Friday, December 30, 2011

31st December 2011, Seventh Day of Octave of Christmas, Saturday

1 John 2:18-21 / John 1:1-18

So we have finally come to the last day of the year 2011.

That might sound nostalgic to some, and melancholic to others, and it depends very much on how the year had turned out and how the events of the year unfolded in our lives.

So we can spend today reminiscing about the days that had gone by, or maybe regretting about some moments or even just wanting to forget about what a traumatic year it had been.

Whatever it might be, the 1st reading begins with this line "Children, these are the last days ..." and it gives a spiritual reflection of what had gone by.

The reading goes on to talk about the tumult caused by the antichrists, and these rivals of Christ have come out of within their own number.

Yet the 1st reading also affirmed the Christian community that it has the knowledge of the truth and that they must remain steadfast to the truth in the face of the chaos and tumult within.

So what is this truth that we already have knowledge of?

That truth is found in the gospel of today. Yes, in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God, and the Word was made flesh and He lived among us.

Today's gospel is a summary of who Jesus is and what He wants to do for us.

He wants us to know the truth of His love for us so that we can receive grace upon grace.

In Jesus we see the light and in accepting His truth, we come out of the darkness of sin.

Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega; He is the beginning and the end.

In Him we too will find our beginning; in Him we will also know where is our end.

With that knowledge of the truth, we will be able to face the tumult and the chaos of life.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Holy Family, Friday, 30-12-11

Sirach 3:3-7, 14-17 or Col 3:12-21 / Luke 2:22-40

The word "family" gives rise to many concepts and images, as well as ideas.

We can think of home, warmth, security, love and unity, as well as many other related aspects.

Yet our modern times have also attached other words to this word "family" : dysfunctional family, family problems, family quarrels, family breakup, etc.

In fact, many of society's problems can be traced and boiled down to the family.

So when we hear the word "family", what are the images and concepts that comes to our minds?

Certainly we would like to have the beautiful and wholesome image of family that we see in advertisements and magazines.

But our experience of family life or what we see in our families may not agree or may be even totally opposite.

Yet the model that the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph presented to us gives us hope and direction.

Though the struggles and difficulties of family life are real and present, they are not overpowering and overwhelming.

The Holy Family has shown that with God's love they could face all the challenges and difficulties.

Indeed, love will prevail and sustain the family's life and unity.

And that love must be expressed in concrete forms like family prayer and keeping to the religious traditions of the family just like how Mary and Joseph kept to the religious traditions concerning the family.

By keeping faith in the Lord and walking in His ways of love, the family will be a source of love and unity for the Church and the world.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

29th December 2011, Thursday, Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

1 John 2:3-11 / Luke 2:22-35

We are celebrating the Christmas season, but by this time now, the Christmas decorations may seem a bit stale already and we would be already thinking when will be a good time to take down those decorations, especially those on the Christmas tree.

Nonetheless, if we have the opportunity, then just sit around in the quiet of the night and look at the Christmas decorations.

What will certainly catch our eye and engross us in wonder and imagination is the lights on the decorations, those steady burning and blinking lights.

Lights are a necessary part of the decorations. Yet Christmas is the celebration of light because the prayers in the liturgy have that theme.

Also Christ the true light has come to dispel the darkness of sin and evil.

And as the 1st reading said, if we claim to have seen the light but hate our neighbour, then we are still in the dark.

For the upright and devout Simeon in the gospel, his eyes have seen the light and that gave him the peace that fulfilled his longing.

May we long for the true light that will give us the same peace to reach out and love our neighbours.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Holy Innocents, Martyrs, 28th December 2011, Wednesday

1 John 1:5-2:2 / Matthew 2:213-18

There are many famous men in the Bible whose words and deeds have proclaimed the  wonderful marvels and the mighty love of God.

On Monday we celebrated the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr, who witnessed to Christ even to the point of death and he even forgave those who were stoning him.

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of St. John, the apostle and evangelist, who proclaimed the mystery of the divinity of God made flesh in the humanity of Jesus.

Yet, in the same Bible are also many infamous and wicked men, and today we hear of one such man who was a tragedy to himself and he also caused tragic consequences.

Because of his pathological state of mind and his paranoia, he ordered the slaughter of the infants at Bethlehem in order to exterminate the new-born King of the Jews.

That vicious and evil deed was no big deal to him; in fact it counts as nothing for him.

This makes us reflect on the horrible and wicked deeds that are done to children and the unborn : abortion, child abuse, child molestation, child labour, child pornography, etc.

For some people, these evil acts against innocent children also count as nothing for them.

The feast of the Holy Innocents does not just recall the innocent infants being slaughtered and martyred for Christ.

The Church acknowledges them as martyrs because they witnessed to Christ even though they were innocent and helpless.

But their blood cries out now for the children of the world who are suffering and also for the unborn.

Then Holy Innocents of Bethlehem witnessed to Christ. Let us now witness to Christ by protecting our children and the children of the world from harm and evil.

Let us also teach our children to love God and to praise God and to give thanks to God

"How great is Your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth. Your majesty is praised above the heavens; on the lips of children and of babes You have found praise to foil Your enemy, to silence the foe and the rebel" (Ps 8:2-3)

St. John, Apostle and Evangelist, 27th December 2011, Tuesday

1 John 1:1-4 / John 20:2-8

According to tradition, St. John was subjected to torture by being plunged into a pot of boiling oil but he miraculously survived, whereas the other apostles were martyred.

It is also believed that he lived to a ripe old age of about 94 and he died of natural causes.

There could be some truth in that because the gospel that is attributed to him contains a spiritual depth that is more profound and also more mysterious than in the other three gospels.

In biblical art, the Gospel of John is often depicted with an eagle, which symbolizes the insight to the height of the mystery of the person of Jesus which was expounded in the first chapter of the gospel.

It had that depth of insight to the height of the mystery probably from the reflection and meditation over the years.

There was a story that when St. John was old man, he was asked to preach to a gathering of believers.

His message was short yet sublime : Dear children, love one another. Learn to love one another as God loves you.

That is also the central theme in the gospel of John - the love that God has for us, and it can be found in passages like  John 3:16-17; 13:34-35; 15:17.

It is a profound theme, and to love one another as Jesus has loved us is a spirituality and a mystery that needed to be constantly reflected and meditated upon in our hearts.

Like St. John may God also deepen and enlighten us in His love for us so that we will in turn love one another as Jesus has loved us.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

St. Stephen, First Martyr 26th December 2011

Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59 . Matthew 10:17-22

We are still very much in a festive mood, with Christmas carols like "Silent Night, Holy Night" and "Joy to the world" still ringing in our heads and maybe we are still bloated from all the feasting.

Well, today the Church opens up the liturgy with, of all things, the gruesome and shocking martyrdom of St. Stephen.

Somehow the tenderness of Christmas is shattered by the violent execution of St. Stephen.

Why didn't the Church move this feast to anytime, maybe in Lent, so that we can still have that soft and warm Christmas feeling and just talk about angels and shepherds and baby Jesus?

Well, the martyrdom St. Stephen has a deep connection with the birth of Christ.

Somehow Christmas have been embellished and glossed over with so much sentimentality that we forget that Jesus was born into a hard, cold and violent world.

The Son of God had to born in stable, of all places, and laid in a manger. Not long after He was born, King Herod was looking for Him to kill Him.

That was only the beginning of the violence and the persecution that Jesus was going to face, and it would eventually lead to His execution of the cross.

Yet when we reflect on the joy of Christmas and the martyrdom of St. Stephen, we see the connection between divine tenderness and human violence.

Christ came to heal our human violence with His divine tenderness, expressed in mercy and forgiveness, as witnessed to by St. Stephen.

Let us also believe that the ugliness of human violence can only be changed with the divine tenderness of forgiveness and love.

The young man by the name of Saul in the 1st reading, who approved of the killing, would later be touched by divine tenderness, then changed his name to Paul and went forth to proclaim the tender love of God and His forgiveness.

So in the face of human anger and violence, let us stand firm on divine love and tenderness.

It is only through God's mercy and forgiveness that hardened hearts will be turned into loving hearts.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

24th December2011, Saturday

2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16 / Luke 1:67-79

With the festivities happening around us and with the year coming to an end, we may want to just have a good time and forget about our worries and anxieties for a while.

With one day just before Christmas, we may yearn for some quiet time for prayer and for reflection on the meaning of Christmas and how we have prepared for it this time around.

