Saturday, February 27, 2010

1st Week of Lent, Saturday, 27-02-10

Deuteronomy 26:16-19 / Matthew 5:43-48     (2020)

Although some people believe in a supreme being, or a divinity, they nonetheless like to remain as "free-thinkers" (although that is a local colloquial term)

Maybe the attractive factor here is the freedom.

The freedom to remain uncommitted, the freedom to live one's life according to one's own precepts, the freedom to believe whatever what one wants to believe in.

Yet in today's 1st reading from Deutoronomy, we hear two declarations.

The first declaration was from the people, that the Lord God will be their God.

And God declared that they will be His very own people.

Such a declaration of commitment is not unlike marriage vows, and such a commitment actually frees both parties to love each other more deeply.

We commit ourselves to God by following His ways, and keeping His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances.

God in turn commits Himself to us by empowering us to be a consecrated people, a holy people.

A people set apart to show others a way of living that is much more meaningful and truthful.

But if we are like "free-thinking" Christians, then are we doing anything exceptional, especially when the other non-Christians do just as much.

As Christians, Jesus calls us to be perfect, to be holy, just as our heavenly Father is perfect and holy.

Friday, February 26, 2010

1st Week of Lent, Friday, 26-02-10

Ezekiel 18:21-28 / Matthew 5:20-26    (2020)

There is this story of a lady-driver who stopped her car at the traffic lights.

When the lights turned green, she was a little slow in moving on, and a honk came from the car behind hers.

In her anxiety to get her car moving, the engine stalled.

As she tried to start her car, the man in the car behind hers started horning.

His horning became more irritating and it made her even more nervous.

Finally she had all she could take from him.

So she got out of the car, walked to the man in the car behind hers and she said :

Sir, I would be delighted to horn for you, if you would be kind enough to start my car for me.

Well, it is difficult what amuses us more in that story - was it the irrationality of the man or the ingenuity of the woman.

But one thing for sure - anger only generates heat that burns away a person.

On the other hand, reconciliation opens the door of the heart for God to enter and to heal and to bring about peace.

That is the message of the readings of today.

But reconciliation is not about who is right and who is wrong.

Let us remember that it was God who first reconciled us to Himself by sending His only Son to forgive and heal our sinful hearts.

May we do likewise with others

Thursday, February 25, 2010

1st Week of Lent, Thursday, 25-02-10

Esther 4:17 / Matthew 7:7-12      (2020)

One of the most remarkable faculties that we have as human beings is this ability to remember and to reflect.

We have this ability to store experiences, feelings, etc. in our memory.

Stored in the deepest recesses of our memory are the experiences of life and the things we learned about life.

Things like love, compassion, patience, forgiveness, and of course about faith in God.

That was where Queen Esther took refuge in her moment of peril, which we heard of in the 1st reading.

She had recourse to what she had been taught from young and what was stored in her memory.

She took recourse to God as her only Saviour.

She remembered what she had been taught about God.

In the gospel, Jesus tells us to remember that when we ask it will be given, when we search we will find, and when we knock it will be opened.

Because God does not turn His back on us who are His beloved children.

Let us remember that, and let us remember to teach that to our children.

It will come in necessary at some point in life.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

1st Week of Lent, Wednesday, 24-02-10

Jonah 3:1-10 / Luke 11:29-32    (2020)

The name Jonah is a Jewish name and it means "a dove".

A dove is a symbol of docility and gentleness.

But Jonah was neither docile nor gentle.

In fact, he hated the Ninevites, the archenemy of Israel, because they annihilated the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

So when Jonah opened his mouth to speak what God told him to say, he was not gentle at all. In fact he was blunt and provocative.

Yet, his message was heeded and the Ninevites started repenting.

Jesus had all the signs - his miracles over nature, over diseases and over demons.

Yet, when He proclaimed His message of repentance and conversion, he met with rejection and hostility.

But yet, Jesus did not give up.

He knew that His message would bring about conversion, eventually.

We the Church are the fruit of that conversion.

It is for us to continue listening to this message of repentance and conversion.

