Sunday, September 30, 2018

26th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 01-10-18

Job 1:6-22 / Luke 9:46-50

There are some things which we would certainly like to put on display.

Whether it is at home, or in school, or at the club-house, or even in the parish office, if we have any awards, or academic achievements, or medals, or trophies, we would certainly like to put them a special display.

In a way, all those items are mirrors. They show us how good we are and what we can do.

They are also indicators of how we fare with others, to see what we are and who we are in comparison with others.

In the gospel, the disciples were ranking themselves against each other, and that's when Jesus interjected.

The model of greatness which He gave them was a humble little child.

That was really a contradiction and a paradoxical model of what we are so used to when we talk about greatness.

Because we tend to associate greatness with power and might, and achievements and possessions.

But when these are taken away, is there anything else that we can be proud of or feel great about?

We can slowly understand a bit of what greatness is all about when Job in the 1st reading said this after all he had was taken away :

Naked I came from my mother's womb, naked I shall return. The Lord gave, the Lord has taken back. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

26th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 30.09.2018

Numbers 11:25-29 / James 5:1-6 / Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

The following is a short description of a comic-book superhero: he is big, he is angry, and he is green all over. Who is he? – The Incredible Hulk!

He doesn’t seem to talk. He is often growling and roaring, especially when he on the rampage against the bad guys.

Why is he green, there is of course a reason and we can find out if we wish.

But the colour green is also often associated with jealousy (green with jealousy), and again there seems to be reason for that.

Jealousy, as well as envy, are very strong emotions that can make us growl and roar and even go on a rampage. But generally it is hidden and expresses itself in deceptive ways.

A story has it that at the entrance of a boutique, an impatient looking young man approached an attractive lady and said to her, “Would you mind talking to me for a few minutes?” 
“Why?” the lady asked suspiciously.
The man explained, “My wife has been in this boutique for a long time. But I know that if she sees me talking to you, she will come out immediately!”

Well, jealousy, and envy, are certainly signs of personal insecurity. But not many would admit to being jealous. Most people would think that it is about self-preservation and self-protection.

In the 1st reading, when Joshua told Moses to stop the two men from prophesying, Moses answered him: Are you jealous on my account?

Certainly Joshua was stumped by that reply from Moses. Because Moses had pointed out the jealousy in him.

More than that, the jealousy of Joshua had that ulterior motive of stopping someone from doing a good thing.

The intensity of jealousy becomes cleared in the gospel when John reported to Jesus: Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name, and because he is not one of us, we tried to stop him.

So jealousy had reared its ugly head to bite on an exclusive right to the favour of Jesus. John wanted Jesus only for himself and his own people. He is not willing to share Jesus with others.

But with that comes a teaching from Jesus as He says: You must not stop him. No one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak ill of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.

Jesus goes on to teach about those who are obstacles to the faith of others, that they would be better thrown into the sea with a millstone round the neck.

Now, that was actually a very severe punishment, because it meant that even a burial for the body was denied.

So it is obvious that jealousy is not a minor sin. Actually it is one of the seven deadly sins. The rest are pride, greed, lust, gluttony, anger and sloth.
It is a deadly sin because jealousy is an obstacle to those who have faith and want to do good for others.

But it is an obstacle as well as a stumbling block to those who want to do good because they could not understand why they are stopped or prevented from doing good. They may be given a whole load of petty reasons, but they would not be told that it was out of jealousy.

Because jealousy is a sin that would conceal and disguise itself, just as evil would conceal and disguise itself, and then ambush or sabotage people who want to do good.

So jealousy is a sin that is an obstacle and a stumbling block for others. It is a sin that we have to check ourselves on, and we have to tear out and cut off that cover of jealousy, lest we become obstacles and stumbling blocks for others.

Just as Moses asked Joshua if he was jealous, we also need to ask ourselves if we are jealous about other peoples’ good deeds or good works. Or it can even be very banal things like other people’s success, achievements, intelligence, talents, looks.

When we can address the jealousy in ourselves, then we become stepping stones for others to help them to do good for others and to help them in their journey to heaven.

Talking about stepping stones, the Primary 6 students are still having their PSLE exams. It is an exam that is like a stepping stone to their future education.

In the PSLE, the students are tested on many things that they have been taught. 

PSLE stands for “Primary School Leaving Examinations”. A spiritual acronym for PSLE can be “Prayer Sanctifies Life Experiences”.

Everyone will experience jealousy now and then (hopefully not too often). So we must teach our children how to recognize the feelings of jealousy and to admit to it, and not to allow it to be an obstacle or stumbling block.

Let us teach our children to pray, so that with prayer, they can become aware of the sin of jealousy that is lurking in their hearts, and to cast it out with prayer, so that prayer will clean and sanctify their hearts and make them stepping stones for others who want to do good for others.

May we also pray and clean out the jealousy from our hearts, so that we can be a good example and be a stepping stone for our children. 

That will be our PSLE.

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Saturday, 29-09-18

Apocalypse 12:7-12 / John 1:47-51

The Bible has many passages referring to angels, both in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament

Furthermore the New Testament mentions frequently of angels in the significant moments.

There were angels giving messages to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds; angels ministering to Christ after his temptation in the wilderness, an angel visiting Christ in his agony, angels at the tomb of the risen Christ, and the angels who liberated the Apostles Peter and Paul from prison.

However, it makes only two references to "archangels." They are in Jude 9 where Michael is an archangel and in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, where the "voice of an archangel" will be heard at the return of Christ.

The Roman Catholic Church honours three archangels - Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

Michael in the Hebrew language means "Who is like unto God?" or "Who is equal to God?" St. Michael has been depicted from earliest Christian times as a commander, who holds in his right hand a spear with which he attacks the devil, and in his left hand a green palm branch which symbolizes victory over evil.

Gabriel means "Man of God" or "Might of God." He is the herald of the mysteries of God, especially the Incarnation of God and all other mysteries related to it. He is depicted as holding a lighted lantern to symbolize that only God can shed light to the mysteries.

