Friday, January 31, 2014

3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 01-02-14

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

Just to think that one day we will have to stand before the Lord and receive a judgment that will seal our eternity can be rather frightening.

We might be afraid that it is God who will judge us and determine how guilty we are and then send us according to where we should go.

Yet, if God is love, then why would He want to judge us and even condemn us?

In the 1st reading, it was not God who pronounced judgment on David but rather it was David who pronounced judgment on himself.

Nathan, the prophet, narrated the story, but it was David who made the conclusion.

Nathan held the mirror, and David saw the reflection.

Yet, we must also acknowledge that David had the humility to admit that it was his own reflection, that he was that man in the story.

We all have that God-given conscience to admit to our faults and sinfulness.

Yet, with the same breath, we also must admit that we have this ability to deny guilt and responsibility.

We can even rationalize away our guilt and turn black into white.

That can happen, and will happen, when we are not close to God and forget that Jesus is in our hearts.

The disciples in the gospel were frightened in the face of the storm, but that was because they have yet to realize who Jesus is.

We know who Jesus is. We also know that He has made His home in our hearts.

In the face of temptations and sinfulness, let us hear His voice as He tells us: Quiet now! Be calm!

Let us remember that Jesus came, not to judge and condemn us, but to save us.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 31-01-14

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

The bamboo tree is a tall and elegant tree that is often depicted in Chinese art.

It is said that after the bamboo is planted, it takes about five years before the bamboo shoots begin to grow.

But once the shoots start growing, they can soar to a great height, to even as high as 100ft, in as short a time as 10 weeks.

Why such a long time of inactivity and how come such a phenomenal growth, we may ask.

Well, during those 5 years or so, the bamboo has been putting down an elaborate system of roots that reaches out far and wide.

It is an elaborate root system that enables the plant to grow so phenomenally, once nature triggers the above-ground process.

It is also the root system that holds the tall bamboo tree to the ground.

The bamboo tree tells us something about ourselves.

What we are externally is a reflection of what we are internally.

When we are deeply rooted in God and in other values of His kingdom, we will be like that small mustard seed in the gospel parable which grows into a tree that provides shade and shelter and bears fruit.

But to be deeply rooted in God calls for prayer, patience and perseverance.

We may fail and even fall, just as David in the 1st reading failed and fell.

We can become disappointed and discouraged with ourselves and with others.

In such times, let us turn to God in prayer and ask for the grace of patience and perseverance.

With prayer and with patience and perseverance, we will rise and grow tall like the bamboo tree and reach out to God.

Chinese New Year, Year A, 31.01.2014

Numbers 6:22-27/ James 4:13-15/ Matthew 6:31-34

For the Chinese, the first day of the Lunar New Year is an important day.

Because if we can celebrate this day joyfully, then it may mean that we will also celebrate the rest of the days of the year joyfully.

And on this day, we come to Church for Mass because we want to give thanks to God and also to ask for His blessings. (And also to receive blessed oranges!)

Yes, today is a day of celebration and blessings as we greet and wish each other “Happy New Year”.

But actually, the celebrations already began last evening with the reunion dinner.

It’s the dinner of all dinners. Not only will there be plenty of sumptuous food.

But it is also food that has a meaning in the Chinese culture.

For eg, there will be “abalone” ($40 a can) but it has the symbolic meaning of fullness and plenty.

And then there is that black sea moss, which has the meaning of prosperity and wealth (and hopefully it can make the hair black again and even grow back again).

These are a couple of the symbolic foods that will appear at the reunion dinner table.

Of course the purpose is to raise our hopes for the new year ahead and to keep us feeling optimistic.

But as we know it, life is unpredictable, and when setbacks and disappointments come our way, we can’t help feeling pessimistic about life.

But of course, we can choose to be optimistic or be pessimistic. To be whichever is our choice.

Since it is the year of the horse, let me tell you a horse joke.

There is a pair of twins, similar in looks, but totally opposite in character.

One is a pessimist who is always complaining, whereas the other is an optimist.

Their father hoped to change the pessimistic twin to be like his optimistic brother.

Yet, at the same time, the father also wanted to test the optimism of the other twin.

So, on their birthday, the father filled the room of the pessimistic twin with all kinds of toys.

In the room of the optimistic twin, he filled it with horse manure.

When the twins came back from school, the father waited for them to go into their rooms and then see their reaction.

He entered the room of the pessimistic boy and found him crying.

When he asked him why, he replied: Oh, all these toys, they need so many batteries, and I have to change the batteries when they become flat. And then other boys will come to borrow my toys and even steal them. Oh, so many toys, so stressful.

The father sighed. He then went to the room of the optimistic twin and found him laughing gleefully.

When that twin saw the father, he said: Come on Dad, come on, bring it here. With so much horse manure, there must be a pony hiding somewhere.

Well, as we begin the Lunar New Year, we want to be optimistic that we will have the strength and the power of the horse.

But if we get the manure coming our way, then we have to rise from being just optimistic to have hope.

Hope goes beyond optimism. Hope is the anchor that we throw into the future and lets us pull the rope to step into the future (Pope Francis).

If hope is the anchor, then faith is the rope that is tied to it.

With faith and hope, let us celebrate this first day of the Lunar New Year, and may the Lord grant us the blessings of His Love.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 30-01-14

2 Sam 7:18-19, 24-29 / Mark 4:21-25

The Book of Psalms in the Bible is accredited to the authorship of King David, although it is quite obvious that there is more than one author.

We use the Psalms in the worship at Mass and also in the Divine Office of the Church.

In many ways, the Psalms expressed the spirituality of King David.

There are psalms of adoration, worship, praise and thanksgiving.

There are also psalms of petitions, contrition, distress and lamentation.

Psalm 8 expresses best the prayer of King David in today's 1st reading.

Psalms 8 begins with this: What is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him.

David was overwhelmed that God not only made him king of a great nation, God also promised to make his descendants into a royal dynasty, from which as we know now, came the Saviour Jesus.