Because we the Church are called to be the sign and hope of conversion, especially the conversion of the world.

We are to show the world how to move from sinfulness to holiness.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

1st Week of Lent, Tuesday, 23-02-10

Isaiah 55:10-11 / Matthew 6:7-15      (2020)

Very often, it seems to us that the forces of evil are victorious and even overwhelming.

Men of violence assert their power and might over innocent people and even kill them.

It seems that justice is slow in coming, if ever at all.

The movie industry will take advantage of this fact by churning out all those kind of "pay-back" movies.

Justice is done only in reaching out for the gun. But it is only confined to the dream-world of the movies.

So where is justice? Is there any justice?

Yet we know that there is justice. At least, we will remember Jesus saying this : He who draws the sword will also die by the sword.

Yet, Jesus also did say : Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly.

Those are profound of truth, profound words of life, words which, as the 1st reading puts it, does not return to the Lord empty without carrying out His will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.

We can only understand what justice is when we know what the truth is about.

In the gospel, Jesus taught us a prayer. It is a prayer of truth.

It is a prayer for justice. When we pray the Lord's prayer, we are also praying that the truth of God will bear fruits of love in our lives so that we will work for justice in the world.

Truth goes before justice. Because there can never be justice without truth.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chair of St. Peter, The Apostle, 22-02-10

1 Peter 5 : 1-4
Matthew 16 : 13-19

In the business world, courses on management and marketing skills are in high demand.

Such courses enable a multinational company or business organization to work effectively and productively. All for the purpose of profit and making money.

The Church can be called a multinational organization, with a hierarchical structure.

So what are our so-called management and marketing principles?

The 1st reading summed it up in these words : Be shepherds of the flock that is entrusted to you. Watch over it, not simple out of duty, but gladly. Do not do it for sordid money. Never be a dictator, but be an example for others to follow.

Such pastoral and management principles have held the Church together for over 2000 years.

Yet, such principles and teachings are not easy to adhere to because of human frailty and weakness.

Yet, where there are short-comings and failings, the grace of God fills up the gaps to hold the Church together.

Jesus promised this when He said : You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it.

At the same time, the promise of Jesus comes with a mission for the Church.

The Church does not exists for its own sake. Archbishop William Temple once said : The Church is the only institution that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.

The Church is the sign of God's love and salvation for the world. United as the Body of Christ and with the Pope as the head of the Church, we are to carry out that mission.

So as we pray for the successor of St. Peter, our present Pope, and all the leaders of the universal Church, let us also pray for ourselves.

That in carrying out what Peter said in the 1st reading, we may be witnesses of God's love and presence in the world so that others will come to know who is Jesus Christ.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday after Ash Wednesday, 20-02-10

Isaiah 58 : 9-14 / Luke 5 : 27-32     (2020)

At any point in time, we can surely think of a person or persons that we have difficulties relating with.

We may just feel uncomfortable about that person, or cannot accept certain qualities about that person, or that person may have hurt us before.

Hence human relationships are often laced with anything from indifference to intolerance.

Of course, we being the disciples of Jesus will try and strive to resolve our differences.

But the moment we get hurt again or feel that it is pointless or feel that there can be no change for the better, we will immediately and conveniently give up.

But in today's gospel, we see Jesus approaching someone whom we would automatically ostracize in our lives, especially if that person has betrayed us and sold us out.

Levi was such a person and yet Jesus not only approached him, but even called him to follow Him.

Jesus came to bring together all peoples into the peace and unity of God's kingdom.

In our Lenten journey ahead, let us heed the word of the Lord from the 1st reading.

Let us release our clenched fists and drop the wicked word.

Then our light will begin to shine for others and our own shadows will be shortened.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday after Ash Wednesday, 19-02-10

Isaiah 58 : 1-9 / Matthew 9 : 14-15     (2020)

Whenever we embark on a task, especially a task that we are not that keen about, there may be a tendency for us to look for benefits or rewards in order to motivate us.

We may ask this question : what do I gain from it?

