Friday, February 28, 2014

7th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 01-03-14

James 5:13-20 / Mark 10:13-16

We may think that what is the most obvious and necessary thing that must be done would be embarked on without hesitation.

But very often it is not the case, and the obvious and necessary thing is done only when what has preceded had failed.

One common example is the instruction manual of a gadget or equipment. We have this tendency to have a go at it hands-on first when the label would tell us to read the instructions first.

What the 1st reading said seemed so obvious and necessary - If anyone of you is in trouble, he should pray; if anyone is feeling happy, he should sing a psalm. If anyone of you is ill, he should send for the elders of the church.

Yet, we seem to do otherwise. When we are in trouble we will get anxious and will desperately look for solutions and when all is futile then we turn to prayer. Prayer does not seem to be our first option.

And even when we are happy, we bask in the euphoria of the moment and we forget that it is a moment of blessing from the Lord. Being happy and being thankful does not seem to go together.

And of course, when we fall ill, we would rather go see the doctor than to see a priest first to ask for a prayer of healing and strength to bear our illness.

So what is obvious and necessary is not really what we would do first. Often it may well be the last thing that we would do.

Similarly, children may seem to be like little concerns and we have more pressing issues at hand to handle, and so we may not have time to pray with them and bless them like Jesus did in the gospel.

Today's readings remind us to take care of the little, obvious and necessary things in life first. When we take care to let God be first in our lives, then we will be taken care of by God.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

7th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 28-02-14

James 5:9-12 / Mark 10:1-12

There is a video clip of Pope Francis giving a speech to married couples on Valentine's Day. That video clip has gone viral because he cracked some jokes in it.

But he actually began on a typical preaching note. He said that we all know that there is no such thing as a perfect family, or a perfect husband or a perfect wife. Then his jokes began.

But jokes aside, what the Pope said is so true but not so easily accepted or understood.

Because we want others to live up to our expected perfections. And this happens in community, in family and to married couples.

In the gospel, when the Pharisees questioned Jesus about marriage and divorce, He brought in the very fundamental teaching that in the beginning of creation, God made them male and female, and that what God has united, man must not divide.

Yet Jesus did not say that it will be happily ever after. Just as there is no perfect family, perfect husband or perfect wife, it merely goes to show that no one is perfect.

And because no one is perfect, then what the 1st reading said must apply to everyone who has come to realize that.

It said: Do not make complaints against one another, so as not to be brought to judgement yourselves.

That is so true but not so easy to do. Truth lies not in lofty profound matters but in ordinary day-to-day encounters and relationships.

When we understand that no one is perfect, then we will be less likely to complain and judge and more open in accepting and understanding each other.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

7th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 27-02-14

James  5:1-6 / Mark 9:41-50

Much has been said about wealth, and yet much more can still be said about wealth.

And to be fair, we have to talk about the both sides of wealth. 

Wealth can be the result of hard work and prudent savings and good investments.

But wealth can also be the result of greed and dishonesty, with also a splash of stinginess thrown in.

Whichever way it is, wealth stands as a neutral object. The question is the attitude towards it that generates the interest behind it.

The 1st reading has a lashing for the wealthy by telling them they can start crying and weep for the miseries that are coming. Because their wealth is rotting, their clothes are eaten away, their gold and silver are corroding.

But that is because their wealth is gain through injustice and oppression - they cheat their labourers, hold back the wages of the reapers, condemned the innocent.

Wealth made them think that they had the might and right and no one dared to resist them. But the time of reckoning will come.

In the gospel, Jesus gave us this warning - whatever causes us to sin, we must cut it off. Rather to cut off a sinful thing than to go to hell with everything.

Anyway, wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. All we want, all we need is Jesus. The rest is transient and will eventually pass away. But Jesus will be our eternal reward.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

7th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 26-02-14

James 4:13-17 / Mark 9:38-40

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” (St. Augustine of Hippo)

Similarly, we may think that our country's food is the best, until we go abroad and have a taste of another country's cuisine.

The main difference between being narrow-minded and broad-minded lies in the attitude and in the way we look at things and people.

The two readings of today give us concrete examples of the difference between being narrow-minded and broad-minded.

The 1st reading quotes some people who talk about making plans for the future and what they are going to do and with hopes of making some money too.

But it is like a tunnel-vision of life and God does not seem to be included in their plans; it was all about themselves and nothing about God or anyone else.

If the problem with the people in the 1st reading is the exclusion of others in their life and in their plans, then the problem that we see in the gospel is that of non-acceptance.

John saw a man doing the same ministry as them and because he was not one of them, they tried to stop him. They couldn't accept that man and what he did.

And Jesus gave His disciples a very broad principle: Anyone who is not against us is for us.

The broad-minded see the truth; the narrow-minded see only the difference. Let us pray that we will be able to see God in little things and give Him glory for everything.

Monday, February 24, 2014

7th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 25-02-14

James 4:1-10 / Mark 9:30-37

Most predators do not hunt for sport or for fun; they hunt for food and for survival.

Surely the hunting process would include killing the prey but that is the law of nature, and part of the food chain cycle.

What the 1st reading said seems to make human beings, not just like animals but even worse than animals.

From the desires fighting inside ourselves, we get obsessed with something but we can't seem to get  it.

We are even prepared to kill, and when the ambition cannot be satisfied, we are prepared to fight to get our way by force.

We may think that it is an over-statement, yet the evidence is that in the history of humanity, there are wars and battles that have resulted in much blood-shed.

Even if that is in a figurative sense of the term, the psychological wars and battles have resulted in much stress and trauma and made life miserable.

And to stop this vicious damaging cycle, the 1st reading reminds us that God wants us for Himself alone.

God opposes the proud but He gives generously to the humble. And it is only with the heart of a child that we can draw nearer to God, and He will draw even nearer to us.

Only with the heart  and the humility of a child then we will be able to let go of our desires and ambitions and be filled generously with the peace and joy that God wants to generously give us.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

7th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 24-02-14

James 3:13-18 / Mark 9:14-29

If we know what prayer really is, then we would also know that a Christian who does not pray cannot be called a Christian.

