Thursday, June 30, 2011

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday, 01-07-11

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

If we ask ourselves what is the greatest gift from God, we will surely come to this answer.

The greatest gift from God is surely His only Son Jesus.

And the greatest gift of Jesus to us is His love for us: "Love one another as I have loved you."

And Jesus showed that He loved us to the end by laying down his life for us.

The Church uses the image of the Sacred heart to symbolize this love.

The heart of Jesus is crowned with thorns but yet burning with love for us.

It is in the Sacred Heart of Jesus that our own hearts will find the love that we are looking for, and it is a love that Jesus wants to give us.

In the Sacred Heart of Jesus we will find the peace and joy that we are longing for.

Yes, our hearts will not rest until they are rested in the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

So the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us that Jesus is always loving us and holding us close to His heart.

His heart burns with love for us. May our hearts also burn with love for Jesus and for others.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

13th in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 30-06-11

Genesis 22:1-19 / Matthew 9:1-8

One of the vows or promises that a priest or religious takes at ordination or at the solemn profession is the promise or vow of obedience.

And more than celibacy and poverty, the vow or promise of obedience is the foundation of the person's relationship with God.

So a person can meditate for hours and live a life of austerity and asceticism, but if he does not submit to the directions of his superiors, then all he does is in vain.

Similarly for Abraham in the 1st reading. More than a test of his faith in God, it was also a test of his freedom and decision to choose to obey God or not.

In his obedience to God, he also made this statement of faith - God will provide.

Indeed, God will provide whatever is necessary as long as we are willing to obey Him.

So whenever we find it difficult to obey and do God's will, let us remember that God will provide us the necessary graces to heal us and strengthen us to accept His will.

Abraham obeyed God and received His blessings. May we too be obedient to God and do His will and also receive God's blessings.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

St. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Wednesday, 29-06-11

Acts 12 : 1-11 / 2 Timothy 4 : 6-8, 17-18 / Matthew 16 : 13-19    (2018)

When we read about the life-stories of great people like Beethoven and Thomas Edison, we will see something common.

And that is when they were young, they were written off as slow, stupid and hopeless.

But yet they emerged as prominent figures in history who went against the odds of life.

We know the background and the stories of St. Peter and St. Paul.

St. Peter was brash and impulsive. And of course there was his triple denial of Christ.

St. Paul persecuted Christians until he took that road to Damascus.

By our logical reasoning, both will be written off.

But how can they do such grievous deeds and yet become great saints in the Church?

Yet, that is the mystery of the grace of God. And along with that mystery, we can see that no one is hopeless or unworthy for salvation.

By God's grace, St. Peter repented. By God's grace, he was saved from prison and he went on to lead the Church, as we heard in the 1st reading.

By God's grace, St. Paul was converted. And by God's grace, he spread the faith to the Gentiles and in the end he willingly gave up his life for Christ.

By God's grace too, we know we are forgiven and saved. By God's grace too, we know that the sinner in us can be turned into a saint.

By God's grace too, we know that we can be like St. Peter and St. Paul, and we too will bear witness to Christ and pour out our lives to serve the Lord and His Church.

Monday, June 27, 2011

13th in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 28-06-11

Genesis 19:15-29 / Matthew 8:23-27

Life is just so surprising with its many twists and turns and we have to expect the unexpected.

We can make plans about our lives, plan for the future, plan what to do in a situation, plan what to say in an encounter.

But calm can just turn into chaos with the blink of the eye.

In the 1st reading, Lot had planned to stay in the land and build his future there.

He had never expected the place to be destroyed and to flee for his life.

Similarly, in the gospel, calm turned into chaos in the lake and the disciples feared for their lives.

Even for us, when calm suddenly turns into chaos, fear strikes up and we begin running around looking for solutions and trying to gain control of the situation.

But we only need to cry out like the disciples did: Save us, Lord, we are going down.

And no cry to God is ever left unanswered. And He tells us not to be afraid.

