Wednesday, November 22, 2017

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 23-11-17

1 Maccabees 2:15-29 / Luke 19:41-44

Whenever it comes to conflict and hostility, the Church wold urge for peace through dialogue, and dialogue at the table of reconciliation.

But unfortunately, the call for peace through dialogue and reconciliation has often gone unheeded, resulting in war and violence and bloodshed and loss of innocent lives.

And when we reflect upon the numerous wars and devastation and loss of lives that had happened and that is still happening, we will come upon this eerie fact:

It is not that humanity wants wars and devastation. It is just that we don't want peace.

That might sound strange but the fact is that peace can only come about through forgiveness and reconciliation.

That was the message of Jesus in the gospel - that peace for His people can only happen when they repent and ask for forgiveness and be reconciled with God and with each other.

That is the message for us too. If our hearts are not at peace because of resentment and anger, or even hatred and revenge, then it is time to turn to God and ask for forgiveness and healing.

Sin and evil can never bring us peace of heart. So let us open our eyes and recognise the signs pointing our hearts towards peace and ask for forgiveness and healing so the peace of God will reign in our hearts.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 22-11-17

2 Maccabees 7:1, 20-31 / Luke 19:11-28

Whenever we hear of the term "Judgement Day" just what are the feelings and thoughts that we get?

It is certainly a day of reckoning, a time when we have to give an account of our lives, and only we ourselves know what kind of an account to give.

It will have to be an honest and truthful account, and out of our own mouths we will pronounce judgement on ourselves.

In the gospel parable, that was what the master told the servant who kept the pound and did nothing with it.

Knowing what was expected and yet not bothering about it certainly calls for accountability and punishment.

So what is expected of us? The 1st reading gives a terrible account of what it means to be faithful to God and to do what is expected of us.

We may not have to face that kind of physical torture and torment when it come to keeping faith with God.

Yet in our trials and temptations, we will surely face the spiritual torture and torment of the evil one to sin and go against God.

The evil one will also entice us with lies and deception to take the soft and easy way and slowly walk int the blindness of darkness.

Yes, we need to pray that the Lord will deliver us from evil and to grant us the grace to live a holy life so that we can sincerely give an account of our lives on Judgement Day and be rewarded for our faith in God.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Presentation of the B.V. Mary, Tuesday, 21-11-17

Zechariah 2:14-17 / Matthew 12:46-51

It is not unusual that devout Catholic parents consecrate their new-born baby to the Lord.

That is especially so when they have prayed for a child and the baby was like an answer to their prayers.

But of course more than just consecrating their child to God, they will also baptize the baby in Church.

The feast of the presentation of Mary in the Temple is not found in the New Testament but from sources outside of the Bible.

According to those sources, Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne had been childless and eventually having Mary was a heavenly gift from God.

In thanksgiving, they brought the child Mary to the Temple to consecrate her to God and she remained in the Temple till puberty.

The spiritual significance of this feast is that God chose Mary to be the Mother of His Son and He had prepared her since the Immaculate Conception to be ready for this mission.

Hence, the feast of the Presentation of Mary is part of the fulfilment of her mission as the Mother of God.

The celebration of this feast also reminds us of our own baptism, in that we are not just consecrated to God in baptism but we have become God's chosen children.

As His children, we are to carry out and carry on the saving mission of Jesus our Saviour. May Mary our Mother pray for us and help us to fulfill this mission.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 20-11-17

Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-64 / Luke 18:35-43

Very often, we take things for granted until we lose it and then we realise how important or precious it is.

In our country, we take clean water so much for granted that we can even waste water without realising that we actually had to buy water from external supplies.

The same can be said for food. With little farming land and limited fishing grounds, Singapore imports over 90% of the food consumed in the country.

And when it comes to the freedom of religions, we must be thankful that we can practise our religion freely and that there is also religious harmony in our country.

But we cannot take this for granted as we are also aware that in other places there are religious persecutions and no religious freedom.

Such was the case in the 1st reading, when the religion of the conquerors was imposed and the practice of other religions were outlawed with a death penalty.

In such a situation, what would our choice be? Where might is right, would we dare to voice out our faith and put our lives at risk?

In the gospel, the blind man called out for Jesus but the other voices tried to suppress and shut him up.

But he shouted all the louder until Jesus stopped and ordered them to bring the blind man to Him.

So as we thank God for all the good things that we are enjoying, let us also raise our voices in grateful prayer and take nothing for granted.

And if ever a dreadful time descends upon us, let us raise our voices all the more and wait confidently for the answer from the Lord.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

33rd Sunday, Year A, 19.11.2017

Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31 / 1 Thess 5:1-6 / Matthew 25:14-30
The education system in Singapore has gone through much changes and developments. From what used to be just kindergarten, primary school, secondary school, VITB, Polytechnic, Pre-U, and University, now there are pre-school, K1, K2, higher mother-tongue in Primary schools, N levels, O levels, IPs, ITE, Baccalaureate. Schooling is so complex nowadays.

One interesting development is in the area of Special Education. Teachers in this field are trained to help students with special needs like autism, dyslexia, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) etc. 

Our educational system recognizes that students with special needs are diverse learners. So by adapting and differentiating the instructions, these students can learn. More time, more effort and more resources may be required but students with special needs, given the correct educational formation, can be an asset and contribute to the growth and development of society.

Here are some examples of famous people with special needs:
OCD: Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, David Beckham, Donald Trump, Harrison Ford
ADHD: Jim Carrey, Michael Phelps, Walt Disney, John Lennon, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison.              
Dyslexia: Tom Cruise, Lee Kuan Yew

So although they may have some kind of disorder, but it is not a defect or a disadvantage. They are just different and they can be made into a distinction. They may be different from the rest but they may become one of the bests. 

In the gospel parable, we heard about a man who summoned his servants and gave them different amounts of talent. To one he gave 5 talents, to another he gave 2 talents, and to the third he gave one talent.

The one who was given 5 talents made 5 more; the one who was given 2 made 2 more. The attention is then turned to that servant who was given one talent. 

Unlike the other two, he did what can be called a quiet funeral service – with that one talent, he buried it in the ground.

And when the time of accounting came, he delivered a lousy “eulogy” to justify himself as to why he buried that one talent. He wanted to absolve himself and indirectly blamed his master for being too demanding.

