Tuesday, August 31, 2010

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 01-09-10

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

If others were to give an honest opinion of us as Christians, would they say that we are different from non-Christians?

Or would they say that we are no different from non-Christians, and maybe at times behave in a lesser way than them!

In the 1st reading, St. Paul would not accept that Christians in Corinth were behaving like non-Christians and even regressing into behaviours like jealousy and wrangling.

They were even dividing themselves into unspiritual clans with slogans like "I am for Paul" and "I am for Apollos".

Obviously they had forgotten the teaching and example of Jesus of which we saw in the gospel.

Jesus loved and cared for the people by teaching them and healing the sick and He restored the spiritual dimension in the lives of the people.

In fact, He Himself highlighted how important the spiritual aspect is when He would go to a lonely place early in the day to pray.

People saw how different Jesus was and what an extraordinary life He lived.

They saw the spiritual dimension in His life and they experienced God's presence in Him.

Jesus showed us how to live life. We cannot live it any lesser.

Monday, August 30, 2010

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 31-08-10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 30-08-10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 27, 2010

21st Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 28-08-10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Augustine. 

In his early years, he knew about God from his mother St. Monica, but he didn't want to have anything to do with God, until much later in his life.

And when he started searching for God, God was right there for him.

His sombre reflection about his journey of conversion was worded like this : 

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 26, 2010

21st Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 27-08-10

1 Corinthians 1:17-25 / Matthew 25:1-13

In today's Mass, the Church remembers St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo.

In her life-time, St. Monica converted two persons, and these two persons probably stretched her faith to the limit.

One was her husband Patricius, a good and kind man, but violently temperamental and at times unfaithful.

But through the good example and holiness of St. Monica, he was converted and baptized before his death.

The other person, and a much more difficult case, was her son St. Augustine.

We may have heard of the duration that she prayed for his conversion - 30 years.

And when her faith was wearing out, she asked a bishop to counsel him.

Although the bishop was not successful in turning her son around, he nonetheless had these prophetic words for her:

He said to her: Let him be, and continue to pray for him. It is impossible that a son of so many tears should be lost.

St. Monica had the joy and consolation of seeing St. Augustine baptized when he was 33 years old.

Not long after that, just before she passed away, she told St. Augustine : "There was indeed one thing for which I wished to tarry a little in this life, and that was that I might see you a Catholic before I die. My God hath answered this more than abundantly, so that I see you now made His servant and spurning all earthly happiness. What more am I to do here?"
St. Monica trusted in the Lord and waited for Him to answer her prayer with faith and patience.

We too need to learn from St. Monica and trust in the Lord and wait for the day when He reveals His plan and purpose to us.

Like the 5 wise bridesmaids in the gospel parable, our faith and patience will reward us with joy and consolation when we see for ourselves the marvelous works that God has done for us.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

21st Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 26-08-10

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

Quite often we hear this phrase : History repeats itself.

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

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

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

There were many moments in the history of humanity when modern man became like stone-age man.

Just to name a few : World War I, World War II, the Nazi holocaust, Bosnia genocide, Kosovo Conflict, Rwanda genocide.

And many more will be added to the list as the mistakes of history keep surfacing again and again.

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

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

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

Yes we must keep alert and stand ready.

The 1st reading reminds us that while we are waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ, it is He who will keep us steady and without blame until the last day.

Meanwhile as we journey towards that last day, let us make a history of mankind that is known for its beauty and not to make it ugly.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

21st Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 25-08-10

2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18 / Matthew 23:27-32

First impressions are quite important.

Because usually from the first impressions, the opinions are formed, and these opinions might well be permanent.

That is why grooming schools teach people how to dress well, act well, talk well, etc.

The grooming schools focus on appearances and impressions, and whatever that is external.

But can the externals change the internal? Can externals change the heart?

Because we sometimes behave like the Mafia - those gangsters wear Italian fashion suits to commit murder.

Obviously, looking good does not necessarily mean that a person is good.

As Jesus said in the gospel, if we try to make a good impression with ulterior motives, others will eventually see through us.

The 1st reading would put it in a more obvious way - do not let anyone have any food if he refuses to do any work.

There is no way that we can keep hiding our ulterior motives and vested interests.

Yet, let us also recognize what is embedded deep in our hearts.

We are created in love and created with love.

Let that love be shown to others and they will know what love looks like.

