Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Saints Day, Monday, 01-11-10

Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14 / 1 John 3:1-3 / Matthew 5:1-12a

 Back in the year 1800, a 16 year-old boy had to leave home to find work to support his poor family.

The only thing he knew was how to make soap which he learnt from his father.

So he set off with all his worldly possessions in a bundle dangling from his hand, and with the words of his mother in his head – Seek first the kingdom of God.

On his way, he met the captain of a canal-boat and when he heard of the boy’s plans, he gave him this advice.

“Start right and be a good man. Give back to the Lord all that belongs to Him of every dollar that you earn. Make an honest soap and you will make it through life.”

When that country boy arrived in the big city, he found it hard to get work.

Remembering the last words of his mother and also the godly advice given him by the captain of a canal-boat, the youth dedicated his life to God, determining to return to God an honest tithe of every dollar he earned.

So, when his first dollar came in, the young man sacredly dedicated ten cents of it to the Lord.

This he continued to do as he became more successful.

He set a company which manufactured soap and the business grew miraculously.

The honest proprietor and businessman dedicated two tenths of his earnings; and then three tenths, four tenths; and then five tenths.
He was also a philanthropist and gave to charity and good causes.

Soon his make of soap became a household word throughout the world.

So who was that 16 year-old boy in this story?
Well, his name is William Colgate. And who has not heard of Colgate’s toothpaste and soap products.

Well, this story is not an advertisement for Colgate products, but I am telling the story of William Colgate because of what he believed in.

He remembered his mother’s words : Seek first the kingdom of God.

He also remembered what the canal-boat captain told him : Start right and be a good man. Give back to the Lord all that belongs to Him of every dollar that you earn. Make an honest soap and you will make it through life.

In today’s gospel, Jesus is telling us what it takes for us to make it through life and to attain eternal life.

The Beatitudes are not just about good advice.
It is about the blessings that God wants to give us when we live that way of life.

The saints believed it and lived it out in their lives on earth, and now they live eternally with God.

If William Colgate can believe in the words of his mother and that of the canal-boat captain, all the more we must believe in the eternal words of Jesus our Lord.

Because they are the words of life on earth that will lead us to the life above.

Friday, October 29, 2010

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

Philippians 1:18-26 / Luke 14:7-11

By and large, we have the etiquette and the decorum to be shown our seats in a function or at a dinner reception.

We certainly don't want to be embarrassed to take a seat we assumed to be ours only to be told otherwise.

Nonetheless the parable of Jesus tells us that we have this innate desire to be honoured and maybe even exalted.

Because it cannot be denied that we liked to be looked up too. For some it may even be an obession.

But for all the adulation and limelight that we might get, what and how will it matter in eternity?

In the 1st reading, we hear of St. Paul's dilemma.

He wants to be with Christ but yet he know he had to stay on for a while in order to help the early Christians progress in their faith.

Yet St. Paul also knew that all praise and honour is to be given to God alone.

So let us be aware of our tendency to be in the limelight and receive the applause.

Yet all this does not matter in eternity. What matters then is that we continue to praise and glorify the Lord.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 29-10-10

Philippians 1:1-11 / Luke 14:1-6

One of the distracting things that can happen when we are at work is when someone comes in unexpectedly with a request or the phone rings and the person at the other end of the line has a difficult issue to discuss.

Whenever such things happen, our thoughts and ideas and concentration on our work gets thrown off and we may have to start all over again when we get back at it.

To us, it may just be another person with a request or another call to attend to.

But whatever it is, the person has a need or a request, and that need may be urgent or important to that person.

That person will certainly feel disappointed or frustrated if he were told to come back another day or to make an appointment first.

In the gospel, the man with dropsy may be having it for a long time.

But the fact that he was standing in front of Jesus meant that he was hoping that Jesus could do something for him.

Jesus was going for a meal but He didn't put the man on hold or tell him to come another day.

For Him, that man could be cured immediately and He would do it.

We have our own work and it may be urgent and important.

