Friday, September 30, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Thursday, 29.09.11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can only be thankful to God.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

So when the king asked why did he look so sad and what was in his heart, a great fear came upon him because he wanted to go back to his homeland but he was afraid that the king might get offended by it.

So as we heard, Nehemiah called on the God of heaven, and then made his request to the king.

Surprisingly, all that he asked for, even the timber for building of the Temple was granted.

Yet, it should come as no surprise to us, because Nehemiah called on the Lord first, and the favour of the Lord was upon him.

So let us remember that before we make any choices or decisions, let us call on the Lord first, so that His grace and favour would be upon us.

For without God's grace and favour, there will be no success in our undertakings, much less follow and serve Him and do His will.

Yes, we just have to call upon God first and then walk in faith, like Nehemiah did when he faced a difficult situation.

Yes, we may not be that sure, but we must have the faith to walk with God even if it's in the dark, rather than walk alone and stumble all the way.

Monday, September 26, 2011

26th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 27-09-11

Zechariah 8:20-23 / Luke 9:51-56

In a generic sense, Christianity can be called a religion. And to describe it, we can call it a religion of love.

Simply because Jesus new commandment to us is to love one another just as He has loved us.

Yet, being a religion of love, the setback is that we may take God for granted and because God is love, we may even abuse His love for us.

But a religion of fear, in which there is reward or punishment, can indeed be more impressive especially when it is manifested by spectacular acts.

The disciples of Jesus had seen Him work miracles. They believe that He had divine powers and stand in awe of Him.

So when Jesus was rejected by the Samaritans, as we heard in the gospel, the disciples James and John wanted to show those Samaritans some spectacular acts and to punish them and put fear into them.

But Jesus showed them once again that He came in love and it will be out of love that people will come to believe in Him.

Jesus has become the Jerusalem of the 1st reading in which peoples and nations come to seek the Lord and entreat His favour.

It is only with love that others will come to us to know more about our faith, because they have seen that the God of love is indeed with us.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

26th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 26-09-11

Zechariah 8:1-8 / Luke 9:46-50

It is not really that easy to celebrate a funeral Mass, especially when it was for a one-week-old baby.

The infant had died of complications after birth. The parents told me that they had expected it because during the pregnancy, the test results showed that the baby had literally no chance of survival if delivered.

Still the parents brought it to term, instead of aborting the pregnancy.

And although they expected the final outcome, they still suffered the pain and grief at the loss of their child.

For the funeral Mass, I used the gospel passage which we have just heard, in which Jesus set a child before His disciples and said that whoever welcomes a child welcomes Him.

For the parents, they rejoiced at the initial news of pregnancy but even with the complications of the baby, they still welcomed her into the world and cherished her during her short life on earth.

I am sure their child will be there to welcome them when their time on earth is done.

I am also sure that God will also be there to turn their sorrow into joy.

But God is not just there at the end. In the 1st reading, God promised His people that He will come back to them and dwell in the middle of Jerusalem.

Yes God is indeed in our midst, especially in the lowly and the humble and the child-like. May we welcome Him into our hearts.

Friday, September 23, 2011

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 24-09-11

Zechariah 2:5-9, 14-15 / Luke  9:43-45

Whenever we talk about a house, we would imagine it as having walls that would determine its size and boundaries.

Who can ever imagine a house that is without walls? What kind of security would that house have?

So it would certainly surprise us when we heard in the 1st reading that Jerusalem was to remain unwalled. What kind of city would that be if it is without walls for protection and security?

Yet the Lord was quick to add that He would be the wall of fire for her, all round her, and He would be the glory of the city.

Indeed, if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain would its watchmen keep vigil, and in vain would its stone walls offer any protection.

Jesus said in the gospel that He would be handed over into the power of men.

Yet Jesus also knew that His security and protection will be on God alone, and that God will save Him out of death and raise Him back to life.

May we also know that if God does not watch over us, then all other physical means of protection will be in vain.

With God in our midst and watching over us and protecting us, let us give thanks, let us sing, let us rejoice in the Lord our Saviour.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 23-09-11

Haggai 1:15 - 2:9 / Luke 9:18-22

The Temple that was mentioned in the 1st reading was completed around 450 BC.

It was built on the site of the first Temple which was destroyed by the Babylonians a hundred years earlier.

The exiles who came back to build this temple had the support of King Darius, but they also met with a lot of resistance.

For one, the Samaritans tried to block their efforts. At times, the workmen found themselves having to build with one hand and fight off the enemy with the other.

