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.