Saturday, September 30, 2017

26th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 01.10.2017

Ezekiel 18:25-28 / Philippians 2:1-11 / Matthew 21:28-32

Exams are a major part in the life of a student. Exam time is also probably the most religious time in the life of most students. One rather funny prayer before the exam the next day is this: As I lay me down to rest, I pray I pass tomorrow’s test. If I should die before I wake, that’s one less test I’ll have to take. 

But exams can be so strange. Some statistics have it that 80% of the exam questions are based on that one lecture you didn’t attend and on that one book you didn’t read. When that happens then it’s poetry time: Tick tock, mind block, pen stop, eye pop, full shock, jaw drop, time's up, no luck.

But even when the exams are over, the anxiety comes next. Because there will be the results of the exams and that will be the time of reckoning.

Those who scored “A”s will be in the limelight and will get praises and rewards. But in the shadows are those at the end of the spectrum, those who are graded “F” or bluntly speaking, the failures.

In the exam grading scale, “F” stands for fail. In the social grading scale, “F” can also stand for forgotten. In the eyes of society, the failures are forgotten and there are not many who will feel sorry for them.

But we need to remember that failure is not the opposite of success; failure is part of success. In fact, failure is the mother of success, and we learn more from failure than from success.

One thing that can be learnt is that failure is not final, and failure can be good, as long as it doesn’t become a habit.

So if your child gets an “F” for the exam, “F” of course means fail, please go easy on the child. FAIL can also mean “First Attempt In Learning”.

After all, failure is just a bruise, not a tattoo. And failure is just an event in the life of the person; failure is not equal to the person.

Of course, this is not meant to encourage failure, but just to give encouragement in the event of failure. As it is said, if plan “A” doesn’t work, then the alphabet still has 25 more letters.

In the gospel, Jesus is highlighting a category of people who live in the shadows of society, and He pointed them out as the tax-collectors and prostitutes, in short, all those who are considered the failures of society.

Generally speaking, failures can be divided into two classes: those who thought about it but never did anything about it, and those who did it but never thought about it.

In a way, the tax-collectors and prostitutes, those so-called sinners, just did it and never thought about it. And since they had already done wrong, they stayed in the shadows of society and never thought much about it.

Until they heard John the Baptist preach about repentance and forgiveness, then they thought better of it, and as Jesus said of them, they are making their way into the kingdom of God. Yes, they have learnt from their failures and showing it in repentance.

They are like the first son in the parable, who refused to go and work in his father’s vineyard. But afterwards he thought better of it and went.

On the other hand, the second son thought about it, and he even said yes to his father, but then never did anything about it.

The teaching of Jesus in the gospel is about repentance, and that is expressed in that phrase “thought better of it”.

And that is also how we learn from failure. We need to think better of it, so as to learn from it, and to gain from it and even to make a success out of it.

And that is how we need to look at persons who have failed, to see failure as just an event in the person’s life and not failure as a person. We need to think better of it, so that the person can move on in life and become a “success” in life.

There is a story of a couple had a few children. All were normal and intelligent. Except one who had Down’s Syndrome and hence, was slow and different from the rest.

The couple took joy in their other children but for this special child, they had to swallow their disappointment and embarrassment.
At times, they even asked themselves why they were burdened with such a child. It seems that they will have to care for him all their lives.

As the years went by, the rest of their children got married and left home to start their own families. As the couple became older, their children also became busier with their own families.

Naturally, the couple felt lonelier with all their children gone. Except for one, the slow “special” one. Because of his inabilities and disabilities, he obviously had to stay with his parents.

In the past, the parents thought of him as a burden and an obstacle to their freedom in life. But now, the old couple realized that he is the only one who is with them day and night.

Once upon a time, he had to depend on them and they have to fend for him. Now that they are in their lonely old age, it is they who have to depend on him despite his inabilities and disabilities.

This story opens our minds to those whom society deem as failures or liabilities, people who are left in the shadows and forgotten, just like those tax-collectors and prostitutes in the gospel.

The gospel reminds us that when the message of repentance is preached to them, they responded more quickly and readily accepted the Good News of salvation.

In fact, despite their failures in almost every sense of the word, they showed that they thought better of it and did what God wanted of them.

When we can think better of those who failed, whether in academics or in life, and see how they are responding to the call of God, then we will be able to follow them in making the way to heaven.

Friday, September 29, 2017

25th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 30-09-17

Zechariah 2:5-9, 14-15 / Luke 9:43-45

Whenever we talk about a house, we would presume that it has walls that would determine its size and boundaries.

Who would ever think of a house that is without walls? What kind of security would that house have?

So it would certainly surprise us when we heard in the 1st reading that Jerusalem was to remain unwalled.

What kind of city would that be if it is without walls for protection and security?

Yet the Lord God was quick to add that He would be the wall of fire for her all round her, and He would be the glory of the city.

Indeed, if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain would its watchmen keep vigil, and in vain would its stone walls offer any protection and security.

Jesus said in the gospel that He would be handed over into the power of men.

Yet Jesus also knew that His security and protection would be in God alone, and that God will save Him out of death and raise Him back to life.

May we also know that if God does not watch over us, then all other physical means of protection will be in vain.

With God in our midst and watching over us and protecting us, let us give thanks, let us sing, let us rejoice in the Lord our Saviour.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Friday, 29-09-17

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 or Apocalypse 12:7-12 / John 1:47-51

Even though we are Catholics, we are certainly influenced and maybe even affected by the events of the recent Chinese 7th month.

We are more inclined to believe that the hungry ghosts and devils are roaming around to scare the wits out of us, than to believe in angels that look like cute chubby babies with wings.

But in the spiritual world of the invisible, if we believe in the existence of evil spirits, then all the more we too must believe in the presence of angels.

Today we celebrate the feast of three archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

All three names end with "el", which is the old Jewish word for "God".

The name Michael means "Who can be like God?" - it is a name that has the form of a rhetoric question. It was Michael and the heavenly army of angels that fought against Satan and drove him and the fallen angels out of heaven, and also protected God's people (Rev 12:7; Daniel 12:1)

Gabriel means "the power of God". He announced the Good News of salvation to Zechariah and Mary and manifested God's saving power with the Good News of salvation (Luke 1:5-38)

Raphael means "the healing power of God". He brought about God's healing power in the book of Tobit and healed Tobit's blindness (Tobit 11)

Through these three archangels, God manifested His power and presence in the Bible as well as even now.

