Wednesday, June 30, 2010

13th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 30-06-10

Amos 3 : 14-15, 21-24 / Matthew 8 : 28-34

How we respond to people depends very much on how much we know them or how much we understand them.

Whenever we come across an angry person or a hostile person, we would surely want to avoid having any contact with them.

In other words, anger and hostility are frightening behaviour and we will avoid people with such behaviour as if they have a contagious disease.

But if we know these people personally, then we may have a different response and a different point of view.

The two demoniacs in the gospel were not born demoniacs.

For whatever reason, evil entered into them and made them demoniacs.

Even the gospel described them as "creatures so fierce" that it seemed that they had lost their humanity.

But that was what Jesus saw - their humanity. He understood what they were essentially.

Jesus healed them and restored their humanity. He restored their pride and dignity.

Jesus came to save our humanity and to restore our pride and dignity.

He came to free us from the bondage of sin and evil, a bondage that is expressed in anger, hostility and selfishness.

He saw through our crust of sin and touched our humanity and restored our dignity with His love.

What Jesus has done for us, let us in turn do the same for others.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, solemnity, Tuesday, 29-06-10

Acts 12 : 1-11 / 2 Timothy 4 : 6-8, 17-18 / Matthew 16 : 13-19

St. Peter and St. Paul are two great apostles who strengthened the faith of the early Church and kept it in unity.

But these two saints were as different as night and day and they even had their differences recorded in Galatians 2: 14.

Although it was St. Peter who affirmed the identity of Christ, his character and actions did not quite reflect the meaning of his name, which means "rock".

Peter was rash and impulsive and we can certainly remember his triple denial of Jesus.

St. Paul was a brutal opponent of Christians before his conversion and he had a fiery character.

But it was strange that Jesus chose these two men who were far from perfect or even suitable to be the leaders of His Church.

Yet, that showed who was the spiritual and guiding force behind the Church.

But in spite of their differences and shortcomings, Sts. Peter and Paul were united in a common goal and mission.

Both died as martyrs, an act which showed that the purpose of their lives were not for their own glory but for the glory of God.

This feast of Sts. Peter and Paul shows us that despite the differences and failures in personalities and characters, the Church can be united for a common goal and mission.

The lives of Sts. Peter and Paul show us that God can choose the weak and imperfect persons to be the leaders of His Church.

Because it is through these imperfect human instruments that God shows the Church and the world that what is impossible for man is not impossible for God.

Monday, June 28, 2010

13th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 28-06-10

Amos 2 : 6-10, 13-16 / Matthew 8 : 18-22

The call to the priesthood is always a call to holiness and it is in that call to holiness that the call to serve can be actualized.

Anyone who is about to enter the Seminary or a religious order is seen to be making a great sacrifice.

Indeed it certainly is. It entails a sacrifice of personal ambitions and financial gains and material comforts.

But the ultimate sacrifice is the sacrifice of self, which is the sacrifice of the personal choice so that one can be free to do God's will.

In other words, the real sacrifice is to live like Jesus, and to live like Jesus means that we have to understand what He said about Himself in the gospel.

It is like living life on the edge, to be prepared for the unexpected, to be prepared for the impossible, to be prepared to stand alone.

But yet always trusting in God at all times and knowing that He will take care of us and will provide for our needs.

That is one of the aspects of the life of holiness, and it is a holiness that is manifested in service.

Yet the necessity for sacrifice cannot be waived.

For Jesus Himself sacrificed Himself on the cross to save us.

We too must sacrifice ourselves if we truly want to serve God and pour out our lives in service of others.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 26-06-10

Lamentations 2 : 2, 10-14, 18-19 / Matthew 8 : 5-17

It is quite obvious that wherever Jesus went, people will come and approach Him with their requests.

Today's gospel gives us a glimpse of a typical day of Jesus.

But we can be sure that whatever Jesus did for the people, whether He healed them, or whether He taught them, energy was required and He would get tired.

So when He went to Peter's mother-in-law's house, probably it was to take a break. He needed to rest for a while.

