Wednesday, July 15, 2020

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 16-07-2020

Isaiah 26:7-9, 12, 16-19 / Matthew 11:28-30 

To desire to be rich, it is necessary to work hard.

To desire to be healthy, it is necessary to keep fit.

To desire for something good, then it is necessary to know what is really good.

The 1st reading tells us what goodness is:
"The path of the upright man is straight, You smooth the way of the upright.
Following the path of Your judgements, we hoped in you, Lord, Your name,Your memory are all my soul desires."

As much as following the ways of the Lord is to be desired, yet our profane desires are for things that lead us away from God.

But the 1st reading also tells us where we will end up with these profane desires:  "Distressed,we search for You, Lord; the misery of oppression was your punishment for us.

In life, what we desire most is peace and joy.

Jesus exclaimed in the gospel : Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.

Let us heed the call of Jesus to go to Him, so that we may know His ways and walk in His paths, and find peace and rest in our lives.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 15-07-2020

Isaiah 10:5-7, 13-16 / Matthew 11:25-27

To have faith in God means that we look and see with the eyes of faith and we also understand with hearts of faith.

To be a person of faith means that our faith is integrated into every aspect of our lives, and we see the hand of God shaping every event and every experience.

Yet if we put ourselves in the shoes of the people of God who were listening to the 1st reading, would we be able to see the hand of God directing the power of our enemy against us?

Yes, we have sinned, we have provoked the Lord, we have turned away from the Lord and have been unfaithful.

Our enemy have pillaged and plundered us, and stamped us like mud in the street. Will the Lord not have pity on us and save us from being cut to pieces?

Yet to have faith in this kind of horrible situation is certainly challenging but nonetheless it is critical to have that bit of faith in God.

Because we must believe what the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah in the 1st reading: Does the axe claim more credit than the man who wields it, or the saw more strength than the man who handles it?

To have faith in a critical situation also means that we have hearts like that of children who believe that  God will protect us and will not let us break beyond our strength.

Yes, the hand that hurts is also the hand that heals, and we must see the hand of God directing and shaping every event and experience in our lives for our good.

To have faith means we must be able to see further and deeper and to see God in all things.

Monday, July 13, 2020

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 14-07-2020

Isaiah 7:1-9 / Matthew 11:20-24

When faced with a hungry person, it is utterly useless to preach to him about the love of God.

The most sensible thing to do is to give him some food and that will indeed show him the love of God.

Hunger has no logic and hence people will not listen to whatever promises of food that will be coming. The hunger has to be addressed immediately.

If hunger has no logic, then fear can cause panic. In the face of mortal danger, fear can make people hysterical.

In the 1st reading, we heard that the hearts of the king Ahaz and the people of Judah shuddered when they got the news that the enemy was approaching to attack them.

The immediate thing to do would be to run away and save themselves and to each his own. For those remaining, they could panic and be hysterical as they wait for death to fall on them.

Yet in all that chaos, the Lord spoke. And He assured His people that what the enemy planned to do won't come true; it would not be. But on one condition: But if you do not stand by me, you will not stand at all.

The people will have to decide - either to stand by the words of the Lord, or they give in to fear and panic.

Yet in the gospel, the story was quite the opposite. The people had seen the miracles of Jesus, and yet they refused to repent. And as it is, those places mentioned in the gospel now lie in ruins.

And for us, we have heard the words of the Lord; we have seen His love for us in the Eucharist.

We now have to make the decision - either we stand by Him, or we won't stand at all.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

15th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 13-07-2020

Isaiah 1:10-17 / Matthew 10:34 - 11:1

The Eucharist is the highest form of worship in the Church because it is Jesus who offers Himself to the Father, and we unite with Jesus in His sacrifice.

Hence the Eucharist is indeed the source and summit of our faith and life.

In the Eucharist we receive an outpouring of God's grace as we receive Jesus in Holy Communion.

Yet at the same time, it may bother us to see that the celebration of the Eucharist may seem so bland and the Catholic life and spirituality seems so lethargic.

If that is the case and if we are asking ourselves why, then the 1st reading may shed some light into our question.

It seems that God is lamenting that the sacrifices that were offered to Him were unclean and blemished and unworthy.

Simply because the hearts of the people were unclean and wicked and hence their offerings and sacrifices were just a reflection of the state of their hearts.

How can God's grace enter into hearts that are contaminated by sin and wickedness?

And how can we say that the Eucharist does not seem to have any effect when it is we who are at fault?

Jesus comes with a sword to cut away the sin and wickedness in our hearts so that we can be made a worthy offering to God.

May we detest our sins and turn to Jesus who will cleanse us and heal us and make of us a worthy offering to God, and in turn receive peace and joy from Him.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

15th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 12.07.2020

Isaiah 55:10-11 / Romans 8:18-23 / Matthew 13:1-23
The word “destiny” is a powerful word and it is also a thought-provoking word. 

But what is the meaning of destiny? There are many shades of meaning but not one that can really express it in its essence. 

Destiny can be said to be events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future.

Destiny can also be understood as a future scenario determined by decisions an individual will make. 

There are certainly more shades of the meaning to Destiny and so it can be quite difficult to define destiny given that there are many other factors involved. 

But what is the Christian understanding of destiny? 

We would have heard before that Jesus said this of Himself: The Son of Man is destined to suffer, die and rise again. 

So the Christian understanding of destiny is connected to God’s will. 

Jesus came to show us how to do the will of God. And in doing the will of God, Jesus understood His destiny as having to suffer, die and to rise from the dead. 

In the 1st reading we get a glimpse of the will of God and how it directs the destiny of nature:
Thus says the Lord: ‘As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.’

So the rain and the snow fulfilled their destiny by watering the earth. In turn the earth gave growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for eating. 

But in the gospel, we hear of a parable in which some of the seeds that were sown were not able to fulfill their destiny of bearing a harvest. 

But it is a parable that shows us that quite often we are the obstacles of our own destiny. 

The Word of God leads us to know and do the will of God. And the Word of God are like seeds that are sown in our hearts. 

When our hearts are hardened by pleasures and desires, or by resentment and disappointment, God’s Word cannot take root. 

When our hearts are distracted or disturbed by worries and anxieties, God’s Word cannot take root.

When our hearts are poisoned by sin and unfaithfulness, God’s word cannot take root. 

But like the sower, God continues to sow His Word on our hearts. 

May we listen, may we see, so that we will be forgiven and healed, and then we will be able to do God’s Will and fulfill our destiny in our lives.

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 11-07-2020

Isaiah 6:1-8 / Matthew 10:24-33 

Generally, it can be said that every person has had some kind of spiritual experience of the divine presence.

It can be anything from a deep quiet moment of peace to a unique encounter with an apparition.

In the 1st reading, the prophet Isaiah seemed to have a heavenly vision of the glory and the holiness of God.

It was an amazing vision as well as an exhilarating experience.

But what the prophet Isaiah experienced was a deep sense of his sinfulness.

But he wss cleansed of his sinfulness when in his vision he saw a seraph took a live coal and touched his lips.

But what was equally amazing was that Isaiah offered himself to be sent on the mission to be God's messenger.

So as much as we may wish to have an experience of God, let us also remember that a mission comes along with an experience.

It is a mission to be God's messenger, and it will bring healing for others as well as for ourselves

Friday, July 10, 2020

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 10-07-2020

Hosea 14:2-10 / Matthew 10:16-23   

If there is a passage in the gospels that we would rather not listen to, it would probably be the passage in today's gospel reading.