Indeed, who can be like God, who is so loving that He saved us by sending His Son to forgive us and heal us of our sinfulness

We can only be thankful to God. And as we honour the three Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, we can be confident that there is the heavenly army of angels to protect us from evil.

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel 
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle,
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host,
by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits
who roam throughout the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

25th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 28-09-17

Haggai 1:1-8 / Luke 9:7-9

Herod can be called a typical half-believer, someone who believes that there is a God, yet he was more concerned about himself, his comfort, his curiosity, and whatever that can gain him some advantage.

He wanted to see Jesus because of the curious and sensational reports that he heard about Jesus, and maybe also to see Jesus work something spectacular for him to see.

Well, Herod eventually got to see Jesus, but yet for all his curiosity to see Jesus, he didn't get anywhere closer to Jesus.

He got so near to Jesus, yet was so far away, and he ended up gaining nothing.

Similarly for the people in the 1st reading. They were anxious about their own lives and how to live comfortably.

But as the prophet Haggai told them: Reflect carefully how things have gone for you.

They were anxious about themselves, their own comfort and their own houses, yet there was no anxiety and concern for the Lord's house, the Temple, which was still under construction and far from completion.

We to have to reflect carefully about our lives and then we will see the truth of things.

Indeed, we need not be too anxious and worry and over-concerned about our lives or about our comfort.

Let us seek the kingdom of God first, and whatever we need will be given unto us.

Let us be more concerned about the Temple of God in our hearts, and may God be glorified in our lives.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

25th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 27-09-17

Ezra 9:5-9 / Luke 9:1-6

It is so easy to forget to be thankful and grateful when our difficulties and struggles are over.

Just like my parents' generation would look at my generation and say that we are not grateful and thankful that we have so much to eat and can even throw away food.

And my generation would look at the next generation and say that they take so many things for granted and that they waste money even before they have to earn it.

In the 1st reading, when Ezra looked at his people, he remembered how they were sent into exile.

They had sinned against the Lord and hence they were punished as their enemies conquered  them and sent them into captivity and slavery.

But the Lord was merciful and now a remnant has come back to rebuild the Temple.

But Ezra remembered the past and he was taking nothing for granted in the present.

Even when Jesus sent His disciples to proclaim the Good News, He sent them off with nothing but with His authority and empowerment.

This was to remind them to take nothing for granted because all they needed had already been granted.

Even for us, all we ever needed has already been granted. We need to be thankful and grateful.

That will be the first step for us in proclaiming the Good News

Monday, September 25, 2017

25th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 26-09-17

Ezra 6:7-8, 12. 14-20 / Luke 8:19-21

The Temple that was mentioned in the 1st reading was completed around 450 BC.

It was built on the site of the first Temple which was destroyed by the Babylonians a hundred years earlier.

The exiles who came back to build this temple had the support of King Darius, but they also met with a lot of resistance.

For one, the Samaritans tried to block their efforts.

At times, the workmen found themselves having to build with one hand and fight off the enemy with the other.

On top of that, the crops sometimes failed.

These are certainly more than just teething problems.

But when the Temple was eventually completed, the people really rejoiced and celebrated.

This experience of the Jews in re-building the Temple serves to remind us that perseverance and commitment do not go wasted or uncounted.

Especially so when our commitment and perseverance in our faithfulness to God is put to the test.

To hear the Word of God and to put it into practice demands commitment and perseverance.

Especially in the areas like prayer time, moral decisions, life choices, service, etc.

As brothers and sisters of Jesus, let us deepen our commitment to God as we persevere in building God's kingdom on earth.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

25th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 25-09-17

Ezra 1:1-6 / Luke 5:16-18

When God speaks, one cannot but listen. He speaks not just to His Chosen People but also to all peoples for whom He has a message and a mission.

After all, God created all human beings and so in the heart of every person, there is an ear for the Word of God, whether they are believers or otherwise.

We can see this in the 1st reading when the Lord roused the spirit (or the heart) of Cyrus, king of Persia to issue a proclamation.

And the proclamation was that God's people who were exiled in Babylon were free to return to Judah and to build the Temple in Jerusalem.

And God also roused the spirit of His people who were exiled in Babylon to return to their homeland and to rebuild the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.

Indeed, when God speaks, one cannot but listen.

In the gospel, Jesus also urged us to take care how we hear, how we listen, especially to the voice of God.

Just as the people listened to the proclamation of king Cyrus, let us also open our hearts to listen carefully to what the people around us are saying.

We will know it is the voice of God when what they say will shine a light into our hearts. And it is a voice that we cannot but listen to.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

25th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 24.09.2017

Isaiah 55:6-9 / Philippians 1:20-24, 27 / Matthew 20:1-16

This time of the year can be termed as “exam time” because there is the PSLE, the N level exams, the O level exams and the A level exams.

Exam fever don’t just affect the students. Parents get stressed over their children taking the exams, grandparents will try to quell the anxiety of their grandchildren, and priests will be busy as parents bring their children to them to ask for a blessing for the exams. And after that the teachers will be perplexed over the marking of the exam papers.

Yes, exams are a big thing in Singapore because the results will indicate to the students what their future would be like.

The “A” students will have everything going for them – the best schools, scholarship offers, overseas exchange programmes, and the best of opportunities.

But those on the lower end, those who can barely make it or fail to make the mark, will have to make do with whatever that is left for them.

And as in the education system, so it is in the job market. People are paid according to their academic qualifications and their capabilities. So it can be said that people are paid for what they are worth.

So our minds are shaped and formed by market forces. More so in the job market, the better qualified we are, the more capable we are, the higher is our worth, and the higher will be our pay.

So in the world market, our worth is measured in dollars and cents. How much we are paid is an indication of how much we are worth in the eyes of the world.

And that’s why today’s gospel parable bothers us and disturbs us, because it rattles our minds and penetrates deep down into our hearts to see how we understand justice and fairness.