Yet it may not be that conducive to make time to do this recalling and reflecting, because of the frenzy of activities and busyness.

Even in Church, people are busy making preparations for the Masses this evening and tomorrow, and also for the Christmas parties along the way.

So as much as we may hope that it is going to be "Silent Night, Holy Night", it may not be really so. In fact, it may well be a noisy and busy night.

Yet we must make time for ourselves to be with the Lord if we really want to experience the silence and the holiness of this eve of Christmas.

We have to make time for ourselves to welcome God as He visits His people and to feel His wonderful gift of love in Jesus.

Just one day before Christmas we are reminded in the gospel what is the meaning of this whole occasion.

God has fulfilled His promise of salvation. He is sending us our long awaited Saviour.

Jesus our Saviour will lead us from darkness of sin and from the shadow of death and guide us into the way of peace.

Let us make time today for prayer and reflection. Let us feel the holy silence of this eve of Christmas.

May we be filled with a joyful peace as we prepare to celebrate Christmas.

23rd December 2011, Friday

Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24 / Luke 1:57-66

The birth of a child in not a private affair. It is not just the baby and the mother, or with the parents alone.

Generally speaking, it is a family event as well as a social event because relatives and friends and neighbours will certainly want to see the baby.

The underlying excitement in all this is that the birth of every child gives hope to the human race and a sign that God wants the human race to multiply and not terminate.

Hence, with the birth of the child comes another important occasion which is the naming of the child.

Zachariah and Elizabeth gave a surprise name to their baby son and they called him "John" which means "God is gracious"

Putting it in the words of the 1st reading, this grace is to "turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the hearts of the children towards their fathers".

In other words it is the grace of reconciliation, because at Christmas Jesus came to us so that we can turn back to the Father.

May we cleanse our hearts of sin and evil and prepare ourselves for the gracious coming of our Lord.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

22nd December 2011, Thursday

1 Samuel 1:24-28 / Luke 1:46-56

The God that we believe in is indeed a mysterious God. God can be so simple and yet profound. He can be so illogical and yet so powerful.

So many stories in the Old Testament show this aspect of God.

For example when God led His people out of Egypt, they came to the Red Sea and the Egyptian army on chariots were closing in on them.

Seems like God was so crazy to lead His people out into freedom only to be slaughtered by the enemy.

But who would expect God to part the Red Sea for His people to cross over and yet subsequently destroy the enemy?

And the mystery of God continues into the New Testatment when He chose an unknown humble girl to be the mother of His Son.

And this unknown humble girl, Mary, praised the God of mystery, the God who pulls down the proud and raises the lowly, who fills the starving with good things and sends the rich away empty.

Yet the most profound aspect of this mysterious God is that He will come to the help of His servants and mindful of His mercy.

That is also what we are preparing to celebrate in the coming feast of Christmas.

Meanwhile let us pray and reflect the hymn of Mary, the Magnificat, and let us open our hearts to the healing mercy of God as we ask Him to help us in our difficulties.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

21st December 2011, Wednesday

Zephaniah 3:14-18 / Luke 1:39-45

Pregnancy is a time where many emotions and many facets of life are exhibited and expressed.

Whether it is for the mother who is carrying the child or for the father or those who are close to the parents, the emotions range from joy to anxiety.

Whatever it might be, the fact that a new life is forming in the womb of the mother is a great happening.

So we can imagine when Mary visited Elizabeth and the emotions that bursts forth when the two expecting women met.

Both are going to be mothers-to-be and yet all is not joy. There were shades of anxiety and also uncertainty.

Yet the 1st reading proclaims to us to shout for joy and rejoice and exalt with all our heart.

Especially in this time of waiting in hope for the coming of the Lord at the feast of Christmas.

So even in our anxiety and uncertainty, let us remember what Elizabeth said to Mary : Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.

Yes the Lord God is in our midst. He has already fulfilled His promise. We only need to pray and believe.

Monday, December 19, 2011

20th December 2011, Tuesday

Isaiah 7:10-14 / Luke 1:26-38

The season of Advent is a time for prayer (and penance too!) and to enter into the spirituality of waiting for Lord.

Essentially it is this waiting for the celebration of the Lord's coming to us at the feast of Christmas.

Yet this waiting is also to renew and develop our longing for the Lord.

As we begin to long for the Lord in our hearts, then we will also begin to open our hearts to the signs that God is giving us.

In the 1st reading, Ahaz refused to ask for a sign but that was because he had no love nor trust in the Lord.

But in the gospel, the longing of Mary for the Lord was fulfilled when the angel Gabriel greeted her with "The Lord is with you".

Just as Mary waited and longed for the Lord, we too must wait and long for the Lord in prayer, especially in this period of Advent.

Yes the time of the Lord's coming is approaching. He has given us all the signs.

The most profound sign is the name "Emmanuel" : God-is-with-us.

It is in that name that God has fulfilled His promises to us.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

19th December 2011, Monday

Judges 13:2-7, 24-25 / Luke 1:5-25

Generally speaking, married couples would love to have children of their own.

Children would be a very profound expression of the fruit of their love and it is also a blessing from God that they are to go forth and multiply.

Hence barrenness may be viewed as a misfortune or even an embarrassment.

But for the two couples in today's readings, Manoah and his wife, and Zechariah and Elizabeth, they were blessed for their faithfulness to each other and to God.

Because for the Jewish people at that time, being barren or sterile could be grounds for divorce.

Also the unfortunate couple would be subjected to slanting looks and wagging tongues that poke and cut till they wilt and fade and eventually they will separate.

Yet the two couples remained together, enduring the embarrassment and the shame, and enduring it together.

But God blessed them with sons who would become famous men in bible history.

Which makes us call to mind the times when we experienced misfortune and embarrassment and even shame.

Did we still believe that God did not abandon us, and did we still remain faithful to Him?

When we have survived those moments, then we will know this for sure:

When we abandon ourselves to God, God will not abandon us. And this is what we will be giving thanks to God for as the feast of Christmas approaches

Friday, December 16, 2011

17th December 2011, Saturday

Genesis 49:2, 8-10 / Matthew 1:1-17

Today, the 17th December begins a special period of the Advent season. From today till the 24th December (Mass in the morning) a different set of readings are used.

The emphasis in the liturgy of the Church (ie. Mass and Divine Office) is on the "O" Antiphons, dating back to the fourth century, one for each day until Christmas Eve.

These antiphons address Christ with Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and how the people waited in hope for the coming of the Messiah.

In the gospel we heard about the genealogy of Jesus Christ - three sums of generations and fourteen in each generation.

The purpose is to tell us that from Abraham, the father of our faith, right down to Mary, the mother of the Church, the longing is for the Messiah and Saviour.

It also reminds us that through the generations, humankind had been shackled by sin and wickedness and is still is being tempted and lured by the devil to eternal damnation.

As we begin this special period of Advent, let us be still and prepare ourselves with prayer for the coming of the Saviour.

Let us acknowledge our sins and seek healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Let us ask for the grace of obedience so that our hearts will be open to Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

3rd Week of Advent, Friday, 16-12-11

Isaiah 56:1-3, 6-8 / John 5:33-36

By this time of the month, we can't help saying that Christmas is in the air.

With the barrage of advertisements and sales and offers and festive activities and Christmas carols heard almost everywhere, how can we resist saying that Christmas is in the air?

Yet Christmas is not just about the commercial and the material. We also can't help but say that there is something spiritual about Christmas.

Yes, no matter how cynical or skeptical we might be, the season of Advent leading to Christmas has a spiritual prompting.

It prompts us to look at the person of Jesus and to ponder on who He is in our lives.

As Jesus said in the gospel, the Father has sent Him and His works are His testimony.

So what are these works? In the 1st reading the Lord says this: Have a care for justice and act with integrity.

When we can care for justice and act with integrity, we have grasped part of the spiritual meaning of the season.

Yet, in order to care for justice and act with integrity, we need to pray.

Yes, at this time of the month, we can't help but say that the need for prayer is in the air.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

3rd Week of Advent, Thursday, 15-12-11

Isaiah 54:1-10 / Luke 7:24-30

In the gospel, Jesus mentioned that among those who listened to John the Baptist, were surprisingly the tax collectors

We may know what kind of reputation those tax collectors had at that time - traitors, extortionists, blood suckers.