In this gospel passage, Jesus talks about danger and persecution and betrayal.

But there may be one sentence that will catch our attention and imagination.

Jesus instructed His disciples, and also to us, to be cunning as serpents and harmless as doves.

And before that He say that He is sending us out like sheep among wolves, and we know what wolves will do to sheep.

Then He gave the images of two creatures and their characteristics - the cunning (or shrewd) serpent and the harmless (or docile) dove.

As much as it may initially seem contradictory, both characteristics are needed in order to survive and even overcome a dangerous and hostile world.

And we should be able to understand that we need that wisdom (like that of a serpent) and humility (like that of a dove) in order to live out our Christian calling and to be disciples of Jesus.

Let us ask the Lord Jesus to grant us that wisdom and humility.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 09-07-2020

Hosea 11:1-4, 8-9 / Matthew 10:7-15   

The God that we believe in is the God of mercy and compassion, forgiving and loving.

But it must also not be forgotten that God is the God of justice and He punishes sin and unfaithfulness.

This is obvious in the Bible especially in the Old Testament.

When the people sinned and were unfaithful and did things that angered God, like idolatry, God sent prophets to warn them over and over again.

But when the people stubbornly refused to repent, God punished them by sending natural disasters and enemies to conquer them and even let their enemies destroy the Temple.

It is a sad thing but it is quite obvious from the history of God's people, that the only way to wake them up from their sinfulness is to inflict disaster and tragedy on them.

Indeed we must learn the lessons for the history of God's people. It is not just that sin will result in punishment.

Rather the important lesson is that God is merciful and compassionate, loving and forgiving.

We just have to be faithful and obedient, and blessings will be overflowing in our lives.

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesay, 08-07-2020

Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12 / Matthew 10:1-7

At times we can't help but wonder about wealth and riches. Is it for the better or for the worse?

No doubt, wealth and riches can resolve some of our financial worries and we can even obtain some of the luxuries of life with it.

But wealth and riches, and specifically the obsession for it can lead to many complicated problems for us.

In the 1st reading, we heard that Israel was indeed blessed by God with riches and wealth.

But the problem was that the richer and wealthier Israel became, the more their heart was divided and they became unfaithful and strayed away from God.

Well, Israel (or Samaria) had had its day and destruction will soon follow because of their unrepentance.

In the gospel, we heard that Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and cure all kinds of diseases and sickness.

Then He made a rather strange statement: Do not turn your steps to pagan territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town; go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.

Figuratively, Jesus could be telling His disciples not to be too taken in by the authority over unclean spirits with the power to cast them out and to cure all kinds of diseases and sicknesses.

If riches and wealth can divide the heart, then spiritual power can also result in pride and arrogance.

In whatever we have and in whatever we lack, let us always sow integrity and reap a harvest of kindness, and keep seeking the will of the Lord God.

That will be our blessing and the joy of our life.

Monday, July 6, 2020

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 07-07-2020

Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13 / Matthew 9:32-38 

In the course of human history, leaders have come and gone.

Some have made their mark as good leaders and they helped the people they led to better lives and to live in peace and harmony.

But there were also leaders who, out of their own self-interest and other selfish motives have created chaos and hardships for their people.

But more often than not, leaders are chosen by the people, though of course there were leaders who were self-appointed maybe because the people were too confused or divided to choose a leader.

But in the first reading, the Lord has this to say about His people:
They have set up kings, but not with my consent, and appointed princes, but without my knowledge.

It was the people who chose their leaders but without consulting God because they have disobeyed God and were unfaithful to Him.

The people chose their leaders according to their own liking, but this also resulted in their own undoing.

However in the gospel, when Jesus saw the crowds, He felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd.

And then Jesus said: The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.

Yes, we must pray to the Lord to raise up good leaders for the Church and for the world.

Our prayer for good leaders will only benefit us and help us to live lives pleasing to God.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

14th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 06-07-2020

Hosea 2:16-18, 21-22 / Matthew 9:18-26

One of the most difficult sins for us to forgive is that of betrayal.

More so in a marriage, when this betrayal takes the form of unfaithfulness, and specifically adultery, then it is even more difficult to forgive.

The prophet Hosea of the 1st reading suffered this experience of betrayal.

But he used this experience to show what God is like to His unfaithful people.

God is compassionate and forgiving, even when His people broke the covenant and worshipped idols.

Hosea showed that God is forgiving and He forgives so completely that punishment can be changed to restoration and even to a celebration of the renewal of the marriage covenant as we heard in the 1st reading.

God even says to the unfaithful Israel - I will betroth you to myself forever, betroth you with integrity and justice, with tenderness and love.

God has always loved us and He loves us with an everlasting love.

Even when we have sinned, God does not turn away from us but instead turns towards us with all His love.

We cannot remain unmoved by what we heard in the 1st reading.

Not to be moved by it means that we do not understand God's love for us.

Or, for the matter of fact, we don't understand what love is at all.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

14th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 05.07.2020

Zechariah 9:9-10 / Romans 8:9, 11-13 / Matthew 11:25-30
The donkey may be quite a famous animal but it may not be that glamorous. 

Certainly, the donkey is not as glamorous as compared to a horse. 

It doesn’t have that good looks either. Its head is not proportionate to its body, it’s ears stick up awkwardly, it can’t run that fast, and it makes an annoying “hee-haw” sound. 

And to add to that, it is also called by a derogatory name, “beast of burden”. So it seems like it is even less than an animal, it is a beast! 

But all that aside, its strong point is that it can carry heavy burdens, almost three times its weight. 

As a beast of burden, the donkey is used in many countries to carry heavy loads, especially in places where motorized vehicles cannot access. 

The 1st reading begins with a build-up to what was expected to be a glorious mighty figure: “The Lord says this: Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion!
Shout with gladness, daughter of Jerusalem!
See now, your king comes to you;
he is victorious, he is triumphant,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Somehow, it seems like an anti-climax when the king comes victorious, triumphant, humble and riding on a donkey! 

We would expect the king to ride on a glorious and glamorous horse but not on a lowly donkey aka beast of burden. 

But the word that should prepare us for what is to come is that word “humble”; yes, victorious, triumphant, humble and riding on a donkey. 

And Jesus tells us in the gospel: Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest.

This is the only instance in the gospels that Jesus talked about His heart – it is a gentle and humble heart. 

A gentle and humble heart possesses great strength and that is why Jesus tells us to come to Him when we are tired out by our labours and are overburdened. 

We may feel like we are a beast of burden, carrying other people’s loads and doing their work and they get the credit. 

We may feel that others have the easier and glorious tasks while we get the low-end laborious dirty jobs. 

But let us learn from Jesus to be gentle and humble of heart. 

With a gentle and humble heart, Jesus will give us strength to bear the heavy burdens of life.

Friday, July 3, 2020

13th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 04-07-2020

Amos 9:11-15 / Matthew 9:14-17

It goes without saying that the quality of the agricultural produce of the land depends very much on the weather.

Yet another fundamental factor is also the stability of the land, i.e. the political and social condition of the people living on that land.

If there were wars and bloodshed and unrest, would we expect the land to bear quality produce even if the land was fertile?

And if grapes were planted during a time of turmoil and distress, what would be harvested could be sour grapes that are neither edible nor suitable for wine making.

