Sunday, August 31, 2014

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 01-09-14

1 Cor 2:1-5 / Luke 4:16-30

One of the primary tasks of the priest is to preach the Word of God. Preaching the homily at Mass is his duty and he is obligated to prepare for it.

Yet, the task of preaching is indeed challenging because the people of God thirst for the Word to be made flesh in their lives. They yearn to experience scriptural teachings translating in their everyday life.

So priests and preachers will understand what St. Paul meant when he said: I came among you in great fear and trembling in the speeches and sermons that I gave.

But  he also quickly added that none of his preaching belonged to philosophy.

Rather, it is a demonstration of the power of the Spirit.

It was with the power of the Spirit that Jesus went back to Nazareth, and at the synagogue, He read the passage from the prophet Isaiah.

And the people were astonished by the gracious words that came from His lips.

But it is so easy to let human thinking as well as criticism come into the way of the Word of God.

As we could see it from the gospel, the people started to make a judgement about Him and subsequently rejected Him.

Human beings may be endowed with knowledge and intelligence, but we must also remember that God's ways are not man's ways.

The book of the prophet Isaiah has this passage (Isa 55:8-9): My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

May our minds and hearts be opened to God's revelation as He speaks to us through His Word.

May our faith be not dependent on human philosophy but on the power of God.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

22nd Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 31.08.2014

Jeremiah 20:7-9/ Romans 12:1-2/ Matthew 16:21-27

As we come into the Church today, there is one thing we would take – the bulletin.

There are a few reasons why we take the bulletin.

I remembered that in my teenage years when I wouldn’t go with my parents to Church (because I want to go on my own – a teenage rebellious syndrome) I would make it a point to take the bulletin.

Not that I want to read what is in there, but it would be used as a proof to my parents that I did attend Sunday Mass (otherwise I will not have my pocket-money for that week).

The retribution for that is that now I have to proof-read the weekly bulletin.  : (

But for most of us, we take the bulletin to have a look at the announcements and the up-and-coming events and whatever we need to take notice of.

But inevitably, there would be some bloopers and blunders and typo or grammatical errors.

The mistakes are certainly unintentional, but at the same time they can be quite funny and even hilarious.

The following are some examples but they are not from our parish bulletin.

  • Ben and Jessie were married on Oct 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their Sunday school days.
  • Don’t let worry kill you – let the Church help!
  • Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want to remember.
  • Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our Church.
  • Let us join David and Lisa in the celebration of wedding and bring their happiness to a conclusion.
Certainly these bloopers and blunders are unintentional. It’s just a case of the wrong choice of words or the wrong placing of the words that make it sound strange and even hilarious.

But if what is spoken can be quoted, then what is printed cannot be easily amended.

We may remember that in last Sunday’s gospel passage, we heard Peter made that profound profession about who Jesus is when he said: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And for that Jesus made Peter the rock on which He will build His Church.

Indeed it was an astounding heavenly revelation that was given to Peter.

But in today’s gospel passage, we heard the  same Peter remonstrating with Jesus with those words: Heaven preserve you Lord; this must not happen to you.

That was certainly not a blooper or blunder on the part of Peter.
Because to remonstrate means to make a forceful reproachful protest.

So it was intentional and Peter knew exactly what he as saying to Jesus.

And from being the rock on which the Church would be built, he sank to rock-bottom. He became associated with the prince of the underworld; he became associated with none other than Satan himself.

We may wonder why Jesus was so harsh on Peter.

And we may also wonder why such strong words of Jesus was recorded in the gospels in the first place.

Jesus came to bring comfort to those who are in distress.

Jesus is the love of God made visible for those who want to follow the way of God.

But it needs to be said that God’s way is not man’s way.

God’s way is the way of the cross. But in the face of pain and suffering, the human inclination is similar to that of Peter’s remonstration.

We want to protest against the cross. There has got to be a way out of the problem of pain and suffering.

We are inclined to think of a way out of the cross and not the way of the cross.

The question of which way will always come before us.

It was the same question that came before St. Thomas More (1478 – 1535) who in the 16th century was Lord Chancellor and the right-hand man of king Henry VIII.

But when he was asked to renounce his allegiance to the Pope and to declare his loyalty to king Henry VIII as sovereign head of the Church of England, he refused and was imprisoned.

The daughter of St. Thomas More even implored him to declare his loyalty to the king in order to save his life.

After the jury's verdict was delivered and before his sentencing, St. Thomas More spoke freely of his belief that "no temporal man may be the head of the spirituality".

In other words, what will a man gain if he wins the whole world and yet ruins his life?

St. Thomas chose the way of the cross and laid down his life for it. But he got his eternal reward.

The cross is not just a part of the Christian life – it is the very heart of the Christian life.

The truth is that the cross does not crush out our life but through it we gain our life.

It is when the cross is heaviest that God’s blessings are at its greatest.

We don’t need to ask for the cross; it will be given to us.

There is no typo error or grammatical error to that. It is as truthful as it can get.

The question is do we choose the way of the cross, or do we choose the way out of the cross.

Our choice will determine whether we gain our life or ruin it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

21st Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 30-08-14

1 Cor 1:26-31 / Matthew 25:14-30

There is this quote from an unknown Greek poet  : "I shall walk this way but once, therefore, whatever good I may do, let me do it now, for I shall never walk this way again."

It is a very profound reflection because it is so true that we only live this life but once, there is no going back, and yet there is so much to give to life and to learn from it.

Cardinal John Henry Newman had this to say: God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another.

Indeed, as we journey on in this life, there is so much to learn and there is so much to give when we realized how much we have received.

Only if and when we realized how much we have received!

Otherwise we might just want to feel safe and secure by burying ourselves in the ground.

But that is not God's plan and purpose for us.

May we always remember that we walk this way once and will never walk this way again.

Whatever good we can do, whatever love we can give, let us do it now.

Let us not bury our lives in the ground and waste it away.

There is always the work of love to carry out, and we will not rest until our hearts find rest in the Lord.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Passion of St. John the Baptist, Friday, 29-08-14

Jeremiah 1:17-19 / Mark 6:17-29

At times we wonder if being good and doing good is really worth it.

