Monday, January 31, 2011

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 01-02-11

Hebrews 12:1-4 / Mark 5:21-43

It would be interesting to reflect upon why some Catholics become lukewarm and even lose faith altogether.

Don't they know who Jesus is, and what He can do for them?

And if they do, then why is it that He is not significant in their lives?

Why is it that they are not touched by Him?

Maybe the same question can be asked of the people in the scene in today's gospel.

So many people were crowding around Jesus, yet only one was touched by Him.

Certainly those crowding around Jesus have needs to be met.

So, could it be that after a while, it was a typical case of "familiarity breeds contempt' in that they were expecting Him to perform miracles instead of yearning for Him as the woman with the hemorrhage did.

And if familiarity breeds contempt, then routine and monotony can also be the death of reverence.

We may forget that in the Eucharist, something holy and sacred is happening.

Let us pray that we will never lose the faith to see the miracle of God sacrificing Himself for us.

And may we yearn to be touched by Jesus, just as the woman with the hemorrhage yearned to touch Him and to be touched by Him.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 31-01-11

Hebrews 11:32-40 / Mark 5:1-20

I wonder if you remember the story about the Elephant Man (Joseph Carey Merrick, 5 August 1862 – 11 April 1890)

He had a unique physical condition that resulted in lumps of ugly growth all over his body.

At that time he was considered a freak because of the distorted features.

Only a few people bothered to look at the man inside those features.

In the gospel, Jesus looked beyond the possessed man and saw a man trying to break free.

He may have already driven out the evil spirits but the man needed a sign of deliverance from the powerful delusion that he was still possessed.

And so Jesus gave him that sign by sending the evil spirits into the pigs.

Jesus used that sign to help the man climb back to sanity so that his disordered mind can be restored to peace.

Jesus healed the man's spirit as well as his mind.

The power of Jesus to heal us and to change us is certainly real.

But we may need to see that power, to hear it, to feel it, before we are convinced of it.

After all we are a symbolic people - we need signs and symbols to experience the mystery of God.

So let us not hestitate to ask the Lord for a sign if we should ever need one.

And let us also be signs to others of all that the Lord in His goodness and mercy has done for us.

Friday, January 28, 2011

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 29-01-11

Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 / Mark 4:35-41

The name John Newton might sound familiar and ring a bell for some of us.

Well, John Newton was a slave trader in the 1700s.

One night a violent storm tossed his slave ship about like driftwood.

John Newton panicked and he cried out to God like this :

O God, if You see us safely through this storm, I will stop all this slave-trading business and become Your slave.

The ship survived and John Newton kept his promise.

Later, as a minister of the gospel, he wrote this hymn to celebrate his conversion.

The hymn is this: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I one was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.

Like the disciples, it took a storm to let John Newton see who Jesus is.

So when a storm is blowing in our lives, let us persevere in prayer and know that Jesus is opening our eyes to see His love for us.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 28-01-11

Hebrews 10:32-39 / Mark 4:26-34

Now and then, we come across this hypothetical question : If you can live life all over again, how would you want to live it. What do you want it to be like?

So in other words, it is about a new beginning, or a re-start, or a re-birth, or whatever terms that can be used.

So the focus and the attention is on the starting. But how about the ending?

There can be many new beginnings and re-starts but what will the ending be like?

In the gospel Jesus talked about humble beginnings but great endings.

The 1st reading emphasized that between the start and the end, we must be faithful until our souls are saved.

Indeed, we are not the sort of people who would draw back and are lost by it.

In fact we should not be that sort of people because of what we believe.

We believe that God has prepared a great and glorious ending for us which would be eternal.

Let us not lose sight of it and keep walking faithfully towards it in faith.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 27-01-11

Hebrews 10:19-25 / Mark 4:21-25

If we own a car, then we will know that there are certain things that we must do for periodical maintenance.

Things like check the battery water, radiator water, engine oil, pump the tires and of course wash the car once in a while.

Not to do these things might just result in having a car break-down in some forsaken place at the most inconvenient time.

And just as our luck would have it, our mobile phone battery runs flat also.

Similarly, being a Christian means that we have to live out our Christian identity in our daily lives.

