Monday, April 30, 2012

St. Joseph the Worker, Tuesday, 01-05-12

Genesis 1:26-2:3 or Colossians 3:14-15, 17, 23-24 / Matthew 13:54-58

The feast of St. Joseph the Worker was instituted only in 1955 and so it was a fairly recent addition to the feastdays of the Church.

There were many reasons for the institution of this feast but the main purpose is to give a religious understanding to the meaning and purpose of work and labour.

Labour day is a public holiday to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers. Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement and the rights of workers.

Yet the Church also celebrates the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on this same day so as to give a spiritual dimension and direction.

The 1st reading from Genesis tells us that God Himself does the work of creation and after completing the work He was doing He rested on the seventh day.

Hence work has a holy and sacred meaning because we are also the work of God's hands and we are called to continue the work of God's creation.

Yet we must also remember that when man sinned and broke the harmony of God's creation, work is seen as a curse - "By the sweat of your brow, you shall eat your bread"(Gen 3:19)

Well that makes us think. Tomorrow we will be going back to work. Are we dragging our feet there? Does going to work make us stressed and anxious? Does meeting our boss or colleagues give us a pain in the neck?

Yet the alternative 1st reading from Colossians also tell us that whatever our work is, we are to put our heart into it as if it were for the Lord and not for men, because it is Christ the Lord that we are serving.

Let us do our work for the Lord and make it a holy and sacred offering to Him. In this way we follow our Lord Jesus who came to serve and not to be served.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

4th Week of Easter, Monday, 30-04-12

Acts 11:1-19 / John 10:1-10

One who "makes a mountain out of a molehill" is said to be greatly exaggerating the severity of the situation.

It is also a way in which one reinforces his stand that he is right and the other or others are wrong.

In the 1st reading the Christian Jews seemed to be making a mountain out of a molehill when they criticized Peter.

We can feel the acidity of those words directed at Peter - So you have been visiting the uncircumcised and eating with them, have you?

It can be rather awkward and embarrassing that such words and attitudes are recorded in our Holy Bible about how some members of the Church were behaving.

Yet the Church is human and she has never denied it. So there will be times when the slanted and crooked and ugly human behaviour surfaces.

They are like thieves and brigands who are out to steal and kill and destroy. Yes it is as serious as that when such behaviour are left unchecked.

Yet Peter did not become defensive or retaliated. Rather he recounted a spiritual experience and a divine revelation for him.

And in the end, that account satisfied them and they gave glory to God.

So the Church is not just human. It is human as well as divine, because Jesus who is the Head of the Church is human as well as divine.

May our humanity be always in union with the divinity, so that we won't make mountains out of molehills, but let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and give glory and thanks to Him.

Friday, April 27, 2012

3rd Week of Easter, Saturday, 28-04-12

Acts 9:31-42 / John 6:60-69     (2020)

Most of us, if not all of us, wouldn't want to say things that will embarrass ourselves and make ourselves look foolish.

Even for those who shoot their mouths off, they wouldn't usually say things that will make others think that they mad or out of their minds.

St. Peter, as we know, had a reputation for being impulsive and brash and later he would have to eat his words.

Well, he had said that he wouldn't deny his Master; he said at the transfiguration that he would build three tents although he didn't know what he was saying; he tried to remonstrate with Jesus about His suffering only to get rebuked by Jesus.

Yes, we sigh and shake our heads and look to heaven when St. Peter shoots his mouth off. Yet we also cannot deny that there were also profound words that came from St. Peter.

In the gospel, we heard one of those profound statements from St. Peter - Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that You are the Holy One of God.

Even in the 1st reading, the St. Peter that we hear about spoke words of power that brought about healing and even restored life!

And all that was because of the Risen Christ. Through the power of the resurrection, St. Peter has learnt to speak like his Master and even has the power to act like Him.

That is the power of the resurrection on St. Peter. And the power of the resurrection is also given to each of us.

