Wednesday, January 31, 2018

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 01-02-18

1 Kings 2:1-4, 10-12 / Mark 6:7-13

Where there is a meeting, there will also be a parting. But the pain of parting is nothing compared to the joy of meeting again.

But where meetings can be arranged and anticipated, partings may have the tone of being permanent.

In the 1st reading, as David's life came to a close, he had parting words for his son Solomon.

David urged Solomon to be faithful to the Lord God and to follow His ways and keep His laws and commandments and decrees as written in the Law of Moses.

After which David slept with his ancestors. It can be said that David parted with his people of this world, but he went on to meet with his people of the next world, and it would certainly be a joyful meeting.

In the gospel, Jesus gave His instructions to His disciples before sending them off on the mission to preach repentance.

His disciples may have wondered about taking nothing for the journey and being given only the authority of Jesus.

But they set off to preach repentance and they cast out many devils and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

And when they met up with Jesus again, they would have amazing testimonies of just how powerful the authority of Jesus is.

Jesus has a mission for each of us. Let us pray that we will know what that mission is, have the faith and courage to set off on that mission and accomplish it.

Then when we come back and meet up with Jesus again, we would be amazed at how much we can accomplish with just His authority alone.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 31-01-18

2 Sam 24:2, 9-17 / Mark 6:1-6

If we had listened and reflected on the 1st reading, we might have asked this question: what is the problem with doing a census of the population?

That is a logical thing to do so as to know the size of the population and especially the size of the army.

Yet it was David himself who called for the census; it was a form of pride.

Already in his time, Israel was the most powerful nation in the region.

In counting the people, and especially the army, David wanted to show-off his might to other nations.

But he forgot he was counting God's people, and God's people is not about numbers but rather their faith and trust in Him.

In a way, we could also see in the gospel how the people of Jesus' hometown "counted" Jesus and He fell short of their opinions, and hence, they did not accept His wisdom and abilities.

We too, should not just count our blessings but also give thanks and praise the Lord at all times.

With grateful and thankful hearts, we will not be thinking about what we have done for the Lord but rather what the Lord has done for us.

Monday, January 29, 2018

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 30-01-18

2 Sam 18:9-10, 14, 24-25, 30 - 19:3 / Mark 5:21-43

Fathers are not often portrayed for their affectionate love.

They may be given the image of a provider, a disciplinarian and the head of the house as well as other masculine attributes.

But just how affectionate can fathers be?

In today's two readings, we saw the affectionate side of fatherhood.

In the 1st reading, even though Absalom rebelled against his father David, yet when he was killed, David wept openly for him.

In the gospel, Jairus put aside his status of being a synagogue official to come to Jesus and plead for his daughter's life.

As we reflect and meditate on the two readings, there are two thoughts that could come to mind.

No matter how much we have rebelled against God and how far we have turned from Him, God still loves us and searches for us so that we can return to Him.

Also God wants to heal us of our physical infirmities and cleanse our hearts of sin so that we can truly live life in Him.

Jesus came to save us and to restore our life in God.

Let us have faith in Him, for it is our faith in Jesus that will save us.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

4th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 29-01-18

2 Sam 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13 / Mark 5:1-20

Whenever it is said that no family is perfect, it is generally meant that family members may fight, they may not talk to each other, and there may be many other problems that a family go through.

But each family is unique and each family has its peculiar set of problems such that what works for one family may not work for another. That's simply because each member of a family is also unique and has a unique way of thinking and behaviour.

Today's readings present us with two family scenarios that may be familiar to us in one way or another.

In the 1st reading, we hear of David having to flee from his own son Absalom who was out to seize the throne from David and even kill him in the process.

But the humility and faith of David is truly edifying as he surrenders himself to the Lord even when Shimei, an insignificant person, insulted and cursed David.

In the gospel, we hear of a man possessed by a legion of unclean spirits ran up and fell at the feet of Jesus.

His family was not with him then, but it can be supposed that they had tried to secure him with fetters and chains but in vain.

But when Jesus expelled the unclean spirits from him, he wanted to follow Jesus but Jesus would not let him and said to him, "Go home to your people and tell them all that the Lord in his mercy has done for you."

What we can learn from the two readings of today is that as much as there are family problems, we have to be humble and surrender them to the Lord and commend our families to Him.

Also, to have a home to go back to where family members are still together regardless of differences is indeed a blessing.

Let us pray to the Lord to pour forth His blessings on all families so that they can be witnesses of what the Lord in His mercy has done for them.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

4th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 28.01.2018

Deuteronomy 18:15-20 / 1 Cor 7:32-35 / Mark 1:21-28
One week has passed and we are back again here in church for Mass. 
One week is not that long a time. But let’s ask ourselves this: What was it at Mass last week that made an impression on me? Was there anything that I remembered at Mass last week?

Although it was just seven days ago, we might not be able to recall anything of significance at last week’s Mass.

Oh yes, we were on our Sunday routine – we came for the same Mass time, we probably sat at the same pew or around there, the same things were being done. Nothing special, nothing impressionable, nothing impressive.

Not that we have a bad memory or suffer from a memory loss. Anyway if we can remember that we didn’t for Mass last Sunday, then we would have gone for Confession already.

Otherwise, we would say that everything went on as per normal at last week’s Mass. There was nothing out of the ordinary and nothing special.

Well on that Sabbath day in the synagogue as we heard in the gospel, the assembly gathered there also thought that it was just another ordinary Sabbath.

Until Jesus came along and He began to teach. And His teaching made a deep impression on them because He taught with authority.

And not only that, when there appeared a man possessed by an unclean spirit and challenged Jesus, Jesus expelled the unclean spirit from that man.

Certainly, for the people gathered at the synagogue, it was a Sabbath to remember. They were astonished and wondered what it all meant. But it also made a deep impression on them.

Now back to us who are gathered here for Mass on this Sunday. Will there be anything spectacular happening? Will there be anything that will make a deep impression on us?

Well, on the surface level, not likely. Unless the choir sings really off-key, or the wardens forget to go around for the collection, or the air-con breaks down. But no one will be shouting or screaming or making a scene.

So on the surface level, all seems normal and under control. But that’s only on the surface level. But there is also the spiritual level to consider.