And this Christian identity is rooted in the truth, the truth which is Jesus Christ Himself.

But living out the truth has its consequences.

We will have to decide not to cooperate with dishonesty and injustice, with bad attitudes and examples, and that would make us stick out like a sore thumb and we will also feel like a sore thumb.

To challenge others with the truth, even if we don't say a word, will surely not make things easy for us.

Jesus is asking us if we are willing to live out the truth in our lives.

As long as we are willing to do so, the light of our lives will shine out.

The truth that we live out will be the light for others.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sts. Timothy and Titus, 26-01-11, Wednesday

2 Timothy 1:1-8 / Luke 10:1-9

When Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła was elected Pope in 1978, he took on the name John Paul II.

He also had something peculiar in the design on his coat of arms.

Besides the usual emblem of the cross, there is the unmistakable blue-coloured letter M on the lower half of the shield.

In doing so, Pope John Paul II made a public demonstration of his devotion to Mary and of his constant need for her intercession.

Indeed the faith of Mary and of her intercession, as well as that of other women in the Bible, had been a pillar of strength in the Church.

In today's 1st reading, we hear of St. Paul affirming the faith of two women - Lois who was Timothy's grandmother, and Eunice who was Timothy's mother.

It was these two women who sowed the seeds of faith in Timothy.

In the current situation of the shortage of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, the role of women in the family and in the Church is highlighted.

If ever someone answers the call of God to serve as a priest or a religious, we can be quite certain that the answer to God's call was most likely influenced by the mother.

It is the faith of the mother that nourished and strengthened the faith of her child in answering God's call.

May mothers find their inspirations and their role model in Mary, who is Mother of the Church, and may their prayers strengthen the faith of the Church.

Monday, January 24, 2011

25-01-11, Tuesday, The Conversion of St. Paul

Acts 22:3-16/ Mark 16:15-18

Life, as we know, is a never-ending process of learning.

Not just of learning but also of discovery.

In that learning and discovery process, we also grow and we change.

Hence some of the principles and convictions that we had before may need to be reassessed and even revamped completely.

For St. Paul, the journey to Damascus was the critical milestone of his life.

In answer to his question "Who are you, Lord?", he discovered the person behind the people he was persecuting.

His next question - What am I to do? - that question he alone must answer for himself.

He can stick to his so-called security of his earlier unquestioned convictions and principles.

Or he can follow the way of the truth which will open him to change.

The feast of the conversion of St. Paul, former persecutor-turned-apostle, challenges us not only to look at our convictions and principles and beliefs.

We are also challenged to look at our relationship with Jesus.

Our relationship with Jesus must also be expressed in our relationship with others.

If there are some people whom we have a dislike for or a resentment against, or even some others whom we are " persecuting", then like St. Paul, we need to ask the question - Who are you Lord?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 24-01-11

Hebrews 9:15, 24-28 / Mark 3:22-30

The tendency to sin is a condition that we all have to admit to.

Furthermore, it is not just a tendency, it is also an actuality, because the fact is that we sin.

Yet, very often, sin can be subtle that we might be blinded to the fact that it is a sin.

For e.g., telling colourful jokes, gossiping about the faults of others, selfishness, greed, etc.

All those are sins in varying degrees of gravity, but we might be numbed to the fact that it is destroying us.

Or we rationalize it away and say that it is part of our human nature and there is no big deal about it.

Yet the Holy Spirit will continue to prod us in order to make us realize our sinfulness and to ask for mercy and forgiveness.

And of course the evil spirit will also tell us that minor sins are alright, and after a while a lot of sins will seem to  be like minor sins and we will tell ourselves that it is still alright!

But when we let the Holy Spirit lead us to see the holiness of God and the love He showed in Jesus on the cross, then we will know that sin, in any form, is indeed detestable.

Friday, January 21, 2011

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 22-01-11

Hebrews 9:2-3, 11-14 / Mark 3:20-21

If you have children of your own, then let us speculate on this scenario.

Let's say that one of your children tells you that he or she wants to go to some under-developed country to do missionary work and to help the people improve their lives and to share with them the love of Jesus.

What will be our reaction? Whatever our reactions might be, they are certainly more than mixed.

