Monday, December 31, 2018

Mary Mother of God, Tuesday, 01-01-19

Numbers 6:22-27 / Galatians 4:4-7 / Luke 2:16-21

As we begin the new year, we surely want to begin it well. As it is said, all’s well that ends well.

So we had the count-down last night, we had well-wishes for each other, and we have entered into the new year quite well.

But we also know that we need to begin the new year well with God’s blessings. And that’s why we are here for Mass.

We want to give thanks to God and to invoke His blessings on this first day of the new year.

And the Lord God wants to give us His blessings. In the 1st reading, the Lord instructed Moses how to invoke the blessings from the Lord.

This first day of the year is also the eighth day after Christmas. The number 8 has the biblical meaning of a new creation.

As we heard in the gospel, when the eighth day came, and the child was to be circumcised, Mary and Joseph gave Him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given Him before His conception.

So the Word-made-flesh, the God-with-us, the Saviour has a name – Jesus – and it is by this name that we are saved and received God’s blessings.

And on this eighth day after Christmas, we also honour Mary as the Mother of God. We heard in the 2nd reading, when the appointed time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law.

Mary is this woman. Her role is God’s plan of salvation is remembered on this day and we honour her and offer her our devotion.

The honour and devotion that we offer Mary today, she will treasure and ponder them in her heart. And from her heart she will offer them to Jesus, together with our prayers, our intentions, our needs and our petition slips.

Let us also stay in Mary’s heart and keep watch with her in prayer, especially in praying the Rosary.

With Mary, all’s well that ends well, because all will end in the heart of Jesus our Saviour.

And may the Lord bless us and keep us. May the Lord let His face shine on us and be gracious to us. May the Lord uncover His face to us and brings us peace. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

31st December, 7th Day Within Octave of Christmas, Monday

1 John 2:18-21 / John 1:1-18

Every story has an ending. As we come to the last day of the year 2018, the story of this year has come to the last page and going on towards the last few words.

Whatever the story has been, for better or for worse, good times or bad, happy or sad, the story of 2018 is coming to an end.

Yes, every story has an end. But in life, every end is a new beginning. Because the story of life has endings and beginnings, and one is connected to another.

The 1st reading begins with these words "these are the last days". But the gospel begins with these words "In the beginning".

So it is like what the caterpillar calls an end, the world awaits for what it will call a butterfly.

We may have experienced distress and turmoil and as the year comes to an  end, we may wonder what the new year brings.

But just as a butterfly is a sign of hope and new life, we look forward with hope and continue to believe in the Word-made-flesh who lives among us and who give us life and light.

Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, and in Him are our endings and beginnings and it is in Him that we live and move and have our being.

So we give thanks for the 2018 story and we look forward with a joyful hope as we begin a new story for 2019.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Holy Family, Year C, 30.12.2018

By now we would have opened up all our Christmas presents and we will know from the presents we have received if we have been naughty or nice.

Of course we had been nice and I hope that we are happy with the presents we have received.

And by now we would have finished or are finishing the festive foods that were prepared for the Christmas season, foods like the stuffed turkey, honey baked ham, sausages, pudding and fruitcake.

And talking about the fruitcake, it can be used to describe the theme of the celebration for this weekend which is the feast of the Holy Family, and hence the reflection is on the family.

It is said that the fruitcake can be used to describe the family in that it is mostly sweet and fruity, but with some nuts, and some got more nuts that others.

Indeed, the family is like a fruitcake, there are some nuts in it, and some nuts are pretty hard. A bite on a hard nut and the pain gets to the brain.

But no matter how many nuts, or how many hard nuts, it is still a fruitcake and not a nut cake.
Today, as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, the Gospel passage tells us that even for the Holy Family, life is not always sweet and fruity.

The gospel recalls that occasion when Mary and Joseph brought the 12 year-old Jesus to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover.

When they were on their way home after the feast, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents’ knowledge.

And when they failed to find Him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for Him everywhere. And after three long anxious days, they finally found Him in the Temple.

They were overcome when they saw Him, and we can imagine what this “overcome” means. And in this “overcome” state, we can imagine how emotional Mary was when she said, “My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been looking for you.” (!!!)

The reply Jesus gave didn’t make any sense to Mary and Joseph, but it was like biting on a hard nut in a fruit cake. The exchange was tensed, and though nothing more was said, we could imagine how awkward the situation was.

So it was not all that sweet and fruity for the Holy Family. Mary was left wondering and pondering. Joseph might be thinking that it could be easier to build a house for God than to bring up the Son of God.

Yet, Mary and Joseph would have recalled and remembered the teachings from the 1st reading about the relationships between parents and children.

And the second reading also gives us practical advice on family life and relationship.

And with the feast of the Holy Family coming immediately after Christmas, we will realise that Jesus came to be among us so as to unite us to the family of God, with the Holy Family as the model.

But as we know, family life is challenging, whether as the family of God or in our own families.

And even though we want to be home for Christmas, things may not be always sweet and fruity.

There is this story over the recent holidays about a man who booked 6 flights just to spend Christmas with his flight attendant daughter.

The daughter had to work on the 24 and 25 December which means Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! So her father decided to spend Christmas with her in the sky. When it comes to love, the sky is the limit.

The story goes that when the flight attendant daughter found out that she had to work on Christmas, the family came out with a plan.

The mother stayed at home to take care of the pets while the father booked the 6 flights that his daughter would be working on.

So, at 30,000 feet up in the air, it was still Christmas with family. It was an amazing true Christmas story about a father and his daughter spending family time despite the obstacles and challenges.

Family life will always have its obstacles and challenges. No family is perfect just as there is not fruitcake without the nuts.

As much as when it comes to love, the sky is the limit, it was also out of love that Jesus came down to earth and was born into a family and to show us how to live as the family of God.

We turn to Jesus, Mary and Joseph as we ask for their prayers that our families will be blessed to live like the Holy Family.

Friday, December 28, 2018

29th December 2018, Saturday, Fifth Day Within Octave of Christmas

1 John 2:3-11 / Luke 2:22-35

On this fifth day in the octave of Christmas, the Church celebrates the optional memorial of St. Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr.

