Tuesday, January 31, 2012

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 01-02-12

2 Samuel 24:2, 9-17 / Mark 6:1-6

If we had listened and reflected on the 1st reading, we might have asked this question : what is the problem with doing a census of the population?

That is a logical thing to do so as to know the size of the population and especially the size of the army.

Yet it was David himself who called for the census; it was a form of pride.

Already in his time, Israel was the most powerful nation in the region.

In counting the people, and especially the army, David wanted to show-off his might to other nations.

But he forgot he was counting God's people, and God's people is not about numbers but rather their faith and trust in Him.

In a way, we could also see in the gospel how the people of Jesus home town "counted" Jesus and He fell short of their opinions, and hence they did not accept His wisdom and abilities.

We too should not just count our blessings but also give thanks and praise the Lord at all times.

With grateful and thankful hearts, we will not be thinking about what we have done for the Lord but rather what the Lord has done for us.

Monday, January 30, 2012

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 31-01-12

2 Samuel 18:9-10, 14, 24-25. 30 - 19:3 / Mark 5:21-43

Fathers are not often portrayed for their affectionate love.

They may be given the image of a provider, a disciplinarian and the head of the house as well as other masculine attributes.

But just how affectionate can fathers be?

In today's two readings, we saw the affectionate side of fatherhood.

In the 1st reading, even though Absalom rebelled against his father David, yet when he was killed, David wept openly for him.

In the gospel, Jairus put aside his status of being a synagogue official to come to Jesus and plead for his daughter's life.

As we reflect and meditate on the two readings, there are two thoughts that could come to mind.

No matter how much we have rebelled against God and how far we have turned from Him, God still loves us and searches for us so that we can return to Him.

Also God wants to heal us of our physical infirmities and cleanse our hearts of sin so that we can truly live life in Him.

Jesus came to save us and to restore our life in God.

Let us have faith in Him, for it is our faith in Jesus that will save us.

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 31-01-12

2 Samuel 15:13-14,30; 16:5-13 / Mark 5:1-20

Modern warfare terminology does not use the term "legion" any more.

But just how many soldiers were there in a legion during the time of the Roman Empire?

It can range anything from 4000 to 6000 soldiers. So a legion at that time is a force to be reckoned with.

So can we imagine how many evil spirits were there in the possessed man in the gospel when he said that his name was legion for there were many of them.

How can it be possible for so many evil spirits to be in one person? 

Well, possible or not is certainly not the question. The reality is the presence and the magnitude of the evil in that man.

In our modern day world, can we ever accept the possibility or even the reality of evil that has a strong influence on nations, governments, societies, organizations, corporations right down to families and individuals? 

Indeed as we heard in the 1st reading, evil has gotten hold of David's son Absalom, and he was plotting against his father?

Jesus came to heal the sick and to free those possessed by evil.

Let us continue His mission by keeping ourselves free from sin and to heal the brokenness caused by the legions of evil doers in this world.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 28-01-12

2 Samuel 12:1-7, 10-17 / Mark 4:35-41

Words can be profound and even powerful.

But words need not be lengthy or plenty in order to be profound or powerful.

In the 1st reading, the prophet Nathan used a short and simple story to make David come to an opinion as well as a sentence.

Yet David pronounced judgement on himself when he heard those four words of the prophet Nathan : You are the man.

It was those four simple words that broke David's defences and admit guilt.

Yes David was that man in the story, and David cannot deny guilt and it was he himself who pronounced judgement.

In the gospel we hear yet another four words and they are words of wonder : Who can this be?

As we focus our minds and hearts on Jesus, that will always be the question as we enter deeper into the heart of Jesus.

Because who Jesus is, that will also be who we need to be.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 27-01-12

2 Samuel 11:1-10, 13-17 / Mark 4:26-34

If we had the experience of building a computer from scratch, then we will know how important it is to configure the computer and to put what programs into its system.

So how effective and productive it will be depends very much on what is put into it during the "programming" at the initial stages.

Similarly what values and principles are instilled into a child would shape the future character of the child.

In the gospel Jesus used two parables to express the growth of the kingdom of God.

The two parables expressed positive growth and fruit bearing.