Raphael means "God's healing" or "God the Healer". He is mentioned in the book of Tobit (3:17; 12:15). Raphael is depicted leading Tobit with his right hand, and holding a physician's alabaster jar in his left hand.

The celebration of the feast of the three Archangels focuses on three aspects of God.

It reminds us that God is almighty and is victorious over evil. Also the mystery of life and death, and suffering and evil is in the hands of God who is the source of all mystery.

God is also our Healer who forgives us our sins and strengthens us with His love.

May God also strengthen our faith so that as we gather together in this Eucharist, we will also become aware of the presence of angels and archangels joining us to worship and praise the Lord.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

25th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 28-09-18

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 / Luke 9:18-22

Generally speaking, for something to work out, there must be the combination of the right place, the right persons and the right time.

These three factors can be said to be the legs of a three-legged stool, which can stand steady even in a uneven surface.

So when the combination of the right place, the right persons and right time come together, that is what we call the "appointed time", and we also know that it's not through human effort but rather it's the work of the divine.

The 1st reading talks about time and seasons for apparently cyclic human activities which at the same time are also apparently opposite in nature.

Yet as much as man may be able to comprehend what is happening at a particular time or season, yet he cannot comprehend the work of God from beginning to end.

And even in the gospel, when Peter said that Jesus is the Christ of God, he may not know the full impact of what he was saying nor for that matter of fact, all its consequences.

But in time to come, Peter and the rest of the disciples will come to know what the Christ of God came to do and how He would go about accomplishing it.

So let us also be aware that what we do now is a preparation for the future and has a consequence for the future.

Hence if what we do now is done in God, then we are preparing for the God's "appointed time". But if not, then we are only creating obstacles in the fulfillment of God's plan.

Let us remember that all time belongs to God, hence let us do what God wants of us ... all the time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

25th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 27-09-18

Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 / Luke 9:7-9

It is said that seeing is believing. Generally speaking that may be true, especially when we have heard about something and then finally get to see it for ourselves with our own eyes.

Yet there may be other instances where seeing may not necessarily lead to believing.

In the gospel we heard that Herod was anxious to see Jesus; he had this longing to see who this Jesus was that he heard about.

But when Herod finally got to see Jesus during His passion, he didn't think much about who he was looking at.

Perhaps the pathetic state of being condemned led Herod to think that Jesus was just a shooting star that would fade off into the darkness.

Yet the 1st reading makes us reflect deeper on what we are seeing around us.

Images of the sun rising and setting, the wind blowing, the waters of the river flowing into the sea are telling us something about the reality of our lives.

Yet it is not about how much our eyes have seen or how much our ears have heard.

It is a matter of how much our hearts are filled - filled with mystery.

In the Eucharist we see things like bread and wine and we hear prayers.

May our hearts also be filled with the mystery of God's love.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

25th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 26-09-18

Proverbs 30:5-9 / Luke 9:1-6

We may like to be rich but maybe not too rich. And of course we don't like to be too poor, although we may still be able to manage it. But of course, it won't be that comfortable.

But whether in poverty or with plenty, we won't want to be at both the extreme ends.

In reality, what we really want is that we can have enough for our needs.

In the 1st reading, that is what the writer of the book of Proverbs is saying as he asks of the Lord:

"Two things I beg of you, do not grudge me them before I die. Keep falsehood and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches, grant me only my share of bread to eat."

But more than just asking God to provide enough for his needs, the writer goes on to say: "For fear that surrounded by plenty, I should fall away and say, 'The Lord - who is the Lord?', or else, in destitution, take to stealing and profane the name of the Lord."

So having too much and having nothing can have problems in that we forget that God can provide for our needs.

And that is what Jesus is telling His disciples as He send them out for the mission as He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey ... "

He wants them to experience that they will have enough for their needs because God will provide.

Yes, God will provide for our needs. When we have enough, let us give thanks to God, and when we have excess, let us also help others in their need.

Monday, September 24, 2018

25th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 25-09-18

Proverbs 21:1-6. 10-13 / Luke 8:19-21

The Old Testament is divided into a few sections. There is the Pentateuch or the Torah which is the first five books of the Bible.

Then there are the historical books, the prophetic writings and the wisdom books or wisdom literature.

The wisdom books consists of the Book of Wisdom, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (Song of Songs), and Sirach.

The 1st reading is taken from the book of Proverbs and we may consider it rather easy reading because of its practicality and easy comprehension.

As we can see from the 1st reading, the truths of life are clearly and simply spelt out - act virtuously and with justice, be hardworking, be compassionate and charitable.

Yet, what is clear and simple may not necessarily be easy to carry out, as we are often fooled into thinking that what is simple is easy.

In the gospel, Jesus said that those who hear the Word of God and put it into practice are the ones who are closest to Him.

Yes, reading and hearing about the wisdom of life is one thing. Putting it into practice is another thing.

Certainly we want to live a meaningful and a God-centered life with the wisdom that is already found in the Bible.

May we become what we read, and in doing so may we become more and more Christ-like to others.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

25th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 24-09-18

Proverbs 3:27-34 / Luke 8:16-18

It is not very comfortable to know that you are being watched.

Even the feeling that you are being watched can be quite creepy.

With the emphasis on security concerns, there are closed-circuit cameras in public as well as private buildings and in lift-lobbies and corridors.

Yet as much as we know that we are being watched, we do not know who is watching us.

But being Christians, we must accept the fact that we are being watched whether we like it or not.

Because people will watch us when they know we are Christians.

They will look at us to see if we live up to our identity as Christians.

Yet Jesus did not tell us to be prepared to be watched by others.

In fact, He says that we should be like the light that makes people see.

As children of the Light and Truth, our thoughts, our words, our actions should be transparent, sincere and honest for all to see.

The 1st reading from the book of Proverbs gives directions in life that might sound rather basal and banal.

Yet these directions form the wisdom of life that ask us this basic question:

What will we choose to do if we know that no one is watching us?

