Saturday, June 30, 2018

13th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 01.06.2018

Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24 / 2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15 / Mark 5:21-43
One of the most profound expressions of faith is when we pray. The act of prayer shows to others who we believe in and what we believe in.

So coming for Mass in worship and prayer shows who we truly are as Church.

At the same time, it is also in prayer that we tell ourselves who we truly believe in and what we believe in. However a cheeky question has been asked: Who prays more fervently – the one in Church or the one in the casino? 

But as much as prayer is a profound expression of faith, it is also a critical examination of faith. Because it is in prayer that our faith is put to the test.

So it is obvious that prayer is not just some kind of spiritual activity of the mystics. No doubt some mystics experience some kind of ecstasy in prayer, like levitation, as if they are rising up to heaven.

But some mystics are also really down to earth and their prayer seems like some kind of confrontation with God. Like St. Teresa of Avila, who reformed the Carmelite Order but had to suffer much persecution. She also felt that Jesus didn’t care about her
So she complained to Jesus as she said to Him: You know why you have so few friends. It’s because You treat those who love You so badly!

So prayer can be a profound expression of faith, and at the same time it is also a critical examination of faith.

More so when we come face to face with suffering and pain and illnesses. It is in times like these that we will see for ourselves who we believe in and what we believe in.

In the gospel, we come across two stories of suffering and pain and also death. One was a woman who suffered haemorrhage for 12 years. Another was a 12-year-old girl who was desperately sick and eventually died from her illness.

In both cases, life was draining out, one was slowly draining out, and the other desperately draining out. Both were not getting any better. And with that, both, as well as their loved ones were getting bitter as their faith was put to the test and their prayer were not getting anywhere.

But here is where prayer is also the profound expression of faith. Jairus, the father of the 12-year-old girl, being a synagogue official would have prayed desperately for his daughter. 
That prayer led him to seek out Jesus for help, which was a rather unexpected and surprising move. Some may even ask as to why would a synagogue official turn to an unofficial street-preacher. But as it is, desperate situations will look for desperate options.

That can also be said of the woman suffering from haemorrhage. Her desperate prayer produced one last option of a desperate action, and that is to touch the clothes of Jesus. With nothing more to lose, she was prepared to do it despite all the risks.

There was only one thing left in her mind as she said to herself: If I can touch even his clothes, I shall be well again.

And there was also one thing left in the mind of Jairus as he said to Jesus: My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.

They had no guarantees, not even any probabilities, but they had one thing that Jesus also affirmed them of – they had faith in Jesus. To the woman, Jesus said “Your faith has restored you to health”. To Jairus, Jesus said “Do not be afraid; only have faith”.

Like Jairus and the woman in the gospel, our experiences in life also have many desperate situations that make us pray desperately. 

Besides pain and suffering and sickness, there are also financial difficulties, relationship tensions, work problems, marital problems, family problems and a whole lot of other desperate problems.

Oh, certainly we prayed and we will pray, but after a while we begin to ask questions like “Why is God not answering my prayer?” or “What’s the point of praying if God is not listening to my prayer?” And of course, we get angry and we get bitter with God. 

And here Jesus tells us not to give up but to have faith in Him. To have faith also means to be prepared to make a desperate act of faith like what Jairus and the woman with the haemorrhage did.

But it need not be some kind of unusual or strange act of faith. Rather it can be as simple as writing a petition to the Sacred Heart or praying in front of the statue of the Sacred Heart or touching the pictures of Mary and Jesus.

It is a simple act of faith but it takes a lot of humility and trust in God to do it and not think about what people might say about it.

Because in our desperate prayer, we believe what the 1st reading tells us – Death was not God’s doing, he takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living. God did make man imperishable, he made him in the image of his own nature.

That’s the God that we believe in – that He loves us and cares for us, and no prayer will ever go unanswered, especially a desperate prayer.

We only need to hold on the faith that in within us, the same faith that Jairus and the woman with the haemorrhage had in Jesus.

Friday, June 29, 2018

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 30-06-18

Lamentations 2:2, 10-14, 18-19 / Matthew 8:5-17

One of the most profound expressions of faith is the when we pray. The act of prayer shows to others who we believe in and what we believe in. And in a way we also tell ourselves who we believe in and what we believe in.

But as much as prayer is a profound expression of faith, it is also an examination of faith. Because it is in prayer that our faith is put to the test.

Often we have heard people ask "Why is God not answering my prayer?" or "What's the point of praying if God does not listen to my prayer?"

Hence, it can be said that prayer is a profound expression of faith, as well as a critical examination of faith.

In the gospel, we heard of the centurion coming up to Jesus and pleaded with Him for his servant.

But it is also not an ordinary request. Even though Jesus offered to go and cure the servant, there is no guarantee or any probability that the servant will be cured.

But the faith that the centurion had in Jesus is really quite amazing and astonishing. It even astonished Jesus that He had to say "I tell you solemnly, nowhere in Israel have I found faith like this."

The centurion believed in the authority of the word of Jesus. He himself had soldiers under his authority and he was under the authority of others. So he understood and he knew the power of the authoritative word.

The centurion might not have the religious faith of those around him, but he believed in the authority of Jesus, and he believed that just a word from Jesus would be enough to cure his servant.

In times of illness and pain, prayer is a profound expression of faith, and at the same time it is also a critical examination of faith.

Questions like "Will Jesus cure me of my illness?" or "Will Jesus give me strength to carry the cross and be able to bear the pain?"

The prophecy of Isaiah states that "He took away our sicknesses and carried our diseases for us". That prophecy was fulfilled and will always be fulfilled. The question is do we believe it.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Friday, 29-06-18

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

When we read about the life stories of great people like Beethoven and Thomas Edison, we will see something in common.

And that is when they were young, they were written off as slow, stupid and hopeless.

But yet they emerged as prominent figures in history who went against the odds of life.

We know the background and the stories of St. Peter and St. Paul.

St. Peter was brash and impulsive. And of course there was his triple denial of Christ.

St. Paul persecuted Christians until he took that road to Damascus.

By our logical reasoning, both would be written off.

But how could they do such grievous deeds and yet become great saints in the Church?

Yet, that is the mystery of the grace of God. And along with that mystery, we can see that no one is hopeless or unworthy for salvation.

By God's grace, St. Peter repented. By God's grace, he was saved from prison and he went on to lead the Church, as we heard in the 1st reading.

