Thursday, November 30, 2017

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 01-12-17

Daniel 7:2-14 / Luke 21:29-33

For us who live in Singapore, we often say that it is perpetual summer.

Whatever rainy days or rainy seasons we have, there is no need to buy warm or winter clothing.

In Singapore, the attire is summer wear, and we even need air conditioning for our homes and buildings.

So when Jesus said that when trees start to bud, and it means that summer is near, we may not get the reality of that idea although we can imagine it somehow.

But we know what happens when butter is put in the oven. No matter how hard or icy cold the butter may be, in the presence of heat, it melts slowly but surely.

So no matter how hard or icy cold the human heart is because of sin and evil, there is no escaping from the warmth and light of God.

One thing is certain - some hearts melt and then rise to eternal life and joy with God; others melt and sink into everlasting damnation.

Yes, the kingdom of God is near and as things get warmer and hotter, let us decide what we want to be.

We can continue to be wrapped up and be hardened by sin. Or we can start to bud and bloom with God's love.

And if we already know that God is going to triumph in the end, then we need to decide now. Let us pray that we will make the right decisions and we must pray for others to make the right decisions.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

St. Andrew, Apostle, Thursday, 30-11-17

Romans 10:9-18 / Matthew 4:18-22

In the gospel account, we hear of Jesus calling St. Peter along with his brother St. Andrew.

But there was something else about St. Andrew.

In the gospel according to St. John, St. Andrew was initially a disciple of John the Baptist.

And when John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God, Andrew in turn followed Him.

So we can say that St. Andrew was the first disciple of Jesus.

And it was St. Andrew who brought St. Peter to see Jesus, after telling him that he had found the Messiah.

We can learn much from St. Andrew, especially his attitude as a disciple.

After staying with Jesus and coming to know Him, St. Andrew did not keep this experience to himself, but shared it with his brother St.Peter.

So saints are not nicely sculptured statues, or just pretty colourful pictures on the stained-glass of churches.

They are common people who are opened to Jesus when He came into their lives, and after experiencing Him, they also shared Him with others, just like St. Andrew did.

Let us pray that we will continue to experience Jesus daily and like St. Andrew we will go forth to share Him with others.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 29-11-17

Daniel 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28 / Luke 21:12-19

To make a notice or an official statement, we would use the phrase "Put it in black and white".

Obviously it means to put that notice or statement in writing and to have it recorded and filed. That is how it is usually done.

To write it on the wall would be a crude way of doing it. But whether the notice is pasted on the wall or written on the wall, it would mean something important or something serious.

In the 1st reading, we heard of something that is very startling and even frightening. The fingers of a human hand appeared and began to write on the plaster of the palace wall.

Those words "Mene, Mene, Tekel and Parsin" pronounced judgement on king Belshazzar who had used the sacred vessels that were looted from the sanctuary of the Temple in Jerusalem and used it for his profane merry-making.

That act of profanity was probably the last straw of all his abuses of power that literally made God's hand write out a judgement against him.

In the gospel, as Jesus talked about the persecutions that we as His disciples will have to face, He also said: Keep this carefully in mind - you are not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict.

It means that in the face of persecution, we must have the faith and the endurance to see God's hand write out the directions for us.

But more importantly, we must know that we are always in His hand, our names are written in His palm, and His Word will not be written on walls but written by our lives.

Monday, November 27, 2017

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 28-11-17

Daniel 2:31-45 / Luke 21:5-11         (2013)

The end of the world may be a figment of imagination for some, a streak of obsession for others, but nonetheless a point of contention for all of us.

Movies that portray the end of the world events will always enjoy a good box-office success.

For those who can imagine more than others, they can think of things that would happen to the world, things that we couldn't have imagined.

And for most of us, as we try to come to terms with the disasters and tragedies and calamities that come one after another, and at times all together, we might wonder why it is happening and how long more do we have to endure.

And if we are wondering and trying to come to terms with what is happening around us, Jesus states as a matter of fact: And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen, but the end is not so soon.

So it seems that there is more to come and it also seems that it will be for quite a long time more.

As we heard in the 1st reading, mighty kingdoms will come and go. Everything is changing such that not a single stone will be left on another and everything will be destroyed.

Yet even as the winds blow across the shifting sands and time and tide roll on relentlessly, there is one, and only one, constant stability.

In the midst of changes, big or small, God remains as the constant stability on whom we can put our faith and on whom we must put our faith.

If we do not put our faith in God who is our constant stability and who is great in faithfulness, then we will be swarmed with imaginations and obsessions that will only lead us to the abyss of delusions.

Let us stay close to God, the Rock of our faith, and who is the beginning and the end.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 27-11-17

Daniel 1:1-6, 8-20 / Luke 21:1-4

Judging a person or something by looks depends on a few factors and most of them are usually logical.