In the 1st reading, the planting and the harvesting of grapes was in the background of a land that was restored and the people were at peace.

Yet, it must be remembered that the rich harvest of grapes, the sweet taste of wine and the joy it brings to a people at peace was the work of God who restored the land and blessed the people.

In the gospel, Jesus also talked about wine and wineskins, and He said that no one puts new wine into old wineskins.

It may simply mean that the new wine of restoration and blessing cannot be put into the old wineskins of turmoil and distress that comes from unfaithfulness to the Lord.

By now we should know the dire consequences of being complacent and being unfaithful to the Lord.

Yet, as much as the Lord is merciful and restores us and blesses us so that we can have peace in our lives, may we also prepare new wineskins for our hearts so as to receive and treasure God's blessings.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

St. Thomas, Apostle, Friday, 03-07-2020

Ephesians 2:19-22 / John 20:24-29

If we say that seeing is believing, we are not saying anything new.

Seeing  is a powerful faculty that we have in a world of sights, sounds, smells, taste and touch.

Seeing is such a powerful faculty that it plays an important part in the acceptance of what is real and what is not.

So unless we see it, we may not really be so ready to accept it and believe in it.

For St. Thomas, whose feastday we celebrate today, he not only demanded to see the Risen Jesus, he even wanted to confirm what he was seeing by insisting to put his finger into the holes made by the nails in the hands of Jesus and put his hand into the gaping wound at the side.

For St. Thomas, seeing was not enough. He wanted to touch, he wanted to feel, he wanted to know if the Risen Jesus was for real.

Whether St. Thomas did what he demanded by putting his finger into the holes of the hand of Jesus, and whether he put his hand into the side of Jesus, the gospel did not tell us.

But what we know was that in the end, he made a profound statement of faith: My Lord and my God!

And with that statement of faith, Jesus also turned the doubt of St. Thomas into a promise for us: Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.

Yes, it is a promise of Jesus to us, that we who believe will see His blessings, we will receive His blessings, and even though we may not be physically present at the Mass and the Devotion, His blessings will be us when we participate faithfully and devoutly in the online "live" broadcasts.

13th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 02-07-2020

Amos 7:10-17 / Matthew 9:1-8 

Whenever something unpleasant is said about us or when we get some criticisms, we will get defensive.

We will even want to deny that we are wrong and retort by saying something back in a sharp and angry manner.

But such quick reactions usually reflects that we are not ready to listen and think about whether there is any truth in what is said about us.

In the 1st reading, the reaction of Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, to what the prophet Amos said was that of denial and defensiveness.

The prophet Amos spoke of doom and disaster and Amaziah and the people want to hear nothing of it.

If only Amaziah and the people had thought about what was said by Amos and instead of reacting defensively and in denial, they would have averted the impending tragedy with repentance and contrition.

As what we heard in the gospel, Jesus came to forgive our sins so that we can repent and be healed of our sinfulness.

Let us ask the Lord for a humble and contrite heart so that we will be able to see the truth of the criticisms against us.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

13th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 01-07-2020

Amos 5:14-15, 21-24 / Matthew 8:28-34

How we respond to people depends very much on how much we know them or how much we understand them.

Whenever we come across an angry person or a hostile person, we would surely want to avoid having any contact with them.

In other words, anger and hostility are frightening behaviour and we will avoid people with such behaviour as if they have a contagious disease.

But if we know these people personally, then we may have a different response and a different point of view.

The two demoniacs in the gospel were not born demoniacs.

For whatever reason, evil entered into them and made them demoniacs.

Even the gospel described them as "creatures so fierce" that it seemed that they had lost their humanity.

But that was what Jesus saw - their humanity. He understood what they were essentially.

Jesus healed them and restored their humanity. He restored their pride and dignity.

Jesus came to save our humanity and to restore our pride and dignity.

He came to free us from the bondage of sin and evil, a bondage that is expressed in anger, hostility and selfishness.

He saw through our crust of sin and touched our humanity and restored our dignity with His love.

What Jesus has done for us, let us in turn do the same for others.

Monday, June 29, 2020

13th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 30-06-2020

Amos 3:1-8; 4:11-12 / Matthew 8:23-27   

To be able to sleep soundly is really a blessing.

It may be because we are really tired out and the mind and the body just need to rest.

But to be able to sleep soundly can be rather difficult if we have many anxieties and worries on our minds.

These may even develop into fears that will disturb our sleep and our minds and bodies cannot get that much needed rest.

In the gospel, it is quite amazing to think that Jesus can even sleep in the boat when it was in the middle of a storm and the waves were even breaking right over the storm.

Even His disciples were terrified and had to wake Him up to save them.

But let us think about Jesus sleeping in the midst of the storm.

Yes, we are frightened by the anxieties and worries of life and the little faith that we have is shaken.

But let us cry out to the Lord to save us.

Jesus did not promise us that there will be no storms in life.

But He will be with us in those storms and He will save us and calm our hearts so that we can rest peacefully and continue to have faith in Him.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Monday 29-06-2020

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

St. Peter and St. Paul are two great apostles who strengthened the faith of the early Church and kept it in unity.

But these two saints were as different as night and day and they even had their differences recorded in Galatians 2: 14.

Although it was St. Peter who affirmed the identity of Christ, his character and actions did not quite reflect the meaning of his name, which means "rock".

Peter was rash and impulsive and we can certainly remember his triple denial of Jesus.

St. Paul was a brutal opponent of Christians before his conversion and he had a fiery character.

But it was strange that Jesus chose these two men who were far from perfect or even suitable to be the leaders of His Church.

Yet, that showed who was the spiritual and guiding force behind the Church.

But in spite of their differences and shortcomings, Sts. Peter and Paul were united in a common goal and mission.

Both died as martyrs, an act which showed that the purpose of their lives were not for their own glory but for the glory of God.

This feast of Sts. Peter and Paul shows us that despite the differences and failures in personalities and characters, the Church can be united for a common goal and mission.

The lives of Sts. Peter and Paul show us that God can choose the weak and imperfect persons to be the leaders of His Church.

Because it is through these imperfect human instruments that God shows the Church and the world that what is impossible for man is not impossible for God.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

13th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 28.06.2020

2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16 / Romans 6:3-4, 8-11 / Matthew 10:37-42
That is a story titled “Whose job is it?”, but it is known by its more popular title “The story of Everyone, Someone, Anyone and No-one”. 

This is how the story goes: There was an important job to be done and Everyone was sure that Someone would do it. Anyone could have done it, but No-one did it. 

Someone got angry about that, because it was Everyone’s job. Everyone thought that Anyone could do it, but No-one realized that Everyone wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everyone blamed Someone when No-one did what Anyone could have done. 

The story may be candid but the message is clear, and that is, no one wanted to take responsibility so nothing was accomplished. 

Although it is just a story, the reality of the problem exists in organizations, companies, teams and in society. 

And we also know that at one point in time, we have been that “Everyone”, “Someone”, “Anyone” and “No-one”. 

In the gospel, there is a word that Jesus mentioned a number of times, 9 times to be exact. 

In a short gospel passage, the word “anyone” appears nine times and hence there is an emphasis on it. 

What Jesus said about what anyone can do ranged from anything that is difficult to that which is rather ordinary. 

But it also means that anyone could do it. It is not something that is impossible or out of this world. 