By God's grace, St. Paul was converted. And by God's grace, he spread the faith to the Gentiles and in the end he willingly gave up his life for Christ.

By God's grace too, we know we are forgiven and saved. By God's grace too, we know that the sinner in us can be turned into a saint.

By God's grace too, we know that we can be like St. Peter and St. Paul, and we too will bear witness to Christ and pour out our lives to serve the Lord and His Church.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 28-06-18

2 Kings 24:8-17 / Matthew 7:21-29

The word "rebellion" means an act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler.

In the Old Testament, we see this happening countless of times and the price that was paid for it.

The people of God rebelled against God insistently despite God sending prophet after prophet to call them to repentance.

Because of that, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was annihilated in 721BC, and yet the kingdom of Judah thought it would never happen to them.

But in the 1st reading, we heard how the Babylonians finally took Jerusalem and sent the king and the nobles and the skilled workers into exile to Babylon.

Yet the lesson was not learnt and later the Temple of Solomon was eventually razed to the ground, with not even one stone on another.

So are we learning anything from this lesson? We have to be aware that rebellion lurks in our hearts and we want to be independent and free from any obligations to God.

Listening to the Word of God and acting on it means to be obedient to the will of God.

We will certainly remember what Samuel told Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22-23
Is the pleasure of the Lord God in holocausts and sacrifices or in obedience to the Lord God?
Yes, obedience is better than sacrifice, submissiveness better than the fat of rams.
Rebellion is the sin of sorcery, presumption a crime of teraphim.

Let us pray that we will build our lives on the rock of God's love and follow His ways and do His will.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 27-06-18

2 Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3 / Matthew 7:15-20

Spiritual leaders, whether they are Christian or otherwise, have great authority and power, in the spiritual sense.

They can be called the modern-day prophets.

Some are very eloquent preachers, some have special powers of healing, some even have the prophetic gift of foretelling the future.

But how do we know that they are real prophets?

The oldest known Christian document titled "Didache" which was written about 100AD gives this rule of thumb.

If they ask money for themselves, then they are false prophets.

It was quite clear for the Church that right from the beginning, prophets and profits do not go together.

In fact, the task of the prophets in the Bible was to bring about justice and righteousness.

Justice is the way in which the people of God should live their lives.

Righteousness to God is in the covenantal faithfulness of the people of God.

By virtue of our baptism, we share in the prophetic mission of Jesus.

We have to listen to the cries of the poor, the neglected, the addicted, the abandoned, the hungry and the thirsty.

As true prophets, we cannot be just looking out for our personal benefit or profit.

We must work for justice and righteousness because that is the fruit that we must bear for God.

Monday, June 25, 2018

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 26-06-18

2 Kings 19:9-11, 14-21, 31-36 / Matthew 7:6, 12-14

Power and might can be best described in terms of armaments and military capabilities.

In fact, the best way to flaunt power and might is to use military force for invasion or oppression.

In the 1st reading, when king Sennacherib of Assyria threatened king Hezekiah of Judah, it was like the sword already on the throat.

And king Hezekiah had every reason to fear because he was the main target and if the Assyrians get their hands on him, they would skin and mince him alive.

Yet king Hezekiah gave us a lesson about faith and trust in God. In the face of mortal danger, he turned to God in prayer and placed all his hope in God.

And indeed, God will cast down the mighty and proud who use their military might to insult the humble and the lowly.

Furthermore, king Sennacherib insulted God and he can be considered lucky to be able to go home alive.

In life, we may not face blood-thirsty soldiers going for our throats, but certainly we will come across slippery and slimy people who will scheme to make us trip and then stab our backs.

Let us be calm but vigilant because the evil one will tempt us to throw away our faith to the dogs and pigs.

Let us stand up to evil with a strong faith and to stay close to God in prayer.

In this world that has many dangerous nooks and corners, God is our only Saviour and guide.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 25-06-18

2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15, 18 / Matthew 7:1-5

There is one challenge with wearing clothes that are white-coloured or light coloured.

Especially with the white-coloured clothing, it is difficult to keep it from getting dirtied.

Any spot or stain is easily noticed and brought to attention.

Yet somehow the focus seemed to be on the spot or stain and the obvious colour of white is forgotten.

In the gospel, Jesus tells us not to judge, or more precisely, not to criticize.

Because Jesus knows how easy it is for us to indulge in criticism.

It is like focusing on the spots and stains on a piece of white cloth.

In life, minor irritations like spots and stains can become major issues.

Criticism is always destructive, and it also does the devil's work for him.

So when we look at another person, let us look first at his good qualities.

Let us look at the overall whiteness, although the spots and stains can be quite distracting.

Or like what Jesus said, when we see a splinter in another person's eyes, let us look closely again.

Because that splinter may just be a reflection of the plank in our own eyes.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Year B, 24.06.2018

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

The birth of St. John the Baptist is one of the three nativities that the Church celebrates in the liturgy. The other two are the birth of Jesus at Christmas and the birth of our Lady which is on the 8th Sept.

These three births are of important significance because all three point to an appointed time, a time in which God’s plan of salvation is to be fulfilled, a time of blessings, a time of abundant graces.

This weekend we celebrate the birth of St. John the Baptist. On this special occasion, it would be appropriate to have a statue of St. John the Baptist for veneration. Actually we do have a statue of St. John the Baptist. It is at the 2nd floor office. But unfortunately, it needs quite a bit of restoration and we are waiting for God to send the appointed person to do it.

Anyway, the name “John” means “God is gracious” or “the graciousness of God”. So we just wait and see how the grace of God is going to work from here.

St. John the Baptist was a prophet, the greatest of all the prophets because it was he who pointed out to the people who the Saviour is. And of course the Saviour is Jesus. The name “Jesus” means “God saves”.

So when we combine the meanings of the name of John and the name of Jesus, then we get this wonderful revelation : It is by the grace of God that we are saved.

So John the Baptist turned out to be a prophet, a great prophet, even the greatest prophet. And that answered the people’s question: What will this child turn out to be?

So John the Baptist turned out to be a prophet. But his father, Zechariah, was a priest. But whether a priest or a prophet, both have the same purpose and that is to be in service to God for the salvation of the people.

And here, I would like to share some reflections on my service to God and to His people over the last 20 years as a priest, and especially in my three and a half years at the Church of the Sacred Heart.

This church has a special significance for my parents because they were married in this church, and now I am serving in this church, so it is only right and just that I give thanks for the priesthood.