If a person dresses elegantly, we may presume that the person is a neat and tidy person

If something is sleek and well designed, we may presume that much thought and craftsmanship had gone into producing it.

So usually the looks and appearance will shape our judgement and we come to a logical conclusion.

But what if the looks and appearance and our judgement point to a different conclusion?

In the 1st reading, the four young men - Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah - requested for a vegetarian diet so as not to be defiled by the pagan food from the king's table.

But after the trial period, they looked and were in better health than any of the boys who had the food from the royal table.

Certainly it was by the grace of God that this was possible. Otherwise it would be logically difficult to explain that.

In the gospel, Jesus pointed out that it was the poor widow who, with her two coins, had put in more than any of the rich people.

Comparatively it does not seem so. How can two small coins from a poor widow be more than what the rich people put into the treasury.

But God sees things in another way. And by His grace, people and things may not be what they appear to be in our eyes.

We need to ask God for His grace to see more and see beyond before we come to any judgement and conclusion.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Christ the King, Year A, 26.11.2017

Ezk 34:11-12, 15-17/ 1 Cor 15:20-26, 28/ Mt 25:31-46

Whenever it comes to Friday, some ideas will come to our minds.

For most, it is “TGIF” – Thank God it’s Friday. The work week has ended and the weekend is here.

For priests, it’s “ONIF” – “Oh No it’s Friday”. Especially if the Sunday homily is not yet done!

We know what is Good Friday. It’s called Good Friday because Jesus died for our good.

And then last Friday is called “Black Friday”. It may sound like some kind of unlucky day, like “Friday the 13th” which is thought of as unlucky for whatever reasons.

But Black Friday is a day where retailers offer discounts of up to 50% or even higher. So it’s a day of savings for shoppers and a day of sales for retailers.

But why is it called Black Friday? When shops lose money, the losses are written in red. But on Black Friday, they have the opportunity to make so much sales that the shops make a profit and are “in the black”, as in contrast with “in the red”. Hence, the term “Black Friday”, and this is also a day of savings for consumers. 

And talking about savings, there is only one Black Friday that offers eternal savings, and that is on Good Friday.

And coincidentally, this year, on Black Friday, the PSLE results were released and there were not many “in the red” as the news reported that 98.4% of the students made it to secondary school.
So Black Friday can be called a happy day for most shoppers, retailers and students.

But life is certainly more than just shopping for savings and passing exams to get into choice schools.

Today’s gospel brings us back to the basics of being human and it is the gospel text chosen for the feast of Christ the King.

More than just about the basics of being human, it is also the basic examination for our eternal destiny. 

The question of feeding the hungry, giving drink to the poor, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked and visiting the imprisoned seems so secular and there seems to be no religious aspect to it. 

None of the above is specifically religious, but that is where having a religion and being a human is connected.

Having a religion, should and must make us more human, so that we can feel the needs of other human beings and respond to them with a faith that is expressed in love.

Faith and love are needed to recognise the presence of Jesus hidden among the poor and the needy. Where their needs are met, Jesus is acknowledged and served.

When the hungry are fed, the thirsty given a drink, strangers are offered hospitality, the naked are clothed with dignity, the sick are attended to, and prisoners are visited, then Jesus the King is being served with love. And it takes faith to see all that and do all that. 

As in the gospel, the king would say: I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.

So there are no random or meaningless acts.  We are all connected in one way or another and our lives meet in Christ just like all the spokes of a wheel meet at the hub. We cannot separate ourselves from each other just as the wind cannot be separated from the breeze.

This fact and reality in addressed in today’s gospel, and a rather interesting reflection of this is in a novel “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” by Mitch Albom.

The novel begins on the last day of Eddie's life. He is 83 years old and works as the maintenance manager at Ruby Pier amusement park, the same job his father once held. Eddie is resigned to his position, even though he swore to never follow in his father's footsteps. Most of the people he loved have passed away and the knee injury he sustained during World War II still plagues his every movement. However, Eddie is loved at Ruby Pier. Eddie is proud of Ruby Pier's spotless safety record, but that all changes when a missing car key damages the machinery on a ride and cart begins to fall off the track. Moving as quickly as he can, Eddie tries to save a young girl from being crushed by the falling cart. He remembers grasping her small hand and then - his life is over.

He goes to heaven and the first character he meets is Blue Man, who was part of the Ruby Pier sideshow when Eddie was eight years old. The Blue Man reveals to Eddie that he was responsible for the Blue Man's death. Young Eddie dashed in front of the Blue Man’s car chasing a runaway baseball, and the Blue Man swerved his car and it crashed and killed him.