This gospel parable brings back childhood memories when our siblings and our classmates seem to get more than us: a bigger piece of cake, a bigger apple, nicer clothes. It’s just about someone else getting more and better.

Our response to that is: “It’s not fair and square.” As long as somebody’s square is bigger than ours, then it is not fair.

This gospel parable also makes us squirm and look away as it brings back memories of our adolescent and adult years, memories of how we were not selected and left out on the side-lines, of how we were looked over and not promoted.

In other words, it’s the experience of rejection and devaluation. And to make it even more hurting, we may be called “stupid” or “useless” or “hopeless”.
These are the memories that we want to hide away and lock up in the furthest corners of our heart.

But today’s gospel parable digs deep into our hearts and brings up those memories and makes us look at them again.

Because there are times when we know how it feels to be waiting to be hired. As the hour turns into days and into months, our self-worth is also draining away. We feel unwanted, rejected and dejected.

And we may not even have that 11th hour opportunity that the workers had. The end of the day may mean that there is nothing there for us. And so in our emptiness, we get envious and jealous at those who got hired, those who got what they wanted, those who seemed to have all the luck.

Yes, we get envious and jealous when there is nothing there for us. But we also get envious and jealous when there is something there for us.

In the gospel parable, those who were hired first thought that they would get more than those who were hired last. After all they had done a whole day’s work in all the heat.

But they got what was agreed upon. So even though they had something, they grumbled. Even though they had something, they were still envious and jealous of those who did only an hour’s work but got the same pay as them.

So what is the teaching in this rather disturbing gospel parable? One truth that is portrayed is that when it comes to God, we have to expect the unexpected, especially when it comes to His generosity towards the least, the last and the lowly.

When it comes to God’s generosity, we may remember that He made too much good wine at the wedding in Cana (more than 100 gallons); He multiplied too much bread for the crowd and there were 12 baskets of bread leftover; and of course He paid too much to those 11th hour workers.

And God is asking us this question: “Why be envious because I am generous?”

And envy and jealousy can eat into those who have as well as those who have not. Those who already have a day’s wage asked why those who did less got the same pay. 

Those who were hired last, although it was not mentioned, could be thinking of why others got hired and not them.

But God’s ways are not our ways. And as high as the heaven is above the earth, God’s ways are above our ways and God’s thoughts are above our thoughts.

And so we are called to think like God and not like how they think in the market.

Generosity is the art of counting our blessings. Envy and jealousy is the art of counting other people’s blessings instead of our own.

So when we always have something negative to say about others, it reveals to us that we are secretly envious and jealous of others.

Envy and jealousy are like mental and spiritual cancers. The only way to treat it is to sincerely congratulate others for their blessings. Then our blessings will come.

Because God cannot be outdone in His generosity. When we begin to think like God and act in the ways of God, then God will certainly bless us and bless us generously.

Friday, September 22, 2017

24th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 23-09-17

1 Tim 6:13-16 / Luke 8:4-15

The imagery of a seed being sown in the ground and then germinating into a plant is really amazing and astounding.

And to realize that the plant bears almost no resemblance to the seed that it came from is also very intriguing. Maybe perhaps the only visible connection is in the seeds that it bears.

Hence, we can say that nature bears an indication to the mystery of life, here as well as hereafter.

In the gospel, Jesus also used the imagery of seeds, with the sower sowing seeds in various types of soil.

Yet Jesus also said: Listen, anyone who has ears to hear!

What we hear at Mass, i.e. the prayers, the homily, the hymns, all these are like seeds of the mystery of God that are sown into our hearts.

Whatever the state of our hearts may be, the seeds will remain there and will not go back to God without achieving what they were sent to do.

Yet let us also do what is necessary for the seeds to bear fruit. Just like the seed must die in order to bear a harvest, we too must die to ourselves in order for the Word of God to become alive in us.

But we must first listen to the Word of God, and then our hearts will begin to bear fruit that will last.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

24th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 22-09-17

1 Tim 6:2-12 / Luke 8:1-3

For whatever reasons, there are some people who make "idols" out of movie stars, pop stars, sports stars and whatever stars there can be.

And there is also the cult of personality when a famous or popular figure creates an idealized or heroic persona that becomes the center of quasi-worship or adoration among the general public.

Certainly these are nothing new and time and again we see people in numbers of hundreds or even thousands following these personalities.

In the gospel, we heard of people following Jesus. Besides the Twelve, there were also a few women and several others who provided for Jesus and His companions out of their own resources. They certainly believed in Jesus and the Good News of the Kingdom that He proclaimed.

But in the 1st reading, St. Paul warned that there are some people who think that religion is a way of making a profit. He pointed out that people who long to be rich are a prey to temptation. They get trapped into all sorts of foolish and dangerous ambitions which eventually plunge them into ruin and destruction.

So for those who are following such people out of adulation or excessive slavish kind of admiration, it could lead to unpleasant or even tragic consequences.

Yes, we pray for them and we also must also see if we can help them break out of this perverse obsession, and like those who followed Jesus, we may need to do it out of our own resources, whatever that might entail.

We point them to the cross of Christ, which although is devoid of any glamour or attraction, is the source of truth and love. That means that we must first believe in the cross of salvation, before we can tell others to follow Jesus the Saviour.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, Thursday, 21-09-17

Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13 / Matthew 9:9-13

We know that God planned creation and everything goes according to the law of nature and that everything happens for a reason.

That being said, we can also see that everything is graced by God to fulfill His will.

More so for persons; as the 1st reading puts it: Each of us, however, has been given his own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it.

In the gospel, we heard the call of St. Matthew when he was sitting by the customs house.

Yet, it sounded rather abrupt and sudden. There was Jesus, walking by and he saw Matthew sitting by the customs house and He told him to follow him and he got up and followed Jesus!

There seemed to be no dialogue, no discernment, no questions asked, nothing to indicate why Jesus chose to call Matthew and why Matthew got up immediately and followed Him.

But just as there is an order and a plan in creation, and everything happens for a reason, there was certainly a lot going on in St. Matthew before Jesus called him.

Being a tax collector, which already categorized him as a sinner and despised as an outcast and a traitor, God's grace in him was probably making him look at himself and asking questions about his life.

So when Jesus looked his way, the grace of God prompted him to get up and follow Jesus.

