Monday, June 26, 2017

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 27-06-17

Genesis 13:2, 5-18 / Matthew 7:6, 12-14

It is a known nutrition fact that a well-balanced diet is a means to healthy living.

And equally as important, if not more important than a well-balanced diet is a well-balanced life.

In the gospel, we hear Jesus giving three components of a well-balanced spiritual life.

It is reverence to God, our attitude towards others, and our direction in life.

We give reverence to God by being grateful and giving thanks for His blessings and we must not be like the "dogs and pigs" that Jesus used as a symbol of irreverence and ingratitude.

Our attitude towards others is often mirrored in their attitude towards us. How we treat them will be how they treat us - what goes around comes around.

As for direction in life, it is about taking the road less travelled, the long, narrow and winding road. We need to accept that life is difficult, and when we accept that, then we won't waste time and energy finding for easy ways out.

In the 1st reading, we see how Abram lived out these principles of a balanced life.

He trusted in the Lord; he was generous towards Lot by giving him the first choice over the land; he accepted the challenges and difficulties with faith in God.

So we know what it takes to be healthy and holy. May we pray for the wisdom to live a life that gives glory to God.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

12th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 26-06-17

Genesis 12:1-9 / Matthew 7:1-5

Psalm 90:10 tells us that the days of our lives are 70 years, and 80 for those who are strong.

Practically speaking, when we reach 70 years, it would be a time to retire from a hectic lifestyle and spend our days in peace and enjoying a golden sunset.

At 75 years, we probably would not be thinking a moving out of our country and start a life somewhere else and probably have to start all over again. We just don't have that kind of energy.

In the 1st reading, we are told that Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran to a land that God was going to show him. 

We are also told that God made him a promise, he took his family and all his possessions, and stage by stage, the Lord appeared to him and told him what to do and where to go.

We would wonder if we had missed out something. We wonder why would Abram have done such a thing although we acknowledge that he is the father of our faith and he did the right thing.

But there are also many details that we do not know of and we can keep pondering what made Abram listen to God and trust in him.

In the gospel, Jesus gave a teaching on judging others. The point of His teaching is that we do not know the details and hence to judge is to come to a conclusion without knowing the full details of the situation of a person.

Our life span may be 70 years or 80 years or more. Let us live out our lives with clarity and let us not make judgements about others when we do not know all the details. 

After all, we want to live our lives joyfully and peacefully with others.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

12th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 25.06.2017

Jeremiah 20:10-13 / Romans 5:12-15 / Matthew 10:26-33

If we were asked “What is fear?” we may be able to immediately come up with descriptions and examples?

But if we were asked “What is courage?” we make take a while to define it and to give a personal example

A lecturer once gave an examination with just this question:  What is courage?

And he gave the class 3 hours to answer that question.

Everybody began to write immediately.

After about 5 minutes a student walked up with just a piece of paper.  There is only one sentence in that paper.

He handed it over to the lecturer and left the examination hall.

Everybody was surprised, but carried on writing.

When the results were out, everybody was also surprised.

It was that student who passed up that one piece of paper with only one sentence who got the highest marks.

Certainly we would want to know what he wrote and how he answered that question.

He wrote only 3 words:  This is courage!

Courage is not about words.  Courage is about actions.

By his actions that student showed what courage is all about.

In today’s gospel, Jesus told his disciples not to be afraid.

What is there to be afraid of? Plenty! There is the fear of going to the dentist, fear of losing the job, fear of illness, fear of failure, etc.

In fact in the first test of courage at the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples failed terribly.

They all deserted Jesus and left Him alone to face His persecutors.

Only Jesus showed courage when confronted with fear.

Why did the disciples gave in to fear? Where did fear come from?  How can we overcome fear?

To begin with fear is a reaction; it is a reaction to a threat or danger. We can choose to give in to fear, or we can choose to have courage.

So if fear is a reaction, then courage is a decision. And if there is no fear, then there is no need courage.

Fear comes from the fact that we feel insecure. We feel insecure because we think that God does not care about us and the He does not come to protect us in times of trouble and danger.

And that is because there are times when we think that our prayers are not answered.

So how do we pray when we come face to face with troubles and difficulties?

We need to look at how Jesus prayed when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

At first He asked His heavenly Father to take that cup away, meaning to save him from suffering, pain and the cross.

