Sunday, March 31, 2013

Monday within Octave of Easter, 01-04-13

Acts 2:14, 22-33 / Matthew 28:8-15      (2020)

As it is, the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is a matter of faith.

For us who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.

What we have as proof are scriptural accounts of people who experienced the Risen Christ.

Yet, there were also the soldiers who knew what had happened, and they went off into the city to tell the chief priests and the elders.

Then after some discussion, the soldiers were given a considerable sum of money and instructed to tell a lie that the disciples came in the night and stole the body of Jesus.

The soldiers took the money and carried out the instructions. In other words they were "bought" and they sold themselves to a lie.

But it is not only soldiers who can be bought. Anyone can be bought as long as the price is right. And it need not be just with the bait of money.

Christians who profess the Resurrection of Jesus can also be bought.

They can sell themselves to pleasure, desires, sex and alcohol. They can also sell themselves away to hatred, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony.

Jesus rose from the dead to conquer sin and death and to give us a new life.

As we celebrated the Resurrection, let us ask for the grace to resist from being bought by temptation and being sold off to sin.

Let us witness to the Resurrection of Christ with a pure and holy life.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Sunday, Year C, 31.03.2013

Today is the last day of the month of March.

For most of us, we may not think too much about the month of March.

Maybe nothing significant has happened for us during this month and so it is just another month passing on as time flows by.

But if something dramatic, something significant has happened to us that changed our lives overnight, then we will certainly remember the month of March in the year 2013.

One man who would certainly remember the month of March in 2013 is Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

For him, the month of March began by making a trip to the Vatican as one the 115 cardinals to take part in the conclave to elect a new pope for the Roman Catholic Church.

Before he left his homeland Argentina, he told his newspaper delivery vendor that he would see him in about 20 days time.

Yet during those 20 days, things changed so dramatically and significantly for him that he had to change his name from Jorge Mario Bergoglio to Francis!

And he also had to make a long-distance call from Rome to Argentina to tell his newspaper delivery vendor to stop the newspaper delivery because he won’t be coming home.

So probably on this last day of March, Pope Francis would be taking a moment to reminisce about what had happened that changed his life so dramatically.

And let us also pray that he won’t feel homesick and that he likes spaghetti and pizza.

Well, at 76 years old and having only one lung, he would have been thinking of looking forward to a quiet time and enjoying the golden sunset in Argentina.

And then this had to happen. Yet we also must remember that all things happen for the good of those who love God.

Yet it is not that easy to understand this spiritual truth that is found in Roman 8:28.

Even for the disciples that we heard about in the gospel, they failed to understand the teaching of scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead.

For us who are here to celebrate the great feast of Easter, we have the privilege of the revelation of the Resurrection.

But for the disciples, they had to deal with the trauma of the crucifixion and the confusion of the situation.

They saw the dead Jesus being buried in the tomb and now there is news that the tomb is empty! Jesus is not in the tomb!

So what could have happened? Was the body stolen? Where could the body of Jesus be now?

Simon Peter and the other disciple even went into the tomb to look for clues.

It does sound strange for the living to enter into the domain of the dead.

It is almost like saying that we want to take a nap in a coffin!

Jesus rose from the dead into a new life. And He wants us to rise from the past and into the new life of the future.

And here Pope Francis has a message for us. In his Palm Sunday homily he said this: Don’t let yourself be robbed of hope!

It was reported that after his election as pope, he broke tradition and declined the use of the papal limousine and he took the bus with the rest of the cardinals back to their quarters.

Then during dinner they toasted him, and he toasted the cardinals by saying: May God forgive you for what you have done.

Maybe he was just overwhelmed because he was an outsider and not in the running at all, and probably he was wondering if there was a mistake somewhere.

And all those massive problems – the fragmentation of the church, the sex abuse scandals, the squabbling in the hierarchy, the internal corruption – immediately fell on his shoulders.

Yet, Pope Francis did not set about to tackle or to rectify those problems immediately.

But true to his chosen name for his papacy, he set off in simplicity and humility, and in doing so he is helping the Church to rediscover her spirituality.

And he set off with those pair of old black shoes instead of the traditional red “Prada” shoes.

But it is not just about a break from tradition. It’s a setting of directions.

With a small gesture of wearing his old black shoes, Pope Francis is telling us that the Church must be for the poor and downtrodden.
His message is clear – never forget the poor.

For his pectoral cross, he continues to wear the iron one that he had been using since he became auxiliary bishop in 1992.

His “fisherman” ring, the symbol of his authority, is made of silver and plated with gold.

Instead of the popemobile with the bullet-proof glasses as a shield, Pope Francis opted for an open-air jeep and he said that he is protected by angels.

Another mark of his austerity that his fellow Argentineans heeded was the relatively small delegation from his native land. He had told his countrymen not to spend fare and hotel money for his inaugural Mass, but to donate the money to the poor.

Hence, only 19 Argentineans led by the President Cristina Kirchner attended the historical event.

So as we can see, Pope Francis is rising up the call and to the challenge to lead the Church in a renewed spiritual direction of simplicity and humility.

The Church may have entered into the tomb of problems, but Pope Francis is leading the Church to find life outside the tomb.

The month of March has been a dramatic and significant change for him and the Church.

Yet, he is not staying put and reminiscing about the past. He knows he has to keep moving and keep rising towards the Risen Christ.

And as he said: Don’t let yourself be robbed of hope!

Because all things happen for the good of those who love God.

As we join Pope Francis and the Church to celebrate Easter, let us also hear the call of the Risen Christ.

Yes, let us rise and move on in hope.

Let us move out of the tomb of our problems and failings and let us find life outside of the tomb.

The month of March has been an exciting month. The months to come will certainly be just as exciting, as we move and rise towards the Risen Christ.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Good Friday 2013

Today is called Good Friday. It is just two simple words and yet we know what today is all about.

Today is a day of fast and abstinence. It is also one of the days when the liturgy of the Church is quite different.

One of the highlights, besides Holy Communion, is the adoration of the cross.

In fact, the instructions for the celebration of today's liturgy states that "care should be taken that the individual faithful are able to adore the cross, a feature of great importance in today's celebration."

Although it is not clear how the term "Good Friday" came about, yet it is not that difficult to arrive at a possible explanation for that term.