And who are the tax collectors of today? Well, we may immediately think of loan sharks, pimps, drug pushers, rapists, child abusers and all those evil and hard core people.

Yes those people come to mind so easily whenever we talk about evil and sin, just like tax collectors come the minds of the people at the time of Jesus.

It is so easy to think of those wicked and evil people. Yet have we also thought about those who have suffered because of their sin and wickedness?

Somehow in the attention given to the evil that is committed, we forgot about those who were
broken and destroyed by the evil. Strangely they are like the forsaken.

Yet the 1st reading calls on the forsaken to rejoice because the Lord remembers them and with an everlasting love  He has taken pity on them.

Yes, though the mountains may depart and the hills be shaken, but God's love will never forget the forsaken and His covenant of peace with us will never be shaken.

The Lord is merciful and takes pity on us. Let us listen to the voice of the Lord and enter into His peace and rejoice.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

3rd Week of Advent, Wednesday, 14-12-11

Isaiah 45:6-8, 18, 21-26 / Luke 7:19-23

The season of Advent has a dual spiritual purpose.

It is a time of preparation for the celebration of the Lord's birth. And it is also a time of waiting for that joyful day to come.

This preparation and waiting also focuses on the second coming of Christ when all would be made new and our hope would be fulfilled with rejoicing.

Yet in this season of Advent, the commercialization of the festive season with its busyness of material preparation often takes the focus away from the spiritual dimension.

So the question that the disciples of John the Baptist asked Jesus is also a good question for our reflection for the season.

Is Jesus the one whom we are preparing and waiting for, or are we waiting for someone or something else?

The first line of the 1st reading gives us a strong reminder - Apart from Me, all is nothing.

Yes, apart from Jesus, this season with all its festivities and merry-making would be empty and mean nothing.

May we not lose focus nor the faith in Jesus in this season of preparation and waiting.

Monday, December 12, 2011

3rd Week of Advent, Tuesday, 13-12-11

Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13 / Matthew 21:28-32

One of the most difficult emotions to come to terms with is this sense of guilt and shame.

As if the burden of guilt and shame is not heavy enough, the impressions and attitude that others cast upon those who have done wrong only doubles the burden.

We can somehow easily forgive those characters in the Bible who did wrong, like David who committed adultery and murder, and Peter who denied Jesus, and even Judas who betrayed Jesus.

But when it comes to those who have been to prison or those whose wrong is made public, we tend to condemn them over and over again with our glancing eyes or even with our sarcastic words.

In the time of Jesus, the tax collectors and prostitutes were never allowed to forget their wrong doing and they would be reminded constantly of their guilt.

So what Jesus said in today's gospel is shocking - that tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way to the kingdom of God first.

So the lowly and the humble are on their way to the kingdom of God, whereas the proud boasters and those who strut around in God's presence are still harping on other people's guilt and shame.

So where do we stand in these two ends and where are we moving towards?

Jesus came into the world to remove our guilt and shame. May we move towards Him in repentance and contrition and help others do the same.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

3rd Week of Advent, Monday 12-12-2-11

Numbers 24 : 2-7, 15-17
Matthew 21 : 23-27

We know what a dilemma is. It is a perplexing situation in which a choice has to be made between alternatives that are equally undesirable.

Going by that definition. if I may put it simply, it is a choice of the best among the worst.

In today's gospel, that was the situation that the the chief priests and the elders found themselves in.

They challenged Jesus' authority but in turn found themselves being challenged and in a dilemma as to how to answer that question of Jesus.

So they ended up choosing the worst of the worst alternatives with that reply : We do not know. Or in simple terms : No comment.

In the 1st reading, we hear of another dilemma. The pagan prophet Balaam was tasked to curse Israel, but when the Spirit of God came upon him, he faced a dilemma but made the choice to revoke his curse and instead bless Israel.

Whenever we face a dilemma, we think of the worst case scenarios and try to choose the one that will result in the least problems and difficulties.

But when we put the dilemma into the hands of God and ask the Spirit to guide us, then we will see the best case scenarios because we know that in each alternative there is growth and enlightenment.

So whenever we face a dilemma, let us not curse the alternatives that we have to choose.

Rather, let us ask the Lord for His blessings and also ask the Spirit to guide us in making a choice.

Every dilemma is an opportunity to experience the blessing and the guidance of God.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On Leave

Dear Friends,
Thank you for your prayers. I have completed my pilgrimage to the Holy Land and will be taking some time off. The next homily post will be next Monday, 12 Dec 2011.
God bless you,
Fr Stephen Yim

2nd Week of Advent, Tuesday, 06-12-2011

Isaiah 40:1-11 / Matthew 18:12-14

It is a human tendency to look with favour on those who are well-behaved, who are obedient, who are smart and intelligent, and generally those who have good qualities.

But those who are out-of-sync, out-of-step, those who seem to dance to a different tune, we tend to leave them aside, we tend to see them as problems.

This kind of situation happens everywhere, and it even happens at home.

One child might be bright and smart; the other dull and may be wayward.

The tendency is to shower the bright and smart one with love and attention, and just give the basic minimum to the other.

Yet the Good Shepherd image that is portrayed in today's two readings showed that God pays special attention to the weak and to those who strayed and are lost.

The Good Shepherd also challenges our human tendencies and also fundamentally our human biasness.

Just as it is the sick who needs the doctor, Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost in their sins.

When we challenge ourselves to try to understand some whom we consider to be a "problem", then we might discover that it is actually we who are solving our own problems.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Next Post on 6 Dec 2011

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Thank you for the affirmation and encouragement that you have given me for the running of this blog. As I will be away on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, there will be no posts from 21 Nov till 5 Dec. Blog posts will resume on 6 Dec. Please keep me and my fellow pilgrims in your prayers.
Thank you and God bless you,
Fr Stephen Yim

Friday, November 18, 2011

33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 19-11-11

1 Maccabees 6:3-13 / Luke 20:27-40     (2019)

The ambition of man can be so astounding and amazing, and can even have no bounds.

Man has even gone out of his world and gone to the moon and even explored the solar system.

Yet he may have gone so far out of himself that he may not be able to see what is so near and so important to him.

In the 1st reading, we heard how king Antiochus had great ambitions in his military campaigns.

But when everything fell apart, he also fell into a lethargy from acute disappointment and melancholy until he understood that he was dying.

He regretted the wrong he did, especially the wrong he did to God in Jerusalem. He regretted, but was it too late?

We too have our ambitions in life and plans for the future. But are these plans just about the future or are they about eternity?

As Jesus said in the gospel, God, is not God of the dead, but of the living.

If our lives and our plans are all just about ourselves, then we may not know who the God of the living is.

King Antiochus is showing us a very important lesson today. Don't wait till it is too late and end up regretting. Because it might be for eternity.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 18-11-11

1 Maccabees 4:36-37, 52-59 / Luke 19:45-48

The house of God is indeed a holy place. It is a sanctuary of prayer and worship, a place where we come to meet God.

Hence it goes without saying that we won't do anything disrespectful or even think of committing any sin in this holy place.

For example we won't bring in food here to eat, or behave in a disrespectful manner, simply because we know we are in the house of God and we must have reverence for God.

In the 1st reading we heard how important it was for Judas and his brothers to purify the sanctuary and dedicate it back to God once their enemies were defeated.

With much rejoicing and gladness, they dedicated the altar and it was for them a symbol that God is with them and blessing them.

Yet in the gospel we saw how Jesus had to use force to drive out those who were committing defilement in the Temple.

Jesus made it clear that there must be no defilement in the Temple, in His Father's house.

Now, we know that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit, we are the temples of God.

We should not tolerate any sin, any defilement, in our hearts because that would turn our hearts into a robbers' den.

In this Eucharist, let us offer our hearts to the Lord to be cleansed, so that we can offer Him a pure sacrifice and may we continue to live a pure and holy life.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 16-11-11

1 Maccabees 2:15-29 / Luke 19:41-11

Whenever it comes to conflict and hostility, the Church would urge for peace through dialogue, and dialogue at the table of reconciliation.

But unfortunately, the call for peace through dialogue and reconciliation would go unheeded, resulting in war and violence and bloodshed and loss of innocent lives.

And when we reflect upon the numerous wars and devastation and loss of lives that had happened and that is still happening, we will come upon this eerie fact.

It is not that humanity wants wars and devastation; it is just that we don't want peace.