And St. Matthew went on to write a gospel that tells of the fulfillment of God's grace in the person of Jesus.

Yes, each of us has been given his share of grace, given as Christ has allotted it. What our mission is will be revealed to us along the way.

What we need to do now is to let God's grace act in us and to get up and follow Jesus, who came not to call the virtuous but sinners.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

24th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 20-09-17

1 Tim 3:14-16 / Luke 7:31-35

No family is ever perfect. We argue and even fight with each other and stop talking to each other.

But whatever it is, family is still family, no matter how dysfunctional, and hence must continue to exist as a family.

For better or otherwise, the members of the family are like branches on a tree; we all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.

If that is so for the family, then it is more so for the Church, which is the family of God, which is reiterated by St. Paul in the 1st reading.

As members of God's family, we should know how to behave, to uphold the truth and keep it safe.

And what is this truth? St. Paul would say that it is the mystery of our faith and it is very deep indeed.

He summarized that truth and that mystery in the person of Jesus, who is the root of the family of the Church.

But the family of the Church is not isolated from the bigger reality of the family of the world.

As we grow and are immersed into the various aspects of the world, we also must not forget our roots - that Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches.

It is our mission to bring the people of our generation to realize that we are truly one family and that we have the same roots.

Let's not be like the children that Jesus portrayed in the gospel who are shouting to one another in the market place.

Let us be the children of Wisdom who will help others realize that we belong to one family in this world.

Monday, September 18, 2017

24th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 19-09-17

1 Tim 3:1-13 / Luke 7:11-17

Most of our values have been shaped and formed since our years as a child. In fact, it is said that the first six years of a child are the most important years as those are the crucial years of formation and learning.

So we inherit values from our parents and from those who are tasked to teach us and also from those who make an impression on us.

And in many ways we reflect the values of our parents and what they believed in and also the values of our family.

That's why when we behave contrary to the values and beliefs that we were brought up in, then among those who will be disappointed will be our parents. And our parents might even be blamed for not giving us a good upbringing.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul talked about the importance of choosing church leaders and he listed out the criteria for the choice.

The requirements are certainly very high, but that's because they have this responsibility of forming and nurturing the members of the church in the areas of faith and morality.

And what if they stumble and fall? When this happens, then almost everyone will be blamed - the disgraced leader, his superiors, the Church and everyone and everything connected to it.

A kind of spiritual death happens as those who fell and failed are left in the dust of guilt and shame.

In times like these, regardless of whether it is a church leader, a leader of the community, an educator or a law enforcement officer, etc., let us commend that person into the hands of Jesus.

In the gospel, we heard that Jesus raised the dead man and gave him back to his mother. For those who fell and failed, and for those whose faith were shaken by what happened, may Jesus show His mercy and compassion and raise up all from a spiritual death and from a shattered faith.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

24th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 18-09-17

1 Tim 2:1-8 / Luke 7:1-10

The Church is founded on prayer and in all its undertakings and directions, the prayer factor cannot be missing or diminished.

Hence, the mission of the Church is to pray for the needs of the Church and all the faithful and also for the needs of the world and its salvation.

Yes, the Church is not separated from the world and its affairs and needs and concerns. In fact, we need to be an integral part of the world in order to proclaim the Good News to the world.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul emphasized to Timothy the need for prayers to be offered for everyone.

And then he made a particular mention of prayers for the rulers and those in authority, so as to be in harmony with them.

The Church cannot see the world as a hostile opponent but rather as a friend to build a relationship with.

In the gospel, Jesus showed His favour to the request of the centurion by healing his sick servant.

Jesus even affirmed the faith of the centurion by saying that not even in Israel had He found faith like that.

The Church no doubt has faith. But the faith of the Church should be the catalyst to stir up faith in the world.

May we pray fervently and reverently so that the Church with the world will give glory to God.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

24th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 17.09.2017

Ecclesiasticus 27:30 – 28:7 / Romans 14:7-9 / Matthew 18:21-35

In this parish, as well as in the other parishes, there is this regular occurrence. There will be individuals wandering into the premises and asking for money.

If they are asking for money in order to have some food for the day, then we are obligated to help them, for that is our Christian duty. And we will help them in their sustenance for a day or two, and we would also see if the SSVP can give them further assistance.

But more often than not, there are people who come to ask for money and they say it’s for their rent, or their medical bills or utility bills and they are asking for at least $100. And they will make promises to repay it back as soon as they have the money. In effect they are asking for a loan, which of course the church is unable to do so.

But on a personal level, we have the experience of people like family members, relatives, colleagues and friends coming to us with a sob-story and begging us to lend them some money for an urgent need, and the amount that they are asking is a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars!

And we also have the experience of being soft-hearted and we lend – a few hundred or a few thousand dollars – our hard-earned money. And we also have the experience that when we ask for our money back, we only get empty promises and excuses. 

And those who borrowed money from us and have not repaid us, we will always remember them. (So if we want someone to remember us, just borrow money from them and don’t return it :) They will certainly remember us always, although not for a good reason :( )

In the gospel, Jesus told a parable that we can immediately understand, especially if we had lent people some money and they haven’t return it to us.

What the servant owed the king – 10 thousand talents – was an enormous amount and impossible for the servant to repay it.

The servant pleaded with the king – “Give me time and I will pay back the whole sum”. We too have heard this from those who borrowed money from us – “Give me some time and I will repay you”, and we wait and wait and wait.

In the parable the king had pity on that servant and wrote off that enormous debt. But the reality for us is that it is so difficult to write off a debt, especially if it is a large sum of money. It is like a knife that is stuck in our hearts.

But the gospel parable uses the imagery of a monetary debt to point to a spiritual debt. When others do wrong to us, how willing are we to forgive, especially when they don’t seem to deserve it.

There is this book “The Sunflower” written by a Nazi holocaust survivor, Simon Weisenthal. His pain was extremely intense: 85 members of his family died in the concentration camps.
In his book, he tells of this story that one day when he was in the concentration camp, a nurse came and told him to follow her. He was led to a make-shift hospital and into a very small room, which had a single bed and lying on the bed was a person almost completely wrapped in bandages.

