Thursday, May 31, 2012

8th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday. 01-06-12

1 Peter 4:7-13 / Mark 11:11-26

Our country can be called a global city, and being as such, the pace of life here can be described as fast and faster.

In our highly urbanized city, where productivity and efficiency are the terms for success, almost everything is about what we can gain from the here and the now.

As a matter of fact, our survival and our future depends very much on how productive and efficient we are.

With so much of rushing around and with so many urgent deadlines to meet, there is not much time or opportunity to pause and ask what is the matter all about.

The first line of the 1st reading is like a spanner being thrown into the gears and everything just comes to a crashing halt.

Yes, everything will soon come to an end, so, we have to pray better, keep a calm and sober mind.

And the purpose is to get in touch with our hearts of love so that our love for each other wont grow insincere, since love covers over many a sin.

Indeed, everything will come to an end, even faith and hope will come to an end, but love will always remain.

As much as love will always remain, on the other hand, resentment, bitterness and hatred will always remain if we choose to let them remain.

This takes the form of unforgiveness. And that is why in the gospel Jesus tells us to forgive whatever we have against anybody.

In not wanting to forgive, it will be like driving a car faster and faster towards to cliff where there will be a point of no return.

So let us pause and sober up and pray to God for forgiveness so that in being healed we too will be able to forgive.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Visitation of the BVM, Thursday, 31-05-12

Zephaniah 3:14-18 or Romans 12:9-16 / Luke 1:39-56

Whether it is for the purpose of survey or statics or other reasons, people are often categorized into age groups.

While it might be useful to know what the people of a particular age bracket think, inevitably age groups also indicates age gaps or even generation gaps.

And with age gaps or generation gaps comes the tension and the difference of the generations.

But in the gospel, we hear of two representatives of different age gaps or even generation gaps being united in heart and mind by the Spirit of love.

We see Elizabeth, who seemed too advanced in years to have a child, but destined to bear the last prophet of an era or age that was passing away.

We hear of Mary who came to visit Elizabeth, Mary who was rather tender in age and not expecting to have a child so soon, but already bearing the One who was to bring about an age that would not pass away.

Mary visited Elizabeth; Elizabeth rejoiced and honoured Mary with the title "Mother of my Lord"; John the Baptist leapt for joy in Elizabeth's womb; and Mary glorified the Lord.

Even in the womb of Mary, Jesus already showed what He came to do for us.

Jesus came to bring all peoples together and to unite them in the love of God.

He brought Mary and Elizabeth together and united them deeper in love.

Let us also ask Mary to visit our homes, our office, our workplace, our church even, that all gaps, be it age or generation be removed so that we will be united in mind and in heart in the Spirit of Love.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

8th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 30-05-12

1 Peter 1:18-25 / Mark 10:32-45

Very often in those action and thriller movies, there will be a hostage or hostages that are taken in order to heighten the suspense.

A hostage is a person(s) who is held by a captor. Usually it means someone who is seized by a criminal abductor in order to compel another party such as a relative, employer, law enforcement, or government to act, or refrain from acting, in a particular way, often under threat of serious physical harm to the hostage(s) after expiration of an ultimatum.

And usually a ransom is demanded, and it is usually spelt out in monetary terms, or it may be in exchange for a person(s).

When the 1st reading reminded us about the ransom that was paid for our freedom, we have to understand what exactly was the situation.

It is we ourselves who fell into sin and are held hostage by the devil who wants to pull us down into eternal damnation.

And the devil wasn't going to negotiate for a ransom; he just wants us to suffer now and suffer eternally. Furthermore we also can't save ourselves from our own sins.

That is why when Jesus came to save us, it is He who dictated the terms for our freedom and salvation.

He willingly poured out His blood on the cross as a ransom to save us, and there is nothing the devil could do to hold us hostage any more.

That is why Jesus said in the gospel that He did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

By the precious blood of Jesus Christ, we are freed, forgiven and saved.

Let us not fall into sin and be held hostage again by the devil and suffer eternal damnation.

Rather, like Jesus our Saviour, let us pour out our lives for others in love and service, so that they too can be freed, forgiven and saved.