Monday, August 23, 2010

St. Bartholomew, 24-08-10

Apocalypse 21:9-14 / John1:45-51

St Bartholomew was from Cana in Galilee, and he was often identified as Nathaniel because the Gospel according to Mathew listed him together with Philip as one of the first apostles chosen by Christ.
From the gospel, we can make a presumption of what kind of character he was.
For one, he was a straight-forward person, who says what he means and means what he says.
We can make that presumption when he made that statement: Can anything good come from Nazareth?

Nonetheless, he was an open person because he followed Philip to see who that person Jesus was.

He was also a person of prayer, as attested to by Jesus, because to sit under a fig tree means to be under its shade of coolness and to pray and meditate on God's righteousness.

So in effect, Jesus was affirming Bartholomew about his character. It was like He knew what kind of a person Bartholomew really was.

Similarly, Jesus also knows each of us through and through and He also wants to affirm our goodness.

Like St. Bartholomew, let us continue to follow Jesus as He reveals Himself to us.

May we also come to know ourselves deeper and be strengthened in our goodness.

May we also always meditate on God's righteousness and proclaim it in our lives.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

21st Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 23-08-10

2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12 / Matthew 23:13-22

When we look at any institution or organization, whether religious or secular, there are usually these stages of development.

It started with a dream or vision; then it becomes an organization; then it develops into an institution.

It is when it has reached stage of being an institution that problems can arise.

Because if it does not have the original vision as its foundation and motivation, then formalization and stagnation will creep in.

And when it is ignored and left unchecked, the fossilization will take place.

Jesus challenged the institutionalized religion of His time.

Because the scribes and Pharisees had made religion so formalized that it had lost its vision and purpose and became fossilized.

We, the Church are also constantly faced with this challenge.

Our faith is not just about keeping laws and observing commandments and obligations.

Of course all that have a purpose, and it is meant to remind us that our faith must be expressed in concrete acts of love.

But it is not just about how well we keep to the laws and commandments and obligations.

It is also about how much we have expressed the laws and commandments and obligations in love.

When faith is expressed with love, then we the Church will grow and increase.

Friday, August 20, 2010

20th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 21-08-10

Ezekiel 43:1-7 / Matthew 23:1-12

Everyone who is in the preaching ministry knows the necessity of practicing what he preaches.

Yet the complementary aspect can also be to preach about what one practices.

Because when one preaches about what one practices, then the premise is the reality of life and not just from precepts or concepts.

Then the preaching becomes related with life, with the struggles and failures, the disappointments and pain, the tears and sweat.

Jesus tells us in the gospel to get down to the reality of life and not to expect from others what we ourselves cannot do or won't do.

He told the people not to be guided by what the scribes and Pharisees do, since they do not practice what they preach.

But He also said something important before that - You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say.

To preach about what we practice may have a connection to the reality of life but yet it may also limit the challenge to growth in spirituality and discovery of self.

We must remember that God has called us to be holy, just as He is holy.

To follow Jesus is not to be contended with what we are doing now but to discover what He wants us to do.

Indeed, the precepts of Christianity opens our eyes to the depth of the reality of life.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

20th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 20-08-10

Ezekiel 37:1-4 / Matthew 22:34-40

There are very few single words that can be used to form a sentence in itself.

One such word is "Why?" and its effect is powerful.

When that word is put into a question, it can either be interrogative or it can be reflective.

There is no need to elaborate on the interrogative aspect of that one-word question "Why?"

But the reflective aspect may help us come to a deeper understanding of why we do what we do.

Why do we need to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind?

Why do we need to love our neighbour as ourselves?

Why are these two religious precepts so closely connected?

A deeper reflection would tell us that it is the very essence of being human, of being who we really are, and it is the precise meaning of our human existence.

And when we do not follow these two great commandments, then we will end up in the valley of dry bones, a kind of living death.

The prophet Ezekiel prophesied to the dry bones and they rose.

Today the Word of God is telling us : Love God and neighbour, and you will live.

Let us listen to God's Word and not harden our hearts.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

20th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 19-08-10

Ezekiel 36:23-28 / Matthew 22:1-14

We have heard it said that love is many a splendored thing.

Indeed, it truly is, and every human heart longs for that many splendored love.

But the problem comes when the longing becomes a demand for love.