That was why David said : Who am I, Lord, and what is my house that you have led me this far?

Like King David, let us also ask ourselves: Who am I, that the Lord should care for me even though I am sinful, and He sustains my life and fills me with blessings even though I do not deserve it.

Indeed, we could only say that God is merciful and His mercy endures from age to age.

When we truly understand this mercy and love of God for us, then that mercy and love will kindle the flame within us and, like Jesus said in the gospel, we will shine God's love for all to see.

3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 29-01-14

2 Sam 7:4-17 / Mark 4:1-20

Jesus started His ministry by teaching in the synagogues.

In today's gospel, we see a switch in style. He went to the seashore and the fishing boat became the pulpit.

But a more profound switch was from profound teachings to simple parables about everyday life, although the purpose was still the same, i.e. to teach the people about eternal life.

The switch was only natural, because for the common people, stories attract their attention, and they are easy to remember.

But the purpose of Jesus in using stories or parables goes deeper than just getting their attention.

A parable like the sower and the seed test the hearts of the people, as well as our hearts.

When our hearts are open, we will be able to sense the truth of the teachings of Jesus.

Just as in the 1st reading, the prophet Nathan sensed it was the word of the Lord that was being announced to him and he opened his heart to receive it.

Yet, nonetheless, God will also respect our freedom.

The parables of Jesus contain enough light for us who want to know the truth.

We have the freedom to step into the light of truth, or to remain in the shadow of darkness.

Monday, January 27, 2014

3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 28-01-14

2 Sam 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 loincloth (which was an undergarment) 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 26, 2014

3rd Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 27-01-14

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

The tendency to sin is a condition that we all have to admit to.

Furthermore, it is not just a tendency, it is also an actuality, because the fact is that we sin.

Yet, very often, sin can be so subtle that we might be blinded to the fact that it is a sin.

For e.g., telling colourful jokes, gossiping about the faults of others, selfishness, greed, etc.

All those are sins in varying degrees of gravity, but we might be numbed to the fact that it is destroying us.

Or we rationalize it away and say that it is part of our human nature and there is no big deal about it.

But the Holy Spirit will continue to prod us in order to make us realize our sinfulness and to ask for mercy and forgiveness.

And of course the evil spirit will also tell us that minor sins are alright, and after a while a lot of sins will seem to  be like minor sins and we will tell ourselves that it is still alright!

However, when we let the Holy Spirit lead us to see the holiness of God and the love He showed in Jesus on the cross, then we will know that sin, in any form, is indeed detestable.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

3rd Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 26.01.2014

Isaiah 8:23-9:3/ 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17/ Matthew 4:12-23

Standing at the beach and looking at the sea and hearing the sound of the waves can be quite relaxing and it also calms the mind.

The sea also gives a feeling of mystery and adventure.

And we also know of those songs written about the sea: “I am Sailing” (Rod Steward); “Beyond the Sea” (Bobby Darin).

For most of us, we know about the sea at surface level.

We see ships sailing on the sea; we see people surfing on the waves; we may have tried out the sea sports like water-skiing and para-sailing.

We know what is the sea, and what happens on the surface of the sea.

Beneath the surface of the sea is another world – the underwater world.

And considering the fact that about 70% of the earth is covered with water, then we are talking about quite a big world. Yes, it’s a big world down there.

Some have gone for scuba-diving to see what this underwater world is about. Others want to go deeper and submarines have been invented to do so.

Well, let’s see how much we know about the underwater world and see if you can answer these underwater riddles.

What did the sardine call the submarine?  - A can of people.

What song did the boy octopus sing to the girl octopus? – I wanna hold your hand hand hand hand hand hand hand hand.

Yes, the sea and what is in the underwater world, is full of mystery, can also be a bit funny, and yet, it is also quite similar to our world on the dry land.

It is interesting to note that when Jesus began His ministry it was at the lakeside town of Capernaum, as the gospel tells us.

We are told that Capernaum is a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali.

It was there at Capernaum that the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled: “The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death, a light has dawned.”

And it was from that lakeside town of Capernaum that Jesus began His preaching with the message: Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is close at hand.

Jesus seemed to draw a lot of inspiration from the sea.

In fact, His first few disciples were people who were connected to the sea – they were fishermen, and they earned their living from the sea.

He called them from the sea, to leave their boats behind, but it is also with their knowledge of the sea that Jesus is going to teach them to be fishers of men.

So, let us just imagine the sea, and the underwater world. And yet the underwater world is so similar to our dry-land world.

For example, down there it is big fish eat small fish. Up here it is big boys bullying the weak boys. What happens down there also happens up here.

In the sea, one of the feared predators is the shark. On dry land, there is an equivalent called the loanshark, which is equally fearsome and troublesome.

Yes, the underwater world is very much like our dry land world. 

Maybe that is why Jesus chose fishermen as His first disciples to make the connection.

And He said to them: Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.

So, the mission seems to be quite straight forward – they do the catching and Jesus will do the cleaning.

But there may be something more than this, just as how we can only look at the surface of the sea but there is much more beneath it.

In order to be “fishers of men”, Jesus is going to teach His disciples to be “fishes for men”.

As fishermen, they catch fish for a living. But as disciples of Jesus, they will have to be the fish.

In other words, where once they catch fish for they livelihood, now they are to be the fish for the life of the world.

Hence, it is not surprising that one of the earliest symbols of Christianity is the fish.

Fish, in Greek is called ICHTHUS. It is also an acronym to mean “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior”.

Jesus called His disciples to be fishers of men. Yet, like Himself, they are to be the fish for men, the fish for the life of the world.

Jesus allowed Himself to be caught and killed in order to save us from our sin.

In order to be the “Fisher of men”, Jesus had to be the fish for men.

Likewise, as His disciples, in order to be fishers of men, we too have to be the fish for men, we too have to be the fish for the life of the world.

We become the fish when we offer ourselves in love and service to others, especially those who hunger for the love of God.

We become the fish for others when we love our enemies and pray for those who do wrong to us.

We become the fish for others when we offer care and compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation.