But let us also remember those occasions when we needed help immediately and we actually got it.

We have to realize that it was God who sent us the help, and so we too must help others in their need when they come to us.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

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

Ephesians 2:19-22 / Luke 6:12-19   (2015, 2017, 2019)

Some ancient Christian writings have it that St. Simon and St. Jude went together as missionaries to Persia, and were martyred there.

This may explain the lack of historical information on them and also why their feastdays are usually put together.

Even the gospel accounts do not say much about them.

St. Simon is called the Zealot (or Zealous) maybe because of his patriotism and nationalism.

St. Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest, which according to some accounts, was used to preach the Good News

Devotional prayers to St. Jude helped people, especially newly arrived immigrants from Europe to the US, deal with the pressures caused by the Great Depression and World War II and other political and economic and social changes.

St. Jude is also invoked as the patron saint of desperate cases.

So even though we may not know much about the historical facts of these two saints, we know that they are praying for us.

We also have recourse to them in our needs, especially to the intercession of St. Jude.

They also remind us that we have to keep faith in Jesus and trust in Him always.

They even laid down their lives for Jesus in order to witness to Him.

May we also put forth our needs through the intercession of St.Simon and St. Jude, and may we also offer our lives to God in this Mass.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 27-10-10

Ephesians 6:1-9 / Luke 13:22-30

In a written exam, usually there is the question and the answers are marked according to how well the question is answered.

If we think that is difficult, then how about the other way round - the answer are stated, and we have to provide an appropriate question for it.

That may be more difficult, because very often finding the right question is more difficult than finding the right answer.

In the gospel, we heard about someone asking Jesus this question : Will there be only a few saved?

And from the answer Jesus gave, we know that the question needs some rethinking.

Jesus only said what kind of people will be there.

In other words it is those who dedicate themselves to the Kingdom of God who will be in heaven.

The 1st reading also stated a particular group of people who will be saved.

They are children who are obedient and honour their parents.

It even highlighted that it is a commandment that has a promise attached to it.

So the answers to salvation and eternal life can be found in the Bible.

It is for us now to ask ourselves some questions about what we want to do with the answers that we have.

Because the answer is as important as the question.

Monday, October 25, 2010

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 26-10-10

Ephesians 5:21-33 / Luke 13:18-21

It is just simply amazing how Jesus used the often taken-for-granted things of nature and everyday life to explain the mystery of the Kingdom of God.

In today's gospel, He used a mustard seed and yeast to let His listeners reflect deeper about the wonder of what God has created.

Indeed we take so many things for granted that we have become dulled to wonder and mystery.

But it is in the ordinary things of life that we can see the wonder and the mystery of the Kingdom of God.

Similarly, the 1st reading tells us that marriage is not just a social institution but it is a reflection of the love relationship of Christ and His Church.

Married couples have to look deeply at their marriage and at themselves to see that the Kingdom of God is in them and they must grow and bear fruits of the Kingdom.

We too have to look deeply at ourselves and see that the Kingdom of God is within us and urging us to grow.

May we not take anything for granted. May we also not take ourselves for granted. May we also not take God for granted.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 25-10-10

Ephesians 4:32-5:8 / Luke 13:10-17

If we had seen someone since he was a baby and then the next time we saw him was when he was 18 years old, we would be amazed at his growth and development.

We will be amazed at how much can happen during the period of 18 years.

We may even say that 18 years just passed by just like that and that baby has become a fine young man.

But for the enfeebled and double bent woman in the gospel, 18 years did not pass by just like that.

And things did not get better along the years; in fact it may have gotten worse and worse with each passing year.

It may not be the story of just that woman in the gospel.

We too may have been bent with pain - physical, emotional, spiritual. We feel burdened and hence we too are unable to stand firm and upright.

Jesus came to lift us up from the pains and burdens of life so that we can raise our minds and hearts in thanksgiving to God.

Physically, we may stand upright, but emotionally and spiritually, we may be double bent and the only thing that we can see is the dirt and the sludge on the ground.