That might sound strange but the fact is that peace can only come about with forgiveness and reconciliation.

That was the message of Jesus in the gospel - that peace for His people can only happen when they repent and ask for forgiveness and be reconciled with God and with each other.

That is the message for us too. If our hearts are not at peace because of resentment and anger, or even hatred and revenge, then it is time to ask God for forgiveness and healing.

Sin and evil can never bring us peace of heart. So let us heed that sign in our hearts and ask for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that peace can begin with us.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 16-11-11

2 Maccabees 7:1, 20-31 / Luke 19:11-28         (2019)

Whenever we hear of the term "Judgement Day" just what are the feelings and thoughts that we get?

It is certainly a day of reckoning, a time when we have to give an account of our lives, and only we ourselves know what kind of an account to give.

Because out of our own mouths we will pronounce judgement on ourselves.

In the gospel parable, that was what the master told the servant who kept the pound and did nothing with it.

Knowing what was expected and yet not bothering about it certainly calls for accountability and punishment.

So what is expected of us? The 1st reading gives a terrible account of what it means to be faithful to God and to do what is expected of us.

We may not have to face that kind of physical torture and torment when it comes to keeping faith in God.

Yet in our trials and temptations, we will surely face the spiritual torture and torment of the evil one to sin and go against God.

The evil one will also entice us with lies and deception to take the soft and easy way and slowly walk into the blindness of darkness.

Yes we need to pray that the Lord will deliver us from evil and to grant us the grace to live a holy life so that we can sincerely give an account of our lives on Judgement Day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 15-11-11

2 Maccabees 6:18-31 / Luke 19:1-10

In life, we have our values and priorities, and whoever lives up to these values and priorities will certainly be our role models in life.

So if our values lie in strength and might, then we would certainly admire one who may have the strength of Samson.

If we treasure religious values, then we will admire people like Eleazar and Zachaeus in today's readings.

Eleazar was an old man, just the kind of person the persecutors did not fear, and even actually look upon in comtempt.

But the old man showed a deep religious strength, when he preferred to die rather than make a pretence of eating the forbidden meat.

His death summed up what his life was all about, as well as his faith in God.

Zachaeus was also a person looked upon with comtempt, not ony because he was a hated tax collector, but also because he was small in stature.

Yet, after his encounter with Jesus, he showed spiritual strength to change what was wrong in his life.

As we reflect on today's readings, it is good to wonder if we had ever been inspirations for others by our faith and by our values in life.

One of the highest human responsibilities is also one of the easiest.

And that is to inspire and encourage others by how we live our lives and our faith.

May we continue to fight the good fight, run the race to the finish and keep the faith to the end.

Friday, November 11, 2011

32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 12-11-11

Wisdom 18:14-16; 19:6-9 / Luke 18:1-8                (2019)

There is no doubt that God listens to our prayers. And God would certainly pay attention to earnest and persevering prayers, and of course prayers made with faith.

But if we think that God is not answering our prayers, then maybe we have to see what our prayers are all about.

In other words, we have to listen to our own prayers, for a change.

Prayer is not about trying to change God's mind or God's will.

It would be rather absurd to assume that if we say long and persistent prayers, God would finally give in and grant us what we want.

Rather prayer is an act of faith and it is the source of strength which will empower us.

It is with prayer that we will continue to strive for justice and work for peace.

It may mean that we come to realize and accept that some things cannot be changed immediately.

It may also mean that we put our trust in God and believe that with God, nothing is impossible.

Whatever it may be, our earnest and persistent prayer should bring our wills to conform to God's will.

It is God's will "to see justice done, and done speedily".

As the 1st reading assures us, God will keep His children from all harm.

With faith in our prayer, we will see amazing miracles, we will be like horses at pasture, we will skip like lambs, singing our praises to the Lord our deliverer.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 11-11-11

Wisdom 13:1-9 / Luke 17:26-37

Human beings are certainly different from all other animals in many aspects.

But what makes human beings really different is that human beings have intellect and will.

With intelligence, human beings have been able to advance and progress in many areas like science and technology.

Yet where intelligence has been profound in leaps and bounds, the will of man seems to be sorely lacking behind.

The 1st reading ask this question: If man is capable of investigating the world, how have they been so slow to find its Master?

The 1st reading said that naturally stupid are all men who have not known God.

But that kind of stupidity is not about intelligence but about the will. It is essentially the matter of the heart.

Because Psalm 14 has this: The fool has said in his heart - there is no God above. Their deeds are corrupt and depraved.

We are certainly no fools and neither are we stupid. And we certainly believe that there is a God above.

Yet to believe means also to want to love God and also to love neighbour.

Jesus has revealed to us how much God loves us when He was nailed to the cross for our sins.

We know it. We even believe in it. Yet we must also live out that love in our lives. We must will it.

For all our intelligence, if we have no love, then we are really stupid fools.

May this Eucharist increase our love for God and for others.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 10-11-11

Wisdom 7:22-8:1 / Luke 17:20-25                 (2019)

Books and movies about prophecies and predicting the future are usually of much interest to people.

Maybe because it is our human tendency to want to have a hold on the future in order to have a sense of security.

Yet we may get so engrossed about the future that  we may lose hold of the present.

We may forget to live in the here and the now.

That was what Jesus meant when he said that the Kingdom of God is among you.

In other words, God's Kingdom is in the present and the now; and God's name is "I AM".

God wants to be present in the now of our lives and it is in the here and the now that God reveals Himself to us.

Our present situation and circumstances may not be very rosy. We may be struggling with our difficulties and worries.

Yet it is in those difficulties and worries that God wants to make Himself present and to reveal to us His saving power.

It is only when we walk with God in the present that we can have the hope and the courage to walk into the future.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dedication of Lateran Basilica, Wednesday, 09-11-11

Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 / 1 Cor 3:3, 9-11, 16-17 / John 2:13-22

Pope John Paul II often proclaimed the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of life.

He told people that they have a right to live in peace. Those who are guilty of breaking this peace have many victims on their conscience.

Outrightly, the Pope declared that killing is NOT allowed, and no man, no organization, no mafia can ever violate this holy law of God. The mafia was especially singled out as the main trangressors.

What the Pope said was merely to reiterate what St. Paul said to the Corinthians in the 2nd reading: that we are the Temple of God, and that the temple in us is sacred, and if anyone destroys this temple, God will destroy him.

But the mafia wanted to have a say too. On July 27th, 1992, they bombed the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the feast of the dedication which we are celebrating today.

The mafia thought that by bombing the mother church of the Catholic faith, which is also the Cathedral of the Pope, they have put a dent on the Church.

But they forgot; they forgot that the Church is not just about buildings and structures.

The Church in essence, is the faithful, which is  a living Temple, the Mystical Body of Christ.

Just as that Temple is sacred, we too are called to holiness.

So let us cast out all that is sinful, all that is evil in our lives, and renew ourselves in this Eucharist, as temples of prayer.

Monday, November 7, 2011

32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 08-11-11

Wisdom 2:23-3:9 / Luke 17:7-10

A privilege is generally defined as a benefit or an exemption that is granted to a person or persons, under certain conditions, and which is not given to the general public.

For example diplomats and  cabinet ministers and certain professionals enjoy privileges that we don't usually get as ordinary people.

But whatever it may be, a privilege is not a right, and it shouldn't be thought of as such.

Yet it is so easy to take a privilege for granted and then it will become a right.

Jesus made it clear in the gospel that if we truly want to serve God, then we cannot expect any privileges.

We should not be expecting gratitude from the people we are serving nor expect anything in return from God for making sacrifices.

Yet the 1st reading tells us that God made us imperishable, and He made us in the image of His own nature.

He has given us the privilege of being His Chosen people and we are assured of His grace and mercy.

Yet we must trust in God to understand the truth, i.e. that those who are faithful will live with God in love.

Love does not take any privilege for granted. In fact the fruit of love is humility and gratefulness and thanksgiving.

In this Eucharist, let us humbly give thanks. That is our primary and fundamental duty to God.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 07-11-11

Wisdom 1:1-7 / Luke 17:1-6      (2019)

The examination of conscience is a spiritual exercise in which we examine ourselves before the Lord in prayer and see how we had been in union with God and what sins we have committed.

One question that we have to honestly ask ourselves is this: How many lies am I living out today?

Yes, lies. Not just spoken lies, but also lies in actions, e.g., hypocrisy, craftiness, being cunning, being scheming, etc.