Because very often, we see, and even experienced, that good is being re-paid with evil.

John the Baptist just wanted Herod to repent and live a good life.

Because what Herod did was leading towards self-destruction.

John the Baptist had compassion for Herod.

In fact, Herod knew it, and that was why he was distressed when he had to give the orders for John's execution.

But goodness cannot be silenced or put to death.

Because in the person of Jesus, Herod will be reminded again of the goodness of John the Baptist.

When we live out the Christian values of love, patience, gentleness, humility, etc., and we get slapped in the face, we may wonder if it is worth it.

But let us remember that all good comes from God.

When we do good, the benefactors are not just the others.

We ourselves begin to realize our Christian identity and see the power of goodness and the power of God's love happening in the lives of others.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

21st Week, Ordinary Time,Thursday, 28-08-14

1 Cor 1:1-9 / Matthew 24:42-51

Quite often we hear this phrase - History repeats itself.

But does history really repeat itself? How can history repeat itself?

We don't go back to the stone-age and start life all over again.

No, history does not repeat itself. But the mistakes that were made in history tend to surface again and in a new packaging.

For example, what is happening in Syria and in Iraq has happened before in history, just that it happened in another place and with a different group of people.

Yes, the mistakes of history will keep surfacing again and again.

And the list of ugly moments in the history of humanity will continue to lengthen as long as we don't heed the call of Jesus to stay awake and to be vigilant.

Because the degradation and destruction of mankind begins with a corruption of the self.

It is the corrupted self who forgets that he is just a creature and a servant, and will one day stand before the Creator to give an account of his deeds.

Yes, we must keep alert and stand ready. And at the same time may we make a history of mankind that is known for its beauty and not to make it ugly.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

21st Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 27-08-14

2 Thess 3:6-10, 16-18 / Matthew 23:27-32

If there is any relationship between laziness and hypocrisy, then it could be that one leads to the other.

Laziness can be described as the tendency or inclination to avoid activity or exertion or work despite the ability to do so.

Hypocrisy can be described as the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs when it is not the case. In other words, it can be simply called a pretence.

In the 1st reading, we heard St. Paul urging the community to keep away from those who refuse to work or to live according to the teachings of the faith.

Those people refused to do any work because they thought that the Lord Jesus would be coming back any time so they decided to drop whatever they were doing and just sit around and wait.

So instead of working for their salvation trembling with fear, they preferred to do nothing and just keep waiting.

They may be telling others that they want to be focused on waiting for the Lord's return but in reality they may be just lazy and using faith as a pretence.

That may also be the case with the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus was addressing in the gospel. Hypocrisy is often used to cover up something else, and in this case it was the laziness to keep the discipline of the faith.

Today as the Church honours St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine (whose feast day is tomorrow) we will remember how she prayed fervently for her son's conversion with tears and with penance, and she persevered for 30 years before she saw the fruits of her prayers.

May St. Monica pray for us that we too will work and pray fervently for our salvation and for the salvation of others. A lively faith does not have room for laziness and hypocrisy.

Monday, August 25, 2014

21st Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 25-08-14

2 Thess 2:1-3, 14-17 / Matthew 23:23-26

When it comes to observing religious duties, we like things that are straight-forward.

We like to know when are the days of obligation, when are the days of fasting and what to eat and not to eat and how much or how little can we eat.

These religious observations are important as an expression of our faith, and we should know if we had done our religious duties that is required of us.

What is also important are religious duties that cannot be measured or that cannot be spelt out straight-forward.

And these are what Jesus pointed out in today's gospel passage - justice, mercy and good faith.

And that is when being a disciple of Jesus gets rather difficult.

Because there is no measure for justice when it is understood as a loving tolerance to those who have done us wrong.

There is no measure for mercy when it is understood as an act of kindness to those who make mistakes.

And there is no measure for faithfulness when it comes to keeping our word and loyalty to others.

Where the letter of the law end, the spirit of discipleship begins.

Let us observe what the Church teaches and yet may we also have the spirit of discipleship - justice, mercy and faithfulness.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

21st Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 25-08-14

2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12 / Matthew 23:13-22

The idea of contrast is not just to differentiate the properties of two objects, but also to see the strength and depth of each of those objects.

The idea of contrast is applied to a wide range of comparison - from images, to words whether spoken or written, and to almost what can be heard and seen and felt.

The two readings of today may be seen in the light of contrast.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul affirmed the Thessalonians of their faith in the midst of persecutions and troubles.

He further encouraged them to complete all the good that they were doing through faith because the name of Jesus Christ will be glorified in them.

But in the gospel, Jesus had some tough words for the scribes and Pharisees. He called them hypocrites and fools for what they say and do.

So even though the scribes and Pharisee were seen to be religious people, what they did and say did not give glory to God.

Among their failings was that they did not guide people to God, which was what religious people essentially should do.

We may not consider ourselves as religious people but it is undeniable that we are people of faith.

Let not our faith and our lives be a contrast or a contradiction. Rather by our faith and our lives may the name of Jesus Christ be glorified.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

21st Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 24.08.2014

Isaiah 22:19-23/ Romans 11:33-36/ Matthew 16:13-20

The name Peter comes from the Latin “Petrus” and “Petrus” means stone or rock.

In the Bible there is only one person with that name and we all should know who he is. 

His original name is Simon son of Jonah, but in today’s gospel passage, we heard that it was Jesus who gave him this name.

Jesus said to Simon: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.

So Peter means “rock” but his fellow apostles would have nicknamed him “Rocky”, but of course that is not found in the Bible.

When we say that something is on the rocks or that something is rocky, we know what it means.

When we call someone “Rocky”, it may mean that that person may be brawny but not necessary very brainy.

Of course, we won’t call Peter “Rocky” out of respect because he is the first head or first pope of the Church.

We don’t call Peter “Rocky” but more often than not, he shoots off his mouth and says the wrong things at the wrong time and ended up flat-footed.