And here is where we need to be quiet. We need to be silent so as to listen. Anyway “silent” and “listen” are made up of the same letters.

We need to be silent so as to listen to the prayers and to the Word of the Lord. If we were asked what were the Scripture readings of last Sunday, we will probably roll our eyes upwards as if the readings are on the ceiling.

And if we are asked if we remember any of the prayers said at Mass last Sunday, we will probably only remember saying “Amen”. Everything else seem to have gone in one ear and out from the other by the other ear.

Even though we may remember only saying “Amen”, yet that one word is a powerful affirmation. It means “Yes! It shall be!

We say it at the beginning and at the end of the Mass. We say it at end of every prayer. All in all we say “Amen” no less than ten times at Mass.

What we are saying is that what  we have listened to and what we have prayed for will be fulfilled. As Jesus said, “This is being fulfilled today, even as you listen.”

So how is it fulfilled even as we listen and say “Amen” that it will happen. 

In the Offertory Prayer last week, there is this word “salvation.” And the gospel of last week is about the call of the disciples.

A few days ago last week, a lady, who was a non-Catholic, came with her Catholic friend to see me.

She stays nearby and she ventured into the Church a couple of times during Mass and so she decided to ask her Catholic friend to accompany her to see a priest and so they ended up seeing me.

She made her queries, talked about her challenges and wondered if God wants her to be a Catholic.

As I listened to her, the words of last Sunday’s Mass “salvation” and “call” came to my mind, and then I realized that I was seeing it happening to that lady as she was talking. 

Indeed the Lord will fulfill the prayers that we “Amen” to and He will also fulfill the Word that He spoke to us.

God will give us signs and will work wonders for us. We do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord, because the Word of the Lord is spirit and they give us life and light.

So let us be quiet. Let us be silent and listen, so that the Word of the Lord and our prayers at Mass will make an impression on us as we await the signs and wonders that the Lord will work for us.

Friday, January 26, 2018

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 27-01-18

2 Sam 12:1-7, 10-17 / Mark 4:35-41

Just to think that one day we will have to stand before the Lord and receive a judgment that will seal our eternity can be rather frightening.

So we might think that it is God who will judge us and determine how guilty we are and then send us according to where we should go.

Yet, if God is love, then why would He want to judge us and even condemn us?

In the 1st reading, it was not God who pronounced judgment on David but rather it was David who pronounced judgment on himself.

Nathan, the prophet, narrated the story, but it was David who made the conclusion.

Nathan held the mirror, and David saw the reflection.

Yet, we must also acknowledge that David had the humility to admit that it was his own reflection, that he was that man in the story.

We all have that God-given conscience to admit to our faults and sinfulness.

Yet, with the same breath, we also must admit that we have this ability to deny guilt and responsibility.

We can even rationalize away our guilt and turn black into white.

That can happen, and will happen, when we are not close to God and forget that Jesus is in our hearts.

The disciples in the gospel were frightened in the face of the storm, but that was because they have yet to realize who Jesus is.

We know who Jesus is. We also know that He has made His home in our hearts.

In the face of temptations and sinfulness, let us hear His voice as He tells us: Quiet now! Be calm!

Let us remember that Jesus came, not to judge and condemn us, but to save us.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Sts. Timothy and Titus, Friday, 26-01-18

2 Tim 1:1-8 or Titus 1:1-5 / Luke 10:1-9

In the 27 books in the New Testament, 13 are attributed to St. Paul. Out of those 13 book, there are some which are personal letters to individuals.

In both the alternative 1st readings, we get to read a portion of those personal letters to individuals.

St. Paul was a prolific writer, but in those personal letters, he bared his heart to the one he was writing to.

He called Timothy "dear child of mine" (as in a spiritual son) and encouraged him to keep the faith and to have the courage given by the Spirit in bearing witness to Jesus.

He also called Titus "true child of mine in the faith that we share" and explained that he left Titus behind in Crete because he had work there for him to do.

Timothy and Titus were disciples of St. Paul and his co-workers. St. Paul loved them and was concerned about them and expressed it in his letters.

The fact that these letters survived and was incorporated into the New Testament showed that Timothy and Titus treasured those letters from St. Paul.

Those letters were about the only concrete reminders for them of St. Paul, and what he taught them and the memorable times they had in doing God's work together.

The spoken word can be powerful, yet the written word can have a more lasting effect and also it can be a source of encouragement and support for the addressee.

May we also take time out to write a word of encouragement and support to our friends and loved ones. A short sincere note will certainly go a long way for them.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, Thursday, 25-01-18

Acts 22:3-16 / Mark 16:15-18

Life, as we know, is a never-ending process of learning.

Not just of learning but also of discovery.

In that learning and discovery process, we also grow and we change.

Hence, some of the principles and convictions that we had before may need to be reassessed and even revamped completely.

For St. Paul, the journey to Damascus was the critical milestone of his life.

In answer to his question "Who are you, Lord?", he discovered the person behind the people he was persecuting.

His next question - What am I to do? - that question he alone must answer for himself.

He can stick to his so-called security of his earlier unquestioned convictions and principles.

Or he can follow the way of the truth which will open him to change.

The feast of the conversion of St. Paul, former persecutor-turned-apostle, challenges us not only to look at our convictions and principles and beliefs.

We are also challenged to look at our relationship with Jesus.

Our relationship with Jesus must also be expressed in our relationship with others.

If there are some people whom we have a dislike for or a resentment against, or even some others whom we are " persecuting", then like St. Paul, we need to ask the question - Who are you, Lord?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 24-01-18

2 Sam 7:4-17 / Mark 4:1-21

Jesus started His ministry by teaching in the synagogues.

In today's gospel, we see a switch in style. He goes into the open: at the seashore, and the fishing boat becomes the pulpit.

But a more profound switch was from lecture-style teaching to simple parables about everyday life, although the purpose was still the same, i.e. to teach the people about eternal life.

The switch was only natural, because for the common people, stories attract their attention, and they are easy to remember.

But the purpose of Jesus in using stories or parables goes deeper than just getting their attention.

A parable like the sower and the seed tests the hearts of the people, as well as our hearts.

When our hearts are open, we will be able to sense the truth of the teachings of Jesus.