Monday, May 28, 2012

8th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 29-05-12

1 Peter 1:10-16 / Mark 10:28-31

We know that God is loving and compassionate and merciful, and He will always bless us and provide for our needs.

Yes, we know that, and yet do we really believe in it?

When the sun is shining on us, we walk confidently and happily in the brightness of the light.

Yet when darkness envelops us, even our shadow seems to desert us, and we begin to wonder where God is.

We begin to ask serious faith questions like "Why is this happening to me?" and "When will this dark period of my life be over?"

Why things happen in our life, especially negative and unhappy things, that will be revealed to us in the course of time, but it will happen only in the appointed time, meaning, in God's time.

As we heard in the 1st reading, the prophets of old longed to find out the time of the coming of the Saviour and in what circumstances all that was to be expected. Even the angels long to catch a glimpse of those things.

But it was only at the appointed time that the Saviour came and the prophesies fell into place.

As for ourselves, we might ask like Peter did in the gospel, "What about us?"

Jesus would only say that there will be " persecution" but there will also be an eternal reward.

As we take hold of the promise of Jesus, let us also adhere to the instructions given in the 1st reading: Free your minds of encumbrances; control them, and put your trust in the grace that will be given to you. Be holy in all you do, since it is the Holy One who has called you to be holy just as He is holy.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

8th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday , 28-05-12

1 Peter 1:3-9 / Mark 10:17-27

We can't deny that we strive for a better life and to enjoy some of the creature comforts of life.

We may not be craving for luxury, yet to desire to have something better and nicer is in all of us.

And there is nothing better and nicer when it comes to money. If there is anything that we hoard most, it is certainly money.

Yes, money is indeed the key to all comforts and luxury. And we can never have enough of it.

And that's where the problem lies - we can never have enough of it. But whether it is money or other tangible or intangible desires, we can never have enough of it.

And as we are being swallowed up by our desires, we lose childlike virtues of humility and simplicity and trust in providence.

Yet we can surely empathize with the young man in today's gospel whose face fell when Jesus told him to sell everything and give the money to the poor.

And with our hearts going down with the young man's face, we may not want to listen further to the challenging message of Jesus.

His message did not just end with selling and giving up everything.

Jesus also promised us that we will have treasures in heaven.

As the 1st reading puts it - we have a sure hope and the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoilt or soiled and never fade away.

Hence alms-giving is a spiritual discipline to help us let go so that we can trust in God's providence and follow Jesus in humility and simplicity.

Yet the question remains - how much are we willing to give, especially if we know the money is going to the poor?

Yes that question will bug us and haunt us until we are able to slowly let go of our desires and let God into our lives.

Friday, May 25, 2012

7th Week of Easter, Saturday, 26-05-12

Acts 28:16-20, 30-31 / John 21:20-25    (2020)

We have often heard of this phrase: No man is an island.

In a densely populated island-country like Singapore, who can ever say that he is a stand-alone or that he doesn't care about anybody around him?

Indeed, for better or otherwise, we will always be surrounded by people, and we will notice them just as they will notice us.

So we may or may not find it surprising that Peter should ask Jesus about the disciple whom He loved.

And it seemed that Jesus reproached Peter and told him to mind his own business.

Yet it order to have a better understanding of Peter's intentions, we might have to read the preceding passage.

Jesus had told Peter to feed His sheep and to follow Him and even indicated what kind of future Peter will have to face.

Well after knowing what is in store for him, Peter would certainly like to know what the rest would face, especially the disciple Jesus loved, whether it is out of concern or out of curiosity.

Therefore Jesus had to bring Peter back to focus on his commitment to love and the mission that he had received.

And as we prepare for the renewal and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, let us focus on our commitment to love and our mission to love.

Love is never about the self; it is always about others and for their good. Let us keep focused on that.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

7th Week of Easter, Friday, 25-05-12

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

Most of us in our lifetime would not probably make any headline news.

And we certainly won't want to make the headline news for the wrong reasons.

So did it ever cross St. Paul's mind that he would make the headlines during his time?

He may have been zealous and committed about his religious convictions, whether as a Pharisee or a Christian, but would he ever have thought that he would be brought before governors and kings and emperors?

He had travelled far and wide to preach the Good News but did it ever cross his mind that his name will be mentioned in the circles of power and authority?