More importantly we need to ask ourselves: How did my life get so cluttered with so many lies?

The answer, simply is that, we deceive ourselves into believing that one little lie will be alright for just this once.

But the truth is that one little lie will begin to complicate our lives. And it will multiply until our whole life becomes one big lie.

Essentially, that is what the 1st reading is saying: that Wisdom will never make its way into a crafty soul, nor stay in a body that is in debt to sin.

Yes, the Spirit of the Lord shuns a person of deceit and lies and deception.

The plain truth is this: if we can live with one sin, then we can live with many sins.

And Jesus warns us in today's gospel that an unrepentant sinner is an obstacle to others and we have to watch ourselves of the sins we commit.

So if we really desire to be truly wise, then inevitably we must be at odds with sin.

Because true wisdom, the wisdom that comes from God is at odds with sin and deceit.

It is only with divine wisdom that we can see that virtue, honesty, faithfulness and humility is truly the way of life.

Friday, November 4, 2011

31st Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 05-11-11

Romans 16:3-9, 16, 22-27 / Luke 16:9-15

As a matter of fact, not one day has passed where there are no obituaries in the newspapers. In fact, everyday the reality of death happens whether we are aware of it or not.

We may not be that affected by it, unless it happens to our closed ones.

Even for ourselves, we don't really think about death, maybe because we don't think that we will die so soon.

Yet the fact is that our days are limited and we should really live out those days fully.

Not just enjoying life, but to discover in this life, what eternity is all about, and to discover in this life what really has eternal value.

In the secular sense, it may be seen as a choice of value. But in the spiritual sense, it is about the choice of masters.

So the question from today's gospel is this: Who is the master in charge of my life?

If money is my master, then I will be dishonest, I will cheat, I will lie, I will scheme and do anything and everything just to have money for my security. But of course in doing so, I might still exist but I am spiritually dead.

On the other hand, when I choose Jesus to be my Master, then I also will choose to be loving, to be forgiving, to be compassionate, to be honest.

Life for me might be difficult and I might seem to be like a loser, but I will be at peace with God and with the people around me.

So life essentially is a series of choices. And these choices are about the small and little things in life.

Small and little things like being loving and forgiving, being kind and compassionate, being patient and understanding. It is essentially about being faithful to God and what He wants us to be.

Life is not lost by dying.
Life is lost, minute by minute
day by day
in all those unloving, uncaring and unforgiving ways

Thursday, November 3, 2011

31st Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 04-11-11

Romans 15:14-21 / Luke 16:1-8    (2019)

Many a times, our best ideas come about out of a desperate situation.

It takes an urgency to get us to try out ideas that we may not have even thought of before.

Such was the case with the steward in today's gospel parable.

It might sound rather confusing to us that that master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness.

But the point here is not about the steward's dishonest but his astuteness.

Jesus is focusing on the urgency and energy with which a worldly man secures his future at a time of reckoning.

And He even urged that we, the children of the light, should learn from that, and ensure that our own future is not in jeopardy.

We must not be dishonest or immoral; in fact we are called to be upright and moral especially when we are faced with so much temptation to enter into the dark side.

But we are children of the light. We must believe that the light will prevail and scatter the darkness. Then the truth of each person will be revealed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

31st Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 03-11-11

Romans 14:7-12 / Luke 15:1-10

If we believe that God is Creator and that He planned and designed all things, then we must also believe in this.

We must also believe that nothing happens by coincidence. Everything that happens to us and around us happens for a reason.

We may see the reason immediately or we may see it much later. Be it persons that we know along the way or experiences that we had in life, all have a bearing in our lives.

So when the 1st reading said that the life and death of each of us has its influence on others, we will certainly agree with it.

It was only yesterday that we celebrated All Souls Day and we remembered our departed loved ones and friends.

We would have remembered what they did for us and said to us, and they have influenced us in many ways.

From this we will be able to see that we don't journey in life alone and by ourselves. Nor is salvation just a personal business.

We are all connected to each other because in Christ we form one body.

And as Jesus said in the gospel, we must pay special attention to the lost and wayward one. They are the ones who need our prayer and our care.

They are not just a coincidence. Because it is to God that we have to give an account for them, besides giving an account of ourselves.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Souls Day, Wednesday, 02-11-11

Isaiah 25 : 6-9 / Romans 5 : 5-11 / John 6 : 37-40

At some point in life, we have experienced the loss of a loved one or a friend through death.

And sometimes, out of the pain and grief, arises an anger, and we are angry that God has taken away our loved ones or our friends.

In all these grief and sorrow filled occasions, we are asked to put our trust in God.

We are created to live with God, yet on earth we have to live by faith.

We are created to live forever, but while on earth, we live moment by moment.

When the final moment comes, we depart and go back to God.

As we recall the fond memories and the faces of our departed loved ones, we also recall the moments when God entered into our grief and sorrow to give us His comfort and peace.

The God who spoke in the Scriptures still speaks today. The God who came to earth at Christmas still comes to be with us.

He comes to give eternal life to all who believe in Him as our Saviour.

Our loved ones have returned to God, and we must thank God for granting them eternal life with Him.

As for us, let us continue to believe that our God is the God not of the dead, but of the living.

Today, we will make it a point to go to the cemetery or the columbarium to pay a visit to our departed relatives and loved ones.

Paying a visit to the departed in the cemetery or at the columbarium is a solemn occasion.

We will say a prayer and if possible light some candles there.

My parents will  my grandparents' niche.

They will say a prayer and then they will take turns to stand before my grandparents' niche to say something personal.

It is amazing and very moving just  to see my parents talking to my grandparents just like as if they were alive and present before them.

That was profound for me because even in death, the bond of relationship is not broken or forgotten.

In death there is a separation but in faith there is a connection.

In God, all of us are alive and we live forever. So let us not grief but take comfort in the God of life.

Because we believe that God is God not of the dead but of the living.

So the departed are alive in God and if they are still in a state of purification in Purgatory then the Church teaches us that we can help them with our prayers and Mass offerings and other works of faith.

Indeed praying for the departed is a profound act of faith because it expresses our faith in eternal life and in the saving love of God.

So, let us continue to pray for our departed loved ones and friends, and live our lives in the hope of eternal life.

Monday, October 31, 2011

All Saints Day, Tuesday, 01-11-11

Rev 7:2-4, 9-14 / 1 Jn 3:1-3 / Mt 5:1-12

This feast of All Saints had its earliest certain observance in the early fourth-century.

It was originally a commemoration of "all the martyrs." In the first 300 years of the Church's history, many Christians witnessed to Jesus with their lives and they were martyred, meaning to say that they suffered horrendous torture and finally lost their lives.

The Church highly honoured these martyrs and believed that they are now with God in heaven.

And it was the Church's early tradition and practice to have recourse to these martyrs for their intercession.

This is an expression of the fundamental belief that there is a deep spiritual communion between those who are in heaven and with the Church here on earth, i.e., the Church triumphant and the Church militant respectively.

As time went by, the Church also acknowledged that there are other paths to holiness, and that is why this feast is called All Saints, and not just the martyrs.

All Saints is generally understood as canonized saints. Canonization is a long process that the Church uses to officially declare that a person had lived a life of holiness on earth and is now with God in heaven.

This is a very profound declaration. The Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, confers the title of Saint to a person, and in doing so declares that he/she is in heaven.

Hence, devotions to Saints, is not only a Church approved practice, but we can say that it is a God approved practice.

So we can be confident that when we pray to St. Jude in our desperate moments, or to St. Anthony when we lose something precious, or to St. Pio for safety, we can be assured that that saint in heaven is praying for us and with us.

But more importantly, this feast is a celebration of all the saints in heaven, whether canonized or not. It is a celebration of God's everlasting love for mankind and that He wants us to be with Him in heaven.

The path that the martyrs and the saints took is the none other than the way of the beatitudes which Jesus taught in the gospel.

It is the way of humility, gentleness, mercy and compassion, purity that the saints took that lead them to be with God eternally.

It is a long and narrow way, it is a difficult and painful way. But it is the way of love. It is the way to life. It is the way to be with God eternally.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

31st Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 31-10-11

Romans 11:29-36 / Luke 14:12-14

At times when we are feeling lousy and in a bad mood, we tend to see the world as a rotten place.

There is so much suffering, so much tragedies, so much sadness.

And of course there is the wickedness and sinfulness that seems to be all over the place.