But when He saw Peter's mother-in-law in bed with a fever, He immediately attended to her need.

So whether in public or in private, whether it was in the presence of a centurion, or before a demanding crowd or attending to a poor feeble woman, Jesus poured out all His love and power.

Jesus was not certainly the type who would be at their best in public, but are at their worst in private.

Hence for us, there must also be a unity in our actions and our attitudes.

What we are in public should be a reflection of who we are in private and vice versa.

In other words, what we are on the outside should be a reflection of what we are inside.

So whether it is outside or inside, let us know that we are to reflect God's love and care always.

Friday, June 25, 2010

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 25-06-10

2 Kings 25 : 1-12 / Matthew 8 : 1-4

The year 587BC is seared into the minds of the Biblical Jews whenever they recall their nation's history.

That was the year of the Babylonian invasion that resulted in the Exile in Babylon of the Jewish nation.

On top of that, the magnificent Temple that was built by king Solomon, that Temple which was the pride and glory of the nation was utterly demolished, along with the city of Jerusalem.

Stripped of all dignity and status, with no country or land to call their own, and being slaves in the land of their conquerors, the Jewish people began thinking and reflecting.

Why did such disaster and humiliation come upon them? Why didn't God protect them or come to their help?

Upon deeper reflection, they came to realize that in the first place, they had sinned and turned away from the Lord.

This was despite repeated attempts by the prophets to call the nation to repentance and to turn back to the Lord.

Hence it can be said that the one good thing that came out of the Babylonian Exile was that the people turned back to God in repentance and asking for forgiveness.

The history of the Jewish nation serves as a lesson for us especially when we become complacent and begin to take God for granted.

Yet the history of the Jewish nation also affirms the fact that God answers whenever we call to Him, especially in repentance and asking for forgiveness and healing.

It is like what the leper said in today's gospel: Sir, if you want to, you can cure me.

And the reply of Jesus was : Of course I want to! Be cured!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nativity of St. John the Baptist, solemnity, Thursday, 24-06-10

Isaiah 49 : 1-6 / Acts 13 : 22-26 / Luke 1 : 57-66, 80

We might be wondering why the birth of St. John the Baptist is such a big feast-day, in fact a solemnity.

Maybe we can get an idea from the meaning of his name.

John, or in Hebrew "Yehohanan", means "the Lord is gracious" or "the Lord shows favour".

Indeed, in St. John the Baptist, God had shown His favour, not just to Zachariah and Elizabeth by blessing them with a child.

He has shown favour to the whole of humanity.

Because before St. John the Baptist came into the scene, the prophetic voice in Israel has been silent for 400 years.

When St. John the Baptist came into the scene, he breathed fire and preached thunder.

All that was to prepare the way for Jesus the Christ, the Anointed One of God.

So St. John the Baptist prepared the people to receive the graciousness from God.

He prepared the people to receive Jesus who is filled with grace and truth.

What St. John the Baptist did for the people of his time, we too are to do for the people of our time.

We too are to prepare our people to receive the graciousness and the favour of God.

The name John means "God is gracious" and "God shows favour".

We have an even more important name.

We are called Christians. It means the "anointed ones". It means that we are to be another Christ to the world.

May we be filled with God's grace and favour to fulfill our mission.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 23-06-10

2 Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3 / Matthew 7 : 15-20

Spiritual leaders, whether they are Christian or otherwise, have great authority and power, in the spiritual sense.

They can be called the modern-day prophets.

Some are very eloquent preachers, some have special powers of healing, some even have the prophetic gift of foretelling the future.

But how do we know that they are real prophets?

The oldest known Christian document titled "Didache" which was written about 100AD gives this rule of thumb.

If they ask money for themselves, then they are false prophets.

It was quite clear for the Church that right from the beginning, prophets and profits do not go together.

In fact, the task of the prophets in the Bible was to bring about justice and righteousness.

Justice is the way in which the people of God should live their lives.

Righteousness to God is in the covenantal faithfulness of the people of God.

By virtue of our baptism, we share in the prophetic mission of Jesus.