After that, He prayed that God’s will be done and not His will.

Jesus trusted that when He does God’s will, then God will protect and save Him. Jesus went on to face the Cross with courage.

So when we pray, let us reflect on what we are praying.

If we are telling God what He should be doing for us, then it seems that we do not trust God to know what we need.

Hence our prayer already shows our distrust and insecurity.  So even when we pray, we also have fears.

But when we pray that God’s will be done, we surrender ourselves courageously into God’s hands. Because courage is fear that had said its prayers and surrendering to God’s will.

And no matter what happens, even if the worst should happen, we know that God is watching over us and protecting us.

When we put God’s will first, then God assures us that everything will turn out for the good of those who trust God.

To trust God means to love Him. To love is a decision, and to have courage is also a decision.

But more importantly we must believe and trust that God loves us more than we can ever love him.

And we can discover what our enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten us.
The devil will deceive us by saying: You can’t withstand the storm. But Jesus will declare: Do not be afraid. I will silence the storm.

In life there are many dangerous storms. We can react with fear, or we can decide to have courage.
Because it takes courage to believe and trust in Jesus who declares to us: Do not be afraid. I have conquered the world.

Let us decide to listen to Jesus, and we will have the courage.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Nativity of St. John The Baptist, Saturday, 24-06-17

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

The name "John" appears for the first time in the Bible in today's gospel.

It is a Jewish name (Yohanan) and it means "God is gracious".

Why Elizabeth have her son that name and why Zechariah confirmed it was not mentioned.

But we can suppose, and quite correctly, that she was expressing her thanks and praise to God for this gift of grace in her son, and that God was merciful to her and saved her from the shame of being barren.

Indeed the name "John" was very befitting for the Baptizer because he was the herald of a more important person.

He ushered in the appointed time of grace.

In fact he ushered in the fullness of grace that was embodied in the person of Jesus Christ.

In Jesus Christ, God came as a man to visit His people and to redeem them from the slavery of sin.

As it was then, so it is now still. Every moment is a time of grace.

God still visits us not only to save us but to make us the light of the nations, so that salvation may reach all nations, as we heard in the 1st reading.

May we live each moment in grace of God, so that we may be instruments of light and life to others.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday, 23-06-17

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

If we ask ourselves what is the greatest gift from God, we will surely come to this answer.

The greatest gift from God is surely His only Son Jesus.

And the greatest gift of Jesus to us is His love for us: "Love one another as I have loved you."

And Jesus showed that He loved us to the end by laying down his life for us.

The Church uses the image of the Sacred heart to symbolize this love.

The heart of Jesus is crowned with thorns but yet burning with love for us.

It is in the Sacred Heart of Jesus that our own hearts will find the love that we are looking for, and it is a love that Jesus wants to give us.

In the Sacred Heart of Jesus we will find the peace and joy that we are longing for.

Yes, our hearts will not rest until they are rested in the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

So the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us that Jesus is always loving us and holding us close to His heart.

His heart burns with love for us. May our hearts also burn with love for Jesus and for others.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 22-06-17

2 Cor 11:1-11 / 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 avoiding 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 fingers at, then mercy and forgiveness have already begun to flow in us.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

11th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 21-06-17

2 Cor 9:6-11 / Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Whenever the Church talks about giving, what immediately comes to mind is money.

And generally speaking, whenever any charitable organisation talks about giving, the presupposition is that it is about money.

As we heard in the 1st reading, when St. Paul talked about giving, he was certainly referring to money.

While in most cases money is the means of giving, what is more important is the spirituality of giving.

Because in the gospel, when Jesus talked about prayer, fasting and almsgiving, He is also saying that God the Father knows the intentions of doing it.

So whether be it almsgiving or prayer or fasting, it is a form of spiritual offering to God the Father, and when God sees the purity of the intentions behind it, He will reward the giver accordingly.

Hence, besides almsgiving or money, when it comes to prayer and fasting, what is the attitude behind the giving or the offering?

As St. Paul said in the 1st reading, thin sowing means thin reaping. And God loves a cheerful giver.

God also will reward those who give generously of themselves in prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

And we also need to remember this: There is no limit to the blessings which God can send you - He will make sure that you will always have all you need for yourselves in every possible circumstance, and still have something to spare for all sorts of good works.