Saturday, July 22, 2017

16th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 23.07.2017

Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 / Romans 8:26-27 / Matthew 13:24-43

One of the rather tedious things to do is house-keeping, which is also known as spring-cleaning. But whether it is spring or summer or autumn or winter, cleaning the house is not something we look forward to, and it is not something we like to do often, much less every day.

We can actually tolerate quite a bit of dust and we will only realize that it is getting too much when we start writing notes and phone numbers in the dust on the table. Then maybe it’s getting too much.

And some people can give funny reasons for not doing housekeeping or spring-cleaning:
- My room is not dirty. I clean it every other day. Just that today is not every other day.
- My room is not untidy. I just have everything on display, just like a provision shop.

And when it comes to housekeeping, it is not only physically tiring, it can be mentally taxing. We have to think carefully about what we want to throw away as junk. Because junk is sometimes defined as something we throw away three weeks before we realise we need it. So to throw or not to throw, that’s the question.

The question in the gospel parable is kind of similar – to weed it out or not to weed it out. That was with reference to the darnel, a kind of weed that looks similar to wheat in the early growing stages, but can only be distinguished when it is matured.
Not only can darnel choke out the wheat, its seeds are also poisonous. So we can imagine how tedious it can be to harvest wheat that has got darnel with it. It is like trying to sort out between sugar and salt.

But to begin with, what was sown was wheat, and it was good wheat. And then when everybody was asleep, the enemy came and sowed darnel among the wheat and made off.

And it was only when the wheat sprouted and ripened that the darnel appeared as well. And weeding out the darnel was out of the question.

This parable can be used to explain the origins of sin and evil, and the conclusion can be this: The devil did it!

But that would only be highlighting an obvious problem. But what about the solution?

In the parable, the solution is given at the harvest time – the wheat and the darnel will be separated, the wheat going to the barn, the darnel going to be burnt.

That is the end-time solution to the problem of evil. In the end, evil will be held accountable, and evil will be punished. That is the end-time. But for us, what is it for the meantime?

To begin with, as much as the parable distinguishes between wheat and weeds, between good and evil, the reality of this world is not separated into two camps.
Because the fact is that no one is absolutely good and no one is absolutely evil. In each of us, there is a mixture of both, some more, some less.

But we must also realise that God has sown good seeds in us, so that we can bear a good harvest. And we also have to realise that there are some poisonous weeds crawling within us that would make us forget who we are and what we are called to be.

There is a reflection on our current lifestyle that somehow causes a distortion in our lives. The reflection is this:

  • When TV came to my house, I forgot how to read books. 
  • When the car came to my doorstep, I forgot how to walk. 
  • When I got the mobile in my hand, I forgot how to write letters. 
  • When computer came to my house, I forgot spellings. 
  • When the air-con came to my house, I stopped going under the tree for cool breeze
  • When I stayed in the city, I forgot the smell of the countryside. 
  • By dealing with banks and cards, I forgot the value of money. 
  • With the smell of perfume, I forgot the fragrance of fresh flowers. 
  • With the coming of fast food, I forgot to cook traditional cuisines.
  • Always running around, I forgot how to stop. 
  • And lastly when I got WhatsApp, I forgot how to talk.

One of the consequences of the weeds of our lives is that they make us forget who we are and what we are called to be.

The 1st reading reminds us that like the man who sowed good seeds, God has sown goodness in us and the reading says this: By acting thus, You have taught a lesson to your people, how the virtuous man must be kind to his fellowman, and You have given Your sons the good hope that after sin, You will grant repentance.

So even before asking why there are wicked people, why there is evil, let us do some spiritual housekeeping and spiritual heart-cleaning, and to admit that we have allowed the weeds of sin to enter into our hearts and choke out the wheat of goodness.

So repentance is about cleansing our hearts of the weeds of sin so that that when we are faced with the wickedness and evil of this world, we won’t resort to that kind of “eye for eye, and tooth for tooth” reaction. Anyway fighting fire with fire only creates a bigger fire.

Rather we fight evil with the goodness and kindness that are planted in our hearts by God, and Jesus reminds us of this in today’s gospel parable.

So let us remember who we are and what we are called to be. That is the meantime direction, and it is also the end-time solution.

Friday, July 21, 2017

St. Mary Magdalene, Saturday, 22-07-17

Songs 3:1-4 or 2 Cor 5:14-17 / John 20:1-2, 11-18

Every now and then, we see in the newspapers a notice about a missing person, with the person's photograph and some details.

Whether the person was eventually found or not, we cannot be certain because very often there are no follow-up reports on the case in the newspapers.

What is certain is that when a loved one is missing, the anxiety is painful and the search is relentless.

Such was the depth of the emotion expressed in the 1st reading in the search for the one whom the heart loves deeply.

It may also express the pain and grief of Mary Magdalene as she looked for the One she loved in the tomb.

And not finding Jesus in tomb, Mary Magdalene searched relentlessly and persistently for Him.

Mary's deep love for Jesus was because it was He who loved her first and healed her of her sufferings and sins.

In life, Mary Magdalene loved Jesus. Even in death she searched for Him in order just to be with Him.

Mary Magdalene is remembered because of her deep love for Jesus and her relentless and persistent search for Jesus when others seemed to have given up.

From our priorities and what we are searching and longing for, we will know how deep our love is for Jesus.

There is this saying for St. Augustine in his book "Confessions" : You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there I searched for you.

God is within us. From within He calls out to us. If we are not listening to Him from within, then we might just be looking for the wrong things.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 21-07-17

Exodus 11:10 -12:14 / Matthew 12:1-8

If there is a great offer or a not-to-be-missed kind of sale, we would certainly not want to miss it.

Especially if it is something that we really wanted, and so we would hurry and try to be among the first in line.

It won't be a time to ask the unnecessary questions like "How long must I wait?' or "Don't know if I can get it". We won't waste time. As it is said "The early bird catches the worm".

In the 1st reading, the people were given instructions on how to eat the first Passover meal. And they were told specifically "You shall eat it hastily: it is a passover in honour of the Lord".