We have to listen to the cries of the poor, the neglected, the addicted, the abandoned, the hungry and the thirsty.

As true prophets, we cannot be just looking out for our personal benefit or profit.

We must work for justice and righteousness because that is the fruit that we must bear for God.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 22-06-10

2 Kings 19 : 9-11, 14-21, 31-36 / Matthew 7 : 6, 12-14

Bad news always give us the shudders.

Whether the bad news come in the form of an email or sms or a voice-mail or even in a person, we crumble upon receiving the bad news.

The question is how bad is the bad news.

Is it a letter informing you about the termination of employment, or about debts not paid, or about a lawyer's letter suing you?

Any of these is bad news, and of course there are many other types.

In the 1st reading, King Hezekiah received some real bad news from King Sennacherib of Assyria.

Essentially it was a preview of the Assyrian invasion of Judah, the chopping up of the inhabitants and the skinning King Hezekiah alive and they can forget about asking for mercy.

It was a time for immediate panic, but here King Hezekiah showed us a beautiful example and an inspiring lesson.

The time to panic is also the time to pray, and to really pray.

To pray is to surrender to the Lord so that He will fight our battles for us.

To pray is to trust in the Lord and enter by the narrow gate, as Jesus said in the gospel, for the road of panic is wide and spacious but it leads to perdition.

So the next time when bad news send a chill down our spines and our legs go soft, let us do what King Hezekiah did.

Let us go down on our knees and pray to the Lord.

Better to surrender to the Lord than to surrender to bad news.

In the face of bad news, the good news is that the Lord will fight our battles for us...... only if we allow Him.

Monday, June 21, 2010

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 21-06-10

2 Kings 17 : 5-8, 13-15, 18 / Matthew 7 : 1-5

There is one challenge with wearing clothes that are white-coloured or light coloured.

Especially with the white-coloured clothing, it is difficult to keep it from getting dirtied.

Any spot or stain is easily noticed and brought to attention.

Yet somehow the focus seemed to be on the spot or stain and the obvious colour of white is forgotten.

In the gospel, Jesus tells us not to judge, or more precisely, not to criticize.

Because Jesus knows how easy it is for us to indulge in criticism.

It is like focusing on the spots and stains on a piece of white cloth.

In life, minor irritations like spots and stains can become major issues.

For example, how one family member squeezes the toothpaste out of the tube can be a trigger for a quarrel.

Criticism is always destructive, and it also does the devil's work for him.

So when we look at another person, let us look first at his good qualities.

Let us look at the overall whiteness, although the spots and stains can be quite distracting.

Or like what Jesus said, when we see a splinter in another person's eyes, let us look closely again.

Because that splinter may just be a reflection of the plank in our own eyes.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 19-06-10

2 Chronicles 24 : 17-25 / Matthew 6 : 24-34

I have analogue and digital watches and clocks.

But my preference is the analogue timepiece.

Not only do I know the time at a glance, there is also something worth reflecting about the ticking of the second hand.

If we do some calculations, that second hand goes 60 ticks a minute, 3600 ticks an hour, 86,400 ticks a day, 604,800 ticks a week and 31,449,600 ticks a year.

Now that is a lot of ticking. Yet that humble second-hand shows us something.

It takes one tick at a time.

That is what Jesus is telling us in today's gospel. Putting it simply, it is: Take one tick at a time.

We don't have to worry about how many ticks we have to accomplish in a year, or in a week, or in a day or even in a minute.

That is all taken care of by God.

What we need to do is to let love, joy , peace, patience, compassion, kindness, generosity start ticking in our lives.

That is what is meant by setting our hearts on the Kingdom of God and on His righteousness.

Friday, June 18, 2010

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 18-06-10

2 Kings 11 : 1-4, 9-18, 20 / Matthew 6 : 19-23

The people of today are very much better informed than the peoples of any other age in history.

There is news on the hour on tv and radio.

There is the vast load of information on the Internet.

Yes, we are very much better informed.

But does being better informed also mean that we are clearly informed?

Does being better informed make us into better persons?

Today's gospel informs us about the essential difference between the treasure of earth and the treasure of heaven.