Let us ask Jesus to heal us and lift us up. He will do for us what He did for the woman in the gospel because He is our Healer and Saviour.

We don't have to wait another 18 years. We don't want to suffer that long. Nor does Jesus want to see us suffer for that long either.

Friday, October 22, 2010

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 23-10-10

Ephesians 4:7-16 / Luke 13:1-9

As we look at our world, we may notice a certain disparity.

There are the first world countries, i.e. the developed countries, and then there are the developing countries, and then there are the third world countries.

Some people have come up with this weird idea  that God had blessed the first world countries and left out the underdeveloped countries.

Maybe that idea is implicitly connected to the age-old thinking that misfortune has a certain connection with sin.

It is because of this sin that a person or a nation forfeits God's blessings.

In today's gospel passage, Jesus out-rightly rejects this sort of thinking.

Yet Jesus went on to say that if His listeners do not repent, then they too will perish.

In other words, a person or a nation that rebels against God is on the road to disaster.

Even for our nation, we may have come this far because of a strong pragmatic direction and determination.

Yet we also cannot deny that God has blessed our nation with progress and stability.

Hence we have to always look back at the spiritual values of faith and morality.

For us Catholics, the urgency is even greater.

As the 1st reading puts it, each one of us has been given his own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it.

We should not be tossed one way or another and carried along by every wind of false teaching or deceit.

Rather we should live by the truth and in love so that we shall grow in all ways into Christ.

May Christ be our only way and our only goal.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 22-10-10

Ephesians 4:1-6 / Luke 12:54-59

There is a song with the opening lines that goes like this :
"I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.
I believe that somewhere in the darkest night, a candle glows."

In a way, that is a good reminder for an awareness of the things we see around us.

We may have seen flowers and lighted candles, sunrise and sunset, and we just pass them by without thinking or reflecting.

We may have also seen many other things and passed them by without reflecting and wondering.

We have seen wars, violence, oppression, injustice, poverty, death and we just pass them by. 

We are numbed by it and have become numbed to it.

Or we have seen a smile, a helping hand, care and compassion and understanding, and we have also become indifferent to it.

Jesus is reminding us to look, to observe and to reflect on the signs in our lives and then to act on it.

May this prayer of St. Francis help us in our reflection : 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 21-10-10

Ephesians 3:14-21 / Luke 12:49-53

Very often when we want to settle a problem quickly, we tend to look for compromising solutions or the easy way out.

So in order to handle a problematic child, we tend to give things and money instead of spending time with the child and trying to understand the real needs of the child.

And when we see something not right being done, we tend to look away and pretend not to see.

We tend to play-safe and not to get involved, as long as it does not concern us.

Even if it does concern us, we will want to protect ourselves first.

But that was not what Jesus did.

Jesus knew what His Father wanted Him to do and say, and He was committed to His mission.

Jesus did not want to have conflicts. In fact he came to gather people into the peace of God's kingdom.

But when conflicts and oppositions came, He refused to compromise.

For Jesus, there are no play-safe and guarded options or messages.

He was on fire for love and truth, for righteousness and justice.

If we are to follow Jesus, then we too must be prepared for conflicts and oppositions whenever they arise.

Yet the first conflict and opposition will come from within ourselves.

We have to be prepared to go through the fire that Jesus brings so that we will burn away the option of compromising solutions and the easy way out.

Only then will we understand the freedom and peace of living in the truth.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 20-10-10

Ephesians 3:2-12 / Luke 12:39-48

We all know how unpleasant and frustrating it is to wait for someone or for something.

We just have to remember the last time we missed the bus or the train, and we have to spend the unproductive time waiting for the next one to come.

Or if the delivery person or the repair-man tells us that he will come between a certain time.

We may have no other choice than to just sit around and wait.

Not only can it be boring, the time is like wasted away.

Yet as much as we don't like to wait, let us also realize that the Lord is waiting for us.

He is waiting for us to respond to His promptings and to use the gifts and talents that He has bestowed upon us to reach out and serve others.