May we allow ourselves to be caught by the love of Jesus, in order to be the fish for men, so that in turn we can be fishers of men.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Conversion of St. Paul, Saturday, 25-01-14

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

Almost everyone is interested in a conversion story and may even get inspired by a conversion story.

Usually what we hear about are the deep experiences leading to the conversion.

What we seldom hear about is the other side of the conversion story.

We seldom get to hear about the sinfulness or its details before the conversion experience. It is deemed too profane and maybe also scandalous.

But in the conversion story of St. Paul, he recounted, almost unabashedly, what he was doing before that experience on the road to Damascus.

And these are not minor sins, because even Jesus Himself had to tell the then Saul: Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? I am Jesus, and you are persecuting me!

But from then on, St. Paul moved on to become the apostle to the Gentiles.

From the history of the Church, we can also see that similar conversion pattern of the great saints who once were great sinners.

There is St. Peter who denied Jesus, and St. Augustine who even wrote about his past sinfulness in his book "Confessions".

But they experienced mercy and the conversion was deep.

So it is with those whom we might call the "sinners of today".

We need to pray for them that they too will experience the grace of conversion as St. Paul did.

And how can we ourselves not admit our sinfulness and the need for on-going conversion?

If we confess that we are the sinners of today, then there is the possibility that we can be the saints of tomorrow.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 24-01-14

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

The phrase "to be caught with your pants down" means that you are exposed in an embarrassing situation. It can also mean that you are caught unprepared for a situation or an event.

Certainly no one would like to be caught in a situation like this. Moreover it may not be something of your own doing or that it's consequence of your earlier actions.

It is more like you walked unknowingly and unsuspectingly into a situation and got caught with your pants down.

In a way that was what happened to Saul in the 1st reading. He was on the hunt for David, and along the way he came by a cave and went in to cover his feet, ie. to answer the call of nature.

Unknowingly and unsuspectingly, he actually walked into the very cave that David and his men were hiding.

Saul was caught with his pants down, literally, and he could also have been killed with his pants down. But David spared him because of his fear of the Lord and his respect for the Lord's anointed.

This incident also showed the true character of David - he would not take advantage of a man in his most vulnerable moment, nor would he disregard the law of Lord even for the sake of his own life.

In the gospel we also see the true character of Jesus as He sent His disciples to preach the Good News; He also gave them the power to cast out devils.

He won't let His disciples be caught in a vulnerable situation nor be exposed to dangers that are beyond their abilities to handle.

Neither would Jesus let us be caught in that kind of situation. Yet we also need to learn from David. Let us not take advantage of a person in his most vulnerable moment and let us keep the Law of the Lord and protect the dignity of others especially when they are caught and exposed in an embarrassing situation.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 23-01-14

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

It is good to be polite with our words and in our speech. It would give others a good impression and make us receptive to others.

But if making an impression with the smoothness of our words is all that is, then we may be missing out on sincerity and transparency.

No doubt, calling a spade a spade can be quite rough to hear, but when it is necessary to do so, we need to be truly sincere about it and to be transparent in our motives.

Just as using the word "sin" can be rather strong and even repulsive. There can be alternative words like "not good" or "not right" or other words that will tone down the impact.

But in the 1st reading, Jonathan talked straight to his father Saul, and he urged him not to sin against David. Jonathan pointed out that it would be a sin to shed innocent blood in killing David without cause.

Jonathan cared about his father Saul and his friend David and he was sincere in his words and transparent in his motives.

In the end, Saul was impressed by Jonathan's words and he even took an oath that he will not kill David.

Certainly it is good to be polite and courteous with our words. But we also need to be sincere with our thoughts and transparent with our motives.

And when we speak the truth with love, we will continue the mission of Jesus to bring conversion and healing for others.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 22-01-14

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

In some cultures and in some family traditions, the blessings from the elders and parents are held in high esteem.

It may be for a marriage where the children will ask for the blessings from their parents. It may be for the leadership of a clan where the elected candidate will ask for the blessings of the elders. It may be about a successor asking for the blessings of his predecessor.

These blessings may be an expression of approval. But in a higher and deeper sense, it could also be an expression on the part of the elders or parents to exercise their authority to invoke divine blessings on those who are to embark on a new undertaking.

In the 1st reading, we see a form of the invoking of such a blessing. David suggested to king Saul that he would go and fight that Goliath.

Saul was reluctant because David was only a boy and he had no fighting experience. Also the fate of the battle hinged on the outcome of this single combat with Goliath.

But surprisingly Saul finally agreed and said to David, "Go, and the Lord be with you." The outcome, as we know it now, is the famous story of how David killed Goliath with a single stone from a sling.

But it must not be forgotten that David went with the blessings of Saul,  and with that the Lord fought the battle for David.

If Saul had not given the approval nor his blessings to David, and if David had gone without either, we might wonder how it would turn out.

But in the gospel, when Jesus asked those in the synagogue (presumably the elders) the question about doing good or evil, to save or to kill on the Sabbath, they said nothing. And Jesus was grieved to find them so obstinate.

Let us learn these lessons from Scripture, so that when we are in a position of authority, we may know what is the good and right thing to do, and grant others the blessings when they want to embark on it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

2nd Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 21-01-14

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

We would presume that a man of God would have great faith and courage and wisdom.

Yes, we have our expectations of those who have dedicated themselves to the service of God. We presume that God will grant them those necessary qualities so that they can serve Him well.

Especially for people like priests and religious, we would expect them to stand at the front lines and show their trust in God in the face of adversaries and adversities.

So we would expect someone like the prophet Samuel to display these qualities.

Yet, when the Lord told Samuel to go and anoint the next king of Israel, he protested, saying that Saul would kill him when he heard of it, and so the Lord had to tell him how to go around it.

And when the sons of Jesse came before him, he judged them by human standards who would be the next king until the Lord had to tell him who was the chosen one.

So as we can see, Samuel was as human as any of us, with the similar and familiar defects and weaknesses.