Just as in the 1st reading, the prophet Nathan sensed it was the word of the Lord that was being announced to him and he opened his heart to receive it.

Yet, nonetheless, God will also respect our freedom.

The parables of Jesus contain enough light for us who want to know the truth.

We have the freedom to step into the light of truth, or to remain in the shadow of darkness.

Monday, January 22, 2018

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 23-01-18

2 Sam 6:12-15, 17-19 / Mark 3:31-35

The Church teaches that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.

And if we truly believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, we would be rushing to go for Mass the first thing in the morning and churches would be having Masses every hour.

Would that sound incredible to us? And if that sounds incredible to us, then what is it that we believe in and what is the Mass to us?

In the 1st reading, we heard how David was dressed in only a linen garment and danced before the Lord with all his might.

That was actually a very incredible thing for a king to do - to lay aside his royal robes and to be dressed in a linen garment (which symbolizes a priestly character) and to dance unreservedly before the Lord.

Not only was it incredible for a king to do that, we will not even think of doing that kind of thing under normal circumstances.

Yet in doing so, David showed that he was one with his people, just like any of them, and he just wanted to praise the Lord in all he did.

In the end, David also showed himself as priest, prophet and king when he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts and distributed the communion sacrifices.

David was a great king, but he was also like a simple and humble brother to his people.

As Jesus said in gospel, anyone who does the will of God is His brother and sister.

Indeed the will of God should be the source and summit of our life, just like the Eucharist.

May we always know what God's will is and do it.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

3rd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 22-01-18

2 Sam 5:1-7, 10 / Mark 3:22-30

We all know this very useful advice: Think before you speak.

Generally speaking, most of us do think before we speak. In fact, we have to think before words can come out of our mouths.

The question is what are our thoughts. If we have kind thoughts, then our words will be kind. If we have bad thoughts, then our words will just follow suit.

More so in a contest when the outcome is not that certain, it would be wise not to boast of strength or victory just yet.

In the 1st reading, the Jebusites defending Jerusalem taunted David by saying, "You will never get in here. The blind and the lame will hold you off".

Those are very boastful and prideful words, especially when they were under siege. The Jebusites will have to suffer for the folly of their words.

In the gospel, the scribes used words that only exposed what was in their minds and hearts. Without understanding the truth of the matter, they made accusations against Jesus that were evils in themselves.

From today's readings, we get this lesson - Be kind and gentle. Always think before you speak because the words we choose can only be forgiven but not forgotten.

May we always speak to Jesus first so that we can taste our words before we speak them out to others.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

3rd Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 21.01.2018

Jonah 3:1-5, 10 / 1 Cor 7:29-31 / Mark 1:14-20

As we sit down to listen to the homily, some of us may habitually or instinctively glance at our watches. It is not that we want to time the homily to see how long it is going to take. (Anyway I have already timed it – it’s going to take about 7 minutes)

Since most of us wear a watch or have some kind of timepiece, it only goes to show how important time is to us.

More than just wanting to know the time of the day, we also want to know how much time we have for the next appointment, whether we will be on time or not, and just how much time we have for the things that we have planned.

But we also understand time in a much broader sense. There is the “first time” that marks a new experience or a new encounter. 
There is the “next time” where we will be more prepared from what we have learnt before. There is the “last time” which can mean how we have always done things in the past, or when we want to put an end to something.

And of course there is the famous “no time” to mean how busy we are. But actually it is just another way of saying that it’s not our priority so we have no time for it. Or that we just don’t want to do it, so we say we have no time.

If we noticed in the 1st reading, it begins with “The word of the Lord was addressed a second time to Jonah”. So it was the second time that God called Jonah. So what happened at the first time?

Putting it simply, at the first time, Jonah had no time because he didn’t want to do what God wanted of him, because it was not to his liking.

God told him to go east to Nineveh, and he went west to go sailing. God told him to preach, but he went to the beach. In other words, God said “go” but he said “no”.

We might have heard of the story of Jonah, how he sailed off to escape from God, but a storm blew up and he had to be thrown overboard to quell the storm, and got swallowed up by a big fish, often-known-as, a whale.

But even the big fish can’t stand him because after three days in its belly, it threw him up on the shore. It was probably the first time and the last time that Jonah would want to be in the belly of a big fish.

But those three days in the belly of the big fish has a spiritual meaning. Because it was a time for Jonah to think about things. The point of all this is that Jonah was taken into the depths so that he could rise again. It was as if that for Jonah to move onwards, he must pass inwards.

Something in Jonah must give in before he can give up. Enlightenment can only come about after an experience of purification. And Jonah’s experience indeed has a lesson for us.

Like Jonah, we may not have paid attention at the first time; we may not have responded to God’s direction for us. But God still calls out to us the second time, or even the next time.

But the 2nd reading also tells us that our time is growing short, and that our time in this world is passing on, slowly but surely.

And Jesus, in the gospel, would announce it even more urgently: The time has come, and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe in the Good News.

In whatever time of our life that we are in, there is an appointed time when God calls out to us and waits for our response.

When the appointed time came for Jonah, he had to respond. When the appointed time came for Simon and Andrew, for James and John, they too responded and did what God wanted of them.

They left their nets and their boats and followed Jesus, and they can only trust Him that He knows the plans He has for them, plans for their good and not for disaster, plans to give them hope and a future. (cf Jeremiah 29:11)

Doing what they did would certainly leave us feeling insecure. And at times we might feel that we are like being swallowed up by a big fish and left tumbling and swirling around in the darkness of the belly of the world.

Here is where a reflection of time can be helpful and it is put in just four words – First, Next, Then, Last.

First: God brought me to this. The will of God will never take me to where the grace of God will not protect me. In that I will be at peace.

Next: God will keep me in His love to behave as His child in this trial. God will never give us more than we can take. He will let us bend, but He will never let us break.

Then: He will turn the trial into a blessing and will teach me lessons that He wants me to learn. God doesn’t just want us to go through it; He wants us to grow through it.

Last: In God’s good time, He will bring me out and let me rise and shine. Then we realize that in order for the light to shine brightly, the darkness must be present.

So just four words connected with time – First, Next, Then, Last. May we know that time after time, whether it is First, Next, Then or Last, it is all in God’s appointed time.