But that information can only make us better persons when we decide to seek the treasures of heaven.

Only then will information not just inform us, it will also form us into better persons.

Jesus tells us in today's gospel that the things of this world will pass away.

Hence the critical question is that when life is over and done, are we ready for the life of heaven.

In the Eucharist, we celebrate the eternal mysteries, and we are given a foretaste of heaven.

May we be reminded not to be stuck with the things of earth, but to set our hearts on the things above.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 17-06-10

Ecclesiasticus 48 : 1-14 / Matthew 6 : 7-15

Whenever we talk about sin, we usually put it under two categories: mortal sin or grave sin, and venial sin.

Venial sin are less serious sins, but let us not underestimate them.

Because venial sins can have serious and damaging consequences.

Let's take for example in the family.

After dinner, we might have noticed one family member always avoiding the washing of dishes or the cleaning up.

We get irritated, and after a while this irritation becomes a resentment and slowly a bitterness sets within.

And when we can't take it anymore, we confront that person, but we confront that person with a resentment and with bitterness.

Our intended correction becomes a criticism and maybe even a condemnation.

That was why after teaching His disciples to pray, Jesus emphasized on forgiveness.

But it is not about forgiving those who have done us wrong but rather to forgive them for their failings.

Because when we stand before God, we stand before Him as sinners with our own set of failings.

If a sinner cannot for give another sinner for his failings, then prayer does not make sense, and that was what Jesus was saying.

But when we realize that we are no better than the other person whom we are about to point our finger at, then mercy and forgiveness have already begun to flow in us.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 16-06-10

2 Kings 2 : 1, 6-14 / Matthew 6 : 1-6, 16-18

There will come a time for people of authority and power to step down and hand the reins to their successors.

For the prophet Elijah, the time had come for him to hand over power to his successor Elisha.

Elijah knew he was to be taken back to God.

Elisha his successor now ask for a double share of his prophetic spirit.

The reason being that the law of Israel had it that a double share of property was to be given by the father to his first-born son.

Elisha was the chosen heir, but the prophetic spirit was for God alone to give.

But what was given to Elijah was eventually doubled in Elisha and culminated in John the Baptist.

John the Baptist was the prophet that Jesus described as the prophet Elijah who had returned to bring the people back to God.

Before Jesus returned to His Father, He promised to give us not just a prophetic spirit but the Holy Spirit as our Advocate and Helper.

The Holy Spirit will give us the power to break free from sin and to have hearts of love so that we can live our lives of holiness and bring people back to God.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 15-06-10

1 Kings 21 : 17-29 / Matthew 5 :43-48

Science and technology have really helped to discover the potential of things.

For example, fiber-optics have helped tremendously in communication and information-transfer.

Microchips have helped reduce the size of electronics equipment and increased the efficiency of machines.

On the contrary, the discovery of the real potential of persons is somehow lagging behind.

It is not just about the potential skills and talents of the person.

It is about the spiritual potential of the person, especially in the area of love and forgiveness.

Every person has the potential to love those who have done him wrong and to forgive them.

The late Pope John Paul II exhibited this potential when he forgave the man who shot him by visiting him in prison and he even hugged him.

That act should make us reflect about our own potential to love and forgive.

If Jesus said that we must be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect, then we also must pray and ask our heavenly Father to help us discover and release in us the potential to love and forgive.

Monday, June 14, 2010

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 14-06-10

1 Kings 21 : 1-16 / Matthew 5 : 38-42

King Ahab, who was king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 874 BC, was described in the first book of Kings as "worse than all his predecessors" (1 Kings 16 : 30)

But what we heard in today's 1st reading was probably one of his most disgusting and greedy act that eventually lead to a great injustice and the loss of an innocent life.

King Ahab wanted Naboth's vineyard, not for any good reason, but just to grow his vegetables.

Yet Ahab know that the law actually prevented Naboth from selling or giving up his family inheritance.

Still he had the cheek to sulk and be angry to the extent that he would not even eat!

Well, we don't have to go further into what evil Jezebel did.

