Tuesday, September 2, 2014

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 03-09-14

1 Cor 3:1-9 / Luke 4:38-44

There is one profound aspect in the ministry of Jesus that we can't miss and it is something that we wish to see happening more frequently.

Besides teaching the people about the kingdom of God, the other profound aspect of the ministry of Jesus was the healing.

The gospels paid special attention to the healing ministry of Jesus because it was an expression of the proclamation of the Good News that He came to proclaim.

But the healing ministry is only one side of the coin; the other equally important aspect of the ministry of Jesus was the teaching and the proclamation of the Good News of the kingdom of God.

It can be said, and quite correctly, that from the teaching and proclamation of the Good News flows the healing ministry.

People must be cleansed and formed by the Good News before any healing can take place.

In today's gospel passage, we hear of Jesus, after His healing ministry, He went off to a lonely place to pray. It was necessary for Him to go back to God in order to keep up with the ministry of teaching, proclaiming and healing.

Without prayer, then we will become like the Corinthians that St. Paul chided for not being people of the Spirit, for being mere sensual men and for being unspiritual. That was why they had their slogans and were divided among themselves.

So let us follow Jesus in finding a lonely place for prayer. Let us pray with Jesus, listen to His Word and bring healing to those in need.

Monday, September 1, 2014

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 02-09-14

1 Cor 2:10-16 / Luke 4:31-37

One of the well-known works of St. Augustine is his book called "Confessions".

It was a book that was written for the Catechumens to reflect on their spiritual journey towards baptism.

It was a book that was written based on his own spiritual journey.

In that book, St. Augustine described an occasion near the end of the life of St. Monica, his mother, who was instrumental in his conversion.

They were in Rome, in a room standing at the window, overlooking a garden.

St. Augustine wrote: "We had gone there to get away from the noisy crowd and to rest. The two of us were enjoying a very pleasant conversation.

We were asking one another, what would it be like to share the eternal life that the saints enjoy.

In the course of our conversation, the world and all its pleasure lost their attraction for us."

We heard in the 1st reading that the Spirit of God reaches the depths of everything; it reaches the depths of our hearts.

And when the Spirit reaches the depths of our hearts, we will experience what St. Augustine and St. Monica experienced.

We will experience peace and all the noisy longings of our hearts will slowly be silenced, just like how Jesus silenced the unclean spirit in the gospel.

When the Spirit of God touches the depths of our hearts, we long for nothing but God and God alone.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 01-09-14

1 Cor 2:1-5 / Luke 4:16-30

One of the primary tasks of the priest is to preach the Word of God. Preaching the homily at Mass is his duty and he is obligated to prepare for it.

Yet, the task of preaching is indeed challenging because the people of God thirst for the Word to be made flesh in their lives. They yearn to experience scriptural teachings translating in their everyday life.

So priests and preachers will understand what St. Paul meant when he said: I came among you in great fear and trembling in the speeches and sermons that I gave.

But  he also quickly added that none of his preaching belonged to philosophy.

Rather, it is a demonstration of the power of the Spirit.

It was with the power of the Spirit that Jesus went back to Nazareth, and at the synagogue, He read the passage from the prophet Isaiah.

And the people were astonished by the gracious words that came from His lips.

But it is so easy to let human thinking as well as criticism come into the way of the Word of God.

As we could see it from the gospel, the people started to make a judgement about Him and subsequently rejected Him.

Human beings may be endowed with knowledge and intelligence, but we must also remember that God's ways are not man's ways.

The book of the prophet Isaiah has this passage (Isa 55:8-9): My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

May our minds and hearts be opened to God's revelation as He speaks to us through His Word.

May our faith be not dependent on human philosophy but on the power of God.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

22nd Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 31.08.2014

Jeremiah 20:7-9/ Romans 12:1-2/ Matthew 16:21-27

As we come into the Church today, there is one thing we would take – the bulletin.

There are a few reasons why we take the bulletin.

I remembered that in my teenage years when I wouldn’t go with my parents to Church (because I want to go on my own – a teenage rebellious syndrome) I would make it a point to take the bulletin.

Not that I want to read what is in there, but it would be used as a proof to my parents that I did attend Sunday Mass (otherwise I will not have my pocket-money for that week).

The retribution for that is that now I have to proof-read the weekly bulletin.  : (

But for most of us, we take the bulletin to have a look at the announcements and the up-and-coming events and whatever we need to take notice of.

But inevitably, there would be some bloopers and blunders and typo or grammatical errors.

The mistakes are certainly unintentional, but at the same time they can be quite funny and even hilarious.

The following are some examples but they are not from our parish bulletin.

  • Ben and Jessie were married on Oct 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their Sunday school days.
  • Don’t let worry kill you – let the Church help!
  • Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want to remember.
  • Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our Church.
  • Let us join David and Lisa in the celebration of wedding and bring their happiness to a conclusion.
Certainly these bloopers and blunders are unintentional. It’s just a case of the wrong choice of words or the wrong placing of the words that make it sound strange and even hilarious.

But if what is spoken can be quoted, then what is printed cannot be easily amended.