We end off with a short prayer to the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that stands at the entrance of the Church:
O Jesus, You stand there, generation after generation
Receiving our prayer and petition
Stretching out Your hands in love and mercy
Touching ours that are so unworthy
Healing our sins and sorrow
Giving us hope for tomorrow. Amen. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 20-01-18

2 Sam 1:1-4, 11-12, 17, 19, 23-27 / Mark 3:20-21

We are called Christians. There are many words that can be used to describe who we are and what we do as Christians.

For e.g. we are to be loving and forgiving, generous and kind, merciful and compassionate, etc.

One simple expression could be to say that we are "big-hearted" people.

Big-hearted people also express love in a big-hearted way.

We not only love our friends and those who are good to us.

We also must rise above our selfishness that tends to make us hate those who hate us and to ignore those who ignore us.

In the 1st reading we could see how David showed he was such a big-hearted person.

He forgave Saul who had persecuted him for so many years.

Not only did he lamented in grief over the death of Saul, he also remembered Saul's good qualities and he also remembered the goodness and love that Johnathan had for him.

Jesus Himself preached and showed the bigness and greatness of love.

But such bigness and greatness of love is not easily understood and accepted by others because they may have become numbed to the selfishness and evil they see so often around them.

Even the relatives of Jesus thought He was out of His mind.

But what is foolishness and madness for the world is indeed the bigness and the greatness of love.

That bigness and greatness is shown on the cross. It is in the cross we encounter the unfathomable bigness and greatness of God's love.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 19-01-18

1 Sam 24:3-21 / Mark 3:13-19

To cut a loaf of bread into slices, all that is needed is a sharp knife that is just long enough.

We don't need a surgical knife for that, nor would we use a chain-saw. It would be ridiculous to do that - one is a wrong knife and the other would be an overkill.

But when the mind is distorted with crazy reasoning, then the result would be actions that are wrong or useless.

So for king Saul to pick 3000 elite troops just to hunt down David and his rag-tag rebel group was really an overkill.

But with his mind distorted and obsessed with killing David, king Saul just couldn't see how ridiculous and crazy his actions were.

But for David and his few good men, they did what is right and just - they did not raise their hand against the Lord's anointed, although they could have done so.

In the gospel, Jesus appointed the Twelve, and they were to be His companions and to be sent out to preach, with power to cast out devils.

All Jesus needed was twelve men who were willing to do as they were told.

All Jesus needs is for us to be willing to do as He tells us. And when we do as Jesus tells us, then our minds won't be distorted with crazy reasoning, and we will only want to do what is right and just.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 18-01-18

1 Sam 18:6-9; 19:1-7 / Mark 3:7-12

To be happy for another person's achievements would certainly mean that we have a big and humble heart.

But it is not that easy to cheer and rejoice with someone for what they have achieved.

Not only have we to keep our envy and jealousy under control, if that person is our junior or subordinate, and yet that person performs better than us, then that can be really challenging.

We might just give in to making snide remarks to even more malicious actions like sabotage just to discredit that person or putting him down, even though it won't benefit us at all.

That was the situation with king Saul and what he thought of David, and jealousy turned into a desire to kill David.

Certainly, envy and jealousy are hungry evil twins that eat up our hearts and turn us into destroyers and killers. Such was the case with king Saul.

That makes us reflect on the times when we have been envious and jealous of others for their success and achievements.

When we are aware that we have such feelings, then we must realise that it is an evil thing within that is destroying us and also making us destroy others.

And Jesus will help us to control those evil feelings. In the gospel, the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Jesus, would fall down and be tormented.

When we are aware of the feelings of envy and jealousy gripping our hearts, let us turn to Jesus and let Him cast them out.

Let us ask Jesus to make our hearts clean so that we can rejoice with the success of others and be happy for those who have made achievements.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 17-01-18

1 Sam 17:32-33, 37, 40-51 / Mark 3:1-6

Does size really matter? On the one hand, of course size matters. Who wants a small cup of coffee? Yes, in those kind of things, size matters.

On the other hand, if size really mattered, then the elephant would be the king of the jungle, not the lion.

In the 1st reading, we hear of Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, a huge man, much bigger and taller than the ordinary man, maybe about 9 feet tall. 

Regardless of his precise height, he was a formidable opponent. He was not only tall, he was also strong. His bronze armour alone weighed 125 pounds (1 Samuel 17:5), and he carried a giant-sized spear (verse 7).

But with a sling and a stone, David brought down the mighty Goliath. Maybe it was David's courage, maybe his skill with the sling, but it was certainly "in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel".

So as much as size matters, in the case of David and Goliath, it was the size of the heart that mattered. and, of course who was directing the heart.

In the gospel, there were no giants with spears and swords to deal with. But Jesus had to deal with something more malicious - there were people watching Him to see if He would cure on the sabbath.

Jesus didn't give in to their small minds and small hearts, because their small minds and small hearts just have no space for the greatness and the goodness of Jesus.

So let us look into our hearts to see if our hearts can be opened to the greatness and goodness of God.

Let us keep our hearts big for God and for others. And when small minds and small hearts confront us, let us call up the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of heaven, so that we can bear witness to how great and good God is.

Monday, January 15, 2018

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 16-01-18

1 Sam 16:1:13 / Mark 2:23-28

If we were to think of an example of a dilemma, then we need look no further than in the 1st reading.

The prophet Samuel was in a dilemma. A dilemma can be described as a difficult or perplexing situation or problem.

He was told by God to anoint someone that He had chosen to be king. Yet Samuel was well aware that he was under the watchful eyes of king Saul.

Though he was faced with such a dilemma, God was the one who showed him the way out of that situation.

The solution is none other than that of a religious one - to offer sacrifice. Well, what other solutions would one expect from God other than a religious one.

Certainly, with God it is always a religious solution.

What we heard about in the gospel was a religious problem - the picking of corn on the Sabbath, which was something forbidden, though we are not sure where was it stated that it was forbidden.

We too have our religious problems in our day, e.g. "Is it ok to work on Sundays?"; "Can priests be involved in politics?" ; "Why can't women become priests?"

These questions may sound simple but the answers are certainly difficult.

These and such other questions indeed put us into a dilemma for answers.