It was obvious that this person was about to die soon. Simon was left alone with this person and then the dying person began to speak and he told his story. 

He was a young man, 21 years-old, a member of the dreaded SS troops. He had been raised a Catholic but was swayed over to the Nazis and he joined the elite SS troops. 

When he was in the eastern zone, he was given the assignment to deal with the Jews in the zone, which actually meant killing them by any means. This incident troubled the young SS soldier as his early faith formation rebelled against what he did. He grew careless and was distracted and during a battle, he was wounded to this state. 

One of the things that were on his mind was that above all, he wanted forgiveness from a Jew. And so it happened that the nurse called in Simon Weisenthal, and there he was, listening to the young man’s story and heard his plea.

The dying young man said that he was not born a murderer and he didn’t want to die a murderer, and he begged Simon, on behalf of his people, for forgiveness. Simon Weisenthal says in his book that the only response he could give was to get up and leave the room without saying a word, without granting forgiveness.
He wrote that much later on, his non-response began to trouble him. Should he have granted forgiveness to that dying young man? He could think of many reasons not to, but he still cannot come to terms with his non-response to the pleading of the dying man. He concluded the story by asking the readers to put themselves into his shoes and ask themselves the question: What would I have done?

When people owe us money and they don’t pay up, or when they won’t pay up, it is painful. And whenever we think about it, the knife of resentment and anger twists in our hearts and it becomes more and more difficult to forgive them. 

But when others do wrong to us, it can be more painful because the knife goes round and round in our hearts making a big hole in our hearts and all kindness and compassion are drained away.

The antagonist could be an abusive parent, an unfaithful spouse, a scheming sibling, a back-stabbing colleague, or even a gossip-mongering parishioner.

The hurt and the pain may not be so intense as that of Simon Weisenthal’s, but still it is a twisting cutting pain that hurts the heart and makes it so difficult to forgive.

But the 1st reading reminds us of this: Resentment and anger, these are foul things, and both are found in the sinner. Forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven. Jesus said likewise in the gospel: forgive each other from your heart.

Which makes us look at the other side of the coin. Have we been like that dying young soldier who took the wrong path and was careless and did all the wrong things? 

Of course we can be obstinate and rationalize away our guilt, but one day we will have to come face to face with our sins, and then it will be our turn to plead for forgiveness.

For this, the 1st reading has this profound teaching: Remember the last things and stop hating, remember dissolution and death, and live by the commandments. Remember the commandments, and do not bear your neighbor ill-will; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook the offence.

Yes, let us remember that the gospel is about forgiveness. Just as Jesus forgives His enemies, we too must forgive others. Just as Jesus forgives, our sins are also forgiven.

And as we remember the last things, let us stop hating and start forgiving. And as we forgive those who trespass against us, the Lord will also forgive us our trespasses.

Friday, September 15, 2017

23rd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 16-09-17

1 Tim 1:15-17 / Luke 6:43-49

In almost every religion, food is used in worship as a sign of communion with the deity.

That is why in the worship, something is offered for sacrifice.

It can be an animal, or some produce of the land, or some cooked food.

It is offered to the deity, and then the devotees partake of some of the food as a sign of communion with the deity.

Even in our Eucharist, the bread and wine are offered and through the consecration of the priest, we partake of the Body of Christ in communion.

But we need to be reminded of this great mystery because familiarity can be the death of reverence.

We too can forget that we are in communion with Christ in the Eucharist and that Christ lives on in our hearts.

From the words that come out of our hearts, we will know how aware we are of the presence of Christ in us.

As Jesus said in the gospel: For a man's words flow out of what fills his heart.

By our words, others will know whether we truly worship God or not.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Our Lady of Sorrows, Friday, 15-09-17

Hebrews 5:7-9 / John 19:25-27 or Luke 2:33-35

Today we commemorate one of the titles of Mary - Our Lady of Sorrows.

We may wonder why the Church picks those moments of grief and sorrow and suffering and remembers it in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Yesterday we celebrated the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Today we remember yet another paradox - the grief and the sorrow of our Lady.

Maybe there are certain things in life that can be revealed and learnt only through sorrow and suffering.

The cross, a symbol of shame and death, is turned by Jesus into a symbol of life and glory.

In Mary's case, as she stood by the cross, and in the depths of her sorrow, she was also transformed, as she received a revelation and a mission.

In that moment of her greatest sorrow, Christ transformed her and commissioned her to be the Mother of the Church.

In dying on the cross, Christ gave life to us and gave Mary to be our Mother.

When sorrow and suffering are put into the hands of God, something is transformed and something beautiful and glorious happens.

Let us stay by the side of our Mother as she stands at the foot of the cross, and hold her close to our hearts.

And when we meet with troubles or distress, and when we, like Mary, sink into the depths of sorrow, let us turn to Jesus on the cross.

Jesus assures us that something beautiful and glorious is about to happen. As long as we stay by the side of our Mother and hold her close to our hearts.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Thursday, 14-09-17

Numbers 21:4-9 / Philippians 2:6-11 / John 3:13-17

To say that God sent His only Son to die for our sins is certainly correct, but there is more to it.

As a matter of fact, Jesus did die for our sins and He died a cruel death by crucifixion.

Jesus was nailed to the cross and was flaunted before the face of God as if to mock God for sending His Son to earth.

If it had all ended on the cross, then evil would have scored a victory because God did nothing to prevent or save Jesus from the cruelty and death on the cross.

Yes, God did not save Jesus from death. But since God did not save Jesus from death, then how would Jesus dying on the cross save us from our sins.

Well, God did not save Jesus from death. But God saved Jesus out of death (Hebrews 5:7). And that gave the whole twist to that cruel death by crucifixion.

It  is because God saved Jesus out of death by raising Him from the dead, then by the resurrection of Jesus we too are saved from our sins.

St. Paul, in the 2nd reading reiterates that when he said Christ did not cling to His equality with God but emptied Himself, and He was humbler yet even to accepting death on the cross.

But God raised Him high and gave Him the name above all other names and all creation will bend the knee at the name of Jesus.

So for St. Paul, the death of Jesus on the cross is the essence of our hope, although the cruel death on the cross seems to exclude any kind of hope.

