Saturday, October 31, 2009

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 31-10-09

Romans 11 : 1-2,11-12,25-29
Luke 14 : 1,7-11

No matter how far we have gone in life or how much we have achieved, it is always necessary to remember our humble origins.

More so when we remember how little we had in the past and how much we have to struggle to become who and what we are today.

Remembering our humble origins would only make us realize that we cannot take anything for granted and that whatever blessings we have received from God also has to be shared with the unfortunate and the needy.

Remembering our humble origins would cultivate in us a humble heart and we also know that without God's blessings, we won't be who and what we are today.

That is essentially the teaching of Jesus in today's gospel, that anyone who humbles himself will be exalted, and vice versa.

So we are reminded that everything is a gift from God, for without His blessings we can't achieve anything, much less have anything.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul also reminds us that God never takes back His gifts and blessings or revokes His choice.

The Jews were chosen to reveal the Messiah, and we Christians are chosen to reveal God's gift of salvation to all peoples.

Hence the blessings we have received from God are not just for our sakes but for the sake of the proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

By who we are and with what we have, we are to proclaim the love of God and that is not an option.

That is our mission and it is an obligation, for which we will be held accountable.

So with humble hearts, let us remember that everything is a gift from God and we are called to share that gift.

Friday, October 30, 2009

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 30-10-09

Romans 9 : 1-5
Luke 14 : 1-6

A telescope, as we know, gives an enlarged view of a distant object.

But that depends on which end of the telescope we are looking through.

Because looking through the wrong end would greatly reduce the size of the object.

Hence, the two different ends of the telescope give two completely opposite views of reality.

In the gospel, the Pharisees seemed to have looked through the wrong end of the telescope and they only saw a narrow, restrictive picture of reality.

They were like saying : To heal is to work, and to work is to violate the Sabbath. See for yourself, look through our telescope!

But when Jesus offers them a view from the other end of the same telescope, they were reluctant to see it ; they were silent, because for them there was only one way of looking through the telescope, there was only one way of looking at things and it was their way.

So we can imagine how frustrated and annoyed Jesus was with the Pharisees, to say the least.

Surely Jesus was anguished to see their obstinacy.

St. Paul, in the 1st reading shared the similar sentiments as Jesus, and he said that his sorrow was so great and his mental anguish so endless over his people's rejection of Christ.

Indeed, our obstinacy can cause frustration and anguish and even sorrow in others.

All because we stubbornly refuse to look at things from another point of view.

We only have to let go and ask God to help us see wider and clearer ; then we will become wiser.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 29-10-09

Romans 8 : 31-39
Luke 13 : 31-35

To fall in love is a beautiful experience. To fall out of love is a lousy experience.

To be in love, however, requires more than just an experience ; it requires a decision.

Because true love and unconditional love requires a decision to be in love and to keep loving regardless of the situations and circumstances.

Indeed, to be in love requires a decision, which has to be renewed day by day, and hour by hour, and minute by minute.

But if falling out of love is a lousy experience, then unrequited love is indeed a very painful experience.

In fact, the bitterest tragedy in human life is to give your heart totally to the other party only to have it refused and broken.

That was the experience of Jesus as He laments over Jerusalem. For Jesus, it is not just unrequited love, but also they were going to kill Him if He were to continue with His journey of love.

So Jesus could have given up loving us because of the danger and the rejection. Why did He continue His journey of love all the way to the cross?

The 1st reading says it all. God did not spare His own Son but gave Him up to benefit us all.

So nothing can come between us and the love of Christ and nothing can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Jesus Christ.

So what kind of response we are going to give to God's love for us depends on us now.

Whatever it is, we have to make a decision to respond to God's love or reject it outright.

We have to exercise our human freedom of choice. Human freedom is awesome. Yet it is also supremely wonderful when we freely decide to love God and love others.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles, 28-10-09

Ephesians 2 : 19-22
Luke 6 : 12-19

Not much is known about the two saints whose feast we celebrate today.

Simon was call ed Zealot probably because of his zeal for the Jewish independence before he was called by Jesus.

Jude or Thaddeus is the author of the letter in the New Testament in which he warned Christian converts against false teaching and immorality.