The gospels do not spare Peter in recording his “rockiness”. Jesus called him Satan, he denied Jesus 3 times, Jesus wants to wash his feet but he asked for a bath.

The gospels portrayed Peter as impulsive and brash. 

Jesus named him the “rock” but his confreres might have called “rocky” and the object of their jokes.

But did Peter laugh at himself for all his blunders? Because you would need to have quite a sense of humour in order to carry on like Peter. Besides having some thick-skin as well!

It is said that laughing at your own mistakes can lengthen your life. But it is also said that laughing at your wife’s mistakes can shorten your life!  : )

Well, we all know that Peter had a mother-in-law (Jesus healed her – Mt 8:14-15), which means that he had a wife, but he nearly had his life shortened, not because he laughed at his wife’s mistakes but because he was imprisoned by king Herod with the intention of putting him to death.

But Peter was miraculously rescued from prison by an angel (Acts 12:1-25).

But eventually in 64 AD Peter was executed by the Roman emperor Nero and he was crucified upside down.

Peter might have had a rocky start but in the end he was as firm as a rock in witnessing to Jesus.

When Jesus said that it will be on this rock He will build His Church, Peter might not have fully understood what it meant.

Neither could he have understood what it was meant to be given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, to bind and to set free.

And neither would he have fully understood what was meant by the gates of the underworld would never hold out against the Church that would be built on him as the rock.

Even now, we ourselves might not understand what all that means. But there is one thing that we know.

We know the fury and the violence that the gates of the underworld have unleashed upon the Church and upon the world.

In the course of this week, one of the sensational news was the beheading of the American photojournalist James Foley.

Like Peter, he escaped death once when he was captured in Libya, but through the prayers of his family and friends he was later released.

When news of his brutal death was announced, Pope Francis called his family to console them and they were very moved by his kindness and condolences. (By the way, James Foley and his family are Catholics).

After his Libyan ordeal, James Foley wrote an article to thank his family and friends for their prayers.

He also recounted how he prayed the Rosary during his captivity and that gave him strength and courage and hope.

He also said that he experienced the power of the prayers of his family and friends of his church community and also the power of his own prayer.

But his Libyan ordeal did not stop him from going to the dangerous situation in Syria. And neither did his family members want to stop him.

He had this mission in life and it was a mission that he wanted to fulfill.

His mother, Diane Foley, wrote this message after receiving the news of her son’s death:

“We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.”

She also added: “We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages.”

James Foley saw the gates of the underworld and the fury and violence that it unleashes.

Like St. Peter, he too lost his life to it. But like St. Peter, James did not die in vain.

His photos and footage of what is happening in Syria and Iraq bring images to the news reports that we read and we just can’t look away and not be bothered by it.

His death has also brought about an international outcry and condemnation of his killing, and also a call to an end to the violence and bloodshed.

And just as the Church stood firm and moved on after the death of St. Peter, we too must stand firm of the rock of St. Peter and pray fervently for the end to the violence and hostilities that had cost the lives of many innocent victims.

We the Church cannot sit around and do nothing in the face of what is coming out from the gates of the underworld.

If we profess what St. Peter professed, that Jesus is the Christ, then may we stand firm on the rock of St. Peter’s profession, and by our prayer may we hold out against the gates of the underworld.

Friday, August 22, 2014

20th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 23-08-14

Ezekiel 43:1-7 / Matthew 23:1-12

Everyone who is in the teaching ministry knows the necessity of practicing what he teaches.

And the complementary aspect can also be to teach about what one practices.

Because when one teaches about what one practices, then the premise is the reality of life and not just from precepts or concepts.

Then the teaching becomes related with life, with the struggles and failures, the disappointments and pain, the tears and sweat.

Jesus tells us in the gospel to get down to the reality of life and not to expect from others what we ourselves cannot do or won't do.

He told the people not to be guided by what the scribes and Pharisees do, since they do not practice what they preach.

But He also said something important before that - You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say.

To preach about what we practice may have a connection to the reality of life but yet it may also limit the challenge to the growth in spirituality and discovery of self.

We must remember that God has called us to be holy, just as He is holy.

To follow Jesus is not to be contented with what we are doing now but to discover what He wants us to do.

Indeed, the precepts of Christianity opens our eyes to the depth of the reality of life. When our eyes are opened, we will have to do what has to be done.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Queenship of the BVM, Friday, 22-08-14

Isaiah 9:1-6 / Luke 1:26-38

Eight days ago, the Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven.

In the course of these eight days, the Church meditates deeper on the mystery of the Assumption, and on the Octave of the Assumption (8 days later) the Church concludes the reflection with the  celebration of the Queenship of Mary.

In short, it could be said that God assumed Mary into heaven to share the victory of Christ and to reign with Him in glory as Queen of Heaven.

So the proclamation and celebration of Mary's queenship in essence points to the Kingship of Christ.

In celebrating the queenship of Mary, we are also reminded that we are the Chosen people of God and we are also His royal children.

So as God's Chosen and royal people, all that we do and say must be geared towards giving glory to God.

Mary showed us how to do that in the gospel when she responded to God's call by accepting God's will.

In doing so, Mary gave us the concrete example of obedience in the form of servanthood.

We are not just the Chosen and royal people of God. We are also the Chosen and royal servants of Christ the King.

With Mary as our queen, let us offer ourselves in service to the Church, so that in all that we do and say, God will be glorified and exalted.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

20th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 21-08-14

Ezekiel 36:23-28 / Matthew 22:1-14

We like to have new things because they work efficiently and productively and it is a good feeling to be the first owner.

But new things does not necessary mean that we will change our habits or our ways of doing things. We may get a new car but we will still be driving it with our old habits.

Similarly with new environments or new surroundings. We may move into a new house or a new office but the way we lay out the furnishing would be quite similar with our former environment or surroundings.

In the 1st reading, God wants to give His people a new heart and a new spirit. And that means that He will cleanse them of all their defilement and all their idols.

He will pour clean water over them in order to cleanse them.

This seems and sounds good. But we all know that in order to cleanse something that is deeply stained, then it would involve a lot of scrubbing, and if it is done on the flesh then it would be painful.