He was born in London and after studying in Paris, entered the service of Archbishop of Canterbury, became Lord Chancellor under King Henry II in 1155, and in 1162 Archbishop of Canterbury.

He went from being "a patron of play-actors and a follower of hounds" to being a "shepherd of souls" as he absorbed himself in the duties of his new office, defending the rights of the Church against king Henry II. This prompted the king to exile him to France for six years.

After returning to his homeland he endured many trials, and agents of the king travelled to Canterbury and fell upon the bishop while he was attending evening prayer.

His priests rushed to his aid and tried to bar the church door; Thomas opened it himself with these words: The house of God will not be defended like a fortress. I gladly face death for the Church of God.

Then to the soldiers: I command it in the Name of God: No harm may be done to any of mine. Thereupon he cast himself on his knees, commended his flock and himself to God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to St. Denis and other holy patrons of the Church, and with the same heroic courage with which he had withstood the king's laws, he bowed his holy head to the sacrilegious sword on December 29, 1170."

St. Thomas Becket saw the light, the real light that was already shining, as the 1st reading puts it, and hence he was courageous in life as in death.

Like Simeon in the gospel, St. Thomas Becket also saw the light, and it was a light that shone in the darkness, a darkness of rejection and persecution and trial and finally martyrdom.

St. Thomas Becket became a beacon of light for the Church, so much so that in 1539, king Henry VIII ordered his remains to be burned, and that was like 400 years after his death.

Yes, darkness can never overcome or overpower the true light. May we see that light, follow that light, be enlightened by that light and become beacons of light.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Holy Innocents, Martyrs, Friday, 28-12-18

1 John 1:5 - 2:2 / Matthew 2:13-18

There are many ways to address a problem. Of course the most civilized way is through dialogue and negotiation.

But at the root of the problem, the thing is that someone is feeling threatened or put in a negative or inferior position.

The result is of course fear, in that fear will make a person react in such a way that can be hostile and violent, and dialogue and negotiation is out of the question.

Such was the case of king Herod when he heard of the news of the newborn king of the Jews.

And then when he learnt that the wise men that he sent to find out more about this newborn king outwitted him, he was furious and he ordered the killing of all male children who were two years old or under.

It was certainly an act of atrocity, and furthermore it was an extremely violent and cruel act against the weak and defenseless.

Like the blood of Abel, the blood of those infant innocents cry out against this atrocious, violent and cruel act.

Their cries should also make us face our fears so that we don't act in a hostile or violent way against others, whether children or adults.

Moreover, let us heed the call of justice and that is to protect those who are weak and who cannot defend themselves against aggression.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

St. John, Apostle & Evangelist, Thursday, 27-12-18

1 John 1:1-4 / John 20:2-8

According to some accounts, St. John lived to a ripe old age whereas the other Apostles were martyred as they went out to preach the Good News.

There were also reports that St. John also had suffered persecution and was plunged into boiling oil from which he miraculously escaped unscathed.

There is also the notion that John became a disciple as a very young man, and hence he is often portrayed as the young, beardless apostle at the Last Supper images.

The letters of John and the gospel according to John are accredited to his authorship, and in the gospel of John, he is often identified as the "disciple whom Jesus loved".

Indeed, the theme of love is prominent in the letters and in the gospel. St. John was not only in the inner circle together with St. Peter and St. James, he was also a witness to the Resurrection, as we heard in the gospel.

But St. John is also a witness to the love of Jesus and he experienced it such that he even wrote it down in the gospel.

It is said that St. John preached this message of love right up to his ripe old age.

St. John not only says that he is the disciple whom Jesus loved, he is also saying that we are the disciples whom Jesus loves.

Let us ask for his prayers that we will experience the love of Jesus as he did and go out to proclaim that message of love.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

St. Stephen, Protomartyr, Wednesday, 26-12-18

Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59 / Matthew 10:26-27

If we look up on the images of St. Stephen, there are various portrayals of him .

Some will picture him holding a palm branch to symbolize the victory of martyrdom.

Some will show his martyrdom by stoning as we heard in the 1st reading, which was a slow, painful and gruesome death.

But quite a number of pictures will also show him dressed in a deacon's vestment, which actually is a sort of apron to indicate that the ministry of the deacon is for service of God and the Church.

On one hand he is pictured as holding a censer to indicate his role in the liturgical service of the Church.

On the other hand he is pictured holding a miniature church. This is to indicate his role and his influence on Church especially during its infancy that was filled with turmoil and turbulence.

In today's liturgy, we honour St. Stephen as the First Martyr and with his death came along the path of blood that was laid out for those who would witness to Christ with their lives.

Yet St. Stephen and those that laid their lives down were only following what their Lord and Master Jesus had done and given them the example.

Jesus Christ came into the world to show God's love and we celebrated the great and joyful feast of His birth yesterday.

He came to save us. Yet He had to lay down His life on the cross in order to redeem us from sin and eternal death.

On the cross God forgave us our sins. As for St. Stephen, as his life came under a pile of stones, he too said, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them".

On this feast of St. Stephen, let us ask for forgiveness for our sins. And let us also ask for the grace to forgive others too.

Christmas 2018, 25.12.2018

So after four weeks of Advent, we have finally come to Christmas Day, and with that the Nativity Scene makes its appearance.

It is a tender scene, with Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus. And of course, those animals. Yes, those animals, the cow and the donkey, and with the sheep coming in later with the shepherds.

But why the animals? Well, the Baby Jesus was placed in a manger, which is the feeding-trough for animals like the cattle and donkeys.

Have we ever wondered what the animals at the Nativity Scene would have thought about the Baby Jesus?

Now, for those of us who have cat as a pet at home, if we were to bring in another cat, even if it is of the opposite sex, you can be sure that there will be a cat-fight.

But if we were to bring in a kitten, or maybe even a puppy, then the resident cat will somehow take on a “baby-sitting” role and take care of that helpless little thing.

Yes, it is interesting that even animals somehow have a tender and soft-spot for anything small and helpless.

Animals like cattle, especially the bull, can be temperamental, and donkeys can be stubborn. But they could have sensed the new-born Child in the manger, and with that, they could have also sensed that it was their Creator.

