Monday, November 30, 2009

30-11-09, St. Andrew, Apostle

Romans 10 : 9-18
Matthew 4 : 18-22

Most of us would shy away from the limelight and rather work behind the scenes.

Well, that is until we have basked in the limelight and gotten a taste of the attention and the applause.

 After experiencing the taste of the limelight, it might be difficult to step back into the background and go back to being behind the scenes.

We often call it "cannot let go".

St. Andrew was always referred to as the brother of St. Peter.

That title gives the impression that St. Andrew was someone who was always behind the scenes, someone who tags along behind St. Peter.

Even today's gospel seemed to imply that idea when it tells of Jesus calling Peter and Andrew, in that order.

But in the gospel according to St. John, it was Andrew who first followed Jesus, and it was Andrew who told Peter that he had found the Messiah.

St. Andrew's role in the gospels may be few but nonetheless significant.

Besides being the first to follow Jesus and leading Peter to Him, St. Andrew was also instrumental in pointing out the boy with the barley loaves and the fish that later led to the miracle of the multiplication of loaves.

In St. Andrew, we see a reflection of ourselves and our mission.

Following Christ is our top priority and leading others to Christ is our mission.

But stepping back in order that God can continue to work through us must also be our conviction.

When we can do that, then we know what it means to let go and let God.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 28-11-09

Daniel 7 : 15-27
Luke 21 : 34-36

During the celebration of the Mass, we are often reminded of the presence of God, with this phrase : The Lord be with you

Maybe some of us may ask : why not say - the Lord is with you. After all the Lord is here, isn't it?

True, the Lord is here, yet so often, even as we are greeted with the presence of the Lord, our hearts may not be that aware that is Lord is indeed truly here.

Maybe that is why it is necessary to reflect on just that simple greeting : The Lord be with you.

Because that phrase call us to pay attention to the Lord, to pay attention to the Lord who is here and with us now.

In the gospel, Jesus says : Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened and hardened.

If we are not aware of God's presence in the Mass, how would we be aware of His presence during the course of the day.

Being with the Lord moment by moment, will help us to be ready to be with Him in eternity.

Friday, November 27, 2009

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 27-11-09

Daniel 7 : 2-14
Luke 21 : 29-33

Promises are not that easy to keep, even when the conditions are stable and under control.

Promises are also not that easy to keep especially when there is turmoil and chaos.

More so in a situation of war and devastation and nothing is predictable.

But in World War II, one figure stood tall because of a promise he made to a people. The promise was made in three simple words : I shall return!

General Douglas McArthur earned a place in history because he did not only made a promise under volatile conditions, but he really fulfilled it.

That promise also changed the course of WW II and eventually brought it to an end.

Jesus also left us a promise when He said in today's gospel : Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.

But when we are faced with the painful realities of life, the promise of Jesus may seem to lose its impact and significance.

However the challenge to believe in His promise remains as we keep fighting the good fight and running the race even when we cannot see the finish line.

The 1st reading also reminds us : God's sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire be destroyed.

So let us remember that it is God who is making a promise to us His people. What God has promised He will fulfill.

For our part, we just have to keep on believing and trusting in God always.

Let us remember that though we may falter, God is always faithful.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 26-11-09

Daniel 6 : 12-28
Luke 21 : 20-28

The story of Daniel in the lions' den which we heard in the 1st reading is indeed a famous and well-known story from the Old Testament.

It was another account of how God protected those who were faithful to Him and trusted in Him.

In that story, the other character, king Darius, was often seen just as a sort of supporting character.

Yet he is the character that we would look at today.

He ordered Daniel to be thrown to the lions, but he did it much against his own will.

He was trapped by his own edict and by the pressure of Daniel's accusers.

King Darius knew what he wanted to do ; he knew what he should do.

But he just couldn't do it without losing face or seen as weak.

So he finally succumbed to pressure, just like many others before him and many others after him, e.g. Pontius Pilate.

Acting under pressure from others, or to please others, or to meet the expectation of others, or afraid to lose face, or being called a softie, or no backbone, are things that we have all experienced.