On top of that, the crops sometimes failed. These are certainly more than just teething problems.

But as the Lord told the prophet Haggai and the leaders of the people, Zerubbabel and Joshua, to take courage and not to be afraid and the Lord promised that His Spirit will be with them as they carry out the task.

The new Temple will be glorious and with the Temple, God will also grant them peace.

Similarly, to fully realize who Jesus is, requires us to understand the path of rejection and suffering that He has taken.

That path we too will have to undertake in order to come into a deeper understanding and union with Jesus.

But just as the new Temple was eventually raised and rebuilt, we too will rise with Jesus.

We just have to take courage and not be afraid of the struggles and sufferings, and eventually we will experience the peace that only God can give.

When the Temple was eventually completed, the people really rejoiced and celebrated.

This experience of the Jews in re-building the Temple serves to remind us that perseverance and commitment do not go wasted or uncounted.

Especially so when our commitment and perseverance in our faithfulness to God is put to the test.

To hear the Word of God and to put it into practice demands commitment and perseverance.

Especially in the areas like prayer time, moral decisions, life choices, service, etc.

As brothers and sisters of Jesus, let us deepen our commitment to God as we persevere in building God's kingdom on earth.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 22-09-11

Haggai 1:1-8 / Luke 9:7-9

Herod can be called a typical half-believer, someone who believes that there is a God, yet he was more concerned about himself, his comfort, his curiosity, and whatever that can gain him some advantage.

He wanted to see Jesus because of the curious and sensational reports that he heard about Jesus, and maybe also to see Jesus work something spectacular for him to see.

Well, Herod eventually got to see Jesus, but yet for all his curiosity to see Jesus, he didn't get anywhere closer to Him.

He got so near to Jesus, yet was so far away, and he ended up gaining nothing.

Similarly for the people in the 1st reading. They were anxious about their own lives and how to live comfortably.

But as the prophet Haggai told them: Reflect carefully how things have gone for you.

They were anxious about themselves, their own comfort and their own houses, yet there was no anxiety and concern for the Lord's house, the Temple, which was still under construction.

We too have to reflect carefully about our lives and we will see the truth of things.

Indeed we need not be too anxious and worry and over-concerned about our lives or about our comfort.

Let us seek the kingdom of God first, and whatever we need will be given unto us.

Let us be more concerned about the Temple of God in our hearts, and may God be glorified in our lives.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

St. Matthew, Apostle, Wednesday, 21-09-11

Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13 / Matthew 9:9-13

Have we ever wondered what were the thoughts that crossed the mind of St. Matthew as he got up from the customs house to follow Jesus?

Was it apprehension or uncertainty because he was walking away from a stable and profitable job, although it is not a respectable one?

Or was it a sense of insecurity and anxiety that from that moment on, things are not going to be the same anymore in that nothing can be taken for granted anymore?

But over and above all these thoughts was the great up-lifting feeling that someone had given him respect, dignity and self-worth.

In Jesus, St. Matthew saw the mercy and love of God, who came not to call the virtuous, but sinners.

What St. Matthew saw in Jesus, he too wanted to emulate, he wanted to follow, he wanted to become

That is also what the 1st reading is telling us: that united in faith and knowledge of the Son of God, we strive to be the Perfect Man, the perfect person, fully mature with the fullness of Christ.

Jesus showed St. Matthew who and what he can become.

In turn, St. Matthew showed us in his gospel who and what we can become.

As the call of Jesus crosses and echoes in our hearts, let us answer the call like St. Matthew.

Because it is a call to the fullness of Christ Himself, who came to call sinners so that they can become virtuous.

Monday, September 19, 2011

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 20-09-11

Ezra 6:7-8, 12, 14-20 / Luke 8:19-21

As we listen to the 1st reading, it may occur to us that it was indeed strange that the Persian king, Darius, allowed the exiled Jews in Babylon to return to their homeland to rebuild the Temple.

It was indeed even more puzzling as to why king Darius would also support the Jews in rebuilding the Temple.

Actually it all began when king Cyrus conquered Babylon and he liberated the captives of the other nations and allowed them to return to their homeland if they wished.

King Darius was the third king after Cyrus and it was he who issued the decree that we heard about in the 1st reading.

But it had been 70 long years since the Jews had been exiled in Babylon and by which time, the nostalgia and longing for their homeland was fading and waning.

Yet just as God stirred the heart of king Darius to issue the decree, God also had to stir the hearts of His people to return to their homeland and to rebuild the Temple.