So even a spiritual discipline like fasting can be manipulated.

The prophet Isaiah tells of people who ask God such questions like : Why should we fast if You never see it, why do penance if You never notice.

Let us remember that spiritual disciplines like fasting or alms-giving or even prayer is not meant to attract God's attention and gain spiritual points.

In the case of fasting, it is a spiritual discipline, a physical form of prayer, that helps us to come to a greater awareness of God in our lives and also to have a hunger for God.

Fasting helps us see clearly what is really important and necessary in our lives.

Fasting is a good spiritual discipline that leads us into a deeper relationship with God.

When we are in a deep relationship with God, we will know what to fast from.

We are to fast from sin, because it creeps so easily into our lives and clings tenaciously onto us.

Sin destroys our relationship with God. Fasting is a spiritual means to restore that relationship.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday after Ash Wednesday, 18-02-10

Deuteronomy 30:5-20 / Luke 9:22-25     (2020)

We may know about the novel titled "Frankenstein" and may even have read it.

It is about this monster that Dr. Frankenstein created, although the monster had been mistakenly called Frankenstein.

It is not so much a horror story but rather a tragic story.

Because this creature-monster also had feelings and self-awareness to some extent.

It was that ability to think and feel and reflect that made it more an object of pity rather than of fear and disgust.

We too can think and feel and reflect. And we also can choose.

That is what makes us uniquely human - our ability to choose; our freedom of choice.

In the 1st reading, Moses asked his people to exercise properly this freedom of choice - a choice for life or death, a choice for God or for sin and destruction.

In the gospel Jesus stated clearly His choice - He chose the cross.

In turn, Jesus now asks each of us : What is your choice?

Do we want to follow Jesus and hence choose the cross?

That is the fundamental question that stands between us and Jesus.

Moses urged his people : choose life.

Ironically, it is in choosing the cross that we choose life.

To choose otherwise will only make us monsters.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday, 17-02-10

Joel 2 : 12-18 / 2 Cor 5:20 - 6:2 / Matthew 6 : 1-6, 16-18   (2020)

Today, the whole Church, and especially those preparing for baptism at Easter, begin a very intense spiritual journey

It is a journey of repentance, a journey of renewal, a journey of conversion and a journey of healing.

Whatever form the journey may take, it is always a journey back into the heart of God.

In a way, it is a journey of acknowledgment.

We acknowledge that God is our Creator and that we are His creatures.

God created us in His image and likeness. Yet it was from the dust of the earth that He created us.

Today we acknowledge that we are created from dust and it will be unto dust that we shall return.

This is one of the reasons why we are signed with ashes on our foreheads on this day.

Yet being signed with ashes on our foreheads is also a sign of our repentance.

We also express our repentance and acknowledge our sinfulness through fasting, prayer and alms-giving.

Let us turn to the Lord now, for He is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in mercy.

Let us not delay, let us not procrastinate. Because now is the favourable time; now is the time of grace.

Today the God of our salvation is knocking on the door of our hearts. Let us open our hearts to Him and be filled with His grace.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

6th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 16-02-10

James 1:12-18 / Mark 8:14-21     (2020)

At times we would say that temptations come from the devil - the devil tempted me to do it - and we blame our temptations on the devil.

At other times, we would also say that God is putting us to the test.

Strange as it may seem, but are we saying the one and the same thing?

We may blame the devil and we may also blame God but the 1st reading tells us that everyone who is tempted is attracted and seduced by his own wrong desire.

What attracts us and makes us have wrong desires are none other than the people around us and the things we see around us.

It may be sexual or it may be material, but when we look long enough at it then we will give in to the temptation and fall into sin.

In the gospel, Jesus tells His disciples to keep their eyes open, and to be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.

We too need to keep guard over what our eyes are look at.

If we are not look at who is above us, then very soon we shall give in to what is around us.

Monday, February 15, 2010

6th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 15-02-10

James 1 : 1-11
Mark 8 : 11-13

The life of a Christian is certainly no different from the life of the others around him.

By and large, whether atheist or believer, rich or poor, religious or laity, man or woman, life has its difficulties and struggles.