But like in the case of Samuel, God is always offering us the religious solution rather than a logical rational answer.

When we turn to God to show us the way out of a dilemma, God's solution far surpasses our human logical rational thinking. Though it will certainly entail some sacrifice.

For God's ways are far above our ways, His thoughts far surpasses our thoughts.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

2nd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 15-01-18

1 Sam 15:16-23 / Mark 2:18-22

Nowadays the word "obedience" seems to be used only in a limited way.

It is often used on children when they are told to obey their parents, as if they had a choice.

Even in the military, obedience is not a choice, and it is propagated under threat of punishment.

As we look at the 1st reading, we may wonder why Samuel was harping on the disobedience of king Saul to the extent that he was going to be disposed of as king.

We may think that what king Saul did was rather pragmatic, and that the best sheep and oxen from the booty was sacrificed to God.

But we must remember that the battles in the Old Testament were religious wars. It was not just one nation against another, but also one god against another.

Hence, the customary battle procedure of the "ban" was a primitive religious practice in which everything captured in battle was destroyed because it was considered as religiously profane and contaminated.

So king Saul not only made a defiled and unclean offering to God, he also did not make the sacrifice from what was his own.

When this is understood, then we will realize the seriousness of the extent of the disobedience of king Saul and why he was later disposed of as king.

In the gospel, the topic of discussion seems to be fasting. But the teaching of Jesus can be summarized in the last phrase of the gospel - New wine, fresh skins.

When applied to the spiritual observances of our faith like fasting and doing penance and observing the precepts of the church, we need to ask ourselves if we know the reason and purpose of such observances.

Because if we are unclear about why we are doing what we are doing, and especially when we find it burdensome or troublesome, we will rationalize it away and we will want to be pragmatic and practical.

We may think that we are smarter and more practical than the laws and the teachings of the Church.

But pride comes before the fall. King Saul succumbed to it. May we be wise and subject ourselves in obedience to God, least we fall.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

2nd Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 14.01.2017

2nd Sunday OT B-2017                                                    14-01-18
1 Sam 3:3-10, 19 / 1 Cor 6:13-15, 17-20 / John 1:35-42
Between sight and sound, it is difficult to say which has a more appealing advantage.

Before the era of television, when radio ruled the airwaves, listening is understanding. But with television, seeing is believing.

Still, hearing is essential. Try to watch a movie without the audio, or with a lousy audio, and it can be very frustrating.

And it can be equally frustrating for a hearing-impaired or a deaf person. While a blind or visually-impaired person is easily noticeable, a deaf or hearing-impaired person looks as ordinary as the rest.

Hearing aids may be helpful but it depends on the situation and surroundings.

An elderly man had serious hearing problems for many years. Finally he went to see a doctor and then the doctor had him fitted with new hearing aids and told him to come back a month later.

A month passed and the elderly man went back to the doctor and the doctor asked about his hearing aid.

The elderly man said that it was working very well. And the doctor said, “Oh, your family must be happy that you can hear again.”

The elderly man replied, “Oh, I haven’t told them. I just sit around and listen to their conversations. And I have already changed my will three times. ”

Yes, be careful with what we say. Even walls have ears. And hearing aids can make a difference!

In the 1st reading, the young Samuel heard a voice and he thought it was Eli calling him. But after the third time, Eli understood that it was the voice of the Lord calling out to Samuel and he taught Samuel how to respond: Speak Lord, your servant is listening.

And with that Samuel became the prophet of God and the voice of the Lord was now heard through him.

In the gospel, there was the voice of another prophet – John the Baptist. He had this to say, “Look, there is the Lamb of God” as he pointed out Jesus to his disciples. 

Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

So the voice of the Lord as we heard in the 1st reading is calling out to us, and the voice of Jesus as we heard in the gospel is asking us, “What do you want?”

As we think about what Jesus is asking us, as we think about what we want, there is an article in the Catholic News about the 19 Catholic clergy and religious who were killed in Algeria between 1993 and 1996, during the armed conflict that devastated Algeria.

Among the 19 were seven French Trappist monks who were kidnapped from their monastery of Tibhirine and later killed by the extremist rebel groups.

Their story is made into a movie titled “Of Gods and Men” The monks of the Tibhirine monastery knew they were in danger, and would be killed if they remained in Algeria and they had a choice to leave the country. But they deliberated and debated among themselves, prayed and listened to the voice of the Lord, and they chose to stay.

Fr Christian de Cherge, the slain abbot of the monastery, had written in a letter nearly three years before his death that he and the other monks would willingly offer themselves as a sacrifice for the people of Algeria.

“When the time comes, I would like to be able to have that stroke of lucidity which would permit me to ask forgiveness of God and of my brothers in humanity, forgiving wholeheartedly, at the same time, whoever my killer may be,” he wrote, “May we meet each other again, happy thieves, in paradise, should it please God.”

Even though they lost their lives, their martyrdom teaches us something about listening to the voice of the Lord in the face of danger and death.

The title of the movie made about them “Of Gods and Men” is also rather enigmatic. It refers to a verse from Psalm 82 shown at the beginning of the film -“I said, ‘You are “gods”; and all of you, sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like men; you shall fall like any of the princes.”
The gods of this world with their shrilling voices are shouting at us, taunting us, with their power and might, and luring us to play into their games of hatred and violence.

These false gods claim to have powers of divinity by wielding weapons of violence and bloodshed. Their murderous voice stirs fear and confusion in us that tempt us to fight back with violence and hate.

But it is the voice of the true God that passes judgement on these false gods and those seven Trappist monks were the instruments of God’s judgement. 

By the gospel values of love and peace and forgiveness, by prayer and the Word of God, those monks listened to the voice of the true God and became His instruments of judgement as the mighty are cast down from their thrones and the lowly are raised.

Yes, we must listen to the voice of the one true God. As Jesus asks us what do we want, let us ask Jesus to grant us the faith to believe in His truth, that through prayer and perseverance, with love and forgiveness, we will overcome the power and might of those false gods and silence their taunts.

Like Samuel, let us say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” When the Lord speaks, we will know, because it is a voice that speaks of peace, it is a voice of love.

Friday, January 12, 2018

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 13-01-18

1 Sam 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1 / Mark 2:13-17

To be the first in anything is indeed a great achievement.