He is also venerated as the patron of "impossible cases"

Traditional sources had it that both of them were together in their missionary work in Persia and they were martyred.

Both of them also tell us something about the people Jesus chose to be His disciples.

Both of them, as well as the rest of the apostles, were insignificant people from insignificant backgrounds.

But both of them had  a purpose in God's plan of salvation.

Both of them became zealous for Christ and for the Kingdom and they also became channels of God's grace for those who were seeking God's love and forgiveness, or when they seek God's help when their problems in life seemed hopeless or impossible even.

We may think that we are insignificant persons and hence we think we have no purpose in God's plan of salvation.

But let us ask for the prayers of St. Simon and St. Jude that we will discover our purpose in life and also our purpose in God's plan of salvation.

We may be insignificant but it does not mean that we are impossible. Because with God, everything and everyone is possible.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 27-10-09

Romans 8 : 18-25
Luke 13 : 18-21

The news of pregnancy usually brings about joy.

That is because pregnancy is a sign of fertility, a sign of new life, a new beginning, a new hope even.

The 1st reading used the analogy of pregnancy and birth-giving to express the Christian dimension of the hope of being freed from the slavery of sin.

And this hope is being fulfilled by the gift of the Spirit that brings about in us a new birth as children of God and first-fruits of the Spirit.

But this new life does not happen automatically or without effort on our part.

Just as a woman suffers the discomfort of pregnancy and the pain of childbirth, similarly if we want to live the new life of the Spirit, then struggle and suffering is inevitable.

Yet, we are reminded that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us.

Just as the gospel parables of the mustard seed and the yeast which will take time to grow and manifest, so will the fruits of the Spirit in our lives take time to grow and develop.

We need to be patient as the Kingdom of God slowly grows within us.

Monday, October 26, 2009

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 26-10-09

Romans 8 : 12-17
Luke 13 : 10-17

The act of generosity and compassion is indeed a noble act.

But it is also an act which demands sacrifice, a sort of self-giving.

And it may also entail some risks, in that the act may not be appreciated, or it may be misunderstood.

When Jesus healed the woman who was bent double for 18 years, it was an act of compassion and a sign of the generosity of God's love.

That act was greatly appreciated by the woman who gave glory to God, and the people were overjoyed at the wonder that Jesus worked.

But His adversaries, on the other hand, criticized Him for breaking the Law, or the so-called Law.

Yet Jesus did not stop showing compassion or love just because of these criticisms.

Maybe we ourselves have experienced criticisms and ingratitude, and these may have weighed us down and bent us into indifference and apprehension.

But we are reminded in the 1st reading that what we have is not the spirit of slaves that bring fear into our lives.

What we have received is the Spirit that makes us children of God and with the Spirit, we bear witness to God's love in spite and despite the criticisms and the ingratitude or even the hostile reactions.

In doing so, we share in the sufferings of Christ, and when we share in the sufferings of Christ, we will also share in His glory.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 24-10-09

Romans 8 : 1-11
Luke 13 : 1-9

It is during this time of the year that there is a spike in the offering of prayers and Masses.

The reason for this is because of the exams - PSLE, 'N' level, 'O' level, 'A' level

Obviously the purpose of these prayers and Mass offerings is to ask for blessings that the students will do well and get good results.

Another spike in the offering of prayers and Masses will come about just before the results are out.

It is a yearly affair ; an annual pattern.

Yet after these prayer spikes, things seem to cool off almost instantly and life goes on as usual.

For those who received God's blessings, I wonder if there is also fervent thanksgiving.

But if fervent petitions are not followed by fervent thanksgiving, then we may be taking God's blessings for granted.

It may mean that we are only interested in the unspiritual things of achievements and satisfactions, but we forget about the spiritual things of thanksgiving and trust in the Lord.

But because the Spirit has already been given to us to help us look beyond the unspiritual, we now look to the life in the Spirit.

When we live and move in the Spirit, our lives will bear fruits of thanksgiving and holy love.

Friday, October 23, 2009

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 23-10-09

Rom 7:18-25a
Lk 12:54-59

Just imagine this, a person is all alone at home and in bed.