We might be asking questions like : Why can't you do something more normal like most people? What is there to gain from it? How does it help your future? What would people think?

Maybe that was why the relatives of Jesus were worried about Him and thought that He was not thinking right.

He had already done certain things that they were not prepared for and didn't know how to handle.

He threw away the security of a job and a home to become an itinerary preacher.

He hung up His safety when He took on the scribes and Pharisees. (You can't get away with that and in fact He didn't.)

He didn't bother about what would people say regarding His company of friends.

Following Jesus involves taking risks. We may have to throw away our superficial security, hang up our flimsy safety precautions and turn a deaf ear to the criticisms and discouragement around us.

But when others think that we are out of our minds, or maybe when we wonder if we ourselves are out of our minds, then Jesus will come and take charge of us.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 21-01-11

Hebrews 8:6-13 / Mark 3:13-19

Sacrifice has always been a fundamental aspect in any religion.

The sacrifice can be anything from the produce of the land to animal sacrifices, and in primitive cults there are even human sacrifices.

But why is sacrifice so important? What is the real meaning behind the sacrifice?

Sacrifice establishes the relationship between a deity and its devotees.

The Bible calls that a covenant, and usually a sacrifice of blood from animals seals the covenant.

The symbolism is that if ever the covenant is broken, then the people's blood will be shed.

But in Christianity, if is God who seals the covenant with us.

And when we break that covenant by sinning against God, instead of us having to shed our blood, it is God who sheds His "blood" in the person of Jesus Christ.

So whenever we make sacrifices like giving way to others, holding back our cutting tongues or doing a thankless task, there is nothing that we can take merit for.

Because on the cross, God sacrificed Himself and shed His blood to show that He not only forgives our sins, but He will also never call them to mind again.

So just as Jesus laid down His life lovingly for us, let us see on the cross His call to us to also lay down our lives in love for others.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 20-01-11

Hebrews 7:25 - 8:6 / Mark 3:7-12

We often call what we see around the "the reality".

We call it "reality" because we can see it, we can touch it, we can hear it, we can smell it and maybe even taste it.

So when a person talks about things that are beyond the empirical, things that we can't comprehend or don't understand, we would feel like saying : Come on, get real!

Yet the letter to the Hebrews talks about a reality beyond our grasp, a reality beyond our senses.

It talks about an eternity that is beyond our grasp.

It talks about an eternal high priest, an eternal sanctuary, an eternal sacrifice.

It calls all that the reality. And it makes sense.

Because if eternity is within our grasp, if heaven is within our reach, then there is no need for Jesus.

But in Jesus is our eternal mediator who reconciles us with God.

Because Jesus is the Son of God and our Saviour.

When we can truly understand that, then we will understand what reality is.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 19-01-11

Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17 / Mark 3:1-6

One of the figures of the Old Testament that is shrouded with mystery is Melchizedek, who was mentioned in the 1st reading.

Melchizedek  is mentioned in two instances in the Old Testament - Genesis 14:18-20 and Psalm 110:4, but his origin still remains a mystery.

His name means "righteousness is my king" and he was king of Salem, which means that he was the king of peace.

He was described as the priest of the most high God and Abraham offered him tithes.

In Jesus was the fullness of righteousness and peace and He is also our high priest.

Just as Melchizedek offered Abraham bread and wine, Jesus offers us Himself as our bread of life.

Just as Melchizedek symbolized righteousness and peace, Jesus gives us the faith to do good and to give life to others.

May our Eucharistic worship be expressed in our lives and may we be symbols of righteousness and peace to others.

Monday, January 17, 2011

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 18-01-11

Hebrews 6:10-20 / Mark 2:23-28

Most religions have one main objective or one main goal.

That objective or goal can be stated in various ways, according to the precepts of whichever religion.

Simply stated, that objective or goal is salvation, or whatever similar word

Christianity also has that some objective and goal.

And the beauty of Christianity is that  it is God who offers salvation to mankind.

And God became man in the person of Jesus Christ to show us how far He would go just to offer us salvation.

In Jesus is our high priest who offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sins in order to save us.

So it is important to know the teachings of Jesus and what the Church tells us to do and not to do.