But like in that story, someone thought that anyone could do it, but no one realize that everyone wouldn’t do it. 

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to be responsible and accountable. We are called to be that “anyone” and to do what is right and just. 

To be that “anyone” may mean ending up with a messy thankless task that everyone will take for granted with no one coming to help and even with someone giving comments and criticisms. 

Let us be that “anyone” for the glory of God and for the good of others. 

Jesus knows what we are doing for Him and He will reward us.

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 27-06-2020

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

It is quite obvious that wherever Jesus went, people will come and approach Him with their requests.

Today's gospel gives us a glimpse of a typical day of Jesus.

But we can be sure that whatever Jesus did for the people, whether He healed them, or whether He taught them, energy was required and He would get tired.

So when He went to Peter's mother-in-law's house, probably it was to take a break. He needed to rest for a while.

But when He saw Peter's mother-in-law in bed with a fever, He immediately attended to her need.

So whether in public or in private, whether it was in the presence of a centurion, or before a demanding crowd or attending to a poor feeble woman, Jesus poured out all His love and power.

Jesus was not certainly the type who would be at their best in public, but are at their worst in private.

Hence for us, there must also be a unity in our actions and our attitudes.

What we are in public should be a reflection of who we are in private and vice versa.

In other words, what we are on the outside should be a reflection of what we are inside.

So whether it is outside or inside, let us know that we are to reflect God's love and care always.

Friday, June 26, 2020

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 26-06-2020

2 Kings 25:1-12 / Matthew 8:1-4   

If we have a desperate request for a favour or a need, the last thing we want to hear is a "No".

Indeed, rejection in any form and no matter how gentle is difficult to accept.

More so if we need a "Yes" desperately and urgently. We would be devastated if we are rejected.

The leper in the gospel desperately needed a cure.

He knew that Jesus has the power to cure him and he was prepared to go all out and come before Jesus to make that request for a cure.

So when he said to Jesus, "Sir, if you want to, you can cure me" it was as direct and as blunt a request.

It may sound rather impolite and even demanding, but when in desperation, there is no time for consideration.

And the reply of Jesus was astounding - Of course I want to! Be cured!

And Jesus even stretched out His hand and touched the leper to cure him.

Let us always remember this astounding response of Jesus to the leper whenever we are desperate and in urgent need.

Of course Jesus wants to help us and grant us our need. But let us have faith in Him, especially when it takes just a bit longer for our prayer to be answered.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

12th Week,Ordinary Time, Thursday, 25-06-2020

2 Kings 24:8-17 / Matthew 7:21-29 

The kingdom of Babylon was one of the many kingdoms of the ancient world that we might come across in history books.

And Nebuchadnezzar was one of the powerful kings of Babylon when the kingdom was at the height of its power.

Though Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar are names and figures of the past, nonetheless they were a painful reminder for the people of God in the Bible.

Israel would rather forget, or would remember bitterly, what king Nebuchadnezzar and the army of Babylon did when they conquered Jerusalem in the year 586 BC.

The glorious Temple built by king Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonian army and most of the people of Jerusalem were deported to Babylon where they would be in exile for about 40 years.

But that glorious Temple was destroyed not so much by the might of the Babylonian army but because the people of God had turned away from God who is their Rock and their protection.

In the gospel, Jesus tells us to build on rock and not on sand.

God is the only Rock that we should build our lives on. The others are just passing and shifting sands.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Wednesday, 24-06-2020

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

The birth of a child is certainly not a casual or ordinary matter.

There is a whole spectrum of emotions involved – excitement, anxiety, worry, happy …

And along with that are hopes and dreams and expectations of what the future will be like with the arrival of the child.

Indeed, the birth of a child is no ordinary or casual matter.

We can even say that every birth of a child changes the whole of humanity.

And the birth of John the Baptist, the feast that we celebrate today, is certainly quite dramatic.

When his father, Zechariah, the priest of the Temple, was told by the angel Gabriel that his wife Elizabeth would conceive a child even though she was advanced in age and considered barren, Zechariah was skeptical and cynical.

For that he was struck dumb.

And then when Mary visited Elizabeth, the baby leapt in her womb. That must be really dramatic for Elizabeth.

As if that was not dramatic enough, then comes the naming of the baby.

Elizabeth and Zachariah insisted that he be called “John” and then Zechariah regained his power of speech and he praised God.

The neighbours were awed and with so much drama, they wondered what would this child turn out to be.

They might have thought that John would follow his father’s footsteps and become a priest of the Temple, or become someone famous and influential in the world of status and lime-light.

Yes, he did become someone famous and influential.

He became John the Baptist, who wore clothes made of camel-hair and ate locusts and wild honey and lived in the wilderness of the desert.

His name was John (Yehonan) and his name means “God is gracious” or “the grace of God”.

Indeed, it was the grace of God that chose him to be the greatest of all the prophets, because it was he who pointed out Jesus, the Lamb of God, to the people.

Yes, John the Baptist lived up to his name as “the grace of God”.

His call for repentance and conversion led people to the baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

John the Baptist prepared the people for the gracious coming of the Son of God among the people.

As we celebrated the feast of the birth of John the Baptist, we honour the great prophet who prepared the way for Jesus Christ.

We also give thanks for the outpouring of God’s grace, the grace that will also makes us prophets of God.

Monday, June 22, 2020

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 23-06-2020

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

To insult a person is certainly not good at all.

But to insult a person's religion and even to insult a person's God is really bad, and there will be serious consequences.

In the 1st reading, the king of the Assyrians, Sennacherib, sent a message to king Hezekiah, king of Judah with this message: Do not let your God on whom you are relying deceive you ...

Sennacherib was certainly proud and arrogant as he and his powerful Assyrian army had already disposed other nations and he was waiting for Judah to fall into his hands.

And king Hezekiah did the right thing. He took the letter and went up to the Temple and spread it before the Lord and prayed to the Lord and told the Lord about the insult of Sennacherib.

And as we know, the Lord scatters the proud of heart and He casts the mighty from their thrones.

That same night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 men of the Assyrian army. Obviously Sennacherib was shocked and he then retreated.

So besides the fact that insulting someone's religion or insulting someone's God has serious consequences, there is something that we must learn from king Hezekiah.

Let us know that we must take all our troubles and anxieties to the Lord in prayer and He will deliver us.

Let us remember that when we are humble and trusting in Him, He will raise us up from all that is against us.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 22-06-2020

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

Whenever we read the gospels, there is often this mention of the animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans.

If we ever wondered why, then the 1st reading gives us the reason as to how all that began.

For having constantly gone against the Lord God by worshipping idols and sinned over and over again without repenting, the Lord God let Samaria be captured by Assyria in 710 BC and almost all the inhabitants were deported, leaving only a handful of the population behind.

Over time the remaining Samaritans became a sort of mixed race and though they were Israelites, the Jews of Judah despised them for being impure and unworthy to be called Israelites.

But in reality, the Jews of Judah were no better than the Samaritans in that they too have sinned against the Lord.

The Jews of Judah made a judgement on the Samaritans but actually they were not any better.

And Jesus reminds us in the gospel not to judge others because we must realise we too are sinners and that we too have sinned against the Lord God.

But the Lord God loves those who are humble and contrite of heart and who turn back to Him in repentance.