But what that third servant did not do was to explore the potential of that one talent. As he himself said: I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground.
Yet that servant also knows that his master expects him to do something about that one talent. As his master said, he should have deposited it with the bankers and recover that capital with interest.

So the Lord also expects us to do something with our gifts and talents. And the more we are given, the more will be expected of us.

On the one hand we use our gifts and talents to glorify the Lord, and on the other, we also must help others to discover their talents. That is our service and duty to those who are deemed as liabilities of society, those who are slower, have more difficulties, who seem to be “defective”, those who in the eyes of the world would be buried in the ground and written off and forgotten.

But like those with OCD or ADHD, they are not defective. They are just different, and that difference can be made into a distinction.

A story has it that the famous Michelangelo acquired a block of marble that every sculptor thought was defective and useless. So one sculptor asked him what he was going to do with such a useless block of marble. 

Michelangelo replied, “I am going to release an angel out of it.” And from that so-called useless block of marble, he carved out the famous statue of David.

So if God made all things good, and nothing and no one is useless or defective, then we just have to look from a different angle and we will see the distinction.
Not many of us may have disorders like OCD or ADHD, but we often complain that we have disadvantages and difficulties that make us feel lesser than others.

A man said to a priest: Why do I have so many difficulties as compared to others? The priest replied: Shhh … don’t speak so loud, otherwise God might hear it and He might reply – If you want to know why, then come up here and find out!

But whether it is difficulty or disadvantage or disorder, it is not a defect, and a good can come out of it, maybe it can even be made into a distinction.

Many years ago, a sixteen-year old boy he left home to find employment in New York City to help his poor family. He had previously worked in a soap manufacturing shop. When he told the captain of the canal boat upon which he was traveling that he planned to make soap in New York City the man gave him this advice: “Someone will soon be the leading soap maker in New York. You can be that person. But you must never lose sight of the fact that the soap you make has been given to you by God. Be a good man. Give your heart to Christ. Give God all that belongs to Him. Make an honest soap. Honor Him by sharing what you earn. Begin by tithing all you receive.”

Along with that and with his mother’s words of “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God”, he arrived at the city, managing only odd jobs. He remembered the boat captain’s words and so for every dollar he earned, 10 cents would be given to God.

He soon found regular employment in a soap-making company, and then he became the owner and he prospered and his business grew.

And all the while he kept the promise of giving one-tenth of his earnings to the Lord, and more as his business grew along the way.

So what is the name of this 16 year-old boy? William Colgate. And who has not heard of Colgate toothpaste and soap and other products.

William Colgate was poor, that was his difficulty and his disadvantage. His only talent was soap-making. He may not have a disorder like OCD or ADHD, but he had a devotion to the Lord.

He gave to the Lord one-tenth of what he earned, he gave money for education and helped the poor. He turned difficulty and disadvantage into a distinction.
Literally he used that one talent in soap-making, for the glory of God and to help and serve others.

Whether we have one talent or many, whether we have a difficulty or a disadvantage, whether we have a disorder or a devotion, let us not bury it in the ground.

God wants us to use it, and He will turn whatever difficulty or disadvantage or disorder into a distinction for us that Jesus can truly call us His good and faithful servants.

Friday, November 17, 2017

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 18-11-17

Wisdom 18:14-16; 19:6-9 / Luke 18:1-8

There can be a few descriptions about the attitude of prayer - persistence; perseverance; pleading; begging; imploring; beseeching; just to name a few.

In the gospel parable about the unjust judge and the widow who was demanding justice, the judge used the word "pestering" to describe her.

Surely the widow has persistence and perseverance and these are good attitudes to have when we are praying for something or for someone.

But we would hesitate to say we will pester God in our prayer, as it would sound rather rude and crude.

But just as a persisting pain pesters us to seek medical attention, a persisting prayer must also "pester" us enough to keep seeking God's attention to our need.

So a persisting and persevering prayer is not to pester God but rather to pester us to keep at the prayer and to wait confidently and courageously for God's answer.

And the more desperate the need, the more we will be pestered to keep at the prayer.

And God will answer. As the 1st reading puts it: When peaceful silence lay over all, and night had run the half of her swift course, down from the heavens, from the royal throne, leapt your all-powerful Word; into the heart of a doomed land the stern warrior leapt.

Yes, God will answer our prayer in His time and in His way. And God will also answer our prayer just when we least expect it and when our faith is about to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

But like the widow in the gospel parable, we have to persist and persevere, as well as pester ourselves to keep praying and to keep faith in God

Thursday, November 16, 2017

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 17-11-17

Wisdom  13:1-9 / Luke 17:26-37

Human beings are certainly different from all the other animals in many aspects.

But what makes human beings really different is that human beings have intellect and will.

With intelligence, human beings have been able to advance and progress in many areas like science and technology.

But where intelligence has been profound in leaps and bounds, the will of man seems to be sorely lacking behind.

The 1st reading asks this question: If man is capable of investigating the world, how have they been so slow to find its Master?

The 1st reading also said that naturally stupid are all men who have not known God.

But that kind of stupidity is not about intelligence but about the will. It is essentially about the matter of the heart.

Because Psalm 14 has this to say: The fool has said in his heart - there is no God above, their deeds are corrupt and depraved.

We are certainly no fools and neither are we stupid. And we certainly believe that there is a God above.

Yet to believe means that we also would want to love God and to love our neighbour.

Jesus has revealed to us how much God loves us when He sacrificed His life on the cross for us.

We know it. We even believe in it. Yet we must also live out that love in our lives. We must want to do it.

For all our intelligence, if we have no love or that we are unwilling to love, then we are really stupid fools.

May this Eucharist open our hearts to increase our love for God and for others.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 16-11-17

Wisdom 7:22 - 8:1 / Luke 17:20-25

Whenever we want to do a spring-cleaning or to re-arrange our office space or our home, it would be easier to move all the things out of the room or rooms then put in only those things that are needed or necessary.

But that would mean a lot more work and there may not be another space to put all those things coming out of the rooms.

Also, there would be the problem of not being able to find our things, especially when it comes to the office and we don't have the luxury of being able to stop work.

But whether it is spring-cleaning or re-arranging the room, it may not be that necessary to create a brand-new look or to move everything around.

Probably all that is needed is to look carefully at the room and the things in there and to remove the unnecessary and to clean up the corners.

