the workers in the harvest (last week) to tell us about the paradoxes and reversals in life.

Today he told another parable of two sons and their obedience to their father.

The father asked both sons to go and work in the vineyard.

The first said yes but yet did not go. 

The other said no but later changed his mind and went.

Jesus actually addressed this parable to the chief priests and elders.

The tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners were like the first son.

They sinned, but when they heard the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness, they repented and turned back to God.

On the other hand, the chief priest and the elders were like the second son who said yes to all that God has commanded but yet did nothing to change their lives.

In many ways, this parable is also addressed to us to make us reflect on how we view people and how we treat them.

The reality of life is that we favour those who are more pleasing to us, but we are indifferent or ignore those whom we think do not meet our hopes and expectations.

There is a story of a couple had a few children. All were normal and intelligent.

Except one who had Down’s Syndrome and hence was slow and different from the rest.

The couple took joy in their children but for this special child, they had to swallow their disappointment and embarrassment.

At times, they even asked themselves why they were burdened with such a child.

It seems that they will have to care for him all their lives.

As the years went by, the rest of their children got married and left home to start their own families.

As the couple became older, their children also became busier with their own families.

Naturally, the couple felt lonelier with all their children gone. Except for one, the slow “special” one.

Because of his inabilities and disabilities, he obviously had to stay with his parents.

In the past, the parents thought of him as a burden and an obstacle to their freedom in life.

But now, the old couple realized that he is the only one who is with them day and night.

Once upon a time, he had to depend on them and they had to fend for him.

Now it seems that in their lonely old age, it is they who have to depend on him despite his inabilities and disabilities.

It is just another story about how life has many paradoxes and reversals of fortune or status.

Let us not ignore these whom we think are of little or no use to us or those who are not pleasing to us and give us problems.

God loves these people as much as He loves us.

And the paradox of life is that God will turn these people into His instruments to show us His love.

So let us accept those whom we think may not count for much in life.

A time will come when they will show us what really counts in life.

Friday, September 26, 2014

25th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 27-09-14

Ecclesiastes 11:9 - 12:8 / Luke 9:43-45

Generally speaking, as one gets older, one would also get wiser.

Having crossed many bridges in life, the older one gets, the more experience one would have garnered.

From those experiences of life, one would attain some depth of wisdom.

So how the 1st reading would be understood depends on whether the reader or the listener is a young person or one who has the seniority of years.

Nonetheless the wisdom and the realities expressed in the 1st reading need to be constantly revisited in order to grasp it fully.

In the gospel, Jesus told His disciples to keep these words constantly in their minds: The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the powers of men.

But they did not understand it there and then. But later they would. And later they would also realise that what their Master went through, they too would have to go through.

Indeed, the wisdom and experience of life tells us this - If there is no suffering to hollow out our hearts, there would be no room for joy.

Whether for the young or for those well on in years, that is the reality.

Choosing or hoping otherwise would be vanity of vanities.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

25th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 26-09-14

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 / Luke 9:18-22

If we were asked to form a simple sentence with the word "time" in it, one of the easiest sentences could be: I have no time.

Maybe that is because we use it so often in our own busy lives.

Yes, we sigh and we lament that we are so busy and we don't have much time.

The 1st reading mentions the word "time" more than 28 times.

But its purpose is not to tell us whether we have time or not.

Rather, all time is in God's hands and all He does is apt for its time.

Also, though God has permitted man to consider time in is wholeness, man cannot comprehend the work of God from beginning to end.

Nor could the disciples in the gospel passage comprehend fully who Jesus was, even though Peter seemed to get it correct, but it was just for that moment.

Indeed, there is a time for questions and a time for answers; a time for rejoicing and a time for suffering, a time for peace and a time for strife.

Yet, as the popular hymn goes: In His time. Yes, all happens in God's time. All that happens in our lives happen in God's time.

Having said all that, the reflection point is this: God will always have time for us; do we have time for God?