Let us ask the Lord God to remove the plank of sin from our hearts so that our eyes can see clearly who we really are and also see that God is merciful and will always forgive a repentant sinner

Saturday, June 20, 2020

12th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 21.06.2020

Jeremiah 20:10-13 / Romans 5:12-15 / Matthew 10:26-33
Whenever we talk about fear, we are talking about something that affects all of us. Fear has no respect for status or personages. 

And fear is also not something that can be rationalized with. Because it is a natural and a powerful human emotion. 

The cause of fear can be anything from physical to psychological. Our response can also be anything from physical to psychological. 

Some people have a fear for creeping and crawling insects, or snakes, or even cats and dogs. 

Some have fears of the dark, or being alone, or of persons having certain looks and mannerisms. 

Some also have fears of failures, or being laughed at, or being gossiped about, or fear of public speaking or of being on stage. 

Whatever it is, the fear is a real emotion and it also makes us behave in a way that is not our usual and natural self. 

In the gospel Jesus tells His disciples and He also tells this: Do not be afraid. 

Jesus knows that we are afraid. But do we know what we are afraid of? 

Of course we are afraid of many things. We are afraid of the future especially in the midst of these times. We are afraid of losing our jobs, afraid of financial difficulties, afraid of serious illnesses or being infected by the virus. 

But when Jesus tells us not to be afraid, there is one person that He has in His mind, and that is, the evil one. 

Because the evil one will stir up our fears and the evil one will also use his agents to stir up our fears.

When we begin to fear, our faith gets shaken, we begin to act in an unloving way and we lose the hope of anything good that can come out of a bad situation. 

Just as in the 1st reading, the Lord God protected the prophet Jeremiah from his enemies, and Jeremiah was able to declare the justice of God and he even said: Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for He has delivered the soul of the needy from the hands of evil men. 

Jesus tells us not to be afraid of the evil one and those who do evil. 

Jesus tells us not to fear the worst case scenario but to have faith in Him and to have hope for the best case scenario. 

Let us ask the Lord Jesus to strengthen us with His love, so that we will be able to declare to others: Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for He will deliver us and save us.

The Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saturday, 20-06-2020

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

When we were in school, one of the phrases that we often hear is "Remember by heart".

It applied to anything from mathematical formulas to grammatical rules to eating habits.

We remembered those things, although we may not have to ponder on them or question them.

Mary did not just remember things; she pondered over the events and experiences in her life.

In her relationship and experience of Jesus, she indeed had rich and deep memories.

There is the wonder and joy of the first Christmas, the sorrow and grief at Calvary.

And in today's gospel, it was the worry and anxiety of finding Jesus and the astonishment at the answer He gave.

All this Mary remembered and pondered in her heart.

And as she pondered, the mystery of God was slowly revealed to her, the will of God was slowly made known to her.

The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary invites us to have a contemplative heart.

It is only with a contemplative heart that we can recall our past in retrospection and see the hand of God in our personal history.

It is with a contemplative heart that we become more aware of the presence of God in the present, and that will deepen our hope and confidence in God to journey into the future.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday, 19-06-2020

Deuteronomy 7:6-11 / 1 John 4:7-16 / Matthew 11:25-30   

The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is essentially a feast that celebrates the divine love and the human love of God for humanity.

God's love for His people as expressed in the Old Testament takes on a human form in the person of Jesus in the New Testament.

And that divine love and human love was expressed on the Cross and even more so when the heart of Jesus was pierced with a lance and out flowed blood and water.

Indeed the Heart of Jesus represents so many doctrines and devotional aspects of the Church that we are drawn to the image of Jesus that shows His Heart.

In the Heart of Jesus, we see love and mercy, forgiveness and compassion, strength and courage.

And in the gospel, Jesus calls out to us as He says: Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest.

These words of Jesus give us so much consolation, but like little children, we must come before Jesus and gaze in wonder at His Heart.

He will reveal to us what we need for our hearts so that we can find peace in this troubled world and rest from the burdens of life.

And as we unite our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us humbly pray and ask Jesus to make our hearts like His.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

11th Week,Ordinary Time, Thursday, 18-06-2020

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

Whenever we talk about sin, we usually put it under two categories: mortal sin or grave sin, and venial sin.

Venial sin are less serious sins, but let us not underestimate them.

Because venial sins can have serious and damaging consequences.

Let's take for example in the family.

After dinner, we might have noticed one family member always avoids the washing of dishes or the cleaning up.

We get irritated, and after a while this irritation becomes a resentment and slowly a bitterness sets within.

And when we can't take it anymore, we confront that person, but we confront that person with a resentment and with bitterness.

Our intended correction becomes a criticism and maybe even a condemnation.

That was why after teaching His disciples to pray, Jesus emphasized on forgiveness.

But it is not about forgiving those who have done us wrong but rather to forgive them for their failings.

Because when we stand before God, we stand before Him as sinners with our own set of failings.

If a sinner cannot forgive another sinner for his failings, then prayer does not make sense, and that was what Jesus was saying.

But when we realize that we are no better than the other person whom we are about to point our finger at, then mercy and forgiveness have already begun to flow in us.

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 17-06-2020

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 15, 2020

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 16-06-2020

1 Kings 21:17-29 / Matthew 5:43-48   

What holds a place in the showcase of life are certificates and testimonies, medals and trophies, prizes and photos of grand occasions.

These are considered the successes and achievements of life and we are proud to put them on display because they are symbols of our ability and our worth.

Some of these successes and achievements may be even quite extra-ordinary and there are accolades and praises for it.

However, in today's gospel, Jesus asked a question that will make us do an honest reflection.

That question is: Are you doing anything exceptional?

So if whatever we are doing is for the praises and recognition of men, then it can be said that what we are doing is for something personal and not so exceptional.

In fact, the exceptional is not so much something phenomenal but actually something simple and humble.

The prophet Elijah was a great prophet who did great deeds, but essentially, he simply did what God told him to do, and he did it humbly.

Let us be humble and simple in whatever we do, and may it be acceptable in the eyes of God.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 15-06-2020

1 Kings 21:1-16 / Matthew 5:38-42

King Ahab, who was king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 874 BC, was described in the first book of Kings as "worse than all his predecessors" (1 Kings 16 : 30)

But what we heard in today's 1st reading was probably one of his most disgusting and greedy act that eventually led to a great injustice and the loss of an innocent life.

King Ahab wanted Naboth's vineyard, not for any good reason, but just to grow his vegetables.

Yet Ahab know that the law actually prevented Naboth from selling or giving up his family inheritance.

Still he had the cheek to sulk and be angry to the extent that he would not even eat!

Well, we don't have to go further into what evil Jezebel did.

If we think that how Ahab behaved as a king was utter disgusting, then we should also read the letter of James concerning disunity among Christians.

James 4 : 1-3 says that we want something and we cannot get it so we are prepared to kill. We have an ambition that we cannot satisfy so we fight to get our way by force.

We easily forget that by virtue of our baptism, we are a priestly, prophetic and kingly people.

We need to be deeply aware of our identity and union in Christ.

Failing which, any sin that we commit, regardless of its gravity, is utterly atrocious, simply because of who we are.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Corpus Christi, Year A, 14.06.2020

Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16 / 1 Cor 10:16-17 / John 6:51-58

The Feast of Corpus Christi, or otherwise known as the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, can be said to be the feast that expresses the fundamental doctrines of the Catholic faith. 

This feast expresses the truth of the discourse by Jesus in the Gospel, which is taken from the Gospel of John. The whole of Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John is dedicated to the “Bread of life” discourse. 