My parents had three children, and I am the second child. Some people have asked me if I have heard the call to the priesthood when I was young. I can’t be sure, but maybe there were some indications when I was in my mother’s womb.

She was about 7 months pregnant (quite heavily pregnant already) when she went to the wet market wearing those flimsy rubber slippers. After doing the marketing, she was going down the steps when she slipped and landed heavily.

We know that St. John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother’s womb when Mary greeted Elizabeth.
When my mother slipped and landed heavily, I could have leapt out prematurely. But thanks be to God, the water bag was not broken, there was some pain, but I didn’t come out. 

Maybe I was too stubborn to come out. But it was more like my appointed time has not come yet, so I remained in my mother’s womb till full term.

The drama didn’t end there. When I was about two months old, my mother put me on the bed because she had to look after my sister and do some chores. 

She was quite sure that I wouldn’t roll around or turn over because babies don’t do that at two months. Anyway, she had the experience of my sister so she left me on the bed, and went on to do her chores, expecting me to fall asleep.

Then as she was doing the cooking, she heard a sound from the bedroom where I was, a sound like something fell to the ground. She quickly dropped her cooking and rushed to the bedroom and found me on the floor faced down.

Of course she panicked and quickly picked me up, but I was silent. But after a couple of nudges, then I started crying (probably because I was too shocked at first to cry). 

There was a big swelling on my forehead. Seems that my head hit the floor first. Till this day, my mother couldn’t figure out how I double-turned and rolled off the bed and fell. 

But thank God there was no permanent damage (I think so). And don’t ask me what happened to what my mother was cooking. Ask my mother.

But of course, these things happen, but they happen at the appointed time and for a purpose. So the appointed happenings continued, with my breaking the news to my parents about going to the Seminary and then finally getting ordained.

Fast forward to the appointed happening of my posting here as the parish priest, and three and a half years later I am here with you giving thanks for the priesthood on the celebration of the birth of St. John the Baptist.

And on this joyous celebration of the birth of St. John the Baptist and giving thanks to God for the priesthood, I want to summarise everything in just three words – blessings and graces.

We are blessed with a little and beautiful church, as well as a holy and mystical church where people can find rest and peace in a busy and noisy Orchard Road area. 
So let us in this holy place always give thanks and with love in our hearts offer a pure and worthy sacrifice to the Lord as the priestly People of God.

We also have a devotion that brings us right into the heart of Jesus. What we need to ask of Jesus is to make our hearts like His, and with Jesus in our hearts, we will truly see signs and wonders.

But we also need to be aware of the “adverse spirit”, which wants to deform our hearts from being holy into a divided, broken and wounded heart. 

Oh yes, we have to keep that “adverse spirit” out and keep our hearts united in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

So as we gaze into the future and think about our purpose in life and our mission, and what we will turn out to be, let us also remember our prophetic role and that is to make the way straight for the Lord, so that we can lead others along the way of salvation.

So my duty is to prepare for the Lord a people worthy to be called a priestly People of God, offering a pure and holy sacrifice for the salvation of the world. And that is what you are – a holy people and a priestly people.

Yes, the appointed time has come and it is now. We celebrate, we give thanks, and with the prayers of St. John the Baptist, let us go forth to make the Sacred Heart of Jesus known and loved.

That is our prophetic mission; that is also our priestly mission. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 23-06-18

2 Chronicles 24:17-25 / Matthew 6:24-34

I have analogue and digital watches and clocks.

But my preference is the analogue timepiece.

Not only do I know the time at a glance, there is also something worth reflecting about the ticking of the second hand.

If we do some calculations, that second hand goes 60 ticks a minute, 3600 ticks an hour, 86,400 ticks a day, 604,800 ticks a week and 31,449,600 ticks a year.

Now that is a lot of ticking. Yet that humble second-hand shows us something.

It takes one tick at a time.

That is what Jesus is telling us in today's gospel. Putting it simply, it is: Take one tick at a time.

We don't have to worry about how many ticks we have to accomplish in a year, or in a week, or in a day or even in a minute.

That is all taken care of by God.

What we need to do is to let love, joy , peace, patience, compassion, kindness, generosity start ticking in our lives.

That is what is meant by setting our hearts on the Kingdom of God and on His righteousness.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 22-06-18

2 Kings 11:1-4, 9-18, 20 / Matthew 6:19-23

For those of us who have the faculty of sight, our eyes look at many things and our mind process the information and then we come to an opinion or decision about what we see.

So when we see things that we desire or that are to our advantage or gain, then we will decide to take possession of it, regardless of whether it is a moral decision or not.

In the 1st reading, when Althaliah learnt that her son Ahaziah, who was king, was killed, she saw that her security was at stake, and she promptly killed all those of royal stock so that she could take possession of the power to govern the country.

Certainly that was a cruel and wicked thing to do, but for Althaliah, all she could think of was to get to power by all and any means, so that she could be secure.

That was her way of building up her treasures on earth, and she was determined to do it even with the shedding of innocent blood.

That was all she could see, and that was all she desired. But as it is said, whoever sheds blood will have their blood shed in the end. That was also the tragic end of Althaliah.

We may not desire for power nor would we shed blood for it. But Jesus is also asking us in the gospel what is our treasure because where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also.

And Jesus also reminds us to be careful about what we are looking at. If we are looking at and desiring the things of earth where moths and woodworms can destroy and thieves can steal, then we have to look again carefully.

If what we are looking at and desiring for is causing a darkness in our hearts, then we need to ask Jesus to turn our eyes to the light and to the things of above.

After all, there is no joy in have power and possessions but living in the dark. What we really want is to live in the light and to have the peace that only our Lord Jesus can give, not just here and now, but also for eternity.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 21-06-18

Ecclesiasticus 48:1-14 / Matthew 6:7-15

The 1st reading mentions two figures of the Old Testament - Elijah and his successor Elisah.

Both were prophets and together with other famous figures of the Bible, they were renowned for their deeds, which the 1st reading gave an account of.

But the famous figures of the Bible were not just famous for their deeds. There is one common factor that made them famous in word and in deeds, and that is, they were also men of prayer.

At times, the Bible mentioned them in the act of prayer. At other times, their prayers were also recorded.

But when Jesus came along, the gospels noted that He often went to a lonely place to pray, and in today's gospel, He also taught us how to pray with the "Lord's Prayer" or the "Our Father".

The Lord's Prayer can be said under half a minute. Or it can take as long as an hour if we meditate upon it and let the prayer stay in our hearts.