Let it begin with our words so that we can speak like our Master. Like St. Peter may our words bring about healing and also awaken the life in those who hear us.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

3rd Week of Easter, Friday, 27-04-12

Acts 9:1-20 / John 6:52-59

It is no surprise to hear that God loves sinners.

But it will be a surprise to come face to face with these sinners. And it may even be an unpleasant surprise.

Just imagine, that person who is so nasty and always doing you harm and yet people say that God loves him. We will surely have something else to say.

In the 1st reading, the disciple Ananias was also very surprised that the Lord was sending him to Saul to lay hands on him and to give him back his sight.

Ananias tried to protest, not just because it was an unpleasant surprise, but also because his life will be at stake because he had heard about what Saul came to do.

The Lord's reply certainly needs reflection and understanding in order to know the ways of the Lord.

He said : This man is my chosen instrument to bring My name before pagans and pagan kings and before the people of Israel. I myself will show him how much he himself must suffer for my name.

Yes, God chooses the most unexpected, the most unfavourable and we can also add on by saying that God chooses the most sinful even.

But that only goes to show that whatever power or abilities that person has is from God.

Yet for Saul, what is in store for him in the future was nothing less than difficulties and sufferings.

Yet with his proclamation that Jesus is the Son of God, he was also convinced that this Jesus whom he was persecuting is now living in him.

And so is the teaching of Jesus in the gospel : He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him.

We acknowledge Jesus as Lord and the Son of God. May He live in us and may we also be prepared to offer our lives to Him just as Saul did.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

3rd Week of Easter, Thursday, 26-04-12

Acts 8:26-40 / John 6:44-51         (2019)

If we had noticed it, the gospel texts of this week are taken from the gospel of John chapter 6.

In that chapter, Jesus gives a long discourse on the bread of life. In fact in the gospel of John, Jesus seemed to be talking much more than in the other gospels.

But Jesus is not just talking. In fact He is teaching a very important doctrine, especially when He uses phrases like "I tell you most solemnly".

And He is not just talking about bread. Jesus is telling us that He is the bread of life.

And that goes without saying that at communion what we are receiving is not bread or just the host, but Jesus Himself.

It is the Real Presence, and not a symbol, not a representation, not an imagination.

Just as what the eunuch's encounter of Philip in the 1st reading was not an imagination but a real experience and he later went on his way rejoicing.

Similarly our reception of Holy Communion is also a real encounter of Jesus the Risen Lord.

It must lead us to rejoice. If not then we have to ask ourselves "Why?"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

St. Mark, Evangelist, Wednesday, 25-04-12

1 Peter 5:5-14 / Mark 16:15-20

St. Mark, whose feast we celebrate today, was not one of the apostles.

Nonetheless, he was one of the disciples of St. Peter, and he was mentioned in the 1st reading as a "spiritual son" of St. Peter.

He could also possibly be one of the followers of Jesus and later on became a disciple of St. Peter and he eventually wrote the account of the life and ministry of Jesus, which became one of the gospels of the Church.

In his gospel, St. Mark captured the core and essence of the ministry and message of Jesus.

As we heard it in the gospel, and what is often called the "Great Commissioning", the way St. Mark puts it across straight and sharp in just a few words.

"Go out, proclaim the Good News, believe or be condemned, cast out devils, work signs and miracles, heal the sick".

As we hear this, we might be thinking - proclaim the Good News sounds ok, healing the sick sounds ok, work signs and miracles ... hmmm ... cast out devils ...

Well, the gospel is not a supermarket for us to pick and choose whatever we like.

It is one whole message; it's either we take all or we take all.

To understand and accept the Good News and the commissioning of Jesus, we need to "Go out" like St. Mark did.

Because when we are out there, and there is no dependency and certainty but Jesus Himself, then we will truly experience the power of the Good News and become true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 23, 2012

3rd Week of Easter, Tuesday, 24-04-12

Acts 7:51 - 8:1 / John 6:30-35

One of the important aspects of interpersonal relationship is that one should avoid a blunt criticism of the other party.