We may remember that in last Sunday’s gospel passage, we heard Peter made that profound profession about who Jesus is when he said: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And for that Jesus made Peter the rock on which He will build His Church.

Indeed it was an astounding heavenly revelation that was given to Peter.

But in today’s gospel passage, we heard the  same Peter remonstrating with Jesus with those words: Heaven preserve you Lord; this must not happen to you.

That was certainly not a blooper or blunder on the part of Peter.
Because to remonstrate means to make a forceful reproachful protest.

So it was intentional and Peter knew exactly what he as saying to Jesus.

And from being the rock on which the Church would be built, he sank to rock-bottom. He became associated with the prince of the underworld; he became associated with none other than Satan himself.

We may wonder why Jesus was so harsh on Peter.

And we may also wonder why such strong words of Jesus was recorded in the gospels in the first place.

Jesus came to bring comfort to those who are in distress.

Jesus is the love of God made visible for those who want to follow the way of God.

But it needs to be said that God’s way is not man’s way.

God’s way is the way of the cross. But in the face of pain and suffering, the human inclination is similar to that of Peter’s remonstration.

We want to protest against the cross. There has got to be a way out of the problem of pain and suffering.

We are inclined to think of a way out of the cross and not the way of the cross.

The question of which way will always come before us.

It was the same question that came before St. Thomas More (1478 – 1535) who in the 16th century was Lord Chancellor and the right-hand man of king Henry VIII.

But when he was asked to renounce his allegiance to the Pope and to declare his loyalty to king Henry VIII as sovereign head of the Church of England, he refused and was imprisoned.

The daughter of St. Thomas More even implored him to declare his loyalty to the king in order to save his life.

After the jury's verdict was delivered and before his sentencing, St. Thomas More spoke freely of his belief that "no temporal man may be the head of the spirituality".

In other words, what will a man gain if he wins the whole world and yet ruins his life?

St. Thomas chose the way of the cross and laid down his life for it. But he got his eternal reward.

The cross is not just a part of the Christian life – it is the very heart of the Christian life.

The truth is that the cross does not crush out our life but through it we gain our life.

It is when the cross is heaviest that God’s blessings are at its greatest.

We don’t need to ask for the cross; it will be given to us.

There is no typo error or grammatical error to that. It is as truthful as it can get.

The question is do we choose the way of the cross, or do we choose the way out of the cross.

Our choice will determine whether we gain our life or ruin it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

21st Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 30-08-14

1 Cor 1:26-31 / Matthew 25:14-30

There is this quote from an unknown Greek poet  : "I shall walk this way but once, therefore, whatever good I may do, let me do it now, for I shall never walk this way again."

It is a very profound reflection because it is so true that we only live this life but once, there is no going back, and yet there is so much to give to life and to learn from it.

Cardinal John Henry Newman had this to say: God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another.

Indeed, as we journey on in this life, there is so much to learn and there is so much to give when we realized how much we have received.

Only if and when we realized how much we have received!

Otherwise we might just want to feel safe and secure by burying ourselves in the ground.

But that is not God's plan and purpose for us.

May we always remember that we walk this way once and will never walk this way again.

Whatever good we can do, whatever love we can give, let us do it now.

Let us not bury our lives in the ground and waste it away.

There is always the work of love to carry out, and we will not rest until our hearts find rest in the Lord.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Passion of St. John the Baptist, Friday, 29-08-14

Jeremiah 1:17-19 / Mark 6:17-29

At times we wonder if being good and doing good is really worth it.

Because very often, we see, and even experienced, that good is being re-paid with evil.

John the Baptist just wanted Herod to repent and live a good life.

Because what Herod did was leading towards self-destruction.

John the Baptist had compassion for Herod.

In fact, Herod knew it, and that was why he was distressed when he had to give the orders for John's execution.

But goodness cannot be silenced or put to death.

Because in the person of Jesus, Herod will be reminded again of the goodness of John the Baptist.

When we live out the Christian values of love, patience, gentleness, humility, etc., and we get slapped in the face, we may wonder if it is worth it.

But let us remember that all good comes from God.

When we do good, the benefactors are not just the others.

We ourselves begin to realize our Christian identity and see the power of goodness and the power of God's love happening in the lives of others.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

21st Week, Ordinary Time,Thursday, 28-08-14

1 Cor 1:1-9 / Matthew 24:42-51

Quite often we hear this phrase - History repeats itself.

But does history really repeat itself? How can history repeat itself?

We don't go back to the stone-age and start life all over again.

No, history does not repeat itself. But the mistakes that were made in history tend to surface again and in a new packaging.

For example, what is happening in Syria and in Iraq has happened before in history, just that it happened in another place and with a different group of people.

Yes, the mistakes of history will keep surfacing again and again.

And the list of ugly moments in the history of humanity will continue to lengthen as long as we don't heed the call of Jesus to stay awake and to be vigilant.

Because the degradation and destruction of mankind begins with a corruption of the self.

It is the corrupted self who forgets that he is just a creature and a servant, and will one day stand before the Creator to give an account of his deeds.

Yes, we must keep alert and stand ready. And at the same time may we make a history of mankind that is known for its beauty and not to make it ugly.