One thing for sure is that the prayer is short and not that many words, such that it can be remembered by heart.

But whether we take one minute, or one hour to say it, the prayer must bear fruit in our lives.As Jesus emphaized after teaching the prayer, one of the first fruits of that prayer must be forgiveness.

Without forgiveness and without prayer, we are like dust in the wind, and our words and actions won't count for anything.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 20-06-18

2 Kings 2:1, 6-14 / Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

There will come a time for people of authority and power to step down and hand the reins to their successors.

For the prophet Elijah, the time had come for him to hand over power to his successor Elisha.

Elijah knew he was to be taken back to God.

Elisha his successor now ask for a double share of his prophetic spirit.

The reason being that the law of Israel had it that a double share of property was to be given by the father to his first-born son.

Elisha was the chosen heir, but the prophetic spirit was for God alone to give.

But what was given to Elijah was eventually doubled in Elisha and culminated in John the Baptist.

John the Baptist was the prophet that Jesus described as the prophet Elijah who had returned to bring the people back to God.

Before Jesus returned to His Father, He promised to give us not just a prophetic spirit but the Holy Spirit as our Advocate and Helper.

The Holy Spirit will give us the power to break free from sin and to have hearts of love so that we can live our lives of holiness and bring people back to God.

Monday, June 18, 2018

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 19-06-18

1 Kings 21:17-29 / Matthew 5:43-48

Science and technology have really helped to discover the potential of things.

For example, fiber-optics have helped tremendously in communication and information-transfer.

Microchips have helped reduce the size of electronics equipment and increased the efficiency of machines.

On the contrary, the discovery of the real potential of persons is somehow lagging behind.

It is not just about the potential skills and talents of the person.

It is about the spiritual potential of the person, especially in the area of love and forgiveness.

Every person has the potential to love those who have done him wrong and to forgive them.

The late Pope John Paul II exhibited this potential when he forgave the man who shot him by visiting him in prison and he even hugged him.

That act should make us reflect about our own potential to love and forgive.

If Jesus said that we must be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect, then we also must pray and ask our heavenly Father to help us discover and release in us the potential to love and forgive.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 18-06-18

1 Kings 21:1-16 / Matthew 9:36-42

An obsession is the state of being obsessed with someone or something, or an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind.

That already tells us that it is not a good thing and that it is not normal and if it is not treated, then it could just spiral on to dire consequences.

In the 1st reading, king Ahab was obviously obsessed with something as well as with someone. He wanted Naboth's vineyard to be his vegetable garden, and he was obsessed with Naboth for rejecting him.

He was so obsessed that he became gloomy and refused to eat. And then came along his wicked wife Jezebel who planned a conspiracy against Naboth and to get rid of him.

When Jezebel told king Ahab that Naboth was dead, he was gleefully going down to the vineyard of Naboth to take possession of it.

It was such an evil obsession that king Ahab didn't even bother about the loss of an innocent life. He just wanted the vineyard and he also wanted Naboth to be out of his sight.

Now, if a judge were to pronounce judgement and punishment on king Ahab, and if we were that judge, what punishment would it be for king Ahab?

Would it be an "eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" punishment on king Ahab? And if we were Naboth's close relative, would that kind of punishment be enough for king Ahab?

Or would we want to consider what Jesus taught in the gospel? As we think about all this, let us remember that when a life is concerned, we have to leave the judgement to God. The wrong-doer will have to be accountable to God.

Let us not be obsessed with the evil, but rather let us turn to God who is just. Let us know what God wants of us, and not be obsessed with what we want for ourselves.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

11th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 17.06.2018

Ezekiel 17:22-24 / 2 Cor 5:6-10 / Mark 4:26-34

The month of June can be called a feverish month. Firstly, in terms of the weather, it was feverishly hot, although the last couple of days seem to have cooled down a bit.

But even if the weather cools off, it is still a feverish month. There was the feast-day fever, those three days of the triduum and then the feast-day itself. Well may the fire keep burning in our hearts with the love of Jesus.

And then there was the summit fever. Those foreign journalists and security personnel experienced how hot Singapore can be. For the leaders of the US and North Korea to agree to meet in Singapore says much about Singapore, a tiny but hot dot.

And now the latest fever is the World Cup fever. All those TV sets that are switched on for the “live” matches are certainly raising up the temperature.

The World Cup is the show-case of the game of football. Like the Olympics, it is held once every four years. But unlike the Olympics, which has a variety of sports, the World Cup is all about football and only about football.

Set on the world stage, the countries that qualified converge in Moscow where the players will display their skills before the millions who will be watching them on their TV sets.

For some of the younger players, it will probably be their first World Cup experience. For some of the older ones, it may be their last.

But whether first or last, these players have come a long way and this is the world stage where they will show how good they are and whether they are good enough to lift the prize of the World Cup of football.

Of course we may not be told or we will not know what sacrifices they made or how hard they trained just to get there, and if luck is on their side, it will be their moment of glory.

So what we see is the final result. What we don’t see is the training, the sweat and the pain. Some may shoot to fame. Some may, because of a mistake, walk away from the pitch in shame.

Like the gospel parables that we have just read, the players are like the seeds that a man throws on the land. Night and day, while the man sleeps and wakes and goes about his business, the seeds grow and sprout.

And now at the World Cup, the time of harvest had come, and some will bear fruit of thirty, or sixty, or a hundred fold. But some may bear nothing at all.

Some will be like the mustard seed, unknown and unheard of, but on that world stage, will rise to the greatest heights of fame in the game.

Whatever it may be, but like the gospel parables, there is the human involvement. The seeds were sown on the land by the man. Similarly, the mustard seed was sown in the soil by somebody.

Once the seeds are in the soil, nature takes it course, and the grace of God will shape the development of the seeds into what they will become.

Similarly, for those footballers at the World Cup arena. Somebody would have helped them to be sown into the game and helped them in their development.

Maybe for some of them, their fathers were footballers or were somehow involved in the game. Or maybe their fathers just loved watching the game (like most of our fathers) and as little boys they wanted to show their fathers that they can play the game, and would desire that their fathers would watch them play the game too.

Well, today as we also celebrate Fathers Day, we want to acknowledge that our fathers had also played an influential part in our lives.

We may not have turned out to be footballers, but maybe one present we can get for them is one of those World Cup deals offered by the telcos.