We know what we should do, but to do it requires the courage to enter the lions' den.

That courage can only come about if we are faithful to God and trust like Him, like Daniel did.

The only lions that we need to fear are our lack of faith and trust in God.

But when fear seems overwhelming, let us remember these words of Jesus in today's gospel : Stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is at hand.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 25-11-09

Daniel 5 : 1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28
Luke 21 : 12-19

One phrase which we will use to express the idea that we can see things so clearly and so profoundly, is to use this expression - we say that "the writing is on the wall".

That phrase is taken from the book of the prophet Daniel which we heard in the 1st reading.

That phrase in the context of the 1st reading meant judgment for king Belshazzar because he desecrated the sacred vessels that were looted from the Temple in Jerusalem, and he did not acknowledge the God of all creation.

In a world that is filled with violence and terrorism, evil and sinfulness, is there any writing on the wall? Is there any judgment? Is there any vindication?

What do we see in such situations?

We can see two things : one is that those who propagate violence and evil will be accountable to God.

But we also need to see something else, something more profound.

We need to see that in the midst of violence and evil, we need to see that we are called to bear witness.

We need to bear witness to God's love and forgiveness.

We need to bear witness to the truth of way of Jesus in that we don't have to return evil for evil, but rather to overcome evil with good.

We need to bear witness and to be God's writing on the wall.

God's writing on the wall speaks not just of judgment, but of peace and love and forgiveness.

Yes, we must bear witness even when evil and sin seem to be overwhelming.

But as Jesus said in the gospel - our endurance will win us our lives.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 24-11-09

Daniel 2 : 31-45
Luke 21 : 5-11

We often say that the past is history and the future is mystery. Sounds rather poetic.

And good poetry often makes a reflection on the harsh reality but puts it across beautifully.

So as much as we know the history of the past, we do not know the mystery of the future.

It is because we do not know the future, we tend to live in anxiety.

And we may secretly like to think that if we know what is going to happen in the future, then we may be relieved of this anxiety.

Well, king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream about the future. And Daniel interpreted that dream for him.

But did it quell his anxiety?

Similarly in the gospel, the people asked Jesus about the time and the signs of the future.

And Jesus did tell them something about the future, but did it quell their anxiety?

It is not good to be too anxious about the future, but yet we can turn that anxiety into something creative.

We can use that anxiety to build the foundations of our lives so that we won't be thrown about by the worries of what is to come.

The prophet Daniel mentions in the 1st reading of a stone, untouched by human hands.

We, of course, know that the stone that he was talking about was that stone that was rejected by the builders but which became the corner stone.

May Jesus be that corner stone which forms the foundations of our lives.

It is in Jesus that we can have the security in a future that is mystery.

Because with Jesus we can truly live in the HERE and NOW. Without Jesus, we will be NOWHERE

Monday, November 23, 2009

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 23-11-09

Daniel 1 :1-6, 8-20
Luke 21 : 1-4

One of the common problems in the work-place is this superior-subordinate tension.

Very often, one party views the other with suspicion and caution.

And very often, one party will always have complains and grouses against the other.

But at the heart of these problems lies basically the need for understanding.

In the 1st reading, we heard how Daniel and his friends faced the dilemma of having to eat forbidden food.

Yet he understood the situation of those who were put in charge of him.

And eventually he found a way of going round the problem.

That makes us think about how we deal with the problems in our workplace, whether it is with our superiors or our subordinates or our colleagues.

Or on a wider scale, our problems with anyone.

To just complain and get worked up and get frustrated would simply be aggravating the problem.

Like Daniel, we need to understand these people that we are having problems with.

To understand literally means to stand in their shoes.

That means that we have to let our guard down and take off our armour. That means to let go of our pride and our security.

That means we would have to be like the widow in the gospel who gave all that she had, and rely on the Lord to see her through the challenges and uncertainties of life.

It is only when we are down to nothing that God will come up with something.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 21-11-09

1 Maccabees 6 : 1-13
Luke 20 : 27-40

We have heard of this word "retribution". We may even have used it before when we see someone getting his dues for the evil he had done.

In casual terms we would say : What goes around, come around.