So the moment to be freed from the bondage of slavery had come, and the passover meal is to commemorate it.

But it is not to be eaten leisurely, and the instruction is "You shall eat it like this: with a girdle round your waist, sandals on your feet, a staff in your hand".

It was not a time for small talk and unnecessary questions. And those who don't follow those instructions will probably never see freedom again.

Yes, it was God's mercy that freed the Israelites from the bondage of slavery. And it is God's mercy that continues to free us from our sins and save us from the grasp of evil.

So we need to understand the meaning of the words "What I want is mercy, not sacrifice". And let us not waste time in understanding those words. Because it is too great and too good to miss it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 20-07-17

Exodus 3:13-20 / Matthew 11:28-30

Throughout the course of history, there are wicked kings, tyrants, dictators, rulers and those with authority and might who will resort to oppressing people.

And most of the time, the people are quite helpless and powerless against such oppression and they can only hope and wait for deliverance.

Such was the case of the Israelites in the 1st reading. They suffered under the oppression of the Pharaoh and the Egyptian slave-drivers and they cried out to God for deliverance.

And God did hear their cry, and as God said, "For myself, knowing that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless he is forced by a mighty hand. I shall show my power and strike Egypt with all the wonders I am going to work there. After this he will let you go".

But someone has to be the deliverer and Moses was the chosen one. But he was not too willing to take on the task and he tried to find ways to get out of it.

After all he was a free man, but his people were held under the bondage of slavery in Egypt. It would mean that he will have to make the sacrifice to go back to Egypt and to face Pharaoh.

It comes back to the recurring situation in life where everybody wants to benefit but no one is willing to make the sacrifice.

But Jesus tells us in the gospel to shoulder His yoke and to learn from Him. He made the sacrifice of His life so that we can be free and be saved.

So when our charity is spreading thin and we are not that willing to make the sacrifice for the good of others, let us go to Jesus with our fatigue and burdens.

We will find rest for our souls, and with a gentle and humble heart, we will follow Jesus to lift the oppression and the burdens of others.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 19-07-17

Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12 / Matthew 11:25-27

As much as we have the ability to see and to hear, yet the power of observation is like a variable factor.

So as much as we see and hear a lot of things, we also exercise selective seeing and selective hearing.

Then from what we want to see and want to hear, the next thing is what is it that captures our attention or our interest, and that will be the object of our observation.

In the 1st reading, what captured the attention and interest of Moses was the bush that was blazing but it was not being burnt up.

His curiosity led him towards the burning bush, and that was when the Lord God called out to him and revealed His plan for him.

Of course it was the strange sight of the bush that was blazing but not being burnt up that caught the attention and interest of Moses and he went further to observe it.

We may not have this unique experience of seeing a burning bush as what Moses had.

Nonetheless God still reveals Himself to us in what we see and hear, and what catches our attention and interest.

And when we "observe" all these signs in prayer, then God will reveal Himself to us and prompt us to discover His will for us.

So we need to have the heart of a little child to observe and look deeply at the things around us. Then we will know that God speaks to us all the time, and reveals Himself to us in those situations where He wants His will to be done.

Monday, July 17, 2017

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 18-07-17

Exodus 2:1-15 / Matthew 11:20-24

Indifference is generally defined as a lack of interest or concern. But the degree of it depends on the situation and the circumstances.

Indifference to the untidiness of our work station is not the same as indifference to an act of evil or wickedness.

In the 1st reading, the mother of Moses could just be indifferent and lamented that God was not protecting His people by letting the Egyptians kill their baby boys.

But she did something to protect her baby from the impending evil.

Similarly, the adult Moses did not look away neither was he indifferent to the violence an Egyptian inflicted on his countryman.

In the gospel, Jesus made a pointed reproach on the indifference of the towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum.

Indifference is a sign of internal decay and as such the three cities mentioned in the gospel are now in ruins.

Indifference is also a sign that our faith is decaying and that we are not sensitive to the promptings of God in our hearts.

May our hearts be softened by God's love and may we be aware of the needs of others around us.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing about it." (Edmund Burke)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 17-07-17

Exodus 1:8-14, 22 / Matthew 10:34 - 11:1

We have accomplishments that we are proud of. Those accomplishments are not just a proof of our abilities but we are proud of them especially when those accomplishments have helped others in their difficulties and solved their problems.

Those accomplishments are not just like feathers in our caps or medals on our coats, they also remind us that people were grateful to us for the help that we rendered to them in their time of need.

But we also have to accept that over time and over generations, the good that we have done are forgotten and our names may not even be remembered by those who benefited from us.

Such was the case in the 1st reading. There came to power in Egypt a new king who knew nothing of Joseph. Yes, times have changed. The generation that knew what Joseph did for Egypt is gone. And what Joseph did was forgotten. And the people of Israel has become a threat to the Egyptians. Furthermore Egypt was not their homeland.

And it is futile for the Israelites to say to the Egyptians, "Don't you remember Joseph and what he did for you? How can you be so ungrateful?"

The people of Israel will now have to think of a way out of this. They will have to fend for themselves. But they themselves must not forget that God had also done great things for them.

Obviously, the help of man is in vain, but the mighty works of God will be from age to age and from generation to generation.

So let us not expect others to remember the good that we have done for them or want to have them beholden to us. And neither should we expect them to come to our help when we are in some kind of trouble.

Let us remember that our accomplishments are of no value if it is for self-gain. Whatever good that we do must be for the glory of God and for the good of our neighbour. And in our time of need, God will come to our help.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

15th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 16.07.17

Isaiah 55:10-11 / Romans 8:18-23 / Matthew 13:1-23

Over the course of this week, there were a couple of incidents that would have caught our attention. Not only would they have caught our attention, they would have also stirred our emotions.

On Tuesday, the front page of the newspapers had a picture of a man in his 60s standing over the slumped body of another man, with by-standers at a distance looking on.

The man had stabbed the victim who later died of his wounds. It turned out that the victim was the son-in-law of the attacker.