St. Paul did not know what was in store for him when he decided to follow Jesus but he just let the Lord lead him.

Similarly, when St Peter said that he loved Jesus, did he know what was in store for him?

Most probably not, because just like most of us, they also do not know what the future has in store for them.

But like St. Peter and St. Paul, let us put our faith in Jesus and look at the future with hope.

Jesus has already prepared the future for us. Let us continue to love Jesus and walk confidently into the future with Jesus.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

7th Week of Easter, Thursday, 24-05-12

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

Since Ascension Thursday, the prayers at Mass, i.e., the collect, the prayer over the offerings and the prayer after communion, are about the incoming and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church.

As a matter of fact, the days after Ascension are days of deep and intense prayer for the Church as she prepares to be renewed and empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry out her mission.

Indeed the Holy Spirit has guided the Church and this can be obviously seen in the Acts of the Apostles. In fact the Acts of the Apostles can also be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit.

For example, in the 1st reading, we could see how the Holy Spirit inspired St. Paul to see through the precarious situation he was in and in just one sentence he brought confusion to those who were against him.

Indeed, if we live and move and have our being in the Holy Spirit, we will always be with God and God will always be with us.

And if God is for us, then who can be against us, and who can ever separate us from the love that God has for us?

And that is what Jesus is saying in the gospel - Just as He is in the Father, He is also in the Church and with each of us by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So it is necessary and essential to pray to the Holy Spirit always, and even to remember a short prayer to the Holy Spirit.

One short and easily remembered prayer is taken from the Creed :
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets. Amen.

It is a prayer to the Holy Spirit, it is a profession of faith in the Holy Spirit, and it is also an offering of ourselves to the workings of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

7th Week of Easter, Wednesday, 23-05-12

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

Pride is the weakness in us that we have to be always on guard against.

It is always lurking within us and the evil one is always looking for opportunities to ignite and explode the pride in us.

One of the ways that pride will manifest in us is when we begin to think that others are not that effective and impressive, or that we can do better than them.

Yes, pride can make us become bigger than ourselves and we may even try to induce others to agree with us and think like us and eventually to follow us.

This is the underlying motive in schisms and the cause for divisions.

This is what St. Paul warned about in the 1st reading. Pride can even make sheep turn into wolves.

Indeed, we have to be guard against the pride within us that can easily manifest and explode with destructive consequences.

In the gospel, Jesus even prayed that God will keep us true and faithful to Him so that we can truly become like Jesus who came to serve and not to be served and to give His life as a ransom to save us.

The opposite of pride is humility. Humility is expressed love and compassion and support for the weak and lowly.

Jesus humbled Himself even to accepting death on the cross. We must pray for the virtue of humility because that is the weapon that will overcome the pride in us.

Monday, May 21, 2012

7th Week of Easter, Tuesday, 22-05-12

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

Faith and commitment cannot be understood just as concepts.

Simply because faith and commitment are always expressed to another party and not to an abstract idea or concept.

In the 1st reading, we see the faith and commitment of St. Paul as he bears witness to the Good News.

In his commitment to the mission that Jesus entrusted to him, we also can see his determination.

If we were St. Paul, we might wonder what we would do if it is made known to us that what awaits us for the rest of our days are sorrows and trials and persecution.

We might even be tempted to look back at the days gone by, days of  care-free comfort and non-commitment.

But as St. Paul said, "Life to me is not a thing to waste words on, provided that when I finish my race I have carried out the mission the Lord Jesus gave to me."

Yes, for St. Paul, faith and commitment means a determination that requires a clenching of teeth as the pain and sorrow kicks in.

And so what is the reward for that faith and commitment and determination?

It is the glory that is awaiting us, the glory that Jesus has promised those who are faithful to Him.

The truth is that the sufferings of this present world cannot be compared to the eternal glory that is awaiting us.

So like St. Paul, let us keep praying and run the race to the finish.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

7th Week of Easter, Monday, 21-05-12

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

In life, it is certain that we will have to face disappointments.

If we are expecting to be disappointed, then it may not be so disappointing. For example if we go to a sale that says while stocks last, we may not be expecting much, and in fact expecting to be disappointed. Still the disappointment will pull the heart down a bit.