More so for us who believe in God, we are certainly not spared of these turmoils of life, and we cannot expect to either.

We are either coming out of a storm or headed towards one, though there might be a moment of peace when we are in the eye of the storm.

Yet we must continue to believe that although God did not promise us that there will be no storms, He did promise us that He will be with us in the storm.

This faith in God is a powerful sign for others to recognize that God is indeed truly with us in our difficult and stormy moments.

The problem the Pharisees had with Jesus was that they expected Him to work spectacular and phenomenal signs.

Jesus refused to give them any of these kind of signs because He has already given them the example of His life.

To give them more signs would be like to show a blind man more pictures.

In Jesus, we see how our Master faced His difficulties and struggles and He showed us how to overcome them by putting His faith in God His Father.

The 1st reading attested to this and urges us to see our trials as a blessed privilege for growth of a deeper faith in God.

Faith is like a teabag. You have to put it in hot water before you know how strong it is.

Friday, February 12, 2010

5th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 12-02-10

1 Kings 11:29-32; 12:19
Mark 7 : 31-37

At times I wonder which is a more unfortunate disability - to be blind, or to be deaf.

A blind person is easily identified by his dark spectacles, white cane and the way of walking.

On the other hand, a deaf person looks just like any ordinary person.

It is only when we interact with such a person that we will slowly discover that he actually could not hear what we are saying.

Furthermore, his speech may also not be comprehensible. Because the inability to hear also affects the diction.

So a deaf person is cut off from the world of audio. The only way to communicate with a deaf person is through signs and by touch.

That was how Jesus communicated with the deaf man in today's gospel.

Jesus touched his ears and his tongue. Jesus also looked up to heaven to let the man see that the healing powers were coming down from on high.

The gospel account reminds us that in order to be understood, we must know what the other person can understand.

Because communication is not just a matter of the mind but it is more a matter of the heart.

Even in the 1st reading, Jeroboam and Ahijah have all the faculties of communication, yet the tearing of the cloak into twelve strips spoke of an imminent
breakup of the kingdom and separation.

Communication is a matter of the heart because it leads to communion. That was what Jesus came to do, and this is what we must continue to do.

We just need to open our ears and our eyes first, before opening our mouths, then we will realise that the understanding of the other person will lead to a deep communication.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

5th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 11-02-10

1 Kings 11:4-13 / Mark 7:24-30          (2020)

The appearance of strands of gray hair on the head can give the impression that one is slowly but sure aging.

The consolation that we, or others, give ourselves is that we are getting wiser, besides the fact that we are getting older.

But getting on with age does not necessary mean that we are growing in wisdom.

At least not in the case of king Solomon.

He had gained the reputation of being a wise king. But this gift of wisdom was the fruit of his faith in God.

In his later years, his heart swayed to other gods because of his many wives.

Even though the Lord had appeared twice to him, he still did what displeased the Lord.

It must be said here that God did not take away the gift of wisdom from Solomon.

Rather it was Solomon who had abandoned his faith in God and hence the gift of wisdom was left dormant in him.

In the gospel, we heard of a Syrophoenician woman who begged Jesus to heal her daughter.

She had faith in Jesus, and although Jesus seemed to reject her request, the wisdom of her faith made her persist and eventually was granted to her.

Faith is a gift from God. So is air, but we have to breath it; so is food, but we have to eat it.

We will also know that we are growing in faith when we are able to see the necessary and important things in life and we always choose to do the will of God because we love Him.

As Psalm 111:10 puts it : The fear of the Lord is the first stage of wisdom. All who do so prove themselves wise.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

5th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 10-02-10

1 Kings 10 : 1-10
Mark 7 : 14-23

The Chinese New Year festival is approaching soon. In true Chinese tradition, one of the main highlights is the delicious food.

From the Reunion dinner onwards, there will be food and food and more food.

Yes, delicious, sumptuous, and "sinful" foods like bak-kua, roasted cashew nuts, pineapple tarts, love-letters, etc.