It is through the goodness of God that Jesus died on that Friday. Jesus died on the cross for the "good" of man, ie. to save mankind from sin and eternal death.

Jesus died not just for the good of mankind, but also to bring out the goodness of mankind.

Jesus is the Son of God, hence He is also God. For God to die for sinful mankind is truly incredible and astounding.

A man may sacrifice his life for something worthy. But would he do it for someone who is unworthy and does not deserve it at all?

Yet for us who are sinfully unworthy and do not deserve at all, Jesus sacrificed His life for us.

So on this day, we acknowledge the goodness of the Lord and His love for us.

May we in turn see the goodness in ourselves and offer our lives in love to the Lord.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Maundy Thursday, Year C, 28.03.2012

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14/ 1 Corinthians 11:23-26/ John 13:1-15

In the Mass, as the priest prepares the bread and wine for the Offertory, there are two sets of prayers that he says if there is no Offertory hymn being sung.

As he lifts up the bread to be offered, he will say this prayer :
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.

And as he lifts up the chalice with the wine, he will say this prayer:
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands it will become our spiritual drink.

In both prayers, the Lord is blessed for the gifts He has given to us – the fruit of the earth and the fruit of the vine.

Yet, the offered gifts of bread and wine are also the work of human hands and that makes up the offertory.

Yes, the work of human hands is the joy and dignity that we have as human beings.

With our hands, we continue of work of creation, and by the work of our hands we give glory to God.

Indeed, we can say that we are proud of the work of our hands – of what we have achieved and what we can achieve, and what we can invent.

In the gospel, we heard that Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to pass form this world to the Father.

He has always love those who were His in the world, and He was going to show how perfect His love was.

Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into His hands, and that He had come from God and was returning to God.

Yet with everything in His hands, Jesus let go of that everything and He did an astounding thing.

He got up from table, took a towel, poured water into a basin, and with His hands He took His disciples’ feet and washed them.

Yes, with His hands, He washed His disciples feet. He washed the feet of the one who would betray Him, He washed the feet of the one who would deny Him, He washed the tax collector’s feet, the Zealot’s feet.

He washed the feet of His disciples, all of whom would desert Him later.

Yet with His hands that healed the sick and consecrated bread and wine into His Body and Blood, with those very hands, He washed the rough and dusty feet of the disciples.

He washed their feet so that they would remember this astounding act.

And in future, they too with their own hands will wash the feet of others so as to offer to God a living sacrifice.

Today as we commemorate the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, we re-enact the “washing of the feet”.

We are reminded that in partaking of the Eucharist, we also unite ourselves with Jesus in the example He has given to us.

There is no greater love and no greater work of our hands that we can offer to God than in serving others and washing their feet.

When we understand this, then we will understand the meaning of the Eucharist.

Then we will understand what Jesus has done for us.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wednesday of Holy Week, 27-03-13

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

There have been questions about the real intention of Judas. Questions like "Did he really intend to betray Jesus?"; "Could it be that Judas wanted Jesus to reveal His true identity and so he tried to hasten it by planning it like that?"

In the gospel of Matthew that we have just heard, the narrative goes like this: Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

By and large, the word used in other versions is also "betray" so the meaning is clear and so is the intention of Judas.

At the Last Supper when Jesus was at table with the twelve disciples, He said: I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me.

They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn: Not I, Lord, surely.

And when it came to Judas' turn, he can even ask without flinching: Not I, Rabbi, surely?

Jesus only replied: They are your own words. Jesus did not bluntly point out His betrayer, nor did He corner Judas and made him beg for mercy.

Jesus was like that Suffering Servant in the 1st reading which had him saying: The Lord has given me a disciple's tongue. So that I may know how to reply to the wearied, he provides me with speech.

Yes, a disciple's tongue will not speak words that will judge and condemn. Because a disciple's tongue is trained with love, and it takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth.

By his own words, Judas revealed who he is and his intention. But may our words tell others that we are disciples of love who delights in the truth.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tuesday of Holy Week, 26-03-13

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

It is rather amazing as well disturbing to see how cold and calculating Judas was at the Last Supper.

In the gospel passage that we heard (the gospel of John), there was no recorded words of Judas.

He didn't say anything, he acted normal, he did what he was told. Yet, behind and beneath that facade the shadows of betrayal are lurking and slithering around.

Yet for that to be happening in him during the Last Supper was unthinkable to the rest because it was for them the sacred Passover meal which celebrated the marvelous event of freedom from slavery in Egypt and the renewal of God's covenant with His people.

Jesus sensed that betrayal and treachery, and troubled in spirit, He said: I tell you most solemnly, one of you will betray me.

He was even more direct when He said that it was the one to whom He gave the piece of bread that He shall dip in the dish, and thereafter He gave it to Judas.

Judas was the Apostle most in need of Jesus' love that night.  It was the last opportunity for Judas to turn from sin and turn to Jesus. But he rejected Jesus for the final time. 

Instead of softening Judas' heart the gesture seemed to harden it and thereby he gave himself completely over into Satan's power.

As for ourselves, we cannot say that there is no sin in us. Every sin is a betrayal of the love of Jesus for us and to receive Holy Communion with a grave sin is as bad as what happened to Judas after he had taken the piece of bread from Jesus - the devil enters into the heart.

So let us take the Sacrament of Reconciliation seriously and resolve to stay clean of sin and keep united with Jesus in Holy Communion. Let us be true to Jesus, so that we can be true to ourselves and to others.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Monday of Holy Week, 25-03-13

Isaiah 42:1-7 / John 12:1-11

Among the words that are tainted and laden with regret are these words: I should have ...

We have heard these words being used in different ways and various kinds of situations.

For example, "I should have taken the opportunity." ; "I should have gone home to see my parents."; "I should have done what I was told to do."

The "I should have ... " examples are many, and we ourselves have used it before, and often it is with regret we say it, and it leaves a sad and heavy feeling in our hearts.

And more often than not, the regrets cannot reverse the situation and it is also seared into our memories.

But in today's gospel, we hear of a woman who seized the opportunity to show Jesus an act of love.

And Jesus took note of Mary's act of love, and it also went into the gospel account, and that act of love is recalled each time the gospel passage is read.

As we enter into Holy Week, let us also seize the little opportunities to show Jesus an act of love.

Whether it is a time-out to be with Jesus in prayer, or an act of charity and love to others, it will be appreciated by Jesus.