But if we are confident, and not expecting to be disappointed, then when the unexpected disappointment hits, then it will hit hard.

In the gospel, the disciples thought that they had understood Jesus and had come to a firm faith in Him.

Yet as Jesus foretold, as much as they say that they believe in Him, they will also eventually disappoint Him. They will scatter and leave Him alone.

Yes they will all forsake Him but Jesus said that He won't stand alone and forsaken because God is with Him.

And because God is with Him, He will be at peace.

And Jesus wants to give us that peace. Because in this world we will face more than just unexpected disappointments.

In this world we will have to face troubles, whether we expect it or otherwise.

Yet in all our troubles, let us know that God is with us, and let us be brave and put our trust in Jesus.

As long as we want Jesus to be with us, we will have peace. Otherwise we will be in pieces.

Friday, May 18, 2012

6th Week of Easter, Saturday, 19-05-12

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

One of the most comforting verses in the Bible is this - Ask and you shall receive.

Jesus said that in all the four gospels, and today we hear it again in the gospel passage.

But it is not just ask and you shall receive, but ask and you shall receive so that your joy will be complete.

So the question to ask is what is it that will give us joy?

And yet the answer may be in the question. What is it that will give us joy?

So let us look at the word "joy". It could be an acronym to mean Jesus, others and you.

When we prioritize our lives in that order - Jesus, others, you - then we will indeed find the true meaning of our lives, and with that, we will also find joy in our lives.

In the 1st reading, we saw how Apollos put that priority of Jesus-others-you in his life as he offered his life in the preaching of the Good News.

The gospel truth is that when we put Jesus and others first, and we put ourselves last, then the last will also be the first to find joy.

That was what Jesus did. He came to serve and He put Himself last and hence He could offer us the joy of the resurrection.

Let us ask for that joy and know that we will receive it when we put Jesus and others before ourselves.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

6th Week of Easter, Friday, 18-05-12

Acts 18:9-18 / John 16:20-23

We may want to think about that last sentence of the gospel passage that we have just heard when Jesus said: When that day comes, you will not ask me any questions.

Yes, we will always have our questions about life, about our faith, about God and about eternity.

And of course we want answers. Yet we only want the answers we want to hear.

For example, when we are having it difficult or when we are suffering, we only want others to sympathize with us and to hear our complains as we wallow in self-pity.

We feel that everybody is against us and everything is so bleak, and hence the only thing we want to hear is that everybody is wrong and that we are right.

Yes, that is the answer we want to hear when we are having it rough.

But as we heard in the 1st reading, St. Paul had it rough and tough.

He could have just called it quits and not even bothered to listen to the Lord.

But he listened to the Lord and had faith in the Lord and believed that the Lord was with him.

Indeed the Lord was with him and protected him from harm.

The Lord will also protect us from harm and we will even be able to rise from our troubles and difficulties and find joy in life.

When we listen to the Lord's answer, then indeed we will have no more questions.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ascension of the Lord, Year B, 15.05.2012

Ac 1:1-11/ Eph 1:17-23 or 4:1-13/ Mk 16:15-20

After this Mass, some of us will go back to work, some of us will go on with what we need to do, some of us may be meeting our friends.

Whatever it may be, all of us will be going somewhere.

But wherever we may be going, at the end of the day, we will go back to a place called home.

Home is the place where we can be at ease and relax, where we can have a good home-cooked meal and have a good rest.

And no matter how busy we are and how far we may be, home is where we long to be because home is always in our hearts.

Even for those who have migrated, they will still think about their homeland and they would still be interested about whatever news about their homeland.

Today, as we celebrate Ascension, we rejoice because Jesus has returned to heaven, His homeland.

Heaven has always been His home, where He, with God the Father, and the Holy Spirit dwell in glory.

Yet, the purpose of Jesus coming down to earth and becoming man is to remind us of our eternal home.

We won’t remain forever in this world anymore than Jesus would remain forever in this world.

This world is not our eternal home just as it was not the eternal home of Jesus either.

But for the time that He was with in this world, that traditional period of 33 years, this world was His home.

And He had a mission while in this world and that is to tell people of another world, which is our eternal home in heaven.

That might sound quite simple and straight forward, isn’t it?