It is not just a rank or a position. It is also foundational and directional.

For example, to be the first president of a country, or the first foreigner to be to acclaimed for an achievement, or the first intake into an elite school, all this say something more than what it means to be just first.

In the 1st reading, we heard how Samuel anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel.

For whatever foundations and directions he set in his kingship, for better or for worse, he will always be remembered as the first king of Israel.

Yet whenever we talk about "first" we tend to think of those in the spot-light, the elite and those who make the headlines.

Yet who were the first followers of Jesus?  None other than people like Levi whom He called to follow Him.

As well as those tax collectors and sinners, and the gospel makes it a point to say that there were many of them among His followers.

So most of them were not named in the gospel but they set for us a foundation and a direction.

We don't have to be great achievers in order to follow Jesus; we just have to confess that we are sinners.

After all Jesus did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 12-01-18

1 Sam 8:4-7, 10-22 / Mark 2:1-12

We tend to have this notion that if we were less busy, we would have more time for prayer and Bible reading and other spiritual activities.

In other words, we may think that if we were less busy, then we would have more time for God.

Maybe for us, the time to look into those things on our KIV list will be maybe when we are on long leave or when we retire.

But does that happen? In fact, and surprisingly, the reverse is true.

The truth is that when we make time for God first, then we will know how to make use of our time.

So it is actually when we let God be the center, then our life and everything else would come together.

This truth is expressed in the gospel when Jesus made the connection between forgiveness and healing.

Because forgiveness is healing, and forgiveness even precedes healing.

Putting in simply, God must come first before we can experience any blessings in life.

But so often we are tempted to do what the people did in the 1st reading when they cried out to Samuel: Give us a king to rule over us, like the other nations.

We get attracted to the achievements and material luxuries of the successful people around us and we want to be like them, without realizing what has been sacrificed for success.

But we are not called to be "like them" ; we are called to be like God, for He is holy and He wants us to be holy.

To be like God means to forgive and heal, because God is forgiveness and healing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 11-01-18

1 Sam 4:1-11 / Mark 1:40-45

Whenever we have the luxury of a quiet moment to think and reflect about life, then we may be able to come to this realization.

We may be able to see that there is a purpose for the events that take place in our lives. There are no coincidences. There is a reason for everything.

In spiritual terms, there is God's plan and purpose for the events and situations that happen in life.

In the 1st reading, we hear that the Israelites had lost an earlier battle with the Philistines, with four thousand of their army killed. They then asked this question : Why has the Lord allowed us to be defeated today by the Philistines?

They then embarked on this drastic action of bringing in the Ark of the Lord to accompany them in battle. Obviously their intentions were far from spiritual or noble.

Because if they had faced the first question that they asked earlier, they would have come to realize why they were defeated in battle.

In the Old Testament, every misfortune, tragedy or defeat points to a problem or a crisis. The word "crisis" comes from the Greek krisis which means "turning point in a disease" (used as such by Hippocrates and Galen)

When understood in that sense, then the defeat was an opportunity for Israel to awaken from their spiritual decay and corruption and turn back to God in repentance.

In bringing the Ark of the Lord to battle, they created another greater disaster for themselves.

Similarly, to be afflicted with leprosy is a great tragedy. Especially in Biblical times, it means corruptible disfigurement as well as permanent expulsion and isolation.

Because leprosy was seen as not only as a communicable physical affliction, it was also a sign of spiritual corruption.

So it actually took a great deal from the leper to come before Jesus and ask for healing. The disease which was a crisis for him, became a turning point in his life as he turned to the Lord.

So every trouble, big or small, every disaster or tragedy, every crisis does not just happen without a reason. All that happens happen within the plan of God ; all that happens are in the hand of God.

God's will is for us to turn back to Him. Even if it means that Jesus, His only Son, had to die a tragic and humiliating death on the cross. That is what God will go through in order for us to turn back to Him.

If we realize this, then it is not just a coincidence or that it just happens. Let us give thanks to God for all that happened and will happen.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 10-01-18

1 Sam 3:1-10, 19-20 / Mark 1:29-39

We all know that the Church is the house of God.

The house of God is also the house of love and among other aspects it is the house of God's healing love.

Even the house of Peter and Andrew was transformed into a house of healing love because of the presence of Jesus, the Healer who heals with love.

The love of Jesus is also a love that searches for those in need of God's healing love, so that was why He insisted on going to the other villages.

God's healing love also ignites the flame of love in a house that has gone cold without love.

In the 1st reading, it was mentioned that the lamp of God in the sanctuary had not yet gone out.

Through the young Samuel, the flame of God's love was ignited again to heal the faith of His people.

God wants His house, the Church, to be a house of love and healing, to be a sign of salvation.

We are the living stones making up God's house. Yet God has also made His home in us.

As we gather in God's house for the Eucharist, may we be healed of our sins and may the flame of God's love burn bright in our hearts, which is also the house of God.

Monday, January 8, 2018

1st Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 09-01-18

1 Sam 1:9-20 / Mark 1:21-28

There are many reasons why people come to church. Besides coming to church for Mass, people come to church in times of need.

In a time of desperation and desolation, they come to church so as find some direction and consolation and an answer to their prayers.

For them, the church is the visible and tangible presence of God and it is where they take refuge in the midst of their troubles.

In the 1st reading, Hannah in her distress went before the Lord, and Eli the priest was observing her and wondering about her intention.

In the gospel, a man possessed by an unclean spirit, began making a scene in the synagogue, with that unclean spirit making a confrontation with Jesus.

But as Jesus expelled the unclean spirit out of the possessed man, the people were astonished and they started asking each other what it all meant.

But we should know what all that means. Whether it was Hannah in her bitterness of soul or the possessed man struggling with the evil spirit within, they have come before the Lord seeking for help.

The church is like a field hospital where people come to seek God and to be healed of the wounds of the heart and to be delivered from whatever evil that is affecting them.

May we offer these people some understanding and consolation and help so that they will truly experience Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and find peace and healing in the House of God.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Baptism of the Lord, Monday, 08-01-18

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 / Acts 10:34-38 / Mark 1:7-11

The Christmas season is not just about celebrating the birth of Christ.