God did not promise us that there will be no chaos or storms in our lives.

But He did promise that He will be with us in every storm and in every chaos.

So let us not fear but believe in God's promise which will be kept till the end of time.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

13th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 27-06-11

Genesis 18:16-33 / Matthew 8:18-22

It is almost everyone's desire to have a comfortable life.

So besides having enough to eat and a cosy place to stay in, we also want financial security and also luxuries like a nice big car and maybe even servants to do our work for us.

Yet these desires only exist in dreams and seldom in reality.

Even if these desires are achievable, yet they are like a bottomless pit and we can never be satisfied and contented.

There is something that Jesus said in the gospel that needs to be contemplated upon.

When He said that He has nowhere to lay His head, Jesus is almost like saying that He has no place in this world and that nothing belongs to Him.

If Jesus can say that, then what about us?

And if we want to be His disciples, are we also prepared to live like Him and have nowhere to lay our head?

We must remember that we live in a passing world and we are only stewards of what we have; nothing really belongs to us forever.

If we have nowhere to lay our head on earth, then the other aspect is that there must be some place where we can have hope in and where our hearts will be at rest and contented.

May our hope be in our faith in God who will grant us peace and protect us from anxiety so that our lives will be lived in joyful hope.

Friday, June 24, 2011

12th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 25-06-11

Genesis 18:1-15 / Matthew 8:5-17

Hospitality is a concrete act of generosity that is shown to another person who is in need.

More so if that person is a stranger or foreigner who is looking around for some help.

And we would certainly want to he hospitable and offer help.

Yet there is always an "if" or a "but" or a "maybe".

Because such calls for hospitality and generosity often comes at the wrong time.

By the "wrong time" it could be that we are tied up with other matters, or busy with other things, or that we already have more than enough on our hands.

Well, it was the hottest time of the day when Abraham saw the three men.

The hottest time of the day meant that one is most lethargic, most tired and most unwilling to do anything.

Yet Abraham got up to offer the three strangers his hospitality and service.

Similarly, Jesus had just come from a hectic schedule, only to be met with a request from the centurion.

Both situations occur during the so-called "hottest time"of the day.

It was a call for generosity and hospitality, an occasion for showing love and care and concern.

So let us be prepared to hear that call to love and serve during the hottest part of today.

When we welcome someone at the hottest time of the day and show love and care and concern, we can be assured of God's blessings on us.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Friday, 24-06-11

Isaiah 49:1-6 / Acts 13:22-26 / Luke 1:57-66, 80       (2015 / 2017)

The name "John" appears for the first time in the Bible in today's gospel.

It is a Jewish name (Yohanan) and it means "God is gracious".

Why Elizabeth have her son that name and why Zechariah confirmed it was not mentioned.

But we can suppose, and quite correctly, that she was expressing her thanks and praise to God for this gift of grace in her son, and that God was merciful to her and saved her from the shame of being barren.

Indeed the name "John" was very befitting for the Baptizer because he was the herald of a more important person.

He ushered in the appointed time of grace.

In fact he ushered in the fullness of grace that was embodied in the person of Jesus Christ.

In Jesus Christ, God came as a man to visit His people and to redeem them from the slavery of sin.

As it was then, so it is now still. Every moment is a time of grace.

God still visits us not only to save us but to make us the light of the nations, so that salvation may reach all nations, as we heard in the 1st reading.

May we live each moment in grace of God, so that we may be instruments of light and life to others.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

12th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 23-06-11

Genesis 16:1-12, 15-16 / Matthew 7:21-29

Very often, in the intracacy of our human relationships, we want to embark on the most pragmatic plan that will bring about the maximum benefits for all.

It is what some people would call the win-win situation. But how often has these win-win situations worked in the long term?

In the 1st reading, we hear of how Sarai came up with a pragmatic plan so that it would be a win-win situation for her and Abram and Hagar the slave-girl.

But man's ways are often not God's ways and in the end, that suppossedly win-win plan turned out in ruins.