Because a Christian is a person whose life is in union with Christ. As St. Paul would say, "It is not I who live but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20)

So prayer is nothing less than a time of deep union with Jesus. Prayer is not just a moment with Jesus and then we go back to our old self of sin.

Certainly, prayer must bear fruits of holiness in our lives, where we think and act like Jesus, and like what the 1st reading said, it also makes for peace and is kindly and considerate and full of compassion.

Without prayer, then we will be overrun by the bitterness of jealousy, a self-seeking ambition that covers up the truth with lies, and we will be the cause of disharmony.

In the gospel, the disciples were arguing with some scribes and a crowd had gathered to watch the commotion.

They were arguing about a child who was possessed with an evil spirit, but the disciples were unable to cast it out, leaving the father of the child desperate.

Whatever the argument between the disciples and the scribes was, it didn't resolve anything and in fact the situation was becoming embarrassingly ridiculous. Until Jesus came into the scene.

When the disciples asked Jesus privately why they were unable to cast out that evil spirit, Jesus gave a short but thought-provoking answer - This is the kind that can only be driven out by prayer.

That should make the disciples think about how they are praying. That should also make us think about how we are praying.

May we enter into a deeper union with Jesus in prayer, and may it make us be more like Jesus in our lives.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

7th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 23.02.2014

Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18/ 1 Corinthians 3:16-23/ Matthew 5:38-48

Whenever we look at nature, what comes to mind are beauty and majesty.

We would think of misty sunrise and sunsets, animals with their young moving in herds and the wonder of the animal kingdom.

But there is also the other side of nature and the animal kingdom.

There is the dark and devastating tornado or typhoon and there are also predators hunting down their prey.

And some animals and insects have in their nature the ability to inflict pain and even death – scorpions sting, snakes bite, bees sting.

And there are animals that we don’t want to cross into their paths, eg, tiger, leopard, grizzly bear. 

There is this story of an atheist taking a walk through the woods and admiring nature with its majestic trees, powerful rivers and beautiful animals.

As he was walking along, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look and saw a huge grizzly bear charging at him.

He quickly ran ahead with the bear closing in. He tried to run even faster but as he ran he suddenly tripped and fell.

He rolled over to pick himself up but saw the bear right on top of him, reaching for him with the left paw and raising the right paw to strike him.

At that instant, the atheist cried out, “Oh my God!” Time stopped. 

The bear froze. The forest was silent. Even the river stopped flowing.

A bright light shone on the man and a voice came out of the sky, “You deny my existence all these years, teach others I don’t exist and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?”

The atheist looked directly at the light. “It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a believer now. But perhaps you could make the bear a believer and a Christian?”

“Very well then,” the voice said. Then the light went out, the river ran again, and the sounds of the forest resumed.

And the bear dropped its right paw and then joined both paws together, as if it was praying.

It bowed its head and said, “Bless me, O Lord and this Your gift which I am about to receive from Your goodness. Amen.”

We believe in God. We also believe that Jesus Christ came to save us.

Oh yes, we need Jesus to protect and save us. This world can be dark and dangerous.

More than just scorpions that sting and snakes that bite,  we face wicked and evil people who cross into our paths.

And when they sting and bite and claw at us, what did Jesus say that we should do?

Well, these are His words in today’s gospel passage: Offer the wicked man no resistance. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

That sounds difficult, and it is indeed difficult. We would rather pray that the wicked will be whacked, and our persecutors be persecuted.

This is profoundly expressed in a moving and stunning book titled “The Railway Man” by Eric Lomax.

Eric Sutherland Lomax (30 May 1919 - 8 October 2012) was a British Army officer who was sent to a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in 1942. 

He was captured when the Japanese conquered Singapore. He was then transported 1,200 miles to Kanchanaburi, Thailand, and forced to work on the notorious Burma-Siam Railway.

At Kanchanaburi, he was starved, viciously beaten and horribly tortured.

Amongst all his torturers, Lomax was especially consumed with hatred for Takashi Nagase, an interpreter with the Japanese army. 

In Lomax’s mind, Nagase personified all the atrocities committed by the Japanese.

During the interrogations, Lomax memorised every feature of Nagase’s face: the dark eyes, the small nose, the broad forehead. 

He wanted to remember him, and someday find him and make him pay.

The war left Lomax with severe psychological problems which he never fully recovered from.

After more than 40 years, he eventually sought treatment. 

But, he remained darkly obsessed with his torturers, especially that interpreter.  

Then, in October 1989, a friend gave Lomax a newspaper clipping of a book written by Takashi Nagase.

In the decades after the war, Takashi has become a devout Buddhist and has dedicated his life to atoning for the treatment of Japanese Prisoners of War.

Almost 50 years after their first encounter, Lomax and Nagase agreed to meet at the World War 2 museum in Kanchanaburi on 26 March 1993 . 

The two men only came for this meeting because, almost after 50 years, on reading that Takashi Nagase felt he had been ‘forgiven’, Lomax became so enraged that he was determined to tell him that no, he hadn’t been. That he still hated him. That, even as an old man, he dreamt of strangling him.

But at the famous bridge over the River Kwai, Lomax made peace with Nagase, and it was a deeply moving moment for them.

Over the next three days, the two men talked about their lives since the war.  Their rapport grew easier with time.

On the day before they were to part, Lomax gave Nagase a letter, in it he wrote:  Although I can’t forget the ill treatment at Kanchanaburi, taking into account your change of heart, your apologies, the work you are doing, please accept my total forgiveness.

Both men were deeply moved to tears at their farewell.

And Lomax said, “I’ve learned that hate is a useless battle, and it has to end sometime.”

It is part of the human condition that somewhere on earth, at any time, there is a place as dark as Kanchanaburi, 1943. 

The world today is no stranger to torture. That the potential for unimaginable cruelty lurks in all of us, is certainly borne out by the evidence.

The Railway Man shows us something rarer; that a capacity for forgiveness - equally unimaginable – stirring in the depths of our hearts, and it cannot be extinguished, even if we want it to be.

And if God lets the sun rise on bad men as well as good, and the rain fall on honest and dishonest men alike, then the Christian response to evil and wickedness can be none other than mercy and forgiveness.

In the face of what is beautiful and what is ugly, let us do the one exceptional thing that the Lord God is calling us to. 