There is always someone waiting for us to help them in their troubles, to show love and care, to listen and to share.

In the 1st reading, we knew why St. Paul was so zealous and fervent about his mission.

Because he knew that what was entrusted to him was a gift of grace from God.

He knew that much was entrusted to him and much was also expected from him.

The Lord has entrusted us with His love. May we not wait any longer to put His love into action.

Monday, October 18, 2010

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 19-10-10

Ephesians 2:12-22 / Luke 12:35-38

We usually like to be notified in advance if someone wants to pay us a visit.

Then we will tidy up our house or office and prepare something to welcome and entertain our guests.

But if someone visits us without prior notice, then we may be caught in an inconvenient or untimely situation.

But for those servants in the gospel passage, they knew that their master will return from the wedding feast, just that they do not know when will it be.

Jesus is telling us to be ready and alert always and He will visit us in the form of persons whom we don't usually pay much attention to or whom we don't usually have time for.

We must be ready and alert and be aware that it is in such persons and situations that Jesus is paying us a gracious visit.

Because whenever Jesus pays us a visit, it is always a visit that comes along with His blessings of love and peace and joy.

It may be at an inconvenient and unexpected time, but it will always be a God-filled and blessed moment.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

St. Luke, Evangelist, Monday, 18-10-10

2 Timothy 4:10-17 / Luke 10:1-9

To serve God by proclaiming the Good News is never an easy task.

From the 1st reading, we get to see that St. Paul had to struggle and endure a difficult time.

His band of co-workers had split up and some had even gone against him.

His only consolation was that St. Luke was with him, and he made it a point to say it.

From the few occasions that St. Paul mentioned him as his beloved physician, and from what St. Luke wrote in the Gospel and in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, we get to see what the person of St. Luke was like.

He was a committed friend of St. Paul, and he paid special attention to those that were forgotten or pushed aside by society.

He wrote about Jesus reaching out to the poor, the lowly, the outcasts, the sinners and women.

What he knew about Jesus, he wrote it in his gospel, and he certainly carried out in his life.

His commitment to St. Paul in his time of need bore witness to that.

As we read the gospel according to St. Luke and mediate on it, a challenge is also awaiting us.

We too have to write another account of Jesus.

It is going to be an account that is not written in words but in actions for all to see.

From that gospel of our lives, others will be able to see who Jesus is.

Friday, October 15, 2010

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 16-10-10

Ephesians 1:15-23 / Luke 12:8-12

The term blasphemy may be generally defined as anything from defiant irreverence to intentional sacrilegious acts .

Hence it can mean acts like cursing God or willfully degrading things relating to God.

It can also be attributing some evil to God, or denying Him some good that should attributed to Him.

Yet we believe that God is love and forgiveness and He will forgive us even if we had committed the most heinous sin.

So what did Jesus mean when He said that "he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven"?

The purpose of this phrase was to strengthen the disciples in the face of persecution and to deter them from falling into apostasy (giving up the faith) out of cowardice or doubt.

It was also meant as an admonition - a sin can only be unforgivable if repentance is impossible.

So in other words, it is not whether God will forgive; it is a question of whether we want to repent or not.

Because along with repentance is also the trust in God's love and mercy and forgiveness.

To be able to declare that is to stand before others and witness to God and all that He has done for us.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 15-10-10

Ephesians 1:11-14 / Luke 12:1-7

When we can understand what hypocrisy really is,  then we may also realize that it  is not a private affair.

Because the hypocrisy of the individual affects other people and it also distorts the opinion and impression of others.

Hypocrisy not only comes in many disguises; it needs many disguises.

For example, indifference or contempt may masquerade as innocence when we say "I don't know"

Legality wears the makeup of legitimacy when it is stated that abortion is legal.

Opportunism puts on the apparel of kindness to cover up ulterior motives and vested interests.

But hypocrisy can only survive as long as there is fear.

Jesus tells us in today's gospel not to fear because fear causes anxiety and unrest.

Fear also makes us blind and we can't see our self-worth before God, and it blocks us from receiving God's love.