So does it mean that we don't plan at all and just wait for things to happen?

Well, surely we must plan, but the question is that are our plans in accordance with God's will?

Today's gospel can be summed up in one phrase - doing God's will.

The kingdom of God is not about being pragmatic or practical or about winning.

The kingdom of God is about knowing the will of God and doing it.

It is about trusting God as we go through the narrow gate and walking the long hard road.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

12th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 22-06-11

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 / Matthew 7:15-20       (2019)

The tendency to doubt God is in all of us.

But doubt can lead us to two different situations.

Either we deepen our faith in God or we despair and lose faith altogether.

In our doubt, we have this tendency to look inwards of ourselves, and the questions asked are centered on ourselves.

Much like the questions that Abram asked : What do you intend to give me? I am childless and You have given me no descendants!

But it is interesting that God took Abram "outside" to look up at heaven and count the stars.

But the "outside" is not so much in a physical aspect but rather from a spiritual perspective.

God led Abram to come out of his introspective and myopic attitude and to see further and believe deeper.

The attitude of individualism leads us to ask questions from within, questions that are centered on the self.

Hence the "I" becomes predominant, with the emphasis on the "right of choice" and the "power of freedom".

Yet these do not provide answers to the questions of life.

May we let God take us "outside" and to look up at the heavens and to count the stars.

It is enough to realize that we are in God's hands and it is in His hands we must remain in faith.

Monday, June 20, 2011

12th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 21-06-11

Genesis 13:2, 5-18 / Matthew 7:6, 12-14

Whenever an opportunity comes, we must be quick to grab it, otherwise it may be gone forever.

But when an opportunity presents itself to more than one person at the same time, then the survival instinct will kick in.

So the one who is smarter and faster and stronger will get it.

In the working world, this instinct can be quite savage.

To pounce on an opportunity to get promoted or to secure a lucrative deal, there can be cutting of corners and kicking and shoving and back-stabbing.

As we hear of the dispute between Abram and Lot in the 1st reading, we could see the character of each of them.

Although Abram was older, he let his nephew Lot, make the choice of the land.

And Lot pounced on the opportunity and took the choice lands.

But because of his generosity and his giving way to Lot, God blessed Abram and his land.

Indeed, to give way to others and to be generous whenever an opportunity arises is indeed difficult because it goes against our instinct.

Yet Jesus tells us in the gospel to take the narrow gate.

Because it is the narrow gate and the hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

May we learn from Abram, our father in faith, to take that narrow gate and hard road and receive God's blessings on us.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

12th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 20-06-11

Genesis 12:1-9 / Matthew 7:1-5

As we gather in this Eucharist as a faith community, we have also come from various aspects of the faith generation.

Some of us may be third generation Catholics, some are seventh generation Catholics and some even more.

But whatever generation we might be, we know we have inherited the faith from our ancestors of the first generation and we have to thank them.

Indeed that first generation have to make that critical leap of faith into the virtual unknown from their previous religious traditions.

Well we heard in the 1st reading that Abram was 75 years old when God called him.

At that age, one would not be thinking of taking risks and venture into the unknown.

But Abram responded to God's call and trusted in God's promises.

As for us, we too have to respond to God's constant promptings to seek His will in our lives.

With God, there is no finish line.

Friday, June 17, 2011

11th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 18-06-11

2 Cor 12:1-10 / Matthew 6:24-34            (2019)

It is said that the top two killer diseases in our country are cancer and heart disease. It may not just be in our country but for other developed countries as well.

Yet there are also two other modern unofficial diseases that give rise to many health problems.

They are none other than worry and anxiety. Indeed we face worry and anxiety and they cause us stress and affect our health adversely.

They distort not only our inside but also our appearance. People will be able to tell from our looks if we are worried and anxious and stressed.

Whatever are the causes of worry and anxiety, they are like thorns in our hearts.

Like St. Paul in the 1st reading, we also plead with the Lord to remove our worry and anxiety.