In the gospel Jesus said that the coming of the kingdom of God does not admit of observation and there will be no one to say "Look here! Look there!" But He also said that there will be some who will tell us to look here and look there.

So where or what are we to look for then? We look to none other than to God to give us the Spirit of Wisdom, for as the 1st reading puts it: Wisdom is the breath of the power of God, a reflection of the eternal light, untarnished mirror of God's active power, image of His goodness.

So we must turn to God and ask for the Spirit of Wisdom so that we will know what is necessary and what is not, to do what God wants of us, so that even in the practical and ordinary matters of life, we will know that God's Wisdom is guiding us to what is right and just.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 15-11-17

Wisdom 6:1-11 / Luke 17:11-19

Whenever we have to call a service hotline, it is not over a casual matter.

We call a service hotline over some matter that is urgent, or important or that we can't figure things out. Otherwise there is no need to call the service hotline.

Our experience of such calls can vary from unsatisfactory to satisfied. That's why in some companies, such calls are monitored and they would even ask for feedback.

But one frustrating experience of calling a service hotline is when we get transferred from one department to another, and we have to wait for our query to be addressed. We feel like a hot potato being tossed from one to another.

In the gospel when the 10 lepers came to Jesus and asked Him to have pity on them, He said to them: Go and show yourselves to the priests.

Although the 10 lepers did what Jesus told them, they could be probably thinking if they were like a problem being passed around or kicked around. After all if Jesus could heal them, then why would He tell them to go see the priests.

But Jesus showed that His Word has authority and the power to heal and cleanse. At the same time He also acknowledged the authority of the priests to declare whether the leper is cleansed or not.

The 1st reading has a stern message for those in authority. "For power is a gift to you from the Lord, sovereignty is from the Most High ... If, as administrators of His kingdom, you have not governed justly, nor observed the law, nor behaved as God would have you behave, He will fall upon you swiftly and terribly.

In one way or another, we have authority over someone or something. But authority is meant for service.

So if we have the authority and the ability to resolve an issue or to help someone, let us do it instead of trying to pass it to someone else.

Let us exercise whatever authority or ability that we have been given for the glory of God and bring about healing for others

Monday, November 13, 2017

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 14-11-17

Wisdom 2:23 - 3:9 / Luke 17:7-10

A privilege is generally defined as a benefit or an exemption that is granted to a person or persons, under certain conditions, and which is not given to the general public.

For example, diplomats and cabinet ministers and certain professionals enjoy privileges that we don't usually get as ordinary people.

But whatever it may be, a privilege is not a right, and it shouldn't be thought as such.

Yet, it is so easy to take a privilege for granted and along the way, presume that it is a right.

Jesus made it clear in the gospel that if we truly want to serve God, then we cannot expect any privileges.

We should not be expecting gratitude from the people we are serving nor expect anything in return from God for make sacrifices.

Nonetheless, the 1st reading tells us that God made us imperishable, and He made us in the image of His own nature.

He has given us the privilege of being His Chosen People and we are assured of His love and mercy.

But we must trust in God and have faith in Him to understand the truth - that those who are faithful will live with God in love.

Love does not take any privilege for granted. In fact, the fruit of love is humility and gratefulness and thanksgiving.

In this Eucharist, let us humbly give thanks. That is our primary and fundamental duty to God. And just for that we will be blessed.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 13-11-17

Wisdom 1:1-7 / Luke 17:1-6

A teacher once heard a little girl scold her friend with a 4-letter word (that obscene four-letter word)

That girl was just 7 years-old, and so the teacher said to her: Now that's a really bad word to use on someone. Where did you learn it from?

Girl: From a video. The teacher was puzzled and so she asked: And why were you watching that video? Girl: My daddy was watching it.

We lament at the behaviour of our youth, and yet we must realise that it is from us that they learn.

And we also have to realise that there are others, young and old, who will be influenced by us in one way or another.

Jesus gave a warning about giving a bad example. He said: Obstacles are sure to come, but alas for the one who provides them! It  would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone put round his neck that that he should lead astray a single one of these little ones. Watch yourselves!

What we say and do are watched closely especially by the children. "Don't worry that the children are not listening to you. Worry that they are always watching you."

And since children are great imitators, then let us give them something great to imitate.

The 1st reading tells us to love virtue and let honesty prompt our thinking. Let us begin from there. The Lord will then handle the rest.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

32nd Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 12.11.2017

This happened about a week ago at somewhere nearby: something like 800 people queued up overnight to get something. Do we know what they were queuing up for?

On Nov 3rd, the long-anticipated iPhone X was launched in Singapore’s Apple store. As the doors opened at 8am, the horde of fans numbering about 800 who had queued up overnight at the Orchard Road store rushed in to get that state-of-the-art gadget.

To queue overnight with such a number of people, we would think that it must be something really important. We would probably do it only if we really think that what we are going to get will change our lives so much for the better that we would go all out to do it.

For the 800 people, it was something they wanted to queue for. Not only are they willing to lose sleep over it, they would be wide awake to make sure that they keep their place in the queue. If they fall asleep and someone cuts into their queue, then they can only blame themselves.

The gospel parable talks about 10 bridesmaids waiting for the bridegroom. The wait was long as the bridegroom was late. And all 10 of them fell asleep.

And then at midnight there was a cry: “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” And all of them woke up and trimmed their lamps.

And here lies the teaching point of the parable. Five of them were sensible and they brought extra flasks of oil, but the other five were foolish and they didn’t bring any extra oil.

A lamp without oil is like a handphone with a flat battery. So you may spend the whole night awake and queueing up to get that state-of-the-art hand-phone, but if for whatever reason, the battery in the hand-phone is flat or faulty, then there is nothing much you can do about it.

And in this age of handphone communication, do you know what is the most romantic thing a boy can say to his girl-friend? – “I want to spend the rest of my handphone battery with you.”

If that sounds like a joke, then we are not laughing when it comes to low battery level on our handphones. Because if our handphone battery level is down to 10% and if we don’t have a power bank or a charger, then we will suffer from “Low Battery Anxiety”.

The symptoms are that we will feel panicky, agitated, anxious, distracted, fed-up, etc. So the sensible thing to do is to always have enough battery power or have a power bank around. That is common sense. (But common sense is like deodorant; the people who need it most never use it)

The fact is that you can’t borrow battery power from your friend’s handphone. That’s what the gospel parable is saying – the sensible bridesmaids cannot give the foolish bridesmaids the oil for their lamps not because they are selfish but because it is not transferable.