Saturday, September 22, 2018

25th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 23.09.2018

Wisdom 2:12, 17-20 / James 3:16 – 4:3 / Mark 9:30-37
When we were in primary school, especially in the lower primary, there were two ways to gauge our language proficiency.

One was spelling.  The teacher would dictate a word or a phrase, and we would scramble to spell it out.

As we moved on, we will come to composition. The teacher would give us a topic or subject to write on, with a quota of words, and with a given time limit.

Among the many topics that are given for composition, there was a common one, and the topic was:  What do I want to be when I grow up? What is my ambition?

Of course that topic was meant to help us to be imaginative and to think about our future career.

So there will be those who would say that they want to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, manager, and pilot.

The more imaginative and adventurous ones would say that they want to be a footballer, actor, singer, wrestler or even an undertaker (must be joking).

But jokes aside, nobody ever said they wanted to be the Pope, a priest, or a religious.

So it is interesting to see that even in primary school, we were already influenced and programmed to be ambitious, to be the best and nothing less, and to aim for the top.

Nothing really wrong with that actually, except that it is not just a cliché, but it is like a law in itself. Just like when it is said “When you drink, don’t drive”.  It is not a cliché; it is a law.

To be the top, to be the best, that is the unwritten but understood law of survival in our society.

Right from a tender age, we are programmed to go for No. 1. Nothing wrong with that, except that it can breed some bad attitudes.

Surely, as we all know, there is only a limited place at the top.

So inevitably, there will be competition, and the 2nd reading from the letter of St. James tells us of the consequences.

St. James said: “Whenever you find jealousy and ambition, you find disharmony and wicked things of every kind being done.”

And then he moves to something more serious:  “Where do these wars and battles between yourself first start?”

And he points out:  “Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves!  You want something, and you haven’t got it, so you are prepared to kill, and to get your way by force.”

In a way, that was what the disciples were doing in today’s gospel. They were said to be arguing among themselves, but it encompasses jealousy, ambition and desires.

They were arguing among themselves to see which of them was the greatest. They too, like ourselves, were programmed to be ambitious, and to go for the top, even if it means pushing others aside, even if it means to step on others.

And Jesus took the opportunity of the situation to teach a lesson, a lesson of life.

A lesson in the form of a child. Putting a child in front of them, Jesus said:  “Anyone who welcomes a child in my name, welcomes me.”

To welcome means to be open; to welcome means to be teachable.

A child is open and teachable.  So the question is “What are we teaching our children?”

A catechist was recalling this instance when she overheard a young girl using a four-letter word (obscene).
So she thought she better have a word with her.  So she said:  Hey, where did you learn that word from? The girl replied: “From a movie.” “And why did you watch that movie?”
The girl replied, “My father was watching it.”

So what can we say?  If we mourn about the values of the young, it is simply that we are reaping what we have sown.  They are only doing what we have taught them.

The children are taught all the skills to make a living.  In school, the “Primary Threes” are taught how to use power point.

But if our children are just taught how to make a living but not how to live life, then it may just be power but no point.

So what values are we teaching our children?

Children learn a lot from story-telling.  So what stories are we telling our children?

Sometimes, the only stories we ever tell our children are ghost stories. But telling ghost stories only create fear in the hearts of children. And not only that, ghost stories glorify the devil.  It makes the devil look powerful. 

Yet, do we tell our children stories about Jesus, or stories about the saints?

Looking at the week ahead, there is the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. There are many inspiring stories about them that we can share with our children.

For example, the story of St. Raphael and how he was sent by God to the young Tobias to guide him and help him along the thorny difficulties and also brought healing to the eyes of the older Tobias.

So archangels also teach us and that though they stand before the throne of God, they also walk humbly with us as our servants. In them we see what it means when Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last and servant of all.”

Let us teach our children to be like angels, so that in turn we can learn from them how to welcome Jesus.

Friday, September 21, 2018

24th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 22-09-18

1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49 / Luke 8:4-15

It is not exactly easy to illustrate a gospel teaching by using stories or examples.

There are times when the gospel teaching is clear-cut but to find an example or story to illustrate it requires time and reflection.

The parable of the sower and the seeds is indeed an excellent story with a divine message.

It is a story in which we are invited not only to listen to it but also to find ourselves being part of it.

It is not a story that we can listen to and go away unchallenged, unchanged and unmoved by what we heard.

Even though we may not be from an agricultural background, yet we can still understand what the parable means to us.

Because every time we read the Bible or hear the scriptures being read and shared, the Word is being sown in our hearts.

How much of God's Word will take root in our hearts and bear fruits in our lives depends on how deeply we want to reflect on the gospel parable we have just heard.

When we are able to reflect upon the truth in the parable, then we will also see the truth about ourselves and also the state of our hearts.

But the fundamental truth is this: Just as God cares about what happens to His Word, He cares more about us who hear His Word.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, Friday, 21-09-18

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

Have we ever wondered what were the thoughts that crossed the mind of St. Matthew as he got up from the customs house to follow Jesus?

Was it apprehension or uncertainty because he was walking away from a stable and profitable job, although it is not a respectable one?

Or was it a sense of insecurity and anxiety that from that moment on, things are not going to be the same anymore in that nothing can be taken for granted anymore?

But over and above all these thoughts was the great up-lifting feeling that someone had given him respect, dignity and self-worth.

In Jesus, St. Matthew saw the mercy and love of God, who came not to call the virtuous, but sinners.

What St. Matthew saw in Jesus, he too wanted to emulate, he wanted to follow, he wanted to become

That is also what the 1st reading is telling us: that united in faith and knowledge of the Son of God, we strive to be the Perfect Man, the perfect person, fully mature with the fullness of Christ.

Jesus showed St. Matthew who and what he can become.

In turn, St. Matthew showed us in his gospel who and what we can become.

As the call of Jesus crosses and echoes in our hearts, let us answer the call like St. Matthew.

Because it is a call to the fullness of Christ Himself, who came to call sinners so that they can become virtuous.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

24th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 20-09-18

1 Cor 15:1-11 / Luke 7:36-50

To persist and to persevere is really hard work and it takes a lot out of us.