But the hand that hurts is also the hand that heals (Job 5:18). The cleansing process can be a painful process but it will result in a new heart and a new spirit.

It is with a new heart and a new spirit that we will be able to respond to the Lord's invitation to His banquet of love.

It is with a new heart and new spirit that we will truly rejoice that we are God's people and that He alone is our Lord and God. And there is nothing more we shall ever want.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

20th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 20-08-14

Ezekiel 34:1-11 / Matthew 20:1-16

"Streets of London" is a song written by Ralph McTell and released in the United Kingdom as a single in 1974. We are familiar with the chorus:

"So how can you tell me you're lonely, And say for you that the sun don't shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I'll show you something to make you change your mind"

The song was inspired by McTell's experiences busking and hitchhiking throughout Europe, especially in Paris and the individual stories are taken from the Parisians. McTell was originally going to call the song Streets of Paris.  Eventually London was chosen because he realised he was singing about London.

The song contrasts the common problems of everyday people with those of the homeless, lonely, elderly, ignored and forgotten members of society.

The passage from the 1st reading may also be called the "Streets of Israel". The subject of that passage is about how the rulers of the country (shepherds of Israel) had neglected to take care of the common people and the prophet Ezekiel announced of their impending reckoning.

The gospel parable also had its setting in the streets - the streets of a market place where those looking for work were standing there to hire themselves out.

But it was a street of hope; it was a street that leads us to see the generosity of God.

As we go on our way, we will encounter those who are the homeless, lonely, elderly, ignored and forgotten members of our society.

May we be generous to them and show them some care so that they will still be able to believe that the God's love is still shining on them.                                        

Monday, August 18, 2014

20th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 19-08-14

Ezekiel 28:1-10 / Matthew 19:23-30

It is quite surprising and amazing how we easily accept society's way of segregating us into classes.

And we also subconsciously divide ourselves against each other.

For example, the one driving a bigger car would expect the one driving a smaller car to give way.

The ones who have more money will get better and faster treatment.

The 1st class passengers get to leave the plane first, just like the 1st class passengers were the first to leave the sinking Titanic.

Yes, all of us are equal, but some have made themselves like gods.

Such was the case of the king of Tyre in the 1st reading.

Such will also be our case if we don't watch our pride, because pride comes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18), just like the impending tragedy that was to befall the king of Tyre.

And if we think that we can feel more secure by having more material possessions, then we will surely fall because we will trip over the stuff that we are dragging along.

We like to think that with a lot of material possessions, we can be first.

But as Jesus said in the gospel, those who are first will be last.

May Jesus always be the first in our lives so that we will know that we are all equal in His eyes.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

20th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 18-08-14

Ezekiel 24:15-24 / Matthew 19:16-22

Physical pain can be bearable but yet when the pain goes beyond the body's threshold of tolerance, then the body will just black-out or shut down.

That is the body's way of handling pain.

But how about sorrow and grief? There are certain ways to express our sorrow and grief, like crying and wailing.

But when sorrow and grief overwhelms us, what will happen to us?

When the prophet Ezekiel's wife died, he was told by God not to express his sorrow and grief.

Moreover when the people asked him why he was not grieving, he was to respond that this was how God wanted them to mourn for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

The point here is that the mourning, the sorrow and the grief is so great that it cannot be expressed in the usual way.

Similarly, to give up the material and the luxurious things of life can be a painful sacrifice, as the rich young man in the gospel passage of today would surely understand.

To lose wealth and health can be overwhelming.

But the ultimate tragedy and disaster is to lose God and heaven because of personal sin as well as the unwillingness to repent.

No amount of sorrow and grief can be expressed for that kind of tragedy and loss.

May we always desire for the eternal treasures and cherish the blessings that God had bestowed on us.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

20th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 17.08.2014

Isaiah 56:1, 6-7/ Romans 11:13-15, 29-32/ Matthew 15:21-28

Much has been said about the topic of prayer, and much more can be said and will be said about the topic of prayer.

Well, the least we can say about prayer is that we are here to pray to God and to ask Him to answer our needs and petitions.

And what do others have to say about prayer? Mother Teresa has this to say: Prayer is not about asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depths of our hearts.

So, for Mother Teresa, prayer is total surrender to God’s call and letting Him do whatever He wants to do for us.

Another quote, although not from a religious figure is this: Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one (Bruce Lee 1940-1973).

Oh yes, life is difficult and we have to handle it with prayer.

There is this story of a man who bought a lottery ticket and he prayed: Lord, if I strike, I will give the Church 10% of the winnings. He did not strike. 

He bought another lottery ticket and he prayed: Lord, if I strike, I’ll give the Church 25%. Again he did not strike.

He bought another ticket and he prayed: Ok, Lord, ok. This time it will be 50-50. (So, will he strike?)

As we all know by now, the purpose of prayer is not to change God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.

That being said about prayer, today’s gospel passage presents to us a unique scenario and also a unique encounter between Jesus and a Canaanite woman.

Jesus and His disciples had gone outside of Jewish territory into the region of Tyre and Sidon.

When you are not on home ground, it is best that you keep a low profile and stay out of trouble. And that’s what Jesus and His disciples were doing.

Then out came this Canaanite woman shouting for Him, calling Him “Son of David” and to take pity on her for her daughter was tormented by the devil.

We can imagine what a scene it was, and we can also imagine the disciples squirming at this embarrassing situation.

So desperate were they that they had to tell Jesus to give her what she wanted, probably because people were starting to look at them and wonder what was happening.

And surprisingly, Jesus was silent. It was like as if He didn’t care. It was so unlike Him. 

And when He finally said something, it was some puzzling thing about being sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. Again it was so unlike Jesus, and we ourselves may begin to start wondering.

And then with the woman kneeling at His feet and pleading “Lord, help me” He seemed to be insulting the woman by saying that it was not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house dogs.

At this point, the woman could have stood up and cursed and swore at Jesus. If He was not going to help her, then there was no need to be rude and insulting.

