Thursday, December 30, 2010

31st December 2010, Friday, Seventh Day within Octave of Christmas

1 John 2:18-21 / John 1:1-18

Well, we have come to that day of the year when we will this old familiar song being sung or played on the radio -  "Auld Lang Syne"

I wonder if we know what that phrase "Auld Lang Syne" means.

It literally means "long long ago" or "days gone by" or "old times".

Well it's the last day of the year and 365 days may have gone by, but it may not seem like so long ago or that it was long long ago since we began this year.

The gospel begins with the works : In the beginning ......

Obviously it was not referring to the beginning of the year or even the beginning of time.

In fact it is not even talking about any beginning. It is talking about a mystery that has no beginning or end.

Because the mystery of God is always and forever.

For us it may be the end of the year and we are about to begin a new year.

But God wants us to know that He is with us always and forever.

At every moment of our lives, He blesses us with grace upon grace.

May we also live our lives in the grace of God every moment of our lives.

May our lives be lived in truth so that the light of God shines in us.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

30th December 2010, Thursday, Sixth Day within Octave of Christmas

1 John 2:12-17 / Luke 2:36-40

I don't think that I have ever heard of anyone saying that growing old is fun. 

Children might say that they can't wait to grow up but we know better.

Most of us here are not that old. But if we are 84 years old, do we think we will still come for the weekday morning Mass. Or evening Mass for that matter of fact.

Old age brings about a set of challenges and problems.

But the fact is that every age and stage of life brings about a set of challenges and problems.

The prophetess Anna whom we heard about in the gospel had her share of challenges and problems in every stage of life.

She had been married, been widowed and now at 84 years old, she was a symbol of mellowness, a person of prayer and an instrument of God.

She was able to recognize the Saviour even though He was just a baby.

As we advance in age, let us mellow our lives into the Spirit of God, let us be persons of prayer and in the midst of life's challenges and problems, let us be instruments of God by showing others the saving love of God.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

29th December 2010, Wednesday, Fifth Day within Octave of Christmas

1 John 2:3-11 / Luke 2:22-35

The symbols of Christmas has this profound aspect of being symbols of light.

From the candles in the Advent wreath, to the star of Bethlehem, to the decorative lights on the Christmas tree and the electric bulb shining on the baby Jesus in the crib, all these are symbols and representations of light.

Indeed, Christmas is a celebration of the the light of Christ shining into our human shadows and scattering away the darkness of sin.

In the gospel, Simeon saw that light and his heart was at peace. His wait is over.

Our wait is also over because the 1st reading tells us that the night is over and the real light is already shining.

For the commercial world, Christmas is over, but for us Christmas has just begun.

Let us walk in the light of love and forgiveness, mercy and compassion, generosity and sacrifice so that we too will be symbols of the light of Christ.

Monday, December 27, 2010

28th December 2010, The Holy Innocents, martyrs

1 John 1:5 - 2:2 / Matthew 2:13-18

Most of us have fond memories of our childhood days.

We may recall those slow and easy days of our growing up years when we were in the sun most of the time and we made toys from our own simple creativity.

In that aspect we can consider ourselves really fortunate.

Because when we read in the papers or see in the tv of the turmoil going on in the other countries, we are immediately confronted with the fact of how vulnerable children are.

In fact, in times of war or conflict, or even in tragedies or disasters, children are the first to suffer, whether the persecution is direct or indirect.

So it was in the time of Jesus, when Herod out of his insecurity and insanity, ordered the massacre of infants of Bethlehem.

And this senseless brutality continues to this day.

It continues in the political, racial and religious conflicts.

It has even happened at home in the form of child abuse, not forgetting abortion, where the fetus is regarded as a thing.

The feast of the Holy Innocents remind us that it is our duty to protect the rights and dignity of children, just as Mary and Joseph protected the helpless Jesus.

The children are our future. They need our love and protection.

And in the not-so-far-away future, they will be the ones who will show us God's love and protection.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

27th December 2010, Monday, St. John, Apostle, Evangelist

1 John 1:1-4 / John 20:2-8

According to tradition, St. John was subjected to torture by being plunged into a pot of boiling oil but he miraculously survived, whereas the other apostles were martyred.