In other words, common sense, or sensibility, or wisdom, is gained through the tough experiences of life. 

Yet wisdom can also be gained by those who open their hearts to this gift from God. The 1st reading says this: Wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim. By those who love her she is readily seen, and found by those who look for her.

So when we desire this gift of wisdom from God, then we must be prepared to go through the tough experience of gaining it, just like how those who wanted that prized handphone were willing to lose sleep and queue up overnight for it.

Once a king called upon all of his wise men and asked them, “Is there a wise saying which works in every situation, in every circumstances, in every place and in every time. In every joy, every sorrow, every defeat and every victory? One answer for all questions? Something which can help me when none of you is available to advise me? Tell me is there such a wise saying?”

All the wise men were puzzled by the king’s question. They thought and thought. After a lengthy discussion, a wise old man suggested something which appealed to all of them. They went to the king and gave him a silver bangle with these words engraved on it: “THIS TOO SHALL PASS”

They told him that when in extreme danger, when the king finds himself alone and there seems to be no way, then he will understand its meaning.

Some time later, the neighbours attacked his kingdom. The king and his army fought bravely but lost the battle. The king had to flee on his horse. The enemies were following him, getting closer and closer. Suddenly the king found himself standing at the end of the road - that road was not going anywhere. Underneath there was a rocky valley a thousand feet deep. If he jumped into it, he would be finished, and he could not turn back because it was a small road. The sound of enemy’s horses was approaching fast. The king became restless. There seemed to be no way.

Then suddenly he saw the silver bangle shining in the sun, and he remembered the message engraved on it: “THIS TOO SHALL PASS”

The king read it again and again. Suddenly something struck him – “Yes ! This too will pass. Only a few days ago, I was enjoying my kingdom. I was the mightiest of all the kings. Yet today, the kingdom and all my pleasures have gone. I am here trying to escape from enemies. Like those days of luxuries have passed, this day of danger too will pass.” A calm came on his face. He kept standing there. The place where he was standing was full of natural beauty. He had never known that such a beautiful place was also a part of his kingdom. 

The revelation of the message had a great effect on him. He relaxed and forgot about those following him. After a few minutes he realized that the noise of the horses and the enemy coming was receding. They have moved into some other part of the mountains and were nowhere near him.

The king was very brave. He reorganized his army and fought again. He defeated the enemy and regained his kingdom. When he returned to his city after victory, he was received with much fanfare. The whole capital was rejoicing in the victory. 

Everyone was in a festive mood. Flowers were being showered on the king from every house, from every corner. People were dancing and singing. For a moment the king said to himself, “I am one of the bravest and greatest king. It is not easy to defeat me.” With all the reception and celebration he saw an ego emerging in him. ”

Suddenly the silver bangle flashed in the sunlight and reminded him of the message:“THIS TOO SHALL PASS”. 

He became silent. His face went through a total change - from the egoist, he moved to a state of utter humbleness. And he reflected: This too is going to pass. The defeat has passed, this victory will pass. Everything will pass. 

So our state-of-the-art handphones will pass, our low battery anxiety will pass, our sorrows will pass, our happiness will pass, our setbacks will pass, our achievements will pass, our life will pass.

Wisdom is knowing what will pass, and what will not pass. May wisdom lead us to God who is forever and shall never pass, and that only God loves us with an everlasting love.

31st Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 11-11-17

Romans 16:3-9, 16, 22-27 / Luke 16:9-15

The reality of death happens everyday. Not one day has passed where there are no obituaries in the newspapers.

Yet, because it happens so frequently, we have become immune to it, we are not that affected by it anymore, unless it happens to our close ones.

As it is, most of us believe that we will see tomorrow, that we won't die so soon.

There is a poster in the office of a hospice and it reads like this: We are not here to add days to our life, but life to our days.

Indeed, it is so true. Our days are limited and we should really live out those days fully.

Not just enjoying life, but to discover in this life, what eternity is all about, and to discover in this life what really has eternal value.

In the secular sense, it may be seen as a choice of value. But in the spiritual sense, it is about the choice of masters.

So the question from today's gospel is this: Who is the master in charge of my life?

If money is my master, then I will be dishonest, I will cheat, I will lie, I scheme and do anything and everything just to have money for my security. But of course in doing so, I might still exist but I am spiritually dead.

On the other hand, when I choose Jesus to be my Master, then I also will choose to be loving, to be forgiving, to be compassionate, to be honest.

Life for me might be difficult and I might seem to be like a loser, but I will be at peace with God and with the people around me.

So life essentially is a series of choices.

Life is not lost by dying.
Life is lost, minute by minute
day by day
in all those unloving, uncaring and unforgiving ways

Thursday, November 9, 2017

31st Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 10-11-17

Romans 15:14-21 / Luke 16:1-8

What are the few general principles that we should know of if we want to be successful by the standards of the business world?

We know of some: Don't waste time, work hard; be focused; entertain clients and have useful contacts and networking; prepare for the future with strategies, etc.

Successful people in the business world generally go by these principles. Furthermore, they leave no stone un-turned in their pursuit for success and its rewards, ie. wealth.

Jesus made a disturbing statement in today's gospel. He says that the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind, than are the children of light.

So Jesus is implying that the children of light lack the astuteness compared with the children of the world.

The children of light do not seem to have or show an ability to accurately assess situations or people and turn this to one's advantage.

But when we see how the people of the world, like the steward in the gospel parable, use every means possible to secure an advantage, it leaves us thinking about what we would do to secure our eternal future.

We may have all those good intentions like what St. Paul said in the 1st reading in the letter to the Romans, but good intentions without action is like wanting something but doing nothing to get it.

The steward was fervent and earnest, although with dishonest means, in making sure he secures an advantage when he is dismissed from office.

We, on the other hand, with the gift of faith, also need to be fervent and earnest in securing our eternal future by helping others secure their eternal future.

For faith without good works, is dead, but faith manifested in good works will lead others to faith and to fervently and earnestly seek for their salvation.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Thursday, 09-11-17

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

The Lateran Basilica was built around 324 by the Roman emperor Constantine, and it is the cathedral of the city of Rome.

The Lateran Basilica is the official church of the Pope since the 4th century.