It is said that God gives three types of answers to prayers. He says YES and gives us whatever we want. He says NO and gives us something better. Or He says WAIT and gives us the best.

That Canaanite woman came before Jesus to intercede for her daughter.

She didn’t have to go through all that pleading and kneeling, if not for the fact that she took on her daughter’s need and made it her need. And she was prepared to wait through thick and thin to have the need addressed.

This unique encounter and unique exchange between Jesus and the Canaanite woman highlights the vital element in interceding for others – and that is the power of intervention.

To intervene is to involve oneself in a situation so as to alter an action or development.

The Canaanite woman interceded for her daughter and in doing so she also intervened between Jesus and her daughter. She stood between Jesus and her daughter.

And in the end her daughter was healed and Jesus also affirmed her of her faith.

We have come for Mass to worship and to pray. Yes we pray for ourselves, but more importantly we pray as the Church community, and as the Church we pray for others.

And this is expressed in the Intercessory Prayers or the Prayers of the Faithful.

Because like the daughter of the Canaanite woman who was unable to help herself, there are people who are quite unable to pray for themselves.

And we are called to intercede for them and to intervene for them before the Lord.

The main concern of Pope Francis at present is the situation in Iraq.

Even though he is now in South Korea, he tweeted this message on Friday, which was the feast of the Assumption of our Lady. It read : My heart bleeds especially when I think of the children in Iraq. May Mary, our Mother, protect them.

Our Archbishop has also called upon us to pray especially for the Iraq this weekend.

Just about a year ago, on the 7th September 2013, the Church by her intercession and prayer intervention had diffused the threat of a military strike at Syria.

We are now called upon again for our intercession and prayer intervention for the protection of Christians and the other minorities in Iraq who are facing mortal danger.

They are running for their lives and they need our prayers. It is for us to take on their need and make it our need, just as the Canaanite woman took on her daughter’s need and make it her own need.

That is what true intercession is about; that is what prayer intervention is about.

The salvation of many depends on the prayer and sacrifice of a few. 

We may be few, but we have the power of intercession and to make a prayer intervention.

May we have the faith of that unnamed Canaanite woman to persevere in prayer and may we too experience the power of our prayer intervention.

Friday, August 15, 2014

19th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 16-08-14

Ezekiel 18:1-10, 13, 30-32 / Matthew 19:13-15

Modern psychology has discovered that the formation of person's personality and character can be traced back to the childhood years, and even right before birth, when the baby is still in the mother's womb.

Depending on what the child had been exposed to, the child can either gain or suffer from it.

That is why in the Church's "Book of Blessings", there is a prayer for expecting mothers and for the baby in the womb.

All this shows that the early years of a child are the most important years, because that's when the character is formed and the faith built.

So for us adults, the greatest thing we could do for a child is to give them tender love and an assuring word.

And as Catholics, it is even more important to share our faith with our children.

We must, and this is imperative for parents, to pray with our children as well as to pray for them, by blessing them with the sign of the cross on their foreheads.

We can do this whenever they go off to school, and when they come back home, before they go to sleep and whenever they are sick.

Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the little children.

So whenever we bless our children, we ourselves will also receive a blessing.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Assumption of the BVM, 15.08.2014

Apocalypse 11:19; 12:1-6,10 / 1 Cor 15:20-26 / Luke 1:39-56

Every living person this earth has a name and that person is identified by this name.

The person also responds to this name, and so it can be said that the person and the name are one.

But something strange happens upon death.

As death separates the soul from the body, so too the name is separated from the body.

With death, it seems that the body of the deceased becomes a nameless entity.

So we will hear it said that the body is resting at this or that place.

Or that the body is to be buried or cremated.

So it seems that upon death, the body of a person loses the identity that was his when he was alive.

Maybe it is just a way of speaking. But that may also imply that the body of a person has become just a material casing and there is no life in it.

Just like what happens to egg shells after the chickens are hatched from it.

But the feast of the Assumption tells us that even after death, the body has a meaning, a spiritual meaning.

Mary was raised, body and soul into heaven. She is the first human being to receive the reward that Jesus gained by His Resurrection and Ascension.

The fact that God raised Mary body and soul into heaven means that even at death, the body (or the mortal remains) is still identified with the person and has a spiritual meaning to it.

Hence, the body of the deceased is given a proper burial and treated with respect because we profess in our Creed that at the resurrection on the last day, God will raise up our bodies or mortal remains and join in our souls to share in the risen glory of Christ.

This reiterates the fact that what is created cannot be destroyed and what came into existence will continue to exist into eternity.

That should remind us to take care of our bodies and that whatever acts of charity or sacrifice we offer with our bodies have a spiritual value.

Mary offered her body and soul to do the will of God and she consented to be the Mother of God.

May we too offer our body and soul to God and to do His work here on earth so that like Mary, we too will be raised up body and soul into heaven.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

19th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 14-08-14

Ezekiel 12:1-12 / Matthew 18:21 - 19:1

To be a messenger of bad news is not at all a pleasant task. We can be assured that that there will be resistance at the least and hostility at the worse.

And neither is it a pleasant task to give an unfavourable assessment of a subordinate or an employee or a student.

There is always the possibility of rebuttals and arguments against the assessment and that can end up in a stand-off.

For the prophet Ezekiel in the 1st reading, he was tasked to be a symbol for the House of Israel - a symbol of exile.

He was not just a prophet of doom; he had to act out the message of doom. It was as much a distress for him as well as for the people.

On the other hand, the gospel is about the good news of mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation.

The first servant in the gospel parable could have been a messenger of that good news.

He could have shared the mercy and forgiveness he received from his master with his fellow servant and rejoiced together.

But he chose otherwise and ended up in a miserable state, besides being bad news to his fellow servant.

To be servants of good news or bad news is our choice. May we remember that good news brings about mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation. We don't have to think what bad news will bring.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

19th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 13-08-14

Ezekiel 9:1-7; 10:18-22 / Matthew 18:15-20

When we read the 1st reading and thought about it, we may wonder what kind of message is there in it.