Yet it is even more important to know who the Saviour is.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 17-01-11

Hebrews 5:1-10 / Mark 2:18-22

To have freedom is what we as humans really cherish.

In order to be free, people are prepared to fight and even die for it.

Yet to have absolute freedom is probably just a notion and exists only in the imagination.

Because true freedom lies in obedience, which may seem to be a contradiction of terms.

Jesus is divine and hence He had the absolute freedom to do whatever He wants.

But when He was on earth, He submitted Himself humbly in obedience to His Father.

It was an obedience that even entailed tears and suffering.

Yet it is in obedience that Jesus showed what true freedom is all about.

Because true freedom is found in doing the Father's will.

Whatever ideas we have of freedom we might have, let us look at Jesus our Master who taught us that obedience brings about true freedom.

That might not correspond to our ideas or thinking.

But when we obey and follow what Jesus is teaching us, then we are like new wine in fresh skins.

Friday, January 14, 2011

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 15-01-11

Hebrews 4:12-16 / Mark 2:13-17

It is understandable if non-Catholics have certain assumptions and expectations about Catholics.

Because we are the largest as well as probably the most prominent Church and also the Church that the media will use for its interests.

Hence Catholics are expected to be good people and living saintly lives and doing good deeds.

But when the opposite happens, then Catholics and the Catholic Church are in for bad publicity.

That was what happened when Jesus called Levi the tax collector to be one of His disciples.

The assumption was that if Jesus were a teacher and a holy man, then He should be choosing good and respectable people to be His disciples.

Yet what Jesus said in the gospel reminds us of who He is and what the Church is all about.

He did not come to call the virtuous but sinners.

Hence the Church is also for sinners just as the hospital is for the sick.

Yet the Church is also a sign of salvation.

The Church must always look to Jesus the high priest who has been tempted in every way that we are, though He is without sin (1st reading).

Let us be confident then that we shall have mercy from Him and find grace when we are in need of help.

And let us be that sign of salvation that the world is looking for.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 14-01-11

Hebrews 4:1-5, 11 / Mark 2:1-12

In this fast-paced world, it can be difficult to see what life is all about and it can be difficult to see where life is heading.

It is like flying a jet and trying to figure out where we are on the map at the same time.

But illness and affliction grinds our life almost to a halt.

Then we begin thinking and reflecting.

But for the paralytic in the gospel passage, thinking and reflecting probably only made him more depressed.

Because during that time, illness and affliction were always connected with sin, be it a personal sin or the sin of an earlier generation.

Hence, the paralytic man could only dwell in his own guilt and unforgiveness.

Either he could not forgive himself or he could not forgive his parents or ancestors who sinned and caused him to be in such a state.

But as he came face to face with Jesus, he had also come to acknowledge his sins and to ask for forgiveness.

In our present age, many illnesses and physical afflictions can be cured.

But the illness of the heart, this sin of unforgiveness, whether towards self or towards others, can only be healed by Jesus.

We just have to come before Jesus and acknowledge it and present our burdened and hurting hearts to Jesus.

God wants our hearts to be at rest in His peace.

The 1st reading reminds us that that is God's promise to us.

In God alone will our hearts be at peace and we will rest in His love.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 13-01-11

Hebrews 3:7-14 / Mark 1:40-45

There are some words which we take for granted and even use for granted.

Yet when we think about it deeper, those words just don't make any sense.

There are words like untouchables or outcasts or lower class, yet God made everybody with the same class.

There are refugees, yet this planet is our only home.

There is the first world, right down to the third world, and yet there is only one world.

If it is by words we sow divisions and segregation, then know that it is the mind that thinks up of such evil.

That is why the 1st reading warns us about the wicked mind, especially within the community, for there will be disastrous consequences.

Yet the same reading also urges us to encourage each as long as "today" lasts.

By our encouragement and affirmation, we break down the divisions and segregation and heal the loneliness and brokenness in our faith community.

Even the very simple but basic appreciation of each other's  presence is the first step towards a loving and caring community.

In doing so, we are following what Jesus did as He reached out and touched the leper in the gospel passage.