But we know that those type of foods, consumed in that kind of combination, and consumed in abundance, will give us the following effects : sore-throat, cough, indigestion and a bloated feeling.

The Chinese have a particular way of looking at food. Food is viewed as medicine. It can do good for the body when taken in various combinations.

But certain foods taken in a wrong combination can actually harm the body.

Many religions have dietary laws. Some foods are forbidden because when they are not cooked or properly preserved, they could cause health problems which in turn also affects the spiritual health.

Over time, such forbidden foods became part of the religious culture and they also took on the meaning of spiritual purity.

So we can imagine the reaction of the people when Jesus, with one breath, implicitly proclaimed that all foods are clean.

Yet for all the possible reaction, the message may not have been understood. What Jesus was saying is that foods can give us strength and health, but it cannot give us wisdom and purity.

In the 1st reading, the queen of Sheba was greatly impressed by the splendor and the wisdom of King Solomon.

Nonetheless, she also saw beyond the externals and acknowledged that it was the God of Israel who had abundantly blessed King Solomon.

Similarly, we give thanks to God for the blessings for the abundance and sumptuous food and the other basic necessities as well as other luxuries.

But we must be careful not to take all these for granted. Only with a thankful and grateful heart can we truly appreciate and give thanks to God for His blessings.

Because a thankful and grateful person is truly a wise and holy person.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

5th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 09-02-10

1 Kings 8 : 22-23, 27-30
Mark 7 : 1-13

An atheist is defined as a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

In other words, an atheist is one who does not believe in the existence of God.

A story goes that an atheist asked a Christian this : Show me where God is and I will give u a hundred dollars.

The Christian replied : Show me where He is not, and I will give you a million dollars.

Well, the atheist and the believer can argue all day long but for King Solomon in the 1st reading, the question of the existence of God is beyond argument.

For him, the existence and the presence of God is so enormous that even the heavens cannot contain God, much less the magnificent Temple that he has built.

So the presence of God is everywhere, and His commandments are valid anytime.

But human beings have this ability to manipulate God's commandments to serve their own vested interests.

In the gospel, Jesus gave a few examples of how human traditions can make God's commandments look small and restrictive.

Hence, we too need to reflect and examine our own practices and traditions.

Our practices and traditions should not make people frown and belittle our faith.

Rather, our faith practices and religious customs and traditions show others that we truly believe that God is present everywhere and loving us all the time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

5th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 08-02-10

1 Kings 8: 1-7, 9-13
Mark 6: 53-56

Some people have remarked that they wonder about the existence of God because they don't see or feel His presence.

They search and try to look for God's presence, but somehow they just could not get to feel it.

We empathize with these people because at times we do feel that God is absent from our lives especially when we are most in need of Him.

As much as it is said that God is everywhere, His presence can certainly be experienced in worship and in prayer.

In the 1st reading, King Solomon and the priests were preparing for worship and sacrifice.

Then suddenly the glory of the Lord in the form of a cloud filled the Temple so much so that the priests were unable to perform their duties.

But what else was there to do when the Lord manifested Himself. All they needed to do was to be still and know that the Lord was with them.

If they were just concerned with getting the task of sacrificing the sheep and the oxen done, they would surely have missed this mystical experience.

So worship prepares our hearts to see beyond the ordinary and the mundane and to recognize the presence of the Lord in spite of the monotony of life.

In the gospel, the people recognized Jesus when he stepped ashore.

He came as an ordinary person and without fanfare or trumpets blaring, yet the people were able to recognize Him because they could see something mystical in Him.

In this Mass, let us worship and thank the Lord with our hearts, so that our eyes will be opened to see that in the ordinary and mundane monotony of life, God is present, always and everywhere.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 06-02-10

1 Kings 3: 4-13
Mark 6: 30-34

We know that life is a continuous learning process.

This learning process is manifested in the quest for knowledge which can be attained through education and reading and research.

As it is, we are often measured by the quality of our knowledge, especially when it comes to a job requirement.

Yet knowledge does not stand alone.