That seemed to be the case in the 1st reading.

King Antiochus fell into deep depression and melancholy when everything around him fell apart.

Then he remembered the wrong he had done to the Jews and he was convinced that that was why misfortune had overwhelmed him.

But that was not his greatest tragedy. What was really tragic for him was that in his heyday he had what he wanted and he never thought of a beyond, an afterlife.

He had enjoyed life, and now he was afraid of death. Because he does not know what awaits for him beyond death.

Our central belief is in the resurrection and in eternal life. It is not just a religious precept or a profound concept.

Because justice cries out for the resurrection and for eternal life.

For all the injustice and the victory of evil over good that we see happening in this world, our answer cannot be just in retribution.

We believe that God does not abandon or forget the poor, the suffering, the oppressed, and those that injustice and evil have hammered down.

God's justice will prevail. It will prevail and for eternity. That will certainly happen in the resurrection and in eternal life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 20-11-09

1 Maccabees 4 : 36-37 ; 52-59
Luke 19 : 45-48

One of the most difficult attitudes to confront, whether as a teenager or as an adult, is peer pressure.

If we want to stay in and with the crowd, if we want to be accepted by the rest, if we don't want to be the odd-one-out, then we just have to submit to peer pressure.

And that might mean staying silent and not doing anything even when we see injustice and oppression and corruption and immorality happening in front of us.

When Jesus walked into the Temple that day, He already knew that there was a price on his head; His life was at stake.

It was a day when He should take it easy, keep quiet and do nothing about the scandals and the irreverence and the profanity that were happening around Him.

But it was happening in the Temple, in His Father's house!

It was the same Temple that we heard about in the 1st reading that was rededicated with so much reverence and rejoicing after the pagans had desecrated it.

The people prostrated in adoration and praised God for being with them again, because the Temple symbolized the presence of God among them.

So when Jesus cleansed the Temple that day by driving out those who were selling and making use of the Temple for their profits, He not only drove out injustice and corruption, from the holy place.

He also restored the Temple to its sacred dignity as the dwelling place of God, a refuge for those in trouble and in need, and a sanctuary of life and love.

Jesus also wants to cleanse the Temple which is in our hearts.

Our hearts is the dwelling place of God. May we keep it holy and sacred, pure and filled with God's love always.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 19-11-09

1 Maccabees 2 : 15-29
Luke 19 : 41-44

The ancient of Pompeii in Italy was destroyed when the volcano Vesuvius erupted on August 24, AD 79.

Because the warning signs were short and sudden, the people of Pompeii were caught by surprise by the eruption.

Just nine years earlier, the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. The warning signs were there, but the people just did not heed the danger signs because they thought that God will still protect them even if they toyed with danger.

No wonder Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem as He laments over it. The city just did not recognize the time of its reckoning.

For Mattathias  and his sons, the time of reckoning came when he had to make a stand for his faith.

Some may think that he was stupid enough to leave all his possessions and face the danger of being hunted down as rebels and criminals.

But he had heeded the God-given signs and acted accordingly.

What are signs that God has revealed to us lately?  Have we prayed about those signs? Have we acted upon those signs?

God always reveals His plans to us moment by moment. We just have to keep close to God in prayer and trust in His ways as we walk step by step.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 18-11-09

2 Maccabees 7 : 1, 20-31
Luke 19 : 11-28

The word "accountability" is used often these days, especially in banking and business circles in the light of the global financial crisis.

For all the things that went wrong and ended up with people losing their investments, someone or some people must be accountable.

The price of accountability can be anything from just a verbal apology to committing suicide.

In the Christian understanding of accountability, we acknowledged that God has endowed each of us with particular gifts.

It was God's initiative to grant us His gifts. Our accountability to God's gifts is that we use these gifts for His glory in the service of others.

We can be sure of this : what God has given, He will never take away or take it back.

So we can say that what is ours can never be taken away from us.

But we can just give it up ; we can just ignore it or neglect it.

In the 1st reading, we see how the mother and her seven sons did not give up what was theirs - their faith in God.

Not even torture or death could take it away from them.