Demand for love makes it a many horrored thing.

So love moves from beauty to tragedy when the demand comes in and that is where loving turns into hating.

Yet true love is indeed a many splendored thing when it comes from God.

That love is expressed in the 1st reading when God spoke to His people through the prophet Ezekiel : You shall be My people and I will be your God.

It is a self-giving love and it is also a love that makes no demands, but only invites others to give and to share in it.

Like the wedding banquet parable in the gospel, God does not force us to love Him.

He invites us to come to Him and be loved by Him and to be His people.

It is in God that we see that true love is indeed a many splendored thing.

May we learn to love as God has loved us.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

20th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 18-08-10

Ezekiel 34:1-11 / Matthew 20:1-16

One of our human follies is that we have this tendency to be jealous and to envy others.

We get jealous at others for getting a better deal than us, or better treatment than us, or simply just because they are better than us.

We get jealous of others instead of rejoicing with them in their good fortune, and we get envious about almost anything.

But if we are able to look at envy and jealousy clearly, then we will also see that we get jealous and envious simply because we are not looking at what we already have.

We look at what others have, and we say that it is not fair because they grass is greener, or so we think.

That was what happened to the workers who worked a full day in the vineyard.

Instead of rejoicing that the last-minute workers who were hired had something to bring back to their families, they resented that they were paid the same amount as them.

Yes, resentment is the product of jealousy and envy.

Let us ask the Lord to heal our resentment and jealousy and envy, so that with generous hearts we will rejoice with the Lord for His gifts and blessings to all of us.

Monday, August 16, 2010

20th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 17-08-10

Ezekiel 28:1-10 / Matthew 19:23-30

It is quite surprising and amazing how we easily accept society's way of segregating us into classes.

And we also subconsciously divide ourselves against each other.

For example, the one driving a bigger car would expect the one driving a smaller car to give way.

The ones who have more money will get better and faster treatment.

The 1st class passengers get to leave the plane first, just like the 1st class passengers were the first to leave the sinking Titanic.

Yes, all of us are equal, but some have made themselves like gods.

Such was the case of the king of Tyre in the 1st reading.

Such will also be our case if we don't watch our pride, because pride comes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18), just like the impending tragedy that was to befall the king of Tyre.

And if we think that we can feel more secure by having more material possessions, then we will surely fall because we will trip over the stuff that we are dragging along.

We like to think that with a lot of material possessions, we can be first.

But as Jesus said in the gospel, those who are first will be last.

May Jesus always be the first in our lives so that we will know that we are all equal in His eyes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

20th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 16-08-10

Ezekiel 24:15-24 / Matthew 19:16-22

Physical pain can be bearable but yet when the pain goes beyond the body's threshold of tolerance, then the body will just black-out or shut down.

That is the body's way of handling pain.

But how about sorrow and grief? There are certain ways to express our sorrow and grief, like crying and wailing.

But when sorrow and grief overwhelms us, what will happen to us?

When the prophet Ezekiel's wife died, he was told by God not to express his sorrow and grief.

Moreover when the people asked him why he was not grieving, he was to respond that this was how God wanted them to mourn for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

The point here is that the mourning, the sorrow and the grief is so great that it cannot be expressed in the usual way.

Similarly to give up the material and the luxurious things of life can be a painful sacrifice, as the rich young man in the gospel passage of today would surely understand.

To lose wealth and health can be overwhelming.

But the ultimate tragedy and disaster is to lose God and heaven because of personal sin as well as the unwillingness to repent.

No amount of sorrow and grief can be expressed for that kind of tragedy and loss.

May we always desire for the eternal treasures and cherish the blessings that God had bestowed on us.

Friday, August 13, 2010

19th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 14-08-10

Ezekiel 18:1-10, 13, 30-32 / Matthew 19:13-15

Modern psychology has discovered that the formation of person's personality and character can be traced back to the childhood years, and even right before birth, when the baby is still in the mother's womb.

Depending on what the child had been exposed to, the child can either gain or suffer from it.

That is why in the Church's "Book of Blessings", there is a prayer for expecting mothers and for the baby in the womb.

All this shows that the early years of a child are the most important years, because that's when the character is formed and the faith built.

So for us adults, the greatest thing we could do for a child is to give them tender love and an assuring word.

And as Catholics, it is even more important to share our faith with our children.