Then Eddie meets the second of his "Five People": the commanding officer of his World War II platoon, whom he calls Captain. Eddie recalls being held captive by the enemy in a village, along with the Captain and four others. Then they managed to escape when the village caught fire, but as they were running off, Eddie thought there was a child trapped inside a hut and wanted to save the child. However, a bullet shattered his knee, stopping him in his tracks. Eddie learnt that it was the Captain who shot him in order to prevent him from losing his life in the fire.

Then, Eddie meets Ruby - the third of his "Five People." Ruby reveals that her husband Emile was the founder of Ruby Pier, which he named after his beloved wife. Ruby offers Eddie a new perspective on the circumstances surrounding his father's death. Eddie used to think that his alcoholic and abusive father caught pneumonia after making a drunken decision to jump into the freezing river. However, it turns out that Eddie's father was saving the life of his oldest friend. Eddie's father had many faults, Ruby explains, but he was loyal. She tells Eddie that his father called to his family out the hospital window right before his death. Ruby knows this because she was tending to Emile in the very same room.

Then he met Marguerite, who is the fourth of Eddie's "Five People," and she is there to teach him about eternal love. She shows him that their love was always there, even after she died.

Eddie's fifth and final meeting is with a young girl named Tala. Tala reveals that she was the child Eddie saw in the burning hut as he was escaping, and she died that day. Eddie falls apart upon realizing that he was responsible for this young girl's painful and untimely death, but Tala comforts him.
Tala asks Eddie why he was so unhappy on earth, and Eddie responds that he never did anything meaningful in his life. But Tala tells him that he was meant to be at Ruby Pier to keep all the children safe on the rides. She also reveals that Eddie did save the little girl from the falling cart on the day of his death - he pushed her out of the way.

The novel brings out a point that to understand what happened in our lives and to have it explained and connected together may bring about a peace in our hearts.

But Jesus tells us in the gospel that whatever we do or don’t do, for better or for worse, is done in Him and done to Him. 

Those five words “you did it to me” will tell us that we are all connected in one way or another and no act is a random act or a meaningless act. 

Those five words “you did it to me” will help us to remember the basics of being human and to live out our faith with love on earth so as to be numbered among the blessed in heaven.

Friday, November 24, 2017

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 25-11-17

1 Maccabees 6:1-13 / Luke 20:27-40

We have heard of this word "retribution". We may even have used it before when we see someone getting his dues for the evil he had done.

In casual terms we would say: What goes around, come around.

That seemed to be the case in the 1st reading.

King Antiochus fell into deep depression and melancholy when everything around him fell apart.

Then he remembered the wrong he had done to the Jews and he was convinced that that was why misfortune had overwhelmed him.

But that was not his greatest tragedy. What was really tragic for him was that in his heyday he had what he wanted and he never thought of a beyond, an afterlife.

He had enjoyed the pleasures of life and abused his power, and now he was afraid of death. Because he does not know what awaits for him beyond death.

Our central belief is in the resurrection and in eternal life. It is not just a religious precept or a profound concept.

Because justice cries out for the resurrection and for eternal life.

For all the injustice and the victory of evil over good that we see happening in this world, our answer cannot be just in retribution.

We believe that God does not abandon or forget the poor, the suffering, the oppressed, and those that injustice and evil have hammered down.

God's justice will prevail. It will prevail and for eternity. That will certainly happen in the resurrection and in eternal life.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 24-11-17

1 Maccabees 4:36-37, 52-59 / Luke 6:1-13

The house of God is indeed a holy place. It is a sanctuary of prayer and worship, a place where we come to meet God and to feel His love for us.

Hence, it goes without saying that we won't do anything disrespectful or even think of committing any sin in this holy place.

For example, we won't bring in food here to eat, or behave in a disrespectful manner, simply because we know we are in the house of God and we must have reverence for God.

In the 1st reading, we heard how important it was for Judas and his brothers to purify the sanctuary and dedicate it back to God once  their enemies were defeated, as their enemies had earlier defiled the Temple.

With much rejoicing and gladness, they dedicated the altar and it was to them a symbol that God is with them and blessing them.

But in the gospel we saw how Jesus had to use force to drive out those who were committing defilement in the Temple.

Jesus made it clear that there must be no defilement in the Temple, in His Father's house!

Now, we know that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit, we are the temples of God.

We should not tolerate any sin, any defilement, in our hearts because that would turn our hearts into a robbers' den.

In this Eucharist, let us offer our hearts to the Lord to be cleansed, so that we can offer His a pure sacrifice and may we continue to live a pure and holy life and be a worthy temple of God.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 18, 2017

33rd Sunday, Year A, 19.11.2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 16, 2017

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

Wisdom  13:1-9 / Luke 17:26-37

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

32nd Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 12.11.2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So life essentially is a series of choices.

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

Thursday, November 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 4, 2017

31st Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 05.11.2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 3, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

All Souls, Thursday, 02-11-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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