Monday, October 31, 2011

All Saints Day, Tuesday, 01-11-11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 28, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

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

Ephesians 2:19-22 / Luke 6:12-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

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

Romans 8:31-39 / Luke 13:31-35

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 23, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 21, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is a yearly affair; an annual pattern.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

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

Romans 7:18-25 / Luke 12:54-59

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the teachings of Jesus is indeed like the stairs.

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

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

In essence, a traitor is the enemy within.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 17, 2011

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

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

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

From the 1st reading, we get to see that St. Paul had to struggle and endure a difficult time.

His band of co-workers had split up and some had even gone against him.

His only consolation was that St. Luke was with him, and he made it a point to say it.

From the few occasions that St. Paul mentioned him as his beloved physician, and from what St. Luke wrote in the Gospel and in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, we get to see what the person of St. Luke was like.

He was a committed friend of St. Paul, and he paid special attention to those that were forgotten or pushed aside by society.

He wrote about Jesus reaching out to the poor, the lowly, the outcasts, the sinners and women, who at that time had no status in society.

What he knew about Jesus, he wrote it in his gospel, and he certainly carried out in his life.

His commitment to St. Paul in his time of need bore witness to that.

As we read the gospel according to St. Luke and meditate on it, a challenge is also awaiting us.

We too have to write another account of Jesus.

It is going to be an account that is not written in words but in actions for all to see.

From that gospel of our lives, others will be able to see who Jesus is.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 15, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

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

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

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

It consoles the oppressed and it disturbs the oppressor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

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

Romans 2:1-11 / Luke 11:42-46

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 10, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 9, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 7, 2011

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

Joel 4:12-21 / Luke 11:27-28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acts 1:12-14 / Luke 26-38

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

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

Malachi 3:13-20 / Luke 11:5-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

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

Jonah 4:1-11 / Luke 11:1-4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 3, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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



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



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



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


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

Sunday, October 2, 2011

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

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

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

Each character had a different attitude towards the wounded man.

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

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

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

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

So, who is the wounded man to us?

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

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

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

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