Yet we also need to be aware of negative growth and deterioration.

As we heard in the 1st reading, even a great king like David succumbed to lust and even resorted to murder with the most vicious means.

So even with the best of values and principles, a person can succumb to his sinful weakness and commit heinous crimes, just like a computer can be infected with virus and break down.

Yet we must also know that God comes to help us in our weakness.

So in our prayer, let us ask Jesus to help us be aware of our sinful weaknesses so that we may grow in strength to build the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sts. Timothy and Titus, Thursday, 26-01-12

2 Timothy 1:1-4 / Titus 1:1-5 / Luke 10:1-9

The apostles were disciples of Jesus, and in turn they too had their own disciples.

These disciples not only learned from the apostles the truth of Jesus, they also helped the apostles with the mission of spreading the Good News.

St. Paul was given the title although he was not one of the chosen twelve apostles.

He also had his disciples and today the Church honours two of them - St. Timothy and St. Titus.

In a way they were closest to St. Paul and he often mentioned about them in his letters and also wrote letters to them.

He also made them take charge of the churches he had founded.

The main criterion for making them leaders of the new-found churches was not because of their abilities. In fact St. Timothy was considered young in years and maybe even a bit timid.

But what St. Paul saw in them was faith, and that was enough for him to entrust the care of the churches into their hands.

Yes, as Jesus said in the gospel, the harvest is rich but the labourers are few.

Let us pray for more labourers, and may those chosen labourers be people of faith and dedication and courage.

It is our responsibility and duty to pray for these labourers. It is also our duty and responsibility to respond if we are called to be one of those labourers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Conversion of St. Paul, Wednesday, 25-01-12

Acts 22:3-16 / Acts 9:1-22 / Mark 16:15-18

We believe that God is merciful and compassionate. We believe that He loves us and even sent His only Son to save us.

Yet as much as we believe in that, can we also say that some people are so stubborn and obstinate that short of being struck by lighting, they just won't change their views or opinions.

So having said that, will we be willing to say that God will bring us down to our knees in order that we turn back to Him?

As we heard in the 1st reading, Saul (before he changed his name to Paul) was breathing threats to slaughter the Lord's disciples and he was on his way to Damascus to do so.

Then, suddenly, there came a light from heaven and he fell to the ground and he heard the voice of Jesus asking him why is he persecuting Him.

Not only that, he was also blinded and later he was cured by Ananias, one of the disciples.

Undoubtedly it was a dramatic story of conversion in which the Lord showed so many signs.

Yet, Saul had to fall to the ground before he could rise up to believe in the Lord.

Similarly if the Lord has to bring us down to our knees in order for us to come back to Him, the Lord of love will do it.

"For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal." (Job 5:18)

Monday, January 23, 2012

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 24-01-12

2 Samuel 6:12-15, 17-19 / Mark 3:31-35

The Church teaches that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.

And if we truly believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, we would be rushing to go for Mass the first thing in the morning and churches would be having Masses every hour.

Would that sound incredible to us? And if that sounds incredible to us, then what is it that we believe in and what is the Mass to us?

In the 1st reading, we heard how David was dressed in only a linen garment and danced before the Lord with all his might.

That was actually a very incredible thing for a king to do - to lay aside his royal robes and to be dressed in a linen garment (which symbolizes a priestly character) and to dance unreservedly before the Lord.

Not only was it incredible for a king to do that, we will not even think of doing that kind of thing under normal circumstances.

Yet in doing so, David showed that he was one with his people, just like any of them, and he just wanted to praise the Lord in all he did.

In the end David also showed himself as priest, prophet and king when he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts and distributed the communion sacrifices.

David was a great king, but he was also like a simple and humble brother to his people.

As Jesus said in gospel, anyone who does the will of God is His brother and sister.

Indeed the will of God should be the source and summit of our life, just like the Eucharist.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 23-01-12

2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10 / Mark 3:22-30

In a certain sense, we can say that life is rigid. For example, what is done cannot be undone, and what is said cannot be retracted.

Even in this age of information technology, what is posted on the internet cannot be taken off. As it is said, the internet remembers.