In the middle of the night, suddenly there is the smell of smoke and the fire alarm goes off.

But instead of getting up from bed, that person buries his/her head under the pillow and refuses to do anything.

This may sound ridiculous, but that was what Jesus was saying about the people of His time.

They know how to interpret the signs of nature. But somehow they just ignore or refuse to heed the signs of the kingdom of God.

Jesus had said that the kingdom of God is within us.

That was why He asked the all-important question : Why not judge for yourselves what is right?

In the 1st reading, St. Paul made a good assessment of himself when he said that though the will to do what is good is in him, he acts against his will because of sin.

So instead of doing the good he wanted to do, he ended up doing something evil.

Despite this self-judgment, he also acknowledged who can save him from this wretched state.

Only Jesus Christ. He is THE sign of God. Let us heed this sign and act on it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 22-10-09

Romans 6 : 19-23
Luke 12 : 49-53

Reading the Bible may not be as plain and simple as some people make it out to be.

Though there are simple and profound truths in it, there are also some confusing paradoxes.

What Jesus said in today's gospel is a good example.

Isn't He the Prince of Peace who came to unite all peoples?

Yet He said that He came to bring division and chaos.

So what is it now, unity or division? Peace or chaos?

Or could it be both? Well, it is like asking if the stairs go up or down.

They go both ways, and it depends on where we want to go.

So the teachings of Jesus depends on what we want to make out of it.

St. Paul, in the 1st reading, gave a good example of how the teachings of Jesus can be applied to us concretely.

He said that our bodies can be used for vice and immorality, or we can use our bodies at the service of righteousness and holiness.

So the teachings of Jesus is indeed like the stairs.

To reject it will inevitably lead to sin and the wages of sin is death.

To accept it and to live by it, is to have life, and eternal life with God.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 21-10-09

Romans 6 : 12-18
Luke 12 : 39-48

In any battle or war between two forces, there is a clear separation between the two forces, as in who is on which side.

So logically speaking, a soldier should know clearly who are the friendly forces and who is the enemy.

But many battles and wars have been won or lost because of an undiscovered danger. And that is the enemy within.

Or what is commonly called "traitors". A traitor betrays his/her own country to the enemy, so that the enemy can conquer the country.

In essence, a traitor is the enemy within.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul talked about offering ourselves to God as a weapon fighting on the side of God.

Yet he also warned that though we may not be slaves of sin or unholy weapons, we are not free from the clutches of sin.

In other words, if we are not careful, we will betray God, we will be traitors of the Body of Christ, we will become the enemy with the Church.

Similarly in the gospel, the unfaithful servant betrayed his master and is the traitor to the household. He is the enemy within.

In this Mass, let us offer ourselves to the Lord to be His instrument of holiness, and His weapons to fight against sin.

Let us also ask for God's grace to be on guard against unfaithfulness. May we never become the enemy with.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 20-10-09

Romans 5 : 12,15,17-21
Luke 12 : 35-38

The word "tomorrow" is a common word. But it is also a very versatile and a volatile word.

It is versatile in the sense that it can make us look ahead to the next day, to a fresh beginning and a new start.

But it is volatile in that we can begin to delay and procrastinate the things that we must do today.

The word "tomorrow" can give us this notion that we still have time and we begin to lose the sense of urgency.

In the gospel, Jesus reminds us about the sense of urgency, especially in doing the necessary.

No doubts about it, when we make a serious reflection on our lives, we will know what is necessary.

Yet that is precisely the problem. We keep delaying in making time for a serious reflection in prayer.

Our excuse is that we are too busy and hence we have no time.

And we put off to tomorrow what we need to do today. Unknowingly, we have fallen into the trap and the seduction of the devil.

Yet the 1st reading reminds us that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Rom 5:20)

Sin lures us to say that we will pray more tomorrow ; grace urges us to pray now.

Indeed, God's time is now. He is knocking at our hearts. May we open our hearts to Him ... now!

Monday, October 19, 2009

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 19-10-09

Romans 4 : 20-25
Luke 12 : 13-21

It is necessary, even crucial, to have a faith-vision, because a faith-vision will help us to look beyond the present situation and to put our faith in God who is master of the future.