Yet like what the Lord said to St. Paul, the Lord also says to us : My grace is enough for you, my power is at its best in weakness.

We have to face the fact that we will always have to face worry and anxiety.

Yet despite these two thorns in our hearts, Jesus is telling us in the gospel to set our hearts on His kingdom and on His love.

Yes, each day has enough trouble of its own. Yet each day God will also give us enough grace to live a life of love and to attain peace and joy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

11th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 17-06-11

2 Cor 11:18, 21-30 / Matthew 6:19-23

Children in catechism classes are often asked who is their bible hero or heroine. Of course this is to help them familiarize with bible characters and to take one as a role model.

So if we were asked who is our bible hero or which bible character is our role model, who would we say it would be?

Of course there would be many great bible figures to consider, from Abraham to Zechariah.

And if we were to choose St. Paul as our bible hero or role model, then we can be sure that we have very big shoes to fill.

In today's 1st reading, we hear of a compressed version of what sufferings he underwent for the sake of Jesus.

Despite such an impressive resume, yet in the end, St. Paul could only say that he could only talk about his feebleness or weakness.

Because St. Paul knew that the sufferings of this world could not be compared with eternal glory that was awaiting him, and his feebleness or weakness is his unworthiness for such an inheritance.

St. Paul could see the eternal treasures that Jesus was talking about in the gospel.

May we too see the eternal treasures that Jesus has promised us and may we in turn be role models and signposts that will point others to the eternal treasures

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

11th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 16-06-11

2 Cor 11:1-11 / Matthew 6 : 7-15

One of the fundamental teachings in Christianity is this teaching on love - love for God and love for neighbour.

In fact, Jesus taught that as the greatest commandment of the Law (Matthew 22:36-40)

When we reflect deeper on it, we can see that love indeed has an attractive power.

If anyone is attracted to Christianity, it is simply because of the attractive power of love.

Yet, attractive as it is, there is a price for this love.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul had to keep his anger at bay because the Corinthians were straying away from the true teachings of Chirst and he went all out to bring them back to the faith.

In the end, he asked this rhetoric question - "Would I do that if I did not love you? God knows I do".

In the gospel when Jesus taught His disciples to pray, the first half of the prayer mentioned about the will of God that is to be done.

So what is the will of God for us? What does God want us to do?

The will of God is that we love Him and that we express this love for others.

God loved us first. That was His will.

May we be willing to love God and neighbour too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

11th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 15-06-11

2 Cor 9:6-11 / Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Public figures like politicians, movie stars, pop starts and people in the spot-light are often plagued with a common problem.

They worry and are anxious about their public image, about people's comments on what they say, what they do, what they wear, etc.

But the matter of fact is that whether we are public figures or not, we won't be too careless about our own public image.

We don't want to appear sloppy or do the wrong things in public or say the wrong things and get criticized.

But more so for us Christians, we have to be aware of our actions in public as well as in private.

So the question is : What will we do when we think that no one is watching?

The 1st reading has this reminder for us - "Do not forget : thin sowing means thin reaping; the more you sow, the more you reap."

So whether in public or in private, what are we sowing by our words and actions?

In the gospel, Jesus tells us that God knows what we are sowing.

For the good that we sow, even if it is in secret, God our Father sees all that is done and God will reward us for the good we do, especially when we think when no one is watching.

Monday, June 13, 2011

11th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 14-06-11

2 Cor 8:1-9 / Matthew 5:43-48                     (2019)

If we really had a choice, would we want to be a Catholic? Or would we just want to be a pagan, or just a free-thinker?

To be a pagan, or a free-thinker seems easy enough - just do as others do.

Or as how the gospel would put it - love those who love us, do good to those who do good to us, smile at those who smile at us, etc.

On the flip side then we can also hurt those who hurt us and take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

Yet, is this what life is all about? Are we just to live a mundane, monotonous and a dull life that goes just by instinct and creature senses?