The second part of today's gospel passage can be quite troubling when Jesus said : Let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness; he is guilty of an eternal sin.

We might immediately sit up and ask if we ever committed a sin like that. Anyway what does "blaspheme against the Holy Spirit" mean?

When we read the preceding verses, then we will understand why Jesus said that.

Because the scribes were say that Jesus cast out demons with the power of devil himself.

They were saying that what Jesus did was not the work of the Holy Spirit but the work of the devil.

In effect, they were saying that Jesus was the instrument of the devil.

Not only did that sounded ridiculous after the explanation of Jesus, but it also showed that the scribes utterly refused to acknowledge the good that Jesus was doing.

Yet in the 1st reading we see a different picture. The people acknowledged that the Lord was with David  and they proclaimed him to be their king.

From today's readings, we have to ask ourselves if we have acknowledged the good in others and the presence of the Holy Spirit in the good that they do.

We also have to ask ourselves if there is any sin that we knowingly and repeatedly commit and are not willing to repent.

Well, what is done cannot be undone, and what is said cannot be retracted.

But with the Lord there is mercy and forgiveness. Only if and when we repent.

Friday, January 20, 2012

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 21-01-12

2 Samuel 1:1-4, 11-12, 17,19, 23-27 / Mark 3:20-21

When someone does something that is out of the ordinary, there can be various reactions to it.

For example, if a talented and intelligent young person gives up a bright and promising (and also a financially rewarding) career to care for the aged and children with special needs, some people might think it is such a waste.

Maybe the reason is that in our minds, there is this concept of matching of resources with productivity.

Hence in our minds a person with a doctorate should be either lecturing in the university or doing some high profile research and having some kind of social status.

Anything different will be out of the ordinary for us and we will instinctively react to it.

In the gospel, we heard that the relatives of Jesus thought that He was out of His mind when they came to know what He was doing and what was happening to Him.

Yet whenever we do something out of the ordinary or something extraordinary, there will be people who will think that we are out of our minds.

Furthermore, when we do it for the love of God, we better be prepared to see some people shake their heads and even scorn at us.

Hence in all that we do, we need to examine ourselves and ask : Am I doing this for the love of God and for the good of the people around me?

Regardless of whether it is ordinary or extraordinary, we must do it out of love for God and neighbour.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 20-01-12

1 Samuel 24:3-21 / Mark 3:13-19

From today's gospel we can be quite clear about what is our mission as Christians from two perspectives.

The first is obvious - to preach the Good News, and that is essentially to show the love for God and for neighbour in word and in deed.

That is also the divine commandment and the very essence of our faith.

The second is also obvious, but maybe in so far as it is just a concept or an idea.

And that is to cast out devils. In other words, to confront evil, to battle with it and to cast it out.

We may think that this is the task for specialists and for those with gifts of deliverance and exorcism.

But that is also our mission because to preach the Good News and to cast out evil are the two sides of the same coin.

Yet of the twelve that Jesus appointed to be Apostles, one would eventually betray him. Betrayal is indeed an evil that we ourselves need to be on guard against.

In the 1st reading, we hear of yet another evil - persecution against the innocent and harmless.

Yet, David's stand was not to take revenge because he did not want to raise his hand against the Lord's anointed.

David did not want to become a part of the evil that he was facing. In fact mercy and forgiveness were his weapons against evil.

May we too trust in the way of the Lord, the way of mercy and forgiveness, the way of love and peace, in our mission of proclaiming the Good News and in our fight against evil.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 19-01-12

1 Samuel 18:6-9; 19:1-7 / Mark 3:7-12

If we were to organize a  public event and if we want it to be a success, then we have to rope in a crowd-puller.

Be it a celebrity or a well-known personality or some popular big-name, people will come, even if its just out of curiosity.

We heard in the gospel that great crowds followed Jesus, but certainly not out of curiosity, or because there are freebies to be given out.

The crowds followed Jesus out of necessity because of their infirmity. Yes, Jesus cured those who were afflicted and possessed.

But to cure those who were afflicted and possessed, we need not have crowds following us, nor are we required to do spectacular deeds.