Fathers are quite easy to please. Just let them watch the football matches peacefully, and even food may not be necessary. But just don’t walk in front of the TV. Fathers can get angry in such sensitive situations.

Well, I need not get any present for my father, as he had passed on exactly four years ago. He never expected me to be a footballer, neither did he expect me to be a priest, and he also never thought I could be one.

He didn’t teach me how to be a priest. But he taught me how to be a father. He was just an ordinary father, who liked to watch football matches, wrestling, and the TV series in the ‘70s called “Combat”.

From him I learnt how to be the head of the family, to make sacrifices, to live simply and to be contented with the little things of life.

He taught me that prayer is essential, so every day the family would say the Rosary, and that God’s blessings cannot be taken for granted, so he will bless the home and incense it every week.

He never expected me to be a priest, nor did he thought that I would eventually be one. But he gave his silent consent and support. If he were still alive, he would come every Sunday, just to make sure that I preach properly and don’t scold the people.

Well, I didn’t lift up the World Cup, but whenever I lift up the Cup for the world at the altar, he would know that he had done his part as a father.

So to you my dear fathers, and as a father to a father, do continue to form your children in faith and in the ways of the Lord.

Your presence is all they need, even if you are just sitting there silently watch some World Cup match. 

For all you know, some may lift up the World Cup, and some may lift up the Cup for the world.

10th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 16-06-18

1 Kings 19:19-21 / Matthew 5:33-37

If we know something about computer language, then we will know that at its very basics, it is about "1" and "0".

Putting it simply in understandable language, it is about "Yes" or "No". How this works can be seen in a flow-chart where the flow goes from one "Yes" to the next "Yes". If there is a "No" then it goes to another flow process.

But we don't usually talk in that kind of way. We will say things like "Yes, but.. maybe" or "Yes, if ..."

In other words, our "Yes" is not always a committed and convicted "Yes". The same can be said of our "No"

Elisha, in the 1st reading, also had the same problem. When Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him, Elijah was calling him to follow him.

He ran after Elijah and said "Yes" and then came the "ifs, buts and maybes. A simple question from Elijah was all it took to clear up Elisha's mind and with that he also gave up his oxen and plough.

Seeing all that go up in smoke was certainly not easy but the "Yes" that was required demanded nothing less.

Jesus also emphasized that when He said this: "Yes" if you mean yes, "No" if you mean no.

Putting it simply, let we say "Yes" to Jesus and "No" to the devil, and mean it. Anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

10th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 15-06-18

1 Kings 19:9, 11-16 / Matthew 5:27-32

Whenever there is danger or a threat or some kind of hostility, there are usually two options at hand - either we fight or we take flight.

In other words, either we stand our ground and face up to what is going to come at us, or we turn around and run and maybe fight another day.

As for the prophet Elijah in the 1st reading, when he reached Horeb, the mountain of God, he went into the cave and spent the night in it.

But actually it was more like hiding in the cave because he was running away from his enemies who were after him for his life.

Hiding in a cave in the mountain of God was certainly the safest place, but God wouldn't want us to keep running and hiding forever.

Because in the end, God sent him back to what he was running from and God even had a mission for him to continue his prophetic role of anointing kings.

So it was from taking flight to taking up the fight again and facing the danger of his enemies.

In the gospel, as Jesus teaches about cutting off whatever that causes us to sin, it could also mean that we can't run away from our temptations.

We have to face and fight our temptations and it might mean losing an eye or a hand (in the figurative sense)

But the Lord will give us the strength to fight and make the devil fly away. Still let us not be too proud or confident.

Even if we win the fight, let us remember to go back into that cave of God's mountain. We need to hide and rest in God before we can go on fighting again.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

10th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 14-06-18

1 Kings 18:41-46 / Matthew 5:20-26

The present weather in Singapore can be rather uncomfortable. It can be so hot and humid, and the little rain that comes along does not cool things down much.

But no matter what we say about the weather, we in Singapore have not experienced drought, not even severe drought.

We have not gone for months, or even years without any rain at all. But some of us may remember that in the past when there was a prolonged dry spell, and the water level in our reservoirs was at an alarming low, there was water-rationing.

So we can imagine what it was like to have a drought for three and a half years, without a drop of rain!

That was the situation in the 1st reading. The land of Israel was experiencing drought for three and a half years already and there was also the consequent famine.

But king Ahab was not that bothered by it at all. In his mind, the drought would end, the rains will come, and the famine will be resolved.

So we may understand why the prophet Elijah told Ahab, "Go back, eat and drink". It was more like a scornful remark about his indifference about the sufferings of his people and his selfish concern.

King Ahab was a figure of a hardness of heart and he had grown coarse from constantly rejecting the Lord.

He had seen the fire from heaven which consumed Elijah's sacrifice, he had seen the 450 prophets of the idol Baal slain by Elijah, his people were suffering from drought and famine.

But he still didn't even bother to turn to the Lord for help. Instead it was Elijah who did the praying.

We may not have the hardness and coarseness of heart like king Ahab, but Jesus warns us that if our virtues go no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees in the gospel, then we may know what it truly means to be a disciple.

And if our virtues go no deeper than those who are not Christians, then it may also mean that the teachings of Jesus have not soften our hearts, and our souls are like a land dry and weary from drought and famine.

Jesus wants to shower His blessings on us and soften our hearts with His love so that our hearts will bear fruits of forgiveness and reconciliation.

10th Week, Oridnary Time, Wednesday, 13-06-18

1 Kings 18:20-39 / Matthew 5:17-19

Every religion has a form of worship, and sacrifice is a very integral part of the worship.

The devotees would make sacrificial offerings to the deity and pray for protection and favours.

Hence the sacrificial offering is always made to the deity in the form of worship.

In the 1st reading, we heard of two similar forms of worship that were offered on Mt. Carmel.

One was offered by the 450 prophets of Baal, and the other by the prophet Elijah.

And the God of Israel showed who the true God is as fire from heaven consumed the sacrifice offered by the prophet Elijah.

Indeed the Lord is our God and we are His people. God also gave us laws and established a form of worship called the Eucharist.

Yet the uniqueness of the Eucharist is that it is God Himself who provided for the sacrifice and He even gave us His only Son for our salvation.

In fact, through the Eucharist, God has bound Himself in a commitment to us and He has also fulfilled that commitment through the sacrifice on the cross.

God does not need us to sacrifice anything more. He only wants us to offer our hearts to Him, freely and lovingly.