We celebrated the birth of Christ on Christmas Day. The birth of Christ is then announced to the world in the feast of the Epiphany, when the wise men came to adore Jesus and present Him with the gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh, to symbolize His identity.

The mystery of the Incarnation at Christmas comes to its peak with the Baptism of the Lord.

And with the Baptism of the Lord, the mystery of salvation moves from the Incarnation to the Mission.

Christ came into the world to save sinners. At His Baptism, Christ was revealed to the world as the Beloved Son of the Father.

In this, we are also reminded of our own baptism, that we too, in Christ, are the beloved of the Father.

Indeed, love is the soul of mission. Without love, there can be no meaning or purpose or direction in life. Without love, there can be no mission.

Jesus came to save us by showing God's love for us.

Through baptism, we are united with Christ in His mission. May we show God's love for others. That is the meaning, the purpose and the direction of our lives.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Epiphany, Year B, 07.01.2018

Isaiah 60:1-6 / Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6 / Matthew 2:1-12
By now we would have settled back into normal routine. The holidays are over, Christmas Day had come and gone, we are already into the new year, all the festive excitement has died down.

So it’s back to work and back to school with appointments and assignments, schedules and what-have-you.

Well, we are looking into the new year and there are targets to set and goals to achieve. All engines are fired up and it’s full speed ahead.

No one would think of taking leave at this time of the year. There is just no mood for this. We have already relaxed enough over the holidays and there is back-log to clear and much to do.

Even for the Church, after this weekend, we are going to take down and keep the Christmas décor. Already they are looking a bit tired and waiting to be cleared.

But just when we thought that things are back to routine, we may notice that the Nativity scene is a bit crowded today, and there are three additional figures there.

And these three figures are quite a contrast compared to the other figures. Their dressing is exotic with rich robes and crowns on their heads and gifts in their hands.

So it’s guest appearance and it’s just for this weekend only, we have the 3 wise men (let’s just take it that there is three) aka the 3 Magis, or the 3 kings (and that is where we have that song “We three Kings of Orient are”).

And sure enough they were from the Orient as the gospel tells us that they are from the East.

They saw “His star” rising and they have come to do homage to the infant king of the Jews.

And that perturbed king Herod and the whole of Jerusalem. How was it that he didn’t know that a new king was born!

But there was another group of “wise” men who knew – the chief priests and the scribes. And they can even say “At Bethlehem in Judaea” – Well, they knew, but they just sat on it. They did nothing about it.

And so king Herod sent the wise men from the east to Bethlehem, to find out more about this infant king. His motive was to use them as his informants.

And when they found the infant Jesus, they did Him homage and opening their treasures, they presented Him with the 3 symbolic gifts: gold to honour His kingship, frankincense to worship His divinity, myrrh to acknowledge His humanity.

So Christmas is the great celebration of the birth of our Saviour, but of significance is the celebration of the Epiphany when the Saviour and King was manifested or revealed. Epiphany means manifestation or revelation.

The wise men from the east may seem to be just making a guest appearance in the whole Christmas celebration, but they are probably the first to know about the birth of Jesus, through the sign of the star. But they were also the last to come and pay homage to Him.

They saw His star rising. There were probably many other stars in the night sky, but this star called out to them and they responded.

It was a journey across barren desert sands and harsh conditions but they had to stay together because they only had each other along the journey.

The star was not always there to guide them and lead them and that was why they ended up at the palace of king Herod and were even used by him.

But they eventually found who they were looking for and by their gifts, they became witnesses of the royalty, divinity and humanity of the infant Jesus.

And truly they were wise men. Of course they were wise enough to know which star to follow.

But they were also wise because they learned many things from their difficulties in their search.

And we can learn from them. One is about the star (Jesus). In this world there are movie stars, pop stars, sports stars, we may even want to be a star. But there is only one star that will lead us to God.
About the gold. All that glitters and all we treasure must be offered to Jesus because our true treasure is in heaven.

Frankincense is used in worship. We offer worship to the one true God, no one else.

Myrrh has medicinal properties. It is offered to Jesus because Jesus is our Healer who will heal us and save us from our sins.

The wise men may be the latecomers or last-comers but we still want to celebrate with them. Because they found who they were truly searching for.

And they have this to tell us: We too will find Jesus. We just have to learn from them.

Friday, January 5, 2018

6th January 2018, Saturday, Weekday of Christmas Time

1 John 5:5-12 / Mark 1:6-11 or Luke 3:23-38

Every now and then, we hear this phrase - storm heaven.

It probably means that so much fervent prayers for a particular need or intention is called for such that it creates a storm in heaven, figuratively of course, and to make sure that God hears the prayers.

In the history of Israel, God's people had stormed heaven on countless occasions with prayers of lamentation, prayers for deliverance, prayers of repentance, etc.

Over and above these fervent prayers was the prayer for the coming of the Messiah.

In today's gospel, we saw how that prayer was answered.

The scene at the baptism of Jesus was dramatic: the heavens tore open, the Spirit descended, and there was a voice from heaven.

The Messiah, our Saviour, has come and is now in our midst.

Yet very often, Jesus stands among us and we are not aware of His presence.

We storm heaven with our prayers and look upward for the answer when Jesus is in our midst and even right before our eyes.

Yes, Jesus is right before us and He sends us the Holy Spirit to open our ears so that we can hear Him and our eyes so that we can see Him.

May we storm our hearts so that our hearts will be opened to the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

5th January 2018, Friday, Weekday in Christmas Time

1 John 3:11-21 / John 1:43-51

It is said that "one good deed deserves another". So if someone does you a favour, you should take the chance to repay it.

And by the same token, if we do a good deed, then we can expect it in return. But is that really so?

Now if we do a good deed and we expect it to be returned, then we may disappointed when it is not returned.

And if every good deed is returned, then there won't be such a thing called ingratitude. We know what is ingratitude. We have even experienced ingratitude, and certainly that hurts.

So as much as "one good deed deserves another" sounds like a noble proverb, it may not always be the case, besides the fact that there are contradictions to it.

But when we reflect on our Christian spirituality, then we may realise that that we can't expect anything in return for doing good.

Because doing good is our duty, our obligation and our mission as Christians. To expect any returns for doing good will leave us disappointed and frustrated and we will get tired of doing good.