But Samuel had also learnt to be sensitive and to follow the ways of the Lord instead of relying on his human instinct and intelligence. So Samuel waited for the Lord's instructions before he went ahead to anoint David.

We are created by the Lord. (Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you. – St. Augustine)

We must remember that we are made for the Lord and not the other other way round. When we truly understand that we are made for the Lord, then we will be a people of great faith and courage and wisdom.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 20-01-14

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

If we say that rules are made to be broken, then we must also say that we are prepared to face the consequences.

Because the fact is that when something is broken, it will always remain as broken, regardless of what is done to repair it or to fix it up again.

Well, rules may be rather impersonal, but what about orders and commands? Especially when we know who is giving the order or the command.

We heard in the 1st reading that Samuel admonished king Saul for his disobedience to the voice of the Lord.

Saul tried to justify and even defended his actions by saying that he did obey the voice of the Lord, although he spared Agag the king of the Amalekites, and from the booty, he allowed the people to take the best sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the Lord.

Samuel pointed out that obedience is better than sacrifice and submissiveness better than the fat of ram. And with that comes the consequence.

Since Saul had rejected the word of the Lord then he will have to face the consequence - he will be rejected as king. Because if the king can disobey God, then the scourge of that disobedience will go right down to the common people.

But obeying orders and commands is certainly not a burden if there is a relationship of love and understanding with the other person.

When obedience is based on a relationship with the other person, then we will follow the instruction of putting new wine in fresh skins. Otherwise, all will be lost and it is we who will have to suffer the consequences.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

2nd Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 19.01.2014

Isaiah 49:3,5-6/ 1 Corinthians 1:1-3/ John 1:29-34

The act of kneeling, to say the least, is a very profound act.

In the religious sense, the act of kneeling expresses the worship and adoration in the presence of the divine.

We may remember that on the feast of the Epiphany, the wise men came from the east and when they finally found the Child Jesus, they fell to their knees and did Him homage.

Indeed, we kneel only to the holy and the divine. It is an act of submission and reverence.

Just like when we came to the Church, and before we go to our seat at the pew, we would at least genuflect (going down on one knee) because we acknowledge the presence of God in Church.

It may seem to be like some kind of exercise for the knees, but it is typically Catholic, and maybe even habitually Catholic.

It may be so typical and habitual that some people might see it as comical.

They say that you will know when a Catholic goes for a movie in the cinema. 

He will walk down the aisle, genuflect and then go to his seat (Catholics are also creature of habit).

Nonetheless, the act of kneeling is a powerful sign of witnessing in the worshipping of the divine.

Yes, when we kneel, we lower ourselves before God and we acknowledge that God is our Creator and we are His creatures. We are nothing without Him.

So it is only right and proper that we go to God and not expect Him to come to us.

We lower ourselves before God and certainly not the other way around. We don’t expect God to lower Himself to us.

Yet in the gospel, we heard that Jesus came to John the Baptist.

And in some religious art about the baptism of Jesus, we see Jesus kneeling before John the Baptist for baptism.

Or at least Jesus stands lower than John the Baptist for His baptism.

The baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist had been a difficult issue for the early Church.

Why must Jesus, the Son of God, the sinless one, be baptized by John?

And yet the baptism of Jesus is recorded in all four gospels.

Certainly, there must be something about Jesus that the gospels want to tell us.

In today’s gospel, that something about Jesus is revealed by John the Baptist when he said, “Look, there is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Jesus has many titles “Saviour”, “Teacher”, “Healer”. But it was John the Baptist who called Jesus the “Lamb of God”.

And Jesus the Lamb of God had a specific mission – to take away the sin of the world.

Indeed, the ways of God are rather strange. To take away the sin of the world, He didn’t send a mighty army of angels or warriors, or use an arsenal of powerful devastating weapons to exterminate the wicked and the evil.

Even if it comes to using animals as a symbol, a more mighty or powerful one can be used, eg, eagle or lion.

But it is the symbol of the meek and gentle lamb, that is silent before its shearers, and does not put up a resistance when it is lead to the slaughter house that takes away the sin of the world.

Yes, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

And He showed us how to do it. We may remember that after the Last Supper and before He was arrested, He and His disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane.

There Jesus prayed and underwent great distress in what we call the “Agony of the Garden”.

There was a gesture that He made during His prayer. The gospel of Luke said that Jesus knelt and prayed.

The gospels of Matthew and Mark said that Jesus fell prostrate on the ground as He prayed.

Yes, Jesus knelt and lowered Himself so that He could take away the sin of the world.

And before we can look at the sin of the world, we have to look at the sin of the Church.

Last Thursday, the Catholic Church was slammed at the United Nations on how the Church had handled the cases of sex abuse by the clergy.

Pope Francis denounced the sex abuse as the “Shame of the Church”. Yes, this is the sin of the Church.

We, the Church have to kneel and fall prostrate on the ground to beg for God’s mercy to take away this sin of the Church even before we can address the sin of the world.

God has made the Church the light of the nations so that His salvation may reach to the ends of the world.

But we have failed; we have sinned; we need to be saved first; we need to have our sin taken away.

So, we must kneel, we must even fall prostrate on the ground and beg for mercy and forgiveness.

Then we can become lambs of God who will take away the sin of the world.

Friday, January 17, 2014

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 19-01-14

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

Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.  If we think that sounds rather familiar, it is a line taken from a song and which in turn was taken from a quote.

The trouble is most of us don’t realize this except in retrospect and then life has already happened, be it for better or for worse.

In the 1st reading, Saul was sent by his father on a mundane task of searching for donkeys that had strayed.

The reading even took the trouble to tell us that they went everywhere looking for the donkeys but still couldn't find them.

Then Saul ran into Samuel, and then whatever plans that Saul had made about his future had to give way to God's plan that will now happen in his life.

Similarly with Levi, the son of Alphaeus, who was sitting at the customs house, doing his job as a tax-collector, and having his own plans about his future.

Then Jesus came along, called out to him, and then whatever plans that he made just gave way to what God's happening in his life.