So the question in today's gospel is asking us this: Are we doing anything exceptional?

If we call ourselves Christians, are we just following what the rest of the world is doing?

So as Christians, if we are not doing anything exceptional, then we may be like "pagan-Christians".

Jesus showed us how to live our lives with meaning and purpose.

As the 1st reading puts it : He was rich but he became poor for your sake, to make you rich out of his poverty.

In following Christ, our life is none other than that of the life of Christ, which is a call to the perfection in a life of love.

As Christians, we choose a life of love. Any other choice is not worth it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

11th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 13-06-11

2 Cor 6:1-10 / Matthew 5:38-42        (2019)

To live as a Christian is as good as saying that we are prepared to face the contradictions of life.

Because the teachings of Jesus are full of contradictions - the cross itself is a contradiction.

What Jesus taught, like for e.g. what we heard in the gospel, about offering the wicked man no resistance and unconditional generosity even to the ungrateful sounds crazy.

But in the 1st reading, we hear St. Paul attesting that the teachings of Jesus and a life of contradictions are not at all crazy; in fact it points to the holy.

In his sufferings, hardships and distress, he affirmed that God's grace was working powerfully in him.

Indeed, God's grace is poured into our hearts when we ourselves are undergoing sufferings, hardships and distress.

Because in the time of our need, God will listen to us and come to our help and save us.

There is a poem about contradictions in life and it goes like this :

I asked for  health that I might do greater things;
but I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
but I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
but I was given weakness, that I might feel the need for God.
I got nothing I asked for, but by God's grace I got everything I hoped for.

Friday, June 10, 2011

7th Week of Easter, Saturday, 11-06-11

Acts 28:16-20, 30-31 / John 21:20-25    (2013 / 2019)

Generally speaking, the gospel according to John is ascribed to John the apostle, but of course there are other opinions.

It is also said that John the apostle lived to a ripe old age whereas the other apostles were martyred.

Maybe that could be a reason why the gospel according to John is so different from the other three synoptic gospels.

The other three gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, have more historical facts.

The gospel of John has a more theological as well as a more mystical perspective.

As he ends off his gospel account, John states that he bears testimony to Jesus and he vouches that what he has written is indeed true.

So John had a distinct mission. St. Paul was a missionary for Christ; St. Peter was a shepherd for Christ; St. John was a witness for Christ.

Where the gospel of John ends off is where our own gospel must begin.

The gospel of our lives will now have to bear witness to Christ.

It is in the gospel of our lives that the eternal truth of Christ will be passed on to the next generation of God's people.

Let us pray to the Holy Spirit who will guide us to all truth and help us bear witness to Christ.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

7th Week of Easter, Friday, 10-06-11

Acts 25:13-21 / John 21:15-19

If we call ourselves Catholics, then we may have to ask ourselves this very fundamental question.

Who are we really? What are we all about?

Well, there can be many answers to that question, but there can be no denying it that the Church is a community of sinners.

In fact the Church is the only community in the world in which membership is based on one single qualification.

And that qualification is that you have to be a sinner. If you are not a sinner, then you can't be a member. Sounds strange right?

Because if you are not a sinner, then why would you want to join the church? Just like if you are not sick, why would you want to be admitted into the hospital?

The first leader of the church, St. Peter, was a sinner, in fact a grave sinner. He denied Jesus three times.

The first missionary and apostle to the Gentiles, St. Paul, was also a great sinner. He persecuted the Christians.

Yet these two great figures of the Church, who were great sinners, also showed that in the church, they found salvation in Jesus.

When we understand that we the church is a church OF sinners and also a church FOR sinners, then we will want to follow Jesus in His way of love and forgiveness, mercy and compassion, kindness and generosity.

May the Spirit lead us into repentance and form us in the way of holiness.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

7th Week of Easter, Thursday, 09-06-11

Acts 22:30; 23:6-11 / John 17:20-26           (2019)

There is this story of a philosophy professor who gave the class the question for the exam: What is courage?