It was certainly a family tragedy as two lives came to a different end, and our hearts certainly would feel for the family in their grief and pain.

Then on early Friday morning, a viaduct undergoing construction collapsed, killing one worker and injuring 10 others. Again, one life was ended and probably many other lives will be changed.

In the face of these two tragedies, and the other tragedies of life, we could only utter a single-worded question – “Why?”

Yes, “Why?”. And we may probably ask further questions like “Why must resort to killing?” and “Why can’t they build things safely and properly?”
Many other questions can also be asked but not many answers can be given. And most of the time, there are no answers.

And as we listen to the gospel parable and think deeper about it, we may also want to ask “Why?”

The sower went out to sow. Some seeds fell on the edge of the path and the birds came and ate it up.
Others fell on patches of rock and didn’t grow for long.
Yet others fell among thorns and got choked.
And then others fell on rich soil and produced a harvest.

But why is the sower so careless in sowing the seeds? There seems to be so much loss and wastage and maybe only a quarter of what is sowed produced a harvest.

Logically and mathematically, this is not productive or effective. On paper, it is a failure.

So logically on paper, the sower is a failure. So why this kind of parable? Is there any meaning to this?

Logically and on paper, it is a failure. But spiritually and on prayer, there is a sublime power.

We have to listen to what the Lord said in the 1st reading: As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for eating, so the word that comes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.

The Lord has sowed the seeds of His Word on us and have the seeds produced a harvest? 

Well, in little and simple ways, they have. Last Monday, we began a new journey for the RCIA. We started the journey rather late, maybe we are the last church to start the RCIA. We didn’t expect many Inquirers, maybe just a handful at most.

But we prayed, silently though, because we didn’t want to sound like we were so desperate, but in a way we were. Well, the Lord sent, more than just a handful, 16 Inquirers to be exact. Which is actually very good, considering we started very late, and we are a rather quaint little church. So there is much work to do now, and our prayers are needed for these Inquirers and the RCIA team.

As for the 1st Friday Mass and Devotion to the Sacred Heart and the 13th-of-the-month Rosary, it is not with overwhelming attendance but certainly it is edifying and encouraging to see that people have responded to the call of prayer and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and to the devotion to Our Lady in the Rosary.

Yes, in little and simple ways we are bearing a harvest and more so when we come for Mass each Sunday, we want to offer to the Lord a bountiful harvest of prayer.

More than just praying for ourselves and for the petitions offered to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are called to pray for the Church, for the world, for all peoples.

The tragedies that we see around us are more often than not, man-made. Because when we think about it, it is man that created the problems, and when the problems become too serious, they end up in tragedies.

But where tragedies result in suffering, the remedy is in the praying.

The 2nd reading tells us that the suffering in this life cannot be compared to the glory that is waiting for us in the next life.

But while on this earth, while in this life, we are called to face that suffering with our praying. 

And we must believe that there is much more that we can ever imagine that is accomplished by prayer-power than by any human power.

That is why God wants to sow the seeds of His Word in us. So that we can produce a harvest of prayer, and signs and wonders will rain down from heaven, and bring healing and reconciliation on earth.

Friday, July 14, 2017

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 15-07-17

Genesis 49:29-33; 50:15-26 / Matthew 10:24-38

Death is a reality that we see every day, whether it happens to our loved ones or in the obituaries.

As it is, death is the finality in life, and whether there is a hereafter depends on what we believe in.

In the 1st reading, we hear of two deaths - the death of Jacob and then later on the death of Joseph.

Both had one final wish as they see their death approaching, and that is that they be buried in the land that God had promised to Abraham, Issac and Jacob, or as we call it "the Promised Land".

It was their final desire that their earthly remains be brought back to the land promised to them and be buried there.

It is there that they belong, whether in life or in death. It is there that they know that upon death, they have come back to God.

As much as we will have to encounter death one day, we must also believe in that we pass on from this world to the other world where Jesus is waiting for us.

He promised us that He has gone to prepare a place for us and that there are many rooms in His Father's house, and that will be our eternal inheritance.

When we truly believe that, then we need not worry and fear of the things of earth, especially death. Because there is something much greater and more glorious waiting for us above.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 15-07-17

Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30 / Matthew 10:16-23

When it comes to father and son relationships, what we often hear is the tension, the differences, the generation gap and all those aspects that paint a bleak picture of such relationships.

So essentially, the matter is about the love between father and son, and the fact that it is often a strained love, resulting in father-and-son tensions.

But in the 1st reading, we hear of a very moving story of a father and son relationship.

Joseph was separated from his father for more than 20 years and now, finally, Jacob was united with his son whom he thought was dead.

And all this while, Jacob had not forgotten Joseph, and Joseph was eager to see his aged father after all those years.

That tearful reunion brought about joy and peace for Jacob and Joseph, and for Jacob it was the final fulfillment of his life.

Yet in the gospel, the tension between father and son is brought up again, and this time it's even more heart-rending because it has sunk deeper into betrayal and hate.

It's a reality which we read about in the papers and which we may even see around us or even happening to us.

Let us pray that God who is our Father may pour forth His love into those hurting father and son relationships and that there may be healing and reconciliation.

Like Jacob and Joseph, may fathers and sons also see each other as their fulfillment in life and may the love between Jesus and His Father be the model of their relationships.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 13-07-17

Genesis 44:18-21, 25-29; 45:1-5 / Matthew 10:7-15

If we had been cheated in a business deal and lost a considerable sum of money, we would certainly be very angry and we would use whatever legal means to recover our loss.

And if our fortunes are restored, we would certainly be happy that justice is done.

But we would not think of restoring the relationship with the other party or try to understand why that party cheated us in the first place.

In fact, we would want that other party to be punished for cheating us and suffer for what was done.

In the 1st reading, Joseph not only had his fortunes restored, his brothers who had treated him badly and even sold him off as a slave, were now begging for his mercy and compassion.

It could have been a pay-back time for Joseph's brothers and when Joseph revealed his identity to them, this was what they feared.