The feast is also an expression of the teachings, Traditions, practices and devotions of the Catholic Church. 

The doctrine of this feast can be found in the Mass, the teaching on the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Hour and other Catholic devotions. 

Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, which started off as the Passover meal. 

But the Last Supper became uniquely the Institution of the Holy Eucharist when Jesus gave the Church His Body and Blood for the salvation of the world. 

So instead of a Passover lamb, Jesus is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed to take away the sins of the world. 

But going earlier than the Passover event in Egypt, we may remember that at the beginning of Creation, there were two trees in the Garden of Eden. One was the tree of Life, and the other was the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. 

Adam and Eve were instructed by God not to eat of the fruit of those two trees. 

But they fell into the temptation of the devil and ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. 

God drove them out of the Garden of Eden and in order to prevent them from eating of the Tree of Life, God set an angel to guard it. 

There was no further mention of that tree of Life after that. 

When Jesus was crucified on the Cross, the Cross was often referred to as a tree. (Acts 5:50) 

The connection between the Cross and the tree becomes profound when Jesus died on the Cross to save us and to give us a new life. 

Jesus now invites us to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life. And that fruit of the Tree of Life is none other than His Body and His Blood. 

Through the saving death of Jesus, we now have life and salvation through His Body and Blood. 

On this Feast of Corpus Christi, let us give thanks for such a great Divine Gift of Life.

May we always treasure this gift and may we never take this Gift for granted.

10th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 13-06-2020

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

When it comes to making appointments, there is a time that we need to keep.

Yet when it comes to keeping the time for the appointment, how do we fare in being early, and in time, and being late?

If we are often late for appointments and meetings, then we have to ask ourselves if we are serious with our words and with what we say.

So if we agree to a time for a meeting or appointment, and we don't keep to it as in that we are often late, then how about making promises and oaths?

If we cannot keep to our words in small things, then how sure are we that we will keep to our words in big things?

That is what Jesus is highlighting in today's gospel - whether we make a commitment to God or to man, we must be serious about it.

Being serious about our commitment does not just reflect our character.

It is also an indication that the love of Christ has overwhelmed us, and that we no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died and was raised to life for us.

So keeping to our words has a spiritual dimension - it shows that we are a new creation in Christ. The old creation is gone and it is all God's work.

Yes, it was God who was committed to saving us in Jesus Christ. Let us also be committed in being faithful to Him.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

10th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 12-06-2020

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

In the moral sense, a person's conscience is the sense of right and wrong, and with that it can be said that it is a guide to one's behaviour.

But of course, what is right and wrong depends on how a person is formed in the moral aspects and what are his moral guideposts.

So as much as there is objective morality, the tendency can be that we might want to see how far we can go before it becomes obviously wrong.

But morality is not about how far to the edge we can go before we fall off the cliff. Rather it is about knowing where the edge is and keeping away from it.

In referring to the commandment about not committing adultery, Jesus did not just stop with what is obviously wrong, He also went into what is not obviously wrong.

So impure thoughts can be as dangerous as the wrong act, but because no one can "see" our thoughts, we may think it is not as bad as the act itself.

But purity of mind and heart is both spiritually and morally important, because thoughts can lead to actions.

The voice of conscience can be said to be the voice of God telling us what is dangerous or what is wrong.

The voice of God often comes to us like the sound of a gentle breeze, and as we heard in the 1st reading, the prophet Elijah heard that sound and knew it was the voice of God calling out to him.

In the midst of this noisy world, let us take time to be quiet and listen to the voice of God.

The voice of God speaks into the depths of our hearts so that we will know the way that God wants us to live our lives.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

St. Barnabas, Apostle, Thursday, 11-06-2020

Acts 11:22-26; 13:1-3 / Matthew 10:7-13

St. Barnabas was not one of the twelve Apostles chosen by Jesus, but the book of the Acts of the Apostles named him as an apostle (Acts 14:14).

Together with St. Paul, they preached the Good News to the gentiles. But there are some distinct characteristics about them.

St. Paul wrote epistles but there was none from St. Barnabas in the New Testament. There are quotes from St. Paul in Acts and in other passages in the New Testament, but there seems to be nothing written of what St. Barnabas said.

Yet it can be said that St. Barnabas was as much a man of words as he was of action.

His name means "son of encouragement" and he was given that name when he converted to Christianity and sold his goods and property and gave the money to the apostles.

Indeed he lived up to that name as he was the first to take in St. Paul after his conversion when others were still suspecting him.

In the 1st reading, we heard that St. Barnabas was sent to Antioch to look into the great numbers of conversion, and when he was there, more people were won over to the Lord.

He then went to look for St. Paul to help out in the work in Antioch and it was there that the disciples were first called "Christians" and that became the most identifiable term.

In word and in deed, St. Barnabas was a sign of encouragement for others in their faith and in their lives.

May we follow the example of St. Barnabas and be for others an encouragement and consolation in word and in deed.

10th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 10-06-2020

1 Kings 18:20-39 / Matthew 5:17-19 

The spectacular always draws the attention of the people.

Whether it is out of curiosity or anxiety, the spectacular can somehow appeal to both.

In the 1st reading, the people were curious about what was going to take place in the standoff between the prophet Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal.

For the prophet Elijah, he was anxious to draw the people back to the true God, and nothing less than a spectacular miracle would suffice.

And so a contest was arranged with two sacrifices, one for the God of Israel and the other for Baal.

The condition was set, and that was fire would consume the sacrifice to prove which is from the true God.

In the end, the curiosity of the people was addressed and the anxiety of the prophet Elijah turn to victory as the God of Israel sent down fire from above to consume the sacrifice and proved who was the true God.

But we don't have to always look for spectacular miracles in order to have faith and to keep believing in God.

As Jesus taught in the gospel, the one who keeps the commandments of God and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.

To keep the faith and be faithful to God is already spectacular enough.

Monday, June 8, 2020

10th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 09-06-2020

1 Kings 17:7-16 / Matthew 5:13-16 

When the world is hit by hard times, the result will be that there will be more and more people sinking into financial difficulties.

So the ranks of the poor and needy begins to swell and those who formerly were living just above the poverty line now find themselves having more companions as well as "competitors".

And those who are usually quite charitable to the poor and needy may find themselves facing some kind of charity fatigue.

With more and more calls for helping the poor and needy and donating to charity, the usually charitable people begin to feel that they cannot afford to donate anymore.

The widow in the 1st reading may have these thoughts as Elijah asked her for food.

She and her son were about to take their last meal but she still had a bit of charity to do as Elijah told do, and then of course, a miracle came out a little charity.

In the gospel, Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

As salt and light, we are the living miracles of God's charity because God created us with love.

Let us share whatever little we have, and trust that God will work a miracle with just a little charity from us.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

10th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 08-06-2020

1 Kings 17:1-6 / Matthew 5:1-12 

What we read in the gospel is what is often called the "Beatitudes".

Beatitudes means blessings, and indeed, for those who receive blessings, they are truly happy.

But when we read deeper about who are those who receive blessings, then we might be rather surprised.

Those who are poor in spirit, those who are gentle, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for what is right, those who are merciful, those who are pure in heart, those who are peacemakers and then those who are persecuted in the cause of right, they are the ones who will receive blessings from God.

This truly goes against the worldly values of power and might, fame and fortune, status and superiority.