Yes, we may say that God is a "happening" God. But when God "happens" in our life, then we certainly lose stability and security because our plans will be thrown into jeopardy.

But when we let God happen in our life, then let us believe that it is a good happening. Because when God wants to intervene and happen in our life, it is for our good.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 17-01-14

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

Quite often we have heard of this saying: The grass is always greener on the other side. It always seems to be but is that the reality?

That proverb points to the tendency that people always think they would be happier in a different set of circumstances. It implies that other circumstances seem more desirable but in reality they may not be.

In the 1st reading, we heard that all the elders of Israel came to Samuel and demanded that he appointed a king to rule over them. But the purpose was that they could then be like the other nations.

Until then, Israel never had a king to rule over them. There was no need to because God rules over them and there was no need for a human king.

Yet, now they demanded for a king "so that we in our turn can be like the other nations; our king will rule over us and be our leader and fight our battles".

They looked at the other nations around them and thought that the grass over there was greener and they forgot what God had done for them.

So in essence, they rejected God and opted for a human king, which eventually would lead to dire consequences.

Jesus came to proclaim the kingdom of God. Like Melchizedek in the book of Genesis, Jesus is the king of justice and peace.

In the gospel, we saw how that justice and peace were expressed in forgiveness and healing of the paralytic.

And the people were astounded and praised God saying "We have never seen anything like this".

And if we start looking at the grass on our side and see what God has done for us, we too would be astounded and we too will praise God.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 16-01-14

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

In a competition or in sports, winning is not everything. Or so it may be said. But still no one likes to be the loser.

But in a war, winning is not just everything - it's the only thing. To lose a war would be to lose your life as well.

As we heard in the 1st reading, in the battle engagement with the Philistines, the Israelites were defeated and about four thousand of their troops were killed.

In the face of such a tragic defeat, the question was raised: Why has the Lord allowed us to be defeated today by the Philistines?

Yet, even without further consideration, the Israelites made the rash decision to bring the ark of the Lord into battle, thinking that it will boost confidence and morale.

But the question is not about confidence and morale. The question is about whether they were with the Lord or not.

And it was clear that their hearts were not with the Lord, and that resulted in another tragedy - the Israelite army of thirty thousand was slaughtered and the ark of the Lord captured.

All because they didn't want to answer the question that they themselves raised: Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated?

The leper in the gospel passage would also have asked: Why did the Lord allow me to be afflicted with this horrible leprosy?

The quest of an answer led him to fall on his knees before Jesus with this plea: If you want to you can cure me. And we know what was the reply of Jesus.

Of course the Lord wants to heal us, help us and even fight our battles for us. We only need to be with the Lord, for without the Lord, we will always be losers.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

1st Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 15-01-14

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

When we talk about communication, it may be necessary to also understand what are the principles of communication.

Because when we have the right principles, then we would be able to handle the topic and achieve what it requires.

When it comes to communication, some of the principles might be clarity, coherency, detailed, and being concise and precise.

Very often, miscommunication and misunderstanding happens when the basic principles of communication are not adhered to.

The 1st reading might seem to be like some kind of comic miscommunication.

The young Samuel heard a voice, went running to Eli, who was initially puzzled until he realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy.

So it seems that as much as the Lord does not miscommunicate, it is us who misunderstand what the message is.

But for the young Samuel, it was an initiation into the way that the Lord communicates with him and he went on to be a prophet. And a prophet essentially is one who listens to the voice of the Lord.

As for the disciples of Jesus in the gospel, they have yet to learn whose voice it is that they must listen to.

They were listening to the voices of "everybody" and hence they told Jesus that "everybody" is looking for Him.

Amidst the loud voices of this world, the voice of the Lord is like the sound of a gentle breeze (1 Kings 19:12) and yet the voice of the Lord is full of power and full of splendour (Ps 29:4)

When we have learnt to listen to the voice of the Lord, we will also learn how to communicate with others.

Monday, January 13, 2014

1st Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 14-01-14

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

One word that may appear often in our everyday vocabulary is this word - problem.

We may express it with other words like challenge, difficulty, obstacle, etc.

But the common word to use to describe all that is the word "problem" and others will also understand it immediately.

In the 1st reading, Hannah had a peculiar problem. Her soul was bitter and she went to the temple of the Lord to express her distress to the Lord.

The priest Eli noticed her muttering and thought she was drunk. But after some clarification and understanding her problem, he gave her a blessing and she went away and was dejected no more.

In the gospel, the setting was also in a place the worship - the synagogue. And there was a problem - a man possessed by an unclean spirit challenged Jesus.

How that unclean spirit got into the synagogue or what was it doing there was not made known to us.

But just as Hannah came to the temple of the Lord with her problem, the man possessed with an unclean spirit also came to Jesus in the synagogue.

Their problems found the solution when they came before the presence of the Lord.

So whenever we face a problem, where do we turn to for a solution? If we don't turn to the Lord, then our life will be one big problem.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

1st Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 13-01-14

1 Sam 1:8 / Mark 1:14-20

One of the profound sayings of John the Baptist is this: A man can lay claim only to what is given to him from above (John 3:27).

Putting it plainly, it means to say that what is yours will be yours, and what is not yours will never be yours.

Not having what is not yours may be acceptable and we can console ourselves and resign to the thought that it is of no point longing or yearning for it.

But to be taunted and made fun of for not having something can be rather tormenting. It is like taunting and making fun of the poor because they don't have money. It would take a very wicked person to do such a thing.

In the 1st reading, we heard of Hannah who was taunted and made fun of by her rival Peninnah for being barren.

And even as they went up to the Temple with Elkanah their husband, the taunting would go on. It would make us wonder why Peninnah was able to have children of her own. How is it that such people can have what they wanted?

Maybe that was what Hannah was thinking too. And she may be wondering why God does not grant her children. Was God punishing her by making her barren?

But God will speak and Hannah will have her answers along the way.

So when we ask something from God, He may say "Yes" and we get it immediately; He may say "Wait" and we will get it later; He may say "No" because He wants to give us something better.