On the other hand, the third servant in the gospel parable just ignored and neglected what was given to him.

The readings of today help us to reflect and think about what are the gifts that God has endowed us with.

We may be aware of some of these gifts ; others are waiting to be discovered as life unfolds.

Whatever it is, let us use our gifts generously for the glory of God  and for the service of others in their need.

For it is only in the glory of God, that man is fully alive and responding to the talents and gifts God has given him.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 17-11-09

2 Maccabees 6 : 18-31
Luke 19 : 1-10

In life, we have our values and priorities, and whoever lives up to these values and priorities will certainly be our role models in life.

So if our values lies in human sensitiveness, then we would certainly not admire the one who may have the strength of Samson but cannot be nice to someone.

If we prize religious values, then we will admire people like Eleazar and Zachaeus in today's readings.

Eleazar was an old man, just the kind of person the persecutors did not fear, and even actually look upon in comtempt.

But the old man showed a deep religious strength, when he preferred to die rather than make a pretence of eating the forbidden meat.

His death summed up what his life was all about, as well as his faith in God.

Zachaeus was also a person looked upon with comtempt, not ony because he was a hated tax collector, but also because he was small in stature.

Yet, after his encounter with Jesus, he showed spiritual strength to change what was wrong in his life.

As we reflect on today's readings, it is good to wonder if we had ever been inspirations for others by our faith and by our values in life.

One of the highest human responsibilities is also one of the easiest.

And that is to inspire and encourage others by how we live our lives and our faith.

May we continue to fight the good fight, run the race to the finish and keep the faith to the end.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 14-11-09

Wisdom 18:14-16; 19:6-9
Luke 18 : 1-8

There are many things that we don't seem to get tired of doing.

For example, we don't get tired of watching TV, eating good food, surfing the internet, shopping, traveling or whatever.

However when it comes to praying and the things of the spiritual life, we somehow tire out easily.

The disciples of Jesus might have felt the same way. They didn't get tired of watching Jesus work miracles day after day, e.g. curing the sick, expelling demons, making the blind see and the lame walk, etc.

These were spectacular and extraordinary events and they were exciting to watch.

But Jesus called His disciples not just to watch how He worked miracles but to follow Him.

He called them to personal conversion and to a deeper faith in God.

Jesus knew that He Himself could not work miracles without prayer and a deep intimate love for His Father.

It is because of this that He told the gospel parable in order to teach them the importance of prayer.

Essentially He told them to pray always without becoming weary.

Because prayer is not about getting immediate results ; rather it is about patience and perseverance.

Many people become great saints not because of their sudden experience and vision of God.

Rather, it was because of their prayerful lives that kept them close to God and close to others.

May we also have the patience to persevere in prayer and keep the faith.

Friday, November 13, 2009

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 13-11-09

Wisdom 13 : 1-9
Luke 17 : 26-37

The term "philosophy" comes from two Greek words - philo and sophia.

It means the love for knowledge.

The ancient Greeks were known for laying down philosophical foundations with well-known philosophers like Aristotle and Plato.

One subject that was investigated by philosophy was the discussion on the existence of God.

So can the existence of God be proved? To a certain extent it can. But yet these are not infallible proofs.

The 1st reading says that men tend to believe more in the things that they can see rather on what they cannot see, and they even held these as gods who govern the world.

It is a typical case of men being awed by creation and forget about the Creator.

So in their search for God and eagerness to find Him, they went astray because they see so much beauty in creation.

Yet if men are are capable of acquiring so much knowledge, how is it that they have been so slow to find the Creator of creation?

For us who believe in God as the Creator, an even greater challenge exist in the form of monotony and complacency.

Our faith in God may plateau off and become mundane and we take it easy on the spiritual life and look for excitement in the things of the world.

Eventually we lose focus on God and time will just slip away as we run faster in the rat race of the world.

As it is, we need to remember that he who wins the rat race is ... still a rat!

But God created us with wisdom and intelligence to come to know Him, love Him and serve Him.