We must be contented with the fact that God sees the good that we are doing and He knows that we are doing it for His glory and not expecting rewards or returns.

But that is only one side of the coin. What if we do good and what we get in return is evil? It does not make sense to think that what we get for doing good is evil in return.

But we shouldn't be surprised by that. The 1st reading tells us that Cain cut his brother's throat simply for this reason - that his own life was evil and his brother lived a good life.

It goes on to say that we must not be surprised when the world hates us just because we live good lives and want to do good in this world.

So as it is, the Christian life is a difficult and challenging life to live. Without prayer, we will be without love and we will refuse to do good, we will begin to resent and even hate others for their ingratitude.

We will even resent and hate others for doing good. The 1st reading warns us that we have become like murderers.

But that's why we come for Mass on the first Friday and for the devotion to the Sacred Heart. We want to experience the love of Jesus for us, that He gave up His life for us so that we too will give up our lives for others, even if what we get in return is evil.

We take refuge in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and draw healing and strength from Him so that we can go forth to face the world again and keep doing good.

May the Sacred Heart of Jesus give us faith and courage to know that He is greater than the evil of the world and that He has conquered the world.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

4th January 2018, Thursday, Weekday of Christmas Time

1 John 3:7-10 / John 1:35-42

We are already into the fourth day of the new year. If we had made new year resolutions, then how are those resolutions coming around?

If we had made new year resolutions, then how many of these are about our spiritual lives?

Although some people say that making resolutions are futile because they are not going to be kept, yet it is still good and even necessary to make one.

It is still not too late to make a spiritual resolution in order to have a direction in our faith.

The 1st reading gives us a direction for a resolution - to live a holy life and to be holy just as God is holy.

It also tells us how important holiness is in our lives. To be holy is to belong to God. To be sinful is to belong to the devil.

To be holy means to be loving to others because God's seed of love must bear fruit in us.

Just as in the gospel, Andrew followed Jesus and saw where He lived and stayed with Him.

Then with love in his heart, Andrew went to tell his brother Simon Peter.

May we also see God's love in us and that He lives in our hearts, and may we go forth to live our lives in love.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

3rd January 2018, Wednesday, Weekday of Christmas Time

1 John 2:29 - 3:6 / John 1:29-34

There is a deep connection between parents and their children.

Among other things, every child bears a physical resemblance to the parents.

That's why there are such sayings as "a chip off the old block" or "like father, like son".

John the Baptist calls Jesus the Lamb of God. The Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world by being sacrificed for sinners.

Jesus sacrificed Himself for us so that freed from sin, we can be re-formed and re-created into His image and likeness.

As the 1st reading puts it, we must purify ourselves and try to be as pure as Christ. That is why sin is so serious and devastating.

Because to sin means that we do not know Christ.

But by our baptism, we have become children of God and we have become one with Christ.

In our prayer, let us renounce our sinfulness and profess our faith and our love for God.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2nd January 2018, Tuesday, Weekday of Christmas Time

1 John 2:22-28 / John 1:19-28

As we enter into the second day of the new year, and as we look into the days ahead, we might wonder will happen in the days to come.

And as we look back at the past year, many things had happened; some were expected whereas many others were surprises.

So as we look forward to the year ahead, we would have the experience and the wisdom to know that some things would happen as expected but there will be many other surprises as well.

Yet, whatever happens, whether expected or otherwise, we still must know who we are and what is the meaning and purpose of our lives.

And even for John the Baptist, when the appointed time came, he appeared openly as a witness to prepare the way for the Lord.

We can say that things changed for him almost overnight yet he remained focused on what he was called to do.

His mission in life is unique and special, and it was for him to remain focused on who he is and the purpose and meaning of his life.

We too must remain focused on who we are and what is our purpose and meaning in life.

The 1st reading gives us this direction: Keep alive in yourselves what you were taught in the beginning: as long as what you were taught in the beginning is alive in you, you will live in the Son and in the Father.

Yes, we have been anointed with the truth that is from God, and when we keep living in the truth, we will know who we are and what is the meaning and purpose of our lives.

Then we will be able to look confidently at the days to come, with all its expectations and its surprises.

Mary, Mother of God, Monday, 01-01-18

Numbers 6:22-27 / Galatians 4:4-7 / Luke 2:16-31

If I were to wish you “Merry Christmas” you may think I am out-of-time. We may think that Christmas is already over, and I should be wishing you “Happy New Year”!

Yes I know that today is the first day of 2018. But Christmas is not over yet. Because Christmas is celebrated for eight days in what is called the Christmas Octave, with today being the last day, and it concludes with the feast of Mary, the Mother of God.

The mystery of the Incarnation, the God-becoming-man at Christmas is meditated upon for eight days, with Mary coming in at the last day under the title of Mother of God.

That title, which goes back to the year 431, says much about who Mary is, but it also says much more about who Jesus is – that Jesus is God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

But of course all this may sound rather lofty for most of us. We came for Mass today not because we understand all that, not because it is a public holiday, but more because it is the first day of the new year. We came to ask for God’s blessings and we also want to ask for Mother Mary’s intercession.

And surely the Lord will bless us. The 1st reading tells us that the Lord spoke to Moses, “Say this to Aaron and his sons: “This is how you are to bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them: 
May the Lord bless you and keep you. 
May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you. 
May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”
This is how they are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.’

Yes, the Lord our God will bless us in more ways that we can think of. But like Mary, we have to treasure all these blessings and ponder them in our hearts and wait for them to be fulfilled.

Blessings are like seeds that are sown in our hearts and we have to wait for them to germinate and bear fruit.

Like Mary, we ponder and wait and water those seeds of blessings with prayer, and as we wait for God’s blessings to be fulfilled, those blessings will also WAIT – Will Arrive In Time.

Later after Mass, we will go in procession to Mary’s Shrine and there we will pray the Rosary. It is to remind us that in praying the Rosary, we pray and wait with hope that God’s blessings “will arrive in time” for our needs.

And instead of making New Year resolutions, let us write our petitions and offer them to God through the intercession of Mary our Mother.

May the Lord bless our petitions. May the Lord let His face shine on us and be gracious to us. 
May the Lord uncover His face to us and bring us peace.