Even if it is a glaring defect or problem, one should find ways and means to put it across subtly and gently in the hope that the other party will slowly come to a self-realization of the problem or defect.

In the 1st reading, Stephen has failed in almost all aspects of interpersonal relationship as he sharply criticized the people, the elders and scribes for stubbornly resisting the Holy Spirit and even persecuted the prophets and now has even killed Jesus whom God has sent.

For not being diplomatic and sensible, Stephen paid the price, and it cost more than an arm and a leg - it cost his life!

But that also tells us what Stephen thinks about his life. His life is nothing less than a life in Christ and a life for Christ, and he was prepared to pay the price.

Stephen was called to witness to Christ in that particular way. But of course there are other ways to witness to Christ.

In whichever and whatever way, the essence is the same.

In the gospel, Jesus proclaimed He is the bread of life. Yes He is the bread of our lives.

Just as Jesus is bread of life for us, we too are to be bread of life for others, so that their hunger and thirst in life will be fulfilled.

Yes, witnessing for Christ is as personal as that - to be the bread of life for others.

And that would entail giving up our lives for others, just as Stephen did.

May Jesus, our bread of life, give us the strength to witness for Him with our lives.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

3rd Week of Easter, Monday, 23-04-12

Acts 6:8-15 / John 6:22-29

Fundamentalism can be defined as a strict adherence to the fundamental principles of any set of beliefs.

Religious fundamentalism can also be defined as such, and often there is the added intolerance of other views, and even opposition to other religions.

Religious fundamentalism breeds fanatics who will even use the name of God to oppress, to use force and even to kill.

In the 1st reading, we hear of religious fundamentalists from the Synagogue of Freedmen, who plotted against Stephen simply because what he did and said was a threat to their own religious beliefs and security.

And as the events unfold, those religious fundamentalists will eventually turn into fanatics who will just execute someone as if they were swatting a fly.

And yet they believe that they are doing it for God! But they forget that just as a tree is judged by its fruits, so it is for a religion.

If a religion is judged by its fruits, then in the gospel, Jesus said that our lives will be judged by the food that we are striving and working for.

Jesus told us not to work for food that cannot last, but to work for food that endures to eternal life.

In other words, are we contented and at peace with what we have done and with what we are doing?

It is not just about our religion but also about our lives. We can also be secular fundamentalists.

We can get fanatical when others do not agree with us or share our views and we go around persecuting them.

That is certainly not doing what God wants. What God wants of us is to believe in Jesus and walk in His way of love and bear fruits of peace and joy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

2nd Week of Easter, Saturday, 21-04-12

Acts 6:1-7 / John 6:16-21

Different situations and circumstances can alter the behaviour of a person or a group of people.

When things are calm and under control, we would also behave calmly and we would also be in control of things.

But when chaos and panic happens, and when things are not under control, then it is going to be a different situation.

Like when we are on a small boat and the wind is strong and the sea is rough. And then we see someone walking on the water.

Even if we are quite certain that is Jesus who is walking on the water, that is not the time to be awed or fascinated about it.

Simply because the situation is tensed, and that is also not the time to appreciate such divine feats.

Hence we can understand why the disciples were frightened. The situation has changed their behaviour from normal to one that is beyond their control.

Similarly, in the 1st reading we heard about the Hellenists complaining against the Hebrews. Until now what we had been hearing was a united and loving early Christian community.

Yet it is the reality of life in that when situations change, the behaviour of people also will change.

And that is also the reality of our lives. Yet we don't have to be in chaos and panic whenever the situation is out of control.

What we need to know is that God is in control. He can walk calmly on water even when the winds are strong and the sea is rough.

Jesus wants to walk into the center of our hearts. When Jesus is in the center, then all things will come together and put under control.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

2nd Week of Easter, Friday, 20-04-12

Acts 5:34-42 / John 6:1-15

People are always fascinated and attracted by the spectacular and the amazing.

Add something miraculous to the spectacular and amazing and the crowds, hordes of them, will be there.