It is still not too late to deepen our Lenten preparation and to make a Lenten offering to Jesus.

It may be late but it is better than to regret and keep saying "I should have ... "

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Palm Sunday, Year C, 24.03.2013

Isaiah 50:4-7/ Philippians 2:6-11/ Luke 22:14-23:56

Today’s Mass began with a festive and a celebrative kind of mood.

Yes today is called Palm Sunday, and at the beginning there was the procession with palms to commemorate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

It was also rather chaotic as we also tried to get as quickly to our favourite pew to settle down and also to cool down from the outside heat.

Then came along a very long gospel passage that was read in parts.

The celebrative procession with palms gave way to a solemn mood where we heard of betrayal and denial, agony and pain.

Palm Sunday is also called Passion Sunday.

In short, we can say that the mood in today’s Mass went from “palm to pain”.

And with that, we also enter into Holy Week and we can also say that “the pain is increasing” until it reaches its climax on Good Friday in a painful death on the cross.

Yes, from this Sunday to the next Sunday, we will be  confronted with a mixture of emotions – of joy and sorrow; glorious entry and humiliating exit; life and death.

Yes, we move from palm to pain. Yet it does not stop just there.

Because pain and suffering and death do not have the last say, and neither do they determine the final outcome.

The final outcome is always in the hands of God who will be victorious, and in Jesus Christ who has conquered sin and death.

It is in the humble palm branch that we see the unfolding of pain and suffering and death.

Yet it is also a sign of the victory and glory to come.

As it is, this palm branch will slowly dry up in the days to come.

It will turn from green to a brownish colour.

In the end, it will just be a dried up stiff branch.

Yet in the future, this palm branch together with the other palm branches will be collected and burnt and made into ashes for Ash Wednesday’s imposition of ashes.

So what was thought to be dead and useless will be given a new purpose and a new meaning.

Yes the ashes take on a new meaning and a new purpose and they become a sign of our repentance and conversion.

So as we bring the palm branches home, we also know that these palm branches symbolize pain and suffering.

Yet the hidden meaning in the palm branches is also victory and glory.

So let us be with Jesus in His pain and suffering and death. For in this pain and suffering and death, there is also the hidden meaning of victory and glory.

Friday, March 22, 2013

5th Week of Lent, Saturday, 23-03-13

Ezekiel 37:21-28 / John 11:45-56

We know that we have to watch what we say. We are given the faculty of speech but that does not mean we can say what we like.

We have to be careful with our words because our words have an effect on people as well as on ourselves.

More so if we are put in a position of authority and leadership. Our words can have an effect on the situations and circumstances of what we are in charge of.

In the gospel, Caiaphas, the high priest of that year, made this statement: You don't seem to have grasped the situation at all; you fail to see that it is better for one man to die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.

The gospel went on to say that he did not speak of his own person but it was as high priest that he made this prophecy that Jesus was to die for the nation.

Caiaphas may not think he was making any prophecy in what he said; as a matter of fact, he was just trying to be pragmatic and to talk sense into the gathering.

Yet, by his authority as high priest, he became the mouthpiece of God and pronounced the prophecy.

So parents, teachers, pastoral leaders, catechists, priests have to watch what they say and be careful and discerning with their words.

By the authority bestowed upon them, they are the mouthpiece of God and they must ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to speak words that are from God.

Without the help of the Holy Spirit, they may end up saying harmful words that could even destroy nations.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

5th Week of Lent, Friday, 22-03-13

Jeremiah 20:10-13 / John 10:31-42

At times, it may be rather easy for us to think that we are quite good people, even in the religious sense.

As long as we say our prayers, go for Mass regularly, don't break any the the 10 Commandments, then we might think that we are quite good people.

Yet, the measure that we use are created by ourselves and it is by that measure that we compare ourselves with others and even judge others.

In the gospel, Jesus gave the measure by which our lives must be measured, and that is we live our lives according to the ways of God.

Yes, we are called to live godly god-like lives and to do the works of God so that we become signs of God's presence in this world.

Yet, we fail because we may have been overwhelmed by the evil that we see around us and we have let it influence us so much so that we may not be even aware of the evil we commit.

Also, when we are oppressed by evil-doers, we forget our divine calling and we react with evil for evil.

That was the distress of the prophet Jeremiah in the 1st reading. He was surrounded and overwhelmed by evil.

Yet, he turned to God to save him and to deliver him from the hands of evil men.

May we also turn to Jesus our Saviour and Healer and ask Him to cleanse us of evil and to deliver us from evil so that we can renew our baptismal commitment and walk the ways of God.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

5th Week of Lent, Thursday, 21-03-13

Genesis 17:3-9 / John 8:51-59

As we read today's gospel and if we remember what were the gospel passages for this week, we may get a certain feeling of frustration.

Because it can be quite frustrating to hear the "Jews" (as the gospel called them) always getting into an argument with Jesus.

Yet, it must also be said that the "Jews" themselves were frustrated too because they just could not understand what Jesus was talking about.

There was this underlying frustration of not understanding as well as misunderstanding.

It was this frustration that led them to throw stones at Jesus, and the frustration boiled over to become a hatred that eventually made them to nail Jesus to the cross.

As we come to the 5th week of Lent, we too might be having some feelings of frustration.

We might have felt that Lent had passed too quickly, that we have not done anything spiritually worthy till now, and that we do not any "feeling" for Lent.

So we may be frustrated and disappointed with ourselves for having a fruitless Lent and that we have not anything much for God.

Yet let us take heart in the 1st reading. It is not so much what we can do for God but rather what God has done for us.

Through Abraham God has made a Covenant with us in perpetuity and Jesus is the expression of this covenant.

Jesus is the "I AM". And no matter what we have not done, God will still be our God and we will still be His people. Let us take consolation in that and keep faithful to Jesus for the rest of Lent.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

5th Week of Lent, Wednesday, 20-03-13

Daniel 3:14-20, 24-25, 28 / John 8:31-42

The Elects are already in the intensive period of their preparation of their baptism at the Easter Vigil.

For them to have come to this stage of their faith journey would mean that they have understood and accepted the teachings of Christ and also the traditions of the Church.

Certainly the reality of the cross and the cost of discipleship have been presented to them for their reflection and mediation.

The stories of the martyrs of the Church and how they shed their blood and gave up their lives for Christ would also have been shared with them.