And if we were to continue persisting and persevering, then we also need to keep on believing in what we are doing it for.

More so if we say that we believe in God. Then our persistence and perseverance will be put to the test.

Today as we remember the Korean martyrs, St. Andrew Kim and St. Paul Chong and their companions, as well as the missionaries to Korea like St. Laurent Imbert, we see how their faith persisted and persevered in the face of persecution as they laid down their lives in witnessing to Jesus.

In other words, they kept believing till the end, but the faith of those Korean martyrs became the seed that led to today's flowering of the Church in Korea.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul urged the Corinthians to keep on believing in the gospel as it will save them.

Strangely, it was he who had persecuted the early Christians and he had Christian blood on his hands. But converted by the grace of God and also by the faith of those Christians, he preached the gospel far and wide and eventually laid down his life for Jesus.

In the gospel, we see another model of persistent and persevering faith in the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus.

She believed and kept believing in the mercy of God, and for that she was forgiven, and filled with love.

So we have more than enough of models of faith in the Korean martyrs, in St. Paul and in the woman in the gospel.

Let us keep believing, let us persist and persevere in our faith, and we too will experience mercy, forgiveness and love.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

24th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 19-09-18

1 Cor 12:31 - 13:13 / Luke 7:31-35

We know how easy it is to chop off a branch from a tree with a sharp axe, yet we also know it is impossible to re-attach the branch back to the tree.

When power and might are abused and misused, then the consequences are offensive and destructive.

Hence we know that it is easier to break than to repair; it is easier to hurt than to heal; it is easier to hate than to love.

Yes, it is easier to divide and destroy than to unite and reconcile, and with physical power and military might, division and destruction is made very much easier.

Yet the real power and might lies in love and in its work of uniting and reconciling and healing.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul expressed the power of love in humble and simple and quiet ways like patience and kindness, truthfulness and endurance, trusting and hoping, and also not being jealous or boastful or conceited or rude or selfish.

Yes it is with love that we are also able to recognize loving people who speak and live by truth, even though the world might ridicule them or push them aside.

As Jesus said in the gospel, the world is "like children shouting to one another while they sit in the market place" and scorns the simplicity and the humility of love.

Yet just as Wisdom is proven right by all her children, so the power of love to heal and reconcile will prove to be mightier than the sword that just cuts and destroys.

May we always choose the way of love and trust and hope in Jesus, our Lord of love.

Monday, September 17, 2018

24th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 18-09-18

1 Cor 12:12-14, 27-31 / Luke 7:11-17

Human beings are indeed an interesting and amazing species. They are the only species on earth to have intellect and will.

Humans are also the only species known to build fires and cook their food, as well as the only known species to clothe themselves and create and use numerous other technologies and arts.

Yet at its most fundamental, the human being is body and soul. Neither takes precedence in importance and neither is also inferior to the other.

Hence when St. Paul used the analogy of the human body to described the Church, he was wise to mention that in the one Spirit we were all baptised and the one Spirit was given to us all.

Yet at the finality of death, when the soul leaves the body, the body becomes a lifeless thing and over time it will also decompose and disintegrate.

Nonetheless we believe in the resurrection on the Last Day and we have to leave it to the mysterious power of God to gather up our remains for the resurrection (unless we are still alive by then).

When Jesus brought the young man back to life in the gospel, He showed not only compassion.

Jesus showed that He is the Lord of life and that He has power over death.

We may be alive but we can just choose to be mediocre and just exist on earth, or we can choose to be loving and life-giving.

When we choose the latter, then we are truly offering our bodies as a living and loving sacrifice to God.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

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

1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 33 / Luke 7:1-10

The gift of faith is indeed a wonderful thing.

But when this gift of faith is shown by unexpected people or persons, then it is really amazing.

Such was the case with the centurion in the gospel passage.

Being a soldier and a pagan, he was not likely to be a prominent figure in the religious circles.

But when he showed his faith in Jesus, even Jesus was amazed - He was "astonished"!

But was there something else about the centurion besides his gift of faith? Could it also be that  his military discipline had an influence on him?

We can say that the centurion took Jesus seriously. He didn't take Jesus for granted. He believed in Jesus.

So if a pagan can have such an attitude towards Jesus, then what about Christians? What about us?

That was the question St. Paul asked the Corinthians regarding their attitudes during the celebration of the Lord's Supper.

They were taking the Lord's Supper for granted and even profaning the Eucharist.

We too could end up taking the Eucharist for granted when what we celebrate at Mass does not flow into our lives.

Let us remember that when we come for Mass and receive communion, we profess our faith in Jesus and we enter into the mystery of His death and also share in the glory of His resurrection.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

24th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 16.09.2018

Isaiah 50:5-9 / James 2:14-18 / Mark 8:27-35
The skyline of Singapore, as well as the landscape, has changed tremendously over the past 30 to 40 years.

Many old buildings have been torn down and big gleaming high-rise buildings now stand in their place, though some old historical buildings and sites are preserved.

But one of the places or sites that won’t be slated for preservation is the cemetery.

In Singapore where land is scarce, resting in peace is not a certainty.

But with the old cemeteries like Bidadari being reclaimed, then gone are those grand tombs, and the sentimental, and at times, enigmatic epitaphs.

At Chao Chu Kang cemetery, where there are many grand tombs, there was an enigmatic epitaph on a tomb. Formed by mosaic and on the side of the tomb are these words: Life is but a dream.

It was kind of enigmatic isn’t it – “Life is but a dream”. Were those words what the deceased wanted on the tomb, or were they used to describe the deceased.

Whatever the case may be, how are we going to describe our lives when it is all over? Or what will others say about us when our lives are over and done?

That is why what is said about the deceased at a funeral service can be rather sensitive. It can even be embarrassing if the wrong thing was said.