So let us reach out to appreciate, to encourage and affirm each other. Today!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 12-01-11

Hebrews 2:14-18 / Mark 1:29-39

Most of us are ordinary and simple people in the general sense of the word.

Of course every now and then we might envy the talents and gifts of the geniuses, the singers, the musicians, the entrepreneurs and the rich and famous.

But what if we were suddenly endowed with a gift or talent that will catch everybody's attention and we start appearing in the headlines and get the limelight.

How are we going to handle such a situation?

In the gospel we heard of how the crowds came to Jesus with all their various needs of healing and deliverance.

In a short span of time, Jesus went from obscurity to popularity, from oblivious to famous.

Yet popularity and fame did not get into the head or heart of Jesus. He was very focused on doing His Father's will.

So instead of staying on in a place where He could always be the center of attention, He went on to other places to preach the Good News.

As the 1st reading puts it: because He has Himself been through temptation, He is able to help others who were tempted.

Very often we are tempted with the small things before we are tempted over bigger issues.

People don't trip over mountains and hills, but they stumble over pebbles and stones.

May we keep our eyes focused on Jesus always and may our hearts always desire to love God and do His will.

Monday, January 10, 2011

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 11-01-11

Hebrews 2:5-12 / Mark 1:21-28

The learning process is indeed a slow and long process.

Most of us have at least 10 years of schooling but we all know that learning is a life-long process.

Yet there are still certain questions that we don't have any answers for.

For e.g. in the gospel passage, why is there a man possessed by an unclean spirit in the synagogue of all places?

Or why is there so much evil and terror and horror in the world despite the fact that Jesus had already came and He is supposed to bring us peace?

The 1st reading puts it wisely : At present, it is true, we are not able to see that everything has been put under His command.

But in Jesus we also saw how He was subjected to evil in the forms of suffering and death.

Yet He overcame death and conquered sin and He is now crowned with glory and splendor.

So if there is anything we need to learn about life, we need to turn to Jesus and learn from Him.

In the midst of the troubles and evils of life, let us stay close to Jesus and learn from Him to be humble and gentle of heart.

For His yoke is easy and His burden light and He will lead us into victory.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 10-01-11

Hebrews 1:1-6 / Mark 1:14-20

As we begin Ordinary Time in the Church's liturgical calender, we can also say that we have begun the year in the chronological time.

After all we are only 10 days into the new year and we are making plans and considering the options to determine the direction ahead for us.

We will certainly pray about what we need to do and ask God to help us in our decisions.

Yet we often lament that we don't "hear" anything from God and that God don't seem to "say" anything.

We often associate speaking and hearing with words.

The 1st reading says that at various times in the past and in various ways, God spoke through the prophets and finally He spoke through His Son.

So God did "speak" but it takes a quiet heart to "hear" His voice.

In the gospel, Jesus called Peter and Andrew and James and John to follow Him.

They were able to leave their nets and boats because they heard His call in their hearts.

Let us begin Ordinary Time with quiet hearts so as to hear the voice of God.

It is in the ordinary, the monotony and the mundane that God often speaks to us.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Saturday after Epiphany, 08-01-11

1 John 5:14-21 / John 3:22-30

There is no doubt that God hears our prayers. In fact He always answers our prayers.

The question is in the way God answers our prayers.

The 1st reading gives an indication of how we should pray when it says: we are quite confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything, and it is in accordance with His will, He will hear us.

Yet it is so easy for our prayer to be laced with self-interests and self-centered desires.

As we come to the end of the Christmas season, the figure of John the Baptist comes up again.

He did not say anything about prayer but what he said in the gospel showed that he was a person of prayer and who understands what God's will is.

With Jesus beginning His public ministry, John the Baptist sensed that it was time to do handing-over.

And he also had some words of wisdom for us when he said : A man can lay claim only to what is given him from heaven.

He knew who Jesus is and he knew who he was.

So as he gracefully steps aside, he had this to say: He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.

Let our prayer be that Jesus will grow greater in our lives and that we give thanks to God for all that has been given to us. That's all that we need.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Friday after Epiphany, 07-01-11

1 John 5:5-13 / Luke 5:12-16

Epiphany comes from a Greek word which means the sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something.