It is also believed that he lived to a ripe old age of about 94 and he died of natural causes.

There could be some truth in that because the gospel that is attributed to him contains a spiritual depth that is not so obvious in the other three gospels.

In biblical art,  the Gospel of John is often depicted with an eagle, which symbolizes the insight to the height of the mystery of the person of Jesus which was expounded in the first chapter of the gospel.

It had that depth of insight to the height of the mystery probably from the reflection and meditation over the years.

There was a story that when St. John was old man, he was asked to preach to a gathering of believers.

His message was short yet sublime : Dear children, love one another. Learn to love one another as God loves you.

That is also the central theme in the gospel of John - the love that God has for us, and it can be found in passages like  John 3:16-17; 13:34-35; 15:17.

It is a profound theme and to love one another as Jesus has loved us is a spirituality and a mystery that needed to be constantly reflected and meditated upon in our hearts.

Like St. John may God also deepen and enlighten us in His love for us so that we will in turn love one another as Jesus has loved us.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Midnight 2010

Isaiah 9:2-7 / Titus 2:11-14 / Luke 2:1-14

Back in the year 1223, St. Francis of Assisi  set up the first Nativity scene  that would eventually spread across the whole Church.

His intention of arranging the Nativity scene was to help the peasants who were uneducated and could not read the gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus.

In visual form, the poor people could see and understand the situation and the circumstances in which Jesus was born.

800 years later, the Nativity crib still has the visual significance and impact that it had back in the year 1223.

In churches and at homes and even in public places, the Nativity crib captures that significant moment when Jesus was born.

Along with that moment were all the characters who were intimately connected with the birth of Jesus as recorded in the gospels.

So in the crib with the baby Jesus are Mary, Joseph, a couple of shepherds with a couple of sheep, an ox and a donkey.

So as we admire the Nativity scene and the beautifully crafted statues in it, have we ever wondered which character we could relate with at this point in our lives.

Well, mothers could relate with Mary and rejoice with her as they carry their own babies in their arms.

Yet there is also the anxiety over the health and safety of their babies.

Husbands could relate with Joseph as he commits his life to caring and protecting mother and child.

But they also know how stressful it is to be the man of the house and maybe even the sole bread-winner.

Some of us might be able to relate with the shepherds who have to work away from home, and maybe could not be home for Christmas.

Some of us might even be able to relate with the sheep or the ox or the donkey.

Meaning to say that just like those animals, we feel that life is a burden just as the donkey is a beast of burden.

Or like the sheep and the ox, we pour out our lives in sacrifice for others and yet we don't feel appreciated or valued.

Yet whatever it is and whatever we may feel, gathering together in this Mass is like gathering together around the crib.

We focus our hearts on the Baby in the manger and we rejoice at His birth.

And we give thanks to God that we can be here to celebrate the birth of our Saviour.

Yes we give thanks because there are people who want to be here but they just can't.

Maybe let me ask you a riddle. What is it that you have in December that you don't have in any other month?  Answer : The letter D.

Yes, D as in December, D also as in "depressed".

Yesterday (Christmas Eve) I went on my hospital duty.

I can't help feeling sorry for those who have to spend Christmas in the hospital.

They not only can't come to Church, they can't even be at home for Christmas. It can be depressing.

One of the patients was this lady who had a severe fall and her right arm and leg had become numb and weak. She was really depressed about what had  happened to her.

Even when she made the sign of the cross, she used her left hand to take her right hand to make the sign of the cross.

So after saying the prayers, I gave her Holy Communion.

After saying "Amen", I had expected her to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

But instead, her left hand took her right hand and with her right hand she struggled to hold the Host reverently and then slowly put it into her mouth.

What she did really caught me there, and by a flash of inspiration, I said something like : Wow, the way you held Jesus was like the manger that was holding the baby Jesus.

I myself was amazed with what I said. (Going to the hospital can give you this kind of inspiration)

Yet this is the Christmas message for me, and I want to share it with you.

We look at the baby Jesus and all the characters in the Nativity crib.

Yet we miss the manger, which is the feeding trough, or feeding tray of the animals.

It was in a manger that the Saviour of the world was lying in, and the gospel specifically mentioned it.

Yes, we may relate with the characters in the Nativity crib.