In the gospel, when the people saw the miraculous sign of the multiplication of the loaves that Jesus had given, they immediately proclaimed Him to be a prophet and wanted to make Him king.

And if Jesus had succumbed to the lure of fame and popularity and adulation, He would have just gone with the flow and gone with the crowd.

But Jesus knew what is from God and what is not. Certainly what the crowds wanted was not from God.

On the other hand, the clergy and the religious should know what is from God and what is not.

But we heard in the 1st reading that the Sanhedrin, the highest religious council in Israel could not see that the apostles could be telling the truth and could be saying something that is from God.

Until Gamaliel made this profound wise statement : If this movement of theirs is of human origin, it will break up of its own accord; but if it does in fact come from God you will not only be unable to destroy them, but you might find yourselves fighting against God.

Yes, time will tell, because truth will prevail and stand the test of time, and we will know what is from God and what is not.

As for us, we must pray that we will always be able to listen to the voice of God and do His will, so that whatever we do will give glory to God and that He will bless us even as we face difficulties.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

2nd Week of Easter, Thursday, 19-04-12

Acts 5:27-33 / John 3:31-36       (2016)

To be in the position of power and authority, it is also fundamental and essential to practise justice, integrity and honesty.

That is the very basic requirement for anyone who holds the position of power and authority.

When spiritual authority is combined with political power, then the bar is raised to an extraordinary level.

Simply because the more one has, the more it is required and expected.

In the 1st reading we heard of a face-off between those in power and authority, and those who had nothing to their credit except the testimony of the resurrection.

In the end, those in power and authority were so angered and infuriated that they wanted to put the apostles to death.

Yet the apostles were simply testifying to the truth. In effect they were asking those in power and authority, where was their integrity and where was their honesty and was there justice in what they did and were doing.

The fruits of truth are integrity and honesty and justice. Those are also the fruits of life that will lead us to eternal life with God who is the source of all truth.

Today's readings remind those who are in power and authority of their responsibility.

Abuse of power and authority will lead to death which is the fruit of evil.

Whereas when power and authority are used in the service of justice and integrity and honesty will lead to life, which is the gift from God.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2nd Week of Easter, Wednesday, 18-04-12

Acts 5:17-26 / John 3:16-21

In the 1st reading we heard that the apostles were arrested and imprisoned in the common jail.

Then at night, the angel of the Lord opened the prison gates and told them to go and preach the Good News.

If we were one of the apostles, would we listen to what the angel was saying?

Or would we be thinking to ourselves - This is just a dream. This is not real. Even if it is true, they will catch me back and even execute me for escaping from prison.

Yes, there is just too much to lose. As it is, listening to God and following His ways and doing His will demands that we empty ourselves in order to be obedient, just as Jesus emptied Himself and was obedient unto death.

But as Jesus said in the gospel, the light has come into the world but men have shown they prefer darkness to the light.

Yes it is strange that though there is light we still prefer the darkness of the prison because our deeds are evil and hence we don't want to come out into the light for fear that our evil deeds should be exposed.

Yet as we have heard Jesus said in the gospel, God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world but so that through Him the world might be saved.

That is the Good News we must proclaim. But we need to come out of our own created prison first.

May the light of the risen Christ led us out into freedom so that we will proclaim the Good News of His love for the world.

Monday, April 16, 2012

2nd Week of Easter, Tuesday, 17-04-12

Acts 4:32-37 / John 3:7-15       (2019)

We have often heard this statement of faith - With God nothing is impossible. We not only have heard it we have used it even, and most likely on others.

But when we are faced with a task that is beyond our capabilities or can't comprehend it with our logic, then do we really believe that nothing is impossible with God?

From what we heard in the 1st reading, we may comment that it was idealistic. In our current church or parish settings, it would be too naive, if not impossible, to live like that.

Being united in heart and soul is already difficult enough, to say nothing of owning nothing and everything being held in common.

We may wonder and ask "How can?". But if with God nothing is impossible, then why cannot?