But a new-born, despite its helplessness and fragility, somehow awakens in us our tenderness and soft-spots.

And that’s the powerful mystery of Christmas, the mystery of the Incarnation, the Word-made-flesh, the God-became-man, in the form of a helpless delicate baby.

And this helpless and delicate Baby, the new-born Saviour, will awaken the tenderness and the softness that is within us, because He came to bring peace to all men.

The animals that the Nativity Scene are also symbols of what the Saviour came for.

The cow, or actually the bull, is the symbol of sacrifice. The bull is the prime animal for sacrifice. The meaning here is that Jesus came to sacrifice Himself to save us.

The donkey is a beast of burden. The meaning here is that Jesus came to bear the burden of our faults and infirmities and to heal us.

So together with Mary and Joseph, the animals at the Nativity Scene express the whole meaning of Christmas and who Jesus is and what He came to do for us.

There is always something that we can learn from the animals, be it the cow, or the bull, or the donkey, or even cats and dogs.

Animals can be tender and they too have soft-spots. They can bear burdens and make the sacrifice.

We too can do all that. We who are created in the image of our Saviour can certainly do all that we must do all that.

When we bear the burdens of others with tenderness and compassion, and make that sacrifice with love, then there will be peace on earth.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

24th December 2018, Monday

2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16 / Luke 1:67-79

With the festivities happening around us and with the year coming to an end, we may want to just have a good time and forget about our worries and anxieties for a while.

With one day just before Christmas, we may yearn for some quiet time for prayer and for reflection on the meaning of Christmas and how we have prepared for it this time around.

Yet it may not be that conducive to make time to do this recalling and reflecting, because of the frenzy of activities and busyness.

Even in Church, people are busy making preparations for the Masses this evening and tomorrow, and also for the Christmas parties along the way.

So as much as we may hope that it is going to be "Silent Night, Holy Night", it may not be really so. In fact, it may well be a noisy and busy night.

Yet we must make time for ourselves to be with the Lord if we really want to experience the silence and the holiness of this eve of Christmas.

We have to make time for ourselves to welcome God as He visits His people and to feel His wonderful gift of love in Jesus.

Just one day before Christmas we are reminded in the gospel what is the meaning of this whole occasion.

God has fulfilled His promise of salvation. He is sending us our long awaited Saviour.

Jesus our Saviour will lead us from darkness of sin and from the shadow of death and guide us into the way of peace.

Let us make time today for prayer and reflection. Let us feel the holy silence of this eve of Christmas.

May we be filled with a joyful peace as we prepare to celebrate Christmas.

4th Sunday of Advent, Year C. 23.12.2018

Micah 5:1-4 / Hebrews 10:5-10 / Luke 1:39-44
It is two more days to Christmas Day. The days that are counting down to Christmas Day can be called as days of expecting and wondering.

Christmas is a time for gifts and presents not only for Christians but also for those who take the opportunity to have a celebration.

Whether we have made known to others our wish list or not, we will still be expecting and wondering. Of course there is no need to wonder if we will get any Christmas presents. We will certainly get our Christmas presents, at least a set of handkerchiefs, or some pairs of socks.

But will we be expecting to get what we wish for? But expectation is the mother of disappointment.  So let’s try to look at the funny side of expectation and then we may not be so sad in disappointment.

A woman was wondering what her husband will give her as a Christmas present, so she decided to drop a hint. So she said to her husband, “Last night I had a dream that I was wearing a diamond necklace. I wonder what it means.”
Her husband replied, “You will know this evening.” In the evening, when he came back from work, he had a present in his hand and he gave it to his wife and told her to open it.

The wife was delighted and excitedly opened the present. It was a book, and the title is “How to Interpret Dreams.”

Some people say that in order to avoid disappointments, it is better not to have expectations. So no expectation is no disappointment.

But that’s not how we should look at it. Rather we should have some expectations and then prepare for excitement.

In the gospel, we heard of Mary visiting Elizabeth. But it was not just a courtesy visit. As we know, much has gone on before, and much will happen after that.

Both Mary and Elizabeth were persons of faith and like the rest of God’s people; they were waiting in expectation of the coming of the Messiah. But the situation was bleak and unfavourable. The land was occupied by another power and the people were under foreign rule. 

So as much as Mary and Elizabeth were waiting in expectation for the coming of the Messiah, they did not expect it to happen during their time. Neither would they expect that they would have an important part to play in it. 

Mary was betrothed to Joseph, and then the Annunciation happened and she accepted God’s will. Elizabeth was barren, and when Zechariah did his priestly duty at the Temple, he had a vision, and after that he went back home, and then Elizabeth conceived.  

So when Mary visited Elizabeth, it was a meeting of two expectant mothers, both did not expect themselves to conceive, both did not expect themselves to have important roles to play in the coming of the Messiah.

Both had their expectations, they had more than they expected, and along with was also a lot of excitement.

So in a way, it can be said that Mary and Elizabeth got their first Christmas presents. It was not what they expected, and it was also way beyond their expectations.

But their gifts were not just for themselves. Their gifts were gifts of life, gifts that must be used to prepare others to encounter and experience the Messiah.

So what are we expecting for our Christmas presents? To be on the safe side, it is better to have no expectations so that there will be no disappointments. Or we might want to be optimistic and have low expectations and high hopes.

But like Mary and Elizabeth who were expecting God to fulfill the promise of the Messiah, let us also expect Jesus to come into our lives with joyful hope.

Maybe we will get gifts that are ordinary, like handkerchiefs or socks. But let us look at the gifts and see what God wants of us.

Maybe the handkerchiefs are for us to wipe away the tears of grief and sadness from the eyes of those who weep.

Maybe the socks are meant for us to wear in our shoes so as to journey with others in their trials and difficulties.

Yes, God comes to us as gifts, whether expected or unexpected, and He will show us what He wants us to do with those gifts.

Mary and Elizabeth knew that their gifts are meant to fulfill the expectations of the coming of the Messiah. May we also use our gifts to lead others to Jesus.

Friday, December 21, 2018

22nd December 2018, Saturday

1 Samuel 1:24-28 / Luke 1:46-56

It is said that the first six years of a child's life are the most important years, and indeed it is true.