But may our hearts be like the manger in which the Lord Jesus will lay His head.

May our hearts tenderly carry the Lord Jesus, just like the lowly manger carried the Saviour.

Wishing you a merry and blessed Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Note for Christmas

My dear brothers and sisters,

Wishing you a Merry and Blessed Christmas and may the celebration of the birth of Christ bring peace and joy to our hearts.

I want to give thanks to God for the many inspirations to make His "Word become flesh" in the daily readings of the liturgy. I also want to thank those whom I have not been able to acknowledge but from whom I got the ideas, the stories, the examples and the situations in life in which they shared their experience of God.

I give thanks to God if the reflections on the daily readings have helped you grow in faith, love and understanding of the ways of God.

Since it is Christmas, I have daringly posted a little tune to entertain you :)

I wished I could have given a better rendition of that popular carol. But I once read somewhere:

Sing the songs that you can sing
Forget about the perfect offering
There's a crack in everything
But that's how the light shines in.

Merry Christmas & God bless you.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxPj6PtwBMY

24th December 2010, Friday

2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16 / Luke 1:67-79

To prepare for the birthday celebration of a special person is an exciting and happy affair.

We will do the utmost preparations to have a memorable celebration for that person.

We will check through everything, from the food to the decorations, to the programme and the guest list.

But when Jesus was born into this world, no one was prepared to receive him or celebrate His birth.

Even Mary and Joseph could not adequately prepare to receive him, given their situation.

But just as David (First Reading) and Zechariah (Gospel) were moved by the Spirit of God to understand His plan, may the Spirit of Christmas also lead us into a deeper preparation to celebrate the birth of Christ.

May the Spirit of peace, love and joy prepare our hearts to receive Jesus so that He will make His home in us and that we will remain in His love. 

Behold, the virgin is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Emmanuel a name which means "God-is-with-us" (Isa 7:14).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

23rd December 2010, Thursday

Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24 / Luke 1:57-66

If we bother to find out more about our names, we will see that most of our names have a meaning.

More so for Asians, the parents will want to give their children a meaningful as well as nice sounding name, with the hope that they will live up to their names.

The people of the biblical times were certainly no different in this aspect.

The name John means "God is gracious".

Indeed, John the Baptist came to herald the appointed time of grace.

Time was like pregnant with grace, grace that was waiting to burst forth.

John the Baptist came to announce the time of the fullness of grace in Jesus Christ.

As much as this grace is good news, it is nonetheless a painful one.

John the Baptist was like a refiner's fire that burns away the useless dross as we heard in the 1st reading.

Yes the time is very very near. Let us purify ourselves in prayer and penance to make our hearts a worthy home for the Lord.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

22nd December 2010, Wednesday

1 Samuel 1:24-28 / Luke 1:46-56

Generally speaking, in order to believe in something, it must be logical and must make sense to us.

We also want to understand it fully in order so that we are clear about its capabilities and limitations.

Yet when it comes to our  understanding and belief in God, everything is almost reversed.

We can understand only so much about God from theology, yet God is beyond our comprehension.

God also has a mysterious way of doing things which challenges our human ways and understanding.

For e.g. when He delivered Israel out of Egypt, He chose Moses who had a speech impediment to negotiate with Pharaoh.

When He chose a mother for His only Son, He chose an unknown ordinary girl.

And that girl sang a hymn that portrayed God who turns things upside down.

He blesses the humble, He blesses the poor, He blesses the hungry.

If anything, the God that we believe in is nothing less than revolutionary.

The God who is praised in the Magnificat is certainly not a God who conforms to our ideas and neither to the world's ideas and standards.

Yet we can be sure of this one thing about God - that God is magnificently merciful.

He will come to the help of His humble servants, He will remember His mercy to us.

Let us deepen our faith and prayer as we prepare to encounter the mystery of the Incarnation at Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

21st December 2010, Tuesday

Songs 2:8-14 / Luke 1:39-45

Advent is a time of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ as well as His second coming.

But for Mary and Elizabeth, it was a time of preparation of motherhood.

As these two expecting mothers met in the gospel passage, we can sense a spike of revelation.

For Elizabeth, the sad barren period of her life is over as God revealed His blessings on her.