We hear that call in the 1st reading: Be holy, as I the Lord your God is holy.

And what does that mean? It means that we must not bear hatred in our hearts, and we must not exact vengeance or bear a grudge.

As Eric Lomax said: I have learnt that hatred is a useless battle, and it has to end somehow.

To be holy as the Lord God calls us to be holy means that we do that exceptional thing of loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors.

So that the response we give to what is ugly can only be love, and then forgiveness and reconciliation can begin.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, Saturday, 22-02-14

1 Peter 5 : 1-4 / Matthew 16 : 13-19

In the business world, courses on management and marketing skills are in high demand.

Such courses enable a multinational company or business organization to work efficiently and productively. All for the purpose of profit and making money.

The Church can be called a multinational organization, with a hierarchical structure.

So what are our so-called management and marketing principles?

The 1st reading summed it up in these words: Be shepherds of the flock that is entrusted to you. Watch over it, not simply out of duty, but gladly. Do not do it for sordid money. Never be a dictator, but be an example for others to follow.

Such pastoral and management principles have held the Church together for over 2000 years.

Yet, such principles and teachings are not easy to adhere to because of human frailty and weaknesses.

Yet, where there are short-comings and failings, the grace of God fills up the gaps to hold the Church together.

Jesus promised this when He said: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it.

At the same time, the promise of Jesus comes with a mission for the Church.

The Church does not exists for its own sake. The Church can be said to be the only institution that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.

The Church is the sign of God's love and salvation for the world. United as the Body of Christ and with the Pope as the head of the Church, we are to carry out that mission.

So we pray for the successor of St. Peter, our present Pope Francis, and all the leaders of the universal Church, and also for our Archbishop William Goh who celebrates the first anniversary of his episcopal ordination today.

Let us also pray for ourselves. That in carrying out what Peter said in the 1st reading, we may be witnesses of God's love and presence in the world so that others will come to know who Jesus Christ is.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

6th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 21-02-14

James 2:14-24, 26 / Mark 8:34 - 9:1

In the 3rd century BC, Quintus Ennius wrote: 'Amicu certus in re incerta cernitur'. Translated from the Latin it means 'a sure friend is known when in difficulty'.

We know the present version of this saying as "a friend in need is a friend indeed". Or it can also be read as "a friend in need is a friend in deed".

Whichever is preferred, they almost have the same meaning that a friend who stays with you when you are in trouble (need) is a true friend (indeed, in fact).

In the 1st reading, we heard that Abraham is called a "friend of God". Not that he helped God in something or that he did something of merit for God.

Rather it was his faith and his faithfulness to God that he lived out his life and even to the extent of offering his son Issac on the altar.

In fact, it was God to came to his help in his times of need, and it was difficult to follow the ways of God but Abraham just kept on believing. (He was 100 and Sarah was 90 when they had Issac!)

Yes, the ways of God are difficult to believe and to follow. And those who do so are truly "friends of God".

Following Jesus is also difficult. And He tells us in today's gospel that if anyone wants to follow Him, he must renounce himself and take up his cross.

We are more than just friends of Jesus. We are His disciples. Let us ask Jesus to strengthen our faith that we may be faithful to Him always.

When we stand by Him in our need, He will stand by us indeed, and in our need.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

6th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 20-02-14

James 2:1-9 / Mark 8:27-33

The 1st reading is taken from the letter of St. James. If we had been following the readings from that letter since the beginning of the week, then we will also know that it is a letter that is downright straight-forward and it also uses every day examples to get the message across.

And in today's passage from the letter of St. James, if someone else were to say those same words, who do we think would that person be?

If we can remember some of the key phrases from the first reading: "do not combine faith with the making of distinctions between classes of people", "in spite of this, you have no respect for anybody who is poor", "as soon as you make distinctions between classes of people, you are committing sin and breaking the Law".

As we think about these statements, probably the face that might emerge in our minds is that of Pope Francis.

Ever since he became Pope, his vision is a Church for the poor and a Church of the poor.
And he has cleaned up quite a few Church institutions and practices in that direction.

Certainly that is not anything new. Just that what was said by St. James in the 1st reading has been taken out of the closet and put into practice again. And it's making heads turn, and with approval and affirmation.

But in the gospel, when Jesus told His disciples that He was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected and put to death, His disciples expressed dismay and disapproval and Peter even remonstrated with Him.

The ways of God is often in contradiction to the way we want to think and to the ways of the world. But when the ways of God are followed, He will certainly show us signs of His approval.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

6th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 19-02-14

James 1:19-27 / Mark 8:22-26

Taking things for granted come so easily for us. Things go from appreciation to depreciation as quickly as ice cream melts in the noon-day sun.

Yes, we take so many things for granted that it is only when we lose it then we will desperately look for it or mourn over its loss.

And if we ever lose one or more of our abilities, we would certainly find it difficult to accept and even more difficult to get used to it.

The ability to see would be something that is probably at the top of our treasured list. And yet we take it for granted so often.

Like what the 1st reading said, we look at our own features in a mirror and then, after a quick look, we hurry off and immediately forgetting what we looked like.

That analogy is used to describe another ability that we so often take for granted - the ability to listen, and, in the spiritual sense, to listen to the Word of God and obeying it and putting it into action.

And the 1st reading also addressed the ability to speak. A person who thinks he is serving God and yet has not learnt to control his tongue is only deceiving himself.

Yes, we have the abilities to see, to listen and to speak, and yet we take it so often for granted and we do not use them properly.

In the gospel, Jesus healed the blind man. But the healing process seems to be gradual, with the blind man seeing vaguely initially and then seeing clearing later.

May we let Jesus open our senses and abilities so that we see deeper, listen clearer so that what we speak will give praise to the Lord.

Monday, February 17, 2014

6th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 18-02-14

James 1:12-18 / Mark 8:14-21

It is said that if you can't explain something simply, then it is because you don't understand it well enough (Albert Einstein).

Which is quite true because as long as you don't have to stand before someone or before an audience to talk about and explain something that you should know, then you would tend to think you know it all.

It is only when we are put to the test, then we will know how we will fare and how much we understand.

Similarly with faith. Faith that is not tested under trials may be a faith that exists only in concepts and ideas.