Because those six years are the formative years, a time during which the child learns and absorbs the values, the principles and the way of life that will shape his/her future.

And the child learns this, usually, from the parents.

Jesus is the Son of God, yet during His childhood years, He certainly learned from His parents.

From St. Joseph, He not only learned the carpenter's trade, He also learned to be a man of honour and respect, and also how to discern God's will.

From Mary His mother, He learned humility and to proclaim the greatness of the Lord.

He learned that God will exalt the humble and the lowly.

He learned that the poor are the ones who will inherit the Kingdom of God.

He learned that those who hunger for justice will be filled with good things.

He learned what Mary proclaimed in the Magnificat.

What He learned from His parents, He will later proclaim in the Beatitudes.

As we draw nearer to Christmas, we draw nearer to a new beginning, a new beginning with Jesus.

We are led to the manger, and we will learn about the way, the truth and the life.

As we move on from the manger, the way of love and the truth of God must also form the values and the principles of our lives.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

21st December 2018, Friday

Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18 / Luke 1:39-45

Falling birth rates are a cause of concern to a nation and to a country.

It will have repercussions on the economy, the workforce, the aging population and other areas of society.

But the underlying concern is about hope - hope for the present, as well as hope for the future.

That is why a pregnancy and the birth of a child is not only good news and an occasion for celebration, it is also a celebration of hope.

In the gospel, we hear of two pregnant women in a joyful meeting in spite of the challenging circumstances.

Mary had her pregnancy confirmed by Elizabeth, and Elizabeth had this honour of being visited by the mother of her Lord.

Both expectant mothers are celebrating the gift of life as well as celebrating their hope in the Lord.

Both are celebrating their joyful hope for the present as well as for the future.

May Mary's and Elizabeth's joyful hope also be our joyful hope as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Saviour.

Because Jesus came to give us hope, for the present as well as for the future.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

20th December 2018, Thursday

Isaiah 7:10-14 / Luke 1:26-38

We may have our questions about how God speaks to us.

And even if we believe that God does speak to us, the question is about how clearly we can understand what He wants and how certain we are that it is God who is speaking to us.

But that was not the case with king Ahaz in the 1st reading. The Lord God was telling him to ask for a sign in no uncertain terms.

Yet Ahaz refused to ask for a sign because he would rather trust in his allies than to trust in what God would do for him.

As for Mary, she was disturbed by the greeting of the angel Gabriel, and like any one of us, she would be not be able understand the message entirely, nor would she be certain that it was what God wants of her.

Mary did not ask for a sign, but God gave her a sign - her kinswoman Elizabeth, has in her old age, conceived  a son, for nothing is impossible with God.

That was the sign that confirmed for her the message of the angel, and hence she accepted the will of God.

So if we are discerning what the will of God is for us and what He wants of us, let us ask for a sign, and it will be a sign that we will certainly understand.

And even if we didn't ask for a sign, God will also show us what He wants of us. For nothing is impossible to God.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

19th December 2018, Wednesday

Judges 13:2-7, 24-25 / Luke 1:5-25

To be a religious person, doing religious duties like offering prayer and praying for others, it can be quite difficult to cope if your own prayers are not answered.

More so if what you are praying for is not something in the sky but just for the gift of a child.

For Zechariah and Elizabeth it was difficult to keep holding on to their faith, especially since they were childless, and in those days it can be a valid reason for separation.

More so for Zechariah, since he was a priest, and he has his religious obligations. What would people think of a priest whose prayer is not answered.

But Zechariah and Elizabeth stayed together and held on to their faith in God and in each other.

So on that day when Zechariah entered the Lord's sanctuary to burn incense, his mind may be having other thoughts as he resigned himself to be that priest whose prayer was not answered.

So when the angel Gabriel told him that his prayer has been heard and that Elizabeth was to bear him a son, he was obviously cynical and skeptical.

And for that he was silenced and lost the power of speech, until his son was to be born.

We too may have prayers that are not answered. But let us keep faith in the Lord and trust in His plans for us.

God's ways are not our ways. But when we let our hearts be silent, then we will be able to listen to the voice of the Lord and see His ways.

Monday, December 17, 2018

18th December 2018, Tuesday

Jeremiah 23:5-8 / Matthew 1:18-24

Most of us would consider ourselves as a common average person.

We don't expect to become someone famous and popular, nor become someone of high importance like being the President or the Prime Minister, or the Pope or the Bishop.

Most of us would consider ourselves to be like Joseph, who makes an honest living with his carpentry skills, puts his faith in God and is a man of honour.

Like the people of his time, Joseph was also waiting for the promise of the Messiah to be fulfilled.

But did Joseph expect it to be fulfilled during his time? And did he ever expect that he would have an important role in this fulfillment of the promise of God?

Obviously it would be "No". In fact, when Mary was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit, Joseph being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally.

Yet Joseph accepted the will of God through the promptings in a dream.

We may not have dreams like Joseph to tell us what God wants of us.

But we have the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures to guide us to discern God's will.

And we also have Jesus, the Emmanuel, who will be with us to help us be the person that God wants us to be.

17th December 2018, Monday

Genesis 49:2, 8-10 / Matthew 1:1-17

In Singapore, whenever we talk about salad, we think of the Western variety, eg, Caesar's salad, etc.

But there is also the local salad, and we call it "rojak", and there is the Chinese, Indian and Malay variety, each being very distinct.

Take for example the Chinese rojak, it has ingredients that are of different flavours, from sweet to sour, from strong to bland, from fragrant to bitter.

Yet all these ingredients combine together to give a flavour that is uniquely Chinese rojak, and which is quite tasty, going by general appeal.

When we look carefully at the genealogy list given in the gospel, we may find that it is like some kind of rojak.

Indeed, we are presented with a mixture of saints and sinners, of kings and peasants, of men and women.

Yet from this rojak list of people, which is a genealogy list, we find Jesus Christ at the end of it.

We can only conclude that God uses all sorts of people, even though it may seem that it is not possible by human logic, to work wonders and to show His saving love for us.

The gospel reminds us that each and every one of us has a role to play in God's plan of salvation.