But if God were to ask something of us, what would be our response? Are we willing to leave everything behind and listen to His call and do His will?

May we realize that what we have and what we are is given to us from above. When we are able to let go, then we will have peace and joy even while we are on earth.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Baptism of the Lord, Year A, 12.01.2014

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7/ Acts 10:34-38/ Matthew 3:13-17

There is one day in our life that we will always remember, one day that we will not forget, unless of course, our memory begins to fail.

Some would make this day special with a big celebration, while others would just spend it quietly.

That day is none other than our birthday.

Yes, that’s our special day and every year we would take note of it, or others will remind us of it.

There is this joke about celebrating birthdays. A group of friends wanted to spring a birthday surprise for one of their shy friends.

But of all places, they decided to do it at Mass.

So before Mass, one of them approached the priest to ask if he would say or do something for the birthday boy.

The priest, a prim and proper traditionalist, gave this reply: We will see how.

Now, during Mass, the priest said nothing about the birthday.

After the final blessing and just before the choir sang the final hymn, the priest said: Is there someone here celebrating his birthday today?

So his friends gleefully prodded the shy birthday boy to raise his hand.

And then the priest said, “Well, we don’t have a birthday cake for you, but since it is your birthday today…” and then he pointed to the altar, “then you can blow out the candles.”

Well, it is still a privilege to do something for the altar, even if it is just blowing out the candles!

So, in big or small ways, birthdays are remembered because they are as special as each of us is special.

But, there is another special day for us which we seldom take note of, or even bother to remember.

That special day is none other than the day of our baptism.

Some of us may remember the day of our baptism, but by and large, we don’t usually take note of that day.

Just in case we do not know when the day of our baptism was, we can find it in our baptism certificate.

And just in case we do not know where our baptism certificate is, then it is better start finding. We might need it when we want to book a niche in the Church columbarium.

Our baptism day is just as important as our birthday, maybe even more important, when considered in the religious sense.

Just as we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas, today we celebrate His baptism.

The baptism of Jesus is as important an event as our baptism, although it is different in essence.

Our baptism cleanses away the stain of original sin and immerses us into the identity of Christ and that is why it is only with baptism that we can be identified as Christians.

The baptism of Jesus identifies Him as the beloved Son of God who came to take away the sins of the world.

Hence, the baptism of Jesus marks the beginning as well as the commitment to His mission as Saviour.

Similarly, our baptism marks the beginning of our life in God, our spiritual life.

If our birthday marks the beginning of our existence, then our baptism marks the beginning of our union with God.

That union is essentially and fundamentally expressed in a life of faithfulness to God.

And there will be plenty of temptations to challenge our faithfulness to God.

Even Jesus after His baptism was tempted by the devil in the desert. But of course he overcame the temptations.

We too, are subjected to many temptations. So how have we done so far?

This feast of the Baptism of the Lord not only reminds us of the day of our baptism, but also reminds us that it is time for a spiritual check-up and a spiritual assessment.

Sometimes, we may be tempted to think that if we were not baptized, then we might have it easier and have more freedom.

We can sleep in on Sundays, don’t have to come to Church, do anything we like without feeling guilty and we do not have to go for confession.

But even though we are baptized, even though we are Catholics, we are already losing, or maybe even lost, the sense of sin.

For example, committing adultery is now called having an affair, stealing is called shop-lifting.

Yes, we are tempted to go easy on ourselves and not to take life too hard. After all, how bad have we been?

We are not playing with black magic or anything satanic so we can’t be that bad, isn’t it?

Yet, there is one aspect of the spiritual life that is called spiritual warfare, which we don’t mention often.

Just as Jesus came to fight evil and sin, we now continue the fight, and we fight with confidence in our faithfulness to God.

But there are distractions that can make us lose focus.

We may remember the story of the battle of Troy, a classic example of the art of war.

In the story, the Greeks laid siege on the city of Troy.

But they could not break the defenders of the city because the Trojans were united in their commitment to their city, so the Greeks decided to use deception.

They pretended to retreat and sail off, but they left behind a big horse-like structure, which we call the Trojan Horse.

The people of Troy unsuspectingly pulled the Trojan Horse into they city as their war trophy and began rejoicing and celebrating too soon.

When everyone was drunk on celebration and with their guard totally down, the Greek soldiers hiding inside the Trojan Horse came out and opened the city gates for the Greek army that sailed back and were waiting outside the city.

That was how the city of Troy fell, all because they lost focus on their safety and security, and were deceived by something curious.

It was a classical example of deception and temptation in the art of war.

The Bible gives us this warning in 1 Cor 10:12 “The man who thinks he is safe must be careful not to fall.”

In God is our safety and security, He is our God and we are His beloved people.

This is the covenant that is sealed by our baptism.

God has already given us everything to help us feel safe and secure. He even gave us His Son. What more do we want?

We might like to have some excitement in life, but we are risking our safety and security.

Because there are Trojan Horses waiting at our gates.

But they can’t come in, unless we want to pull them in, and then the Horse will be our loss.

So as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, and as we recall our own baptism, let us recommit ourselves in faithfulness to the Lord, and do the good, and the right and loving thing always.

Let us fight the good fight, and be faithful to the Lord always.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Saturday after the Epiphany, 11-01-14

1 John 5:14-21 / John 3:22-30

The question of the origins of pride and envy is like the chicken and egg question. We are not sure which come first but what we know is that one leads to the other.

And what we are sure of is that we are afflicted by these two capital sins.

Our consolation is that it is not just we who are afflicted by it but so too were the apostles of Jesus.

They were envious of one another and they quarrelled about who was the first.

But John the Baptist was different. If he were ambitious, seeking recognition or power, he would have resented it when Jesus started becoming more popular than he was.

He had made a name for himself as "the Baptist". Yet, today's gospel also mentioned about Jesus baptizing.

But John did not feel threatened or envious of Jesus. In fact, he even said that "this joy I feel is now complete". He even encouraged his disciples to follow Jesus by pointing Him out as the Lamb of God.