And it is clear that trials and even temptations are not placed in our paths by a sadistic God who wants to amuse Himself when we fail and fall.

Rather, it is an occasion for us to stand firm in faith and to face the test of the temptation and also to know that in such times, we need the grace of God to be able to overcome those trials and temptations.

So even when Jesus was telling His disciples to keep their eyes open and to be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod, they somehow went off-tangent and thought that it was because they had no bread with them.

We would have thought that their being with Jesus should have made them sharper to understand what He was saying.

Jesus even had to chide them by asking: Do you not understand? Have you no perception? Are your minds closed? Or do you not remember?

But by the grace of God, eventually they will understand, and perceive, and remember.

And so will we. And then we will witness. We will stand firm in trials and temptations and draw strength from the grace of God.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

6th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 17-02-14

James 1:1-11 / Mark 8:11-13

There is a one-word question that can make us stop in our tracks and start to think of an answer for it.

That one-word question is - "Why?" And that one word question can be expressed in so many ways in order to express the sentiments behind it.

It can be expressed angrily, or defensively, or apologetically, or with curiosity.

The 1st reading tells us that if we need wisdom, we must ask God, who gives to all freely and ungrudgingly.

But we must ask with faith, and with no trace of doubt. But from our own experience of prayer, and especially when praying for a desperate need, we don't get answers as quickly or in the way we hope.

And we will turn to God and we will ask "Why?". It can be an angry "Why?" or a desperate "Why?".

But we will get our answers along the way, when life unfolds into the future, and we see that things happen for a reason. Yet, we will always have the "Why?" question.

In the gospel, it was not the people who were asking the question. Rather it was Jesus as He asked: Why does this generation demand for a sign?

God allows us to question Him and even to vent our anger and frustration on Him. And He will show us the answers as we move on in life.

But if God were to question us, especially if He were to ask us why are we always demanding for signs, will we be able to give Him an answer?

Maybe we should ask ourselves why are we questioning God? If it is faith and wisdom that we lack, then let us pray for it, and God will grant it to us freely and ungrudgingly.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

6th Ordinary Sunday, 16.02.2014

Ecclesiasticus 15:16-21/ 1 Corinthians 2:6-10/ Matthew 5:17-37

In the month of February, there is one particular day when the prices of certain things will go up.

The price of flowers will go up, especially that species called roses. 

Having a meal on that day in a classy restaurant will probably burn holes in your pocket. The number of marriages on that day will also be exceptionally higher.

That day that we are talking about is the 14th February, which is also Valentine’s Day.

Last Friday, the 14th February, which is Valentine’s Day, a record number of 243 couples in Singapore tied the knot, the highest in five years, according to the Registry of Marriages.

So having a wedding dinner on that day is going to be costly. And buying flowers, especially roses, for your beloved is also going to be costly.

In short, love is costly. Falling in love is costly. Staying in love is also costly.

There is this joke about a woman who woke on the morning of Valentine’s Day and said to her husband: Hubby, I just dreamt that you gave me a diamond necklace for Valentine’s Day. What do you think it means?

The husband replied: You will know later today.

So in the evening when the husband came back from work, he gave a small package to his wife.

Delighted, she opened it. In that package was a book entitled “The meaning of dreams”.

Moving on from jokes and dreams, we come to some serious teachings from Jesus in today’s gospel passage.

He began by telling His disciples that if their virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, they will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

The scribes and the Pharisees make a big deal about keeping the laws and commandments. So, as long as one doesn’t kill or steal or commit adultery or break an oath, then one can go to heaven already, or at least almost there. That was what they say.

But now Jesus is telling us something more, something deeper and also something higher.

As it is, killing or murder is already the far end – it is forbidden! 

And we don’t even go there. For some of us, killing a cockroach or a lizard is traumatic enough and we can lose sleep over it.

But getting angry at others and keeping that anger and letting it burn and boil within us seems to be one of our favourite pastimes.

And we let that anger boil and burn into resentment and bitterness and even hatred.

It’s like drinking poison and hoping that the other person will die. 

And it’s like cutting yourself with a knife and hoping that the other person will bleed in pain.

We somehow know it is ridiculous and futile. And Jesus has to tell us that it is ridiculous and futile.

Our anger is not killing anyone; it is only killing ourselves. And Jesus wants to save us from that.

And neither do we go around committing adultery just like that. Certainly not!

But how about flirting? And there is a new form of flirting called “sexting”.

It is about the exchanging of saucy sexually explicit messages and images with another person using mobile phones.

Such forms of flirting have harmed marital relationships and marriages have broken down because of that.

We have this notion that if we are not caught then it is not wrong. 

But we also forget that what is done in the dark will be brought into the light, sooner or later.

Again Jesus wants to free us from this kind of improper and immoral relationships. He wants us to live in the freedom of the light and not in the darkness of fear.

Jesus tells us that whatever is causing us to sin, we have to cut it out. It would be better for us to cut off that sinful thing than to go to hell with everything.

There is this story about the big boys of the Information Technology who came for a meeting and they began to brag.

Wikipedia said: I know everything. Google said: I have everything. Facebook said: I know everybody. Internet said: Without me you are nothing. Sitting at one corner, Electricity said: Talk some more, talk some more …

Well we know what has been said. We have also learnt how it was said – thou shall not kill, thou shall not commit adultery, thou shall not bear false witness.

Today we hear something more from Jesus. He is telling us this: If your virtue goes no deeper than what is said, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

In other words, our love for God and for others must go deeper than just not killing, or not committing adultery or not telling lies.

Our love for God and for others must make us strive for forgiveness and reconciliation, for purity and holiness, for truth and beauty.

And this brings us back to the story of Valentine’s Day and the person behind it – St. Valentine.

He was a priest who lived during the 3rd century, and at that time the Roman emperor forbade marriages because he wanted the young men to join the army, as he had this thinking that unmarried soldiers would be better soldiers as they would not have to think about their wives or children.

But St. Valentine secretly officiated marriages for Christian couples who wanted to get married.

Well, he was caught and thrown into prison and tortured. But he forgave his tormentors and while in prison he even prayed for and healed the jailer’s daughter from her blindness.