Hence we might start asking: Why does God allow so much sin and evil to exist and happen in the world and also in our lives?

Well, we can ask and we can search, but we may not find an answer that will satisfy our queries.

Maybe that was why St. Paul, in the 1st reading, after talking about sin and mercy, has this to say.

How rich are the depths of God - how deep His wisdom and knowledge - and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand His methods!

Well, to put it simply, God didn't create us just to know more about Him and have our questions answered.

God created us to love Him, because He is loving and merciful towards us.

Yes we have sinned against God, and yet He is still loving and merciful towards us.

God's love and mercy is something that we can never repay or return back to Him.

God's love and mercy is His gift to us. And God never takes back His gifts.

We only need to humbly accept it and love Him in return.

Friday, October 28, 2011

30th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 29-10-11

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

We may remember who Pope John XXIII was. He was affectionately known as "Good Pope John" and he even had a nickname "Johnny Walker" because he would sneak out of the Vatican in the evenings to walk around the city of Rome.

But Pope John XXIII was better known for initiating the 2nd Vatican Council in 1962 but he did not live to see its conclusion.

Pope John XXIII was a really down-to-earth person and not one for ceremonies or status-conscious.

Shortly after he became Pope, he visited the Regina Coeli Prison in Rome.

The newly elected pope, animated and clearly comfortable in this unusual setting, shared with the inmates the somewhat surprising tale of his own cousin, who had been imprisoned in the same jail after his conviction for poaching.

The official Vatican reports of the papal visit would omit this part of his talk for fear that it would cause scandal with pious and sensitive Catholics, and also that the Pope would be subjected to ridicule.

Yet it was his simple, frank and humble personality that the Church and the world began to call him the most beloved Pope of the century.

Indeed as Jesus said in the gospel, the man who humbles himself will be exalted. Yet the man who exalts himself will be humbled.

We may not be asking to be exalted, the very fear of embarrassment and failure or "lose face" can lead us to do strange and even sinful things.

But as the 1st reading puts it - Is it possible that God has rejected His people? Even the Jews are still loved by God, loved for the sake of their ancestors. God never takes back His gifts or revokes His choice.

Yes God loves us, He chose us as His own, and He will never reject or abandon us.

For that, we can only humbly give thanks and praise the Lord and know that He will always raise up the humble and lowly.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles, 28-10-11

Ephesians 2:19-22 / Luke 6:12-19    (2016)

The feast of St. Simon and St. Jude is celebrated on the same day probably because they both preached the Gospel in Mesopotamia and Persia where it is said they had both been sent.

But nothing certain is known about them besides the fact that they were called as Apostles by Jesus.

The letter of Jude which forms part of the New Testament is accredited to St. Jude, and he was also related to Jesus as cousins.

Like most of the other apostles, St. Simon and St. Jude were literally unknowns and could be said to be very ordinary and simple people.

Yet God chose them to be instruments of the proclamation of His Good News and to be the foundations of His Church.

Both also suffered martyrdom. St. Simon is often represented in art with a saw, the instrument of his martyrdom.

As for St. Jude, nearly every image depicts him wearing either a medallion or a portrait with a image of Jesus.

St. Jude is also the patron saint for those in a desperate and urgent need. We have heard of enough testimonies to say that St. Jude is a powerful intercessor for us.

As we celebrate the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, let us also ask for their prayers that we live out the Good News of salvation in our simple and ordinary lives.

More importantly, may we always carry the image of Jesus in our hearts and be a witness to His love in our lives.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

30th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 27-10-11

Romans 8:31-39 / Luke 13:31-35             (2019)

It is a historical fact that King Herod was a man who wanted, at all costs, to have no trouble in his territory.

He saw Jesus as a trouble-maker and he wanted Him out of his place.

Hence he could have sent the Pharisees to warn Jesus and to frighten Him.

But Jesus was not going to turn back, and He was adamant in completing His mission, even though He could see where it was leading Him.

Jerusalem had a long history of killing the prophets and Jesus could see that He was the next in line.

But He also knew that God was with Him and hence He had to complete His mission.

And that is also what the 1st reading is telling us.

In the face of persecutions, who can be against us when God is on our side? What can ever come between us and the love that God has for us?

St. Paul was certain that neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, not any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God.

St. Paul's certainty lies in Jesus Christ who is the visible love of God.

May we also be certain about the love of God, and put our faith in Jesus Christ who promised to be with us until the end of time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

30th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 26-10-11

Romans 8:26-30 / Luke 13:22-30

One of the easiest topics to start a conversation is to talk about how difficult life is and how tough the times are.

Almost everyone will have a story about financial difficulties and struggles to keep the job and stressful competition.

Under such adverse circumstances and situations, would we still be able to have faith in God and trust that He will provide.

In the gospel, Jesus said that we should enter by the narrow door. In other words, life is about pushing and persisting in our faith.

But of course it is also so easy to give up and start to compromise and to find an easy and quick way out of difficulties and struggles.

Yet from our own experience of our faith and trust in God, we know that difficulties and struggles are actually opportunities for growth and we will see the marvels that God will do for us.

As the 1st reading puts it, we know that by turning to their good, God co-operates with all those who love Him.

So essentially it is about our love for God and believing in how much He loves us.

It is easy to talk about how difficult life is. Yet we must also remember to talk about how loving and caring God is. That will enable us to persist in our faith.

Monday, October 24, 2011

30th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 25-10-11

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

We know what a watermelon is. We have eaten it before and there are those seeds that we dig out.

Each of those seeds is a wonder in itself. Each has the capacity to grow to 200,000 times or more of its size and become yet another watermelon.

We may not be that familiar with mustard seeds or with yeast and dough, but certainly the watermelon seed and the watermelon will give us an adequate picture of what Jesus was talking about in gospel.

In the two parables which is about the kingdom of God, Jesus talked about a growth that is beyond imagining.

Yet the 1st reading tells us that growth is not without struggle or suffering.

We and the whole of creation is "groaning" and we strive to grow and to be set free from the slavery of sin and decadence.

Yes, we yearn to live in the freedom and the glory as children of God, and as such, we have to accept struggle and suffering as part of the process in our growth to freedom.

At the same time we must also remember that the suffering in this life can never be compared to the glory that is awaiting us.

So in faith and in hope, let us persevere and persist, because God will reward us for our faithfulness. And that reward is for eternity.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

30th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 24-10-11

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

Very often, somethings may seem very strange to us initially, but after awhile we might get used to it and we just accept it without further questions.

We may have our questions about it but maybe because we can't do anything about it, we just simply let it be.

Especially when it comes to things about laws and rules and regulations. At times it would be more convenient to just accept and not ask questions.

In today's gospel, Jesus pointed out a strange interpretation of the Law.

If the Law allows the ox and the donkey to be untied and taken out for watering on the Sabbath, then how can it be that healing cannot be done on the Sabbath?

In healing the afflicted woman on the Sabbath, Jesus showed that the Sabbath as well as the Law was made for man and not the other way round.

More importantly, Jesus also emphasized a very important reality - that the woman who was suffering for 18 years was a daughter of God and God wanted her to be healed and freed.

In the 1st reading, we are also reminded that the Holy Spirit brings us together to bear witness that we are children of God.

As children of God, we are to live spiritual lives for the glory of God and not to succumb to the unspiritual selves and to the unspiritual lives that will lead to death.

As children of God, we are also coheirs with Christ. We must be prepared to share in His sufferings so as to share in His glory.

Friday, October 21, 2011

29th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 22-10-11

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

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

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

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

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

It is a yearly affair; an annual pattern.

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

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

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

As what the 1st reading said, it may mean that we are only interested in the unspiritual things of achievements and material success, but we forget about the spiritual things of thanksgiving and faith and trust in the Lord.

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

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

29th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 21-10-11

Romans 7:18-25 / Luke 12:54-59       (2015)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only Jesus Christ. He is THE sign of God. Let us heed this sign and act on it, and do what is good and right.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

29th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 20-10-11

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

Reading the Bible may not be as plain and simple as we might think.

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

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

Isn't He the Prince of Peace who came to unite all peoples? Yet He said that He came to bring division and chaos.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the teachings of Jesus is indeed like the stairs.

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

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

29th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 19-10-11

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

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

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

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

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

In essence, a traitor is the enemy within.