In the 1st reading, we heard of the not-so-prominent Jonathan who soothed the evil that afflicted and possessed his father Saul and protected David from harm.

Yes, that is what we must do - protect people from harm and to sooth the evil that afflicts and oppresses people.

Let us pray that we will be empowered to continue the mission of Jesus.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 18-01-12

1 Samuel 17:32-33, 37, 40-51 / Mark 3:1-6

In the work place or in business dealings and meetings, we can expect some kind of fault-finding and scheming.

We have to accept that and to live with it because for whatever reasons some people just wish to behave like that.

So can we tolerate that kind of behaviour in Church? Can we even expect it in Church?

In the gospel we heard that the Pharisees and some others were watching Jesus to see if He would cure the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath.

And of all places, they were watching Him in the synagogue.

The synagogue is a place of prayer and yet they were doing such a disgusting and shameful thing.

By doing so they have defiled the sacred place and they were not even bothered by it.

Similarly in coming to Church we have to check our behaviour and be aware of what we are doing in the house of God.

We must be aware of being so obstinate that we think of it as nothing when we do something wrong in the house of God.

May the Lord heal and purify our withered minds and hearts and may we have a deeper love and piety for the Lord,

Monday, January 16, 2012

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 17-01-12

1 Sam 16:1-13 / Mark 2:23-28

Very often things are not really what they seem. There is usually something more than what is just the obvious.

Detective stories like Sherlock Holmes often have this point when one minor detail yields up more evidence, or what is often overlooked becomes the critical factor.

It does not just happen in detective stories. Even prophets and seers may not immediately understand the ways of God.

In the 1st reading,  the prophet Samuel had expected the first few sons of Jesse to be the one that God had chosen, because of the appearance or other qualities.

But in the end, the one that God had chosen was totally out of expectation.

Yes, man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.

Similarly, in the gospel, the Pharisees looked at the law of the Sabbath and picked on what is forbidden.

Yet Jesus looked at the law of charity in the Sabbath, and it was this law that gave and even saved lives, as it was in the case of David that Jesus recalled.

Whether it is the law of the Sabbath or the law of charity, it is certainly much more than what we see or understand.

May Jesus our Master lead us to a deeper vision and understanding of the law of love.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 16-01-12

1 Samuel 15:16-23 / Mark 2:18-22

Many a times, we make choices and decisions based on what we think is logical or obvious or practical.

Yet we must remember that we are also a people of faith, and hence our choices and decisions must also take into consideration the spiritual and the supernatural.

So we must always pray and ask for the gift of enlightenment to see circumstances and situations with God-given wisdom.

In other words, our choices and decisions must also be spiritual and not just merely practical.

In the 1st reading, what Saul did was practical. He offered the best sheep and oxen of what was under the ban to sacrifice them to the Lord.

Yet it was a defiled and unworthy sacrifice because those animals ought to be under the ban (to be destroyed).

Also a sacrifice should be what it was supposed to be - a sacrifice. Meaning to say that it must come out of what belongs to our own and we offer it to the Lord willingly.

Similarly, in the gospel, the people asked why John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting but the disciples of Jesus did not.

Fasting is a religious act of sacrifice and it should not be used to compare one with another or even used as a gauge of piety and religiosity.

Let us put a "ban" on all that is sinful in our lives and cut away even venial sins so that we can offer a pure and acceptable sacrifice to the Lord.

Friday, January 13, 2012

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 14-01-12

1 Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19;10:1 / Mark 2:13-17

To be the first in anything is indeed a great achievement.

It is not just a rank or a position. It is also foundational and directional.

For example, to be the first president of a country, or the first foreigner to be to acclaimed for an achievement, or the first intake into an elite school, all this say something more than what it means to be just first.

In the 1st reading, we heard how Samuel anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel.

For whatever foundations and directions he set in his kingship, for better or for worse, he will always be remembered as the first king of Israel.

Yet whenever we talk about "first" we tend to think of those in the spot-light, the elite and those who make the headlines.

Yet who were the first followers of Jesus?  None other than people like Levi whom He called to follow Him.

As well as those tax collectors and sinners, and the gospel makes it a point to say that there were many of them among His followers.