It is also called the "Mother of all churches" and on Holy Thursday, the Pope and priests will celebrate the Eucharist there.

This feast reminds us that we belong to the universal church, with Christ as the Head of the Church which is His Body.

Hence, we acknowledge that the Church is not just a building, but the body of believers who are scattered all over the world, yet spiritually united in the body of Christ.

We also acknowledge, in the celebration of this feast, that the Pope is the head of the Church and we pledge our obedience to him and our unity with the whole Church.

May we continue to be united as Church and as the Body of Christ and be a sign of salvation to the world.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

31st Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 08-11-17

Romans 13:8-10 / Luke 14:25-33

For a non-Catholic to be baptized, he/she would usually have to go through a period of formation.

And usually it would be through the RCIA process which would be at least for half a year.

Couples who are getting married are required to go for a preparatory course on marriage, either with the Catholic Engaged Encounter (CEE) or Marriage Preparation Course (MPC).

These are just two examples of a period of careful consideration and preparation before making that important irreversible life-changing decision and commitment.

Jesus is quite direct and straight-forward when He tells us what it means to follow Him.

He is not saying: Come follow me, and all your worries and problems will be solved (at least not just like that!)

On the contrary, it may be our challenges have just begun.

We would know by now that during the Roman times, the condemned person would have to carry the cross to the place of execution and then experience a painful death.

But when Jesus tells us to carry the cross, He is telling us to prepare ourselves to face the consequences of our choice.

If we have chosen to follow Christ, then we can't keep looking back at the things that we have given up, nor can we keep looking at the things that we have to give up in order to follow Jesus as His disciples.

It is only when we let go of ourselves, and embrace the cross, then we will know what salvation really means and that we have made the best decision of our lives.

Monday, November 6, 2017

31st Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 07-11-17

Romans 12:5-16 / Luke 14:15-24

One of the main distractions in our prayer time is that our minds are filled with thoughts about almost anything and everything.

But it is not just about anything and everything; it is anything and everything about ourselves.

Our thoughts will just surface when we want to settle down for prayer and we will start thinking of the things we have not yet done and the things that we want to do but have not found the time for.

And on top of that there are also the worries and the anxieties of life that come flooding in and often we feel that prayer time is a distressful time instead of a peaceful time.

We get discouraged because we feel we are not going anywhere in prayer and we may eventually give up on prayer.

Yet, the gospel parable tells us that God is inviting us to sit down at the banquet with Him and feast on the riches of His love.

We just have to put our hearts and all that is in there into God's hands in prayer and then to let God's love and peace fill our hearts.

When our hearts are filled with God's love and peace at prayer, then we will know what to do.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

31st Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 06-11-17

Romans 11:29-36 / Luke 14:12-14

At times, when we are feeling lousy and in a bad mood, we tend to see the world as a rotten place. There is so much suffering, so much tragedies, so much sadness.

And of course there is the wickedness and sinfulness that seem to be all over the place.

Hence, we might start asking: Why does God allow so much sin and evil to exist and happen in the world and also in our lives?

We can ask and we can search, but we may not find an answer that will satisfy our queries.

Maybe that was why St. Paul in the 1st reading, about sin and mercy, has this to say: How rich are the depths of God - how deep His wisdom and knowledge - and how impossible to penetrate His motives or understand His methods.

To put it simply, God didn't create us just to know more about Him and have our questions answered.

God created us to love Him, because He is loving and merciful towards us.

Yes, we have sinned against God, and yet He is still loving and merciful towards us.

God's love and mercy is something that we can never repay or return back to Him.

God's love and mercy is His gift to us. And God never takes back His gifts.

We only need to humbly and thankfully accept it and love Him in return.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

31st Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 05.11.2017

Malachi 1:14 – 2:2, 8-10 / 1 Thess 2:7-9, 13 / Matthew 23:1-12
The duty of preaching the homily at Mass is assigned to those who are in the ordained ministry, ie. the deacons, priests, bishops, etc.

To preach a homily is not to just say a few words, but the content must be prepared by praying and reflecting on the Word of God, so that through the homily, the people of God will hear the voice of God.

And priests serve in the person of Christ. That’s what the priest is ordained for, and much is expected from him, in preaching and in service to God and to the people of God.

But much is also said about the state of Catholic preaching and much is also said about the Catholic priesthood. And with it are also some jokes:
- Email sent to a priest: Dear Father, I liked your homily on Sunday, especially when it was finished!
- A little boy came up to a priest and said, “When I grow up I want to give you some money.” The priest said, “Oh thank you very much, but why do you want to do that?” The boy replied, “My dad says that you are one of the “poorest” preachers we ever had!”

Looking at today’s readings, to preach about it would be like taking a self-assessment and at the same time wondering what you would think about us priests.

Already the opening lines of the 1st reading are rather startling: And you priests, this warning is for you.
Well, whether it is about the Levite priests that it is addressing, or the priests of the Catholic Church, it is not very comfortable to hear those words nor listen to the contents of the 1st reading.

Even though the gospel specifically mentions the “scribes and Pharisees”, but that line “do not be guided by what they do, since they do not practice what they preach” somehow has implications on priests and their ministry and how they are serving God and the Church.

Even though it is not mentioned in the readings, but one word that is often used to criticize Catholics, whether priests or parishioners, is this word “hypocrites”.

Hypocrisy, undoubtedly, is a real threat especially for priests who are public figures, but it must be said that no one would want to be a priest and be a hypocrite at the same time.

Priests want to practise what they preach and to be living examples of holiness so as to lead the people of God to be like God in His love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness.

Priests want to be men of God and men of prayer, men who are called to build the bridge between God and man, so that the Church can also become the bridge between God and the world.

Yes, we priests want to do all that and you also want the priests to do all that. We priests don’t want to be labelled as hypocrites, and neither do you want to be labelled as such.
So whether as priests of God or as the people of God, we know that being good is not enough. Because we are called to be holy as God is holy.

Being good is already challenging enough. We have to come to God’s House in our “Sunday best”, but we seldom hear of that term now. That seems to be taken over by “less is best” and that makes others wonder about our attitude when we come to church for worship.

We know that prayer is important and we want to pray, but the stress and busyness of life leaves us worn out and tired, and so we only have time for some sporadic scattered prayer. So how important is God in our life then, if our prayer is as such.

That brings up a saying by St. Francis de Sales: Ordinarily half an hour of prayer is sufficient, but if you are busy then make it an hour!