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

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

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

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

In this Mass, let us offer ourselves to the Lord to be His instrument of holiness, and His weapons to fight against sin, and we fight sin and evil with love and compassion

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

Monday, October 17, 2011

St. Luke, Evangelist, Tuesday, 18-10-11

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

To serve God by proclaiming the Good News is not as easy as it sounds.

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, who at that time had no status in society.

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 meditate 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.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

29th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 17-10-11

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

It would not be too presumptuous to say that all of us have desires in life.

And these desires can be anything from the material to the physical to the spiritual.

So whether it is the things we want, or the state of our health or the happiness that we are yearning for, all that can be considered as desires.

Yet for all that we desire, we may forget that we already had a fulfillment.

We may forget that God has fulfilled His promise of eternal life in Jesus.

In the 1st reading, we heard that because God made Abraham a promise, Abraham refused to deny it or even doubt it, but drew strength from his faith in God's promise.

He waited till he was 100 years old before that promise was fulfilled, yet for Abraham, God's promise was his treasure.

In other words, God was his treasure and his desire. And God should also be our treasure and desire.

In God alone we have everything. But without God, then all is nothing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

28th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 15-10-11

Romans 4:13, 16-18 / Luke 12:8:12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May the Holy Spirit open our hearts and heal our hearts of sin so that we may see goodness and love in everything and everyone.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

28th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 14-10-11

Romans 4:1-8 / Luke 12:1-7

If we ever get to heaven, we ought to be surprised, maybe because we should be surprised that we could ever get there in the first place.

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

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

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

The 1st reading said that if a person has work to show, his wages are not considered as favour, but rather as his due.

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

Abraham was given as an example of a man who put his faith in God, and hence his faith was a blessing for him.

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

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

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

Finally, when we see God face to face, there is no need to talk about the good we have done.

We just want to give thanks to God for our faith in Him.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

28th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 13-10-11

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

The prophetic voice is a voice that consoles as well as disturbs.

It consoles the oppressed and it disturbs the oppressor.

But besides having the double-edged sword of consolation and desolation, the prophetic voice calls for justice.

The 1st reading tells us that the Law and the Prophets had made know the justice of God.

But it is by faith that this justice of God is revealed to the one who believes in Jesus Christ.

This justice of God is essentially His mercy and compassion that leads us to be reconciled with Him.

So whenever Jesus preached about God's mercy and compassion, it brought consolation to the oppressed.

But for the oppressors like the Pharisees and the scribes, it disturbed them.

Because if they were to practice mercy and compassion in their lives, they would have to act justly and humbly.

It may also disturb us if we were to have mercy and compassion on those who do not deserve it.

But in being disturbed, we will be awakened to act justly and humbly.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

28th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 12 -10-11

Romans 2:1-11 / Luke 11:42-46         (2019)

We know we should not judge others least we ourselves be judged.  That is what Jesus taught us.

So what exactly is meant by judging others? Because there are times when we are not too sure if giving an opinion is already coming close to giving a judgement.

In the biblical understanding, judgement is about a person's spiritual and moral condition.

It is not so much about a person's actions but rather about the person's essence, his very being.

So to say that someone is evil, or that he is malicious, or that he is selfish may mean that we are saying that is his very being, that is his very essence.

That is tantamount to putting a judgement on the spiritual and moral condition of that person.

We can only judge the actions, but we cannot judge the person's spiritual and moral condition.

The 1st reading tells us that no matter who we are, if we pass judgement, then we have no excuse.

Because a person's spiritual and moral condition is between that person and God, and we have no right to make any judgement about it.

Even in the gospel, Jesus judged the actions of the Pharisees but He didn't say that they were evil or malicious or devious.

But whether it is about the character of a person or about his actions, let us refrain from making judgements.

Let us act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with God. That is what we must do.

Monday, October 10, 2011

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 11-10-11

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

The use of sacramentals in the Church is a meaningful practice.

Sacramentals are blessed objects like holy water, crucifix, Rosary, holy pictures and statues.

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

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

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

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

For example, some get so absorbed with their personal computers that they could not see that the computer is now controlling them.

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

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

All this happened because the truth of God is suppressed and imprisoned by the wickedness of man.

Indeed, human beings have that ability to suppress God's truth in themselves and deny God's sovereignty.

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

Sunday, October 9, 2011

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

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

As we begin a new day, we may already have in our minds a list of things to do. Yes for us who live busy lives, there are indeed many things to do everyday.

And when the day comes to close we might still have things that are not done yet, or not finished yet and we have to bring it over to the next day.

Yet as Catholics, we have to ask ourselves a deeper question. It is not about how much we are doing but rather what is the purpose and the meaning of what we are doing.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul tells us of what should be the purpose and the meaning of what we are doing and what should our lives be all about.

He said that his purpose and meaning in life is to preach the Good News and that essentially is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Indeed, in whatever we are doing, we must show others a sign of the presence of Jesus, be it His love, His care, His mercy and compassion and forgiveness.

Just as Jesus took on human nature in order to be a sign of God's incarnate presence, we are now called to be signs of the presence of Jesus in the world.

The Good News is not just about words. The Good News is about presence - God's presence in the world.

Hence in all that we do, others must be able to see a sign of God's presence in us.

That is what is meant by sanctifying the day with our work. It is about holiness in all that we do.

And that is the sign that others will be looking for in each of us.

Friday, October 7, 2011

27th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 08-10-11

Joel 4:12-21 / Luke 11:27-28        (2019)

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

That is because the good that is created in every human being will keep resisting evil and keep it from being overwhelming.

So though evil may be widespread, yet it can never conquer all and have the last triumph.

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

God gave His people a promise through the prophet Joel in the 1st reading.

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

So in the face of evil, we have to stand on God's promises, otherwise we will not stand at all.

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

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

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

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

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Friday, 07-10-11

Acts 1:12-14 / Luke 26-38

The feast of the Holy Rosary originated from the naval victory at Lepanto on the 7th October 1571.

The small combined Christian fleet defeated the mighty Turkish armada, thus stopping the invasion of Christian Europe.

The victory was considered a miracle and Pope St. Pius V attributed it to the praying of the Holy Rosary and the intercession of Our Lady.

Indeed the Rosary is a very special devotion to Our Lady.

The Popes always recommend the Rosary and placed repeated emphasis on it.

It is not just a vocal prayer but also a mental prayer; it is a personal as well as a communal prayer.

It is a form of prayer that leads us to experience Christ through Mary.

The repetitive chant-like prayers brings our minds and hearts to a stillness that opens us to the presence of God in our lives.

In that stillness, we know we have a Mother who is always with us in prayer and who leads us to do the will of God in our lives.

The greatest battle that is fought is in our hearts and the greatest victory is when we surrender to God's will and become His servants, just like Mary did.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

27th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 06-10-11

Malachi 3:13-20 / Luke 11:5-13      (2019)

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

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

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

That was the lament of the people in the 1st reading. They tried to be good people and they tried to be faithful to the Lord.

But they ended up getting disappointed and said : It is useless to serve God; what is the good of keeping God's commandments?

Because the arrogant seemed to be blessed and the evil doers prosper!

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

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

Malachi urged his people to persevere. In the gospel, Jesus also urged us to persevere in asking, in searching and in knocking.

In other words, we are to persist in doing good and walking in the ways of God.

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

We must believe that God wants to bestow His bountiful blessings on us who are faithful to Him.

So let us keep the faith, persevere in doing good, persist even in the face of evil and believe that God will always bless us.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

27th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 05-10-11

Jonah 4:1-11 / Luke 11:1-4     (2019)

Whenever we think about God and justice, we may have this idea of divine judgement and punishment.

When we look at all the evil that is happening around us, we will immediately think of the evil that affects us personally, and also the wide-spread evil like terrorism.

We might like to think that God will one day send forth His judgement on those evil-doers and they will get their retribution.

Such might be the thoughts of Jonah as he began his mission, and secretly he wished divine retribution upon Israel's most hated enemy, the Assyrians, the people who lived in Nineveh.

Yet when it did not happen, he began to sulk and he began to talk sarcastically as we heard in the 1st reading:

Ah Lord, is not this just as I said would happen when I was still at home? That was why I went and fled to Tarshish. I knew you were a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, relenting from evil.

Nice words, but may not be so as it came from a fuming Jonah who wanted to see the people of Niveveh punished.

So now, what is our reaction when God does not seem to punish the evil doers, or gives them another chance, or when He seems too patient with them.