The 1st reading with its persecution of the faith and the steadfastness of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would also be a good text for reflection on their life as Christians.

Of interest would be the reply of the three men to the king: Your question hardly requires an answer: if our God, the one we serve, is able to save us from the burning fiery furnace and from your power, O king, he will save us; and even if he does not, then you must know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the statue you have erected.

Those are very courageous words in the face of a mortal threat. Yet that statement says it all.

Because, if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8).

When we understand this, then we understand the truth of what we believe in and who we believe in.

Yes, when we understand this truth, then this truth will make us free - free to live for the Lord, free to die for the Lord, and free to belong totally to the Lord.

Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Joseph, Spouse of the BVM, Tuesday, 19-03-13

2 Sam 7:4-5, 12-14, 16 / Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22 / Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24 or Luke 2:41-51

Today's feast of St. Joseph is celebrated under the title of "Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary".

In relation to this, St. Joseph is also known as the patron of the Church and the guardian of the mysteries of the Church.

St. Joseph is a "quiet" saint; nothing of what he said was recorded in gospel.

But in that silence of words, his actions spoke clearly and decisively for God.

Even though St. Joseph didn't understand how Mary got pregnant, he followed what the angel of the Lord directed him to do.

The instructions to him were short and simple, yet it was a long and difficult task to embark upon and much more to persevere in.

In short, St. Joseph trusted in the Lord and he was faithful to what was entrusted to him.

In his silence and humility and trust, he is held up as a model for the Church and he is also her patron and guardian.

Today is also the installation of Pope Francis. It is indeed a meaningful day to celebrate the installation of his papacy.

Let us ask for the intercession of St. Joseph for Pope Francis that as the Pope he will also guard the faith of the Church and to lead us to follow God's will faithfully and persevere in love.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

5th Week of Lent, Monday, 18-03-13

Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 / John 8:12-20

The name Daniel in Hebrew means "My God is judge" or "My God is justice".

And true to his name, the prophet Daniel brought about God's justice and saved the innocent Suzanna from being executed.

When we talk about God's justice, we often see it as judgment, as in punishment for evil and vindication for good.

Indeed, the two evil men in the 1st reading got what they deserved for trying to harm an innocent woman in order to cover up their evil deeds.

In that sense, it is true that justice means judgment.

But God is a judge, not merely in the sense of passing sentence over our evil deeds.

The biblical understanding of God and His justice is that He looks at the good we do and the good that we are capable of doing.

Because God, in His justice, is essentially mercy and love.

He affirms our goodness with His mercy and love.

With His mercy and love, He increases our capacity for goodness.

Jesus is the true light that brings about God's love and mercy to us.

Let us open our hearts to the light of Christ and reflect it to others in order to help them do good and increase their capacity for goodness.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

5th Sunday of Lent, Year C, 17.03.2013

Isaiah 43: 16-21/ Philippians 3:8-14/ John 8:1-11

The past week had been a time of anxiety as well as rejoicing for the Church.

And that was because on Tuesday, the 115 cardinals entered into the Sistine Chapel for the conclave to begin the process of electing a new pope for the Church.

It was certainly not an easy and pleasant task of having to vote for the next pope as it was mentally and spiritually taxing.

But on Thursday, after five rounds of intense voting, the Church was greeting with white smoke from the chimney and the good news of “Habemus Papam!” – “We have a pope!”

Argentinian cardinal J.M. Bergoglio was elected as the new pope and he took the name of Francis for his pontificate.

And as it is, the media is already putting him under the microscope to find out more about him, his lifestyle, his background, his whatever.

Certainly they will try to find some juicy stories about him. But may they also tell us some inspiring and edifying stories about him.

Well the same thing happened to Pope John XXIII who was elected in 1958. Not long after he became pope, he went to the Regina Coeli prison to visit the prisoners there.

And as he was talking to them, he also told them, as a matter of fact, that he had a relative who was jailed for committing some petty crime.

Of course the media was there and they picked up this little piece of juicy news and it was published in the news the very next day.

Well, at least they said that the pope had a relative who had been in prison, and not that the pope had been in prison.

Whatever it is, it goes to show that in everyone’s life, there is some darkness lurking around. Whether it is exposed or not, that is another story.

The renowned preacher and tv evangelist of the 1950s the Archbishop Fulton Sheen, was giving a talk to a group of prisoners.

He said this to them: The great difference between you and me is that you were caught; I was not!

And indeed, what a great difference it was. Yet, to have done something wrong, or committing a crime and not getting caught for it does not mean that no wrong was done or that no crime was committed!

In the gospel, we heard that the scribes and Pharisees brought before Jesus a woman who had been caught committing adultery.

And they made her stand there in full view of everybody.

And there, they asked Jesus, as a test, what kind of judgement He would pronounce on her.

Would it be death by stoning? Or what? The response of Jesus was rather strange – He bent down and started writing on the ground with His finger.

What He wrote on the ground the gospel did not say. Why He did it the gospel did not say either.

But the scribes and Pharisees were certainly irritated by what He did and by His silence.

So they persisted with their question and they were demanding an answer from Him.

Then came the ground-shaking reply – If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.

Then He bent down and wrote on the ground again.

Maybe that might explain why in the first place Jesus bent down to write on the ground.

It was not so much about what He wrote but why He did it.

He was telling the scribes and Pharisees, and the crowd, and as well as the guilty woman, to “get down to it”.

But of course the scribes and Pharisees didn’t get it because they persisted with their question.

And the reply of Jesus was sharp, pointed and it cut right through their hearts.

Jesus was telling them to get down to it – if there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.

And this time round, they got it, and they got down to it. One by one they went away, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman.

At least, it must be said that the scribes and Pharisees were honest enough to acknowledge that they had sinned and they did not argue that they were lesser sinners than that woman.

It also must be said that they knew the truth about their sinfulness and hence they walked away without pursuing the matter further.

And who among us can ever say that we have not sinned, regardless of whether it is minor or major sins.

The question is whether our sins are exposed or not.

As Archbishop Fulton Sheen said : The great difference between you and me is that you were caught; I was not!

There is a story of a beggar who was caught for stealing bread, and as a punishment and a deterrent to others, he was sentenced to death.

As the officer lead the beggar to his execution, the beggar told him that he knew a secret of how to make a mango tree grow overnight and bear fruit immediately.