We must, and this is imperative for parents, to pray with our children as well as to pray for them, by blessing them with the sign of the cross on their foreheads.

We can do this whenever they go off to school, and when they come back home, before they go to sleep and whenever they are sick.

Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the little children.

So whenever we bless our children, we ourselves will also receive a blessing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

19th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 13-08-10

Ezekiel 16:59-63 / Matthew 19:3-12

History is important because it recalls past events that involved people.

Although it was about the past, it is nonetheless a factual reality that had happened, and not some fiction of imagination.

History also reminds us of our origins, the way we were and how much we have grown and progressed.

And very often, history points to our humble past and that makes us appreciate our present achievements and progress.

In the 1st reading, it was God who was reminding His chosen people of their past.

Once they were slaves, they could be hardly called a people at all, and yet God made them His chosen people.

God even made a covenant with His people, which was very much like a marriage covenant.

They grew and prospered but then later turned away from God. But God still pardoned them and even tried to bring them back to Himself.

So we can say that God is a faithful God and divorce is not in His vocabulary.

Jesus expressed this faithfulness of God in the gospel when He said that what God had united, man must not divide.

The early stages of marriage are usually rosy and blissful. But slowly the thorns arise and the wedlock becomes like a deadlock.

Yet faithfulness is the key to any deadlock and it is also helpful to recall how the love began and how it blossomed into a marital commitment.

If God was at the beginning of a love relationship, then He will be faithful in it right to the end.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

19th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 12-08-10

Ezekiel 12:1-12 / Matthew18:21-19:1

During the time of Jesus, the rabbis would teach the people about forgiveness.

They taught people to forgive those who offended them, but only to forgive three times.

They reckoned that after three times, the offender does not deserve any more forgiveness.

In the gospel, Peter thought he was exceptionally noble when he asked Jesus if seven times were enough.

Once again Jesus showed that to be His disciples, we cannot count the times nor count the cost.

What Jesus said to Peter was simply this - forgive and keep forgiving.

And that is also what He is saying about our sins.

God will forgive us and He will keep forgiving us, because God is love and forgiveness.

There is this story about a man who was skeptical about going for confession.

So he told the priest: The next time you pray, why not you ask Jesus what was my greatest sin. If Jesus can tell you my greatest sin, then I might consider coming for confession.

A few days later, he met the priest and so he asked: So did Jesus tell you what was my greatest sin?

The priest answered: Oh, I did ask Jesus. He said that He has already forgiven you that sin. But He said that you still must go to confession for it.

It may be a witty reply but it is nonetheless the reality.

God is sure to forgive; but we must also ask for forgiveness and want to be forgiven.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

19th Week, Ordinary Sunday, Wednesday, 11-08-10

Ezekiel 9:1-7 / Matthew 18:15-20

The visions of the prophet Ezekiel can be rather disturbing for the modern mind because, just as in the 1st reading, it speaks of so much violence and bloodshed.

But it must be remembered that the prophet Ezekiel spoke in apocalyptic language in these prophecies.

Putting it in very simple terms, apocalyptic prophecies are about the end times and the purpose is to show that God will vindicate the just and upright.

That was probably the reason that those who were marked with a cross on the forehead were spared from the punishment.

The cross that is being referred to here is the last Hebrew alphabet (Tav) which is similar to the English alphabet X.

It was a reiteration that God will vindicate the just on the Last day as they receive their reward of eternal life.

That is the hope that they should have as they endure their trials and sufferings in the present times.

For us that is also our hope and that should make us endure our trials and sufferings with a lively faith.

As Jesus said in the gospel, where two or three are gathered in His name, He shall be with them.

As we gather in prayer, let us also remember those who have done us wrong.

We pray for them that we will be reconciled with them so that together we will journey on towards the reward that God has prepared for us.

Monday, August 9, 2010

St. Laurence, deacon and martyr, feast, Tuesday, 10-08-10

2 Corinthians 9:6-10 / John 12:24-26

St. Laurence was a deacon of the Church of Rome when Pope Sixtus was martyred along with four other deacons.

St. Laurence was told by the authorities that if he wanted to be spared, he was to surrender all the treasures of the Church in three days time.

So during the next three day, St. Laurence went around gathering the poor and the needy who were supported by the Church.

Then he brought them before the authorities and he told them : These are the treasures of the Church.