But Joseph in his mercy and compassion wanted to be reconciled with them and restore back the sibling relationship.

He even told them not to grieve or reproach themselves for having sold him as a slave because it was God's plan to send him to Egypt so as to preserve their lives.

The Good News of Jesus Christ is not just about having our fortunes restored. It is fundamentally about relationships being restored - our relationship with God and our relationship with one another.

When we have received without charge, then we in turn must give without charge. That is the restoration that Jesus came so that we can truly experience the joy of reconciliation.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 12-07-17

Genesis 41:55-57; 42:5-7, 17-24 / Matthew 10:1-7

The story of Joseph whom we heard about in the 1st reading is a moving and inspiring story.

Jacob had 12 sons and Joseph was his favourite son, and his brothers were jealous and they called him "the dreamer" and they were not at all pleased with his dreams and despised him.

And they eventually found an opportunity to get rid of him by selling him off to some traders and then told his father that he was killed by wild animals.

But Joseph's dreams eventually came true when his brothers came before him and bowed low before him, although they did not recognise him.

Joseph could have taken this opportunity to settle scores with his brothers who did such harm to him in the past.

Yet, Joseph did not return evil for evil but instead he slowly revealed his identity to his brothers as we will hear in the readings of the next few days.

Maybe we can say that blood is thicker than water and that family is still family for better or for worse, although it also cannot be denied that it is in the family that we can experience the deepest hurts.

Nonetheless, if charity begins at home, then it is in the family that love must be nurtured and nourished and forgiveness must be the thread that binds family members together.

With love and forgiveness, the family will be a sign of the kingdom of God in which the home is a place of love and care, and of forgiveness and healing.

Monday, July 10, 2017

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 11-07-17

Genesis 32:23-33 / Matthew 9:32-38

One popular medal among Catholics is the St. Benedict's medal because of the prayer engraved around the medal is a prayer to ward off evil and hence it is also used to protect against devil and evil influences.

The translation of the Latin prayers are : "Let not the dragon be my guide" and "Begone, Satan, do not suggest to me thy vanities — evil are the things thou profferest, drink thou thy own poison"

St. Benedict whose feast day we celebrate today was born in AD 450. Although he lived and studied in Rome, he could not take the meaningless life of the city and he went to live a life of deep solitude as a hermit in the mountains.

His reputation spread, and some monks asked him to be their abbot, but when they could not take the discipline he imposed, they tried to poison him.

But his later followers were more matured and sincere and disciplined and with them, St. Benedict began founding communities which developed into monasteries.

Eventually he founded the famous monastery of Monte Cassino which became the roots of the Church's monastic system.

His beliefs and instructions on religious life were collected in what is now known as the Rule of Saint Benedict and it is still directing religious life after 15 centuries.

St. Benedict realized the strongest and truest foundation for the power of words was the Word of God itself: "For what page or word of the Bible is not a perfect rule for temporal life?"

St. Benedict instructed his followers to practice sacred reading. In this lectio divina, he and his monks memorized the Scripture, studied it, and contemplated it until it became part of their being. Four to six hours were set aside each day for this sacred reading.

We who live such a hectic stressful urban life will even wonder if we can ever manage to have four to six minutes a day to read scripture and we could hardly remember what we have read as busyness overwhelms our minds.

But just as Jesus cast out demons and overcame evil and had compassion on the harassed and dejected, through the Sacred Scriptures, Jesus is also calling us to be workers in His harvest and to care for the weak and lowly and rejected and to overcome evil with charity and compassion.

In St. Benedict's words : "For what page or word of the Bible is not a perfect rule for temporal life?" May we take some time out in the temporary life to be workers for God's harvest and to prepare for eternal life.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 10-07-17

Genesis 28:10-22 / Matthew 9:18-26

The circumstances that led Jacob to leave Beersheba for Haran, that we heard in the 1st reading, was far from anything exciting or adventurous.

With the help of his mother Rebekah, Jacob was actually fleeing from his brother Esau, from whom he stole the birthright and blessings.

And if we bother to read the whole story, then we will see that there was a lot of cheating, manipulating, lying and deception.

There was nothing edifying about all this and we might even wonder why it was recorded in the Sacred Scripture in the first place.

And neither was did the place that Jacob stopped over for the night have anything special about it.

Yet it was there that God revealed Himself to Jacob.

But we can reflect deeper on what Jacob exclaimed: Truly the Lord is in this place and I never knew it!

And as far as we are concerned, the places that we find ourselves in are certainly nothing special, and our situations and circumstances might be far from anything edifying or motivating.

As it was in the case of the official and the woman suffering from haemorrhage that we heard about in the gospel.

But they had the faith to believe that God was there in their situations.

Indeed God is with us in the ordinary places that we are in and more so God is with us in the adverse situations of our lives.

May we, like Jacob, also realise that God is with us, and that He is always with us in whatever situations and circumstances that we face in life.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

14th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 09.07.2017

Zechariah 9:9-10 / Romans 8:9, 11-13 / Matthew 11:25-30

Last week, the priests of the archdiocese went for their annual clergy retreat, which was from Monday to Friday.

Going for a retreat may sound like a relaxing time and some people may think that the priests do nothing there but eat, sleep and pray.

And if that is really the case, then it sounds rather strange that we are asking you to pray for us priests as we go for the retreat!

But even before going for the retreat, we had to ensure that things are in order in the parish – that bills are paid so that the electricity and water won’t be cut-off, the rubbish is cleared, the stove is switched off, etc.

And then comes the things to pack – toothbrush, toothpaste, shaver, soap, clothes, medicine etc.

So even as we began the retreat on Monday morning, the mind was still whirling and wondering if we had forgotten something or left out something important.

Letting go is certainly easier said than done, because whether priest or lay person, we are still human and we tend to be anxious and worry and fret over so many things.

And so we began the retreat with the phrase that we heard in the gospel, as Jesus says: Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.

The word “rest” could almost inevitably conjure up ideas of lying around or lazing around doing nothing, with no worries, no anxieties, no problems, no pain, no illness.