It would be a pity that the secret would be lost if he got executed.

The officer decided to halt the execution and he brought the beggar to the judge, who in turn brought him to the king.

So the king asked the beggar what the secret was.

The beggar replied that for such a miracle to happen, the mango seed must be planted by someone who had not stolen anything before.

So he turned to the officer and said: Would you want to plant the seed?

The officer immediately refused saying that he had shoplifted before.

Then the beggar turned to the judge and asked if he would plant the seed.

The judge declined saying that he had taken things that belonged to others and kept them for his own use.

So the beggar turned to the king and said: O king, then it is left to you to plant the seed.

But the king excused himself by saying that he had taken things without paying for them.

And then the beggar said : So all of you had stolen some things before, and now you want to execute me just because I stole some bread because I was hungry.

Just a story to remind us to get down to it. Yes, we have all sinned, just that we were not caught nor were we exposed for it.

But Jesus did not want to catch us in our sins or expose the wrong we have done to shame us.

He only wants us to be reconciled with Him. Just as He didn’t condemn the adulterous woman, He won’t condemn us either.

Jesus bends down to write on the ground again. Let us also get down on it.

Let us acknowledge our sins and seek forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Let us be healed by Jesus so that we too won’t judge and condemn others.

Friday, March 15, 2013

4th Week of Lent, Saturday, 16-03-13

Jeremiah 11:18-20 / John 7:40-52

Appearances and external images are very important in today's world of status and reputation.

Because they form initial impressions for others and that will also determine how far a person can go in the career path.

What is equally important besides appearances and image is also a person's background. That will either reinforce or weaken his reputation and status.

In many ways, Jesus had neither that appearance and image that would earn Him a status and reputation that the society of His time would give Him.

Added on to that, His Galilean origins (or what was thought was His birthplace) diminished all standing He had with the upper class of society, and He also earned the scorn of the Pharisees.

Yet, Jesus was not perturbed by the criticisms of others or what they thought of Him.

As the 1st reading so rightly prophesied, and as Jesus Himself knew it: The Lord revealed it to me, I was warned. You opened my eyes to their scheming.

Yes, more than just discriminating against His status and reputation, the opponents of Jesus were also out to plot against Him and to destroy Him even.

From the experience of life, we know that we cannot judge a book by its cover. Yet, it is the cover that gives us the first impressions.

But it is the Lord of hosts who probes the loins and heart. May the Lord also help us to see beyond appearances and impressions to the truth of things.

And may we also move beyond our own appearances and impressions and be true to ourselves and to the Lord.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

4th Week of Lent, Friday, 15-03-13

Wisdom 2:1, 12-22 / John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

The Bible is the Word of God and through it God speaks to His people and reveals Himself through His Word.

Yet, the Bible also has other revelations. Besides revealing to us the mind and the heart of God, there are also instances where it reveals the heart and mind of people who commit evil and hence, also the heart and mind of the devil.

If we are surprised by this, then we need look no further than just having to re-read the 1st reading.

It begins with "the godless say to themselves, with their misguided reasoning ... "

And there we get a picture of what goes on in the mind and heart of people who commit evil, and also how the devil stirs up the evil thoughts in those who succumb to be his instruments.

Yes, they reason with evil intent and that is also why the 1st reading said that they are misled and their malice makes them blind.

Furthermore, they do not know the hidden things of God and they have no hope that holiness will be rewarded and that blameless souls will be justified.

The same can be said about those people who were out to kill Jesus. They do not know where He truly came from, and their malice misleads and blinds them.

As for us, but virtue of our baptism, we are called to holiness. We know the ways of God and we also know what God wants of us when we are confronted with people who do evil.

We need to bear witness to the power of God's love and with love we will slowly but surely overcome evil and show people the ways of God.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

4th Week of Lent, Thursday, 14-03-13

Exodus 32:7-14 / John 5:31-47

One common complaint from parents about their teenage children is that these teenagers often consider their friends more important than their family.

They would go all out to help their friends, but when it comes to the house chores like sweeping the floor, they would try to avoid it by all means.

We might have seen this for ourselves and we will surely be able to empathize with these parents.

But let us also remember that the mixed up priorities of the teenagers are often no different from the adults.

We all like to seek approval from others, especially from our friends and peers.

In other words, we look for acceptance from people, and that can make us end up with mixed up priorities.

Jesus stated it very clearly for us what was His top priority.

For Jesus, God the Father is His top priority, the very center of His life.

Everything is measured with reference to God and it is His approval that is sought and it is His will that is to be done.

Lent is also a time to look at our priorities in life and to see if God is up there at the top of our priorities.

We have to let God be our center, and then everything else will come together.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

4th Week of Lent, Wednesday, 13-03-13

Isaiah 49:8-15 / John 5:17-30

We have heard of some people saying that after their death, they would want their ashes to be scattered in the sea or where ever they want it to be.

Their reason for doing so is because they know that over time, their memory will vanish from the minds of the later generations, and their urns will be left forgotten in some niche and no one will come to claim them, much less to visit them even.

They may be right in that we know of cases of neglected tombs in cemeteries and we know nothing about them. Even for the niches in the columbarium, we are not too sure if the next-of-kin ever visit them.

But as the 1st reading puts it, even if a woman forgets her baby at the breast or fail to cherish the son of her womb, the Lord God will never forget. (Yes, it's NEVER forget!)

And even though we are still alive, we may also say that "the Lord has abandoned me, the Lord has forgotten me".

When we cry to the Lord for help, and the answer is nowhere in sight, then we will surely lament and say that God does nothing about our suffering and is silent when He hears our cries.

But the Lord God will never forget us, regardless of whether we are dead or alive.

Even though we may have forgotten the dead, Jesus said in the gospel that God the Father will raise the dead and give them life.

Since God does not forget the dead and will raise them and give them life, then He will surely do much more for us who are alive.

May we not forget to give thanks and praise to God for the good things we have in life, and in our troubles and distress let us turn to Him in prayer and trust that just as God will raise the dead and give them life, then Jesus will surely give us life and life to the full.

Monday, March 11, 2013

4th Week of Lent, Tuesday, 12-03-13

Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12 / John 5:1-3, 5-16

Water is a very fascinating element. It is essential for life; coming after the need for air, the next is the need for water as we can actually die of thirst.