Just like Abraham continued to believe and to trust in God even when things did not look good at that moment, nor was it looking good for the future.

There is this story of two altar-boys.
One was born in 1892 in Eastern Europe and the other, three years later in a small town of Illinois in the US.

Although they lived thousands of miles apart, they had an almost identical experience as altar servers.

Both had an accident with the wine while serving Mass. They spilled some of it on the floor during the offertory.

That's where the similarity in their story ended.

The altar-boy in Eastern Europe was harshly reprimanded for being so clumsy and was told to stop serving Mass.

That boy grew up to become an atheist and a communist. His name is Josip Tito, who was dictator of the  former Yugoslavia for 37 years.

The altar-boy in Illinois was consoled with these words from the priest : It is alright my boy. You will do better next time. You may even serve God as a priest.

That boy was the famous Bishop Fulton Sheen.

Many reflections can be made out of these two stories. But looking at it from the aspect of the faith of Abraham, then it is about having a faith-vision of a hope for the future.

Both altar-boys had a similar unfortunate experience of making a mistake, though one was punished and the other was not.

But one lost his faith-vision and took control of his future, which turned out to be a tragic one, while the other was given a faith-vision and put his future into the hands of God.

So it is a question of where our future lies.

If it lies in the self-made security of our riches and wealth, we may have to re-think our future.

If it lies in the hands of God, then despite the trials and turmoils of the present, we will still have hope for the future. Because we know that God is in control of our future.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Sat , 17-10-09

Rom 4:13, 16-18
Lk 12:8-12

There is always this question about the meaning of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit and what does that entail, because Jesus said that such a thing cannot be forgiven.

For us, we believe that the Holy Spirit is one of the Persons of the Triune God and that He is sent by the Father and the Son into our hearts to lead our lives and to direct us in the truth.

But if we knowingly and constantly ignore the call to faith and outrightly suppress the truth within us, then we are obstinately rejecting the Holy Spirit, which is actually rejecting God Himself.

But this is not likely that we are absolutely that stubborn.

However, to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is a more serious matter.

Because that would be to ascribe the working of the Holy Spirit and something holy to that of the working of the devil and the unholy.

Those who commit it persist in it even though they know what they are doing is not right at all.

It is like their eyes and hearts are so tightly closed to the goodness of divine power, so much so that the light of goodness had become darkness, and good had become evil.

Yet people like St Ignatius of Antioch have exposed the darkness of evil.

He stood up for love and goodness and truth, and for that he was thrown into the amphitheater and devoured by lions.

Yet his courage in witnessing for Christ and for love and truth lives on to this day.

May our faith gives us the courage to witness to God's truth and love.

Friday, October 16, 2009

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Fri, 16-10-09

Rom 4:1-8
Lk 12:1-7

If we ever get into heaven, we ought to be surprised.

We ought to be surprised that we ever get there in the first place.

And we may be surprised by who is there; and also surprised by who is not there.

Indeed, in the first place, how many of us can say that we truly deserve to be in heaven.

We may be baptised, live religious lives, are good people, or even doing service and great things for the Lord.

But does this mean that we can claim for ourselves a place in heaven.

The Letter to the Romans (1st Reading), says that if a person has work to show, his wages are not considered as favour but as his due.

But when a person has nothing to show except his faith and trust in God, then that person is truly blessed.

As an example, Abraham put his faith in God, as his faith was a blessing for him.

Indeed, faith is a gift from God. It is because we see faith as a gift from God, that our deeds are acts of thanksgiving and to glorify God.

Then our deeds would not be just for selfish and self-glorifying motives.

We would not want to be hypocritical because we know that God sees everything and knows what so deep in our hearts.

Finally, when we see God face to face, there is no need to talk about the good we have done. We just want to give thanks to God.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 15-10-09

Romans 3 : 21-30
Luke 11 : 47-54

It is said that the purpose of preaching is to comfort the disturbed, and to disturb the comfortable.

But when preaching ends up in comforting the comfortable, and disturbing those who are already disturbed, then the preaching may not be prophetic.

What is worse is when preaching is used for profit and benefit.

But besides having the double-edged thrust of consolation and desolation, the prophetic voice is recognized by its call for justice.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul highlighted the justice of God, which is essentially love and forgiveness.