God had not forgotten nor abandoned His people, and He will stir the hearts of those whom He has chosen to do His will, people like king Darius and Ezra and the elders of the Jewish people.

In the gospel we are reminded that God has chosen us as His people and in Jesus we see how God's will is to be done.

Whenever God stirs our hearts, let us get up and get moving because there is a Church that is waiting to be completed.

We are the living stones of the Church. We are also called to help others be living stones of the Church.

That is what is meant by hearing the Word of God and putting it into practice.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

25th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 19-09-11

Ezra 1:1-6 / Luke  8:16-18

During the 60s and the 70s, there was an emphasis to pray for the conversion of Russia.

During that period, Communism spread and threatened not only the democratic governments but also the Church.

At that time who would believe that in something like 30 years, the mighty Soviet Union would break up and the Berlin Wall would crumble and Communism would lose its sting?

If 30 years seemed like a long time, then how about 70 years?

That was how long the Jews were in exile in the foreign land of Babylon.

But when Cyrus, king of Persia came into power, he made the surprise decision to let the Jews go back to their homeland and even offered to help them rebuild the Temple.

So 70 years of darkness and hopelessness gave way to the long-awaited light.

When we go through the dark and rough period of our lives, let us reflect on how often God has delivered His people from bondage.

God's marvelous light shines through the dark and hopeless periods bringing about freedom and joy.

God's light is to shine through us. May we be lamp-stands so that others can see the light of God.

Friday, September 16, 2011

24th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 17-09-11

1 Timothy 6:13-16 / Luke 8:4-15

Sometimes we use, as a figure of speech, this phrase -"the hand of God".

We may say things like: I could see the hand of God shaping the events of my life; I could see the hand of God touching the hearts of those in the retreat.

Well, when the hand of God sows seeds we can be sure that there will be a harvest.

The hand of God sowed a seed in St. Francis of Assisi, and he took off his silk robes and put on a beggar's tunic  to preach to the poor.

The hand of God sowed a seed in  St. Ignatius of Loyola and he turned his military discipline into a spiritual discipline.

The hand of God sowed a seed in Mother Teresa, and she left the convent to help the destitute and the poorest of the poor.

When the hand of God sows a seed, let us be prepared to have eyes to see the hand of God sowing a seed in us.

Let us be prepared to have ears to listen to the Word of God.

As the 1st reading puts it, let us be prepared to do all we have been told to do, especially in witnessing to the truth and living our lives in love.

Then our hearts will be able to produce a harvest of a hundredfold for God.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

24th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 16-09-11

1 Timothy 6:2-12 / Lk 8:1-3

The gospel passage might give us a kind of rosy impression, that Jesus and his happy disciples were making their way through the countryside preaching and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God.

But if we bother to read what went on earlier, we would know that Jesus had already experienced criticism and even hostility.

He had incurred the wrath of the scribes and Pharisees, and there was mounting pressure against Him.

So who were those people that were following such a "black-listed" man? And what do they want from Him, or what use was He to them?

Well, at least for the women following Jesus, they had experienced some form of healing from Jesus, be it a healing from physical or spiritual ailments.

They now show their gratitude by following Jesus and supporting Jesus in His ministry and also in His time of need.

But they were not obliged to. Neither were the 12 apostles obliged to follow Jesus especially when He was creating such a dangerous reputation for Himself.

Yet they were not just followers. They had become His disciples.

They had seen the truth in Jesus and they too want to walk the way of truth.

Similarly, if we really want to be disciples of Jesus, we must walk the way of truth.

The 1st reading sums up basically the truth of life in the words of St. Paul: We brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. as long as we have food and clothing, let us be content with that.

To long for more would indicate that our love for God is waning and we are getting distracted by the love of this world.

That is a simple truth. But to follow that truth would require a letting go and a dying to self.

May Jesus give us the faith to fight the good fight and win for us the eternal life He promised us.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Our Lady of Sorrows, Thursday, 15-09-11

Hebrews 5:7-9 / John 19:25-27 or Luke 2:33-35

Today we commemorate one of the titles of Mary - Our Lady of Sorrows.

We may wonder why the Church picks those moments of grief and sorrow and suffering and remembers it in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Today we remember yet another paradox - the grief and the sorrow of our Lady.

Maybe there are certain things in life that can be revealed and learnt only through sorrow and suffering.

The cross, a symbol of shame and death, is turned by Jesus into a symbol of life and glory.