But more than just a sign of hope, the cross is also the sign of love. Although that seems to be pushing the meaning of the cross to its limits already.

But the gospel tells us that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.

For God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world but so that through Him the world might be saved.

So saying that God sent His only Son to die for our sins is correct but it is not the whole picture.

God sent His Son to love us and the price of that love is death on the cross.

But that love was so powerful that even the meaning of the cross was changed, for the cross of death has now become the cross of love that triumphs over sin and death.

So the holy and precious cross is now raised aloft for the Church and for all the world to see.

For in the cross is life and love, forgiveness and healing, redemption and salvation.

Let us kneel before the Holy Cross and venerate it for it protects us and the powers of evil and darkness cower and flee before it.

Let us also pray with the Cross so that we will faithfully and courageously follow Jesus in His way of the Cross and may we also glory with Him in the Cross.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

23rd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 13-09-17

Colossians 3:1-11 / Luke 6:20-26

To be focused would usually mean to keep our eyes fixed on a target or on the object of our concentration.

To get an idea of what it means to be focused, we just have to see those documentaries on the wild life and see how the big cats were hunting their prey; their predator eyes were fixed on their prey in the chase and nothing would seem to distract them.

In a deeper sense, it also means more than just having a fixed line of sight on our targets or objectives.

It would also mean that our hearts are directed and fixed on what we desire in order to achieve our goals.

St. Paul told the Colossians in the 1st reading that they must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is.

Their thoughts must be on heavenly things and not on the things that are on the earth.

The imagery is powerful in that when they get distracted and start to turn their eyes to the things of earth, then they will be lured by the things of earth - fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires and greed.

But in the gospel, it is Jesus who was fixing His eyes on His disciples as He taught them about the kingdom of God.

His focus is also on us as He calls us to strive to live the teachings of the kingdom of God in our lives.

May we also be focused on Jesus so that we commit our lives to Him here on earth, our reward will be great in heaven.

23rd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 12-09-17

Colossians 2:6-15 / Luke 6:12-19

What we would put at the top of our priorities in life would be our independence and freedom.

We treasure our independence and our freedom and as a matter of fact it is a human right.

We would not normally surrender our independence and freedom to anyone that easily, no matter how great that person might be.

When Jesus summoned His disciples and picked out twelve of them to be His apostles, would they have understood that He was asking them to surrender their independence and freedom to Him?

Because that would mean that they would also have to surrender their will and do only what Jesus commands of them.

As much as it sounds rather demanding, yet that is also the meaning of "apostles"; because an apostle is one who is sent to do the will of the one who sent him.

It also means that the apostle must be united with his master and has the mind of the master and knows his master's will.

Hence St. Paul exhorted the Colossians by saying: You must live your whole life according to the Christ you have received - Jesus the Lord; you must be rooted in him and built on him and held firm by the faith you have been taught, and full of thanksgiving.

We are not called to be just followers of Jesus. We are called to be His disciples. Hence we are also called Christians.

In order to truly understand the meaning of our independence and freedom, we must be deeply united with Jesus so that in surrendering ourselves to Him and doing His will, we will find true fulfillment in our lives.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

23rd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 11-09-17

Colossians 1:24 - 2:3 / Luke 6:6-11

No one would normally think of suffering as something pleasant or would welcome it.

Much less would anyone sincerely say that it makes him/her happy to suffer for another person.

To suffer for yourself might make sense in that it is either in reparation for your own wrong doing or maybe there is something to gain from it.

But to suffer for others and to suffer willingly and happily does sound strange and puzzling.

But when St. Paul told the Colossians in the 1st reading that it makes him happy to suffer for them, he states the reason for it.

In his suffering, he hoped to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of His body, the Church.

In this suffering, St. Paul said that he will struggle wearily on, helped only by the power of Christ driving him irresistibly.

Jesus came to heal us of our sicknesses and take away our infirmity. Yet, He too had to suffer for it.

In the gospel, He healed the man with the withered hand, but it only made the scribes and Pharisees furious and that eventually got Him nailed to the cross.

We may think that we can't be that noble to suffer so that others can be healed. But like St. Paul, may the power of Christ drive us irresistibly so that we will undertake this suffering lovingly and joyfully.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

23rd Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 10.09.2017

Ezekiel 33:7-9 / Romans 13:8-10 / Matthew 18:15-20
The ways we understand and perceive the world around us are through our senses. We have five traditional senses known as sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. These senses take the information from our environment and send it to our brain, which then processes the information and tells us how to respond.

The sense of sight develops the ability of visual recognition and develops more quickly than the rest of the other senses. 

But from our earliest days, the sense of hearing develops our ability to communicate. That’s how we learn our mother tongue. That’s also how we develop the way we speak and our accent. And maybe that’s why we have two ears and one mouth, so as to listen twice as much as we speak.

So hearing is one of the body’s five senses, but listening is a skill that needs to be developed further. Because most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

So even as we listen to someone talking to us, our brains are already formulating a reply even before the other person has stopped speaking.

And often, we are so eager to express our opinions that we interrupt the other person in mid-speech, which is quite rude, and at times the other person gets irritated and tells us off with “Can you let me finish what I am saying?” Well, we can let the other person finish what he needs to say, but it doesn’t matter much to us because we already have a reply ready and hence, we are not listening anymore.

That’s usually how an argument begins. It starts off as a discussion, and then into a debate and then when it gets fast and furious, it will dive into an argument where everybody is speaking (or shouting) and no one is listening.

What Jesus stated in the gospel is like a process for addressing a wrong-doing or conflict management: “If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

That’s a logical process that is applicable in addressing a wrong-doing or a resolving a conflict. But all that depends on one important factor – listening. That is also the keyword in that passage.

For any dialogue, or discussion or even a debate, listening to the other party is necessary, otherwise it will just become an argument which can even turn violent.

So is this just about addressing a wrong-doing or resolving a conflict? Maybe, but more than that, the teaching is at the last sentence of the paragraph, i.e. “if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.”

That is interesting because the gospel passage is taken from the gospel of Matthew, and Matthew as we know was a tax-collector before Jesus called him.

In the context of the gospel, a pagan is understood as one who doesn’t know God and a tax-collector is one who is concerned only with material gain.