So most of them were not named in the gospel but they set for us a foundation and a direction.

We don't have to be great achievers in order to follow Jesus; we just have to confess that we are sinners.

After all Jesus did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 13-01-12

1 Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22 / Mark 2:1-12

There is always some kind of excitement and also anxiety whenever a country goes to the polls to elect the leaders for the country.

It is also a defining moment for those elected as well as for people who are going to decide who will be the leaders for the government of the country.

In the 1st reading, it was certainly a defining moment for the people of Israel, and more so in their relationship with God.

They asked Samuel to give them a king to rule over them. But that was not all. They want a king to rule over them, just like the other nations.

And to be just like the other nations, the people were willing to give the king so much authority, despite Samuel's warnings.

In doing so, they have rejected God from ruling over them.

Yes it was a defining political moment for the people of Israel, and in their relationship with God.

Yet as time went on, it was the king who abused his authority and even led the people away from God.

But in the gospel, Jesus showed what the authority of God was all about.

God's authority is used for forgiveness and healing. God's authority is always an authority of love.

So whenever we have to make choices and decisions, let us always choose the way of God which must be discerned in prayer.

Let us submit to God's authority and live the way of love.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 12-01-12

1 Samuel 4:1-11 / Mark 1:40-45

During the time of the Old Testament, very few objects were considered holy to the Israelites.

One of the holy objects was the ark of the covenant which contained the two tablets of the 10 Commandments, and it was just only that.

But the ark of the covenant mysteriously disappeared when the Babylonians captured Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple in 587BC.

In the 1st reading, we heard of the ark and how it was used by Israel in the battle against the Philistines.

Yes, the ark was "used" to invoke the power of God to fight the enemy, simply because it was regarded as something holy.

Yet the battle was lost and even the ark was captured by the enemy. Why?

What we didn't get to hear was that Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were immoral priests and were unfaithful to the Lord and so was the whole of Israel.

Hence their defeat was a punishment by the Lord and their bringing out the ark of the covenant from its sacred place was wrong; in other words they just wanted to "use" something that was holy and so they did what they liked with the ark. It was a sinful act to say the least.

Of course we would not think of "using" holy objects of our religion for our advantage and to get what we want.

Yet as much as we know it is wrong, is there any aspect of our lives that is wrong?

Have we been like Eli's sons, Hophin and Phinehas, who were immoral priests and unfaithful to the Lord and yet they kept offering unworthy and even sinful sacrifices.

Let us turn back to the Lord and ask Jesus to heal us of our sinfulness so that we will be faithful to the covenant He made with us.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 11-01-12

1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20 / Mark 1:29-39

When things are facing problems and in trouble, there are usually signs.

Whether be it the world, or a country, or a company or an organization, or even a person, there are usually signs when there are problems or trouble.

So what are the signs when a church is in trouble? Below are some possible signs :

 - When excuses are made about the way things are instead of embracing a willingness to roll up the sleeves and fix the problem.
- When the church becomes content with merely receiving people that come rather than actually going out and finding them…in other words, they lose their passion for evangelizing!
- The focus of the church is to build a great church and not the Kingdom of God.
- The leadership begins to settle for the natural rather than rely on the supernatural. (also settle for the logical rather than the mystical)
- The church begins to view success/failure in regards to how they are viewed in the church world rather than whether or not they are actually fulfilling the Great Commission!
- There is a loss of a sense of urgency!  (Hell is no longer hot, sin is no longer wrong, and the cross is no longer important!)
- Scripture isn’t central in every decision that is made!
- The church is no longer willing to take steps of faith because “there is just too much to lose.”
- The church simply does not care about the obvious and immediate needs that exist in the community.
- When the leaders/staff refuse to go the extra mile in leading and serving because of how “inconvenient” doing so would be.
* quoted from "15 Signs that a Church Is in Trouble" by Perry Noble

Yet today's readings give us a picture of what the Church should be.

In the 1st reading, Eli slowly began to understand that it was the Lord who was calling the boy Samuel, and directed him what to do.

In the gospel, Jesus showed how he cared for the people's needs by curing those suffering from diseases and casting out devils.

Yet He also knew what God's will was in the priority given to prayer and to the urgency of His mission.