The students had an hour to answer the question. So when the professor told the class to begin, the students began to write furiously to answer the question.

But just after about one minute, a student walked up to the professor to hand in his answer sheet, just one sheet.

Later when the results of the exam were announced, it was that student who got the top marks.

So what was his answer? Well his answer was just three words : This is courage!

Well, courage may mean an uncommon act of bravery.

Or it may mean a virtue that surfaces in a situation of fear.

Or it may mean faithfulness and perseverance in carrying out a dangerous task or mission.

That was what the Lord urged St. Paul in the 1st reading.

The Lord urged him to be courageous and to be faithful and persevere in bearing witness to Him.

And as we heard in the gospel, Jesus prayed for us that we be faithful to God and persevere in unity and bearing witness.

Jesus will give us the Spirit of courage. May we be brave in witnessing to our faith.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

7th Week of Easter, Wednesday, 08-06-11

Acts 20:28-38 / John 17:11-19

It is said that a homily or a sermon is better seen than just heard.

In other words people would want to see what is preached being put into action than just mere talk.

But if people were to listen to a homily or sermon, then it is because the person speaking is already putting it into action in his own life, and he speaks with a conviction.

In the 1st reading, what stirred the emotions of those who were listening to St. Paul was his conviction and his commitment to Jesus.

St. Paul drew his conviction and commitment from Jesus.

What Jesus prayed about in the gospel and what St. Paul spoke about are essentially what the church community should do and should be aware of when they are not with them anymore.

But what is important to note is that every member of the church is a living homily and sermon.

How we live our lives as Christians is how we preach about our faith.

In other words, it is about how we witness to Jesus.

May our faith be seen in our lives so that others may want to hear more about our faith.

Monday, June 6, 2011

7th Week of Easter, Tuesday, 07-06-11

Acts 20:17-27 / John 17:1-11

Whenever we talk about parting or farewell, we get into a melancholic mood; there is an inevitable sadness to it.

In both of today' readings, we hear of a parting or farewell.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul said that he was about to finish his race and had carried out the mission that he was given.

In the gospel, Jesus said that the hour has come and He had finished the work He was given to do and He was going back to the Father.

But if we were to look at what Jesus and St. Paul had accomplished until that point in time, then we have to say that nothing much has actually been achieved.

But yet in both cases, the trust was in God who will bring their work to fulfillment.

So in spite of the unfinished business, Jesus and St. Paul gave us a message of hope.

It was a firm hope in God who will take care of everything.

We may be very busy in life but do we have anything to show for it?

If we are only busy with the things of this world, there will be nothing to show for it.

But when we are busy with the work of God, then the Holy Spirit will help us bring it to fulfillment.

Then the work we do will bear fruit that will last.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

7th Week of Easter, Monday, 06-06-11

Acts 19:1-8 / John 16:29-33

Many people have gone for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

They want to see for themselves the places that the Bible speaks of and especially the places mentioned in the gospels.

In a way, they want to retrace the footsteps of Jesus to be at the places where He had been.

But not many people have gone for a pilgrimage to retrace the missionary journeys of St. Paul.

And if we ever go for one, it will take us to countries like Turkey and Greece, and to places like Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi and Galatia.

As we heard in the 1st reading, it was at Ephesus that St. Paul preached about baptism and baptized about twelve men there and he laid hands on them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit that led St. Paul in his missionary journeys is the same Spirit that is given to us at our baptism.

It is this Spirit who will give us peace when things are falling apart and into pieces.

It is this Spirit who will give us courage when we are afraid because of the troubles we are facing.

It is the Spirit who will lead us to follow the footsteps of Jesus in conquering the world.

Let us always call on the Holy Spirit to lead us step by step, and moment by moment.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

6th Week of Easter, Saturday, 04-06-11

Acts 18:23-28 / John 16:23-28

Mention the word "hospital" and immediately some thoughts come to mind.

Thoughts like illness, pain, loneliness, suffering and even death. The mood is certainly depressive.