Monday, June 11, 2018

10th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 12-06-18

1 Kings 17:7-16 / Matthew 5:13-16

The ways of the Lord are indeed wonderful and marvellous to see.

Yet for the rich and secure, for those who had no dire need, the ways of the Lord are hidden from them.

But for the poor and the lowly and the needy, the Lord shows them signs and wonders.

The 1st reading shows us how the Lord takes care and provides for those who obey Him and trust in Him.

In a dire situation like a famine, the widow could have cared less about Elijah, and just go on with her last meal with her son and then wait for death.

Nobody would have bothered about hospitality or concern for neighbour. It was each for for his own survival; so it was then, and so it is now.

But the widow obeyed the voice of the Lord and, putting her life and the life of her son and their needs aside, attended to Elijah.

Hence to be the salt and light that Jesus was talking about in the gospel, we have to learn from the wonderful and marvellous example of the nameless widow of the 1st reading.

We need to be lowly and ordinary like the salt, and yet humble even when we are shining like the light.

Only then will we see the wonders and the marvellous works of the Lord.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

St. Barnabas, Apostle, Monday, 11-06-18

Acts 11:21-26; 13:1-3 / Matthew 10:7-13

Today we remember and  honour one of the great figures of the New Testament, and he featured much in the Acts of the Apostles - St. Barnabas.

The name "Barnabas" means "son of encouragement" and from the snippet in the 1st reading, we can already see that he lived up to his name.

Furthermore he did what was unexpected and even unthinkable - he went to Tarsus to look for Saul (later to be known as Paul) and he found him and brought him to Antioch to build the church there.

What's the big deal about that, we may ask. Saul, as we know, had earlier persecuted the Church. He was there at the stoning of St. Stephen. He caught many Christians and sent them to prison and most likely to their death also. Then on the road to Damascus, he had a mystical encounter with the Lord Jesus and things changed for him.

But not for the Christians. They cannot trust such a man who had the blood of Christians in his hands.

But St. Barnabas dared to approach Saul and to trust. Such trust required a love that can only be from God. St. Barnabas trusted Jesus who had changed Saul on the road to Damascus.

And with that trust in Jesus, St. Barnabas trusted Saul and encouraged him to work with him in the spreading of the Good News.

So there are people out there who are just waiting to be encouraged. They may be categorized as "unexpected" and even "unthinkable" to be called upon to do any good work.

But just as Jesus pointed out Saul to St. Barnabas, let us pray that we will be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to those whom Jesus is pointing out to us.

And then let us go and give them some encouragement. That's how the Good News is spread.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

10th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 10.06.2018

Genesis 3:9-15 / 2 Cor 4:13 – 5:1 / Mark 3:20-35

What is the hottest news in this hot and humid weather? The most obvious thing to say is that it is only going to get hotter and hotter.

And to add on to this heat is this super-hot summit between the leaders of the US and North Korea next week. And that is already making things hot under the collar for everyone, with road-blocks and checks and super-tight security measures.

There ae many reasons why Singapore is chosen as the venue for this summit. But maybe the heat might help to melt the icy tension and bring some warmth to the summit and some hope for a more peaceful world. 

Well, there were some uncertainties and obstacles but things are moving and we pray it will move in the right and good direction.

But only until recently, it was thought that a meeting of this level was not that possible, if not impossible. There was even talk of the summit being called off.

So this is something really momentous, and we in Singapore are really privileged to host this, to witness this and more importantly to pray for a blessed outcome.

So to say that things won’t change and that things can’t change is a fallacy of sort, an untruth. It is like saying that God has no control over the events of the world and the events of life.

It is easier to say that it is impossible than to think that things can and will change for the better.

Like Adam and Eve in the 1st reading, we would rather hide from God, than to come out and face the truth and be free.

Today’s readings brings up the point of the sinfulness present in our world. It also brings us the presence of the devil who wants to freeze up the truth and make us hide with his lies.

If there is anything that can’t change, it is the devil and his gang. The devil is the father of sin and the father of lies. He is death, absolute death, and he wants nothing less than our death.

The death that he is looking for is the death of goodness, that we don’t see the good in anything and that even what is good is seen as bad and evil.

And we see this happening in the gospel. Jesus casted out devils, but instead of recognizing the power of God in Him, the scribes can say ridiculous things like it was through the devil that Jesus casts out devils.

We may think that what the scribes said was ridiculous. But Jesus would call that blasphemous.

Because to see goodness and yet call it evil is not just a grave sin but a blasphemy. Because it is actually speaking against the Holy Spirit who is the source of all good.

Only the devil and his gang would do that and they couldn’t care less about forgiveness because they won’t ask for it and they also don’t want to be forgiven.

To see good as evil, and not to repent and ask for forgiveness is what Jesus meant by blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Only the devil and his gang are like that. They will never have any forgiveness because they also don’t want it.

So for the devil and his gang, they are condemned to an eternal death. But they don’t want to die alone. What they want is our death. That is how vicious the devil can be.

But we don’t want to exist in death. We don’t want to be like the devil. We know the difference between good and evil, and we don’t want to see good as evil.

But the power of the devil is really something to be reckoned with, and he will strike the heel of our wounded fallen nature.

Hence, like Adam and Eve, the devil will be out to tempt us and like Adam and Eve, we fall into sin.

Sin makes us hide from God and from ourselves, but we don’t scamper away and hide in a dark hole. Rather we hide under the guise of pride and we criticize others for whatever good that they do, we slander and resort to falsehood to discredit others.

In short, we see any good as bad and evil. When we are like that, then the devil has trapped us.

Last Friday, we celebrated the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the devotion to the Sacred Heart, we are urged to go for confession monthly so that Jesus can clean and heal our hearts, so that He can make our hearts like His.

Confession is not useless and no sin is too great that it cannot be forgiven at Confession. To say that Confession is useless is also rather blasphemous.

We need to believe that nothing is impossible with God and we only need to come out of hiding from our sins and to encounter the healing love of Jesus.

Yes, we can change for the better, we will be able to see the good in all things, and even if things or people are bad, we want to believe that we can help them change for the better.

And we who want to be good and want to see goodness in everything, we want to call down God’s blessings on our world, on the coming summit, on those we care about, and especially on those we don’t feel like caring about. 

Jesus wants us to cast out the evil from this world and restore goodness to it. Let us begin with prayer and by going for confession first. God’s blessings will follow soon after.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Immaculate Heart of the B.V. Mary, Saturday, 09-06-18

Isaiah 61:9-11 / Luke 2:41-51

The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely connected to the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which was celebrated yesterday.