If we do not believe that such things can happen on earth, then how are we going to come to terms with things of faith and heavenly things.

That was what Jesus said to Nicodemus in the gospel. Because Nicodemus kept saying that it was impossible for a person to be reborn in the Spirit.

Similarly we too must believe that with the risen Lord, we too will be able to rise from our sinfulness and live a life of holiness, a life in the Spirit.

It is not a question of "How can?"; it's a matter of "Why cannot?"

Sunday, April 15, 2012

2nd Week of Easter, Monday, 16-04-12

Acts 4:23-31 / John 3:1-8

Whenever we talk about the Holy Spirit, the corresponding image that will come to mind is the dove.

The image of the dove gives us the impression of docility and gentleness, simplicity and meekness.

We can say that these are mild and peaceful images of the Holy Spirit.

But yet there is also another side of the Holy Spirit that we somehow tend to overlook.

In the 1st reading, we heard that when the early Christian community prayed, the house where they were assembled began to rock, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Hebrew word for Spirit is (רוּחַ rûaħ) meaning "breath" and in Greek it is pneuma (πνευμα) which means breath or air.

Hence the Holy Spirit is certainly not passive. In fact the Holy Spirit invigorates passion as in the tongues of flames at Pentecost and also the powerful wind.

Yet we can revert to the passive images that we have of the Holy Spirit and hence curtail the promptings and the movements of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

At baptism we are born of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit will move us powerfully in the ways of God.

Hence in prayer we must let the Spirit of God breathe in us so that wherever the Spirit blows we will also immediately move with the Spirit and do the will of God.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Octave, Saturday, 14-04-12

Acts 4:13-21 / Mark 16:9-15

One of the most difficult attitudes to address is when a person is in denial.

Whether it is an illness, or a loss, or a discovery, or even a windfall, when a person is in denial, it is very difficult to convince the person to think and see otherwise.

Simply because the person absolute refuses to change his thinking and has blocked out any possibility and any other options.

But when there is a collective denial and when it happens to a group of people who are in authority or who are influential, then it becomes a mega denial even when facts around them are saying otherwise.

This was what we heard in the 1st reading when the rulers, the elders and scribes simply denied the reality of the resurrection even in the face of a miracle and they knew they cannot deny it. Yet they still stuck to their denial and simply refused to think otherwise.

In the gospel, Jesus gave a piece of His mind to His disciples as He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy.

In a sense they were no different from the rulers and elders and scribes of the 1st reading. But what makes it even more startling was that they were disciples of Jesus.

And as Jesus sent them out to proclaim the Good News, the disciples can be sure that they will face the same denials about the resurrection, and they will even have to face it with their lives.

On our part, we have to examine ourselves on our incredulity and obstinacy.

We also need to ask ourselves if we have denied the goodness and the kindness of others.

In effect, denial is a form of evil and it can have drastic consequences.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Octave, Friday, 13-04-12

Acts 4:1-12 / John 21:1-14

The proper name Jesus is a rendition of the Hebrew Yeshua, and it was a common name in the biblical times as well as a popular personal name among the Hispanic Christians.

The common meaning of that name is God saves or God is salvation, or it can also mean "God is my help".

In the religious context, the name Jesus refers to Jesus Christ, the central figure in Christianity.

In the 1st reading, we heard how Peter proclaimed the name of Jesus.

Peter proclaimed Jesus as the Christ, the Nazarene, who was crucified and was raised from the dead and it was through Him that the crippled man was healed.

Furthermore, Peter emphasized that the name of Jesus does not just have a meaning but it was in the person of Jesus that salvation has become a reality.

In the gospel, the disciples do not address Jesus by name but they used the title "Lord" - It is the Lord!

The disciples understood that Jesus is the risen Lord and the Saviour of all creation.

In our prayer let us also meditate on the name of Jesus. Yet it is not just another name but it is the Lord Jesus whom we are encountering.