Jesus came to build the kingdom of God for all and not a privileged club for a few.

May we continue to let the Spirit of God direct us  His Church as we pray : Speak, Lord, your servants are listening.

Monday, January 9, 2012

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 10-01-12

1 Sam 1:9-20 / Mark 1:21-28

During the celebration of the Eucharist, there are certain parts that we stand.

One of which is when the gospel is proclaimed. We stand because whenever the gospel is proclaim, Christ is present and hence we stand in reverence and attention.

Having said that about the presence of Christ at that instance and also throughout the Mass, can we nonchalantly say that where Christ is present, the devil is absent?

We might want to presume so, but is it really so?

We heard in the gospel that when Jesus spoke, He spoke with authority and indeed so. He is the Word made flesh; when He spoke, it was God who spoke.

Yet even as He was speaking and teaching in the synagogue, there was a man present who was possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted at Jesus.

So in church, and when the Eucharist is celebrated, as much as Christ is present, is there any presence of unclean spirits?

St. Augustine remarked that “faith is mighty, but without love it profits nothing. The unclean spirits confessed Christ, but lacking charity it availed nothing. They said, 'What do you want with us? Have you come to destroy us?' They confessed a sort of faith, but without love. Hence they were devils.” Faith is powerful, but without love it profits nothing.

Now we may not be possessed by unclean spirits, but let us also remember that where there is sin, evil is also present.

Jesus wants to drive out and destroy these sins and presence of evil in us.

Let us with faith and love pledge our obedience to Jesus, the Lord and Master of our lives.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Baptism of the Lord, Monday, 09-01-12

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 / Acts 10:34-38 / Mark 1:7-11

The Christmas season is not just about celebrating the birth of Christ. It is also to wait in hope and expectation for the second coming of the Lord Jesus.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. The birth of Christ is then announced to the whole world in the feast of the Epiphany, as symbolized by the wise men who came to adore the King of the Jews.

The mystery of the Incarnation at Christmas comes to its fullness with the Baptism of the Lord, the feast we are celebrating today.

And with the Baptism of the Lord, the mystery of salvation unfolds from the Incarnation to mission.

As the 2nd reading puts it - God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with Him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.

The 1st reading would spell out concretely what that would mean - He does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame. Faithfully he brings true justice; he will neither waver, nor be crushed until true justice is established on earth.

As we renew our baptism promises in the celebration of this feast, let us also pledge our obedience to God and commit ourselves to the justice of God.

Like Jesus, we too are empowered with the Holy Spirit. Let us go forth doing good and fight against sin and evil.

Friday, January 6, 2012

7th January, Weekday of the Christmas season before Epiphany, Saturday

1 John 5:14-21 / John 2:1-11

A brief review and reflection of last year's events may have this conclusion - we remember more of the bad stuff than the good stuff.

In fact a review and reflection of any year would have that same conclusion.

So is this world such a lousy and bad place to live in?

Even the 1st reading seems to agree that the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One.

But as much as the whole world lies in the power of the evil one, the whole world is also raised with grace by the only begotten Son of God.

And we can be confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything and it is in accordance with His will, He will hear us.

We need to ask Jesus to protect us from the evil one and from any sin and wrong doing.

In our time of need we also need to remember the wedding at Cana which we heard in today's gospel.

God will provide us all that we ever needed.

We must stay united with the God of truth and also be on our guard against other false gods.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

6th January, Weekday of the Christmas season before Epiphany, Friday

1 John 5:5-13 / Mark 1:6-11

Every now and then, we hear this phrase - storm heaven.

It probably means that so much fervent prayers for a particular need or intention is called for such that it creates a storm in heaven, figuratively of course, and to make sure that God hears the prayers.

In the history of Israel, God's people had stormed heaven on countless occasions with prayers of lamentation, prayers for deliverance, prayers of repentance, etc.

Over and above these fervent prayers was the prayer for the coming of the Messiah.

In today's gospel, we saw how that prayer was answered.

The scene at the baptism of Jesus was dramatic: the heavens tore open, the Spirit descended, and there was a voice from heaven.