For Mary, a joy filled, yet anxious future, has just been revealed to her.

In Mary and Elizabeth, we can see the cycle of life and the cycle of joy and anxiety.

Yet even in our joys and anxiety, God will still reveal Himself to us, just as He did to Mary and Elizabeth.

In our joys and anxiety may we still sing the songs of love and thanksgiving, like the song we heard in the 1st reading.

May our hearts always leap with joy with each revelation from God.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

20th December 2010, Monday

Isaiah 7:10-14 / Luke 1:26-38

The word "sign" in everyday language can have a few meanings.

A sign can give information, as in the information in a signboard.

It can give directions, as in road signs.

Or it can have a symbolic meaning, as in someone's words or actions are indicating a peculiar meaning or happening.

But when the Bible uses the word "sign" as in the 1st reading, it means that God was intervening for His people.

In the 1st reading, God was pledging that He would be with king Ahaz as he faced the threat of the foreign powers, and the prophet Isaiah was calling on Ahaz to trust in God because of the sign that was given.

Similarly in the gospel, God was also intervening when He sent the angel Gabriel to tell Mary that God was with her.

When the world was crumbling in its sin, God intervened and gave a sign.

He sent His only Son, born of a virgin, became like us in all things except sin, to save us.

At every Mass, we celebrate God's saving intervention when we hear the words: The Lord be with you.

Let us respond by being with God and in God always, so that in everything, we see the signs of God's saving love.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

18th December 2010, Saturday

Jeremiah 23:5-8 / Matthew 1:18-24

In most cases, the announcement of a pregnancy is welcomed with great joy and the subsequent waiting for the birth of the baby is filled with hopes and dreams albeit anxiety.

More so if the pregnancy is in the royal circle or with people who are famous and prominent. It will be in the news and there will even be updates on the progress of the pregnancy.

However, in the case of the birth of the Son of God, it was almost like a non-event.

Even the gospel seemed to word it nonchalantly - This is how Jesus Christ came to be born.

And instead of joy and hopes and dreams, there were immediate problems for those who were involved with the pregnancy.

Both Mary and Joseph could not quite explain or understand the mystery of the Incarnation.

Yet God was with them to see them through their difficulties and challenges.

Yes, God lived up to His name : God-is-with-us.

And He will be with us in our Advent preparation, in our difficulties and challenges as well as all the days of our life.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

17th December 2010, Friday,

Genesis 49:2, 8-10 / Matthew 1:1-17

We can divide our lives into three general categories.

One category can be called moments of greatness,  the other category can be called moments of weakness and the last can be called moments of grace.

Moments of grace are instances when we experience the hand of God moving profoundly in our lives.

The history of Israel may also be divided into these three categories and we can see it in the genealogy that is presented in the gospel.

From Abraham to David, it was an era that was filled with moments of greatness, with Israel becoming the Chosen People of God and developing into a great and mighty nation.

The second era, from David to the Babylonian exile recalls Israel's fall from greatness. It was also about how Israel turned away from God and turned to sin.

The third era, from the Babylonian exile to Jesus, recalls God's promises to Israel and its fulfillment in Jesus, who is the fullness of grace.

It is this moment that we are preparing to celebrate - a time of grace, a time of restoration, a time of re-creation.

We had our moments of greatness and our moments of weakness.

What we need is to live our days in God’s grace.
It is a time to witness to the world that because of Jesus, we can lift our heads and our hearts and take pride in being the chosen people of God.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

3rd Week of Advent, Thursday, 16-12-10

Isaiah 54:1-10 / Luke 7:24-30

It is interesting that Jesus should mention the tax collectors among the people who listened to John the Baptist's message of repentance.

We may know what kind of reputation the tax collectors had at that time. They were called great sinners, traitors, extortionists, criminals, blood-suckers, etc.

Hence they had had no witnessing rights in the court of law and neither were they allowed to participate in worship.

So who are the "tax collectors" or great sinners in our present time and in our society?

They can't be you and me because it is not likely they will read this.

Maybe they are those loan-sharks, the drug peddlers, those pimps, the gangsters, and those who commit horrid and terrible crimes and yet couldn't care less.

So what does God see in them that is worth saving?