This feast highlights the joys and sorrows of Mary in doing the will of God, her virtues of obedience and humility, her love for God and for Jesus, and not least, her love for all people.

In Christian art, the Immaculate Heart of Mary is depicted with a sword pierced through the heart, and wrapped with roses or lilies.

In the gospel of Luke, Simeon prophesied that a sword will pierce through her heart (Lk 2:35) because of the sorrows and sufferings she will have to go through with Jesus.

Hence, closely connected to the devotion of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the seven sorrows of Mary :

1. The prophecy of Simeon (Lk 2:35)
2. The flight to Egypt (Mt 2:13-14)
3. The finding of Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2:43-45)
4. The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the way of the cross
5. The crucifixion
6. The taking down of the body of Jesus from the cross
7. The burial of Jesus (Jn 19:38-42)

Usually seven Hail Marys are also said while meditating upon the seven sorrows of Mary. Furthermore, the devotion to the Immaculate Heart would also include going for Confession before or after the first Saturday of every month, receive Communion and the praying of the Rosary.

All this is in reparation for the sins committed against her Immaculate Heart, which are also the sins committed against the Sacred Heart of Jesus, because the two Hearts are closely and intimately connected.

It is also a way of expressing our union with the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and sharing in their love for all people and praying for the conversion and salvation of sinners.

Yes, we and all peoples are in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. May Jesus and Mary be in our hearts and in the hearts of all peoples too so that all will be saved.

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday, 08-06-18

Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8-9 / Ephesians 3:8-12, 14-19 / John 31-37

Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi. And today we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

These two feasts are closely connected the feast of Corpus Christi (the Body and Blood) of Christ points to none other than the Heart of Christ.

The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a great feast in the Church. It celebrates the great love of Jesus for us, a love that is expressed through His Heart, which was pierced even after He had died on the Cross.

So in life, and even in death, Jesus loved us to the end, and out of His pierced Heart came forth Blood and Water, symbols of life and forgiveness, symbols of what the Heart of Jesus is all about.

In Matthew 11:29, Jesus say this of His Heart - For I am gentle and humble of heart.

Therefore devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus must bear fruits of gentleness and humility in our hearts, and to make reparation for our sins and expiation for the sins of othes.

And as we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart, let us ask Jesus to make our hearts like His, so that with a gentle and humble heart, we will repent of our sins and with the love of the Heart of Jesus, we will bring others to His Heart.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 07-06-18

2 Timothy 2:8-15 / Mark 12:28-34

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) was a learned man and a great theologian.

He was the author of that great work "Summa Theologica" (Latin: "Summary of Theology" or "Highest Theology").

But towards the end of his life, he stopped his academic work after he had a mystical experience of God, and he said: all that I have written seems like straw to me.

In certain aspects, what St. Thomas Aquinas echoed what St. Paul said in the 1st reading that life is not a wrangling about words.

St. Paul urged Timothy to be brave and to stand before God as a man who has come through his trials and has no cause to be ashamed of his life's work.

St. Paul himself had faced hostility and persecution and imprisonment and shipwreck.

So he did not just talked the talk; he had already walked the walk.

The walk we have to make is in the path of the commandment that Jesus gave in the gospel.

To love God and to love neighbour is all that is necessary and the most fundamental.

If we not doing this, then all we are doing is like straw.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 06-06-18

2 Timothy 1:1-3, 6-12 / Mark 12:18-27

To say that we are a people of faith is certainly not a light statement.

By and large, most of us live ordinary lives and we can also say that we only have an ordinary faith.

We don't work spectacular signs and wonders, and even as Christians, our lives and our faith changes like the weather and we are subjected to unpredictability.

Yet at the very core of our faith, we believe in eternity. We believe that there is something more to this present world, that there is another world.

But here is where the difference sets in. This present world is not going to be the same as that in the next world; it is not a continuation.

In the gospel, the Sadducees talk about the next world as if it was just a continuation of this world, and that was where Jesus pointed out how wrong they were.

And how different are we from the assumptions of the Sadducees?

If they thought that this world continues into the next, then our thinking would be that this world would never end for us.

Because we live like as if we won't die! But if we really believe that our lives are passing on and finally one day our lives will come to an end, then we would certainly live differently.

We certainly wouldn't let greed or selfishness or riches or wealth or status or achievements or possessions distract us because we know that these will all eventually pass away.

But we believe in a living God who wants to give us life to the full in this world and eternal life in the next.

If that is our faith in God, then let that faith be shown in our lives.

Monday, June 4, 2018

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 05-06-18

2 Peter 3:11-15, 17-18 / Mark 12:13-17

To sabotage is to deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct (something), especially for political or military advantage.

Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening an entity or organization through subversion, obstruction, disruption or destruction. One who engages in sabotage is a saboteur. Saboteurs typically try to conceal their identities because of the consequences of their actions.

So in other words, sabotage is usually carried out by the weaker on the stronger, by the smaller on the bigger, by those who hit and run and hide.

Sabotage is not used the other way round, i.e. by the stronger on the weaker, by the bigger on the smaller.

But in the gospel, we hear of an unusual act of sabotage. There were the chief priests, the scribes and the elders sent some Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch Him out in what He said. They were out to trap Him.

They even disguised their intended devious act by addressing Jesus as "Master" and praising His as an honest man who is not afraid of anyone as a man's rank means nothing, and that He is a teacher of the way of God.

With such hypocrisy to disguise their malice, they asked a politically and religiously sensitive question: Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?

It was a politically sensitive question because Caesar's Roman legions had occupied the land, and if Jesus had said "No" to paying taxes, that would mean that He was inciting a rebellion against the occupiers.

It was a religiously sensitive question because if Jesus had said "Yes" to paying taxes, then He is bowing down to Caesar and not acknowledging the sovereignty of God over His people.

But the answer of Jesus "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God" took them completely by surprise.

Not only did the Pharisees and Herodians caught nothing with their trap, it was like the hunter got into his own trap.

In effect, Jesus was asking them as to why they were resorting to the scheming and devious ways of the world in order to sabotage Him.

As religious people, why were they not aware or listening to the ways of God in their dealings with Him.

So Jesus is actually telling them to give back to the world, the ways that belong to the world. They should go back to God and walk in His ways, and not in the ways of the world.