Before he was executed, he sent a note to that jailer’s daughter, urging her to be pure and holy, and to speak the truth always.

He signed off that note with the famous words – From your Valentine.

Today we also heard from our Valentine. Jesus loves us and He wants us to strive for the higher virtues of love – forgiveness and reconciliation, purity and holiness, truth and beauty.

Yes, love is costly, falling in love is costly, staying in love is costly.
But Jesus paid the price on the cross for loving us. May we listen to what He is telling us and put it into action.

Friday, February 14, 2014

5th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 15-02-14

1 Kings 12:26-32; 13:33-34 /  Mark 8:1-10

It is quite obvious that there is religion and spiritual authority have a close inter-relationship.

Religion and spiritual authority are not mutually exclusive; they should complement each other and build on each other

In the 1st reading, king Jeroboam used his authority to turn the hearts of his people away from the God of Israel to worshipping idols.

That is the adverse effect of spiritual authority especially when the motives are far from religious.

King Jeroboam used the spiritual authority and influence to secularize the sacred.

But the warning at the end of the 1st reading pointed out the dire consequence of such a deed. Eventually the Northern Kingdom of Israel was annihilated.

But when spiritual authority is understood as service to the people of God and making God present among His people, then religion will be the means by which people are fed and taken care of.

In the gospel Jesus multiplied the loaves to feed the people. He did this to show God's providence and care.

Jesus was exercising His spiritual authority to care for the people and to call down God's providence.

Jesus has also given us that spiritual authority to call upon God's providence and to serve His people.

May we exercise that authority in prayer and help others experience the love and the providence of God.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Singapore, Friday, 14-02-14

Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 / 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17 / John 2:13-22

The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is the oldest Catholic Church in Singapore.

Built in 1847, the Church of the Good Shepherd was blessed and opened. In 1888 it was elevated to the status of a cathedral and on the 14th February 1897, it was consecrated as a cathedral.

The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd has a fascinating association with the history of Korea's Catholic Martyrs.

Saint Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert, in all probability the first Catholic priest to visit the island, died a martyr in Korea and the church's name "Good Shepherd" was inspired by what he wrote knowing the persecutions the missionaries will face "In desperate circumstances, the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep."

That was how the Cathedral got its name. The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is the mother Church of all the churches in Singapore.

The Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop and it is the sign of unity for all the parishes in the diocese.

And as we know the Cathedral is undergoing renovations as well as other repairs. Our contributions to this cause is urgently needed, because the Cathedral is the sign of God's presence in the Church and also the source of blessings and graces.

It is like what the 1st reading said about the Temple from which healing and life-giving waters flow.

So let us pray and contribute to the building of the Cathedral so that it will be a sign of God's blessings to the Church in Singapore as well as a spiritual beacon for our country.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

5th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 13-02-14

1 Kings 11:4-13 / Mark 7:24-30

We may wonder why idolatry was such an attraction to the Israelites in the Old Testament. In fact, one of the main and recurring sins was idolatry.

It was also the first grave sin that the people of Israel committed when they were freed from slavery - they made themselves a golden calf and worshipped it as the god who brought them out of Egypt.

When they reached the Promised Land, they need not make idols for themselves to worship; there were ready-made idols that were worshipped by the peoples around them.

In the 1st reading, we heard about two of them - Astarte, the goddess of the Sidonians, who was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war.

Milcom was a Semitic deity of perverted cruelty. Milcom was honoured with human sacrifices. The people would burn their children in fire as a form of sacrifice.

The people worshipped these idols because they could have their desires and greed fulfilled, ie. sex and status, as well as money and power.

Obviously these seem very attractive and lucrative. But we also need to remember that evil always seems to be attractive and lucrative.

And the evil behind it will drive us to be cruel and eventually we would even be willing to sacrifice our children in order to satisfy our evil desires.

But in the gospel, we heard of a Syrophoenician woman who refused to sacrifice her daughter to the evil spirit.

Her faith in Jesus enabled the evil spirit to be cast out of her daughter.

May our faith in Jesus also cleanse us of our wicked desires and greed and may we also help others cast out the evil from their lives.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

5th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 12-02-14

1 Kings 10:1-10 / Mark 7:14-23

It is not easy to impress those who already have what is impressive, or who in themselves are impressive.

So to those who are naturally beautiful, it will be very difficult for the beauty care companies to get their endorsement; for those who are rich and famous, it will be difficult to sell them a book or a program on how to be successful.

The queen of Sheba, in the 1st reading, was a royalty and a monarch in her own right. If she was a queen regnant, then she would certainly have an impressive status in her region.

So it would be difficult to impress her, as the other kingdoms around her would have done probably and failed.

But when she heard of the fame of Solomon, she made the trip all to way to see for herself and indeed she was impressed. She could not believe until she saw it with her own eyes the wisdom and prosperity of Solomon and his kingdom.

People also came to Jesus because they were impressed by Him - He taught with authority and He healed the sick

But Jesus did not ride on His popularity and impressiveness. He came to preach repentance and bring people back to God.

And in today's gospel passage, Jesus puts the focus on the heart. It is the things that come out of  a man's heart that makes him unclean - fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly.

These evil desires do not leave a good impression on anyone. On the contrary, a kind and loving heart that is merciful and compassionate will leave lasting impressions.

So let us ask the Lord to cleanse our hearts of sin and make it pure with His love.

Monday, February 10, 2014

5th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 11-02-14 (Our Lady of Lourdes; World Day of the Sick)

1 Kings 8:22-23, 27-30 / Mark 7:1-13

One of the recent occasions when the Church came together to pray for a specific intention was on the 7th September 2013.

Pope Francis issued a call to the Church for an evening of prayer and fasting for a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis.

About 100,000 people prayed with the Pope at St. Peter's square, joined by the universal Church.

A military strike on Syria was already planned and was expected to take place. But after that evening of prayer, the tension eased and there were negotiations for peace and the destruction of the chemical weapons.

Certainly we must believe that when we are united as the Church for pray for an urgent need, God will certainly heed our prayer and grant us our petitions.

As it is now, so it was then, when King Solomon made this prayer in the 1st reading: Hear the entreaty of your servant and of Israel your people as they pray in this place. From heaven where your dwelling is, hear and as you hear, forgive.