The Church, which seems like a rojak mixture of people, may leave us scratching our heads and raised eyebrows.

But yet God uses the Church as the sign of salvation, and so all of us, as well as each of us has a role to fulfill.

May we, the rojak Church, give the world a taste of God's saving love, and may it be a sweet taste that will lead us to Jesus.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

3rd Sunday of Advent, Year C, 16.12.2018

Zephaniah 3:14-18 / Philippians 4:4-7 / Luke 3:10-18
We may have noticed that three candles of the Advent wreath are lighted, and one of them is the rose-coloured candle.
That rose-coloured candle represents the third Sunday of Advent is also called "Gaudete Sunday". "Gaudete" means rejoice.

Yes, the 1st reading tells us to rejoice and exalt with all our hearts.
The second reading also has this call to rejoice as St Paul tells the Philippians: I want you to be happy, always happy with the Lord.

Yes, a rose-coloured candle standing in the midst of three dark purple candles tells us life can have its joyful moments amidst disappointments and sadness and sorrow.

But for starters, let us hope that we can laugh a little with this story:
From the shadows in the distance, the man watched as the family packed their bags in the car, locked the doors and then drove off for their holidays.
The man waited till it was dark and then he emerged from the shadows and he went to the front door and rang the door-bell of the house.
When there was no answer, the man, a seasoned burglar picked the lock of the front door and got in.
Then just to be sure that no one was in the house, he called out, "Is there anyone in?"
Hearing nothing, he was about to move on, when he was stunned by a voice, "I see you, and Johnny sees you!"
The burglar panicked and called out, "Who's that?"
And again, the voice came back, "I see you, and Johnny sees you!"
Terrified, the burglar switched on his torchlight and pointed it towards the direction of the voice.
He was relieved to see that it was a parrot in a cage and it recited once again, "I see you, and Johnny sees you!"
The burglar laughed to himself and said, "Oh, shut up stupid bird. Anyway, who is this Johnny? Is it another bird friend of yours?"
And the parrot replied, "Johnny is right below me!"
And the burglar shined his torch at what was below the parrot's cage.
And there he saw Johnny, a huge Doberman, looking at the burglar with those eyes, and growling.
And then, the parrot said, "Go Johnny, go!"
We can figure out what happened after that.

Hopefully, a little laughter can bring us to a good start for this "Rejoice Sunday".
But if the first two readings talk about rejoicing and happiness then the gospel message is certainly serious and it is no laughing matter.

Last Sunday, we heard John the Baptist preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
And today we heard that people, all sorts of people, including those detestable and sneaky tax collectors, and those rough and tough soldiers coming to hear him.

As they hear the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins, they had one common question: What must we do?
The people asked, "What must we do?" The tax collectors asked, "What must we do?" The soldiers asked, "What must we do?"

They asked that question because they have heard the voice.
Not just the voice of John the Baptist, but also the voice of the Lord.

Yes, it was the voice of the Lord that spoke to them in their hearts telling them that they had not shared their goods with those who were poor.
They had ignored those who were hungry and had nothing to live on. They fell into dishonesty and injustice.
And then, they heard the voice of John the Baptist.
John the Baptist was like telling them, "I see you, and the Lord sees you."

In a way, we are like that burglar who breaks into a house at night and thinks that nobody is watching.
That's what happens when we sin. When we sin, we enter into the dark.

And in the darkness of sin, we think that no one is watching as we commit dishonesty and injustice, selfishness and greed, lust and immorality.

And just when we thought we are going to enter deeper into the dark, the voice of John the Baptist calls out to us, "I see you, and the Lord sees you!"
What are we going to do? Are we going to stop in our tracks?

Or are we not going to be bothered and go on deeper into the dark and into sin?
There is one song that is often heard in this season. The title is "Do you hear what I hear?" 

It is composed in 1962 and it was written at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the United States and the then Soviet Union confronted each other over the placement of missiles in newly Communist Cuba.

So that song "Do you hear what I hear?" was a plea for peace, and the composers Regney and Shayne got the inspiration after watching a baby being pushed in a pram, and sleeping peacefully.

So do we hear the voice of John the Baptist? Maybe he is telling us, "I see you and the Lord sees you."
It is not to frighten us but to call us to repent and have our sins forgiven.

So, do you hear what I hear? If we do hear, then we will also know what to do.
Because the voice belongs to the One who will bring us goodness and light.

Indeed, the celebration of the birth of Jesus will bring us goodness and light, for He came to bring us goodness and light.

2nd Week of Advent, Saturday, 15-12-18

Ecclesiasticus 48 : 1-4, 9-11 / Matthew 17 : 10-13

If there was one prophet in the Old Testament that we can say is really dramatic, it is surely the prophet Elijah.

And the 1st reading makes special mention of this dramatic prophet, and rightly so.

Elijah was a fire-and-brimstone prophet. He worked great and awful deeds like calling down famine upon the land, calling down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice he offered and putting down the 450 false prophets by slitting their throats, just to mention a few.

But all that dramatic deeds were intended to turn the people back to God and for the restoration of Israel as the people of God.

But people can just be interested in the dramatic and the spectacular and not see the meaning and the message behind it.

We live in an age where people, Catholics included, are easily attracted by the dramatic and the spectacular and the extra-ordinary.

We may even expect the end times and the second coming of Christ to be kind of dramatic and spectacular, with awesome signs.

But as Jesus said in the gospel, Elijah came in the person of John the Baptist, and God came to visit His people in the Word made flesh.

But John the Baptist and Jesus were just too ordinary, and hence did not live up to the people's expectations.

The season of Advent prepares us to encounter God in the ordinary.

Amidst of the festive celebrations, let us quieten our hearts to hear the voice of God in the ordinary.

When Jesus first came to this world at the first Christmas, it was just another ordinary day.

When He comes to us today, it will also be in an ordinary way.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

2nd Week of Advent, Friday, 14-12-18

Isaiah 48:17-19 / Matthew 11:16-19

We are coming to the end of the 2nd Week of Advent and this coming weekend is called "Gaudete Sunday" or "Rejoice" Sunday, and the rose-coloured candle of the Advent wreath will be lit.

That means that we have come to somewhere about in the middle of the four weeks of Advent.