In Mary's case, as she stood by the cross, and in the depths of her sorrow, she was also transformed, as she received a revelation and a mission.

In that moment of her greatest sorrow, Christ transformed her and commissioned her to be the Mother of the Church.

In dying on the cross, Christ gave life to us and gave Mary to be our Mother.

When sorrow and suffering are put into the hands of God, something is transformed and something beautiful and glorious happens.

Let us stay by the side of our Mother as she stands at the foot of the cross, and hold her close to our hearts.

And when we meet with troubles or distress, and when we, like Mary, sink into the depths of sorrow, let us turn to Jesus on the cross.

Jesus assures us that something beautiful and glorious is about to happen. As long as we stay by the side of our Mother and hold her close to our hearts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Triumph of the Cross, Wednesday, 14-09-11

Numbers 21:4-9 / Philippians 2:6-11 / John 3:13-17

Death by crucifixion, to say the least, is barbaric. It is indeed a cruel death.

And we don't deny the fact that Jesus died the cruel death of crucifixion.

But for St. Paul, and also for us, the death of Jesus on the cross, is the essence of our hope.

The cross is the sign of divine love, the sign of how much God loves the world that He gave away His only Son.

But the cross as the sign of hope and love is a paradox, a contradiction.

Because a cruel death seems to exclude any kind of hope or love.

Yet in Jesus, the symbol of death has become the symbol of life and love.

When we see Jesus stretched out on the cross, we do not just think about the pain that He suffered; we also must think about the love that He showed as He stretched out His arms on the cross.

So what the cross was meant to do, is no longer as important as what Jesus now meant it to symbolize and to show.

The cross that belonged to evil and death has now become the cross of life and love because of Jesus.

In the cross, Jesus showed how much God loved the world as He emptied His life on the cross.

In the cross, we also now know that God sent His only Son into the world not to condemn the world, but rather through Him, we and the world might be saved.

So let us look at the cross, let us embrace the cross, and let us carry the cross as we follow Jesus in the triumph of the cross.

Monday, September 12, 2011

24th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 13-09-11

1 Timothy 3:1-13 / Luke 7:11-17

If there is a gospel that I would not use at a funeral service, it would be the gospel passage which we have just heard.

More so if the deceased is a young person or a child.

After all, parents should not be burying their children; it is usually the other way round.

But when parents have to bury their children, then it's because of something tragic.

It could be a disease that slowly ate away that young life. Or it could be a fatal accident that tore a young person from the parents.

Whatever it is, the grief is certainly doubled or tripled.

So does today's gospel passage have anything to offer?

We human beings can do a lot, but we certainly can't bring the dead back to life.

Yes we admit that we can't do anything about death; but at Naim, God showed He can.

In the face of death, God breaks the hopelessness and opens new possibilities.

At Naim, it was physical death. In our day, it may be the death of a marriage upon divorce, or the death of a job when it is lost, or the death of a relationship when a quarrel or hurt cuts in.

Yet in the face of death, of grief, of pain, of sorrow, God is telling us that He has the last say.

Because in the midst of these situations, God will visit His broken people and raise them to a new life

Sunday, September 11, 2011

24th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 12-09-11

1 Tim 2:1-8 / Lk 7:1-10

At times we can't help but feel amused when we think about why God would want to use human beings to do His work for Him.

For example, God doesn't need doctors to cure people. He could do this directly if He wanted to.

Yet God decided that scientists who discover medicine and doctors who use the medicine to be the ordinary instruments of healing.

Similarly, God does not need our prayer to make governments and leaders to act responsibly and justly.

He could do this directly Himself. Yet, as we heard in the 1st reading, He gave us the responsibility to pray for our government and leaders.

But whether it is governments or leaders, citizens or followers, all have a responsibility when it comes to authority.

Even in the Church, the clergy has the responsibility to exercise proper authority especially in the matters of faith and morality, and the lay people have the responsibility to obey the church authorities as well as to pray for those in authority to exercise it in humility and service.

Even the centurion in the gospel knows what is authority and responsibility.

Yet he was humble enough to recognize the higher authority of Jesus and pleaded on his servant's behalf.

If the centurion had that kind of faith and responsibility, then we the disciples of Jesus cannot be anything less.

We must pray for those in authority, that they will use it in service and humility.

Friday, September 9, 2011

23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 10-09-11

1 Timothy 1:15-17 / Lk 6:43-49

If we come across a beggar, and when he asks for money, and if we do give him some money, we do it most probably out of pity.