But God gives His abundant blessings on those who do His will and walk in His ways.

In the 1st reading, the prophet Elijah proclaimed a message from God and declared a drought for three years.

But God took care of His prophet and provided for his needs of sustenance.

Yes, God will take care of us when we do His will and walk in His ways.

To do God's will and walk in God's ways is indeed a blessing

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Trinity Sunday, Year A, 07.06.2020

Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9 / 2 Cor13:11-13 / John 3:16-18

The word “online” is not a new word. 

When Information Technology came into the scene more than 20 years ago, it was a technological advancement that made a great impact on the world. 

With that many resources began going online and there was no turning back. 

Nowadays, instruction manuals and hard copy materials have gone online. 

In fact, any product that does not have an online resource and information availability is either outdated or would not be around for long. 

But recently, the word “online” has taken over almost every aspect of our lives. 

So there are online meetings, online teaching, online shopping, online buying and selling, online praying, online worship services, online social gatherings and online entertainment. 

If one hasn’t gone online in the past couple of months, then we might think that that person is certainly not in touch with reality. 

But with that being said, it cannot be denied that online is just a virtual reality. 

Although there is audio and visual, there is no physical reality presents. 

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity in which we celebrate this Sunday, is certainly not an abstract reality. 

As we heard in the gospel, God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son. God sent His Son into the world so that everyone who believes in Him may not be lost but be saved and have eternal life. 

God is not a virtual reality. Jesus Christ His Son is the image of the unseen God, and to have seen Him is to have seen God the Father. 

The Holy Spirit is given to us so that we can be in union with the Father and Son and to be members of the Mystical Body of the Church in which Jesus Christ is the Head. 

For the love and union of the Holy Trinity is a spiritual as well as a physical reality that is manifested in the Church.

The celebration of the mystery of the Holy Trinity is also acknowledged in the reality of our faith in God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

The union and love of the Holy Trinity is also to be reflected in our lives and more so when we gather as the Church. 

Love and Union is what the Holy Trinity is all about. 

It is also what we are all about. 

Our mission is to go forth and proclaim that that is what the world should be all about.

Friday, June 5, 2020

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 06-06-2020

2 Timothy 4:1-8 / Mark 12:38-44

Being curious and adventurous is part of our human nature.

With monotonous routine, boredom will surely set in and we will begin to look for some excitement in our lives.

So in whatever we do, or even in whatever we eat, we would like to have a variety, and we would like to try out new things.

But when it comes to our religious beliefs, then we must also be aware that the essential truths have been revealed to us by Jesus.

In a way, we can say that when it comes to Christianity, there is nothing new that has not been revealed; maybe just a deeper understanding of the mystery of faith.

The 1st reading warns us that the time will come when, far from being contented with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty according to their tastes, and instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths.

That was why St. Paul urged Timothy to preach the Good News, welcomed or unwelcomed, and to insist on it.

To believe in the truth demands that we be faithful to the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So day in, and day out, we have to stay faithful to the truth we have been taught and to stay on the right course.

Jesus Christ is our only Saviour. Anything or anyone else is just another temptation.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 05-06-2020

2 Timothy 3:10-17 / Mark 12:35-37   

It is the teaching of the Church and it is also our belief that Jesus is truly God and truly man.

Most of us would just go along with it and we would rather not discuss it because we may not understand what that really means.

But the nature of Jesus Christ was truly a serious matter of contention as the Church in the early time began to formulate its teachings about Jesus Christ.

And heresies (wrong teachings) began to arise about the nature of Jesus Christ.

On the one extreme is the heresy that Jesus Christ is fully divine and that He didn't take on human nature even though He appeared in human form.

But that would mean that His suffering and death would make no sense as God cannot suffer like a human being, and suffering and dying on the Cross would have no meaning.

On the other extreme is the heresy that Jesus Christ is a human being and was enlightened and become a holy man and gained a divine state with His Resurrection.

But that would raise problems and questions about the truth of the teachings of Jesus Christ and about His true union with the Holy Trinity.

In the gospel, when the people heard what Jesus taught about the Christ, they heard it with delight.

We may wonder why. It was because the scribes taught that the Christ is the son of David. But the question then would be Christ would just be another human being, maybe just as great as David. How would that Christ be the Messiah that God has promised?

As we profess that Jesus is our Saviour and that He is truly God and truly man, it will be comforting to know that Jesus knows our sufferings, and yet He will save us from despair.

Let us continue to put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, whom St. Thomas proclaimed: My Lord and my God!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 04-06-2020

2 Tim 2:8-15 / Mark 12:28-34   

An invocation is a form of words that is addressed to a deity to appeal for help or for a request.

The response in the Responsorial Psalm can be called an invocation.

It is addressed to the Lord, with an intention, which is "make me know Your ways."

So as we make this invocation: Lord, make me know Your ways, what are the ways of the Lord that we want to know?

In the gospel, the ways of the Lord are found in the love of God and the love of neighbour.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul makes known to us the way of the Lord, and that is to bear his own hardships and to bear it for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it.

And there is also a way that the Lord wants us to follow and it can be found in what St. Paul said to Timothy:

Do all you can to present yourself in front of God as a man who has come through his trials, and a man who has no cause to be ashamed of his life's work and has kept a straight course with the message of truth.

Yes, we invoke the Lord with: Lord, make me know Your ways.

We want to know God's ways, so that we too will go the ways that He has planned for us.

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 03-06-2020

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

The great pyramids of Egypt is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and in fact the only existing one left.

Standing magnificently and silently in the desert sand for four thousands years, those pyramids housed the tombs of the pharaohs.

The shape of the pyramids was thought to symbolize a stairway to the sun, so that the pharaoh could climb to heaven.

The great pyramids were built from about two million blocks of stone, each weighing about twenty tons.

So it can be said that the Egyptian belief in the after-life was rock solid.

So did the Jews. Yet there was a hitch in the Egyptian and Jewish understanding of the after-life.

The pharaoh was buried with his treasures and possession, his servants and his wives, so that he could bring them along with him to the after-life.

In the gospel, we heard that the Sadducees thought of the after-life relationships as a mere continuation of the present life relationships.

We too can become confused and skeptical when we try to understand the after-life in terms of the present life.

All we know for now is that we will see God "face-to-face" and receive the fullness of life and joy.

It is with faith in God and in the eternal life with Him that we will stop building pyramids on earth and strive to live the life of above.

The God that we believe in is God, not of the dead, but of the living.

Those who believe in Him will have life and life to the full.

Monday, June 1, 2020

9th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 02-06-2020

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

In a way we can say that we are very lax and complacent with regards to our safety.

We would consider wearing the safety belts in the car, crash helmets when riding a motorcycle or even a bicycle, a hassle rather than as a means of protecting our ourselves.

Yes, we would not fear until we see danger right in the eye and then the chilling fear runs up our spine. But would that be too late?

Similarly we do not fear death. We may have attended numerous funerals of loved ones and friends, but yet the coldness of death won't hit us until we are grasping for life. But then again, would it be too late?

Even when we hear in the 1st reading about the sky dissolving in flames and the elements melt in the heat, would we jump up and start confessing our sins and repenting of our evil deeds?

We may be thinking - All this will happen, but not soon. (Maybe not even in my life-time!)

But the 1st reading warns us: Think of our Lord's patience as your opportunity to be saved.