But is that the kind of rest that Jesus is talking about? Because to fully understand what Jesus meant, we also need to hear the rest of what He said – Shoulder My yoke and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, My yoke is easy and My burden light.

St. Augustine understood what Jesus meant as he wrote in his prayer-reflection: O Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

So the “rest” that Jesus is talking about is not merely a physical bodily rest as in like some kind of couch potato.

The rest that Jesus is talking about is the stillness of the heart, the stillness that is an experience of peace, and it’s a peace that the world cannot give but only Jesus can.

And that was why the crowds followed Jesus. He gave them an experience of peace when He spoke about the mercy and compassion and forgiveness of God with parables like the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, the Good Shepherd, the 11th-hour workers in the vineyard.

Jesus showed the people the heart of God, the heart of love and mercy and compassion.

And He invites us to come and rest in that heart of God. And if our hearts desire for that rest, then He also tells us what our hearts should be like. 

Our hearts must be like that of Jesus – gentle and humble – then our hearts will be at rest in the heart of God.

All this sounds well and good, and the people followed Jesus and they believed that He was the Messiah, the Saviour.

They believed until Jesus was arrested, tortured, nailed to the cross and crucified to death.

With that, all is shattered, including that invitation “Come to me …” Because if Jesus who is gentle and humble of heart was killed by evil and wicked men, then the “Come to me” is just a big joke. There is no point in being gentle and humble of heart.

But if Jesus died and nothing more, then there is nothing else to talk about.

But Jesus died and He rose from the dead. And that changed everything and turned everything around. His invitation to “Come to me” are not just human words but they are risen words, words that have power, words from the Risen Jesus who overcame evil, sin and death.

And because of that, the 2nd reading has this to say: Your interests are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made His home in you. In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ, you would not belong to Him, and if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then He who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to you.

The priest who conducted the retreat for the priest is Fr. Olivier Morin SJ, a man full of life and peace. He has a prosthetic foot (artificial foot) and it was obvious in the way he walks, and he wears sandals.

To quell our curiosity, he told us that he had an accident and his foot had to be amputated. He recalled that when he was on the operating table and the doctors were trying to save his foot, he was in intense pain, so painful that tears were rolling down from his eyes.

In that intense pain, he suddenly felt a hand holding his hand. He opened his eyes a bit and he could see that it was one of the nurses who reached out to hold his hand to comfort him.

No words were spoken, just a firm grip of the hand but that was enough for him to withstand the pain and brought him comfort and to know that someone cares.

Jesus comes to us through people we know as well as people whom we don’t, to comfort us in our pain and distress. No words may be spoken, but we know it is His healing touch.

May we also be the hands and the heart of Jesus to bring about comfort and healing to others, as well as bring those who labour and are overburdened to Jesus. 

May we all find rest in the heart of Jesus, and may we also be gentle and humble of heart. That is the healing and comfort that the world needs from us.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Annual Priests Retreat 2017

My dear brothers and sisters,

The priests of the Archdiocese of Singapore will be having their annual retreat from 3rd July Monday to 7th July Friday.

I will also be at this retreat and I am really looking forward to it for a time of silence and prayer.

As such, the next homily post will be for 14th Ordinary Sunday, 9th July 2017.

Requesting prayers for myself and my brother priests that we will be renewed and re-focused so that we will continue to faithfully serve the Lord and His holy people.

Thank you. May God bless you!

Fr. Stephen Yim

Saturday, July 1, 2017

13th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 02.07.2017

2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16 / Romans 6:3-4, 8-11 / Matthew 10:37-42

If we were asked to name an Old Testament prophet, then depending on our Bible knowledge, we may be able to come up with some names.

And if we had been attentive enough at Mass, then we might be able to remember some of the prophets’ names like Isaiah, Samuel, Ezekiel and Elijah.

And talking about Elijah, he had a successor and his name is almost like that of Elijah, ie. Elisha. This is the Elisha that we heard about in the 1st reading. The woman saw in him a holy man of God, and she gave him food and lodging whenever he passed by that way.

And then in exercising his prophetic role, he told the woman, “This time next year, you will hold a son in your arms.”

So a prophet not only proclaims the Word of God and interprets the signs from God, he is also called to be the channel of God’s blessings for the people.

One rather obscure act of Elisha is in the 2 Kings (2:18-22) when the people told him that the water was bad and causing the land to be unfruitful, and affecting the people because they drink it.

Elisha then went up to the source of the stream and invoked the Lord’s blessings and then sprinkled salt into the water, thereby cleansing it and brought healing to the land and the people.

That is why in the Church’s Rite of Blessing of Holy Water, blessed salt is sprinkled in the water in the form of a cross, so that Holy Water is used for purifying, cleansing and healing.

So although Elisha may not be a big-name prophet, his prophetic action is repeated in the prayer of blessing of Holy Water.

In as much as prophets have names, there are also some prophets who are not named, and some others may not be prophets but nonetheless had a prophetic role.

We may remember that on one occasion, when Jesus went to the district of Tyre and Sidon, there was a Syro-Phoenician woman who came up to Jesus asking Him to heal her daughter who was tormented by a devil.

Initially, He answered her not a word, and when she knelt and begged Him, Jesus said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the house dogs.”

To which she replied, “Ah yes, Lord, but even the house dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.

That Syro-Phoenician woman may not be a prophet but in humbling herself to the likeness of a house dog, she brought about healing for her daughter.

And that is one of the primary roles of a prophet: to bring about God’s blessings and healing for others.

And talking about house dogs, or pet dogs, some of us keep dogs as pets, or wish to have a pet dog. And if we have a dog as a pet, we would surely love our dog.

And if dogs can talk, have we ever wondered what they would say to us? I came across this write up called “The things dog-lovers should not forget”?

Here are some points extracted from that write-up, and it is put in a way that our pet dog is speaking to us.

1. Please don’t be annoyed when I jump all over you the minute you walk through the door. I have a lot less time on this earth and I’m happiest when I’m spending that time with you.