In its material dimension, it takes on the shape of whatever container it goes into. And it can also exist as a liquid, as a solid and as a gas.

Hence, water is indeed a very versatile and flexible element, not just in the material sense, but also in the spiritual sense.

In the Biblical and Church tradition, water symbolizes purity and fertility for out of the waters came forth creation (Gen 1).

Yet, there are also deeper meanings to water. Water is also a symbol of blessing and healing.

In the 1st reading, the waters that flow out of the Temple threshold gives life and health and brings about blessings on the lands it which it flows.

And the gospel mentions of a Sheep Pool in Jerusalem in which crowds of sick people gather around in search for healing when the waters are disturbed.

In the Church there is a Rite of blessing of water, after which the water is called "holy water".

It is used to remind us of our baptism, of the blessings that God wants to bestow on us, and also for healing. Hence, holy water should be used often and not sporadically.

When holy water is used with faith, it becomes a source of cleansing and purification for us, and it can also be a source of healing and blessing for us.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

4th Week of Lent, Monday, 11-03-13

Isaiah 65:17-21 / John 4:43-54

It is not that easy at all to forget the bad times of our lives, especially how we have suffered and was ill-treated by others.

These bad times are seared into our flesh and they stay in the deep recesses of our memory, so much so that we can even say we can forgive but we will not forget.

Well, to begin with, our memories are formed by our life experiences. Hence, when we have bitter memories we need to offer them to the Lord in prayer and ask for the His healing grace upon these memories.

Yet the memories of bad experiences can also erode our faith and make us feel bitter and angry with God.

Although very often we bring the sufferings upon ourselves, yet it is also very often that we blame someone else and that would also include God.

But we heard in the 1st reading that God will create new heavens and a new earth, and the past will not be remembered, and will come no more to men's minds.

And the Lord wants His people to rejoice because He wants to give joy and gladness to His people.

Yes, the Lord wants to heal us of our bitterness and resentment so that we can be a new people who will proclaim joy and gladness to the world.

Like the court official whose son was cured and he and his household believed, let us believe that with the Lord is mercy and forgiveness and healing.

Let us tell the Lord our bitterness and resentment, and in turn receive from Him the healing grace of joy and gladness.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

4th Sunday of Lent, Year C, 10.03.2013

Joshua 5:9-12/ 2 Corinthians 5:17-21/ Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32

Some people have this idea that after they had died and their mortal remains are cremated, they would want their ashes to be scattered.

Some want it to be scattered in the sea, some want it to be scattered in the wind or wherever.

The reasons for doing so are many, but there may be one reason that will sound rather melancholic or sad.

And that is that as time passes by, their memory will also fade from the minds of their next-of-kin and friends.

And in time to come, any indication of their existence on earth will also be forgotten. 

So that’s why they would rather have their remains scattered than have it buried or put into some niche.

In a certain sense, that is quite true because we may remember what happened when the old Bidadari cemetery was reclaimed and the graves had to be exhumed.

There were a number of graves that were left unclaimed and eventually the authorities had to do the exhumation.

It is a sad thought and an even sadder sight of those graves that lie there, forlorn and forgotten.

Yes, time has a way to make people forget about the deceased. 

Maybe that’s where we get the saying: Out of sight, out of mind.

More so if the deceased had done something wrong or shameful and brought embarrassment to the family. Then all the more that person’s memory would be erased and forgotten quickly.

There is this story of a noble family who had a great tradition.

Their ancestors came to America on the Mayflower. Their lineage included Senators, industrial CEOs and military heroes.

They decided to compile a family history as a legacy for the later generations, and so they hired a fine author to do that.

But there was one problem – how are they going to talk about that great-grand uncle George, who was executed on an electric chair for committing murder?

So they discussed it with the author and he said that he would handle that part tactfully.

When the book came out, it read like this: Great-grand uncle George occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important government institution. He was attached to his position by the strongest of ties, and his death came as a great shock.

Well, it was nicely put, and without further questions, it would also be nicely covered up.

But of course that’s just a story. Certainly it is not so in real life.

Because wrong-doing and shame are not easily forgotten, neither in life, nor in death.

And that was the issue the Pharisees had in the gospel. They complained that Jesus welcomed tax collectors and sinners and ate with them.

For the Pharisees, those tax collectors and sinners should get lost and get out of sight.

And their sin and shame will be remembered, and it will neither be forgiven nor forgotten.

It was in the face of that kind of attitude and in that stand-off that Jesus told the famous parable of the Prodigal Son.

It was a parable that seemed too good to be true for the younger son and yet at the same time too bad to be fair for the older brother.

Yet we need to remember that a parable is not just a story, regardless of whether it is true or not.

A parable is a story with a heavenly meaning. And in this case, the parable tells us a meaning about ourselves, and a meaning about God.

Well, we know of some people who can be identified with the younger son who had committed such a deplorable act of insult against his father.

We may even think that his sin is unforgivable and that his memory should be erased and not to be mentioned again.

But this is where we need to be jolted to a halt, and realize that we are just like that older son who does not want to forgive his brother nor forget the wrong he had done.

Yet the parable is not about sibling rivalry and jealousy. Neither is it about who got off the hook and how unfair it was.

Rather it is about forgiveness and the task of reconciliation.

And here is where the highlight is on the father, yes the father, who seemed to be pushed to the background in the drama between the two sons.

The parable that Jesus told is often called the Prodigal Son, which means the careless or wayward son.

But the parable can also be rightly called the Forgiving Father.

The parable points out to us that we have that sinfulness of the younger son, and yet at the same time we too have that unforgiveness of the older brother.

But the overriding important meaning of the parable is the unconditional forgiveness of the father.

God our Father forgives us our sins because He wants us to be freed from the clutches of our own sins.

When we don’t forgive a person, we hold that person captive and indebted to us. Unforgiveness is a form of control over a person.

Because we will say things like: Remember what you have done! 

And we make that person feel small and we clutch that person into our hands again.

Maybe that’s why some people want their remains to be scattered. 

They want to be freed from the clutches of their own sins, and they don’t want to be remembered for their wrong doings.

Yet, God wants to forgive us our sins. He doesn’t want us to go down to the grave chained by our sins.

God wants to free us by forgiving us. He wants to remember us, and not our sins.

So let us remember to forgive others. Because we too want to be remembered by others as someone who forgives, just like God who forgives and forgives unconditionally.