In fact, what we read may make us grimace as we hear words like "strike", "show neither pity nor mercy to old men, young men, virgins, children, women, kill and exterminate them all".

Those were words from God! And there is even more: Defile the Temple, fill the courts with corpses, and go. And then the six men went out and hacked their way through the city.

That really sounds gruesome. But we have to remember that it belongs to the genre of apocalyptic language where images are bold and vivid and the language of strong and vindictive.

The point about apocalyptic language is that it is time for judgement where the good and bad are separated and the good is vindicated and the bad is punished.

Hence, there was a man in white with a scribe's ink horn in his belt and he was instructed to mark a cross on the foreheads of those who deplore and disapprove of all the filth committed.

On the other hand, the message of the Good News is about salvation and the gospel passages urges us to be instruments of reconciliation.

Certainly, we have to deplore and disapprove of sin and wrong doing. But at the same time we cannot just sit by and wait for the Lord to save us and wait for those wrong doers to be condemned.

Jesus came to seek and save what was lost. If we truly believe that we will be saved and vindicated, then we too would want to share this gift of salvation with others.

May we continue to strive for reconciliation and work for the salvation of others as well as for ourselves.

Monday, August 11, 2014

19th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 12-08-14

Ezekiel 2:8 - 3:4 / Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

There was a movie that was shown some time back called "Bruce Almighty".

It was about this ordinary man who was given godly powers for whatever reason.

Power is indeed very attractive and appealing, and more so for the ordinary man on the street who seems to feel so powerless in all that is happening around him.

And for sports stars to 4-star generals, to have power is to command respect and to be looked up to.

So when the disciples asked Jesus who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, just what kind of answer were they actually expecting?

Certainly they were expecting some kind of hero or a man of power and might.

Jesus answered them by setting a child in front of them as a symbol of greatness.

True power in the human realm is not in aggression or physical might or even intellectual superiority.

True human power and greatness is in being simple and straight-forward, in being loving and compassionate, gentle and kind, honest and just.

These qualities express true power and greatness.

May the Eucharist change our hearts to be like that of the heart of a child.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

19th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 11-08-14

Ezekiel 1:2-5, 24-28 / Matthew 17:22-27

Tilapia is one of the three main types of fish caught in Biblical times from the Sea of Galilee. At that time they were called musht, or commonly now even "St. Peter's fish". 

The name "St. Peter's fish" comes from the story in the Gospel of Matthew about the apostle Peter catching a fish that carried a coin in its mouth, though the passage does not name the fish.

And if we go on a tour to the Sea of Galilee, then one of the items in the itinerary would be a meal of the fish at one of the restaurants by the Sea of Galilee.

It is a common fish, but it became the means of solving a sticky problem between the tax-collectors and Jesus, with Peter being stuck in the middle. 

The fish that he caught that had a coin in its mouth resolved the problem. It was so ordinary and yet so amazing.

Whereas the vision of Ezekiel in the 1st reading was so astounding and awesome with the glory of the Lord shown in majesty and splendour.

But for most of us living an ordinary life and being ordinary people, that kind of vision would be almost out of the question.

Yet God will still reveal Himself in the ordinary situations in our lives and in the ordinary people around us.

So when we meet with a problem, let us remember that it was a fish that solved the problem for Peter.

And God will give the solution to our problems through very ordinary things.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

19th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 10.09.2014

1 Kings 19:9, 11-13/ Romans 9:1-5/ Matthew 14:22-33

It is said that the longer you keep doing the same thing, the better and faster you will be at it.

That is quite true in most cases and that statement is similar to saying that practice makes perfect.

So it can be true for most cases. And if that is true for most cases, I wonder if I am an exceptional case.

I am a teenage priest, meaning to say that my priesthood is in the teenage years.

When I first started off as a priest, things were difficult.

Homilies were not easy to prepare – there was more perspiration than inspiration.

I was an “eager-beaver” and tried to say “yes” to everything and then realized that I don’t have the time for anything.

I thought that I would learn from the mistakes of my “youth” and as I get along, things will be easier and smoother and I will get things done faster and better.

So I thought. But it is like saying that as I grow older, I will have lesser temptations, which is certainly not the case (whether with me or with you).

An old priest jokingly told me: Now I don’t entertain bad thoughts. 
I am too old for that. Instead, the bad thoughts entertain me!
So much for wishful thinking that life would be easier as we get older.

Hence, it is understandable that we entertain ourselves with consoling thoughts. Or be it that the consoling thoughts entertain us.

Whatever it may be, we like to think that once we have found the solution to life’s challenges and difficulties then we can relax and feel secure.

So in coming to Church, we are turning to God whom we believe will protect us and save us from the turmoils of life.

But what if we believe in God and yet our troubles and difficulties won’t go away.

Or for that matter, things become worse!

That was the case for prophet Elijah in the 1st Reading. We may wonder why he spent the night in a cave.

Earlier on he had scored a victory over the 450 false prophets of the idol Baal at Mt Carmel and he put them to death.

We might think that now he is the feared prophet of God. But his enemies have turned around and are now pursuing him to take his life and he was hiding in the cave.

So things weren’t getting better for him, in fact, it was getting worse. And God was supposed to protect him.

And even for the disciples of Jesus, it was not smooth sailing. We heard in the gospel that the boat they were in was caught in a storm.

Things were so rough that when Jesus walked on the water towards them, they thought he was a ghost and were terrified and cried out in fear.

When Jesus identified Himself and told them not to fear, Peter, wanting to be hero, called out to Jesus: Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.

We, of course, won’t ask Jesus to let us walk on water. We have other things to ask for.

We would tell Jesus “Heal me of my sickness” or “Bless me with a good fortune” or “Help me get that job or get a promotion”.

Yes, we have other things to ask for, instead of walking on water.

But when we don’t get what we want, we get dejected and disappointed with God.

And like Peter, we begin to sink into the waters of despair.

Yet, asking Jesus to help us walk on water may not be as ridiculous as it seems.

In the waters of life, with all its undercurrents and torrents, it’s either we sink or we swim.

But Jesus wants us to do more than that. Because when we believe in Him, He will help us walk on the waters of life.