Indeed, love and forgiveness is the very essence of the justice of God.

So whenever Jesus preached about love and forgiveness, He brought comfort to the disturbed and those in need for forgiveness.

But for those who want to silence the prophetic voice of justice, the words of Jesus brought them distress.

So if today, or any day, when we hear the voice of the Lord, when we hear the voice of love and forgiveness, when we hear the voice of justice, let us not harden our hearts and brush it off.

It is only when we are disturbed, then we will be awakened.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 14-10-09

Romans 2 : 1-11
Luke 11 : 42-46

A common situation exists where there are leaders and followers, or superiors and subordinates, or teachers and students.

It may be in an organization, or workplace or classroom or even in church.

Whether the person up in the front is a superior or a manager or a teacher or a priest, he/she will treat those under his/her charge differently.

For whatever reason, some will be treated with favour, some will be treated indifferently, some will just be overlooked.

That is understandable when we look at it from the perspective of relational chemistry.

So we have to admit that we are partial and biased in varying degrees.

We often look at people with different and arbitrary standards.

This can be detrimental in situations where the "favoured" people get away with something that others will be severely punished for.

The last line of the 1st reading says that God has no favourites. That means God is impartial, that He loves everyone regardless of whether they are clever or attractive or influential or otherwise.

That does not mean that we cannot have close friends or talk more with people that we can easily relate with.

It means that with those whom we can't easily relate with or even dislike, we still must treat them with fairness and not to impose on them unendurable burdens of mind and heart.

Especially when we are the superiors.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 13-10-09

Romans 1 : 16-25
Luke 11 : 37-41

The use of sacramentals in the Church is an interesting practice.

Sacramentals are things like holy water, crucifix, rosary, holy pictures and statues.

Most Catholics would use such sacramentals during prayer, and will kiss the holy pictures and touch the statues.

But of course, we are clear that we don't worship statues or use holy pictures like some kind of talisman.

But as much as we know the place of sacramentals and holy objects in our religious life, when it comes to our secular life, we get all mixed-up.

We run into this problem of making things the center of our lives.

For e.g., some get so absorbed with their personal computers that they could not see that the computers are now controlling them.

Some get so absorbed with another human being that they create a personality cult, and that's why singers, movie stars ad sports stars have a fan club,

St. Paul, in the 1st reading, would point out that the impiety and the depravity of man have caused them to exchange the glory of the immortal God for a worthless imitation, of mortal man, of birds, of animals, or whatever.

All this happened because the truth of God has been imprisoned by the wickedness of man.

Indeed, we have that ability to suppress God's truth in us.

Let us ask Jesus to cleanse our hearts, so that the truth of God will set us free to worship the one true God.

Monday, October 12, 2009

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 12-10-09

Romans 1 : 1-7
Luke 11 : 29-32

If we were asked this question : What do you do as Catholics?... what will our reply be?

Are we going to say : we go for Mass on Sundays, or, we go to Novena on Saturdays, or, we pray the Rosary?

But what do we do essentially as Catholics? What is being Catholic all about?

If St. Paul were to answer that question, his reply could be found in the 1st reading, which is the letter to the Romans.

For St. Paul, it is to proclaim the Good News, and it is about Jesus Christ who rose from the dead, so that in Him, the holiness of God is shown to all peoples.

The Church teaches that all the followers of Christ have the obligation of spreading the faith according to their abilities.

Whatever abilities we may have, we can be witnesses of the faith by living lives of holiness.

Because holiness is the sign and the expression of our faith in the Risen Lord.

By our lives of holiness, we already proclaim our faith.

The fruit of holiness is repentance, and hence our lives are turned away from sin and turned towards God.

When our lives are turned towards God, others will eventually follow suit.

They need not ask us what we do as Catholics, because they can see who we are as Catholics.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

27th Week, Ordinary Time, Sat, 10-10-09

Joel 4:12-21
Lk 11:27-28

As much as we see so much of sin and evil happening around us, yet the great consolation is that the world has not become hell. And it won't!

That is because the good that is inborn in every human being will keep resisting evil.

Though evil may often triumph, yet it can never conquer.