And may we always give thanks to God for the beauty we see around us and for all the goodness we have receive from Him

Thursday, November 12, 2009

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 12-11-09

Wisdom 7:22 - 8:1
Luke 17 : 20-25

Humanity has progressed to the extent that we say we live in a civilized world.

Yet the 20th century civilized world had seen two World Wars, besides besides many other major conflicts that have led to great bloodshed.

The 2nd World War was evidence of a world of deranged nations just out to destroy each other.

Yet in the madness and insanity of World War II, there were sparks of humanity and even profound sayings.

One profound saying came from the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet. His name is Adm. Yamamoto.

He master-minded the attack on Pearl Harbour.

As he presented his plan for the attack on Pearl Harbour, one of the generals commented that he was indeed a wise and brilliant man to think of such a plan.

Adm. Yamamoto replied : A truly wise and brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war.

Indeed why would a truly wise person resort to conflict and violence and start a war.

When a person lives with divine wisdom, the wisdom that comes from God, then evil can never be a product of that person.

Because a truly wise person radiates not only wisdom but also the love of God and all the qualities of wisdom that are mentioned in the 1st reading.

Because a truly wise person is also truly a human being who reflects God in his life.

As Jesus would say it in the gospel : For you must know, the kingdom of God is among (within) you.

Supplementary :
When the Nobel prize winner Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, was asked "How do you find God?", he answered : You ask me "How do I find God?". I do not know how, but I do know where - in my fellow man.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 11-11-09

Wisdom 6 : 1-11
Luke 17 : 11-19

Leaders and other top people who have power and authority may sometimes say that it is lonely at the top.

Well, naturally, of course, when there can only be one person at the top.

But as much as it might be lonely, to be at the apex of power and authority and might, is certainly an enjoyable feeling and some will even crave for it after awhile at the top.

Hence, loneliness may just be a small price to pay to sit at the top.

But yet loneliness can also be a consequence, especially when in order to sit at the top, one resorts to sitting on people.

The  1st reading tells us that power is a gift from the Lord, and for those who hold power and authority, God will probe their acts and scrutinize their intentions.

But we don't have to be necessarily sitting at the top and holding power and authority for God to probe our acts and scrutinize our intentions.

When we forget who is Creator and who is the creature, then we will think that we are God, and that we have power and authority over our own lives, and even on the lives of others.

A creature who separates himself for his Creator will have 2 consequences.

He will be very lonely and he will also be very ungrateful.

Even in the gospel, Jesus stressed that gratefulness and thankfulness must be given to God.

Otherwise we will take all things for granted, even though we may not have much power and authority.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 10-11-09

Wisdom 2:23 - 3:9
Luke 17 : 7-10

Our beliefs and our destiny have a intricate connection.

Our beliefs shape our destiny, not just our destiny in this life, but also our destiny in the life to come.

Because out of our beliefs flows our actions. Our actions slowly form our character, and by our character we build our destiny.

For example, if someone believes that a good education can make life better for himself as well as for others, he would take his studies seriously.

When he begins to realise that reading widely and deeply has enhanced his understanding of life and of himself, his studies begin to shape his character.

When he has attained a high educational standard, he may even see that he can indeed make life better and more meaningful for himself as well as for other by being a teacher so as to impart his knowledge to others.

This is just a simple secular example of what is meant by our beliefs shape our destiny.

The 1st reading tells us that God made us imperishable ; He made us in the image of His own nature.

But it was the devil's envy that brought death into the world.

In other words, sin has distorted our beliefs as well as amplified our doubts.

Sin has also robbed us of our destiny, the destiny to be fully human and to be fully loving.

That is why Jesus tells us in today's gospel that we are merely servants.

No doubt, we are made in the image of God's nature, and God's nature is love.

Hence, to love God and to love others is our duty, because we are servants of love, and we can't expect a reward for it.

When we heed the call to this duty of love, we begin to build our destiny, our destiny in this life and also in the life to come.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Monday,09-11-09

Ezekiel 47 : 1-2, 8-9, 12
1 Cor 3 : 9-11, 16-17
John 2 : 13-22

In 1980, Pope John Paul II went to Sicily, and as we might be aware, Sicily is the heartland of the Italian mafia.