May the risen Lord Jesus also enter into our hearts and fill us with His saving love.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter Octave, Thursday, 12-04-12

Acts 3:11-26 / Luke 24:35-48

Coldness is essentially the absence of heat. Darkness is essentially the absence of light.

And death is essentially the absence of life.

When the risen Jesus appeared to His disciples, they thought they were seeing a ghost or something and that was why they were in a state of alarm and fright.

The term "ghost" here generally meant some formless mysterious spirit that can disturb or even cause harm.

So a ghost as understood then, is without a human life and existence, and also without human love.

But Jesus assured them that He is risen from the dead, and showed them the wounds of His hands and feet and even invited them to touch Him.

And He even said - A ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.

And that should make us think. When others see us, what do they see in us? What do they see about us?

Do they react like they are seeing a ghost and get frightened and alarmed by our presence?

Or do people feel comfortable with us, and even feel the a touch of warmth and love by our presence?

The resurrection of Christ should bring us out from darkness to the light, from coldness to warmth, so that we can truly live a life of love and be a sign of the risen Christ to others.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Octave, Wednesday, 11-04-12

Acts 3:1-10 / Luke 24:13-35

The faculty of sight gives us the ability to see and to look at our surroundings.

That also enables us to recognize things and to store them in our memory.

Yet, even at that level, it sounds very empirical because with the rise of artificial intelligence, even robots can see and look and recognize things and they too have an electronic memory to store all the information.

What us different is that our intelligence gets enlightened with divine grace and we see deeper and understand more the mysteries of life.

In the gospel, the two disciples on way to Emmaus saw Jesus, and yet like the other disciples, they saw nothing.

Similarly in the 1st reading, the man who was begging saw Peter and John, but he could only see nothing more than getting some financial assistance from them.

It was here that Peter made a profound and enlightening statement of fundamental Christian essence - I have neither silver nor gold, but I will give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!

Our enlightenment does not come from silver nor gold but in the risen Christ who lives in us and fills us with the grace of the resurrection.

May we get up and walk in the light of the resurrection and bring the light of the risen Christ to enlighten others.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tuesday within Easter Octave, 10-04-12

Acts 2:36-41 / John 20:11-18

We might have heard before a recording of our own voice and for whatever reason we squirm upon hearing our own recorded voice.

But have we ever did a voice recording of ourselves just saying our own name.

It might sound kind of weird and strange to do that, but it may feel rather uncomfortable to hear our own voice calling out our own name.

Could it be that there is something about ourselves that we don't like, besides the funny tone of our voice?

Or could it be that we are confronting ourselves as our voice calls out to none other than ourselves.

And how would we respond when God calls out to us?

In the gospel, Mary was outside near the tomb, weeping. She was in her own world of grief and wrapped in sorrow.

She could not come to terms with the death of Jesus, with the disappearance of His body and also with herself for not being able to do anything about it.

But when the risen Jesus called out to her by calling her name, she was awakened.

She now had a purpose and mission in life. In the beginning of the gospel passage, she was just Mary. At the end of the passage she was Mary of Magdala who went to the disciples and told them her experience of the risen Lord.

The risen Lord also calls us by our names to awaken us to our purpose and mission in life.

It's a name that we will be proud of because with that name the risen Lord will tell us who we are and what we should be doing.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Monday within Easter Octave, 09-04-12

Acts 2:14, 22-33 / Matthew 28:8-15

We must acknowledge that there are no scientific facts about the resurrection.

What we have are the gospel accounts of people who experienced the risen Christ.

Today's gospel account tells of a group of women who had seen and touched the risen Christ, and they were told to report to the disciples.

Yet the gospel account also tells of a group of men who were guarding the grave, reporting about the resurrection of Christ to the chief priests and elders.

The two accounts of the resurrection ended up in different directions, or more precisely, in opposite directions.

So even if there were scientific facts about the resurrection, it may not necessarily lead to the conclusion that Jesus is risen.

Because in the end, facts can also be interpreted differently, and hence ending up with different conclusions.