Jesus just had to tell people that there is a heaven and they will get there after they die if they live good lives on earth.

Sounds like a simple and straight forward message. Simple and straight forward, yes but not an easy
message to proclaim.

Jesus had to fight against the evil that was oppressing His message as well as the evil that was oppressing the people.

He had to cast off devils, heal the sick, fight against disbelief, face rejection, and betrayal and finally he was crucified on the cross.

Yes, Jesus died for that message, but He also rose for that message and His ascension is a confirmation that He has prepared a place for us in heaven, our eternal home.

So as we fix our hearts and minds on heaven, we are also commissioned by Jesus to spread this Good News of salvation.

Yet let us also be prepared to face oppression and even danger.

Evil will try to harass us and discourage us.

Some of us might even face danger as we share with others the Good News of love and peace and reconciliation and healing.

But as we heard in the 1st reading, Jesus promised us the power of the Holy Spirit as we bear witness to Him and to the Good News.

And as we prepare for Pentecost, let us pray to the Holy Spirit that we will be empowered to fight the good fight, run the race to the finish, and be rewarded with eternal rest.

Yes, our hearts will not rest, until we are rested in God, in our eternal home.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

6th Week of Easter, Wednesday. 16-05-12

Acts 17:15, 22 - 18:1 / John 16:12-15

If anyone were to ask us to give a reason for the hope and faith that we have in God, then we should be ready to give an answer, and to give it with gentleness and respect (cf 1 Peter 3:15)

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know Himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves. 

Yet, given all the reasons, there must also be this leap of faith, which is a leap into mystery, a leap from what is revealed into what is going to be revealed.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul was speaking to the men of Athens, who prided themselves as philosophers.

All went well, logically and rationally, until when St. Paul talked about God raising Jesus from the dead.

Some of them laughed, and yet some of them contemplated on what St. Paul said.

Essentially it is about the understanding of truth. It takes humility to say that we don't understand the whole truth, because truth is not just a principle but truth is God Himself.

Hence it is important that we don't brush off or reject certain experiences, whether be it ours or that of others, just because we can't find an explanation for it.

There are many things that we do not know about ourselves and about God. We need not have all the answers to things that we don't understand at the moment.

God will reveal to us, slowly and surely. We need to make that leap of faith in prayer as we bring all our questions of life before God, and we must let the Holy Spirit lead us slowly to the truth.

Monday, May 14, 2012

6th Week of Easter, Tuesday, 15-05-12

Acts 16:22-34 / John 16:5-11

I guess it would be easier for the Church and for all of us if Jesus were to remain on earth.

After all Jesus had already risen and He has conquered death and hence He could have remained on earth and be with us always.

God would be so real and present to us and we and the Church won't be facing all those problems that we have to deal with.

That would be so ideal isn't it? Yet that would mean that Jesus would always be somewhere out there but not in each and everyone of us.

Because the truth is that Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit, who is our Advocate, so that the Holy Spirit can make Jesus present in each of us.

With the power of the Holy Spirit, we just have to call on the name of Jesus in prayer, and He will be there.

That was what Paul and Silas did in the 1st reading when they were in prison. They prayed and sang God's praises.

And Jesus came in the form of an earthquake and shook the prison to its foundations.

Yes we just have to pray and praise God and Jesus will stretch out His hand to save us.

The truth is that Jesus is not somewhere out there. He is right here in our hearts. May the Holy Spirit lead us to discover this truth and reality.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

St. Matthias, Apostle, Monday, 14-05-12

Acts 1:15-17, 20-26 / John 15:9-17

St. Matthias, whose feast we celebrate today, seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and was drawn by lots to replace Judas.

Yes, he seemed to have appeared out of nowhere as there were no mention of him in the four gospels.

But St. Peter made clear the criterion for the selection of the candidate - "We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling around with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when He was taken up from us - and he can act with us as a witness to His resurrection.

And after prayer and drawing lots, St. Matthias was chosen to replace Judas as one of the 12 apostles.

That was the first time we heard of St. Matthias in the Scriptures, as well as the last.

Yet we can draw some reflections on the selection of St. Matthias as one of the apostles.

Although he was not personally chosen by Jesus, yet the Church exercised the authority that is bestowed upon her by Jesus in the selection of the future leaders of the Church to continue the apostolic succession.