The 1st reading urges us to live holy and saintly lives without spot or stain so that we can be at peace with God, with others and with ourselves.

Furthermore, the reading also warns us to be careful not to get carried away by the errors of unprincipled people from the firm ground that we are standing on.

Yes, we must stand firm on the ways of God and not be sidetracked by the ways of the world.

We do not return evil for evil. That is the way of the world. Ours is the way of God, which is the way of love and peace.

Even if we are being sabotaged, let us trust that the way of God is truth, and the truth cannot be sabotaged.

So we give back to the world what belongs to the world. We walk the way of God, and we must show that way to a world that has lost its way.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 04-06-18

2 Peter 1:2-7 / Mark 12:1-12

We may assume that maturity comes with age, and that as we grow older we will also grow wiser.

That may not be the case always, but still we cannot take growth and maturity for granted.

Every now and then, we may need to do a reality check on ourselves so that we can see ourselves clearer and to see what is it that really matters to us.

The 1st reading states a direction for our life in Christ when it says that may we have more and more grace and peace as we come to know our Lord more and more.

And it also charts out a spiritual check on ourselves to let us see if we are indeed growing in grace and peace.

Beginning from faith, and then going on to goodness, understanding, self-control, patience, true devotion, kindness and then finally love.

So with faith, there must be a growth and maturity that bears fruit in love and the 1st reading urges us that to attain this, we have to do our utmost best.

To slack in our spiritual development and to be complacent is to end up like the evil tenants in the parable of the vineyard.

We must not take love for granted nor must we ever resort to violence to get the things we desire.

Let us have a sincere and honest reflection before the Lord and ask for the grace to see ourselves truthfully so that we will be at peace with God, with others and with ourselves.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Corpus Christi Year B, 03.06.2018

Exodus 24:3-8 / Hebrews 9:11-15 / Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
Whenever we talk about horses, we would image those elegant, swift-footed creatures that heroes sit on in action movies. Of course some might think of the Turf Club and all those kind of things.

Whenever we talk about donkeys, we will think of all those donkey jokes, name-calling (calling someone a donkey isn’t much of a compliment), dull and stubborn beasts-of-burden, without much graciousness or elegance.

Now what happens when a donkey and a horse come together, the offspring is called a mule. A mule is a cross-breed of a male donkey and a female horse. Mules are reputed to be more patient and hardy than horses and are less obstinate and a bit more intelligent than donkeys.

It is difficult to say whether a mule is the best of both worlds, or the less of both worlds. Mules are not featured much in stories, but here is one and it is in a way connected with the feast of Corpus Christi.

But before bringing in the mule, let us talk about St. Anthony of Padua. He is often invoked as the Patron Saint of lost articles. But actually it is more like he is the Patron Saint of the lost, meaning to say, those who have lost their faith, or lost in obstinate thinking.

St. Anthony lived during the 13th century, and he had a great zeal for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. During his travels through a city called Rimini, Saint Anthony engaged in a conversation with a particularly stubborn heretic called Bononillo.  This man obstinately refused to admit the mystery of the Real Presence in the Eucharist.

In vain, St. Anthony presented proofs drawn from both Scripture and Church teaching. When his efforts failed before the stubborn obstinacy of Bononillo, he decided to change his strategy.

St. Anthony said to him, “You possess a mule that you ride often. I will present a consecrated host to it; if it falls on its knees before the Blessed Sacrament, will you recognize the Real Presence of the Saviour under His Eucharistic appearance?” “Certainly,” responded the unbeliever, who felt confident that the outcome would be to the shame of the saint.

The two men agreed to meet again in the market square three days later. They then went their separate ways, each to prepare for the spiritual showdown in his own way.

Bononillo, in order to insure victory, deprived his mule from all food for the three days. St. Anthony  prepared with prayer and fasting. At the set day and time, St. Anthony left the Church, carrying a ciborium in his hands. Bononillo arrived leading the famished mule by the bridle.

A considerable crowd had gathered on the square, curious to attend such a remarkable sight. With a smile on his lips, Bononillo, believing victory already to be his, set a sack of oats and hay before the mule.

As all watched in breathless anticipation, the hungry mule turned away from the food and turned toward the Sacred Host held high by St. Anthony. With a graceful motion uncharacteristic of its breed, the mule bowed low to the ground, giving due reverence to its Creator. It did not straighten or stand up again until it had received permission from the St. Anthony to do so.

As much as this story is inspiring, it makes us wonder who is more stubborn? Man or mule?

Today as the Church celebrates the feast of Corpus Christi, we are reminded again of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
The Eucharistic presence of Jesus can be said to be miraculous as well as supernatural. By miraculous, it is meant that the laws of nature take an exception, that although the forms of bread and wine remained unchanged, the essence of is changed and the essence takes on the presence of Christ.

By supernatural, it is meant that this is the work of God, and not the reasoning of man, and faith in the divinity of Jesus is required to believe that He is truly present in the consecrated host and wine.

The gospel passage recounts for us what Jesus said at the Last Supper when He took the bread and said “This is My Body”, and then He took the wine and said “This is My Blood”.

And we hear in the words of consecration, “This is my body, which is given up for you” and “This is the chalice of my blood, which is poured out for you” and “Do this in memory of me”.

So we come to the Eucharist, and we remember what Jesus did to save us, and we partake of His Body and Blood.

And as we come forward to receive Holy Communion, the priest will hold up the consecrated Host and say “The Body of Christ” and we respond with “Amen”. We have to say “Amen” because it is an act of faith. We don’t have to shout it out loud, but still we have to say it with affirmation and conviction.

Now when it comes to the Body of Christ, it may sound like a crude and silly question to ask “Which part of the Body of Christ is it?”

It may sound crude, but a further reflection will lead us to the realization that this Body of Christ is none other than the Heart of Christ!

So in short, the Eucharist is an invitation to come into communion with Jesus and to enter into His Heart. 

And that’s why we have distributed these “Jesus Invites”. Jesus is inviting us to come to the triduum and to the feast of the Sacred Heart so that we can come into union with Him and at the same time to put the things of our hearts into His Sacred Heart through the petition slips that are in these “Jesus Invites”.

Indeed the Eucharist is a miracle and it is supernatural. Jesus gives us His Heart so that He can make our hearts like His. He answers our petitions so that we can continue to believe.

The horse, the donkey and the mule may not understand this, but they can sense the divine presence. Whereas we can understand it. Not only can we understand, but let us also believe and adore the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.