Friday, March 8, 2013

3rd Week of Lent, Saturday, 09-03-13

Hosea 5:15 - 6:6 / Luke 18:9-14

Have we ever asked ourselves if we had taken the Lord for granted? And the next question that we might ask is how have we taken the Lord for granted?

Oh yes, we might have forgotten to say grace before meals and we do not thank the Lord enough for the good things we have and the blessings He bestowed upon us.

Yet, we might have subconsciously taken the Lord for granted by being too presumptuous about His mercy and forgiveness.

We can become too presumptuous about God's mercy and forgiveness so much so that we can take it for granted and not feel real contrition and sorrow for our sins.

Such was the attitude of the people in the 1st reading . They say: Come let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us; he has struck us down, but he will bandage our wound; on the third day he will raise us and we shall live in his presence.

While what they said is true, they have not looked into themselves and asked if they have been taking the Lord's mercy and forgiveness too lightly.

In fact, the response from the Lord is this: What am I to do with you? This love of yours is like a morning cloud, like the dew that quickly disappears.

It sounds like as if the Lord was getting tired of their presumptuous attitude and taking Him for granted.

The parable that Jesus told in the gospel also addressed this attitude of being presumptuous.

The Pharisee thought that by telling the Lord the good he has done, his prayer will be heard. But Jesus said that it was the prayer of the tax collector that was heard and he went home at rights with God.

So let us humble ourselves in prayer and acknowledge our sins. Let us not take the Lord for granted and we will be at rights with God, others and ourselves.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

3rd Week of Lent, Friday, 08-03-13

Hosea 14:2-10 / Mark 12:28-34

It has been said that the Bible is the most widely read religious book. That may be because of the number of Bibles that are printed and sold each year.

So having a Bible does not mean that one is reading it fervently or regularly. Furthermore Bible knowledge among Christians can be quite questionable and at time quite appalling!

Yet, it won't be too naive to say that by and large, the Bible can be quite simple to understand.

Let us take for example, the two readings of today. There is no real need to go into an exegesis of the texts or the need to read up other commentaries about the text.

As they stand, the texts and the message is clear even if we just browse through them, and there are no difficult words that will make us have a recourse to dictionaries.

But as the 1st reading puts it: Let the wise man understand these words. Let the intelligent man grasp their meaning.

And that is where we enter into the spiritual dimension in reading the Bible.

The Bible is the Word of God. So in order to understand the Word of God we need to understand the mind and the heart of God.

We need to know and understand what God thinks about us, how He feels for us and who we are to Him.

Hence meditating upon the Word of God in prayer is necessary so as to attain the wisdom and intelligence to understand the Word of God.

And then we will be able to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

3rd Week of Lent, Thursday, 07-03-13

Jeremiah 7:23-28 / Luke 11:14-23

The voice of a person is a very peculiar as well as a particular asset.

It is also a very fluid and versatile asset in the sense that unlike others parts of the body (or other assets) which retain a familiar and recognizable character, it is not like that with the voice.

Because the tone of the voice can be changed, the mood of the voice can be changed, and we can imitate the voice of another person if we want to. Yet our voice reveals what is in us.

In the gospel, Jesus cast out the devil from a man that had made him dumb. When the devil had gone out, the man spoke, and the people were amazed.

The people were amazed because when the man spoke, the people not only heard his voice but it was also a voice that had peace in it because evil had gone out of the man and his voice said it all.

Yet, this made some others say that Jesus cast out devils through the prince of devils. Their words were certainly scorching, and their voice was revealing how wicked they were.

The 1st reading also talked about the voice. It was God telling His people to listen to His voice. And His was a voice that spoke of forgiveness and peace.

Yet in the end, the people would not listen to the voice of their God nor take correction.

To be able to listen to the voice of God, we have to soften our hearts with humility and repentance.

When we are able to listen to the voice of God, then we too will be able to speak with the voice of God.

And it will be a voice that speaks of peace and forgiveness. It will be a voice that speaks of love and truth. And it will also be a humble voice that turns people to God.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

3rd Week of Lent, Wednesday, 06-03-13

Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9 / Matthew 5:17-19

When we make an analysis of the content of what is being preached, then we will come to the conclusion that the same themes are being preached, day in day out, week in week out.

Themes like loving God and loving others, being faithful to God and to His Commandments, turning away from sin, etc.

If there is anything new, it is not so much in what is being preached but rather how it was preached.

If such is the case, then isn't it boring to hear the same things over and over again?

Well, it may be boring, but nonetheless, it is necessary.

Necessary because we have this tendency to forget. And hence we need to be reminded.

That is why in the 1st reading, Moses urged the people to keep the commandments and to observe them.

He warned them to be on their guard and not to forget the commandments nor let it slip from their hearts.

Furthermore, they should tell it to their children and to their children's children.

As it was then, so it is now. What Moses told the people, the Church is now telling us through her teachings and preaching.

And as Jesus said in the gospel, the man who keeps the commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.

Monday, March 4, 2013

3rd Week of Lent, Tuesday, 05-03-13

Daniel 3:25, 34-43 / Matthew 18:21-35

If love is a many-splendoured thing, then sin is a many-splintered thing.

Where love brings about a bouquet of beauty, truth, peace and joy, sin brings about a chaos of lies, destruction, hate and anger.

In the gospel, Peter approached Jesus with what he thought was a simple question about the number of times he ought to forgive.

The reply that Jesus gave, together with the parable, was beyond what Peter expected.

Firstly, Jesus told Peter that he ought to forgive seventy-seven times. That is not just a numerical sum but also to indicate that forgiveness is infinite when we understand that love is infinite.

Yet the parable that Jesus told gave a disturbing, if not shocking, image of how the splendour of love can be so carelessly splintered by sin.

It sounds so ridiculous that the servant who was forgiven by his master over a huge debt, can be so ruthless to a fellow servant who owed him so much less.

As much as the theme of the parable is about forgiveness, it is also about how easily we can slip from love to sin.

Indeed the man who thinks he is safe must be careful not to fall (1 Cor 10:12)

Yes we need to be calm and vigilant because the enemy, the devil, is prowling around to tear up the splendour of God's love and forgiveness in us into splinters of hate and anger.

Let us fight that enemy with love and forgiveness, and may God help us.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

3rd Week of Lent, Monday, 04-03-13

2 Kings 5:1-15 / Luke 4:24-30

One of our instinctive reactions to something unpleasant or threatening is anger.