2. Talk to me. We may not speak the same language, but just the sound of your voice always brightens my day.

3. Comfort me when I am scared. I’m not used to a lot of noise or new things, and you make me feel safe.

4. Give me time to understand what you want from me. I promise I’ll try my best.

5. Please don’t stay angry with me for too long. You have your family and friends to make you happy. I only have you.

6. Show me that humans can be loving and are not filled with hate.

7. If you treat me well, I promise to be your best friend forever.

8. I love it when you teach me new tricks. It gives me the chance to impress you and I love it when you are proud of me.

9. When I get old, please love me as much as you did when I was young. I might not be a sweet little puppy anymore, but I love you as much as I did then.

10. Please be at my side when I take my final breath. I know it won’t be easy, but I really need you with me when my time on this earth comes to an end. I will be scared, but you are the only person I can trust to be with me.

11. When I am gone, please remember these words: People are born to learn how to lead a good life and be a good person every day. Dogs already know how to do that. So that’s why they don’t need to live so long.

Yes, if only dogs can talk, that might just be what they would say to us.

But actually we hear that every day. It may be from our children, our parents, our family members, our friends, our colleagues, even from strangers.

We hear those words that have a prophet voice in them. Let us welcome those prophet words and we will receive a prophet’s reward.

And the reward is this: as we listen, so we will speak and like a prophet, we will bring about God’s blessings and healing for others.

Friday, June 30, 2017

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 01-07-17

Genesis 18:1-15 / Matthew 8:5-17

It is quite obvious that wherever Jesus went, people will come and approach Him with their requests.

Today's gospel gives us a glimpse of a typical day of Jesus.

But we can be sure that whatever Jesus did for the people, whether He healed them, or whether He taught them, energy was required and He would get tired.

So when He went to Peter's mother-in-law's house, probably it was to take a break. He needed to rest for a while.

But when He saw Peter's mother-in-law in bed with a fever, He immediately attended to her need.

So whether in public or in private, whether it was in the presence of a centurion, or before a demanding crowd or attending to a poor feeble woman, Jesus poured out all His love and power.

Jesus was not certainly the type who would be at their best in public, but are at their worst in private.

Hence for us, there must also be a unity in our actions and our attitudes.

What we are in public should be a reflection of who we are in private and vice versa.

In other words, what we are on the outside should be a reflection of what we are inside.

So whether it is outside or inside, let us know that we are to reflect God's love and care always.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 30-06-17

Genesis 17:1, 9-11, 15-22 / Matthew 8:1-4

To have faith is a serious matter, to say the least. Because faith is a gift from God and we must take this gift seriously and use it in the way that God wants it.

And it takes a lot of faith to pray and to believe that God is listening to our prayer and that He will answer that prayer.

But when God answers that prayer of ours, we sometimes may think that God has a sense of humour and we may think it is some kind of joke. It's like God is telling us a joke and only He is laughing and we are left bewildered.

In the 1st reading, we heard that Abram was 99 years-old and Sara was 90 years-old, and he was still waiting for that son that God had promised him.

So when God told him that Sara will bear a son, Abraham bowed to the ground and he laughed. Probably he didn't dare to laugh in front of God, but he laughed at what God said. He thought it was a joke, and he laughed at the absurdity of it.

And after waiting for so long, it can be said that Abraham had enough faith to be able to laugh.

But for the leper in the gospel, his faith in the ability of Jesus to cure is no laughing matter.

The people were certainly not laughing at him. In fact they could have stoned him for coming into their midst with that dreadful disease. But that leper had the last laugh when he was cured by Jesus.

Both Abraham and the leper had faith and to them it was a serious matter. But when their prayers were answered, it was faith that enable them to see the wonder of God's plan and the response was certainly a joyful laughter.

So let us keep the faith and keep praying that we will be able to see how God answers our prayers. And when we see our prayers answers, let us laugh and laugh joyfully.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ss. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Thursday, 29-07-17

Acts 12:1-11 / 2 Tim 4:6-8, 17-18 / Matthew 16:13-19

St. Peter and St. Paul are two great apostles who strengthened the faith of the early Church and kept it in unity.

But these two saints were as different as night and day and they even had their differences recorded in Galatians 2: 14.

Although it was St. Peter who affirmed the identity of Christ, his character and actions did not quite reflect the meaning of his name, which means "rock".

Peter was rash and impulsive and we can certainly remember his triple denial of Jesus.

St. Paul was a brutal opponent of Christians before his conversion and he had a fiery character.

But it was strange that Jesus chose these two men who were far from perfect or even suitable to be the leaders of His Church.

Yet, that showed who was the spiritual and guiding force behind the Church.

But in spite of their differences and shortcomings, Sts. Peter and Paul were united in a common goal and mission.

Both died as martyrs, an act which showed that the purpose of their lives were not for their own glory but for the glory of God.

This feast of Sts. Peter and Paul shows us that despite the differences and failures in personalities and characters, the Church can be united for a common goal and mission.

The lives of Sts. Peter and Paul show us that God can choose the weak and imperfect persons to be the leaders of His Church.

Because it is through these imperfect human instruments that God shows the Church and the world that what is impossible for man is not impossible for God.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 28-07-17

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 / Matthew 7:15-20

It is not all the time that we walk with our heads held up high. Because when we do that all the time, we might not be looking on what we are walking on and risk kicking into something.

So usually we will tilt our heads slightly downward so that we can see where we are going and to avoid stepping on something undesirable.

But that will also slowly develop into a habit and a posture such that we look more and more at the ground and forget to walk upright and hold our heads up and to see the wonder of the world around us.

Too much of looking at the ground narrows our view of things and also we end up looking at the dirt and the dust and forget about the beauty around us.

In the 1st reading, Abram was beginning to have his doubts about the promises that God made to him. He was almost thinking of giving up having a son of his own. 

It was then that God took him outside and said: Look up to heavens and count the stars if you can. Such will be your descendants. 

It was only when Abram lifted up his eyes to look at the heavens and the stars that he put his faith in God.

It is when we keep looking at God and growing in faith towards Him that we will bear good fruit.