It may win a battle, but that does not mean that it has won the war.

God gave us a promise through the prophet Joel in the 1st reading:

The Lord will be a shelter for His people, a stronghold for the sons of Israel (Joel 4:16)

In the face of evil, we have to stand on God's promise, otherwise we will not stand at all.

We can remain standing in the fight against evil only when we listen to the Word of God and keep it.

The Word of God urges us to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us.

When we keep God's word and live it out in our lives, then evil will lose its power and its sting.

Indeed, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it, for they will bring love and peace into the world.

Friday, October 9, 2009

27th Week, Ordinary Time, Fri, 09-10-09

Joel 1:13-15
Lk 11:15-26

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

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

Maybe because it is so called "natural", we tend to make God accountable for it. We call it an "act of God".

Simply because we just can't find a convincing and consoling answer.

In the first reading, we hear of a terrible invasion of locusts that ravaged the land.

The effects were disastrous, but the prophet Joel saw it from a spiritual and religious dimension.

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

He urged the people the 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 a diabolical possession and exorcism was used by Jesus as a platform to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

When disasters or 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 dimension?

Because out of chaos, a new creation comes forth.

We may give in to hopelessness and be scattered.

But let us gather in faith, and with Jesus, we await for a new creation and a new revelation.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

27th Week, Ordinary Time, Thurs , 08-10-09

Malachi 3:13-20
Lk 11:5-13

Whenever we are faced with overwhelming odds, we may tend to say: if we can't beat them, then might as well join them.

Whether said in jest or in resignation, that statement portrays the powerful reality of the contradictions of life.

Examples of contradictions of life are "the rich gets richer, the poor gets poorer" and "those who do evil gets the benefits, those who do good end up as losers".

That was the lament of the people who try to be good - they say that  "it is useless to serve God, what is the good of keeping God's commands."

Because the arrogant seemed to be blessed and the evil-doers prosper.

But the prophet Malachi reminds the people that God sees and He knows and He remembers.

In the end, for those who fear God, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays.

Malachi urged his people to persevere. Jesus would urge us to persevere and also to persist.

In the face of the contradictions of life, we need to persevere in our faith and persists in our prayer.

We must continue to believe that God wants to bestow His bountiful blessings upon us.

So in the face of contradictions of life and the seemingly overwhelming evil around us:
-could we believe in the sun, even though it is not shining?
-could we still believe in love, even though we may not feel it?
-could we still believe in God, even when He is silent?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Our Lady of the Rosary, 07-10-09

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

The story of how the Feast of the Holy Rosary came about is indeed interesting.

Back in 1571, the powerful Ottoman Turks decided to attack Europe from the East.

The stage was set for a decisive naval battle at the Gulf of Lepanto, off the coast of Greece.

A naval victory for the Turks would secure an opening for the Turkish army to overrun Christian Europe.

The pope at that time, Pope Pius V, called for a crusade against the invading Turks.

But at that time, the Church was already weakened by the Protestant Reformation and only a few countries responded.

In fact the Christian fleet was outnumbered 3:1 and was no match for the mighty Turkish armada.

But Pope Pius V also called for a Rosary crusade to help the Christian forces.

On this day, 7th Oct 1571, the two parties fought and the mighty Turkish armada was miraculously defeated.

It was said that the Christian soldiers fought with swords in one hand and rosaries in the other.

And it can also be said that the battle was won, not with arms but with praying hands.

Indeed the simple, humble and powerful prayers of the Rosary can achieve miracles and work wonders.

Because Mary, the mother of Jesus, the mother of God prays with us when we pray the Rosary.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

27th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 06-10-09

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

It's one thing to know that we have a bad habit, or an addiction, but yet it is another thing to kick it out or to change our habits.

One simple example is watching TV.

We can get into the habit of just sitting in front of the TV and let time fly, and slowly it becomes an addiction.

And short of throwing away the TV, we might find it real difficult to kick this bad habit or the addiction of wasting time and watching rubbish.

So what is the key to change, to conversion, to repentance?

Relying simply on will-power might be out of the question, because we know how often will-power has failed us when it comes to an addiction.

But yet the key is also in the will-power.