And it is also a good time to do a check and reflect on where we are in our Advent preparation and what have we done so far.

Most of the Advent period is spent on putting up the decorations like the Christmas tree, the wreath, the Crib and getting presents for our loved ones and friends.

If we find a spiritual meaning in doing that, then that is well and good.

But Advent is also a time to turn back to the Scriptures and to reflect on the Word of God and how He had fulfilled the promise of salvation.

The period of Advent is to prepare us to re-encounter the Word-made-Flesh, the Emmanuel, God-with-us, the promise of God fulfilled.

May we reflect deeply on the Word of God and make it our Word for life.

Through the Church, God has already taught us what is good for us.

Let us be alert to His commandments and our happiness will flow like the waters of a river at Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

2nd Week of Advent, Thursday, 13-12-18

Isaiah 41:13-20 / Matthew 11:11-15

Life can be very much easier and comfortable when we have someone around to help us and guide us.

One good example is when we have to go to a foreign place for a meeting or for business.

It would be very much easier and enjoyable if we have someone to receive us at the airport and show us the way.

Then we would be able to enjoy the sights and the scenery without having the anxiety and the fear of the unknown.

In this season of Advent, there is someone who is ever willing to help us in our Advent journey towards Christmas.

John the Baptist is our Advent guide and he shows us the way and the preparations that we need to do.

His message is clear and simple - repentance and the conversion of heart.

We must remember that it is God who sent John the Baptist to be our Advent guide as we journey in faith towards Jesus.

Even Jesus, in the gospel, would exalted John the Baptist and affirmed that John was the one sent by God to turn the hearts of the people back to God.

So in our prayer, let us also ask John the Baptist to pray for us so that we can journey deeper into the heart of Jesus and in turn lead others to experience Jesus at Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2nd Week of Advent, Wednesday, 12-12-18

Isaiah 40:25-31 / Matthew 11:28-30

We have been told that God does not suffer. Christian philosophy calls that the "impassibility" of God.

That is one of the attributes of God, besides others, to describe the divinity of God and how He ought to be understood.

Even the 1st reading described God as an everlasting God who does not grow tired or weary, and it is He who gives strength to the wearied, and He strengthens the powerless.

On the other hand, we experience pain and suffering in life, and we also suffer when we see our loved ones in pain.

God became man in Jesus Christ so that we can feel that God is with us in our pain and suffering.

In the gospel, Jesus invites us to come to Him with all our labours and burdens and He will give rest for our souls.

But He also invites us to shoulder His yoke and learn from Him. Our burdens won't disappear but with gentleness and humility, we will find our burdens lightened.

Indeed, we will always have our burdens but with Jesus we will put out wings like eagles and we will run and not grow weary.

Let us pray for a gentle and humble heart during this Advent. Then we will be able to offer our enemy forgiveness, our opponent tolerance, our friend our loyalty, our customer joyful service, to a child a good example and to all charity.

Monday, December 10, 2018

2nd Week of Advent, Tuesday, 11-12-18

Isaiah 40:1-11 / Matthew 18:12-14

We know what a problem is. It is a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome, or something difficult to achieve or accomplish.

But when a person is labelled as a  problem, it certainly encompasses all the above traits as well as making the situation much more complex because it is an "animated problem".

So we will come across terms like "problem kid" or "problem worker" or "problem boss".

And there are certainly no straight-forward or clear-cut solutions to these "problems".

The 1st reading has this interesting passage: All flesh is grass and its beauty like the wild flower's. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on them. (The grass is without doubt the people). The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God remains forever.

As we read the Old Testament, it is quite clear to us that the Chosen people of God had incessantly given God problem after problem. They are like a "problem people".

The straight-forward clear-cut solution would be to abandon them and cut them off and choose another group of people.

But if God's ways are not our ways, then God's way of dealing with a problem is certainly not our way either.

Just like in the gospel parable of how ridiculous it seems to leave the 99 obedient sheep in search of the one who strayed.

And it is even more ridiculous for God to become man in Jesus. Yet when it comes to saving the lost, nothing is ridiculous for God.

So when we face "problem people" may we keep in mind that it is never the will of God that one of them should be lost.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

2nd Week of Advent, Monday, 10-12-18

Isaiah 35:1-10 / Luke 5:17-26

Sewing back a button on a shirt or stitching the seams of two pieces of cloth may seem a rather simple and uncomplicated thing.

But for those of us who don't usually use the thread and needle, it can be quite a challenge. 

Looking for the correct needle and then looking for that spool of thread might already make us think of sending whatever we are mending to those who can do it quickly and professionally.

In the ministry of Jesus, He preached the Good News and performed miracles and He also healed the sick. In today's gospel, we heard about Jesus healing of the paralysed man.

But just as sewing back a button or sewing two pieces of cloth is not an easy thing, neither was it for Jesus healing the paralysed man.

The Pharisees and scribes accused Him of blasphemy when He forgave the man his sins. But Jesus also proved that forgiveness was granted by healing the man.

In this season of Advent, as we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ, we also prepare our hearts to receive Him into our lives.

We need to be aware of what are our sins and to ask for forgiveness and healing.

We are like a shirt missing a button or two, or we may be like a piece of cloth that has a tear and needs some sewing.

Jesus will "sew" us back and make us whole. He came for this. Let us believe that He will forgive our sins and that we will be healed.


Saturday, December 8, 2018

2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C, 12.01.2018

Baruch 5:1-9 / Philippians 1:3-6, 8-11 / Luke 3:1-6

During this season of Advent, a famous figure will appear, and he is supposed to bring some cheer.

Maybe we already have an idea of who he is. He has a white bushy beard, quite roundish, dressed in red with white trimmings, and his famous quote is “Ho, ho, ho”. Of course we are talking about Santa Claus.

Maybe some trivia about Santa Claus. Where does he stay when he goes on holiday? – Ho-ho-hotel.

What is the name of his pet cat? Santa Claws. What is the name of his pet fish? Santa Jaws.

Santa Claus only appears around this time in the festive decorations and also in commercials. But Santa Claus is not a clever figment of commercial imagination.