But let us remember that for any true conversion to take place, there must be compassion and mercy, which will lead to reconciliation.

That is the justice of God - God is merciful and compassionate. What He can forgive, He will not punish.

And that is what we ask for in the Lord's prayer, that we will also be merciful and compassionate, and we forgive others just as God forgives us.

Monday, October 3, 2011

27th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 04-10-11

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

One the of keys for focused living is to draw up for ourselves a list of priorities or a list of necessary things to do.

And hence as we begin each day, we will immediately know what we need to do first.

Then the other things that come along the way will become secondary or of a lesser priority.

So for example, the duties and priorities of a priest is clear - prayer and meditation on the scriptures in order to celebrate the Eucharist well, preparation for preaching and teaching catechism, and other pastoral duties of sanctification of the people like celebrating the sacraments, visiting the sick and consoling the bereaved.

When we are focused on the correct priorities of our lives, then we won't be so easily distracted, like how we heard about Martha in the gospel, who was distracted by what she was doing.

On the other hand Mary was focused on what was important. Jonah, as we heard in the 1st reading, was focus on what he was supposed to do.

St. Francis of Assisi was also focused on his spirituality of poverty and simplicity as an expression of dependence and trust in God.

Indeed, between being focused and getting distracted, there is one big difference. That difference is in prayer. Let me share with you the difference prayer can make, with this poem.

I got up early one morning
and rushed right into
the day; I had so much
to accomplish, that I
didn't have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled
about me; and heavier
came each task.
"Why doesn't God help me?"
I wondered. He answered,
"You didn't ask."

I wanted to see joy and beauty,
but the day toiled on,
gray and bleak; I wondered
why God didn't show me.
He said, "But you didn't seek."

I tried to come into God's presence,
I used all my keys at the lock.
God gently and lovingly chided,
"My child, you didn't knock."

I woke up early this morning,
and paused before entering
the day; I had so much to
accomplish that I had to
take time to pray.

Philippians 4:6 - Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

27th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 03-10-11

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

There are many characters in today's parable of the Good Samaritan.

Each character had a different attitude towards the wounded man.

To the lawyer, the wounded man was a subject of dicussion.

To the thieves, the wounded man was someone to abuse and exploit.

To the priest and the Levite, the wounded man was a problem to be avoided.

To the Samaritan, the wounded man was a human being who needed immediate help.

So, who is the wounded man to us?

Indeed, there are many wounded people around us - some may be wounded by an unhappy or broken marriage; others by hurting and painful and abusive relationships; others by being neglected and living lonely and meaningless lives.

But these wounded people remind us of ourselves, in that we are also wounded by our own sins.

In the Eucharist, Jesus heals and strengthens us so that we can get up and turn away from our sins and walk in the way of life and love.

Just as Jesus heals and strengthens us, may we also go forth and heal and strengthen others.

Friday, September 30, 2011

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Saturday, 01-10-11

Isaiah 66:10-14 / Matthew 18:1-5

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus is also known as the "Little Flower of Jesus".

St. Thérèse was declared co-patron of the missions with St. Francis Xavier in 1927.

This is quite astonishing because she was was a nun in the enclosed Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy in France.

Unlike St. Francis Xavier who travelled far and wide to spread the Gospel and baptized many people, St. Thérèse spent all her religious life in the cloistered convent.

Though she had thoughts of going off to the mission lands, her ill health forbade her from doing so.

Nonetheless she offered prayers for the missions and also her every little act of love was offered to God in prayer.

In her memoir "The Story of a Soul", she said that she was just a very little soul and so she could only offer God very little things.

But it was doing these very little things with great love that  that she offered it to God for the salvation of souls.

That is also precisely the message in today' s gospel - childlike humility is the way to the kingdom of God.

It is the small childlike humble heart, one that is like that of St. Thérèse, that is considered great in the eyes of God.

May we also offer every little act of help, generosity, kindness, patience with great love to God so that we can offer our lives for the salvation of souls.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

26th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 30-09-11

Baruch 1:15-20 / Luke 10:13-16

One of the characteristics of our sinful human condition is that we blame others for all the things that go wrong.

For example, if we meet with an accident, we have that tendency to blame the other driver, the road condition, the pedestrians, and whatever that can be blamed.

Well, that's nothing new actually. Eve blamed the snake, Adam blamed God, and we blame everyone but ourselves.

In the 1st reading, Baruch reflects upon the disastrous events that had happened to the Jewish people, especially the destruction of Jerusalem, and the exile in Babylon.

And he came to this conclusion: To us, the look of shame we wear today, we have sinned in the sight of the Lord, we have disobeyed Him, we had not listened to the voice of the Lord our God.

So for everything that went wrong and for all the disastrous events that happened, Baruch pointed the finger at himself and his people.

And if we are wondering why we are often so angry, so frustrated, so grouchy, so grumpy, always complaining and blaming others, then it is time to look at the mirror and point the finger at ourselves.

Our own words and attitudes are already telling us something about ourselves.

The Lord gave us ears so that we can listen to ourselves. May our hearts also be open to what the Lord is telling us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Thursday, 29.09.11

Dan 7:9-0,13-4 / Rev 12:7-12a / John 1:47-51

As human beings, we can't avoid being influenced and maybe even affected by spiritual happenings.

We are more inclined to believe that there are evil spirits roaming around to scare the wits out of us, than to believe in angels that look like cute chubby babies with wings.

But in the spiritual world of the unseen and the invisible, if we believe in the existence of evil spirits, then all the more we too must believe in the presence of angels.

Today we celebrate the feast of three archangels : Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

All three names end with "el", which is the old Jewish word for "God".

The name Michael means "Who can be like God?" - it is a name that has the form of a rhetoric question.

Gabriel means "the power of God". He announced the Good News of salvation to Zechariah and Mary and manifested God's saving power.

Raphael means "the healing power of God". He brought about God's healing power in the book of Tobit.

Though God is unseen, yet through these three archangels, He manifested His power and presence.

Indeed, who can be like God, who is so loving that He saved us through His Son, and forgave and healed us.

We can only be thankful to God.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

26th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 28-09-11

Nehemiah 2:1-8 / Luke 9:57-62

The Bible tells us that God sent His Spirit into our hearts to guide us and to be our rule of life (Gal 5:16)

The Spirit guides us and helps us to be in union with God always and to seek His will in the choices and decisions of life.

In the 1st reading, Nehemiah knew he was only a slave and the king's wine-attendant.

He will lose his head if the wine did not taste good. He will also be punished if he serves the wine with an unhappy face.

So when the king asked why did he look so sad and what was in his heart, a great fear came upon him because he wanted to go back to his homeland but he was afraid that the king might get offended by it.

So as we heard, Nehemiah called on the God of heaven, and then made his request to the king.

Surprisingly, all that he asked for, even the timber for building of the Temple was granted.

Yet, it should come as no surprise to us, because Nehemiah called on the Lord first, and the favour of the Lord was upon him.

So let us remember that before we make any choices or decisions, let us call on the Lord first, so that His grace and favour would be upon us.

For without God's grace and favour, there will be no success in our undertakings, much less follow and serve Him and do His will.

Yes, we just have to call upon God first and then walk in faith, like Nehemiah did when he faced a difficult situation.

Yes, we may not be that sure, but we must have the faith to walk with God even if it's in the dark, rather than walk alone and stumble all the way.

Monday, September 26, 2011

26th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 27-09-11

Zechariah 8:20-23 / Luke 9:51-56

In a generic sense, Christianity can be called a religion. And to describe it, we can call it a religion of love.

Simply because Jesus new commandment to us is to love one another just as He has loved us.

Yet, being a religion of love, the setback is that we may take God for granted and because God is love, we may even abuse His love for us.

But a religion of fear, in which there is reward or punishment, can indeed be more impressive especially when it is manifested by spectacular acts.

The disciples of Jesus had seen Him work miracles. They believe that He had divine powers and stand in awe of Him.

So when Jesus was rejected by the Samaritans, as we heard in the gospel, the disciples James and John wanted to show those Samaritans some spectacular acts and to punish them and put fear into them.

But Jesus showed them once again that He came in love and it will be out of love that people will come to believe in Him.

Jesus has become the Jerusalem of the 1st reading in which peoples and nations come to seek the Lord and entreat His favour.

It is only with love that others will come to us to know more about our faith, because they have seen that the God of love is indeed with us.