And when we get frightened and distressed and start to sink, then like Peter we must cry out “Lord! Save me!”

These three words “Lord! Save me!” are words we must keep repeating over and over again.

And Jesus will stretch out His hand and tell us: Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid!

That is all we need to hear in the midst of the storms and the murky waters of life.

These three words “Lord! Save me!” is the shortest prayer we can ever say and it is also one of the most powerful prayer we can ever say.

It is said that the longer you keep doing the same thing, the better you will be at it.

Well, in that case, the more often we say that prayer “Lord! Save me!” the higher Jesus will lift us up till we can walk on water.

If we call Jesus our Saviour, then naturally our prayer to Him is “Lord! Save me!”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Singapore National Day, Saturday. 09-08-14

Isaiah 63:7-9 / Colossians 3:12-17 / Luke 12:22-31

Today our country celebrates 49 years of independence and we call it National Day and the highlight of the day will be the National Day Parade that will be held at The Float at Marina Bay.

The theme for the National Day celebrations is "Our People, Our Home".

In the run up to the National Day celebration, the national flag is hung at homes, flats, schools and other buildings throughout the country.

The national flag is a symbol of who we are as Singaporeans, our values and as well as our ideals.

The national flag of Singapore was first adopted in 1959, the year Singapore became self-governing within the British Empire. It was reconfirmed as the national flag when the Republic gained independence on 9 August 1965.

The design is a horizontal bicolour of red above white, charged in the canton by a white crescent moon facing, toward the fly, a pentagon of five small white five-pointed stars. The elements of the flag denote a young nation on the ascendant, universal brotherhood and equality, and national ideals.

The red symbolises "universal brotherhood and equality of man", and white, "pervading and everlasting purity and virtue". The waxing crescent moon "represents a young nation on the ascendant". The five stars "stand for the nation's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality".

It is in the national flag that we see all Singaporeans as "Our People" and it is also in the national flag that we see our country as "Our Home".

As the Church in Singapore celebrates National Day, let us as loyal citizens pray that God will continue to watch over our country, guide our leaders and bless our country so that we see our fellow Singaporeans as our people and Singapore as our home.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

18th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 08-08-14

Nahum 2:1, 3; 3:1-3, 6-7 / Matthew 16:24-28

In the history of the world, we read about the rise and fall of empires. From the conquests of Alexander the Great to the Roman empire, the pattern has not changed.

They rose and they faded, and what is left of them are just names in the history books and remnants that are showcased in museums.

In the Middle East and during the period between 900 BC and 650 BC, Assyria was the major empire, with its capital at Nineveh.

It was also during this time that northern kingdom of Israel was annihilated and the southern kingdom of Judah was conquered.

Yet in the 1st reading, the prophet Nahum proclaimed peace for Judah and of her restoration. But the Lord God was going to put a stop to the ruthless plundering of Assyria.

Assyria in turn will be annihilated and turned into a ruin. As it was with the mighty and powerful kingdoms of the past, so its turn will come.

In the rise and fall of the mighty and powerful kingdoms, Jesus had this to say in the gospel: What then will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?

The answer is obvious and also a foregone conclusion. But that didn't seem so obvious to those who still want to pillage and plunder and to show their power and might.

On a lesser scale, the question for us is what are we trying to gain and what are we longing for.

If what we are looking for are not of the kingdom of above, then all will just fade and be forgotten, as it was with the kingdoms of this earth.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

18th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 07-08-14

Jeremiah 31:31-34 / Matthew 16:13-23

A hierarchy is a system in which members of an organization or society are ranked according to relative status or authority.

As such, no subordinate is higher than the superior, and no slave is greater than the master.

When the hierarchy is given due respect then there will be order and stability. But when it is not, then the result could be chaos and anarchy.

All the more, when it comes to God and us, then we must acknowledge who is the Creator and who is the creature.

In the 1st reading, we heard what the Lord God has to say to His people: They broke that covenant of mine, so I had to show them who was master.

Between God and His people, there is no question of who is master and who is the slave. The covenant that God made Israel was more than that of a master-slave order.

Israel became God's people. It became a relationship based on faithfulness, integrity and justice.

But God's people broke all that. Even the order of master-slave is broken. And the result is chaos and anarchy and distress for God's people.

Even Peter didn't quite understand that though he was commissioned to be the rock on which Jesus will build the Church, it is Jesus who is the Lord and it will be Jesus who will give the directions and make the decisions.

We are God's people. He loves us as His children. Our duty to pledge our obedience and faithfulness to Him. Then our lives would have order and stability.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Transfiguration, Wednesday, 06-08-14

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 / 2 Pt 1:16-19 / Matthew 17:1-9

There is a story of a young man who somehow thinks he is a worm, and he would hide under the bed whenever he sees a chicken. (Because chicken eats worms).

So one day, he was hiding under the bed because he saw a chicken roaming around.

His best friend decided to help him overcome his problem by going under the bed and there he told him to repeat after him,“I am a man, not a worm.”

After a few repetitions, his best friend urged him to come out and prove himself a man.

So he came out and walked around confidently. Until he saw a chicken. Then he immediately hid under the bed again.

Hid best friend went under the bed and asked him,“why didn't you believe you are a man, not a worm.”

The young man replied,“ I believe I am a man, not a worm, but does the chicken believe that?!?”

Jesus believed that He is the Beloved Son of the Father. Even in His most painful and despairing moments He believed that.

The disciples also kind of believed that Jesus was the Son of God.

But the moment trials and persecutions came along, they ran and "hid under the bed". But later on, they truly believed.

The feast of the Transfiguration, reminds us who Jesus is, and also reminds us of who we are.

May we slowly come out of our fears and weaknesses and sinfulness, and show others what we really believe in.

Monday, August 4, 2014

18th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 05-08-14

Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22 / Matthew 15:1-2, 10-14 (Year A)

To be obstinate means to stubbornly refuse to change one's opinion or chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do so.

Talking to obstinate people can be more challenging than talking to a wall; at least the wall won't argue with us.