We keep coming for Mass, we keep praying, we go for Confession, we want to be good at least and we strive to be holy, but not to attract attention as hypocrites do.

Rather we do all that to keep ourselves humble and attentive to the presence of God in our lives and attentive to His plans for us.

We want to slowly discover the meaning of the events in our lives, to see God’s hand guiding us and helping us, so that our faith and our life can be connected.

We just want to be humble and faithful and attentive to God and not attract attention to ourselves. 

And the one person that we can relate with is this rather obscure 84 year-old widow and prophetess by the name of Anna in the gospel of Luke. She makes her appearance in just three verses (Luke 2:16-18)

She was married for seven years before becoming a widow. She never left the Temple, serving God day and night with fasting and prayer, for probably about 50 over years, waiting for the Saviour.

Every day of those 50 over years, she waited, disappointed at times, but nonetheless she waited out of duty, out of hope, out of need, out of simple routine.

Fasting and praying for 50 over years can be boring, and at 84 years-old, she could have wondered if this was getting pointless and futile.

But she came by just at that moment when Mary and Joseph brought the child Jesus to present Him to the Lord, and she began to praise God, and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Israel.

For Anna, all those fasting and praying and humbly keeping the faith for 50 over years made sense at that moment, and it all came together.

So too it will be for us. Let us humbly keep the faith, keep coming for Mass, keep praying, and hoping. Like Anna, one day it will all make sense and come together.

Friday, November 3, 2017

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 04-11-17

Roman 11:1-2, 11-12, 25-29 / Luke 14:1, 7-11

Usually when we talk of a dilemma, we are probably talking about a problem offering two possibilities, neither of which is practically acceptable.

In other words, in our minds, it is the the worst case scenario with two choices. The imagery would be like that of a choice of a crash landing on a rock or on a hard ground.

In the dilemmas of life, when life seems like a mess of rotten scrambled eggs, what come to the minds of people would be to press the self-destruct button and end it all.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul opened a discussion about God's chosen people: Has God rejected His people? Or have the Jews fallen forever or have they just stumbled?

Trying to come to a conclusion would leave the discussion in a dilemma, but as St. Paul said, "There is a hidden reason for all this"

And this hidden reason is to make us realise that the truth of life can only be known through humility.

And from the parable that Jesus told in the gospel we know this truth about life. When we want to exalt ourselves we end up in the dilemma of the worst case scenario - either embarrassment or humiliation

But when we humble ourselves we will be in the best case scenario. So to be humble or want to be exalted is our choice, but we will have to face the dilemma of our choice.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 03-11-17

Romans 9:1-5 / Luke 14:1-6

This week has been a rather spiritual week so far. Spiritual in the sense that we came for Mass on Wednesday because it was a day of obligation (All Saints)

We came for Mass on Thursday for a commemoration and remembrance (All Souls)

And today we have come for Mass out of devotion (First Friday and Devotion to the Sacred Heart)

But it is not just spiritual because we came for Mass. It is spiritual because in the celebration of All Saints and All Souls, we become more aware of the spiritual world and we are led deeper into it.

And in this spiritual invisible world, we have the Saints who are praying for us and then we in turn pray for the souls in Purgatory that they will eventually rest in the peace of God.

If we want to know the intensity of the prayer of the Saints, then it would not be too excessive to borrow the words of St. Paul in the 1st reading: What I want to say is this - my sorrow is so great, my mental anguish so endless, I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers.

St. Paul was talking about his own people, the people of Israel, his own flesh and blood. And they had almost every spiritual blessing - they were adopted as sons, they were given the glory and the covenants, the Law and the ritual were drawn up for them, and the promises were made to them. They were descended from the patriarchs and from among them came Jesus Christ.

But they did not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Saviour who died in order to save them, and hence the anguish and the sorrow of St. Paul.

That is also the anguish and sorrow of the Saints when we turn away from God by our sins, and they could only look on helplessly as we ignore their desire to pray for us and help us to come closer to God and grow in holiness.

But if that is the anguish and the sorrow of the Saints, then what about the anguish and sorrow of the Saviour who willingly accepted the Cross and sacrificed His life to save us?

So today we have come to honour the Sacred Heart of Jesus for later for the Devotion to express our love for Him and to do reparation for our sins and expiation for the sins of others.

We pray for the healing of sins of the Church and the world so that there will be conversion and repentance and salvation.

Let us make it our obligation to make Jesus known so that anguish and sorrow will be turned to hope and joy.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

All Souls, Thursday, 02-11-17

Isaiah 25:6-9 / Romans 5:5-11 / John 6:37-40

All of us, without exception, have experienced the death of a loved one, a relative or a friend.

We have gone for the funeral wake, said prayers for them and maybe even was present when their remains were interred into the niche at the columbarium.

We have offered Masses for them in the hope that they will be in heaven and have eternal rest in the love of God.

Yesterday we celebrated All Saints, and we ask the Saints for their intercession as we continue to walk in faith and strive for holiness.

Today, we remember and pray for the souls in Purgatory that they will eventually be purified and rest eternally in God's peace.

One question in our minds is that how do we know if our loved ones, our relatives, our friends who have passed on, are in heaven.

Today as we remember and pray for the departed, we may also want to ask God for a sign to let us know that the departed are in heaven.

But let us also know that we have an assurance from Jesus as He tells us this from the gospel: All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to Me, I shall not turn him away ... whoever sees the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life.

We believe that those who have died in Christ will live in Christ. So whether God will give us that sign about the state of our departed loved ones is not as important as having that assurance that they are all in the heart of Jesus and they would not be lost.

We believe in that assurance of Jesus and that's why we remember and pray for the departed as we continue to walk on in faith until we meet Jesus face to face.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

All Saints, Wednesday, 01-11-17

Apocalypse 7:2-4, 9-14 / 1 John 3:1-3 / Matthew 5:1-12

At the end of all movies, there will be the credits roll, which most of us won't be bothered to look at.

After all, we have already sat through almost 2 hours watching the movie, and it's not important for us to know who is who in the movie or where it is filmed or other non-entertaining details.

So in order to make us sit right through to the end, some movies will show some cuts that are not in the movie, and these are usually the bloopers and blunders.

And these might include goofs by the actors or some funny incidents and some behind-the-scenes in the making of the movie.