Let us offer our fears, our anxieties and worries to the Lord, so that what is covered will be uncovered and what is hidden will be made clear.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 14-10-10

Ephesians 1:1-10 / Luke 11:47-54

In the Bible, there are the writings of the 13 prophets, all of which can be found in the Old Testament.

But if we were to read the history of the prophets, we will come to see that their writings were reviewed and accepted as prophetic only after their deaths, and of course, when their prophesies came true.

So in other words, prophets were not accepted during their life time.

That was simply because the prophets disturbed those who were comfortable; comfortable and complacent about their faith.

Similarly for Jesus, who was the Prophet of God, He was also not accepted by the religious echelons.

As it had happened in the past, the scribes and Pharisees began plotting against Jesus with the intention to do away with Him.

So how do we fare in comparison with the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees?

We surely won't do what the scribes and the Pharisees did.

But with our indifference and mediocrity as Catholics, we may have buried the teachings of Jesus and distorted the truth .

Let us realize that we stand accountable and answerable to the voice of God in our hearts and its promptings.

Yes, the prophetic voice of God comes to disturb the comfortable, and at the same time brings comfort to those who are disturbed.

So let us listen to the prophetic voice of God, the voice of God that brings us comfort and strength so that we can stand humbly before the Lord as we give an account of our lives.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 13-10-10

Galatians 5:18-25 / Luke 11:42-46

The practice of religious beliefs is supposed to help human beings have a moral order in their lives and to strive for higher ideals in life.

Yet the practice of religion can at times deteriorate into a matter of convenience and that gives a warped understanding of the religious demands.

For example, a Catholic may think that by just coming for Mass on Sundays and saying grace before meals is all that is to being a Catholic.

Anything more is like reinforcing a place in heaven.

But that would make religion look so cheap and that being Catholic is like a private affair.

Jesus makes it very clear in the gospel that justice and the love of God are the essentials of being a Catholic.

The justice that we owe to others is that we have to help them lift the burdens of their lives by showing them the love of God.

As stated in the 1st reading, it is the Spirit who will direct us and lead us to understand the deeper aspects of our faith.

Then we will bear the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.

May the Spirit be our life, so that we can show others how to live life.

Monday, October 11, 2010

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 12-10-10

Galatians 5:1-6 / Luke 11:37-41

There is this story of an old man who was going around planting very small fruit trees.

When he was asked when will those trees bear fruit, he replied : Probably years after I am dead.

So then, why plant them if he wasn't going to enjoy the fruits of his labour?

The old man replied: I didn't find the world empty of fruit trees when I was born. So I am planting these fruit trees for others who will come after me, just as others had did before me.

I narrate this story because I find it interesting that Jesus said in the gospel: Give alms from what you have and then indeed everything will be clean for you.

In the Jewish tradition, charity is represented by righteousness and justice, and the poor are entitled to charity as a matter of right rather than benevolence.

Following from that, the Church also teaches that private acts of charity are considered  a Christian duty, and not done for others to admire. 

Here Jesus places the primary focus on the motives behind the outward and an inward giving of alms - which should be love (cf Matthew 6:1)

So alms-giving is not just a duty but it also should be an act of love.

Let us also remember what Jesus said in Matthew 25:45 : Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.

So let us continue to plant trees of life that will bear fruits of love.

It is not just because of duty ; it will also cleanse our souls.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 11-10-10

Galatians 4:22-24, 26-27, 31 - 5:1 / Luke 11:29-32       (2019)

There are many lessons we can learn from the events of history and from the peoples of the past.

These events also help us to create a greater awareness of our current situation and we also see that we have many advantages over the peoples of the past.

We may feel anything from feeling sorry to being critical of the people in the gospel passage.

They were asking Jesus for a sign when THE sign was standing right before them.

Jesus could only ask them to reflect upon the events of their own history and upon the lessons of their past, and He quoted two figures of the past for their reflection - Jonah and the Queen of the South.