Obstinate people can throw up all sorts of arguments even though we may have the most logical and rational presentation of the topic in question.

In the gospel, we heard that the Pharisees and scribes brought up the issue of that particular tradition of washing hands before eating, and they questioned Jesus as to why His disciples did not keep that tradition. Indirectly they were also bringing Him to task.

The response of Jesus was logical and rational and it puts the issue into perspective and certainly it was an acceptable response.

But it seemed that the Pharisees were shocked with the response of Jesus. Not only did they not accept what Jesus said, they were obstinate in that only they have the right answers and no one else.

Jesus had only this to say about the Pharisees: Leave them alone.

That is certainly good advice for us when we meet obstinate people and it seemed so futile to reason with them.

Yes, it would be better to leave them alone. Better that way than to become obstinate ourselves.

Being obstinate would only alienate ourselves from others and we will end up being lonely.

As Jesus said in the gospel, it is what comes out of the mouth that makes a person unclean. One of the things that comes out of our mouths and makes us unclean is unreasonable statements that make us obstinate.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

18th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 04-8-14

Jeremiah 28:1-17 / Matthew 14:22-36 (Year A)

If we are to look at some of the pictures of St John Vianney, we might come to think that as far as looks are concerned, he cannot make it.

But not just looks, as far as intellectual capacity and ability is concerned, St John Vianney also could not quite make it.

But he was eventually ordained as a priest, but initially on the condition that he did not preach at Mass or even teach catechism, for fear that he would end up teaching something heretical.

But how did a priest like St John Vianney eventually be proclaimed by the Church as the Patron Saint for Priests?

Firstly, it was in the confessional that he received the grace of spiritual insight and helped people in repentance and conversion.

Very often, St John Vianney spent as long as 17 hours everyday in the confessional, helping people see their sinfulness and experiencing the mercy and forgiveness of God.

Later when he was allowed to preach, he spoke in simplicity about the love of God, and he also spoke with passion.

He worked himself tirelessly to serve the people by bringing them closer to God, besides having to face temptations from the devil, and also persecutions from members of the clergy and others.

Indeed, St John Vianney was a model of dedication, of holiness, of prayer and of faithfulness.

As we celebrate this feast, let us pray for our priests that they too will remain dedicated to God, faithful to God, and strive for holiness and be models of prayer to us.

When priests serve the Lord like St John Vianney did, then the Church would indeed be a priestly and holy people.

Nothing spectacular or dramatic about him but all done in simplicity and humility. Yet St. John Vianney is the Patron Saint and model for all priests, because he was a sign and an instrument of the healing and saving mission of Jesus.

Jesus came to heal and save and to look for the lost. Let us pray for our priests that they will follow the example of St. John Vianney and be a sign and instrument of the healing and saving mission of Jesus.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

18th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 03.08.2014

Isaiah 55:1-3/ Romans 8:35, 37-39/ Matthew 14:13-21

The Greek philosopher Plato lived during the 4th century BC. He had many profound sayings and one of them is this: Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools speak because they have to say something.

And on this topic of speaking, Plato has this to say: Be kind (with your words) because everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
Yes, we will never know what is happening behind the façade of every person.

At times, we may think that what we say as a joke may not be that funny to the other person.

Someone wrote this, and I suppose that this person is a single: My old aunties used to come up to me at weddings, poking me at ribs and saying “You’re next”.

After a while I figured out how to put it to a stop. At funerals, I would go up to these aunties and whisper into their ears “You’re next”.

So whether it is at weddings or at funerals, it is wise not to use words like “You’re next”, be it for better or for worse.

Whatever it may be, it is always good to be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle.

In the gospel, we heard about the miraculous multiplication of loaves that fed the crowd of 5000.

But we must not miss the account before that.

Today’s gospel passage began by saying that Jesus received the news of the death of John the Baptist, and He withdrew to a lonely place.

The news must have shaken Him and He wanted to be alone. The news of the death of John the Baptist was like telling Him “You’re next”.

Obviously the crowds do not know what was happening with Him and the battle He was fighting within.

They went after Him on foot, and so as He stepped ashore, He saw a large crowd.

But despite His need for solitude and to think about things and to mourn the death of John the Baptist, He took pity on the crowds and healed their sick.

And then when evening came, another situation arose. His disciples asked Him to send the crowds away so that they can get food for themselves.

After all, He had already done enough for the crowds and they should leave Him alone.

What else could they expect of Him? His own needs were not met, and He was not obliged to see to their every need.

But it was a lonely place, and that crowd of 5000 was getting hungry.

And all they had was only 5 loaves and 2 fish.

Obviously, it was not enough and obviously there is nothing that the disciples could do about the hungry situation.

And here is where we must believe that when we can’t do anything, then God can do something.

As the 2nd reading puts it: Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked.

Because these are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of Him who loved us.

In other words, God will fight our battles for us.

And He can only fight our battles for us when we listen to those words of Jesus, those words that He said to His disciples: Bring them here to me.

Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing; but it also means that with Him we can do anything.

We remember that when the Israelites came up to the Red Sea, the Egyptians were charging up behind them intending to cut every throat. And the Israelites cried out in fear and distress.

And then Moses said: Fear not. These Egyptians that you see today will be no more. Because God will go before you and fight your battles for you.

And indeed God did. And the Red Sea parted and the Israelites crossed into safety and the Egyptians ended up in tragedy.

Yes, God will fight our battles for us. And this is reiterated by the prophet Isaiah when he told king Ahaz as he was surrounded by his enemies: Stand by your God, or you will not stand at all.

All we need to do is to listen to what Jesus said: Bring them here to me.

Others may not know the hard battles that we are fighting, but God knows and He will fight our battles for us.

In turn, God wants us to help others fight their battles. Because they may not know that God wants to fight their battles for them.

So like Jesus, we need to be kind and compassionate to others because they have battles to fight every day.

And just like Jesus, even though He had His own needs, He took on the needs of others and helped them fight their battles.

For all we know, when we take on the needs of others and fight their battles, our own needs will be met and God will win our battles for us.