Well, there is nothing more wonderful and marvelous than the conversion of the most unlikely people. And the fact is that it happens.

That points to the fact that everyone has that inborn capability to respond to God's saving grace.

The frightening thought is that could we be the Pharisees and the lawyers that Jesus was talking about who thwarted God's saving grace.

And just who are we to call others great sinners when we ourselves can't even say that we have no sin.

The choice to be a Pharisee or a tax collector is ours.

Let us not forsake the everlasting love God has for us.

For the mountains may depart and the hills be shaken, but God's love for us will never leave us.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

3rd Week of Advent, Wednesday, 15-12-10

Isaiah 45:6-8, 18, 21-26 / Luke 7:19-23

Not many of us have the experience of being in prison or in some horrid dungeon.

To make matters worse there is no hope of release and death hangs heavily on the heart.

To be imprisoned in some forsaken dungeon is just another way of a slow, lonely and terrible death.

Hope and faith is as dark as the surroundings of the dungeon.

For John the Baptist, such was the situation, or even worse. He had been the one who pointed out Jesus as the Messiah.

He had portrayed Jesus as the one with the axe and the winnowing fan and bringing judgment and justice.

But in the dungeon he was not sure about Jesus anymore. In his distress he could be wondering why Jesus was not doing anything to get him out of prison.

Today's gospel passage tells us the John the Baptist was just as human as any of us.

In our own distress we too will doubt God and even get angry at Him for not helping us in our difficulties.

To have problems and difficulties arising at this time of the year can be really depressing.

While everybody is in a festive mood, we find ourselves sinking in our distress.

Yet Advent is a time to let our hearts be still and to know that "apart from God, all is nothing" (Isa 45:6)

He is our Deliverer and Saviour. Blessed are we who do not lose faith in Him

Monday, December 13, 2010

3rd Week of Advent, Tuesday, 14-12-10

Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13 / Matthew 21:28-32

It seems that one of the most difficult feelings to cast off is the sense of shame.

Be it personal shame, family shame, or shame in whatever scale or level, it is a feeling that brings people low and humiliated.

During the time of Jesus, the tax-collectors and prostitutes were never accepted as part of the community because of their shameful deeds.

Their shame and humiliation hanged on their necks for the rest of their lives.

So what Jesus said was shocking when He said that tax collectors and prostitutes were making their way into the kingdom of God.

Simply because God wants to remove the shame and humiliation of these rejected and despised people and restore their dignity and worth as His people.

The parable of the two sons also has a profound message for us.

There is nothing more tragic than someone who started off well and ends up badly.

And there is nothing more inspiring than someone who starts off badly but ends up well.

Shame and guilt can happen along in life when we make mistakes and stray from the way of truth and love.

But the truth is that we are created with dignity and worth.

God sent His only Son Jesus to remove our shame and guilt and to restore our dignity and worth.

May we find refuge in our Lord and Saviour Jesus as we journey on this Advent into the heart of God.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

3rd Week of Advent, Monday, 13-12-10

Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17 / Matthew 21:23-27

The main story of Balaam whose oracles we heard in the 1st reading, occurs during the close of forty years of wandering in the desert of the Israelites and before they crossed the river Jordan.

The Israelites have already defeated two kings east of the Jordan.

Balak, king of Moab (Numbers 22:2), consequently becomes alarmed, and sends elders and his messengers (Numbers 22:4-5), to Balaam, son of Beor, to induce him to come and curse Israel.

Balaam agreed but after a couple of divine interventions, he could only bless Israel instead of cursing them.

He explained to Balak that as a prophet, he could only speak words that God had put into his mouth and not otherwise.

In the gospel, the chief priests and elders wanted to challenge the authority of Jesus.

But when they were posed with the question of the authority of John the Baptist, they were thrown into confusion.

They knew in their heart of hearts that John the Baptist was a prophet sent by  God.

Yet when it came to the question about who Jesus is, they did not look into their hearts to find the answer.

Advent is a time to quieten our hearts in prayer and reflection and meditate on the mystery of the Incarnation and on who Jesus is in our lives.

Blessed are we when we prepare a special place for Jesus in our hearts during this Advent so that His Word may be made real in our lives.