If we think that how Ahab behaved as a king was utter disgusting, then we should also read the letter of James concerning disunity among Christians.

James 4 : 1-3 says that we want something and we cannot get it so we are prepared to kill. We have an ambition that we cannot satisfy so we fight to get our way by force.

We easily forget that by virtue of our baptism, we are a priestly, prophetic and kingly people.

We need to be deeply aware of our identity and union in Christ.

Failing which, any sin that we commit, regardless of its gravity, is utterly atrocious, simply because of who we are.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Immaculate Heart of Mary, Memorial, Saturday, 12-06-10

Isaiah 61 : 9-11 / Luke 2 : 41-51

When I was in school, I used to hear a lot of this phrase "Remember by heart".

It applied to anything from mathematical formulas to grammatical rules to eating habits.

I remembered those things, although I don't have to ponder on them or question them.

Mary did not just remember things; she pondered over the events and experiences in her life.

In her relationship and experience of Jesus, she indeed had rich and deep memories.

There is the wonder and joy of the first Christmas, the sorrow and grief at Calvary.

And in today's gospel, it was the worry and anxiety of finding Jesus and the astonishment at the answer He gave.

All this Mary remembered and pondered in her heart.

And as she pondered, the mystery of God was slowly revealed to her, the will of God was slowly made known to her.

The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary invites us to have a contemplative heart.

It is only with a contemplative heart that we can recall our past in retrospection and see the hand of God in our personal history.

It is with a contemplative heart that we become more aware of the presence of God in the present, and that will deepen our hope and confidence in God to journey into the future.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Solemnity, Friday, 11-06-10

Ezekiel 34 : 11-16 / Romans 5 : 5-11 / Luke 15 :3-7

Devotion to the Sacred Heart began in 1676 after St. Margaret Mary Alacoque received an apparition.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is centered on reparation to Christ for man's ingratitude, manifested particularly by an indifference to the Holy Eucharist.

This feast highlights the unrequited love which Jesus gives us in the Eucharist.

But even when man is lukewarm or indifferent to this love, or even reject this love, Jesus still continues to love us.

And He even made 12 promises to us when we have a devotion to His Sacred Heart.

Generally these are promises of blessings of peace and protection and a growth in love and holiness.

Those promises are very inspiring, yet the fact is that when we take the Eucharist seriously, we are also assured of all these blessings and graces.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart is merely an extension of our response to the love of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Certainly it is a good practice to have a picture of the Sacred Heart in our homes and to say a prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

May our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus lead us to participate more fully and fervently in the Eucharist.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

10th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 10-06-10

1 Kings 18 : 41-46 / Matthew 5 : 20-26

One of the most challenging aspects of being human is in our relationships with other people.

Because in these relationships, there is always the need for understanding, for communicating, for loving and for caring.

These become rather difficult when relationships are strained.

In a strained relationship, we may want to avoid further misunderstanding and hurt by keeping a "safe distance" from the other.

But by maintaining a "safe distance", we only end up in an uncomfortable silence or even a "cold war".

Hence in the gospel, Jesus issued this challenging teaching: If you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, go and be reconciled with him first.

In other words, the act of reconciliation must always be initiated by the person who has been wronged. Sounds strange isn't it?

But keeping a safe distance and by maintaining silence is simply avoiding the issue.

Neither is waiting for the party who has done wrong to come to us and apologize be a fruitful option. It might be a futile wait.

But as we come before the altar of the Lord to offer ourselves in union with Jesus, let us ask the Lord for the gift of wisdom and understanding, even before we embark on the task of reconciliation with those we are avoiding.

Let us ask the Lord to pour forth His love to heal our hurt and anger and resentment.

We need to be healed by the Lord before we can go forth and be reconciled with others.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

10th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 09-06-10

1 Kings 18 : 20-39 / Matthew 5 : 17-19

Whenever we hear of this term "the Law and the Prophets" in the Bible, we might think about commandments and laws and rules.

No doubt that is the immediate obvious meaning, yet there is something more fundamental and essential about the Law and the Prophets.

And that is the covenant, which represents the relationship between God and His people.