Knowledge goes hand-n-hand with wisdom, and they complement each other.

To put it simply, knowledge is knowing the answer, wisdom is giving life to the answer.

In the 1st reading, when King Solomon asked for wisdom from God, it was not that he did not know how to rule. He had experienced advisers with him.

Rather he was asking God to make him a good king, a king who knows what God wants and to carry it out.

We need wisdom to see what is vital and necessary because we can get too absorbed with our busyness and get too focused on achievements.

In the gospel, even Jesus had to tell His apostles, who had just come back from successful missions and feeling high, to go off to a lonely place and rest and of course to pray.

In the spiritual sense, we need the wisdom to come to know the Lord whom we are working for instead of just doing the work of the Lord.

Wisdom is also necessary for self-knowledge and to get a good picture of ourselves.

I came across another version of the popular Serenity prayer and it goes like this :
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
the courage to face the one I can change,
and the wisdom to know it is me!

Friday, February 5, 2010

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 05-02-10

Ecclesiasticus 47 : 2-11 / Mark 6 : 14-29   (2020)

It is worthwhile to note how one person can completely change the character of a country and its people.

It can be for the better or for worse, but it cannot be denied that the people will somehow take on the face and the mind of the leader.

That is how powerful the influence the leader has on the country and on its people.

For Israel of the biblical era, King David is held as the model king because it was he who brought Israel to its golden age.

The 1st reading is actually an eulogy about King David and praised him for his achievements and his contributions to the country.

Yet the eulogy did not ignore what the Lord did for David. It said this : The Lord took away his sins, and exalted his horn forever; He gave him a royal covenant and a glorious throne in Israel.

So in King David, we see a leader who had a good balance of the spiritual as well as secular qualities.

But for King Herod, we see a leader who has lost the spiritual aspect of his life and because he was just so thrilled by a dancing girl, he was willing to execute a holy man.

Nonetheless, he was deeply distressed because he knew he was putting a holy man to death.

Such was the impact and the influence of John the Baptist on King Herod as well as for the people of Israel.

King David and John the Baptist might not have known it then, but deep and wide was their impact and influence on the people.

For us, we too have to be aware that our Christian lives have invisible effects on others.

May our lives have an impact and influence on others such that they will come to know the God that we believe in.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 04-02-10

1 Kings 2 : 1-4, 10-12
Mark 6 : 7-13

It is interesting to note that airlines put a weight limit on the passengers' luggage. For the economy class, it is generally 20kg.

We might think that 20kg is a lot of stuff but if we have to pack our luggage for a trip, then we will know how easy it is to exceed this weight limit.

Jesus also put a weight limit on His disciples' luggage as they set off for their mission trips.

In fact, other than the clothes that they were wearing and the sandals on their feet, they were only allowed to carry a staff. And that was only to symbolize the authority that was given to them by Jesus.

With such bare minimum, the disciples learned the first lesson of discipleship.

And that is this : God's grace alone is sufficient. The rest are peripherals. And also the rest will be provided for.

In the 1st reading, David also instructed Solomon on the bare but fundamental minimum as aspects of the kingship.

Primarily it is the obedience to the injunctions of the Lord, and the rest will be provided for by the Lord.

Hence, we may say that obedience to the Lord is the condition for His grace to be active in us.

Although God's grace is not tangible, it is certainly experienced by us, especially in times of difficulty.

Living the Christian life has its challenges, but where difficulties and challenges arise, God's grace is always present.

And where a need arises, grace provides.

We don't need 20kg of power to overcome our challenges and difficulties.

God's grace is all we need.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 03-02-10

2 Samuel 24 : 2, 9-17
Mark 6 : 1-6

About St. Blaise (memoria of the saint of the day)
He was bishop of Sebastea in Armenia in the early 4th century.

He was born of rich and noble parents, received a Christian education and made a bishop while still quite young.

When persecution arose, he was given a divine direction to withdraw to a cave in the mountains which was frequented only by wild animals.

But these wild animals did him no harm and when they were sick or wounded, they would come to him for his blessing and he healed them.