And as it was then, so it is now, as the Church continues to pray to pray for the needs of the world and also the needs of the Church.

Today is World Day of the Sick. We remember the sick in the hospitals and at home, as well as those those afflicted by some kind of illness and are looking for a cure.

Sickness has the power to erode faith and hope and the sick need our prayers because when in pain, all efforts to pray is almost evaporated.

Today we unite our prayers for the sick and may our prayer also lead us to minister to the sick and support them in their time of need.

May God hear our prayers and grant the sick the strength to bear their illness and the faith to witness to Christ in their sufferings.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

5th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 10-02-14

1 Kings 8:1-7, 9-13 / Mark 6:53-56

The word "theophany" refers to the appearance of a deity to a human being or human beings.

The word theophany has acquired a specific usage for Christians with respect to the Bible.

It refers to the manifestation of God to man, the sensible sign by which the presence of God is revealed.

In the 1st reading, we heard that a cloud filled the Temple of the Lord, and because of the cloud, the priests could no longer perform their duties: the glory of the Lord filled the Lord's Temple.

For king Solomon and the people, that was an unmistakable manifestation of the presence of God. God was indeed present in the Temple and among His people.

For us who come for Mass, and some of us even come for daily Mass, how we wished that there was some kind of divine manifestation or a sensible sign to boost and stir up our faith.

Furthermore, monotony and routine can slowly erode reverence and coming for Mass can become habitual and ritualistic.

Yet, it is undeniable that the Real Presence is at the altar, and in Holy Communion we consume the Body of Christ and the Real Presence lives within us.

Hence, it is in us and through us that Jesus will make His presence felt; we are to be the "theophany" of God.

Just as the people wanted to touch Jesus and those who were sick were cured, we too are to continue the healing work of Jesus.

Let us pray that we will truly be in union with Jesus always, and may others see in us the manifestation of the presence of Jesus.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

5th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 09-02-2014

Isaiah 58:7-10/ 1 Cor 2:1-5 / Matthew 5:13-16

Going to the seaside and just looking at the sea can be quite relaxing, and it can also make us do some reflecting.

The sea is like always alive, with the waves coming in and going out, and the sea breeze can help us forget our worries for a while.

And if we stretch our imagination a bit, the sea is like supporting all the ships and the boats and everything that is on it.

The sea gives a sense that it is alive, and indeed it is full of life.

So whenever we talk about the sea, we would think of water and the fishes, the wind and waves.

But there is a particular sea that is rather strange. Even the name sounds like some kind of contradiction. It is called the Dead Sea.

The Dead Sea is actually a very large lake, bordering Jordan to the east and Israel to the west, which means that it is land-locked.

And if we were to stand on the shores of the Dead Sea, we will notice one thing.

The sea, or the so-called sea, is rather quiet and calm – no waves, no ships, no boats, nothing of what we would expect a sea to have.

The name of the sea tells us why. It is the Dead Sea. There is no life in it – no fish or marine life.

That is because the high salt content (8.5 times higher than the ocean) prevents fish and aquatic plants from living in it.

An interesting point is that the waters of the river Jordan will flow down from the highlands in the north, and flow down to the sea of Galilee, and then down to the Dead Sea, and it stops there.

Yes, the waters flow all the way down until it reaches the Dead Sea where it comes to a dead end, because there are no outlets.

The Dead Sea tells us one thing – when things stop moving, they will die.

Similarly when things are not used for their purposes, they will become useless. An example are batteries. When they are not used after some time, they will become useless.

Similarly with people. When people don’t realize the purpose of their lives, they become meaningless.

And that is what Jesus is saying in the gospel when He used the analogies of salt and light.

Salt that has no taste is like dry desert sand. And why hide the light? Might as well don’t have the light at all.

Salt gives taste and light gives sight.  That’s the reason why Jesus used them as analogies.

The purpose of our lives is to realize who we are and to give of what we have. But when we don’t, then our lives become meaningless and lifeless, just like the Dead Sea.

There is a story of a pretty and well-dressed lady who went to see a lawyer to file for divorce.

Her husband used to be a successful businessman, and he was able to support her expensive and lavish life-style.

But when his business failed, his wife couldn't accept it and decided to file for divorce and leave him.

When the lawyer heard her story, he told her that he would like someone to speak to her, and he called in a middle-aged office cleaner.

The lawyer asked the cleaner to tell the lady how she found meaning and direction in her life.

The cleaner’s story went like this – My husband died of cancer in his late 30s, and then barely half a year later, my only son was killed in a road accident.

I had nobody left and nothing to live for. I was in grief and in shock and in a daze. I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t eat.

I couldn’t smile. I was angry with God and resented those people who seemed so happy in life. I even thought of ending my life.

One day when I came back from work, there was a scrawny kitten at the corridor, meowing away, and it followed me to the door.

I felt sorry for the kitten, and I decided to let it in and I gave it some milk. It purred and rubbed against my leg.

For the first time in months, I smiled. Then I stopped to think. If helping and feeding a little kitten can make me smile, then maybe helping somebody in need can make me happy.

So the next day, I cooked some food and brought it to a neighbor who was elderly and sick, and it made her happy.

So every day, I would try to do something nice for someone else and it made me happy to see them happy.

I realized that a person cannot be happy unless he is thinking of how much he can help others, instead of thinking about how much he can get from others.

Now I eat well, and I sleep well, and I am happy.

And then the cleaner said to the lady : I hope that  you can be happy too, by helping others to be happy.

Whether the lady went on to file for divorce or not, the story left it to us to think about it.

But the point of the story is that the poor cleaner found happiness by helping others to be happy.

In doing that, she also found her purpose and meaning in life.

We are Christians. A Christian is a person in whose life Christ lives again.

And just as Christ gave His life for us, so too we must give our lives for others, by helping them to be happy.

Otherwise we might just end up like the Dead Sea.

Just as salt gives taste and light gives sight, let us give love. Because we can only be happy when we help others to be happy.

Friday, February 7, 2014

4th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday, 08-02-14

1 Kings 3:4-13 / Mark 6:30-34

We have heard of those folk-tales about genies appearing from magic lamps and granting wishes; usually three wishes and sometimes more.