There the Pope proclaimed the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of life.

He told the people that they have a right to live in peace.

Those who are guilty of breaking this peace have many victims on their conscience.

Out rightly, the Pope declared that killing is NOT allowed, and no man, no organization, no mafia can ever violate this holy law of God.

What the Pope said was merely to reiterate what St. Paul said to the Corinthians in the 2nd reading : that we are the Temple of God, and that the temple in us is sacred, and if anyone destroys this temple, God will destroy him.

But the mafia wanted to have a say too.

To ridicule the Pope's teaching, they killed two priests.

And to push the point further, they bombed the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the feast of the dedication which we are celebrating today.

The mafia thought that by bombing the mother church of the Catholic faith, which is also the Cathedral of the Pope, they have put a dent on the Church.

But they forgot; they forgot that the Church is not just about buildings and structures.

The Church in essence, is the faithful, which is  a living Temple, the Mystical Body of Christ.

Just as that Temple is sacred, we too are called to holiness.

So let us cast out all that is sinful, and renew ourselves in this Eucharist, as temples of prayer.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

31st Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 07-11-09

Romans 16 : 3-9, 16, 22-27
Luke 16 : 9-15

The reality of death happens everyday. Not one day has passed where there are no obituaries in the newspapers.

Yet, because it happens so frequently, we have become immune to it, we are not that affected by it anymore, unless it happens to our close ones.

As it is, most of us believe that we will see tomorrow, that we won't die so soon.

There is a poster in the office of a hospice and it reads like this : We are not here to add days to our life, but life to our days.

Indeed, it is so true. Our days are limited and we should really live out those days fully.

Not just enjoying life, but to discover in this life, what eternity is all about, and to discover in this life what really has eternal value.

In the secular sense, it may be seen as a choice of value. But in the spiritual sense, it is about the choice of masters.

So the question from today's gospel is this : Who is the master in charge of my life?

If money is my master, then I will be dishonest, I will cheat, i will lie, I scheme and do anything and everything just to have money for my security. But of course in doing so, I might still exist but I am spiritually dead.

On the other hand, when I choose Jesus to be my Master, then I also will choose to be loving, to be forgiving, to be compassionate, to be honest.

Life for me might be difficult and I might seem to be like a loser, but I will be at peace with God and with the people around me.

So life essentially is a series of choices.

Life is not lost by dying.
Life is lost, minute by minute
day by day
in all those unloving, uncaring and unforgiving ways

Friday, November 6, 2009

31st Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 06-11-09

Romans 15 : 14-21
Luke 16 : 1-8

As we read today's gospel, an impulsive question that one might ask is this - Why did the master praise the dishonest steward? And why would Jesus tell such a parable?

But we need to understand the parable clearly. The master did not praise the steward for his dishonesty. Rather he praised him for his astuteness.

And that is the point that Jesus is making. The steward was prudent and had foresight in securing his future needs.

Jesus further elaborated that the children of the world are more creative and innovative when it comes to thinking of ways to get make money, to get well connected with the influential and powerful and to be well-off.

Jesus seemed to be making a lament when He said that the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.

If we truly heed the teaching of Jesus, we would surely start to build on the things that we cannot lose, on the things of eternity.

Furthermore, we would be serious in being stewards of the kingdom of God.

What would that entail? The last line of the 1st reading would give us an idea and a direction.

Those who have never been told about Him will see Him, and those who have never heard about Him will understand.

As Pope Paul VI said : Lay people, whose particular vocation places them in the midst of the world, and who are in charge of the most varied temporal tasks, must for this very reason, exercise a very special form of evangelization.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

31st Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday 05-11-09

Romans 14 : 7-12
Luke 15 : 1-10

There had been many suggestions as to what is the most important verse or phrase in the Bible.

Well, the top contender seems to be John 3:16-17, follow by a host of profound Bible verses and passages.

Chapter 15 of the gospel of St. Luke may sound rather ordinary and today's gospel passage may just be about parables.

But nonetheless, today's gospel passage reflects the essential message of the the Bible, and that is, it emphatically illustrates God's inexplicable and infinite love to save every man and woman whom He created in His image and likeness.