So we usually only see the end-product - the polished, well-directed and well-acted movie. But we don't see the bloopers and blunders and the goofs and whatever.

Today we the Church celebrate All Saints Day. We honour all the saints in heaven, not only those who are officially canonized, but also the countless other saints that we may not know by name.

We acknowledge their presence in heaven, and we also acknowledge their intercession and communion with us.

We read about the inspiring stories of their lives and how they became saints.

But that could be like watching a good movie and be entertained and moved by it.

Because there is no doubt that in the lives of the saints, famous or not, there were those bloopers and blunders, and if we knew about it, we would probably be bewildered and surprised.

But that only goes to show that these saints who are now in heaven were as human as we are, with those human flaws and failings.

They too fell into temptation and sin, but they rose to the call of repentance and conversion, and as the love of God grew deeper in them, they strove for holiness and followed Jesus in doing the will of God.

The saints let Jesus direct them with the power of the Holy Spirit. When we let Jesus direct us the power of the Holy Spirit, we too will want to be humble, gentle, merciful, pure in heart, hunger and thirst for what is right and be peacemakers.

Then like at the end of a movie, when the credit roll is over, our bloopers and blunders, our flaws and failings might be shown, but it will only go to show that God has the power to turn sinners into saints.

Monday, October 30, 2017

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 31-10-17

Romans 8:18-25 / Luke 13:18-21

We know what a watermelon is. We have eaten it before and there are those seeds that we dig out. Anyway it's better that we don't eat the watermelon with its seeds.

Each of those seeds is a wonder in itself. Each has the capacity to grow up to 200,000 times or more of its size and become yet another watermelon.

We may not be that familiar with mustard seeds or with yeast and dough, but certainly the watermelon seed and the watermelon will give us an adequate picture of what Jesus is talking about in the gospel.

In the two parables which is about the kingdom of God, Jesus talked about a growth that is beyond imagining.

Yet, the 1st reading tells us that growth is not without struggle or suffering.

We and the whole of creation are "groaning" as we strive to grow and to be set free from the slavery of sin and decadence.

Yes, we yearn to live in the freedom and the glory as children of God, and as such, we have to accept the struggle and suffering as part of the process in our growth to freedom.

At the same time, we must also remember that the suffering in this life can never be compared to the glory that is awaiting us.

So in faith and hope, let us persevere and persist, because God will reward us for our faithfulness. And that reward is for eternity.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 30-10-17

Romans 8:12-17 / Luke 13:10-17

The act of generosity and compassion is indeed a noble act.

But it is also an act which demands sacrifice, a sort of self-giving.

And it may also entail some risks, in that the act may not be appreciated, or it may be misunderstood.

When Jesus healed the woman who was bent double for 18 years, it was an act of compassion and a sign of the generosity of God's love.

That act was greatly appreciated by the woman who gave glory to God, and the people were overjoyed at the wonder that Jesus worked.

But His adversaries, on the other hand, criticized Him for breaking the Law, or the so-called Law.

Yet, Jesus did not stop showing compassion or love just because of these criticisms.

Maybe we ourselves have experienced criticisms and ingratitude, and these may have weighed us down and bent us into indifference and apprehension.

But we are reminded in the 1st reading that what we have is not the spirit of slaves that bring fear into our lives.

What we have received is the Spirit that makes us children of God and with the Spirit, we bear witness to God's love in spite and despite the criticisms and the ingratitude or even the hostile reactions.

In doing so, we share in the sufferings of Christ, and when we share in the sufferings of Christ, we will also share in His glory.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

30th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 29.10.17

Exodus 22:20-26 / 1 Thess 1:5-10 / Matthew 22:34-40
There was a board-game that children used to play in the past, but that board-game doesn’t seem to be around nowadays. Maybe it became extinct with the high tech toys like Xbox and PlayStation.

That board-game is called “Snakes and Ladders”, provided for the children of the past, simple enjoyment and excitement.

It is actually a very simple game. On the game-board there are numbered and gridded squares. A number of "ladders" and "snakes" are pictured on the board, each connecting two specific board squares. The object of the game is to navigate one's game chip, according to dice rolls, from the start (bottom square) to the finish (top square), helped or hindered by ladders and snakes respectively. 

So each player has a coloured chip and he moves on with the throw of a dice. If he is lucky, he will reach the end of a ladder and then he will move up many squares. But if he happens to reach a square in which there is the head of a snake, then he will slide right down to its tail end.

The game provided for the children of the past, a source of simple enjoyment and excitement. The game is a simple race contest based on sheer luck. 
But the game seems to have roots in morality lessons, where a player's progression up the board represented a life journey which is complicated by virtues (ladders) and vices (snakes).
In the gospel, the Pharisees may not know about the game of “Snakes and Ladders”, but what they played was a game of “snakes and blunders”. That is because the gospel mentions about the Pharisees getting together to disconcert Jesus.

To disconcert is to upset someone, to make someone flustered so that he will make a blunder. The Pharisees wanted Jesus to make a blunder, then like snakes they will swallow him up. No wonder John the Baptist called them “you brood of vipers”.

They not only wanted to disconcert Jesus, they even wanted to trap Him in order to get rid of Him. This was obvious when on other occasions they asked Him to pronounce judgment on the adulterous woman and also about the issue of paying taxes to Caesar.

This time around, they wanted to see if Jesus knows His stuff by asking a seemingly trivial question: Which is the greatest commandment of the Law?

It was a trivial question because it is not like as if they don’t know, and so it was quite obvious that the Pharisees were trying to disconcert Jesus. And here, Jesus showed once again how He could turn an ulterior motive into something positive.

Jesus didn’t get Himself swallowed into the small details of the Law. Rather He gave the big picture of the Law; He gave the fundamental, the essence of the law.

It was so simple but yet so profound: you must love God with your whole being; and you must love your neighbour as yourself.

To a disconcerting question that was meant to disturb and unsettle Him, Jesus gave an answer, and if the Pharisees were to think about it seriously, an answer that would make them tremble.

Because attached to the law of loving God and loving neighbour, there is this word “must”. It is a serious word, an imperative, a command, and it gives us no options actually.

And so without exposing them outright, Jesus was indirectly asking the Pharisees, if what they were doing was out of love for God, and out of love for the neighbour who was standing there before them and whom they were trying to disconcert.