But like what Jesus said, He came not for the healthy but for the sick, and to call not the virtuous but sinners.

So in a sense, the hospitals are places of grace, and places where prayers are often answered.

Whenever I am called to visit the sick in the hospital, I will usually bring along more than one host for communion.

Because very often, when I am on the way to that patient's ward, I will be stopped along the way and asked to visit someone else.

And very often, the patient or the family members will say the similar thing - they have been praying for some spiritual strengthening or for a priest to come along, and then God answered their prayers when they saw me.

Well, that's what Jesus said in the gospel - Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete.

Jesus may have ascended to the Father but He is still with us till the end of time.

His presence will be felt in the way our prayers are answered.

So no matter how depressive or  desperate or despondent the situation may be, prayer is the answer.

Life is fragile, but it can be handled with prayer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

6th Week of Easter, Friday, 03-06-11

Acts 18:9-18 / John 16:20-23     (2020)

It is only human to ask questions about life. Questions like - Why is there innocent suffering? Why is there unnecessary pain? Why is happiness so elusive?

These questions are not just about the what is happening in the world around us.

These questions are about what is happening in our lives and to those whom we love and care about.

So these questions concern our family, our marriage, our spouse, our parents, our children, our work, our friends, etc.

In short, we encounter sorrow and suffering in life.

And it may add on to our desolation when Jesus said in the gospel : I tell you solemnly, you will be sorrowful.

Yet our consolation is that Jesus did not end it there. He continues by saying that our sorrow will turn to joy and that joy no one can take from us.

As we bring our needs and petitions to the Lord and place it at the altar of sacrifice, let us have the hope that the Lord would come to our help in our sorrows and sufferings.

That hope is not just wishful thinking but it is a joyful hope as we wait for God's will to unfold in the midst of our sorrows and sufferings.

Let us just ask the Lord for this joyful hope. With this joyful hope, there will be no further questions.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ascension of the Lord, Year A, 02.06.2011

Acts 1:1-11/ Eph 1:17-23/ Mt 28:16-20

From the gospel passage that we have just heard, what was that one word or phrase that sounds really out of place?

I have the reading in front of me so it’s easy for me to see it.

Pity we don’t have Sunday missals otherwise we can look at it again. But can you remember…?

Well, that one word or phrase that sounds really out of place is part of a longer sentence.

It is this – When they saw him they fell down before him (that sounds well and good)

And then comes this phrase that ended off the sentence – though some hesitated.

Why must the gospel mention ‘though some hesitated’.

And that sounds out of place, especially when Jesus is about to give His last teaching before ascending into heaven.

In fact, the gospel passage is often called ‘The Great Commissioning’.

But then, why this “though some hesitated”?

And we can substitute other terms to mean the same thing, eg, though some were in two minds; though some get distracted, though some lost focus.

So there they were, with Jesus right in front of them and about to ascend to heaven, and some hesitated, some were in two minds, some lost focus, some got distracted.

But of course some also went down in worship.

We too have come in worship and thanksgiving as we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven.

Yet, we may also hesitate.

We may be in two minds, or actually the body is here, the mind is somewhere else.

Or we may get distracted. Maybe we thinking of what to buy at the Great Singapore Sale.

Or we may lose focus.

But whether we hesitate, or are in two minds or distracted or lost focus, the Lord tells us this:

Know that I am with you always, yes to the end of time.

That is a divine promise, it’s an eternal promise.

Yes, Jesus is with us always, till the end of time.

St Augustine said this about the Ascension: Jesus withdrew from our eyes that we might return to our hearts to find Him there.

As we heard in the 1st reading, Jesus will give us the power of the Holy Spirit to return to our hearts to find Him there.

So let us not hesitate, let us not be in two minds, let us not be distracted or lose focus.

Let us pray and let the Holy Spirit guide us to be with Jesus who is in our hearts always.

Jesus wants to be with us always, so that we can be with Him till the end of time.