The name is actually derived from St. Nicholas who lived in the 4th century and he was the bishop of Myra, which is in modern day Turkey.

His feast day is on the 6th December, which was last Thursday, and many miracles were attributed to his intercession and he was known as Nicholas the Wonder Worker.

He is often pictured with three golden balls which represent the three purses of gold he was said to have given secretly to a poor man who could not afford dowries for his three daughters.

Hence the golden balls decorations that are hung on the Christmas tree represent the generosity and helping of the poor by St. Nicholas, which is also the spirit of the season.

Appearing in this season of Advent is also another saint, though he is quite the opposite in appearance to St. Nicholas.

As we heard in the gospel, in the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, and other big names of that time, the Word of God came to John, son of Zechariah, in the wilderness.

So the Word of God came to John when he was somewhere in the wilderness. It was quite a contrast to the big names and the big places that were mentioned before him.

And with that, John went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And that was how he became known as John the Baptist.

As the prophet Isaiah puts it: A voice cries in the wilderness, prepare a way for the Lord. And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.

With the Word of God, John the Baptist proclaimed repentance and forgiveness of sins, so that people can see the salvation of God, the great love of God.

It was a simple message with a profound meaning and it turned people back to God.

At the time when the power and might of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Annas and Caiaphas cast a fearsome shadow on the land and on the people, the Word of God came to John the Baptist to bring about repentance, forgiveness and salvation.

Well, the Word of God comes to us today, to bring us repentance, forgiveness and salvation. And so what we going to do about it? Surely, we don’t want this season of Advent to pass by with the hustle and bustle and then with Christmas coming and going just like that.

It is said that what will get us to act comes from one or a combination of these reasons: pain, fear, hope and joy.

When we feel the piercing pain of an illness or disease, we will turn to Jesus for healing and strength.

Physical pain there will be, and we can cope with the help of medication. What is more difficult to cope is the pain of fear. So what is this pain of fear?

It could be the fear of forgiveness. We don’t want to forgive those who have hurt us and we still bear that pain. We don’t want to forgive them for fear that they will hurt us again. So within us there is this vicious cycle of pain and fear.

But not to forgive is like holding on to a burning charcoal and hoping that the other person will be burnt. Not to forgive is also like drinking poison and hoping that the other person will die.

But the truth is that we are the ones getting burnt and we are the ones dying within.

So with this internal pain and fear, will we want to forgive those who have hurt us?

Well, as we know, God forgives us and He also wants us to forgive others. Why would God want to forgive us?

God wants to forgive us because He wants to give us the hope of being healed and to have the joy of being freed from pain and fear.

God is our hope and God is our joy. Indeed He is hope and joy, and the reason He forgives us is because He hopes that we will turn back to Him and that will be His joy. And that’s what salvation is about.

So too when we forgive, it is because we put our hope in God who will heal us and because we want to have the joy of being freed from the darkness that is choking the life out of us.

So the Word of God has come to us today, and if we are not going to do anything about it, then we will continue to live in pain and fear.

But when we act upon the Word of God and repent and forgive, then God will grant us His hope and joy.

St. Nicholas and John the Baptist acted on the Word of God and they saw the salvation of God.

When we act on the Word of God, we too will see the salvation of God.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Immaculate Conception of the BVM, Saturday, 08-12-18

Genesis 3:9-15, 20 / Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12 / Luke 1:26-38

For those of us who were baptized as babies, our parents gave us a baptism name.

For those of us who were baptized as adults, we chose a baptism name for ourselves.

These will be the names for the rest of our lives.

But these are not just names to identify ourselves. They have a much greater significance.

They symbolize our new identity in Christ through baptism.

For those of us who were baptized as adults, our baptism names symbolize our "Yes" to God to be His beloved children.

Mary was graced to be immaculately conceived in her mother's womb, and freed from sin by the power of God.

But at the Annunciation, Mary is called by a new name and empowered to bear the One who is to crush the power of evil.

Mary is called by the angel Gabriel "the highly favoured one".

And Mary said "Yes" to the mission of bearing the Word made flesh.

By the grace of our baptism, we too have become God's highly favoured ones; we too have become "immaculate".

We too are empowered to say "Yes" to God.

In saying "Yes" to God, we are also saying "No" to evil and to the devil's temptations.

So let us rejoice with Mary on this feast of her Immaculate Conception and give thanks and praise to God for His saving love for us.

Let us renew the grace of our baptism, and by the grace of our baptism, let us crush our evil and sinful desires and live as God's beloved and highly favoured sons and daughters.

Let us also ask Mary to pray for us by using the prayer that is inscribed in the Miraculous Medal: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you

1st Week of Advent, Friday, 07-12-18

Isaiah 29:17-24 / Matthew 9:27-31

It is often said that actions speak louder than words, and we will certainly affirm that.

Action expresses priorities and action changes things. So in the end, well done is better than well said.

But most of the time, after all that is said and done, more often than not, more is said than done. 

Words may inspire, but action creates change. So as we talk, so we must act; as we say, so we must show; as we promise, so we must prove.

For the two blind men in the gospel, we may not think much about them shouting after Jesus to take pity on them. In fact it seems that Jesus did not respond until after they had followed Him all the way to the house.

Just what made them act with such perseverance and determination?

It is said that what will get us to act comes from one or even all of these reasons: fear, pain, joy and hope.

The two blind men could have acted out of pain and hope. They know the pain of blindness, but they could also "see" that there can be some hope in Jesus.

And so what about us? Why do we keep coming to Church and seeking Jesus? Well, it could be out of pain, or fear, or out of joy and hope.

For those of us who have the pain of a physical illness or disease, we seek out Jesus for healing or at least to have the strength to bear the pain.

Physical pain there will be, and we can cope with the help of medication. What is more difficult is the pain of fear. So what is this pain of fear?

It is as how the 1st reading puts it - those  who gossip to incriminate others, those who try to trip the arbitrator and get the upright man's case dismissed for groundless reasons.

Oh yes, there are such people, we know who they are, and they are indeed our fear and our pain.

Oh yes we will complain about them, but after all the complaining, what is the next course of action?

Certainly we don't want to be like them, and we will pray that God will spare us from such malicious people.