Similarly Jesus is also asking us to reflect on the events of our history so as to be more aware of our present spiritual state.

Events like our baptism and our experiences of God all point to God's love for us and His mercy and forgiveness of our sins.

We don't need more signs from God. We only need to remember and reflect upon the marvelous deeds He has done for us.

May we also respond to the call of Jesus for repentance and conversion.

Friday, October 8, 2010

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

Galatians 3:22-29 / Luke 11:27-28

In the Mass as well as in devotions, there are always hymns of praise.

These hymns are sung to praise and thank the Lord and they are usually sung with feeling and emotion.

Also dynamic and emotive hymns are preferred in order to appeal to the emotions of the people and also to elicit a more fervent response from them.

But where the emotions and the feeling fade off, that is where the real action begins.

Our hymns of praise  must also  be translated into acts of love for God and neighbour.

That was why in response to the acclamation of praise, Jesus sobered down the emotions to focus on doing the will of God.

As we offer this Mass in honour of our Lady, let us remember that she heard the Word of God, pondered on it and did the will of God in her life.

May we who honour her also learn from her and do God's will in our lives.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

27th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 08-10-10

Galatians 3:7-14 / Luke 11:15-26

Very often, life is like a paradox; it can be filled with so many strange contradictions.

We might think that  when something good is done, people would be simply happy and even rejoice and celebrate.

But yet for every good that is done, there are criticisms and even slanderous remarks that are made that leaves a sour and bitter taste in the mouth.

But that should not be very surprising to us, isn't it?

Because it happened to Jesus. He was doing something good by casting out demons.

Yet some people could even say that He was in cahoots with the devil. Absurd, isn't it?

Maybe it can be said that the most difficult demons to cast out are those that like to criticize, to find fault, to argue regardless of the facts or the truth.

That kind of demonic behaviour exists in each of us.

In this Eucharist, let us ask Jesus to cast out that kind of demonic behaviour in us.

Let us ask Him to cleanse the temple of the Spirit that is within us.

And with Jesus in our hearts, let us gather people into the unity of the Spirit.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Thursday, 07-10-10

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

The feast of the Holy Rosary was established by Saint Pius V on the anniversary of the naval victory won by the Christian fleet at Lepanto, October 7, 1571. The victory was attributed to the intercession of the holy Mother of God whose aid was invoked through praying the Rosary.

The celebration of this day invites all to mediate upon the mysteries of Christ, following the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary who was so deeply associated with the incarnation, passion and glorious resurrection of the Son of God.

It is believed that God has on many occasions rewarded the faith of those who had recourse to this devotion in times of grave danger.

So besides the naval victory at Lepanto in 1571, there were many other occasions like plagues, disasters, disunity and schisms, where the Church has recourse to the prayer of the Rosary.

The original title was "Our Lady of Victory" but it was changed to the present title to give the devotion and the prayers a wider scope and appeal.

Still we are assured that when we stand by God we need have no fear because God will always be victorious.

And if God is for us, then who and what can be against us. For nothing can ever separate us from the love of God.

Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVIAngelus Message 10/2/05 …The month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary, the unique contemplative prayer through which, guided by the Lord’s Heavenly Mother, we fix our gaze on the face of the Redeemer in order to be conformed to his joyful, light-filled, sorrowful and glorious mysteries."

So despite its repetitive form, the Rosary invites us to join our Blessed Mother to look at Jesus and to pour out our love for Him.

We can also be assured that like Mary, we too will be filled with grace and that God will work marvels for us and through us.

Let us always remember that with God, nothing is impossible.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

27th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 06-10-10

Galatians 2:1-2, 7-14 / Luke 11:1-4

One of the sports that is really amazing is gymnastics.

The graceful and yet gravity-defying movements are really astonishing and wonderful to see.

We will certainly admire the gymnasts for what they can do on the exercise floor, the parallel bars and the roman rings.

Yet we can also be sure that they have put in many hours of practice, many hours of sweat and pain.

All that just for the sake of sports and maybe for a medal.