St. Matthias was chosen not just because for what he already was, but for what he would become.

He was chosen not because he was worthy, but because Jesus would make him worthy.

As for us, what we already are is a foundation and a preparation for what we would become in our service of God.

Like St. Matthias we would also be made worthy for our service of God.

We only need to pray that we will make ourselves available when Jesus calls us.

Friday, May 11, 2012

5th Week of Easter, Saturday, 12-05-12

Acts 16:1-10 / John 15:18-21

We know that the Bible is the Word of God, and through the Bible, God speaks to us in a very personal and intimate way.

Hence we also need to read the Bible in a very personal way so as to get a deeper meaning and also a personal application for ourselves.

Today's gospel passage is indeed a good example of Jesus speaking to us in a very personal way and also giving us a spiritual application in life.

The passage begins with Jesus teaching His disciples. We can substitute the word "disciples" for "us" or even "me".

That would give the passage a very direct and personal message for us.

What other words in the passage can be substituted that will give a more personal message and application for us?

Well, how about substituting the word "world" for "devil"?

Is that too much of imagination? Are we stretching things a bit too much?

But if we were to substitute the word "world" for "devil" and read the passage as such, then indeed we will obtain a spiritual meaning as well as a personal message.

Yes the devil hates us and the devil will persecute us because we belong to Jesus.

And the devil will use those who have fallen into the dark side to persecute us and make things difficult for us and even make us suffer.

Yet we must know that the devil is behind all this, and hence we must not get angry at those who are giving us trouble.

Simply because they don't know what they are doing and they also don't know that they are being used by the devil.

Hence we should get "angry" with the devil and not with those people.

This "anger" should make us pray for the conversion of those people.

Yes, that is what we should do because we belong to Jesus who, when nailed to the cross said this : Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

5th Week of Easter, Friday, 11-05-12

Acts 15:22-31 / John 15:12-17

It is never easy to make a decision, especially when one is in the seat of authority, and it is on a critical matter.

Besides the immediate consequences, there are the long-term and future effects of the decision to consider.

Nonetheless, for better or for worse, a decision has to be made in order for the matter to be addressed and for a direction to undertaken.

In the 1st reading, we heard how the apostles and elders came to a decision about the status and the religious practices for the pagan converts.

The key sentence here is this: "It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves ... "

It is obvious that through prayer, discussion and discernment, a decision was made.

And that is also what we must do in the process of making a decision - prayer, discussion and discernment.

God has also made the decision to love us and save us. May we also make the decision to love God and to love others as we share with them the Good News of salvation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

5th Week of Easter, Thursday, 10-05-12

Acts 15:7-21 / John 15:9-11

Whenever we embark on an interest or a hobby like a keep-fit program or a learning to play a musical instrument, we would initially be full of zest and energy.

But as time goes by, our interests may wane and our commitment may falter.

It's just like when we buy a new car, we would probably wash it and wax it every week, or maybe even every other day.

But after a while, we would even find it a chore to clean the bird-droppings on the bonnet.

It's the usual case of the initial fervour becoming a smouldering wick.

By the same token, we can also say that it is easier to fall in love than to stay in love.

It is easier to make another commitment than to stay committed.

In the gospel, Jesus invites us to remain in His love and to remain faithful to His gift of love.

As the 1st reading we are saved by the grace and the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So let us not be distracted by the temptation of the passing glitter and dazzle of this world.

God has promised us an eternal love. We just have to be faithful in our commitment to God.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

5th Week of Easter, Wednesday, 09-05-12

Acts 15:1-6 / John 15:1-6

Most of us are honest people and we believe in the integrity of the truth.

Yet we also cannot dismiss the fact that we come from a specific cultural and social background and our understanding of the truth can be heavily influenced by this background.

So when truth is mixed with a certain personal cultural background, it may be as difficult as trying to separate the wheat from the weeds.

But as in the wisdom of the parable of the wheat and weeds, the time will come when they will be slowly separated.

In the 1st reading, we can see how truth is mixed with personal cultural and social backgrounds, or half-truths if we wish to use that word. 