Needless to say, he was taken away to be tortured to death.

The account of the execution scene was morbid.

St. Laurence was stripped and tied to a wire-mesh to be roasted over the fire.

One account has it that St. Laurence said to his torturers : You can turn me over, I am well done on this side.

But martyrdom is certainly no laughing matter, but yet even as the blood of the martyrs was poured out, the Church grew especially in those terrible times.

Because it was a blood that was willingly poured out, willingly given for the glory of God.

In these present times, the seeds of faith are also waiting to sprout in and around the Church.

We as Christians are called to fertilize the soil by the example of our lives and by our love for God and for others.

We do this by faithfully following Christ and serving Him in the poor, like St. Laurence did, so that our lives will also bear a rich harvest.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Monday,09-08-10, Singapore National Day

Isaiah 63:7-9 / Colossians 3:12-17 / Luke 12:22-31

Some time back, I was driving along Benjamin Sheares Bridge and enjoying the scenery.

On my right was the business district with its tall buildings. On my left was the harbour with the anchored ships.

It was a beautiful sight. But compared with those old paintings of Singapore in the early years of her founding, it was an awesome sight.

How did we become such a developed and vibrant and progressive country in such a short time?

We can attribute it to good leadership and government. We can also attribute it to  assets like a deep harbour and a strategic location.

But we also know how short we are on natural resources and how dependent we are on trade and services and economic stability.

As we celebrate our country's independence, we also turn to God to express our thanksgiving and dependence on His blessings on our country.

We know that what our country is today is a blessing from God and we must continue to pray for our country for peace and harmony and stability.

As loyal citizens and as Church, let us celebrate our country's independence and give thanks to God for His blessings.

Friday, August 6, 2010

18th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 07-08-10

Habakkuk 1:12-2:4 / Matthew 17 : 14-20

Under normal circumstances, we would not say anything rash or brash.

When things are under control, we would surely be more logical and rational.

But when things start to get rough and we see injustice and oppression and evil happening before our eyes, we begin to search anxiously for answers and solutions.

And being a people of faith, we will surely pray.

Yet when God doesn't seem to answer our prayer or seems like He is taking forever to do so, then God becomes the target of our frustration and criticism.

That was what the prophet Habakkuk did and his laments and complains against God is even recorded in the Holy Bible!

Habakkuk could not understand why Judah was punished by her enemies who were more wicked and sinful than her.

He complained that God was silent and did nothing while wicked men swallowed up His people.

In the end, God did answer. Yes even if it comes slowly, we just have to wait in faith, for come it will, without fail.

Because we believe that the wicked man will eventually stumble and fall, but the upright man will live by his faithfulness.

That is God's answer to us, as well as His promise to us.

We need to have faith in God who loves us and cares for us.

In the gospel, Jesus emphasized on faith in God in all that we do.

With faith in God, nothing would be impossible. Because with God nothing is impossible.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Transfiguration of the Lord, Friday, 06-08-10

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 / 2 Peter 1:16-19 / Luke 9:28-36

There is a photograph of my family that i put on a shelf in my office.

It was taken on the day of my ordination, the day that I entered into the priesthood.

It was a special and a memorable day for me as I rejoiced with my family.

It was an important day in my life as I commit my life to the Lord to serve Him in His people.

That day holds deep and profound experiences for me.

Whenever the going gets rough, I would look at this picture and recall the experiences I had with the Lord and how He has blessed me and given me the graces and strength to do His work.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration.

On that occasion of the Transfiguration on the mountain, Jesus gave His disciples the vision of His glory.

It revealed to them who Jesus really is. It was also an experience which they will recall whenever they face trials and difficulties in the mission of spreading the Good News.

As we heard in the 2nd reading, St. Peter recalled the experience of the Transfiguration.

Yet it was also for the purpose of helping the Church to see the future glory that was awaiting them, in spite of the present hardships and difficulties.

Each of us certainly has a unique experience of a glorious moment from the Lord.

When we dig into our photo albums, we will be able to recall that moment.

It may be a graduation ceremony, a birthday celebration, a wedding celebration, a family get-together, etc.

When we look at those photographs and ponder over them, we will also see the moment of a glorious experience from God in them.