So if we were to say that Christ is risen, what direction are we going to take?

Are we going to be like the women who visited the tomb, or are we going to be like the soldiers who were guarding the tomb?

What the resurrection of Jesus is to people nowadays will depend largely on our decision and direction.

The women and the soldiers made their choice. We too have to make ours.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Good Friday 06.04.12

Isaiah 52:13-53/ Hebrew 4:14-16, 5:7-9/ John 18:1-19,42

We have just heard the gospel account of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I would like to reflect with you the last few sentences of the Lord Jesus before He died on the cross.

Nailed to the cross, He saw His mother and said to her : Woman, this is your son.

And then to the beloved disciple, he said : This is your mother.

After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed, and to fulfill the scriptures perfectly, He said : I am thirsty.

He said this to mean that despite His helpless and hopeless situation on the cross, He is still longing for God to save Him.

And God did save Jesus. But God did not save Him from death.

Rather, God save Him out of death. God saved Jesus out of death by raising Him from the dead.

So out of a hopeless and helpless situation, God showed His power and might through the resurrection of Jesus.

So by saying that He was thirsty, He was actually saying that He was putting all His faith in the saving power of God.

And that is what we should be hoping and thirsting for – that we share in the victory of the resurrection of Christ.

Later, as we come forward to venerate the cross, we are showing that we believe that carrying the cross and dying to ourselves, we will also experience the saving power of God.

That is our hope in God. That is also our belief in God who is our mighty Saviour.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Maundy Thursday 05.04.12

Ex 12:1-8, 11-14/ 1 Cor 11:23-26/ Jn 13:1-15

Today we begin the Church’s Holy Triduum – 3 days of intense prayer, reflection and worship.

It’s intense because as we journey through the suffering and death of Jesus and into His resurrection, God is also going to enter into the depths of our being, and to bring out the love that He has planted in us.

It is a love that we sometimes are unaware of, a love that we take for granted, a love that we forget to show.

So the gospel begins by saying that Jesus had always loved those who were His, and now He showed how perfect His love was.

And as we have heard earlier, He got up from the table and he began to wash His disciples’ feet.

But why of all things wash the disciples’ feet.  Why not like, pray over them? (or give them some kind of anointing?)

Well obviously the disciples’ feet were not washed yet ; otherwise there was no need for it.

It was the customary practice to wash the feet, because of the dusty roads, before sitting down for a meal, and more so for the Passover meal.

Yet if the disciple’s feet were not washed then there was a reason.

Usually they would have taken turns to be the foot-washer.

But they were just waiting for one another to take on the humbling and lowly task of being the foot-washer.

And not willing to be the one, they just sat there, and see who would finally give in.
Well, to be the foot-washer is to admit that you have lost out and you are only fit to do the lowly and dirty stuff.

Yet Jesus turned this stand-off around, and used it to show what the Eucharist means.

So he began to wash their feet. Big rough fishermen’s feet, tax collector’s feet, a Zealot’s feet, a doubter’s feet, the feet of a denier, the feet of a traitor.

Yet from their feet, He knew what was in their hearts.

There are feet that are not quite on the ground, indecisive, the kind that might give in to pressure, and speak of things like “I do not know him.”

There are feet that are tapping on the ground, feet of a zealot. Nervous, yet eager, eager for reform, eager to even use force to get things done.

There are feet that are pulled back, not quite out in front, like the feet of a doubter.

There are feet that are firmly on the ground, yet feet that are cold. Something suspicious is within. The feet of a traitor.

Yet Jesus washed them all.  And Jesus is also going to wash our feet, and He knows what is going on in our hearts.

And with the tenderness that He washes our feet, He too washes our hearts.

Our hearts that are burdened with fears and worries and anxieties.

Our hearts that are wounded with hurts and anger and resentment.

Our hearts that are drained of love and tired out with disappointments and bitterness.

Yes, Jesus washes our feet, in order to wash our hearts.

And do we understand why Jesus wants to do it?