The wishes are granted to the person because the genie was trapped in the magic lamp and the person released the genie by rubbing the lamp. (eg. Aladdin and the magic lamp)

And then from there will come stories of adventure, the morals of the story, some jokes about those wishes, etc.

In the 1st reading, we heard about the Lord God offering to grant Solomon any request, although it was not stated whether it was one or more.

Even if it was only one wish, a shrewd person would probably say: Lord, grant that all my wishes will come true.

Well, Solomon could have had everything but he asked the Lord only for wisdom. But because the Lord was pleased with his request, he was also given everything.

In the gospel, Jesus told His apostles to go off to some lonely place all by themselves to rest for a while.

They had been on the mission of preaching repentance and deliverance from evil spirits and healing the sick, and they had been successful and euphoric about it.

Jesus had to take His apostles away from the mission, not just to rest, but to get a clear perspective, that it is the Lord who was granting them this power and authority.

May we also have the wisdom to see that all our abilities and resources come from the Lord.

Like St. Thomas Aquinas, the brilliant theologian, when the Lord appeared to him and asked him what he wanted as his reward, he answered: Only you Lord, only you.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

4th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, 07-02-14

Ecclesiasticus 47:2-11 / Mark 6:14-29

An eulogy is a speech or writing in praise of a person, especially when that person has passed away recently. Eulogies are usually given as part of funeral services.

Usually the good things are said about the deceased - his achievements, his examples, his good character, etc.

It is also not polite to say something nasty about the deceased. After all the word eulogy means "in praise of" and hence it is understood to be about the good of a person.

The 1st reading would sound more like an eulogy for David. Or at least it is to pay tribute and to honour David.

Yet, in spite of the glowing praises, we all know that David had sinned against the Lord and that he committed adultery and even murdered his faithful soldier in order to cover his misdeeds.

However, David admitted to his guilt and asked for forgiveness and the Lord forgave him.

David was humble and contrite and repentant and with the Lord's forgiveness, he rose to great heights.

But in the gospel, we come across a man who committed sin after sin, and showed no repentance nor asked for forgiveness.

John the Baptist warned Herod, but for his pride and ego, he had John the Baptist done away with.

And now Herod hears about Jesus, and he was immediately reminded of what John the Baptist had warned him.

Herod didn't leave a legacy behind. It is more like he left a tragedy and wasted his chances, all because he didn't heed the call to repentance.

Let us be aware of the signs that are calling us to repentance and conversion. When we heed those signs and act on them, then it will be a living eulogy for us.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

4th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, 06-02-14

1 Kings 2:1-4, 10-12 / Mark 6:7-13

Usually we would want to fulfill a dying person's last wish. We would want that person's soul to rest in peace even though that person may not be physically present anymore.

Not to fulfill it would leave a restlessness in our hearts, and maybe even a restlessness in the soul of the deceased.

Whatever the case might be, a dying person's words would be wise and for the good of those whom he is leaving behind.

We heard in the 1st reading that as David's life drew to its close, he ordered Solomon to remain faithful to the Lord God so that the Lord God will fulfill the promise He made to David, ie. David's dynasty will continue.

Well, Solomon and kings that came after him tried to keep that injunction, but they either broke it or disregarded it altogether. (We may wonder what David thought about that!)

But it was because David's instructions were not kept and followed that tragedy upon tragedy happened to the kingdom right up till the time of Jesus.

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and to gather the people of God back into the ways of the Lord.

But more than that, Jesus also commanded  His disciples to preach repentance and to be instruments of deliverance and healing.

Repentance, deliverance and healing point to what Jesus came to do - to offer salvation.

If a dying person's wish is to be respected and fulfilled, then the instructions of Jesus our Lord who is risen from the dead and lives among us ought to be followed and fulfilled all the more.

So may repentance begin with us, so that we can be instruments of deliverance and healing and salvation for others.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

4th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 05-02-14

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

During those times when we were going through some crisis or turmoil or distress, how we longed for peace and security.

And if we could recall those times, as much as there were suffering and unrest, those were also the times when our prayer was most sincere and we hung on to our faith.

Yet, when the storm has subsided and there is peace and calm again, we may have noticed how slack and complacent we have become, especially in prayer and in faith in God.

In the 1st reading, David did a census of the people. He actually wanted to know the strength of his army.

David, with the help of God, had already subdued all his surrounding enemies and Israel was the greatest power in the region at that time.

But it now seemed that he wanted to flaunt the might and splendour of his kingdom, and hence, he called for a census of the population so that he can have some numbers to show off.

It was certainly not an act of faith, nor a fruit of sincere prayer, and it even incurred the wrath of God and David was punished for it.

In the gospel, the people of Nazareth also seemed rather smug and complacent. Even though they were under foreign occupation, life was going on as usual, other than the complaints here and there.

They don't seem to need to hear any messages from God, and not especially when it was from one of their own kind. Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith.

May we put our faith in the Lord in bad time, and in good times may we ask the Lord to strengthen our faith to meet the challenges of the future.

Monday, February 3, 2014

4th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 04-02-14

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

Blood is certainly thicker than water. And with that, we can also say that the emotions between family and relations go much deeper than with others.

More so if the emotions are resentment, bitterness and hatred. The closer the relationship is, the thicker and deeper will these emotions go.

We can imagine the feelings and emotions when a son rebels and plots against his father. No culture would accept that and it would not be in the son's favour.

So we can understand why David's commander, Joab had no qualms about thrusting the three lances into Absalom's heart while he was hanging alive in the branches of a great oak.

Such a son is a curse to the family and society and it would be better that he be killed and wiped away from the face of the earth.

Yet, David's reaction to the death of his son, the very son who rebelled and plotted against him and would even kill him, left his followers bewildered and the troops returned back stealthily as if in shame.

David grieved and mourned for his son. After all, blood is thicker than water and David was a good father and he loved his son Absalom.

And it was the same for the synagogue official in the gospel. Jairus fell at the feet of Jesus and pleaded with Him to come and cure his daughter and to save her life.

Yes, blood is thicker than water and any good father will go all the way to do whatever they can for their children, whether they deserve it or not.