But showing pity does not equate to showing mercy.

Because mercy comes from a compassionate heart; it shows a desire to be with the other on equal terms.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul saw himself as a living example of God's mercy.

He called himself the greatest of all sinners, and yet God showed him mercy, so that he may know the inexhaustible patience of God.

If we had known and experienced this great mercy of God, then there is no other way but to show mercy to others.

One concrete way to know whether we have experienced God's mercy and love is by our words.

As Jesus said in today's gospel, a good man draws what is good from the store of goodness in his heart.

And a man's words flow out of what fills his heart.

Our words cannot deceive us because they are our own words, and we know exactly what we mean when we say them.

So let us mean what we say, and not be mean in what we say.

Let us speak words of love and mercy, so that by our words, God will also fill others with His love and mercy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 09-09-11

1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-14 / Luke 6:39-42

To read a book from cover to cover, or to watch a movie from beginning to end, does not necessarily mean that we know what the book is really saying or what the movie is really all about.

Similarly in life, we see and hear a lot of things, but it does not mean that we understand everything.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul humbly and sincerely admitted that he used to be a blasphemer and persecuted Christians.

But he was awakened and enlightened from his ignorance by the mercy of God.

Indeed it is only through the mercy of God that we can understand what life is all about, and we will also be enlightened to live a life of love.

Indeed it is through the mercy of God that we will see first, our own ignorance and the splinters in our own eyes.

Only when we first understand ourselves and see ourselves clearly, then we will be able to understand others and see them for who they really are.

I once saw a poster of a blind-folded boy trying to catch the others in a game of catching.

The caption read: Playing blind is funny for those who can see.

But for us, life and love is not a game.  Playing blind is not going to be funny.

May the mercy of God help us to see clearly, so that we will love tenderly, and walk humbly with our God.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Nativity of the BVM, Thursday, 08-09-11

Micah 5:1-4 / Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23

If we have to think of a gospel passage or a bible passage to dedicate to someone on his/her birthday, we would certainly think of a profound passage that might include God blessings on that person and how wonderfully God has made that person.

But in celebrating the birthday of the BVM, the passage that is chosen from the gospel of Matthew talks about Joseph intending to call off the marriage with Mary, and the angel of the Lord had to intervene.

Somehow the gospel passage for this liturgical seems a bit inappropriate, maybe even a bit too profane.

Yes, Mary's fears came true in that Joseph wanted to call off the marriage, and that might leave her to face an uncertain and even dangerous future.

Yet, the humanity, the humanness, of Mary and Joseph are highlighted to show us that they too had to face their fears and worries and anxieties, when it comes to doing God's will.

In fact, fear has that ability and that potential to paralyze us from doing God's will and to walk in His ways.

Yet, let us remember that as in the Annunciation, Mary was told "Do not fear"; in today's gospel, Joseph was also told "Do not fear".

As we gather for the Eucharist, we are also told "Do not fear", because God is with us.

Yes we need not fear, because we also have a heavenly Mother who is always praying for us.

Yes, Mary knows the power of fear, but she also knows the power of prayer.

Let us always ask her to pray for us and to pray with us, and what better way to do it than to pray the Rosary. Today and everyday.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 07-09-11

Colossians 3:1-11 / Luke 6:20-26

Being Catholics, we can't pretend and we also don't want to pretend that we don't want the material things of this world, especially the luxury goods of this world, e.g. a nice big house, a big car, a big bank account, etc.

There is a materialistic streak in us, and we also want to have the things that will give us some creature comfort.

We certainly don't want to think that in believing in God, we will have to face poverty and hunger, or sorrow and distress.

On the contrary, we would want God to eliminate all sorrow and distress, and pain and suffering from our lives.

In the gospel, what Jesus is highlighting is the truth of life, and that is, over and above everything else, we must long for God and trust and depend on Him alone.

That is also what St. Paul was telling the Colossians in the 1st reading - that they have been brought back to the true life in Christ, and hence they must look for the things above and not be stuck with the things of earth.

He even used the word "kill" with reference to the evil desires and sinfulness of this world.

Yes, of all the people in this world, we Christians must put to death the things that imprisons us to this world and rise in order to live the life of Christ in us.

For in Christ we have everything; without Christ then all that we might have is as good as nothing.

Monday, September 5, 2011

23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 06-09-11

Colossians 2:6-15 / Luke 6:12-19

Living in a fast-paced and high-stressed society like Singapore, it is inevitable that we will experience worry and anxiety.