At a funeral service, the priest was delivering the homily. So he began: Well John (the deceased) was a good husband and a good father. He was a patient and a kind man, loving and understanding towards his wife, always helping her with the housework, …

Now, the wife of the deceased, as she was hearing all this, she slowly elbowed her son who was sitting next to her. And she whispered to him: Go over and open the lid, and see if that is your father …

So it’s safer to say something in general. Or sometimes, it may meant to be something profound, but it can be misunderstood as something profane.

But seriously, what do others think about us? What are they saying about us?

It is a sensitive question, and we may not even want to know what others think, or say about us.

But yet, that is preciously what Jesus asked His disciples in today’s gospel: Who do you say I am?

It is a very direct and personal question. They can’t borrow answers from others. They have to give their own answers.

So who do we say Jesus is? Who do you say Jesus is? Who do I say Jesus is?

Oh yes, we can say all those profound things about Jesus, and we will agree with Peter that Jesus is the Christ. 

Until we encounter suffering, rejection and death. When Jesus talked about that, Peter started to disagree and even remonstrate with Jesus. And he got rebuked for that; Jesus even called him “Satan”.

But that is how seriously Jesus wants us to understand Him and to know who He really is in our lives, especially when our faith is put to the test.

The suffering, rejection and death that Jesus talked about can be summarized into one word – the Cross.

If we want to understand Jesus, if we want to know who He really is in our lives, then we must go through the Cross.

Because Jesus Himself said that if we want to follow Him, we must renounce ourselves and take up the cross and follow Him. When we know the cross, then we will know Christ.

There was once when I was called to go to the hospital to administer the Anointing of the Sick to someone who had not much time left.

When I saw him, he had a ventilator on so he couldn’t speak at all. After giving him the Anointing of the Sick, I took out the Cross to bless him and told him that Jesus will be with him. 

Without saying a word, he stretched out his hand and clutched the Cross. For a good minute or more, we were just like that – I was clutching to the cross, he was clutching to the cross, I was like “Let it go” and he was like “I am not letting go”. 

Although he couldn’t speak, his eyes were fixed on the cross. So reluctantly, l let go of the cross, and he then immediately placed the cross on his chest, and then closed his eyes

And I was thinking – there goes my cross. Even as I was leaving, I stopped at the door and turned to see if he would let go of the cross, but no way. He seemed to be holding it firmly against his chest.

On the way out, his son told me that his father was not really a religious man, actually more like a wayward Catholic, and he has never seen his father hold on so firmly to the cross.

Well, a few days later the son came and told me his father had passed on. He also came to give me back the cross, because his father’s last words were “Give the cross back to Fr. Yim”.

For a man who was on the ventilator and who couldn’t speak, those last few words were very profound.

More profound was the effect of the cross on him. He knew the cross, he knew who was on it, and he knew that Jesus was going to bring him home.

May we also know the cross in our lives, and through the cross may we follow Jesus faithfully, so that we will find life, and by our good deeds, may we show others who we are following.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Our Lady of Sorrows, Saturday, 15-09-18

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

Our Lady of Sorrows is one of the more prominent titles of our Lady. The other associated titles are Sorrowful Mother or Mother of Sorrows, and Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows.

All these titles obviously refer to the profound moments of sorrow and grief in the life of Mary.

Among the devotions to Our Lady of Sorrows is the meditation and reflection of the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

The following are the Seven Sorrows of Mary:

1.  The Prophecy of Simeon. (Luke 2:34-35)
2.  The Flight into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
3.  The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:43-45)
4.  Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary (Stations of the Cross)
5.  Jesus Dies on the Cross. (John 19:25)
6.  Mary Receives the Body of Jesus in her Arms. (Matthew 27:57-59)
7.  The Body of Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb. (John 19:40-42)

It goes without saying that even the Mother of Jesus was not spared of any suffering and sorrows. Yet Mary's sufferings and sorrows are intimately united with with the sufferings and sorrows of Jesus as we can see the the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

Mary's sufferings and sorrows also made her united with us in our own sufferings and sorrows in life. At least we can imagine how she felt when people say her: Oh, so you are the the mother of that Jesus!

God did not save Mary from sorrow and suffering, just as He did not save Jesus from death. 

But as we heard in the 1st reading, Jesus submitted humbly to God who saved Him out of death, likewise Mary also submitted humbly to God even though the sword of sorrow pierced her heart.

Mary believed that God will save her out of her sorrow and suffering. May we united ourselves with Mary and believe likewise.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Friday, 14-09-18

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

Today's feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is called by various names: "Raising Aloft of the Precious Cross", or "Raising Aloft of the Holy Cross".

By whichever name it is called, red vestments are worn for this feast, the same colour that is worn on Good Friday.

Good Friday commemorates the Passion of Christ and His death on the cross. Christ was nailed to the cross and flaunted before the face of God.

If it had all ended there, then evil would have triumphed because God did nothing to save His Son from evil.

Yes, God did not save Jesus from death, but God saved Jesus out of death (Hebrews 5:7).

And through the Resurrection, the cross of death has now become the cross of triumph over sin and death.

Yes, the holy and precious Cross is now raised aloft for the Church and for all the world to see.

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

We must kneel before the Holy Cross and venerate it for it protects us and the powers of evil and darkness hide and flee before it.

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

23rd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 13-09-18

1 Cor 8:1-7, 11-13 / Luke 6:27-38

It is said that a trapped snake can get so angry and confused that it will bite anything, including itself.

We may find this puzzling or amazing, but that is a good image of what happens to us when we let anger and resentment control us.

We get trapped by our own anger and resentment and we end up biting and hurting ourselves.

When we get angry, we think we are getting even with our enemy.

The truth is that we are harming ourselves more than we are harming our enemy. (If our enemies were to know this, they would be satisfied just to keep irritating us, because we will do the rest of the damage.)

So when Jesus said : "Love our enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly", we are actually doing good to ourselves.

Because by following what Jesus teaches us, we free ourselves from anger and resentment, and we become open to the love and compassion of God.