Simply because He wants to give us an example, so that we may follow what He has done for us.

This is essentially what the Eucharist is all about.

That Jesus sacrificed Himself for us, so that in memory of Him, we too will do likewise, for others.

Do we understand this?  When we begin to understand this, then we will know why Jesus wants to wash our feet, and we will know why He will even die for us in order to save us.

Then in memory of Him, we will do what He has done for us.

In memory of Him, we will also want to love and serve as Jesus our Master and Lord has shown us.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Holy Week, Wednesday, 04-04-12

Isaiah 50:4-9 / Matthew 26:14-25

We are always more than ready to say that we are victims of betrayal.

Yes, we can immediately remember the people who betrayed us, be it husband, or wife, or a family member, a friend, a colleague, our superior.

It is never easy to forget the pain and the hurt of a betrayal.

But we may not be that ready to admit that we have betrayed somebody.

So when Jesus said "I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me", each of His disciples, including Judas, started asking Him in turn "Not I, Lord, surely?"

Somehow Judas has become the symbol of the dark side of ourselves.

We don't like to look at Judas, because we see in him, the dark shadows we don't like about ourselves, especially our unfaithfulness, disloyalty and betrayal.

So from "Not I, Lord, surely?", we just have to change the sentence and say "It's I, Lord, have mercy!"

As the 1st reading puts it, "The Lord has given me a disciple's tongue."

As disciples of Jesus, let us first say that we have sinned with our unfaithfulness and disloyalty and betrayed Jesus.

The Lord wants to offer us forgiveness ; we just have to admit to our sinfulness.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Holy Week, Tuesday, 03-04-12

Isaiah 49:1-6 / John 13:21-33, 36-38      (2020)

There is a saying that goes like this: One can be on guard against the enemy from without, but yet there is no defense against the traitor from within.

Traitors and betrayers appear everywhere and anytime, from the level of the country right down to the level of the family.

In the gospel, we heard that Jesus was having the Passover meal with His disciples.

It was a sacred meal, a memorial of the marvelous event of freedom from slavery in Egypt, a meal in which the partakers renew God's covenant with them.

Yet at that sacred meal, there was a traitor, that even made Jesus troubled in spirit and He even said it openly that one of His disciples will betray Him.

Besides wondering who it might be, the disciples may also be wondering how can this kind of treachery happen.

Even we might ask: How can it be that when Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him?

Well to put it simply, where there is sin, the devil will be able to infiltrate.

So we have to seriously examine ourselves as we come to the Eucharist - Is there any sin in me that I have not confessed, regardless of whether it is mortal or otherwise?

We certainly don't want to partake of the Eucharist only to end up as traitors and committing betrayal.

May the Lord Jesus grant us knowledge and enlightenment of our sins, and may we be reconciled with Jesus and stay united with Him in the Eucharist.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Holy Week, Monday, 02-04-12

Isaiah 42:1-7 / John 12:1-11      (2019)

Whenever we hear the word worship, what are the images and emotions that come to mind?

Most probably it will be praying, kneeling, offering sacrifice, raising of hands in praise and adoration.

In whatever forms it may take, worship is essentially a total offering of self to God, and also a total abandonment into the hands of God and His will.

In the gospel, we saw how Mary made an act of total abandonment of self in her love and devotion to Jesus.

Disregarding of what people may think of her as well as their comments (we heard one from Judas), and also disregarding what others may considered wasteful (that was from Judas too), Mary gave her all to Jesus.

It was also an open display of her affection and intimacy with Jesus.

All this may sound rather too sensual for the ears but yet how can we ever describe worship if we don't see it in concrete actions like those of Mary.

Yet we can also be like Judas who will break the crushed reed and snuff out the wavering flame of worship and devotion with sarcastic and scorching comments.

Holy week is a time to reflect and meditate on the sufferings of Jesus as He offered Himself to His Father for our salvation.

May our prayer also lead us to offer ourselves in worship as we follow Jesus in His total abandonment to God and in doing His will.