There are only 3 parables in Chapter 15 of the gospel of Luke - the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, the Prodigal Son.

The scribes and Pharisees criticized Jesus for always being in the company of sinners and ritually impure people and the so-called bad company.

But Jesus always had a very deep compassion towards these so-called sinners. He even said that it is not the well who need a doctor but the ill.

Even this aspect of Jesus is not often understood by us who are His disciples.

Because we too have this tendency to criticize and judge others according to our standards or beliefs.

Certainly this is not something new, because even the 1st reading reminds the Romans, as well as reminds us, not to pass judgement  on a brother or treat him with contempt.

We may be able to quote the profound verses and remember the important passages of the Bible.

May we also remember to put the core message of love in the Bible into our lives as disciples of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

31st Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday 04-11-09

Romans 13 : 8-10
Luke 14 : 25-33

There is this story about two university professors  who were talking about their students.

One professor said that he has about 200 students who come for his lectures.

The other professor thought for awhile and then he said :
I also have about 200 people who come for my lectures, but I don't really know how many of them are my students.

We might ask : How can one come for the lecture of a professor and not be his student? What is the difference anyway?

That is the same question that Jesus is asking us also : What is the difference between a follower and a disciple?

Great crowds followed Jesus, but he was not just interested about how many people were following Him.

He was more interested about who really wanted to be His disciple.

To be a disciple of Jesus means to learn from Him, to give up everything for Him and to have Him as the center and sole-Master.

So the word "hate" that Jesus used as a condition for being His disciple is not to be understood in the emotional or relational sense but in the degree of priority.

In other words "hate" in that context is understood as to love lesser or to give a lower priority.

So Jesus never meant that to follow Him meant that we must hate our parents or family members.

As the 1st reading puts it clearly - a true disciple loves his fellow men and fulfills the commandments.

Our love for Jesus must also be reflected in our love for others. It is a love that will not hurt.

Because it is a sacrificial love. That is the love of a true disciple of Jesus.

So the price of discipleship has to be carefully considered. Because for one to be a disciple, either Jesus is Master of all, or He is not master at all.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

31st Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 03-11-09

Romans 12 : 5-16
Luke 14 : 15-24

One of the uncomfortable experiences is to be in a place where you are new but everybody knows each other.

One example of this kind of experience is the first day at work in a new place.

We just long for someone to come and talk with us and show us how things are done and guide us along the way.

In such times, we can say that we are quite vulnerable.

We can be vulnerable to people who might befriend us but with vested interests and ulterior motives.

In the 1st reading, we are told not to let our love be a pretense. In other words, our love and concern should be real and genuine.

Hence we must examine our motives for helping others. We also must not make excuses for not helping others when we can.

When we help others out of love and care for them, it is not for gain but to give.

To give love will cost us - it will cost us our time, it will cost us our energy, it will cost us our very selves.

Let us remember that Jesus loved us and it also cost Him His life.

But when we love others as Jesus loved us, then we have said "Yes" to the invitation to the banquet of love.

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Souls Day, 02-11-09

Isaiah 25 : 6-9
Romans 5 : 5-11
John 6 : 37-40

At some point in life, we have experienced the loss of a loved one or a friend through death.

And sometimes, out of the pain and grief, arises an anger, and we are angry that God has taken away our loved ones or our friends.

In all these grief and sorrow filled occasions, we are asked to put our trust in God.

We are created to live with God, yet on earth we have to live by faith.

We are created to live forever, but while on earth, we live moment by moment.

When the final moment comes, we depart and go back to God.

As we recall the fond memories and the faces of our departed loved ones, we also recall the moments when God entered into our grief and sorrow to give us His comfort and peace.

The God who spoke in the Scriptures still speaks today. The God who came to earth at Christmas still comes to be with us.

He comes to give eternal life to all who believe in Him as our Saviour.

Our loved ones have returned to God, and we must thank God for granting them eternal life with Him.

As for us, let us continue to believe that our God is the God not of the dead, but of the living.

In God, all of us are alive and we live forever. So let us not grief but take comfort in the God of life.