That relationship can summed up in just one sentence : "You will be my people and I will be your God.

On that sentence, God binds Himself to protect and guard His people, and to love and care for His people.

God fulfilled that covenantal promise when He answered the prayer of the prophet Elijah in the 1st reading.

God again fulfilled that promise when He sent His only Son Jesus to show His love for us and to save us.

Our God is a faithful God. He does not forsake His people.

He will answer our prayers, just like He answered the prayer of the prophet Elijah, especially in our needs and difficulties.

We just have to put our faith and trust in God and be faithful to Him.

Essentially and fundamentally, that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

10th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 08-06-10

1 Kings 17 : 7-16 / Matthew 5 : 13-16

Stories of faith and generosity always make a deep impression on us.

The story of the widow's faith and her generosity towards Elijah in the 1st reading, will not only impress us, but it also impressed Jesus.

He referred to it when he was preaching in the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4 : 25-26)

That widow shared with Elijah what she had every right to keep for herself and her son.

She shared what stood between her and starvation to death.

Her faith and generosity was the essence of what Jesus was talking about in the gospel.

Our generosity is like the light that shines out from us.

Our faith is like the salt in the food which could not be seen but could be tasted.

Our generosity shows our faith, and our faith nourishes our generosity.

Salt and light are essential elements in our daily lives.

Similarly, our faith and generosity are essentially what we should live in our lives.

That is also what others are essentially looking for in us.

Monday, June 7, 2010

10th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 07-06-10

1 Kings 17 : 1-6 / Matthew 5 :1-12

In the Bible, a blessing from God means a gift of life and love from God.

A life lived with love means living life with vigour and strength and joy, and it lets a person be at peace with God, with others and with oneself.

In the gospel, we heard about what is often called the beatitudes.

Beatitudes is not about attitudes.

Beatitudes means blessings from God.

So what Jesus is saying is that God is blessing those who are poor in spirit, those who are gentle, those who are merciful, those who work for peace.

Yet we live in a world where it seems that might is right, where money calls the shots and where authority is used to dictate.

But Jesus promises God's blessings on those who follow His truth and His way.

For example, being gentle and compassionate might be seen as soft and weak especially when we give way to others.

But there will come a time when we ourselves will be in need of some gentleness and understanding from others.

God's blessings don't come disguised.

They come as realized, and almost as soon as the next moment.

Blessed are we when we take time to count them.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 05-06-10

2 Timothy 4 : 1-8 / Mark 12 : 38-44

It is an undeniable fact that most religious institutions are quite rich.

That is because the devotees contribute money to these religious institutions for maintenance and upkeep of the religious functions and also as a form of charity.

But it is also a fact that some people have the idea that offering one's surplus in the "spirit" of charity will wash away sins.

It may also ease the conscience a bit especially if the money is ill-gotten.

Whatever the case might be, the fact is that the offering is still from one's surplus.

In the gospel, Jesus tells His disciples that love offering from one's poverty means much more than the contribution from one's surplus of wealth.

So Jesus made it clear that God's blessings and mercy and forgiveness is not merited by the amount that one gives to the Church or to any religious institution.

Rather, God's grace is given freely to the saint as well as the sinner and not according to merit.

Nonetheless the sincerity of the intention of offering in the spirit of sacrifice opens our heart to receive the plenitude of God's blessings and graces.

The widow is a model of that sincerity and sacrifice because, as Jesus puts it, from the little she had, she has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.

Maybe because the widow knew that God will provide for her and she put her hope and trust in Him.

May we likewise trust that God will always provide for us because He loves and cares for us.

It is also by giving that we receive.

Friday, June 4, 2010

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 04-06-10

2 Timothy 3 : 10-17 / Mark 12 : 35-37

We might wonder why the people were delighted with what Jesus said.

What was it that seemed to be like good news to them?

The topic of discussion was the title "the Christ" which means the anointed one.

The title was closely connected to another title "son of David".

At that time the religious authorities maintained that the Christ must necessarily be a direct descendant of King David.