Finally, he makes his exit with his most gracious and profound spiritual statement: He must increase, and I must decrease.

So it must be for us. One way to know how we are handling our pride and envy is our response to other people's success and accomplishments.

Our response or reaction speaks volumes about the spiritual state of our hearts.

Today, John the Baptist reminds us that our mission is to make Christ known and loved, not ourselves.

The 1st reading warned us to be on guard against false gods, and that is what pride and envy are.

Let us pray that our pride and envy will become smaller, and our love for God and others become greater.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Friday after the Epiphany, 09-01-14

1 John 5:5-13 / Luke 5:12-16

Miracles always give us something to wonder about. Be it miracles of nature, or miracles of healing, or just a wonderful unexpected surprise, these extraordinary events give us a sense of mystery.

During the course of the gospel readings of this week, we hear of a few miracles - the multiplication of loaves and the walking on water.

Today we hear of yet another miracle, and that is the healing of a leper.

This is another reiteration of the Epiphany of God in Jesus - that in Jesus, we see the divinity of God and that He is our Helper, our Provider, our Teacher, our Master, and not least, our Healer and our Comforter.

Yet, the Epiphany of God is not just about the divinity of Jesus. It is also about His humanity, as He would always go off to some place where He could be alone and pray.

As we face the struggles and difficulties, the pains and the hurts of life, let us also follow Jesus and go off to some quiet place to be alone with God in prayer.

Jesus is our Healer and our Comforter. A quiet time of prayer before Jesus would bring about healing for our hearts and our souls and let us experience the saving love of God.

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel:
In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. (Isaiah 30 : 15)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Thursday after the Epiphany, 09-01-14

1 John 4:19 5:4 / Luke 4:14-22

We have heard it said so often that "practice makes perfect" . Indeed it is true, and if practice makes perfect, then repetition enhances perfection.

For the past few days, the 1st reading was from the first letter of St. John.

By now, it should be obvious to us that the most frequently used word in that letter is the word "love", and that is because the over-riding theme of that letter is love.

In today's 1st reading, we hear of at least three reasons why love of neighbour is so central in our lives as Christians.

Firstly, it says that we are liars if we claim to love God and yet hate our neighbour.

Secondly, how can we claim to love God whom we have not seen and not love our neighbour who is visible and even right before us?

Thirdly, because we believe in Christ, we have been begotten of God, and so we are God's children.

If we claim to love God our Father, we must love His children too.

These reasons may be rather repetitive, with the same things being said in different ways, but the point is clear.

That was also what Jesus said in the gospel when He quoted the passage of the prophet Isaiah.

In short, our belief and love for God must be expressed in our love for others.

Let us practice that love, repeat it ceaselessly and bring God's love to perfection in us.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Wednesday after the Epiphany, 08-01-14

1 John 4:11-18 / Mark 6:45-52

The existence of the spiritual world cannot be denied because we profess in the Creed that there are "things visible and invisible".

But a slanted understanding of the spiritual world might just end up in talking about ghost and ghost-stories, and all those horror movies only add more drama to this.

Nonetheless, whether we take it seriously or not, some of those ghost stories can even make our skin creep.

Yet, it is interesting that the gospel mentioned the word "ghost".

The disciples thought they saw a ghost, and they were not just afraid - they were terrified.

However, the gospel also said that "Jesus was going to pass them by".

"To pass them by" is a biblical way of saying that a revelation of God is going to happen, ie. a theophany.

Just yesterday we heard how Jesus revealed God as teacher and provider in the multiplication of loaves.

Today we heard how Jesus revealed His divinity as He walked on the rough waters.

The rough waters and the strong winds of life can make us afraid, and even terrified, and like the disciples, we see only the "ghosts" but we miss what God is revealing to us.

So what does God want to reveal to us? The feast of Christmas reminds us that God sent His Son to reveal His love for us.

As the 1st reading puts it, God is love, and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.

In love there can be no fear, whether of ghosts or suffering or death.

In love, God continues to reveal and fill our hearts with His love.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tuesday after the Epiphany, 07-01-14

1 John 4:7-10 / Mark 6:34-44

One of the precepts of the Church is this: "You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor."

The faithful are required to attend the celebration of the Eucharist every Lord's Day (Saturday vigil or Sunday Mass) and the holy days of obligation as established in the liturgical calendar, unless excused for a serious reason [i.e. illness or the care of infants]. This is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, citations 2041-43.

Yet, we also know that if we skip the Sunday Eucharist without any good reason whatsoever, we are not put into any kind of mortal danger. We won't be struck by lightning or run down by a truck.

We only need to go for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and be forgiven of that sin.

But if our Sunday Mass attendance is irregular and sporadic, and we do not observe the injunction to go for the Sacrament of Reconciliation for this fault, we are not exactly in any mortal danger; life still goes on and maybe even it is business as usual.

But spiritually, if we do an honest examination of our lives, then we know that love and peace are slowly being eroded from our hearts, and selfishness and anger are on the rise.

We can only come to realize that if we are honest and sincere with ourselves. And it also makes us realize this: if we have not received, then we can't give.

In the gospel, Jesus received from the crowd the five loaves and two fish, and in turn He gave them a feast.

At every Mass, we offer to the Lord bread and wine, and in return, He gives us Jesus to fill our hearts with love and our lives with peace and joy.

Without the Eucharist, we will have no Good News to proclaim because we have not received any.

If we truly understand what the Eucharist is doing for us, we would want to come for it everyday. And like what happens in the Eucharist, we will be always loving to others, because we know that God has loved us first, and that He wants us to do likewise.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Monday after the Epiphany, 06-01-14

1 John 3:22 - 4:6 / Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25

In the long history of humanity, there are notable human beings who were considered deities by themselves or others.

There are also people who claimed divinity or were worshipped as deities during their lifetimes, and there were also individuals who were deified posthumously.

In her 2000 years of history, the Church has faced this problem even with her own people. Some Christians give in to their ego and become cult personalities and even claiming divinity.