In Church terms, it means that God reveals to us a mystery, and the feast of Epiphany means that Jesus is revealed to the world as its Saviour.

Jesus in turn reveals to us the mystery of our lives.

As we come face to face with the evil and sufferings of the world, as well as the illnesses and pains of our own lives, Jesus reveals Himself to us as our Healer.

In the gospel, we heard of how Jesus healed a leper.

But more than that, Jesus is also telling us that He wants to heal our spirit.

Amidst the noisiness and turbulence of this world, we need rest for our tired and worried hearts.

Jesus showed us that in the midst of His very busy mission, He would always go off to some place where He could be alone and pray.

He Himself needed rest for His tired body and a prayerful silence in which He discerned His Father's will.

This is also the revelation for us - we need ample rest in order to live and function properly as human beings.

We also need to be alone with God in prayer just as Jesus did.

Only then will we comprehend the mystery of our lives and the mystery of God's love for us

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thursday after Epiphany, 06-01-11

1 John 4:19 - 5:4 / Luke 4:14-22

Whenever we listen to a speech or read a passage, it is not that difficult to know what is emphasized and what the main point is.

The word or phrase that is repeated frequently usually expressed what the key point is.

In the 1st reading it is quite obvious what this high-frequency word is and what the key point is.

It is also the one and the same thing, and that is "love".

The gospel text may not have this word in it but it expressed what the mission of Jesus was all about - a mission of love.

He expressed that love in reality and at the same time He also pointed to the greater reality of love.

He gave sight to the blind, but He also wanted to liberate people from the greater blindness and darkness of the eyes of the heart.

He healed the crippled but He also wanted to free people from the shackles that cripple the spirit - fear, anger, hatred, resentment, envy, greed, lust, pride, selfishness, etc.

Jesus is love and He came to us with love. Love is His Word, love is His Way, love is His Truth.

We are called to be a people of love and a Church of love. Can others see that in us?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wednesday after Epiphany, 05-01-11

1 John 4:11-18 / Mark 6:45-52

To have a good memory is certainly something we can be proud of.

Although most of us may not say we have a good memory, by and large we remember quite a bit.

But there are some things that we just can't remember. Yet there are also certain things we don't bother to remember.

For e.g., can we remember last Sunday's gospel reading? Or yesterday's gospel reading?

Is it because we can't remember or was it because we didn't really bother to remember it?

Today's gospel described how the disciples had to battle a storm and then they were terrified when they thought they saw a ghost walking on water.

The gospel concluded by saying that they were utterly and completely dumbfounded, because they had not seen what the miracle of the loaves meant, and that their minds were closed.

They had seen a revelation of Jesus in the miracle of the loaves.

They may not have forgotten but they did not see beyond the miracle. They probably were excited by the miracle and did not ponder on its meaning.

Memory maybe be somewhere in the mind but remembering is in the heart.

When our hearts are open to God's persistent revelation, then we will remember how God has showed us His love.

The 1st reading tells us that as long as we love one another, God will live in us and His love will be complete in us.

God's greatest revelation to us is His love for us. May our hearts be open to His revelation and also be instruments of His revelation.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Tuesday after Epiphany, 04-01-2011

1 John 4:7-10 / Mark 6:34-44

Something like 40 years ago, a middle-aged woman walked into the slums of a large city.

She had an equivalent of about US$2 in her hand.

But she had no income, no job and no place to stay.

All she had was the conviction that God wanted her to help the poor, the destitute and the dying.

That was 40 years ago.

Today, the late Mother Teresa had set up something like 80 schools, 70 leprosy clinics, 30 homes for abandoned children, 300 mobile dispensary units and there are about 40,000 volunteers continuing her work all over the world.

Those figures are staggering, considering what she had started with.

She not only gave the US$2 in her hand to Jesus, she also gave Jesus her whole heart, her trust and her love.

Jesus can do marvels and wonders with whatever little we had to offer Him.

Even with five loaves and two fish, He can feed five thousand people.

That is who Jesus is and what He can do. Over and above everything else, He came to save us and give us eternal life.