Looking down at the brokenness and at times, the ugliness of the world will only make us lose faith and get cynical and skeptical.

Let us lift up our heads and look at the heavens with its array of stars and we will also lift up our faith to bear beautiful fruits for God

Monday, June 26, 2017

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 27-06-17

Genesis 13:2, 5-18 / Matthew 7:6, 12-14

It is a known nutrition fact that a well-balanced diet is a means to healthy living.

And equally as important, if not more important than a well-balanced diet is a well-balanced life.

In the gospel, we hear Jesus giving three components of a well-balanced spiritual life.

It is reverence to God, our attitude towards others, and our direction in life.

We give reverence to God by being grateful and giving thanks for His blessings and we must not be like the "dogs and pigs" that Jesus used as a symbol of irreverence and ingratitude.

Our attitude towards others is often mirrored in their attitude towards us. How we treat them will be how they treat us - what goes around comes around.

As for direction in life, it is about taking the road less travelled, the long, narrow and winding road. We need to accept that life is difficult, and when we accept that, then we won't waste time and energy finding for easy ways out.

In the 1st reading, we see how Abram lived out these principles of a balanced life.

He trusted in the Lord; he was generous towards Lot by giving him the first choice over the land; he accepted the challenges and difficulties with faith in God.

So we know what it takes to be healthy and holy. May we pray for the wisdom to live a life that gives glory to God.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 26-06-17

Genesis 12:1-9 / Matthew 7:1-5

Psalm 90:10 tells us that the days of our lives are 70 years, and 80 for those who are strong.

Practically speaking, when we reach 70 years, it would be a time to retire from a hectic lifestyle and spend our days in peace and enjoying a golden sunset.

At 75 years, we probably would not be thinking a moving out of our country and start a life somewhere else and probably have to start all over again. We just don't have that kind of energy.

In the 1st reading, we are told that Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran to a land that God was going to show him. 

We are also told that God made him a promise, he took his family and all his possessions, and stage by stage, the Lord appeared to him and told him what to do and where to go.

We would wonder if we had missed out something. We wonder why would Abram have done such a thing although we acknowledge that he is the father of our faith and he did the right thing.

But there are also many details that we do not know of and we can keep pondering what made Abram listen to God and trust in him.

In the gospel, Jesus gave a teaching on judging others. The point of His teaching is that we do not know the details and hence to judge is to come to a conclusion without knowing the full details of the situation of a person.

Our life span may be 70 years or 80 years or more. Let us live out our lives with clarity and let us not make judgements about others when we do not know all the details. 

After all, we want to live our lives joyfully and peacefully with others.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

12th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 25.06.2017

Jeremiah 20:10-13 / Romans 5:12-15 / Matthew 10:26-33

If we were asked “What is fear?” we may be able to immediately come up with descriptions and examples?

But if we were asked “What is courage?” we make take a while to define it and to give a personal example

A lecturer once gave an examination with just this question:  What is courage?

And he gave the class 3 hours to answer that question.

Everybody began to write immediately.

After about 5 minutes a student walked up with just a piece of paper.  There is only one sentence in that paper.

He handed it over to the lecturer and left the examination hall.

Everybody was surprised, but carried on writing.

When the results were out, everybody was also surprised.

It was that student who passed up that one piece of paper with only one sentence who got the highest marks.

Certainly we would want to know what he wrote and how he answered that question.

He wrote only 3 words:  This is courage!

Courage is not about words.  Courage is about actions.

By his actions that student showed what courage is all about.

In today’s gospel, Jesus told his disciples not to be afraid.

What is there to be afraid of? Plenty! There is the fear of going to the dentist, fear of losing the job, fear of illness, fear of failure, etc.

In fact in the first test of courage at the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples failed terribly.

They all deserted Jesus and left Him alone to face His persecutors.

Only Jesus showed courage when confronted with fear.

Why did the disciples gave in to fear? Where did fear come from?  How can we overcome fear?

To begin with fear is a reaction; it is a reaction to a threat or danger. We can choose to give in to fear, or we can choose to have courage.

So if fear is a reaction, then courage is a decision. And if there is no fear, then there is no need courage.

Fear comes from the fact that we feel insecure. We feel insecure because we think that God does not care about us and the He does not come to protect us in times of trouble and danger.

And that is because there are times when we think that our prayers are not answered.

So how do we pray when we come face to face with troubles and difficulties?

We need to look at how Jesus prayed when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

At first He asked His heavenly Father to take that cup away, meaning to save him from suffering, pain and the cross.

After that, He prayed that God’s will be done and not His will.

Jesus trusted that when He does God’s will, then God will protect and save Him. Jesus went on to face the Cross with courage.

So when we pray, let us reflect on what we are praying.

If we are telling God what He should be doing for us, then it seems that we do not trust God to know what we need.

Hence our prayer already shows our distrust and insecurity.  So even when we pray, we also have fears.

But when we pray that God’s will be done, we surrender ourselves courageously into God’s hands. Because courage is fear that had said its prayers and surrendering to God’s will.

And no matter what happens, even if the worst should happen, we know that God is watching over us and protecting us.

When we put God’s will first, then God assures us that everything will turn out for the good of those who trust God.

To trust God means to love Him. To love is a decision, and to have courage is also a decision.

But more importantly we must believe and trust that God loves us more than we can ever love him.

And we can discover what our enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten us.
The devil will deceive us by saying: You can’t withstand the storm. But Jesus will declare: Do not be afraid. I will silence the storm.

In life there are many dangerous storms. We can react with fear, or we can decide to have courage.
Because it takes courage to believe and trust in Jesus who declares to us: Do not be afraid. I have conquered the world.

Let us decide to listen to Jesus, and we will have the courage.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Nativity of St. John The Baptist, Saturday, 24-06-17

Isaiah 49:1-6 / Acts 13:22-26 / Luke 1:57-66, 80

The name "John" appears for the first time in the Bible in today's gospel.

It is a Jewish name (Yohanan) and it means "God is gracious".

Why Elizabeth have her son that name and why Zechariah confirmed it was not mentioned.