The issue is not just about circumcision but rather the heavy underlying religious background of the Jewish converts, because they believed that Christianity should include some of the fundamental Jewish religious practices, and one of which is circumcision.

It even became a criterion for salvation, so much so that the apostles and elders had to look into the matter.

Yet as Jesus talked about Him being the vine and we the branches in the gospel, He also talked about pruning.

Yes, in order to be truly in union with Jesus and to understand His truth, we need to be pruned of the half-truths and the other influences that distort the truth.

Jesus is the Truth. And the truth of salvation is that He loves us and wants to save us from sin and damnation.

Let us understand the essence of this fundamental truth and to bear the fruits of truth and salvation.

Monday, May 7, 2012

5th Week of Easter, Tuesday, 08-05-12

Acts 14:19-28 / John 14:27-31        (2019)

Would we join a company if at the interview we were told that the work is hard and tough and the hours are long and the salary won't be attractive, but there will be job satisfaction and we will grow in our capabilities?

On the other hand, what we would expect would be job satisfaction and advancement and have career opportunities and benefits, and of course a good pay packet.

If we were to hear that the work is hard and tough and with long hours and with just an average pay, then we would want to hear no more of it.

So we can imagine when Paul and Barnabas told the disciples that "we all have to experience many hardships before we enter the kingdom of heaven".

And what Paul and Barnabas said to the disciples is also being said to us today: We all have to experience many hardships before we enter the kingdom of heaven.

If we hear this and yet we don't feel troubled or even afraid, then maybe we are not taking our faith seriously.

Because if we say we have faith in God and we love God, then we must be prepared to face the difficulties and even persecutions that Paul and Barnabas faced, and indeed they will come.

The devil will sift us like wheat to make us lose our faith in God and to doubt His love for us.

Yet Jesus promises His peace to us, and it is a peace the world cannot give because it can only be given by God.

The world will always create its own chaos and turmoil. What we need to have is God's peace within and to keep it.

That will see us through the troubles and difficulties of this world and also prepare us for the world to  come, the world of everlasting peace and joy.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

5th Week of Easter, Monday, 06-05-12

Acts 14:5-18 / John 14:21-26

Among the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom and knowledge, and understanding and right judgement.

These are not just seen as human endowment, but as a divine gift that helps a person to discern the ways of God and to act on it.

The 1st reading gives a typical example of how these gifts of the Holy Spirit are manifested in the ministry of the Church.

At Lycaonia, St. Paul was preaching when he saw a man who was crippled from birth.

Seeing that the man had the faith to be cured, St. Paul said in a loud voice, "Get to your feet - stand up" and the cripple jumped up and began to walk.

St. Paul was preaching the Good News and that had prepared the faith of those who were listening, and he was certainly moved by the Holy Spirit to say those words and to perform the miracle.

In the gospel, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit "the Advocate". An advocate is a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of another person.

The Holy Spirit is the Advocate that God has sent to help us and to support us in our time of need and to protect and defend us from harm and evil.

In our prayer, let us ask for the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, understanding and right judgement, so that we will be able to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and carry out the will of God.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

4th Week of Easter, Saturday, 05-05-12

Acts 13:44-52 / John 14:7-14     (2019)

Some of our quirky behaviours can be really childish and even downright stupid.

We don't gain anything from that kind of behaviour, and yet we don't seem to acknowledge how silly we really are.

The 1st reading points to one such behaviour - jealousy.

Because of jealousy, the opponents of St. Paul used blasphemies and contradicted everything he said.

But they were like biting their own tongues because they were the very ones who rejected the message of eternal life.

Yet their jealousy was unrestrained and they went on to instigate the influential and powerful people to turn against Paul and Barnabas and to expel them from their territory.

So jealousy is not just a quirky behaviour. It can turn into a violent behaviour. And it can also create multiple damages.

And yet there is nothing to gain and everything to lose.

And even more so when a Christian succumbs to the evil of jealousy. Because he will create an even greater damage.

So we as Christians must always turn to Christ and be in union with Him.

When we are in union with Christ, not only will there be no place for jealousy in our hearts, but also the little that we do will be blessed and made great by God.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

4th Week of Easter, Friday, 04-05-12

Acts 13:26-33 / John 14:1-6

Any normal and rational person would not condone an act of evil.