But the biggest challenge in the early Church and also in the modern Church is the debate over the identity and the nature of Jesus Christ.

We profess that Jesus is both fully divine and fully human. Yet the heresies that arose in the Church is leaning towards either one or the other - that Jesus is either fully human or fully divine.

That's why the 1st reading says that there are many false prophets and it is not every spirit that we can trust.

And finally it says that the prophets who claim to come from God will acknowledge that  Jesus the Christ has come in the flesh and that He is from God, i.e. fully human and yet fully divine.

Yes, Jesus is that great light that dawned in the people that lived in darkness and in the shadow of death, and He came to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is already close at hand.

In fact the kingdom of God is already among us when we let Jesus make His home in our hearts.

And by our lives of holiness, others will know that we are children of God.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Epiphany, Year A, 05.01.2013

Isaiah 60:1-6/ Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6/ Matthew 2:1-12

Most of us may still remember some of the stories and fairy tales that we heard during our childhood and primary school days.

But as we grow up and face the real world, we also leave the idealistic fairy tales behind.

But say what we like, fairy tales may teach us a thing or two about the real world.

One fairy tale that we would have heard before is “Cinderella”. We would vaguely remember the story.

The story begins with this beautiful young girl who had a proud and haughty step-mother, who had two daughters of her own who were equally vain and selfish.

The step-mother and her two daughters forced the young girl to be their maid and ill-treated her day and night.

When her chores were done for the day, she would go back to her cold and barren room and curl up before the fireplace in order to stay warm.

She would often be covered by cinders from the fire place and the step-mother and step-sisters would mock her by calling her “Cinderella”. (That’s how she got her name.)

One day, the Prince invited all the young ladies to a ball and he planned to choose a wife from amongst them.

The two step-sisters planned to go for the ball but Cinderella would have to stay behind to do the household chores.

After they left for the ball, and as Cinderella was working at the miserable chores, her fairy godmother appeared and transformed Cinderella into the beautiful young girl that she was, so that she could go to the ball.

Cinderella’s rags were turned into a beautiful gown and she even had a delicate pair of glass slippers.

The fairy godmother told her to enjoy the ball but she must return by midnight when everything will go back to normal.

At the ball, Cinderella entranced everyone especially the Prince but she remembered to get back home before midnight.

Another ball was held the next evening and Cinderella again attended with the fairy godmother’s help.

But she got so absorbed dancing with the Prince that she lost track of time and only rushed out at the stroke of midnight, leaving behind one of her glass slippers.

The Prince kept that glass slipper and was determined to look for her because he wanted to marry her.

He ordered all the young ladies to come and try out the slipper but of course none of them could fit into it.

Finally, Cinderella appeared and slipped her foot into it and had the other slipper to prove that she was that beautiful girl at the ball. 

And of course in the end, the Prince and Cinderella got married and lived happily ever after.

There can be a moral to the fairy tale - goodness will prevail and it will overcome all obstacles with some divine intervention. 

Today as we celebrate the feast of Epiphany, we see the appearance of the wise men, or the Magis, or the three kings, at the Nativity Crib.

These three kings are like some exotic figures from some fairy tale. 

Their clothes were rich and elegant and their gifts are by no means ordinary.

As we have heard from the gospel, they came from the east and they were led by the star in search of the new born king of the Jews.

So their journey began even before Christmas and they had to cross the desert sands with all its challenges and difficulties.

So we can imagine that they were sun-scorched, dusty, smelly and sounding a bit crazy as they came to Jerusalem asking where was the new born king of the Jews.

And that’s where the drama began. King Herod was perturbed and so was the whole of Jerusalem.

The chief priests and the scribes were called in and after some checking, they said that it was not here in Jerusalem but there in Bethlehem.

And then Herod thought of an evil plot to use the wise men as his unsuspecting agents to search out the new born king.

So off they went to Bethlehem and again led by the star, they found the child and paid homage to Him.

And then warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another way.

Yes, we are all familiar with the story of the wise men.

Sounds like a fairy tale, and we can even end it off by saying that the wise men lived happily ever after.

Well, the wise men were wise in the ways of God, but they may not be that wise when it comes to the ways of the world.

They were used for evil intentions, but that also stirred up the divine interventions. Yes, in the end, goodness will prevail.

Does that sound like some fairy tale or should we believe that it is for real?

The feast of the Epiphany means that the birth of Christ was revealed to all the nations and the wise men who were non-Jews are the representatives.

But another underlying aspect is that the revelation of Christ will also be met with evil resistance and evil intentions.

And here is another revelation: in the face of evil intentions, there will be divine intervention. Goodness will prevail over evil; God will prevail over evil.

During World War II, when the Jews were rounded up and sent to the gas chambers, there is this true story of one remarkable man who outwitted the Nazis to save about 1200 Jews from certain death.

That story was made into a movie “Schindler’s List” (1993). That man was Oscar Schindler, a German industrialist, who used his flair for presentation, bribery, and grand gestures to risk his life in order to save the Jews who were working for him.

For the 1200 Jews, Oscar Schindler was all that stood between them and certain death.

Oscar Schindler was a man full of flaws like the rest of us, an ordinary man who in the worst of circumstances did extraordinary things.

In the shadow of Auschwitz, he kept the Nazis out and those 1200 Jews alive.

He was the instrument of divine intervention in the midst of evil intentions and actions.

He may not be a wise man but he certainly was a good and courageous man.

We live in a world where the ways of the world are often at odds with the ways of God.

We want to do the good and right thing, but there will be the “Herods” who will want to sabotage us and make us trip and fall.

They may even want to use us to carry out their evil intentions, just like how Herod used the wise men.

Today’s feast of the Epiphany reveals Christ to the world and it also reveals another truth: God’s intervention in the face of evil intentions.

So like the wise men that followed the star and found Jesus despite all the dangers and snares, may we continue to follow the ways of God.

He will show us His help and intervention. That is not a fairy tale, that is God’s revelation.