So to treat a person as a pagan or as a tax-collector is to understand that the person does not know the voice of God and does not know how to listen to Him.

This weekend is “Catholic Education Sunday” and also “Catechetical Awareness Weekend”. Whether as teachers or as catechists, they teach children how to listen to God.

But the voice of God is not something so unfamiliar that we have to learn it through an academic process. Rather Catholic teachers and catechists help their students to listen to the voice of God within.

The word “catechism” at its core, is the word “echo”. God speaks to everyone, and His voice echoes in our hearts. We only need to know how to listen.

A son and his father were walking in the mountains.
Suddenly, his son falls, hurts himself and screams: "AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!" To his surprise, he hears the voice repeating, somewhere in the mountains: "AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!"
Curious, he yells: "Who are you?" He receives the answer: "Who are you?" Angered at the response, he screams: "Coward!" He receives the answer: "Coward!"
He looks to his father and asks: "What's going on?"
The father smiles and says: "My son, say something nice."
And so the son shouts to the mountains: "I like you!"
The voice answers: "I like you!"
Again the son shouts: "You are strong!"
The voice answers: "You are strong!"
The boy is surprised, but does not understand.
Then the father explains: "People call this ECHO, but really this is LIFE.
It gives you back everything you say or do.
Our life is simply an echo of our words and actions.
If you want more love in the world, create more love in your heart.
If you want more competence in your team, improve your competence. When your words are kind, the people you speak to will also be kind.
This relationship applies to everything, in all aspects of life; Life gives you back everything you have given to it."

Catholic teachers and catechists are like the father. He does not impose his voice but he lets his son hear the echo of his own voice, and helped his son realize that the voice of God is heard in the kind words that he spoke.

But in this noisy world where people want to have their say and so many words are spoken, how do we listen to the voice of God?

That’s where prayer comes in. Jesus said, “I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.”

Before even embarking on addressing a wrong-doing or resolving a conflict, we must be able to pray with the other person first, otherwise nobody will be listening to anything that is spoken.

When we pray together, we listen to echoes of our own voices as well as the echo of the voice of God within us.

And the voice of God will never contradict the Word of God, for Jesus is the Word of God and where two or three gather in His name, He will be there.

That is His promise to us. Let us believe in His promise, and we will be able to listen to the voice of God.

Friday, September 8, 2017

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 09-09-17

Colossians 1:21-23 / Luke 6:1-5

As much as heaven is a reality for us, let us not forget that hell is also a reality.

And as much as we are promised eternal salvation and the inheritance of heaven, the dark lurking shadows of damnation and eternal punishment of hell must not be ignored

Jesus warned us :“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Mt 7:13-14)

"Only a few find it". Jesus is certainly serious when He said that. And if that doesn't jolt us, then St. Paul would reiterate it when he says "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12)

Even St. Paul would say this of himself: I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (1 Cor 9:27)

In the 1st reading, St. Paul tells the Colossians: Now you are able to appear before Him holy, pure and blameless - as long as you persevere and stand firm on the solid base of the faith, never letting yourselves drift away from the hope promised by the Good News.

So as much as we are promised salvation and we should be heading for heaven, let us not take it for granted and become slack.

The devil will work on our indifference for we might just slide down the broad road and slip into the wide gate of destruction.

Let us stand firm on the solid base of faith and work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Jesus is our Saviour and Master. Let us heed His warnings and do as He tells us as we put our salvation into His hands.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Friday, 08-09-17

Micah 5:1-4 or Romans 8:28-30 / Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23

If we have to think of a gospel passage or a bible passage to dedicate to someone on his/her birthday, we would certainly think of a profound passage that might include God blessing the person, etc.

But to celebrate the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the passage is chosen from the gospel of Mathew and it talks about Joseph wanting to divorce Mary and the angel had to intervene.

The gospel passage sounded too human, a bit too profane even.

Yes, Mary's fears came true in that Joseph wanted to divorce her and that might leave her to face an uncertain future.

Yet, the humanity, the humaness, of Mary and Joseph are highlighted, to show us that they too had to face their fears and worries when it comes to doing God's will.

In fact, fear has that ability and that potential to paralyse us from doing God's will and glorifying God.

But, at the Annunciation, God told Mary "do not fear"; in today's gospel passage God tells Joseph "do not fear".

As we celebrate this Eucharist, God is also telling us "do not fear'.

Yes, do not fear because God is with us. Do not fear because we also have a heavenly Mother who is always praying for us.

Yes, Mother Mary prays for us, that we too, like her will bring Jesus to others so that they will know that God is with them.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 07-09-17

Colossians 1:9-14 / Luke 5:1-11

We use the term "give up" so often and we accept the understood meaning without questioning.

The term "give up" is used to mean to abandon or to surrender, e.g. to give up the effort; to give up the idea; to give up on answering the question.

In the gospel, we get the impression that Simon Peter had given up for the day. He had worked hard all night long and caught nothing and were washing his nets with tiredness and disappointment.

Then Jesus came along and got into his boat and taught the crowds from the boat. After that He asked Simon Peter to put out into deep water and pay out his nets for a catch.

Simon Peter could have given up that idea as he had already given up on the day. He was not going to be disappointed again.

But it can be said that Simon Peter did not gave up to disappointment, rather he gave in to Jesus, and his life changed with that. In the end he gave in all to Jesus and followed Him.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul urged the Colossians not to give in to their disappointments or difficulties. He reminded them that they would have the strength of the power of God to bear anything joyfully.

Like Simon Peter, they just had to give in to Jesus who would pull them out of the power of darkness and disappointment.

Let us also give in to Jesus and follow Him and we will see wonderful things happening in our lives.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 06-09-17

Colossians 1:1-8 / Luke 4:38-44

Martial arts movies and kungfu movies usually has a novice learning martial arts, and there is always this underlying important lesson or principle that is always emphasised.

It is expressed in different ways like: be focused; have only one mind; do not be distracted, etc.

These are simple lessons and principles that are necessary for any great achievement, but they are not that easy to adhere to, simply because we lose focus and get distracted easily.

Jesus had many people looking for Him. He was in great demand. He was famous and popular. He was needed by people.

Yet, He did not lose focus. He only had one mind, and He was not distracted.