Anger is a defensive response to something that we don't know how to handle or something that puts us into trouble.

In today's two readings, we see anger exploding in tensed situations.

In the 1st reading, the king of Israel blew up in anger when he received that letter from the king of Aram so much so that he tore his robes.

That was because he was asked to do something for Naaman to cure him of his leprosy and that left him fuming.

But later on it was Naaman who was fuming when he was asked by Elisha's servant to bathe seven times in the Jordan.

Yes, anger is the reaction when our security and comfort is threatened. Yet, more often than not it is people in authority and with some power who will flare up in anger.

Yet, in the heat of the anger of the king of Israel and also of Naaman, it was the lowly servants who eventually pacified them and helped them see things in perspective.

Let us pray that we too will be like those humble and lowly servants who will bring peace to tensed situations and calm the anger of people with the love of God.

And may God also send us humble and lowly persons to us when we lose our cool so that we can see things in perspective.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

3rd Sunday of Lent, Year C, 03.03.13

Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15/ 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12/ Luke 13:1-9

Last week was a week of happenings, if we had been aware of it, if we had noticed it.

If we ask ourselves “ What happened last week?”, then we might probably remember that, among other things, the month of February ended last week.

Well, it was a unique happening because February has lesser days than the rest of the other months, in that it has only 28 days.

And along with that we may also remember other things. It was on the last day of February, the 28th of February, that the Pope stepped down from the papacy.

So it means that now, we don’t have a pope! But of course, with that, the cardinals are now preparing themselves for the conclave to elect the next pope.

So we don’t have a pope now. And what is our reaction to that?

Well, we can be nonchalant about it. But most of us would be aware of it. And we would have noticed what the media had said about the resignation of the pope.

As a matter of fact, he is the first pope after more than 600 years to resign from office, so it’s really something for the media to talk about.

The media has also speculated on the many possible reasons as to why the pope suddenly resigned from papacy.

The Pope Emeritus, as he is now called, has only said that he is doing this for the good of the Church. What that really means we will probably get to know along the way.

But we know what he is going to do. He has moved to the summer residence and is spending his days in prayer.

And that should already make us notice something, and become aware of something.

As the Pope Emeritus steps down from the papacy, he steps into something else and in doing so he is also showing us something.

From the highest seat of governance in the Church, he is taking up the simple life of a “pilgrim” and the humble life of prayer.

So the Pope Emeritus is telling us something and teaching us something. Are we aware of it? Do we notice it?

Well, to put it clearly, the Pope Emeritus is showing the Church and the world, the need for prayer in order to bring about the sense of the sacred and the awareness of the presence of God.

Indeed, awareness of the sacred and the presence of the divine begins with noticing the signs.

In the 1st reading, we heard about how Moses noticed a blazing bush but it was not burnt up.

He went on to examine this strange happening and then it was there he encountered the sacred and the divine.

And the Lord told him to take off his shoes because even the ground that he was standing on is holy ground.

Yes, awareness of the sacred and the divine presence begins with noticing the signs.

And it is through simple and humble prayer that we will look, we will see and we will slowly notice.

Moses noticed the strange and unusual sight of the blazing bush that was not consumed by the fire.

Yes, it is easy to notice the strange and the unusual. Almost anyone can notice the strange and unusual.

Yet it takes prayer to open the eyes to notice the usual and ordinary signs and see beyond.

And maybe that’s our problem. We look and we see, but we don’t see beyond.

And that was also the problem with those people who told Jesus about the tragedy of those Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with that of their sacrifices.

They were probably thinking that those Galileans had committed some grave sin that resulted in their tragic death.

But Jesus refuted that thinking. Yet He also brought them to see further and to look deeper.

Every tragedy can also be a sign to us that life is fragile and that we have to set our lives straight.

Yes, the Lord is merciful and compassionate and He patiently calls us to repentance.

But it also means that the call to repentance is “Now!” and the time for “second chances” may just run out.

Well there is a story about the 28th February. It is a special day of a couple, Alan and Nelly, because it was the date of their wedding.

But from being a loving couple, they have become quarrelsome and taking each other for granted.

It was a vicious cycle of quarreling and reconciling. Although they still loved each other, they have lost the awareness of each other’s needs and also too busy to notice it.

So on the 28th February, Nelly was at home and waiting for Alan to return from work.

But Nelly was expecting Alan to forget about their wedding anniversary and come back late from work.

But at 6pm, the door bell rang, and when Nelly opened the door, there was Alan with a bouquet of flowers in one hand a box of her favourite chocolates in the other.

Nelly was overjoyed that Alan remembered their wedding anniversary and they hugged and sat down and talked about their beautiful times together and making up for their quarrels.

Then the phone in the bedroom rang, and Nelly sighed and went to answer the phone.

A man on the other side to the line asked : Hello, I am calling from the police station. Is this the residence of Mr. Alan?

Yes it is. 

There was an accident and a man died. We got the number from the man’s wallet. We need you to come over and identify the body.

Nelly’s heart sank. But … but ... my husband is here with me!

Sorry, madam. The accident took place at 5pm when the man was crossing the road.

Nelly was about to lose her senses. How could this happen? She had heard about these kind of things. The soul of the person comes to meet you before it departs. She ran out to the hall.

And Alan was not there! Could this have happened to Alan? Could it be true? Has he left her forever? Nelly sank to the floor. Oh, if only she had been given another chance, she would have mended all her faults and loved Alan deeper.

Suddenly there was a noise from the bathroom. Then Alan came out. 

When he saw Nelly on the floor, he asked, “What happened my dear? Oh, I forgot to tell you that my wallet was stolen while I was on my way home.

Well, just a story to remind us that we should never waste a moment to be aware and to notice all the chances to make life beautiful.

We cannot go back to the start and make a new beginning, but we can start now to make a new and beautiful ending.

The Pope Emeritus has resigned and the papacy is left vacant for the time being. He has stepped down from the papacy but yet that is not all.

He has stepped into a life of prayer and he has given us a sign and we must notice it and pay heed to it.

And the sign is that with prayer, we can start now and make a new and beautiful ending for ourselves, for the Church and for the world.

Yes, the Pope Emeritus has given us that sign. Let us join him in prayer to pray for the Church and for the next pope.