However the problem was that King David's direct line of descendants was already terminated when the Persians conquered Judah.

So there was this question about the Christ being the son of David because the possibility was almost non existent.

So when Jesus quoted the psalm from David and explained it, He cleared the confusion and doubts the people had in their minds.

That was why they were delighted, because they could now believe again.

We too have out questions about life, about the existence of God, about suffering and about eternal life.

St. Paul said in the 1st reading that anybody who tries to live in devotion to Christ is certain to be attacked, and that he had his share of it.

But St. Paul told Timothy that the Lord has rescued him from every persecution and difficulty.

May the faith of St. Paul and the faith of those characters in the Bible inspire us in our faith and give us hope in our doubts and difficulties.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 03-06-10

2 Timothy 2 : 8-15 / Mark 12 : 28-34

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) was a learned man and a great theologian.

He was the author of that great work "Summa Theologica" (Latin: "Summary of Theology" or "Highest Theology").

But towards the end of his life, he stopped his academic work after he had a mystical experience of God, and he said: all that I have written seems like straw to me.

In certain aspects, what St. Thomas Aquinas echoed what St. Paul said in the 1st reading that life is not a wrangling about words.

St. Paul urged Timothy to be brave and to stand before God as a man who has come through his trials and has no cause to be ashamed of his life's work.

St. Paul himself had faced hostility and persecution and imprisonment and shipwreck.

So he did not just talked the talk; he had already walked the walk.

The walk we have to make is in the path of the commandment that Jesus gave in the gospel.

To love God and to love neighbour is all that is necessary and the most fundamental.

If we not doing this, then all we are doing is like straw.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 02-06-10

2 Timothy 1 : 1-3, 6-12 / Mark 12 : 18-27

The great pyramids of Egypt are one the seven wonders of the ancient world and in fact the only existing one left.

Standing magnificently and silently in the desert sand for four thousands years, those pyramids housed the tombs of the pharaohs.

The shape of the pyramids was thought to symbolize a stairway to the sun, so that the pharaoh could climb to heaven.

The great pyramids were built from about two million blocks of stone, each weighing about twenty tons.

So it can be said that the Egyptian belief in the after-life was rock solid.

So did the Jews. Yet there was a hitch in the Egyptian and Jewish understanding of the after-life.

The pharaoh was buried with his treasures and possession, his servants and his wives, so that he could bring them along with him to the after-life.

In the gospel, we heard that the Sadducees thought of the after-life relationships as a mere continuation of the present life relationships.

We too can become confused and skeptical when we try to understand the after-life in terms of the present life.

All we know for now is that we will see God "face-to-face" and receive the fullness of life and joy.

It is with faith in God and in the eternal life with Him that we will stop building pyramids on earth and strive to live the life of above.

The God that we believe in is God, not of the dead, but of the living.

Those who believe in Him will have life and life to the full.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 01-06-10

2 Peter 3 : 11-15, 17-18 / Mark 12 : 13-17

The definition of politics is the science or art of political government. That is understood with the good of the people in mind.

Politicking is an activity undertaken for political reasons or ends, or otherwise, promoting oneself or one's policies.

In the latter understanding, it could mean a maneuvering or scheming for power.

So given the understanding of politics and politicking as understood in that sense, we are able to see which of the two is the undesirable.

In the gospel, the question of paying taxes was not so much of a political question but a politicking question.

It was a question set out to trap Jesus and to catch Him out in His reply.

But to that politicking question, Jesus gave a political as well as a spiritual answer.

By saying "Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar - and to God what belongs to God", Jesus was not making a dichotomy between the two entities.

Rather He was speaking of an integrity - what "belongs" to Caesar, in reality belongs to God!

Even the 1st reading urged us to live holy and saintly lives, and that means being good and loyal citizens of our country.

It even urged us not to get carried away by the errors of unprincipled people, possibly referring to those who engage in politicking, whether be it in the affairs of the country or of the workplace or even in church.

We must remember that it does not matter what man may try to plot against the Lord and His anointed ones, God’s purpose will still come to pass.

Our mission is to make the world a place where righteousness will be at home.