If the Pharisees had thought seriously about it, they would have trembled. Because they were like snakes waiting to swallow up Jesus if He fumbled.

Yet, Jesus did not play into their little snake games. Rather, He held out to them a ladder, a ladder of love, to help them climb from their ulterior motives and their evil intentions, to the level of the commandment of love.

And to us who are listening to what Jesus is saying in the gospel, He is also holding out to us a ladder of love.

Because we have also played those little snakes games, games to disconcert others, to mislead others, to discredit others, to cheat others, to use others. Oh yes, we have played all these games, and maybe still playing these games.

Especially when our security and comfort is threatened in these difficult economic times. And with the fears of insecurity, we begin to selfishly guard our survival. We become like snakes that will bite at anyone that comes our way or seems threatening to us.

So we, as the people of God, how are we going to respond to the external factors that seem to disconcert us? Are we going to let external situations make us fumble and tumble and be swallowed up by the snakes of fear and insecurity?

Well, Jesus showed us how He turned a disconcerting situation into a reminder of love and salvation. He turned the game of vice into a teaching of virtue.

There are the snakes of evil that we could succumb to and be swallowed up by the vices around us. Yet, Jesus is here to hold out to us the ladders of love. With the ladders of love, we can climb out of our fears and insecurities

So where are these ladders of love, and how are we going to climb these ladders of love. Well, this could be how:

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives ; be kind anyway 
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies ; succeed anyway
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you ; be honest and frank anyway
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway
If you find serenity and happiness, people  may be jealous ; be happy anyway
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow ; 
do good anyway
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough ; give the world the best you’ve got anyway 

So we just have to keep climbing the ladders of love so that as we climb towards God, we too will be able to love our neighbours as Jesus has commanded us.

Loving God and loving neighbour is certainly not a game. And the gospel is the only story where the hero dies for the villain. 

In other words, the Saviour died for the sinner, so that the sinner can begin to love. So let us love God and neighbour so that the gospel story will continue in our lives.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sts Simon and Jude, Apostles, Saturday, 28-10-17

Ephesians 2:19-22 / Luke 6:12-19

Some ancient Christian writings have it that St. Simon and St. Jude went together as missionaries to Persia, and were martyred there.

This may explain the lack of historical information on them and also why their feastdays are usually put together.

Even the gospel accounts do not say much about them.

St. Simon is called the Zealot (or Zealous) maybe because of his patriotism and nationalism.

St. Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest, which according to some accounts, was used to preach the Good News

Devotional prayers to St. Jude helped people, especially newly arrived immigrants from Europe to the US, deal with the pressures caused by the Great Depression and World War II and other political and economic and social changes.

St. Jude is also invoked as the patron saint of desperate cases.

So even though we may not know much about the historical facts of these two saints, we know that they are praying for us.

We also have recourse to them in our needs, especially to the intercession of St. Jude.

They also remind us that we have to keep faith in Jesus and trust in Him always.

They even laid down their lives for Jesus in order to witness to Him.

May we also put forth our needs through the intercession of St.Simon and St. Jude, and may we also offer our lives to God in this Mass.

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 27-10-17

Romans 7:18-25 / Luke 12:54-59

All of us have a conscience and it would be helpful to know how it is described:

- the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, and directing one towards right action

- the combination of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.

- an inhibiting sense of what is right and good

As much as the above definitions of conscience tell us what it is, they do not tell us how the conscience is formed or where it comes from.

And if we go by the principle of acting according to conscience, then there will be a situation of two persons acting according to conscience and yet the resultant actions may not be the same.

In the gospel, Jesus asked a rather seemingly simple question - Why not judge for yourselves what is right?

We may know what is the right and good thing to do, but knowing is one thing, and doing it is another.

As St. Paul says in the 1st reading: "for though the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not, with the result that instead of doing the good things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want. When I act against my will, then, it is not my true self doing it, but sin which lives in me."

Sin has distorted and contorted our conscience such that it can become numbed to the wrong and bad things we do.

But we are not just left to our conscience. St. Paul tells us in the 1st reading tells us that Jesus Christ our Lord comes to rescue us and to purify our conscience so that we can conform our will to the will of God.

Then we will be able to do what is good, right and just, and help others to do likewise.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 26-10-17

Romans 6:19-23 / Luke 12:49-53

Whenever we face a problem, the tendency is to solve it quickly. In doing so, we may even look for compromising solutions.

For example, in order to handle a problematic child, we tend to use material and financial gifts in order to quell the problem of the child.

In the workplace, when we see something not right being done, we would rather not see and don't bother.

Yes, we rather compromise rather than to challenge ourselves to face the problem.

It is in that sense that Jesus said that He didn't come to bring peace. In fact, He said that He came to bring fire to the earth and how He wished it were blazing already.

To compromise on a solution would only mean that we are faking the peace and sweeping things under the carpet.

To compromise is to be like slaves of sin because we tend to hide from the problem until it burns out of control and resulting in dire consequences.

When we challenge ourselves to face the reality of the problem then we let the fire of  Christ burn away the impurities of our intentions.

Then like what the 1st reading said, we will be at the service of righteousness and also for our sanctification.

When we become slaves of God working for sanctifying solutions to life's problems, then we will indeed experience true peace.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 26-10-17

Romans 6:12-18 / Luke 12:39-48

We, the members of the Church are often referred to as instruments of God in which He will manifest His presence in the world.

Besides that we are also called channels of His peace and love, as the hymn "Make me a channel of Your peace" would put it.

All those descriptions give a picture of gentleness and docility, and it also gives the picture that we have to work and build the kingdom of God.

But the 1st reading gives us another image of being a Christian. It describes Christians as weapons.

It also gives the scenario of a battle, and the Christian has to make a decision as to what kind of weapon he/she is to be used for.

The 1st reading urged Christians not to let any part of their bodies turn into an unholy weapon fighting on the side of sin.

Rather, Christians should offer themselves to God and make every part of their bodies into a weapon fighting on the side of God.

So the spiritual life of a Christian is not just about being an instrument or channel of God and working and building the Kingdom of God under calm and  peaceful conditions.

There is also the need to protect the Church and the Kingdom of God by being weapons of God to fight evil and wickedness.

It is also by being instruments and channels of God's peace and love that we protect the weak and poor and helpless from harm and exploitation and oppression.

So whether it is being an instrument of God or weapon of God, we must be alert and always stand ready on God's side.