That was why in the gospel we heard Him say: I must proclaim the Good News to other towns because that was what I am sent to do.

The love Jesus had for His Father kept Him focused with one mind and that kept Him from being distracted.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul also affirmed the Colossians for being focused in their faith which they expressed in their love for each other.

So whether it is about our secular life or about our spiritual life, if we want to make any progress or attain any achievement, the simple lessons of being focused, having only one mind and not being distracted have to be strictly adhered to.

More importantly, let us keep our eyes on Jesus alone, because He will show us what our lives are all about and what we need to do.

Monday, September 4, 2017

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 05-09-17

1 Thess 5:1-6, 9-11 / Luke 4:31-37

There is a game that is played often in parties, or functions, or in radio and tv shows.

Generally, that game is called " Name the tune", and the contestants try to guess the title of the song with the fewest notes or bars that is played.

When Jesus spoke, His words carried authority and power.

But more than that, His words also carried a peculiar resonance, and the evil spirits immediately recognized that it was from the Holy One of God.

In short, the words of Jesus carried a holy and sacred resonance.

The evil spirits were repulsed by it. But we should be impulsed by it, meaning to say, we should immediately recognize it and respond to it.

But if like what St. Paul said in the 1st reading, if we were living in the dark and are spiritually asleep, then the words of Jesus would not resonate in us.

But we would know if the words of Jesus resonate in us or not.

Because if it does, then we would be able to name the tune, the spiritual tune, that God is playing for us.

In the ups and downs of the music of our lives, there is also a spiritual tune that God is playing gently and softly for us.

When we can recognize that spiritual tune, then we will know what God's will for us is.

That tune is nothing less than holy, because God's will is holy.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 04-09-17

1 Thess 4:13-18 / Luke 4:16-30

A pattern in the spiritual life is that after a spiritual experience of God's love, what will follow is a challenge.

In the brightness and warmth of a God-experience, there is the dark and ever-lurking shadows.

From the 1st reading, we can know what was bothering the Thessalonians.

Their faith in Jesus have lifted them and given them hope and meaning in life.

Yet the deaths of their fellow believers also grieved them, and maybe even shook their faith because they were expecting Jesus to come back soon and reward them for their faith.

So St. Paul had to encourage them and tell them to keep their eyes fixed on heaven.

Even for Jesus, when He began His ministry, was filled with zest and the zeal of the Spirit.

Yet, in His own hometown, He met with rejection and even His life was endangered.

So for every experience of God's love, let us give thanks to God and let us deepen our faith in Him.

But when the shadows of doubt and crisis start to loom over us, let us do as what St. Paul told the Thessalonians.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on heaven, and our hearts fixed on God who loves us.

For nothing can ever separate us from the love of God as long as we focus our faith on Him.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

22nd Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 03.09.2017

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

Last week, the primary and the secondary schools celebrated Teachers Day. Officially, Teachers Day is on the first Friday of September. But because last Friday is a public holiday, the school holiday is on Thursday and so Teachers Day is celebrated on Wednesday. (sounds rather complex)

But whether it is on Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, it doesn’t really matter to teachers. Because only Sunday is a teacher’s day of “rest” – rest of the laundry, rest of the housework, and mark the rest of the papers.

On Teachers Day, the teachers would get gifts from their students, and get all sorts of gifts. So what would be a meaningful gift for a teacher? A candle would be meaningful, because a good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.

It is said that teaching is a profession that teaches all other professions. But teaching is not just a profession or a job. Teaching is a pillar of society, and we acknowledge that teachers make up that pillar of society.

A rather funny way of looking at a secure profession is to be a history teacher, because in the future there is so much of it to teach. 

Teaching children to count is also good. But teaching them what really counts is best. (Bob Talber)

So is all this a promotion of the teaching profession? Maybe yes, and yet maybe not really.

Yes, teachers are always needed and teaching is a demanding profession. But we may also recall that Jesus was often addressed as “Teacher” and indeed He is the Teacher, and He did acknowledged Himself as a teacher. Jesus Himself used the term when He said, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am.” (John 13:13).

In the gospel, we see Jesus showing what it means to be a teacher. He gave a teaching about being His disciples and taking up the cross. He also taught the values of life and what really counts in life.

He also showed His firmness as a teacher when He sharply reprimanded Peter about being an obstacle, because the way Peter thought was certainly not God’s ways.

Jesus was a teacher who taught with a difference and He taught with authority. Jesus was a teacher who wanted to make a difference in the lives of people as well as in our lives.
There is a story that at a dinner, the guests were sitting around the table discussing life.  One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?" He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers, "Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.
To emphasize his point he said to another guest; "You’re a teacher, Mary.  Be honest. What do you make?" 
Mary, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make?" She paused for a while, then she began. 
"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.  I make a D student feel like a diamond that needs to be polished."

"I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for five minutes without an iPad, or Playstation or Xbox, or glued to their mobile phones."   

She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table, and continued, "You want to know what I make?" 
- "I make kids wonder." 
- "I make them question."
- "I make them apologize and mean it." 
- "I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions."
- "I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn’t everything."
- "I make them read, read, and read books that are good."
- "I make them show all their work in math.  They use their God-given brains, not the man-made calculator."
- "I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe."
- "I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life."

Pausing one last time, Mary continued, "Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn’t everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant.  You wanted to know what I make. Well, I make a difference.”
"What do you make, Mr. CEO?" The CEO was stunned, and he was silent. 

Good teachers want to make a difference in the lives of their students. They teach them good values and what really counts and really matters in life.

Good teachers follow the example of Jesus who came to seek out and to save what was lost and to make a difference in our lives.

Jesus taught us to think like God and not to think in the ways of the world. So like a candle that consumes itself to light the ways for others, we take up our cross to serve others and lead them to Jesus who will teach them about life. 

In one way or another, we are all teachers. Teachers teach best not by words but by examples. As disciples of Jesus, we too teach best when we carry our crosses.

The cross carried with love will make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others. Jesus carried His Cross and with His Cross He made a difference in our lives.

It was on the cross that Jesus gave His greatest teaching. Let us also carry our cross and follow Jesus our Teacher. And let us also teach others how to follow Jesus.