It is a loving compassion that is given in full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, that will turn our so-called enemies into our friends.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

23rd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 12-09-18

1 Cor 7:25-31 / Luke 6:20-26

The word "happy" has as its root word "hap" which is defined as turning out well or favoured by fortune.

So it means that when things turn out well or when one is favoured by fortune, then one is happy. But if it is otherwise then one will be unhappy.

So it seems that happiness is very much subjected to what happens around us. And what happens around us will determine whether we are happy or not.

Maybe that might be the reason why people search in vain for happiness, since it seems to be so subjective and relative.

The 1st reading may sound rather stoic, or at least it seems to tell us to try to be indifferent and to be unaffected by whatever that is happening around us.

Yet the heart of the matter is that St. Paul was telling the Corinthians not to look for lasting happiness in this passing world. Yes, this world as we know is passing away.

There is an eternal "happiness" that will not be subjected by the rise or fall of fortunes or whether things turn out well or not.

Hence the word "happy" in the gospel passage has to be understood as "blessing" and it is a blessing which comes from God.

God's blessing does not depend on His mood or how He feels about us. God will always bless us because He loves us.

Yes, God loves us with an everlasting love and our eternal "happiness" is already assured if we keep on faithfully loving God and others. Any other means of achieving happiness is not going to last.

Monday, September 10, 2018

23rd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 11-09-18

1 Cor 6:1-11 / Luke 6:12-19

Whenever there is a wrong that is done unto us, we will be thinking of ways of how to avenge ourselves and get even with the other party.

We might think of taking revenge and exact a punishment on the other party.

The options can be anything from embarking on a legal suit to some ugly tactics to cause the other person physical harm.

The 1st reading talks of a case, maybe just one out of many, in the Christian community in Corinth.

To resolve the case, it was brought to the civil law courts and left to their judgment.

But St. Paul criticized such an option and said that they should be ashamed that matters within the community should be brought up before the civil law courts.

To make matters worse, it was the members within the community who were wronging and cheating each other.

They simply forgot that they had been washed clean and sanctified and justified in Jesus through baptism.

They forgot that they were chosen by God to be His people and to be His instruments of holiness and forgiveness, of mercy and compassion.

Just as Jesus chose His twelve apostles, we are also chosen to be His own.

Let us always remember our Christian calling, so that we can be sent out to bring about forgiveness and healing.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

23rd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 10-09-18

1 Cor 5:1-8 / Luke 6:6-11

The term "common sense" may look like self-explanatory and it is the basis of all thinking and reasoning.

But when things get too muddled up and the thinking and reasoning becomes unclear, then we use another principle and that is "go back to basics".

In the gospel, the scribes and Pharisees have devised a set of rules and regulations about the Sabbath and the Law that it had become so complex and confusing.

And they were watching Jesus to see where He would step out of line.

Yet Jesus took the situation and appealed to common sense by going back to basics.

So He asked the question: is it against the Law on the Sabbath to do good, or to do evil; to save life or to destroy it?

If the gospel passage showed how people can lose their common sense, then the 1st reading showed how even Christians can deteriorate into immoral and shameless creatures.

St. Paul warned that even a small amount of yeast is enough to leaven all the dough.

Yes, even a small sin is enough to make us lose our common sense and make us behave worse than animals.

Let us go back to basics and go back to Christ, our bread of life, who empowers us with sincerity and truth.

Then, everyday, we will be able to do good and give life to others.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

23rd Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 09.09.2018

Isaiah 35:4-7 / James 2:1-5 / Mark 7:31-37

One of the inventions that had and still has, a great impact on our lives is the radio. Indeed, the radio has come a long way.

Long enough to say that for some of us present here, we know the price of listening to the radio.

Because during the Japanese Occupation in WWII, anyone caught listening to the BBC broadcast will have chopsticks rammed into his ears.

Even when television came into the scene, the radio was still the primary source of news and entertainment.

And it can even be an instrument for vocations.

A priest was sharing his vocation story and he was saying that although he had enough of signs to tell him that God is calling him, he decided to ask God for one more sign, and a rather difficult one.

And he was like telling God:  If, during the next one week, if I see a blue moon, I will enter the seminary.

Well, as the story goes, he was sitting at his desk doing some work, the radio was on, and then he heard this song being played.

“Blue moon, you saw me standing alone, without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own.”

Well, he didn’t see a blue moon, but he heard one, and that was enough for him.

It seems that, many a times, hearing is more powerful than seeing.

And by that same token, we can also say that being deaf is more an impediment that being blind.

In the sense that blindness is quite obvious; whereas it takes a while before we realize that a person is deaf.

And along with deafness, comes a speech impediment.

Because it is strange but nonetheless true, we can only proclaim what we have heard.

In today’s gospel, the people’s admiration of Jesus was unbounded as they proclaimed:  “he has done all things well, he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”

That was their proclamation.  But did they hear anything in the first place.

Yes, they saw the deaf and dumb man being cured.  But the fact is that Jesus asked them not to say anything about this.

But why?  Why be so secretive about this spectacular event.?

Well, simply because the spectacular often takes the meaning out of the miracle.

There is a meaning and a purpose behind this healing of the deaf and dumb man.

And it is in those two words that Jesus said: “Be opened.”

And that was what Jesus said to the people then. And we who are here today, and as we listen, do we also understand.

“Be opened,” Jesus said. “Be opened” to what, we might ask.

Today’s gospel account of the healing of the deaf and dumb man is not just about a miracle that Jesus worked.

Rather it is a simple but powerful proclamation of the sound of grace, the sound of God’s grace.

And that is what we are to be opened to – to be opened to the sound of God’s grace.

To be open to the sound of God’s grace so that we can reproduce that sound.

So what is this sound of God’s grace that I am talking about?

Firstly, in our homes.  The sound of God’s grace takes the form of the sound of prayer.

So is the sound of prayer heard in our homes?  Do we have family prayers at home?

God’s grace is waiting to be poured into hearts that are opened at prayer.

And whenever prayer is being said, faith is being built.

Because faith comes from hearing, hearing the faith that is being expressed in prayer.