But we can suppose, and quite correctly, that she was expressing her thanks and praise to God for this gift of grace in her son, and that God was merciful to her and saved her from the shame of being barren.

Indeed the name "John" was very befitting for the Baptizer because he was the herald of a more important person.

He ushered in the appointed time of grace.

In fact he ushered in the fullness of grace that was embodied in the person of Jesus Christ.

In Jesus Christ, God came as a man to visit His people and to redeem them from the slavery of sin.

As it was then, so it is now still. Every moment is a time of grace.

God still visits us not only to save us but to make us the light of the nations, so that salvation may reach all nations, as we heard in the 1st reading.

May we live each moment in grace of God, so that we may be instruments of light and life to others.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday, 23-06-17

Deut 7:6-11 / 1 John 4:7-16 / Matthew 11:25-30

If we ask ourselves what is the greatest gift from God, we will surely come to this answer.

The greatest gift from God is surely His only Son Jesus.

And the greatest gift of Jesus to us is His love for us: "Love one another as I have loved you."

And Jesus showed that He loved us to the end by laying down his life for us.

The Church uses the image of the Sacred heart to symbolize this love.

The heart of Jesus is crowned with thorns but yet burning with love for us.

It is in the Sacred Heart of Jesus that our own hearts will find the love that we are looking for, and it is a love that Jesus wants to give us.

In the Sacred Heart of Jesus we will find the peace and joy that we are longing for.

Yes, our hearts will not rest until they are rested in the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

So the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us that Jesus is always loving us and holding us close to His heart.

His heart burns with love for us. May our hearts also burn with love for Jesus and for others.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 22-06-17

2 Cor 11:1-11 / Matthew 6:7-15

Whenever we talk about sin, we usually put it under two categories: mortal sin or grave sin, and venial sin.

Venial sin are less serious sins, but let us not underestimate them.

Because venial sins can have serious and damaging consequences.

Let's take for example in the family.

After dinner, we might have noticed one family member always avoiding the washing of dishes or the cleaning up.

We get irritated, and after a while this irritation becomes a resentment and slowly a bitterness sets within.

And when we can't take it anymore, we confront that person, but we confront that person with a resentment and with bitterness.

Our intended correction becomes a criticism and maybe even a condemnation.

That was why after teaching His disciples to pray, Jesus emphasized on forgiveness.

But it is not about forgiving those who have done us wrong but rather to forgive them for their failings.

Because when we stand before God, we stand before Him as sinners with our own set of failings.

If a sinner cannot forgive another sinner for his failings, then prayer does not make sense, and that was what Jesus was saying.

But when we realize that we are no better than the other person whom we are about to point our fingers at, then mercy and forgiveness have already begun to flow in us.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 21-06-17

2 Cor 9:6-11 / Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Whenever the Church talks about giving, what immediately comes to mind is money.

And generally speaking, whenever any charitable organisation talks about giving, the presupposition is that it is about money.

As we heard in the 1st reading, when St. Paul talked about giving, he was certainly referring to money.

While in most cases money is the means of giving, what is more important is the spirituality of giving.

Because in the gospel, when Jesus talked about prayer, fasting and almsgiving, He is also saying that God the Father knows the intentions of doing it.

So whether be it almsgiving or prayer or fasting, it is a form of spiritual offering to God the Father, and when God sees the purity of the intentions behind it, He will reward the giver accordingly.

Hence, besides almsgiving or money, when it comes to prayer and fasting, what is the attitude behind the giving or the offering?

As St. Paul said in the 1st reading, thin sowing means thin reaping. And God loves a cheerful giver.

God also will reward those who give generously of themselves in prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

And we also need to remember this: There is no limit to the blessings which God can send you - He will make sure that you will always have all you need for yourselves in every possible circumstance, and still have something to spare for all sorts of good works.

Monday, June 19, 2017

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 20-06-17

2 Cor 8:1-9 / Matthew 5:43-48

On one occasion when someone asked Jesus what must he do to inherit eternal life, Jesus replied with this: You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself. (Lk 10:25-37)

But the man wanted to justify himself and asked: And who is my neighbour?

To that question, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is a parable that has many meanings and implications, but essentially the parable points to the fact that love for neighbour must be carried out in acts of kindness and compassion, and even going out of one's way to help that neighbour in need.

In today's gospel, Jesus gave a teaching that also has many meanings and implications when He said, "You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. In this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven.

However in this case, no one asked Jesus: And who is my enemy?

It seems that there is no need to ask that question because it is quite obvious to those listening to Jesus who their enemies were. Or at least they didn't have to think too hard about who their enemy was.

But let's say Jesus were to ask us this: And who is your enemy?

And to that question, maybe what might come to our minds are not those terrorists or people who commit atrocities and commit evil.

Our enemies are not faceless people whom we do not know. Rather our enemies are people whom we do know.

They are people with faces. They are people whom we resent, whom we are bitter about, people whom we bear a grudge against, and at the extreme end are the people that we hate.

Yes, they are people whom we know, but they are not our enemies when we first came to know them. In fact, they were our friends, our neighbours (as in those who are in our social circles).

But something unpleasant happened along the way made them into our enemies. It may be a misunderstanding, a disagreement, a quarrel, etc.

Maybe some of our so-called "enemies" didn't even know that this is what we think of them.

But whenever we think of them, a fire burns within us and feeds our anger, our resentment, our bitterness, our hate.

But it is said that "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle." (Sun Tzu, The Art of War)

So we may know who our enemies are, but do we also know who we are?

Because if we don't know who we are, then it is quite obvious that we are our greatest enemy. And we are just burning ourselves away with all that anger, resentment, bitterness and hate that are within.

Jesus reminds us that we are children of God, "sons of your Father in heaven" as Jesus would call us.

If we really believe that we are sons of the Father in heaven, then we will look at the enemy within and start loving that enemy, and our anger, resentment, bitterness and hate will turn to peace, joy, kindness and compassion.

Then we will truly be able to love God and love our neighbour. As well as love ourselves.