Let us have faith in Jesus and love Him and we will see the marvels and wonders He will do for us.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Monday after Epiphany, 03-01-2011

1 John 3:22 - 4:6 / Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25

Whenever a leader gives an inaugural speech, the opening lines are important.

Because the opening lines of a speech of a leader or someone in authority, will indicate his conviction, his rapport with the people, his vision, and in a way who he is.

The opening lines of Jesus as He begins his ministry may not sound very impressive.

As much as it may not sound very impressive, nonetheless it is very important.

Its importance lies in the fact that it is the truth.

Having celebrated the birth of Jesus and His revelation to the world, we must now live in the light of His saving love.

Hence we have to turn away from lies and deceit, anger and revenge and gossip and slandering.

More than that, we must repent our lives and live in love and forgiveness, mercy and compassion, understanding and charity.

That is what repentance is all about. That is what the kingdom of God is all about.

That is why Jesus came for us and that is what we are all about.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mary, Mother of God, 1st January 2011

Numbers 6:22-27 / Galatians 4:4-7 / Lk 2:16-21

Today is a special day in terms of the time-line of the events in our lives.

Today we begin a new year. We look at what lies ahead of us, and we wonder what it will be like.

Yet we can look back at the not-so-old year, and we can see what it had been like.

So as we look at what lies before us and what lies behind us, the Church invites us to look at Mary.

Yes, we look at Mary and we ponder with her.

On the 8th day of the Christmas Octave, the Church celebrates Mary’s earliest defining title – Mother of God.

That title goes all the way back to the year 432, and that title tells us who Mary is.

Yet more importantly it also tells us who Jesus is.

Because by proclaiming that Mary is the Mother of God, the Church is also proclaiming that Jesus is God, and therefore Mary is the Mother of God.

So what is it like to be the Mother of God?

Well, a story has it that a wife had just given birth to her first child, and her happy husband was with her by her bedside.

Her husband asked her : My dear, what was child-birth like?

She thought for a while, and she looked at him and said :
Ok, smile as broadly as you can. Then use two fingers to pull the corners of the mouth as far back as you can.
Then pull your upper lip over your head. That’s probably how it feels like.

So being the Mother of God is certainly not without pain or suffering.

From the Annunciation to the Crucifixion, Mary had her share of pain and suffering.

Yet it is through this pain and suffering that she, as the Mother of God, can teach us something.

You know, as kids, we liked to cross our eyes and look stupid, and our mothers would tell us that if we keep doing that, then one day we might just end up permanently cross-eyed.

Well, Mother Mary is also telling us to stop crossing our eyes and becoming self-centered.

She is telling us to keep our eyes on Jesus and walk towards Him.

That was what she did when she said at the Annunciation : Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Your will.

So just as she kept her eyes on the Lord, Mary is also telling us to keep our eyes on Jesus.

Because the moment we take our eyes off Jesus, we will just end up cross-eyed!

Also, from our earliest days, our mothers have taught us a peculiar kind of logic, and it goes like this :
If you don’t do what I tell you, you will get it.

Well, Mother Mary wants to teach us a holy logic and it’s this:
Do whatever He tells you, and you will get it.

That was what she told the servants at the wedding at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you”, and they got it. They saw who Jesus was.

Well, not all mothers are scientists, but they seem to know something about genetics.

I am sure that we have heard our mothers say this to us : You are just like your father!!! It is usually out of exasperation!

Well, Mother Mary is telling each of us : You are just like my Son!

But that actually came from Jesus Himself. On the cross, Jesus told His mother – That is your son.

So we are all Mary’s children. And Mary is our mother.

Because that’s also what Jesus said on the cross – This is your mother.

So it is not too mushy or too funny to think that Mother Mary will say to us – You are just like my Son.

Because the 2nd reading tells us that God has sent the Spirit of Jesus into our hearts.

So like Mother Mary, we ponder and treasure.

What lies behind us and what lies before us cannot be compared with what lies within us.

Yes, we have the Spirit of Jesus within us.

So let us give thanks and praise the Lord all the days of the year ahead.
May we also devote ourselves to the motherly care and guidance of Mary.

And may the Lord bless us and keep us.
May He shine His face on us and be gracious to us.
And may He grant us His peace in the days ahead.