The will-power must be empowered by the truth; only then can the will-power respond to the call for conversion and repentance.

The people of Nineveh repented because they heard the truth from Jonah, and they responded.

That is also what Jesus is highlighting in today's gospel.

The one thing needed and which is necessary is to listen - to listen to the truth and to be open to it.

Listening to the truth and being open to it is what is needed if we are to respond to God's call to conversion and repentance.

May our hearts be opened to that truth.

Monday, October 5, 2009

27th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 05-10-09

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

The late Cardinal John Henry Newman struggled to understand the mystery of his own life, as well as the meaning and purpose of life.

As he prayed, he came to this conclusion : God has created him to do some definite service. God has committed some work to him which He has not committed to another. Hence he has a particular mission in life.

Cardinal Newman was an Anglican cleric, but after researching and studying Scriptures and Church doctrines, he felt that he had to return to the roots of the Church.

Subsequently, he became a Catholic and devoted his life and intellectual talents to teaching and explaining the Catholic faith.

That was what he felt was his mission and meaning of his life.

As we reflect on today's readings, we also see two characters who had to struggle with their mission and finding the meaning of their lives.

The prophet Jonah tried to avoid his mission but God's call was just too strong to evade.

In the gospel, Jesus portrayed the Samaritan as someone who faced the basic human mission of helping another human being who was in need, and that called for the putting aside of the discrimination and the animosity.

So God has a mission for us, for each one of us.

Certainly each of us has a particular calling to a particular service to God.

But let us also not forget our basic human mission, and that is to be a neighbour of love to those in need.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

26tth Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 03-10-09

Bar 4:5-12, 27-29
Lk 10:17-24

Whenever it comes to the subject of infant baptism, the couples from a mixed marriage, meaning a Catholic married to a non-Catholic, would be more likely to say that it is better to leave it later, i.e. when the child comes of age and can make decisions.

But on the rationale of the formation of life, meaning to say, we give our children the best to help them grow in the best way possible, I would also add that people in general, seldom, if not never, forget their childhood experiences, especially their religious experiences.

Because all of us have this gift or faculty of retrospection, i.e. the ability to recall, remember and reflect.

Somehow as children, we tend to believe and experience God more easily, maybe because children are not that cynical and skeptical.

Well, along the way, some may outgrow, and even discard their belief in God.

Yet, whenever they hit a crisis or a major setback, they will, inevitably, turn back to the faith of their youth and to the God they know when they were kids.

Even in the 1st reading, the people were told that they had strayed away from God, so now they just have to turn back and search for God.

But searching and finding for God is not all that difficult.

Because God reveals Himself to children and to the child-like.

So it is our duty to tell children about God and teach them to pray.

In turn, the children will show us who God is.

Friday, October 2, 2009

2nd October - Gurardian Angels, Friday

Ex 23:20-23
Mt 18:1-5, 10

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

Well, 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, 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.

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 His love, entrust me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide.
Amen.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

26th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 01-10-09

Neh 8:1-41,5-6, 7b-12
Lk 10:1-12

The cutting edge of our faith is this teaching of Jesus - Love your enemies.

That teaching alone encompasses forgiveness and compassion.

I call it the cutting edge of our faith because precisely that teaching cuts and opens up our convictions in the teaching of Jesus.

If "Love your enemies" is the cutting edge, then the forward thrust  of our faith is this teaching of Jesus in today's gospel - I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

I call it the forward thrust because Christianity by nature is not passive ; it is active ; it is missionary.

And it moves out, not into friendly territory, but into hostile lands, into places where Christianity is not welcomed.

It is precisely in the forward thrust of being sent like lambs among wolves that we have to use to use the cutting edge of loving our enemies and returning good for evil.

So Christianity is not a joy ride in a theme part, in that it looks dangerous, but actually it is quite safe.

No, Christianity is about blood, sweat and tears, and the stories of the martyrs, saints and missionaries tell us that.

Yet, despite the fear of the wolves and the repulsion of loving our enemies, we are assured of this.

The joy of the Lord is our stronghold, the joy of the Lord is our strength.

The Lord will go with us to face the wolves, and with His love, they will change from ravenous wolves into meek lambs.