One of the elements of the faith crises that the Church is facing today is that there are people who do not know how to pray.

Because they have not heard the sound of prayer at home.

And hence they do not know the language of prayer.  Their tongues remain tied when it comes to prayer.

So, vocal prayers like the Rosary prayer and other devotional prayer might seem rather elementary.

But they are indeed necessary when it comes to conveying the sound of God’s grace.

Today Jesus also wants us to listen to a particular sound, the sound of His love, the sound that will open ears and loosen tongues.

The sound of His love that will overcome the irreversible and the impossible situations that are created by deaf ears and stiff tongues, situations that resist the voice of God in prayer.

So we just have to tune into the sound of prayer. Let the sound of prayer just flow in from our ears and into our hearts.

Let us listen to the sound of God’s love so that we can reproduce that sound of love.

God does not speak to us like once in a blue moon.

Whenever we pray, we immediately tune into the sound of God’s love.

And we become God’s radio station that will open ears to the sound of love, and loosen tongues to speak words of love.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saturday, 08-09-18

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

Whenever we think of birthday cakes, we would think of a cake with lighted candles, or at least one candle, and the person celebrating the birthday would make a wish and then blow off the candles.

The meaning of lighted candles placed on the cake is to symbolize the "light of life" and to celebrate that person's life.

As with the blowing off the candles, many ancient cultures believed that smoke carried their prayers to the heavens. Today’s tradition of making wishes before blowing out the birthday candles may have started with that belief.

Today as we join the Church to celebrate the birth of Our Lady, there may be no birthday cakes to cut or candles to blow off.

But the purpose of celebrating Mary's birthday is essentially to thank God for fulfilling the promise of salvation through her.

As the prophet Micah says in the prophecy "The Lord is therefore going to abandon them till the time when she who is to give birth gives birth. Then the remnant of his brothers will come back to the sons of Israel".

Also the angel of the Lord in the gospel of Matthew has this to say to Joseph: Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife,  because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.

So as we honour Mary and give thanks to God for the gift of Jesus through her, we offer ourselves to Mary like lighted candles on a birthday cake because she has given us Jesus, the Light of Life.

And may the smoke of our prayers also rise up to God with the prayers of Mary as we heed her call to us to do whatever Jesus tells us and pray and work for the salvation of all peoples.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 07-09-18

1 Cor  4: 1-5 / Luke 5:33-39

We like to have new things. It feels good to be the first owner of something new, and as it is said "A new broom sweeps clean".

But as with all things new, we need to also get used to it. A new phone needs to be customized. A pair of new shoes needs to "break in" before it can be comfortable. New clothes need to be washed and worn before we can get used to it.

In other words, new things need to get "seasoned" before they become part of us and then we won't want to part with them.

As we might know for ourselves, some of us have got new shirts in the cupboard, but we still keep wearing the same few shirts until they are thread-bare and we still don't want to change them. (It happens more with men than with women. With women it is always not enough dresses to change!)

Yes, when we get used to things, we will use them season in and season out, until we are so "seasoned" with them.

But in the gospel parable, Jesus said that nobody puts new wine into old wineskins. Because when the new wine was initially put into the new skins, the fermentation process would have "seasoned" the skins, and they can't be used again to put in new wine. So it is always new wine into new skins.

So when new challenges come our way, we also need to have new ways to handle them so that there will be a renewal in ourselves, a renewal of mind and heart.

Yet we can be so used and "seasoned" in our old ways that we tend to think that what worked in the past should work now, and we don't think of new ways to meet new challenges.

It often happens with the way parents handle their children. Children grow up and change fast, but the parents may still be using outdated ways of handling their children, and hence the generation gap grows wider.

As we come for the First Friday Mass and Devotion to the Sacred Heart, Jesus wants to renew our hearts so that we will be like new wineskins ready for the new wine.

It could be that we are praying for a particular intention and our prayer doesn't seem to get anywhere.

Then it is time to change and to ask Jesus to renew our hearts so that we will be open to the promptings of a new direction so that we can see that Jesus is answering our prayer.

Yes, let us pray for a renewal of our hearts so that Jesus can pour the new sweet wine into our lives.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 06-09-18

1 Cor 3:18-23 / Luke 5:1-11

It is not that easy to always do what you are told. From our childhood days, whenever we are told to do something, especially something we don't really like, we have a tendency to question and to argue.

More so when we think we know what is right, then all the more we wouldn't want others to tell us what to do. And it would be also more likely that we would be telling others what to do.

In the gospel, Peter faced a situation of a carpenter-preacher telling him, a professional fisherman, where to fish.

There is a tinge of protest when Peter said they had worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But he was also submissive enough to do what Jesus told him to.

Peter was open enough to do as Jesus instructed maybe because he had earlier heard Jesus preaching from his boat.

There was something spiritual in what Jesus said that echoed in the depths of his being that he decided to do what Jesus told him. And it was a decision that led to a revelation.

For Peter it was a revelation of divine wisdom, and that was proven by the great catch of fish.

And as the 1st reading tells us, if we think we are wise in the ordinary sense of the word, then we would probably have missed the moments of revelation of divine wisdom.

Even though we may be competent enough to know what we are doing, let us also be like Peter and to be open to what Jesus wants to reveal to us.

Wisdom is to know that we don't know everything, and that many a times our ways are not God's ways. May we be humble enough to keep learning what Jesus is teaching us.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 05-09-18

1 Cor 3:1-9 / Luke 4:38-44

If others were to give an honest opinion of us as Christians, would they say that we are different from non-Christians?

Or would they say that we are no different from non-Christians, and maybe at times behave in a lesser way than them!

In the 1st reading, St. Paul would not accept that Christians in Corinth were behaving like non-Christians and even regressing into behaviours like jealousy and wrangling.

They were even dividing themselves into unspiritual clans with slogans like "I am for Paul" and "I am for Apollos".

Obviously they had forgotten the teaching and example of Jesus of which we saw in the gospel.

Jesus loved and cared for the people by teaching them and healing the sick and He restored the spiritual dimension in the lives of the people.