Jesus was looked upon by  people as a teacher with authority, a healer, a miracle-worker and some may even see the divinity in Him.

More than that, when the disciples saw Him praying, they also knew that the wonderful work He was doing flowed from His prayer.

They too wanted to feel that power and hence they also wanted to learn how to pray and what prayer He used.

Jesus taught them the prayer of the "Our Father" or the "Lord's Prayer".

That is the heart of all the Church's prayer. Obviously it is not meant to be said occasionally or sporadically.

We have to "practice" that prayer constantly - we have to pray it. And it has to go from just saying that prayer to living out that prayer.

We will have to have rigours of "practice" - the monotony, the boredom, the frustration, the doubt.

But when we are faithful to it, we too will experience power flowing out of our prayer, the  power of love that flows through our lives towards God and others.

Monday, October 4, 2010

27th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 05-10-10

Galatians 1:13-24 / Luke 10:38-42

One of the causes of dissatisfaction and discontentment in our lives is that we look away from our own turf and we begin to envy the seemingly greener pastures that other people are in.

We begin to look at others and start to dream about their cushy lives, their exciting jobs, the nice things they have, their happy families, etc.

We allow these distractions to come in because we think that who we are and what we are doing is insignificant, boring, frustrating, unrewarding and unrecognized.

That is simply because we are dissatisfied and unhappy with what we are doing.

In the gospel, Martha complained about her sister, maybe because she was unhappy about not getting any recognition and attention.

She was simply distracted from what she was doing.

Jesus was not saying that sitting around and listening to Him is more important than cooking and cleaning.

Jesus is saying that whatever we are doing, we just have to be focused and count our blessings and give thanks to God.

That is the one thing that is important and that is also the one thing that is needed in our lives.

Because that is also the one thing that will bring out satisfaction and happiness in our lives.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

27th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 04-10-10

Galatians 1:6-12 / Luke 10:25-37

When all is said and done, usually what really happens is that more is said than done.

In the case of the lawyer in the gospel passage, even at the end when Jesus asked him which of the three persons in the parable proved to be a neighbour, he could only answer "The one who took pity on him".

He couldn't even bring himself to say "the Samaritan".

Of course, the animosity between the Jews and Samaritans at that time was understandable.

Yet, in spite of the parable of Jesus, nothing much has changed for the lawyer.

He knew all the right answers. It was more a question of putting those answers into actions.

Today we also honour St. Francis of Assisi. He put the answer to eternal life in a manner that is quite astonishing.

His neighbours were not only the people around him. He even had an affinity to the whole of creation. He would address them as "Brother Sun" and "Sister Moon".

He loved all that God had created because all that God created is good.

That is what eternal life is all about.

When we can look at another person and see that person as a sister or brother, then eternal life has already begun in  us.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Holy Guardian Angels, Saturday, 02-10-10

Exodus 23:20-23 / Matthew 18:1-5, 10     (2019)

We are very familiar with the material world, the world that is experienced by our senses and comprehended by our knowledge and rationale.

Yet as Catholics, we profess in one part of the Creed the existence of the seen and unseen.

There is the existence of the unseen, the spiritual world, and it is on this spiritual world that we reflect about angels and guardian angels.

Generally, angels are understood to be messengers of God. Other roles include the protecting and guiding of human beings and carrying out God's tasks.

A guardian angel is an angel assigned to protect and guide a particular person.

The belief is that guardian angels serve to protect whichever person God assigns them to, and present prayer to God on that person's behalf.

We come to this belief from what Jesus said in the gospel that even the children have guardian angels who are always in the presence of God.

The 1st reading also affirms that God sends His angels to guard us and to bring us to the place that He has prepared for us, i.e. to be with God in heaven eternally.

May we always be aware of the existence of the spiritual world and especially our guardian angel who is always by our side.

Let us also remember the traditional Catholic prayer to one's guardian angel :
Angel of God, my guardian dear
to whom God's love commits me here.
Ever this day be at my side
to light, to guard, to rule and guide.