Meanwhile, hunters who had been sent to capture animals for the amphitheater, found him surrounded by these animals.

Although greatly amazed, they seized him and took him back to the authorities.

On their way, they met a poor woman whose pig had been carried off by a wolf.

At the command of St. Blaise, the wolf restored the pig unhurt.

On another occasion a woman brought to him a little boy who was at the point of death owing to a fishbone stuck in his throat, and the saint healed him with a prayer and the sign of the cross over his throat.

On account of this and other similar cures, the intercession of St. Blaise has been invoked for all kinds of throat trouble.

St. Blaise was scourged and thrown into prison and deprived of food. But the woman whose pig had been restored secretly brought him provisions and little wicks to light up his dark dungeon.

St. Blaise was further tortured with iron combs tearing away his flesh and finally he was beheaded.

Although the intercession of St Blaise is invoked in the blessing of throats, the message and relevance of the prayer is in the expression of our faith in God our Saviour and Healer.

Through the intercession of St. Blaise and the saints, we turn to God and ask for His blessings of health in mind and body so that we can be of service to others especially those who are ill and need our care.

So we ask for God's blessings not just for ourselves but also for those in need of healing so that they too will experience the healing love of God

Prayer of blessing of throats :
"Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat, and from every other disease. In the name of the Father and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.
R. Amen."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, 02-02-10, Tuesday

Malachi 3 : 1-4
Hebrews 2 : 14-18
Luke 2 : 22-40

(On the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, candles are blessed before the Mass.)

The candles that were blessed at the beginning of the Mass were meant to be lighted and then brought along in procession into the church where the Mass will be celebrated.

The significance of this is to remind us that at Christmas, Jesus came into the world and He is the true Light.

This feast of the Presentation indicates that Jesus the Light of the world is being presented to His Father and consecrated to Him.

That is the significance of why the candles are to be lighted and brought in procession into the church.

This feast is also an occasion for those in the consecrated life to renew their commitment to God, especially those who belong to religious orders and other similar organizations.

Yet the lighted candles also have a deeper meaning. Not only do we carry in us the light of Christ, we also unite with Him in His offering and sacrifice to the God.

Jesus was presented and consecrated to God to be the Saviour of the world.

It is through Him and in Him that the promise of salvation will be fulfilled and Jesus will fulfill that on the cross.

As we celebrate this feast of the Presentation, we also unite with Jesus and present ourselves to be consecrated for the salvation of the world.

May the blessed candles remind us that our lives are to be a continual sacrifice to God so that through us, the work of salvation that was begun in Jesus will be continued and fulfilled.

May our lives be like lighted candles that bring the light of God's love to the world.

Monday, February 1, 2010

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 01-02-10

2 Samuel 15:13-14, 30 ; 16:5-13
Mark 5 : 1-20

A curse can be expressed in several ways. It can take on the expression of a wish that misfortune, evil, doom, etc., befall a person, group, etc.

Or it can be a formula or charm intended to cause such misfortune to another. Or it can be an evil that has been invoked upon one. Or it can be the cause of evil, misfortune, or trouble.

Whether the curse will be actualized or not is another matter.

Nonetheless, to hear the words of a curse can cut and tear the heart.

In the 1st reading, king David heard the curse words of Shimei and he could have retaliated. But he did not.

King David knew that he was in the pits because even his own son was after his life.

Still, in the depths of his distress, he placed his hope in the Lord's mercy.

In the gospel, we can understand that what the disciples saw in the man was just a bag of curses.

They might even felt that this was the pits for them : they were in a foreign land, there was this possessed madman before them, the pigs, the cemetery around.

They were probably cursing the situation they were in and wondered why Jesus brought them there in the first place.

But that was precisely why Jesus came into this world so that the curse of sin will be changed into a blessing of grace.

So whenever we find ourselves in a lousy situation and feel like cursing, let us follow David's example and turn to God and place our hope in His mercy.

And when we have received the blessing of grace, let us also do what Jesus told the man He had healed : Go home to your people and tell them all the Lord in His mercy has done for you.