It is in recalling this glorious God-given moment, we will be able to transfigure a present difficulty or crisis into a glorious moment and experience.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

18th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 05-08-10

Jeremiah 31 : 31-34 / Matthew 16 : 13-23

We human beings are really a mystery in ourselves.

On the one hand, we are capable of doing so much good and to be so loving.

Yet on the other hand, the history of humanity has shown that human beings can also be capable of doing so much evil.

In the gospel, we see how Jesus revealed these two mysterious and contrasting sides of humanity to Peter.

Peter was to be the rock on which Jesus will build His Church.

Yet even before that could be understood, Jesus called Peter an obstacle to His path because the way he thought was not God's way but man's.

These two opposing sides are in each of us and we will always have to struggle with it.

But the prophet Jeremiah said in the 1st reading that God will plant His law deep within His people, writing it on their hearts.

Yes, we have that capability to do good and to be loving.

We only need to look deep within ourselves and ask ourselves: Who do I say I am?

In answering that question truthfully, we will change our ways and think and act in the ways of the Lord.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

18th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 04-08-10

Jeremiah 31 : 1-7 / Matthew 15 : 21-28

The prophet Jeremiah was known for his cut-and-dry prophesies, most of which foretell disaster and doom to a people who had turned away from God.

Yet in today's 1st reading, comes a statement from the same prophet about how much God loves His people.

From his mouth came these words of the Lord : "I have loved you with an everlasting love".

It is a verse is that often quoted to express the eternity of God's love.

But what is the reality of this love in our lives? Have we ever experienced God's love even in the temporary?

It might be difficult for us to understand this love of God until we have had the experience of being forgiven for committing a grave wrongdoing.

We may not understand this love of God until we had the experience of being saved from a great danger.

God's love for us is not only eternal, it is also a stubborn and persistent  love that probes us in order to make us respond to His love.

God's eternal love empowers us to live in love here on earth so that we will have the foretaste and the experience of what it means to live in love eternally.

Monday, August 2, 2010

18th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 03-08-10

Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22 / Matthew 14 : 22-36

Whenever we see skid marks and broken glass on the road, and especially wrecked cars in accident sites or in the workshops, we are reminded of the dangers of speeding and careless driving.

Speeding and careless driving is not only dangerous, it can be fatal as well.

Peter knew how dangerous and treacherous the sea of Galilee can be, with its sudden storms and strong winds.

Being a fisherman, he would had surely seen the floating debris of wrecked boats and even the floating bloated bodies of his fellow fishermen.

When he and the others in the boat found themselves in the midst of a storm and angry waves, he knew that he needed help if he didn't want to end up as a floating bloated body.

He needed to be rescued, to be saved, desperately.

Like a drowning man clutching at straws, he just wanted to leave the boat and head towards anything that can afford him safety.

There is something that we can learn from Peter's experience.

Salvation is not an option - it is a need, and we must need it badly and desperately.

Very often it is only in our desperate and helpless moments that we understand the need for salvation.

Jesus came to save us. He already saved us by dying on the cross for us.

Let us always trust in Him and hold on to His hand, not just in desperate and helpless moments, but also in peaceful and quiet moments.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

18th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 02-08-10

Jeremiah 28 : 1-17 / Matthew 14 : 13-21

The phrase "stand up" is incorrect because it has a double emphasis and hence the second word is redundant and incorrect in the usage.

But the phrase "to stand up" is often used in everyday language for a particular emphasis.

To stand up means to be counted, and that sounds rather heroic, bit it also means that it is certainly not comfortable.

When everyone wants to be seated and feel safe, do we want to stand up and look like a sore thumb, and even feel like a sore thumb.

In the 1st reading, the yoke that the prophet Jeremiah wore was a symbol that the people should submit to Babylon.

That would have enabled them to have some respite from the threat of being annihilated and also to slowly rethink their relationship with God and to repent.

But that was an uncomfortable message, a humiliating message, but the prophet Jeremiah had to stand up for it.

But the prophet Hananiah broke the yoke and gave the people a more comfortable and acceptable message, and that eventually led to disaster.

The history of Christianity is peppered with people who stood up and spoke the hard truth rather than sit quietly and remain comfortable.

But if all Christians were to stand up and speak the truth, especially the hard truth, the rest of the world will slowly get up on its feet.

We are all prophets by virtue of our baptism.

We need to ask the Lord for the wisdom to know the truth and to courage to proclaim it with love.