In fact, He Himself highlighted how important the spiritual aspect is when He would go to a lonely place early in the day to pray.

People saw how different Jesus was and what an extraordinary life He lived.

They saw the spiritual dimension in His life and they experienced God's presence in Him.

Jesus showed us how to live life. We cannot live it any lesser.

Monday, September 3, 2018

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 04-09-18

1 Cor 2:10-16 / Luke 4:31-37

Whenever deliverance or exorcism is mentioned, we may think of something dramatic happening, much like what we see in the movies.

We may think of images of the possessed person shouting and other weird things happening.

We probably got these impressions from what we read in the gospels about how Jesus cast off devils and evil spirits.

One such instance is in today's gospel when the evil spirit that possessed the man shouted at Jesus.

But Jesus said sharply, "Be quiet! Come out of him." And the evil spirit came out of the man without hurting him at all.

We may not have seen such things happening, especially in church. We don't expect such things to happen in church of all places.

But that doesn't mean that there are no evil spirits around. But if Jesus gave the Church the authority and the power to cast out evil, then how is it happening?

In a less dramatic way, but certainly in no less a powerful way, we see it happening in the Confessional.

People who have heard the Word of God and have opened their hearts to the cleansing and healing Word, will realise the sin and the evil in their hearts.

They go for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and there Jesus cleanses and casts out the evil in their hearts, and they are healed and forgiven.

Let us also listen to the Word of God and open our hearts to the Word. And when we realise the sin and the evil in our hearts let us go for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

There we will be cleansed and forgiven. That is the power of the Word of God, and that is also the power and the authority that Jesus has given to His Church.

22nd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 03-09-18

1 Cor 2:1-5 / Luke 4:16-30

One of the primary tasks of the priest is to preach the Word of God. Preaching the homily at Mass is his duty and he is obligated to prepare for it.

Yet the task of preaching is indeed challenging because the people of God thirst for the Word to be made flesh in their lives. They yearn to experience scriptural teachings translating in their everyday life.

So priests and preachers will understand what St. Paul meant when he said : I came among you in great fear and trembling in the speeches and sermons that I gave.

But  he also quickly added that none of his preaching belonged to philosophy.

Rather it is a demonstration of the power of the Spirit.

It was with the power of the Spirit that Jesus went back to Nazareth, and at the synagogue, He read the passage from the prophet Isaiah.

And the people were astonished by the gracious words that came from His lips.

But it is so easy to let human thinking as well as criticism come into the way of the Word of God.

As we could see it from the gospel, the people started to make a judgment about Him and subsequently rejected Him.

Human beings may be endowed with knowledge and intelligence, but we must also remember that God's ways are not man's ways.

The book of the prophet Isaiah has this passage (Isa 55:8-9) : My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

May our minds and hearts be opened to God's revelation as He speaks to us through His Word.

May our faith be not dependent on human philosophy but on the power of God.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

22nd Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 02.09.2018

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8 / James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27 / Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
As we begin the month of September, we also begin a time when temperatures start to rise. We may think that the weather is already hot enough, so is it going to be hotter, or what?

But we are not talking about the weather. We are talking about a “fever” – the exam fever.

In fact it has already begun. The PSLE Oral exams are just over; the written exams will start at the end of September. The Sec 4s just finished their prelims and the “N” levels and “O” levels are the next big thing that is coming up.

And across the board, the students are preparing for their year-end exams. So the fever is going to rage.

And just as fever is usually felt around the head, exam fever is also felt around the head. Exams are about the measurement and grading of the memory and the academic ability. It is about how good the head can perform when subjected to exams.

So it can be said that the purpose of exams is to grade the students on their academic abilities with the objective of making them clever and smart.

And that is because the world rewards those with  high academic qualifications. The world rewards those who are clever and smart.

And we need to have a head that is clever and smart if we want to make it in life and succeed in this world.

So for those who don’t have much in their heads, they will have to make up for it by working hard with their hands. One way or another, we will have to express who we are and what we can do with either head knowledge or hard work.

In the gospel, there seems to be some argument over the head and the hands. The Pharisees and the scribes who have a head filled with the knowledge of the Law and the religious traditions, questioned Jesus as to why His disciples do not respect the traditions of the elders and eat their food with unclean hands, i.e. hands that were washed in ritualistic way.

But Jesus moved the question of the state of the hands to the state of the heart, as He quoted from the passage of the prophet Isaiah: “This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless”. 

In effect Jesus is telling the Pharisees and the scribes that they may be clever and smart when it comes to the Law and the traditions.

But what about their hearts and what about the worship that they offer to God?

In this world, whether it is in the area of education or business, it is about how clever we are and how smart we are. It is all about the head.

But Jesus turns our attention to our hearts. Are our hearts with God, or are they far from God? So it is not just about clean hands; it is about clean hearts.

Well, talking about clean hands, we know that there is a life-sized statue of Jesus the Sacred Heart at entrance of the church. It is quite a unique statue.

The hands of that statue are stretched downwards,  and within our reach, if we are tall enough. If not we can still touch the feet of that statue.

There have been comments about the hands and feet of that statue, especially the hands. Some have commented that the paint on the hands are worn out and looks “dirty”, so why not repaint the hands at least.

Yes, people touch those hands of the statue of Jesus, and hence the paint gets worn out and it does look a bit soiled, though we clean those hands every day.

Those soiled hands may not look that pretty, but there is a teaching point in them. Jesus is like reaching out to us and asking us to touch His hands and to give Him all that is unclean in our hearts.

And Jesus tells us what are the things that are lurking in our hearts: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly.

Yes, all these evil things come from within and make our hearts unclean.

We have at least one or more of those sins. Jesus is asking us to touch His hands and to give it to Him. He came to take away our iniquities and to carry our diseases.

Jesus came to cleanse us, to heal us and to make our hearts like His. Let us look at His Heart and let us ask Him to make our hearts clean, to heal our hearts of sin, so that we can offer God a pure and worthy sacrifice.