The Messiah, our Saviour, has come and is now in our midst.

Yet very often, Jesus stands among us and we are not aware of His presence.

We storm heaven with our prayers and look upward for the answer when Jesus is in our midst and even right before our eyes.

Yes Jesus is right before us and He sends us the Holy Spirit to open our ears so that we can hear Him and our eyes so that we can see Him.

May we storm our hearts so that our hearts will be opened to the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

5th January, Weekday of the Christmas season before Epiphany, Thursday

1 John 3:11-21 / John 1:43-51

In the beginning there was love. In the end there will still be love.

In between however, love will put to the test in order to see if it will stand the test of time.

The first test came about when Eve was tempted and both she and Adam failed in the test of love.

From then on, love was continually tested with Cain cutting his brother Abel's throat, as the 1st reading recalled.

But we don't have to cut someone's throat in order to kill or murder someone. That's also too gruesome for us to do it.

The 1st reading puts it starkly in the reality of life - to hate your brother is to be a murderer.

It also reminds us that our love is not be just words or mere talk, but something real and active.

God is love and His love is eternal, and He has created us in love and calls us to love.

We must believe that only love will stand the test of time, whilst everything else will come and go.

And when we come face to face with the God of love, may we offer Him hearts that are filled with loving acts for our neighbours.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

4th January, Weekday of the Christmas season before Epiphany, Wednesday

1 John 3:7-10 / John 1:35-42

We are already into the fourth day of the new year. If we had made new year resolutions, then how are those resolutions coming around?

If we had made new year resolutions, then how many of these are about our spiritual lives?

Although some people say that making resolutions are futile because they are not going to be kept, yet it is still good and even necessary to make one.

It is still not too late to make a spiritual resolution in order to have a direction in our faith.

The 1st reading gives us a direction for a resolution - to live a holy life and to be holy just as God is holy.

It also tells us how important holiness is in our lives. To be holy is to belong to God. To be sinful is to belong to the devil.

To be holy means to be loving to others because God's seed of love must bear fruit in us.

Just as in the gospel, Andrew followed Jesus and saw where He lived and stayed with Him.

Then with love in his heart, Andrew went to tell his brother Simon Peter.

May we also see God's love in us and that He lives in our hearts, and may we go forth to live our lives in love.

Monday, January 2, 2012

3rd January, Weekday of the Christmas season before Epiphany, Tuesday

1 John 2:29-3:6 / John 1:29-34

There is a deep connection between parents and their children.

Among other things, every child bears a physical resemblance to the parents.

That's why there are such sayings as "a chip off the old block" or "like father, like son".

John the Baptist calls Jesus the Lamb of God. The Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world by being sacrificed for sinners.

Jesus sacrificed Himself for us so that freed from sin, we can be re-formed and re-created into His image and likeness.

As the 1st reading puts it, we must purify ourselves and try to be as pure as Christ. That is why sin is so serious and devastating.

Because to sin means that we do not know Christ.

But by our baptism, we have become children of God and we have become one with Christ.

In our prayer, let us renounce our sinfulness and profess our faith and our love for God.

2nd January 2012, Monday, Weekday of the Christmas season before Epiphany

1 John 2:22-28 / John 1:19-28

All of us will have at some point in our lives face a major change.

A major change would involve a change in direction or a call to higher responsibilities or to answer a higher calling.

That would mean a change in the state of life, like from being single to being married, from being a laity to being a cleric, from being backstage to being forefront, etc.

We may even call it a change in identity, because we tend to associate identity with what we do.

In the gospel when John the Baptist was asked "Who are you?" he initially answered with who he was not, and eventually he gave an enigmatic answer - a voice that cries in the wilderness : make a straight path for the Lord.

That is a rather strange answer to the question of identity.

But as we think about it, the question of identity is enigmatic isn't it. Because identity is a mystery.

Because for us Christians, our identity is not about ourself but our identity is in Christ.

That is what the 1st reading tells us : we are anointed with truth and so we must stay in Christ who is the fullness of truth.

Hence our lives must be lived in the truth. To live a lie would mean that we would turn in shame when we asked who we are.

Let us put our confidence in Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Then we will know how to live our lives.