We must always remember that our time on earth is short. As the Psalm would say - our lifespan is seventy years, and eighty for those who are strong.

Kingdoms have come and gone, Caesar has come and gone, generals and geniuses have come and gone.

We too will go, and when we go, let us pray that we will go back to God. Let us not be lax and complacent about our salvation. Let us get serious on it now.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Our Lady, Mother of the Church, 01-06-2020

Acts 1:12-14 / John 19:25-27

In the 1st reading, we heard that after Jesus was taken up to heaven, the apostles returned to Jerusalem and went to the upper room where they were staying

There they devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus.

That was the last mention of Mary. After that there was no more mention of her in the rest of the Bible.

This last mention of Mary is significant because that was also her purpose after Jesus was taken up to heaven.

Mary stayed with the apostles and she was with them in prayer. She was doing this because she was obedient to what Jesus entrusted to her while He was on the cross.

Because Mary remembered what Jesus told her when He was on the cross: Woman, behold your son.

Though she did not reply, her silence was her consent. She not only agreed to be the mother of the disciple that Jesus loved, she understood that she was to be the mother of all the disciples of Jesus.

Today's memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, is a new addition to the liturgical calendar of the Church.

That title of Mary, Mother of the Church, was officially given to Mary during the Second Vatican Council by Pope Paul VI.

So from Mother of God, she is now also the Mother of the Church. And if we are obedient to what Jesus said on the cross, then we too must embrace Mary as our Mother, which most of us would be more willing to do.

But for us, Mary is not just our Mother, but we would also want to carry out what Jesus entrusted to us and we want Mary to be the Mother of all peoples.

As we celebrate this memorial, let us make our Mother known to all peoples, for in doing so, we are also making Jesus known to all peoples.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Pentecost Sunday, Year A, 31.05.2020

Acts 2:1-11 / 1 Cor 12:3-7 / John 20:19-23

It is said that everything happens for a reason. But it also leaves the statement rather open-ended. Is it for a good reason? 

If only we can know how good the reason is, then maybe we will be able to accept what is happening around us and what is happening to us. 

But more often than not, the reason is discovered only much later, and it is only on hindsight that we might be able to see the good reason. 

So, when we look at what is happening around us and what is happening to us, just how do we feel about it? 

Some see the good reason in all this, but most of us just end up sighing and grumbling and hoping that what is happening will end soon. 

But with faith, we must believe that everything that happens has a good reason for it. It is with faith and hope that we can continue to live on with love. 

For example, when Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper that He was going away, they were sad. But He also told them that if He does not go, the Holy Spirit will not come. 

So His going away is for a good reason but His disciples could not understand it then. 

In the gospel, Jesus appeared to His disciples for the first time after His Resurrection. Then He said to them, “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.”

Then He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” 

It was probably then that the disciples understood that all that had happened, the suffering and death of Jesus, happened for a good reason. 

And with the Holy Spirit upon them, they began to understand how good the Spirit was, and as we heard in the 1st reading, the disciples went forth to proclaim the marvels of God. 

As we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, and as the Holy Spirit descends into our hearts, the Holy Spirit will lead us to discover the good in what is happening around us and what is happening to us. 

And more so, as the 2nd reading puts it, “The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.”
Over this period of time, we have discovered many areas of growth and we are learning new things to cope with and accept a fast-changing situation. 

With the help of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to turn trials into triumphs, and obstacles into opportunities.

But we must pray to the Holy Spirit and be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, as He guides us to learn and to grow and to see the good in every situation, so that we will be able to experience the marvels of God.

7th Week of Easter, Saturday, 30-05-2020

Acts 28:16-20, 30-31 / John 21:20-25

We have often heard of this phrase: No man is an island.

In a densely populated island-country like Singapore, who can ever say that he is a stand-alone or that he doesn't care about anybody around him?

Indeed, for better or otherwise, we will always be surrounded by people, and we will notice them just as they will notice us.

So we may or may not find it surprising that Peter should ask Jesus about the disciple whom He loved.

And it seemed that Jesus reproached Peter and told him to mind his own business.

Yet it order to have a better understanding of Peter's intentions, we might have to read the preceding passage.

Jesus had told Peter to feed His sheep and to follow Him and even indicated what kind of future Peter will have to face.

Well after knowing what is in store for him, Peter would certainly like to know what the rest would face, especially the disciple Jesus loved, whether it is out of concern or out of curiosity.

Therefore Jesus had to bring Peter back to focus on his commitment to love and the mission that he had received.

And as we prepare for the renewal and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, let us focus on our commitment to love and our mission to love.

Love is never about the self; it is always about others and for their good. Let us keep focused on that.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

7th Week of Easter, Friday, 29-05-2020

Acts 25:13-21 / John 21:15-19 

Usually people would associate the shape of love with the shape of a heart.

Oh yes, when we want to express love between persons and people, we would put the shape of hearts all over, whether one heart or many hearts.

But from the perspective of faith, we know what the shape of love is - it is the shape of the Cross.

It was on the Cross that we see what unconditional love is, what sacrificial love and what divine love is.

In the gospel, when Jesus asked Peter "Do you love me" three times, it was certainly not lovey-dovey hearts all over that question.

For that three times that Peter denied Jesus, now Jesus is asking Peter three time if he loved Him.

And for the three times that Peter said to Jesus, "Yes Lord, you know I love you", the shape of the cross was slowly beginning to emerge as Jesus indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God.

Yes, the shape of love is the cross, yet that love comes from the Sacred Heart.

The shape of love is also the heart as we offer our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we see love and we see also the Cross.

Let us embrace the Heart of Jesus, and carry our cross and be His loving disciples.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

7th Week of Easter, Thursday, 28-05-2020

Acts 22:30; 23:6-11 / John 17:20-26

In every Mass, there are at least two readings. One is the 1st reading and the other is the gospel.

In between the 1st reading and the gospel is the Responsorial Psalm.

The Responsorial Psalm is for us to response to the Word of God that we heard in the 1st reading.

The Responsorial Psalm for today is taken from Psalm 15, and the response is "Preserve me, Lord, I take refuge in you."

That connects well to the 1st reading as we heard how St. Paul was put on trial before the chief priests and the Sanhedrin, but somehow his accusers ended up disagreeing and quarrelling among themselves.

Indeed, St. Paul took refuge in the Lord and the Lord preserved him and also gave him the courage to go forth and bear witness.

The response in the Responsorial Psalm can also be our prayer as we implore the Lord to preserve our faith as we take refuge in Him.

May the Lord also give us the courage that He gave to St. Paul to bear witness to Him in these times.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

7th Week of Easter, Wednesday, 27-05-2020

Acts 20:28-38 / John 17:11-19 

It is said that honesty is an expensive thing, so don't expect it from cheap people.

So in order to trust somebody, we may have to let our guard down, to whatever extent.

It is like wearing armour. We only take off the armour when we are with people that we trust.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul urged the elders of the church of Ephesus with these words:
Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the Church of God which he bought with his own blood.

St. Paul was telling the elders of the church that they themselves need to guard themselves first before they can guard the flock that is entrusted to them.

St. Paul mentioned about the Holy Spirit, and that was where he was leading them towards.

The Holy Spirit is our Advocate, and the Holy Spirit defends and protects us.

Let us continue to pray to the Holy Spirit that He will be our armour against evil and that He will also protect us from falling into the snares of the devil.