Furthermore any act of evil against the innocent and defenseless must be condemned.

And if that act of evil resulted in the loss of lives, then the guilty must be brought to justice.

Yet we heard in the 1st reading that though the people of Jerusalem and their rulers found nothing to justify the death of Jesus, they condemned Him and asked Pilate to have Him executed.

But as St. Paul said, they did not realize that what they did was in fact to fulfill the prophecies and they actually carried out everything that the scriptures foretold about Jesus.

When we suffer from evil, whether be it a wrong-doing, an a gossip, a slander, an accusation, an injustice, it would be good to reflect on what St. Paul said in the 1st reading.

Could it be that what was foretold about Jesus is also a foretelling of what would happen to us as His disciples?

Yet like Jesus said in the gospel, we must not let our hearts be troubled and we must trust in God.

If Jesus is the Way, then the way that is ahead of us should be clear enough for us in that what Jesus went through, we too will have to go through.

The truth is that in following the way of Jesus, we will find life and live it meaningfully.

Yes, any normal and rational person would not condone evil and neither should we.

But our faith and trust in Jesus should lead us not to return evil for evil but rather to do good in the face of evil, and in doing so we will receive a blessing.

That is our faith and trust in Jesus our Saviour.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sts. Philip and James, Apostles, Thursday, 03-05-12

1 Cor 15:1-8 / John 14:6-14

Today we celebrate the feast of two apostles, St. Philip and St. James.

St. Philip was one of the first chosen disciples of Christ.  He in turn shared his calling with Nathaniel, saying, “We have found Him of whom Moses and the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth.” And when Nathaniel in wonder asked, “Can any good come out of Nazareth?” And St. Philip simply answered, “Come and see,” and brought him to Jesus.

St. James (the Lesser), traditional author of the Letter of James, was the son of Alphaeus. Saint Paul tells us that he was favored by a special apparition of Christ after the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7). As the Apostles went forth among the nations to preach the Good News, Saint James remained as Bishop of Jerusalem, where the Jews held him in high veneration for his purity, mortification, and prayer, that they named him the Just. He governed that church for 30 years before his martyrdom.

Yet, like the rest of the apostles, St. Philip and St. James also took a while to understand who Jesus was and who He really was.

As we heard in the gospel, St. Philip asked Jesus to let them see the Father and they shall be satisfied. We could almost hear Jesus sighing as He commented that they still do not know Him.

As we also heard in the 1st reading, after His resurrection Jesus seemed to have made a special appearance to St. James and then to the rest of the apostles.

It was after His resurrection that the apostles began to understand who Jesus really was and that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Just like how the St. Philip and St. James and the rest of the apostles were called and sent forth to preach the Good News, we too are called and sent.

Just like the apostles had to slowly come to an understanding of who Jesus is and that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, we too must come to that understanding of who Jesus is.

The apostles were ordinary men who trusted and loved Jesus and led holy lives worthy of their calling.

May we too love Jesus deeply, pray faithfully and live lives worthy of the Good News of Lord.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

4th Week of Easter, Wednesday, 02-05-12

Acts 12:12 - 13:5 / John 12:44-50

Some things in the Bible seem so different from our modern present day situations.

Especially when we hear about the signs and wonders that were recorded in the Bible but which we don't seem to encounter all at.

Well, we don't need to see the parting of the Red Sea, but where there is famine and shortage of food we would like to see the miracle of the multiplication of loaves, and where there is an epidemic we would like to see some miraculous healing.

And the 1st reading would sound rather remote and abstract for us when it said that the Holy Spirit told the disciples that Barnabas and Saul were to be set apart for some work.

So did the Holy Spirit appear to them and in what kind of form? Or did they hear some voice from heaven telling them this?

And here we are complaining that God doesn't seem to say anything to us especially when we need directions and to make decisions.

Yet we must remember that the disciples were praying and keeping a fast when they "heard" the Holy Spirit.

When we pray and fast, we will slowly open our hearts to the presence of God.

We will also begin to hear the voice of God, which is the voice of the Holy Spirit.

And we will be able to say like what Jesus said in the gospel - What the Father has told me is what I speak.

Yes, we will speak the words that come from God, and we will also be able to see signs and wonders that God will work in our lives.