Hence one of the resulting afflictions could be that we will have sleepless nights even as we lie in bed at night.

Weighing heavily on our minds might be those difficult decisions to make, or bugging problems that don't seem to have any solutions.

So although we might be lying in bed, yet our minds are running and racing all over the place.

In our minds we might be running through all the options that we take on for an action plan.

But in situations like these, we may miss the obvious and necessary first option.

Very often we may just miss out God as the first option. In fact we often put God as the last option, and that's because everything else has failed.

In the gospel, we see that Jesus did not spend the whole night thinking; rather He spent the whole night praying.

For Jesus, God was always the first option and also the only option.

Like Jesus, we should also ask God for His blessings before we begin any task and ask for His continued blessings on the work we are doing.

For us, God must always be the first and only option. Any other options will result in sleepless nights.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 05-09-11

Colossians 1:24 - 2:3 / Luke 6:6-11

It would be strange to hear people say that they like to suffer. We might think that they are a bit masochistic or something.

Because suffering is synonymous with pain, and whether it is suffering or pain, it is a physical evil that afflicts the beauty of humanity.

Yet in the 1st reading, St. Paul makes an astonishing statement: It makes me happy to suffer for you.

And he gives the reason for this - in his sufferings, he makes up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of His body, the Church.

But St. Paul struggled on, even though wearily, because he was helped by the power of Christ which drives him irresistibly.

In other words, it was the power of Christ's love that made St. Paul accept suffering gladly and loving for the sake the Church.

Even for Jesus, when He did the good and right deed, what He got in return was indifference to say the least, and on the extreme end, a murderous plot against Him.

Yet Jesus accepted that persecution and suffering because He came to do good and to save what was lost.

Today's readings remind us that when we do the good and right thing, not only may we not be thanked and rewarded, we may even find ourselves being criticized and ridiculed.

Yet we must keep doing the good and right thing, even when we face opposition and suffering, because the power of Christ's love will drive us on, just as it was for St. Paul.

We must remember that suffering and pain, and even evil, is not going to be eternal.

What is eternal is the power of Christ's love that will drive us to do the good and right thing on earth, so as to reach the glory that is waiting for us above.

Friday, September 2, 2011

22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 03-09-11

Colossians 1:21-23 / Luke 6:1-5

Let us say that this morning, or later in the morning, we meet someone and wished that person "Good morning".

But what we get was a sullen silence or a cold stare, or some unwarranted reply like: What's so good about the morning?

There will be two things that we might want to do;  either we get into a tangle of heated words with that person, or we just let it be and walk away from that sticky situation and be at peace with ourselves.

So in almost every situation, there can be a reaction or a response.

A reaction can be quite scorching, much like a volatile chemical reaction; a response would be more gentle and sublime.

In the gospel, the Pharisees reacted to what the disciples of Jesus did.

But Jesus responded to their reaction; He made them think and reflect about what they said.

So in all kinds of situations, we have a choice : we can either react scorchingly, or we can respond sublimely.

In the 1st reading, even St. Paul would urge the Colossians to have a new way of thinking and acting because of their faith in Christ.

A reaction to a situation would only result in tension.

But we can only give a Christian response when we stand firm on the solid rock of faith and not drifting from the hope promised by the Good News.

Jesus is the master of the Sabbath. Let us let Him also be the Master of every situation. That is our best Christian response.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 02-09-11

Colossians 1:15-20 / Luke 5:33-39

One of the things in life that is not that easy to accept is change.

Maybe because we have our reservations about change. We wonder if it will be for the better or for the worse?

For e.g., when we change our electronic gadgets like our handphones or computer. There is a whole lot of relearning to do and we spend quite a bit of unproductive time getting used to it. And we may end up not liking the change at all!

Even Jesus acknowledged that change is not all that easy to accept when He said in the gospel that "The old is good".

But yet Jesus did not say that the new would not be good.

Hence the example of the new wine in new wineskins is indeed a good illustration.

The new wine, over time, would be just as good, and maybe even better than the old wine.

Jesus came to renew all creation. He came to renew all humanity so that mankind can now have a deeper life and existence.

In the beginning, man was made in the image and likeness of God. But sin distorted that image.

But now because of Jesus, mankind is recreated in the image of God again.

For that reason, St. Paul says in the 1st reading that Jesus is the first-born of all creation.

So it all simply comes down to this - God became man, so that man can go back to God. That indeed is a wonderful change