Yet we have also come to Jesus with a heart of hope. Again as the 1st reading puts it - the lowly will rejoice, the poor will exult, for tyrants shall be no more, and scoffers vanish.

Such must be our hope in Jesus as we take refuge in His Sacred Heart. And more than that, Jesus wants us to experience the joy of seeing others repent and turn to God.

And that's why we come for the 1st Friday Mass and Devotion to the Sacred Heart. We do reparation for our sins and we do expiation for the sins of others for their conversion, because their salvation is our concern and Jesus wants no one to be lost.

Yes, we act desperately out of pain or fear,  but we must also act with conviction out of hope and with joy.

So we are here to pray, it is our act of faith, and may Jesus take our prayers into His Sacred Heart, so that we can see the hope and joy even in the midst of pain and fear.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

1st Week of Advent, Thursday, 06-12-18

Isaiah 26:1-6 / Matthew 7:221, 24-27     (St. Nicholas)

In this season of Advent, we also commemorate some saints in the month of December. Today we remember St. Nicholas. He was bishop of Myra, in Lycia (now part of Turkey) and died about the middle of the fourth century. He has been venerated throughout the Church, especially since the 10th century.

St. Nicholas is also more popularly known as Santa Claus (from the Dutch "Sinterklass"). Most would only know him as that festive jolly figure that goes round dressed in red and "Ho Ho Ho".

Oh sure, he was a joyful person and he was equally generous because of his help to the poor.

He is often pictured with three golden balls which represent the three purses of gold he is said to have given secretly to a poor man who could not afford dowries for his three daughters.

Hence the golden balls decorations that are hung on the Christmas tree represent the generosity and helping of the poor by St. Nicholas, which is also the spirit of the season.

Even though it was said that he was born of wealthy Christian parents, he gave away his wealth generously to help the poor.

He is, what Jesus said in the gospel, a wise person who built his house with his generosity and helping the poor and the needy.

And till today, St. Nicholas is known for that, although most would know him as a commercial festive figure.

But since we know what St. Nicholas represents, then let us also do likewise. Let us be generous and help the poor and needy. That would be like building our house on rock.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

1st Week of Advent, Wednesday, 05-12-18

Isaiah 25:6-10 / Matthew 15:29-37

Some hotels and restaurants offer a buffet meal or even an ala carte buffet for a fixed price.

That means that we can eat all we want and eat all we can for just one price.

Some may think that it is value for money and that it is worth it. But there is only so much we can eat and we can't pack any of the food home.

But even if we have eaten our fill, or maybe even over-ate, does that mean that we have been fully satisfied and that that we won't be eating for a long time more to come?

Certainly not. We will be hungry again and then maybe we will head for the buffet spread again, if that is what we really desire.

So in other words, there seems to be a longing that can't be fulfilled or satisfied.

The 1st reading talks about a mountain where the Lord of hosts will prepare a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines.

But at the time the passage of the 1st reading was written, there was war and the danger of being captured or killed by the enemy.

Even if there was a banquet of rich food and fine wines, there will be no appetite to eat because there was no peace and one can't even eat in peace.

But the 1st reading gives a hope that one day the people will be at peace and dine at the banquet of rich food and fine wines. It was a real hope because it was the promise of God.

And in the gospel, that promise was fulfilled in Jesus who fed the hungry crowd on the mountain top, a meal in which they ate all they wanted.

That brings us back to our Advent preparation. We are preparing to celebrate a promise fulfilled and also a promise that will be fulfulled.

So despite the woes and troubles and anxieties of the present time, we look forward with hope when we will be at the heavenly banquet of rich food and fine wines, where we will rejoice eternally because God has wiped away the tears from every cheek, and nothing more shall we want.

Monday, December 3, 2018

1st Week of Advent, Tuesday, 04-12-18

Isaiah 11:1-10 / Luke 10:21-24

The olive tree is very hardy tree. It can resist drought and disease and even fire, and it can live to a great age.

Its root system is strong and robust and the peculiarity is that it is capable of regenerating the tree even if the above-ground structure is destroyed.

It is with this peculiarity that the 1st reading used to describe the promise of salvation for Israel - "A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots".

With that will also come about a glorious time of peace and harmony, and also of integrity and faithfulness.

Yet the promise of salvation and the glorious reign of God would require patience and waiting and trusting in God's promises.

Just like an olive tree that may take as long as 15 years to bear fruit, the glorious time of peace and harmony, and integrity and faithfulness may also take that long to come about.

Yet in the meanwhile, the roots of the olive tree are spreading and strengthening itself for its growth ahead.

So even if there seems to be happening above-ground, there is certainly unseen activity happening underground.

So even if we don't see it, we know it is happening. More so with God's grace, which we can't see but yet we believe is working.

Yes, blessed are we to whom the mysteries of God are revealed. And more blessed are we when we believe and wait in hope and patience.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

St. Francis Xavier, Patron of Missions, Monday, 03-12-18

1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23 / Mark 16:15-20

St. Francis Xavier was a student of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and he was the co-founder of the Society of Jesus and one of the first seven Jesuits who were formed in 1534.

He led an extensive mission into Asia and he was influential in the spreading of the faith especially in India.

He even ventured as far as China but he was only able to reach what is now Hong Kong. In fact, he died there on the 3rd December 1552.

Along the way, he also converted many peoples in India, especially Goa,  and also in Indonesia and Japan. He is said to have converted more people than anyone else has done since St. Paul.

For this reason he is the patron saint of the missions, together with St. Therese of the Child Jesus.

And like St. Paul, St. Francis Xavier also considered preaching the Good News not just as a duty but also as a blessing.

Like what St. Paul said in the 1st reading, he made himself as a slave to everyone so as to win as many for God as he could.

Like St. Paul, St. Francis Xavier also made himself all things to all men in order to save some at any cost.

Like St. Paul, St. Francis Xavier left behind a legacy of missionary work and spirit that formed the blueprint and foundations of the Catholic faith in the countries.

As the Lord Jesus promised, He worked with St. Francis Xavier and confirmed His word with signs.

We have seen these signs, and may we continue to see these signs so that we in turn will  proclaim the Good News, like St. Francis Xavier did.