Similarly, God our Father will do whatever to love us and save us, even if it means having to sacrifice His only Son for us.

Let us turn from our wayward  and sinful ways and return to God our Father and be healed by His love and forgiveness.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

4th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, 03-02-14

2 Sam 15:13-4, 30; 16:5-13 / Mark 5:1-20

Very often, how we look at what is happening in our lives is a matter of perspective.

For example, a hollow cylindrical object can look like either a circle or a rectangle from a certain narrow angle.

Yet when we have an overall view of the object then we will know it is a hollow cylinder.

In the 1st reading, we hear of David having to flee for his life from his own son Absalom.

As if that is not distressful enough, Shimei, a relative of Saul, came along and cursed David and threw stones at him.

David could have seen this as an occasion to defend his kingship and to wipe off his enemies, which would include his son and Shimei, and consolidate his power and kingship.

But he chose to humble himself before the Lord and commended himself into the hands of the Lord when he said, "Perhaps the Lord will look on my misery and repay me with good ... "

Even in a crisis, David chose to look at it with humility and repentance, and he trusted in God's mercy and even though he had committed a grave sin, he remained faithful to God.

Many centuries late, Jesus, the Son of David, stepped on the country Gerasenes and he was confronted by a man with an unclean spirit, and the unclean spirit was bargaining and begging for mercy.

Jesus replied with one question - What is your name? And that made the unclean spirit realize who it was and surrender to Jesus.

Jesus is also asking us: What is your name? Who are we?

When we realize who we are, then we will get the proper perspective to see who God is and what our life is all about.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Presentation of the Lord, Year A, 02.02.2014

Malachi 3:1-4/ Hebrews 2:14-18/ Luke 2:22-40
Today is the third day of the Chinese New Year. Actually the more correct term is the Lunar New Year.

Here in Singapore and elsewhere, it is a big celebration for the Chinese, so it is often referred to as Chinese New Year.

But whether Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year, it is a celebration of culture and traditions that are uniquely Chinese.

And there are also some strange taboos that have somehow become traditional practices.

For example, there must be no washing of hair on the first day of Chinese New Year. It can be before or after but not on the day itself. It has something to do with the washing away of luck. So washing hair cannot, but bathing can!

Also on the first day of Chinese New Year, there must be no sweeping or mopping of the house. And all brooms and mops must be kept out of sight. Again it has something to do with luck.

Well, my family is not a strict traditionalist family, but this year, we broke the tradition.

Because my brother and his family wanted to go away for a holiday during the Chinese New Year and they want to leave on the eve of Chinese New Year.

And the eve of Chinese New Year is the day for that all important Reunion Dinner.

So it means that we have to bring forward the Reunion dinner, which is something my family had not done before.

Thus, I had to go home on Tuesday for the Reunion Dinner, which was two days ahead of the eve of Chinese New Year. Anyway it was done and we had a good dinner.

Then came the question of the eve of Chinese New Year, the traditional day for the Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner.

Should I go home for dinner with my parents? After all, it’s just going to be my parents and myself. So to go home or not to go home – that’s the question.

Well, in the end, I went home on the eve of Chinese New Year and had a simple dinner of leftovers with my parents.

After dinner we just sat around, the three of us, and we brought out the family photo albums and we talked about the past and how my parents struggled along with the children growing up, about the present and the challenges, and about the future with our hopes and dreams.

To put it simply, I was glad I went home to keep the traditional day of the Reunion Dinner. Otherwise, I would have missed out a good family time with my parents.

In a way, the gospel of today is about the keeping of traditions.

Mary and Joseph kept the traditions of the Law of the Lord and took Jesus up to Jerusalem for the purpose of purification and to consecrate Jesus to the Lord since He was their firstborn.

Mary and Joseph were just doing their duty and keeping to the tradition of the Law. It was significant for them and for Jesus but it was nothing exceptional.

Little did they know that in that simple act of keeping the traditions of the Law of the Lord, many things were waiting to happen.

First there was Simeon who was looking forward to set his eyes on the Christ of the Lord.

He had been waiting and waiting for that day, and it finally came when Mary and Joseph brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what the Law required.

And then there was Anna, that 84 year old widow, a prophetess, who was waiting to make that last prophecy, and preparing herself with fasting and prayer.

She came by just at that moment, and it was to be her moment of fulfillment. We may call it her “five minutes of heaven”.

As for Mary and Joseph, it may have been a revelation beyond their expectation to hear all that being said about Jesus.

And especially for Mary, what Simeon said to her may have left her bewildered and forlorn.

She and Joseph came to fulfill their duty for Jesus, and yet in doing so they have fulfilled the longings of Simeon and Anna.

But the central figure in all this is Jesus. With His revelation, Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna knew where to move on to.

For Simeon and Anna, they can finally close their eyes to this world and move on to meet God in the next.

For Mary, she must prepare for that day when the sword will pierce her heart.

For Joseph, he now knows that his task is to watch over and care for mother and child to meet their destiny in life.

And for us in this feast of the Presentation, there may be a revelation for us.

We too, have come here to keep the tradition of the Law of the Lord in the Sunday Eucharist.

What will the Lord reveal to us, that will be between Him and each of us.

Keeping to a religious tradition, like coming for Mass every Sunday may not be always exciting and inspiring.

Yet, the Lord is always revealing something to us so that we can have a beautiful way of looking at things.

There is this story of a father who was trying to read a magazine but his little daughter was distracting him.

On a page of the magazine was printed the map of the world. So, to keep her busy, he tore out the page and there tore it into many pieces and asked her to go and put them together to make the map again.

He was quite sure that she would take the whole day to get it done.

But the little girl came back within a few minutes with the perfect map.

He was surprised that she did it so quickly and asked her how she did it.

The little girl said: Oh, there is a man’s face on the other side of the paper. I just have to put the face right to get the map together.

With that, she ran outside to play, leaving the father bewildered.

We too, may not understand the pieces of map of our lives.

But Jesus will reveal His face to us so that we can put our map together and have a beautiful way of looking at things and at life.

So as we celebrate this feast of the Presentation of Lord, let us also offer our lives to the Lord.

And may the Lord reveal His plans for us.

Then, like Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna, we will be able to move on in life and fulfill our destiny.