Friday, December 10, 2010

2nd Week of Advent, Saturday, 11-12-10

Ecclesiasticus 48:1-4, 9-11 / Matthew 17:10-13

Moving mountains may not sound as impossible as it seems.

With modern technology it can actually be possible to flatten one mountain and create it somewhere else.

Come to think of it, mankind has been able to accomplish many great and impressive deeds.

In the 1st reading, the great and mighty deeds of the prophet Elijah was recounted and they were indeed impressive.

But his most important task and mission was to turn the hearts of the people of Israel back to God.

All the great and mighty deeds that he worked were signs that affirmed his mission.

John the Baptist did not work any great miracles. He was only the voice calling for repentance and yet he was very much alike Elijah.

Both these great prophets turned the hearts of the people to God.

That brings us back to the core of our Catholic spirituality and our mission.

Our hearts must be always turned to God. We may not be called to work great and mighty deeds.

Nonetheless we must also help people to turn their hearts to God.

It is easier to move mountains than to move the human heart.

But when our own hearts are moved by God, then will we be able to move the hearts of others.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2nd Week of Advent, Friday, 10-12-10

Isaiah 48:17-19 / Matthew 11:16-19

Criticisms and fault-finding are two ugly acts that often dampen and damage the spirit of creativity.

Ugly acts as they are, yet we often give in to the tendency of criticizing the short-comings rather than appreciate and affirming the good and the beautiful.

We may look at the Christmas decorations and say that it is too sparse or too gaudy.

We may listen to the choir singing and say that they are too dull or too showy.

We need to learn how to look out for the good in others and appreciate the beauty in things.

The 1st reading tells us that God will teach us what is good for us and lead in ways that lead to life.

God's ways are demanding as shown in the life of John the Baptist.

Yet in Jesus, we also see that God's ways are also full of joy and life.

We will know when we have learnt the ways of God when we are able to rejoice with those who rejoice and yet share in the sorrow of those in misery.

Let us walk the ways of God and bring back the beauty into this world.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2nd Week of Advent, Thursday, 09-12-10

Isaiah 41:13-20 / Matthew 11:11-15

The last of the Old Testament prophets appeared something like 400 years before John the Baptist.

During those 400 years, there were no prophets to lead the people of Israel as they met one crisis after another.

There were no prophets to tell them what God has in store for them as they faced turmoils, disasters and tragedies.

In John the Baptist, the people saw a great prophet. Not only was he a great prophet, he was the last of the prophets because he pointed out the Messiah to the people.

As the Messiah, the Word of God appeared in person, the attitude of the people was not necessarily one of welcome.

Because He was a sign of contradiction, and He pointed out to the people things that they did not want to see or accept.

Advent is a time to remember that God had fulfilled His promise of sending the Saviour.

It is also a time to remind ourselves that Jesus had promised that He will return.

Meanwhile we the Church has to continue our mission of being a sign of the kingdom of God in the world.

That would mean that we stand by the truth and be a sign of contradiction in the face of violence and aggression.

But the 1st reading assures us that God is holding us by the right hand and that He will help us overcome all difficulties.

And God tells us this: Do not be afraid. Let us listen to God's Word and have courage.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Immaculate Conception of the BVM, Solemnity, Wednesday, 08-12-10

Genesis 3:9-15, 20 / Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12 / Luke 1:26-38

The Immaculate Conception is the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother without any stain of sin.

Church doctrine states that, from the first moment of her existence, Mary was preserved by God from the Original Sin and filled with sanctifying grace that would normally come with baptism after birth. Catholics believe Mary was free from any personal or hereditary sin.

The Immaculate Conception was proclaimed as a dogma in 1854 by Pope Pius IX. It means that it is to be accepted as an infallible statement of faith.

But why such a focus on Mary? Yet we must remember that any teaching about Mary must eventually point to Christ.

The teaching on the Immaculate Conception points to the grace of God which preserved Mary from sin at her conception in order that she will bear the divine Son of God in her at the Annunciation.

Although God removed sin from Mary at her conception, He did not remove her free will and her freedom of choice.

At the Annunciation, Mary made her choice for God's plan to be fulfilled in her.

We have been cleansed of sin at our baptism. It is for us now to remain in God's grace by choosing to do God's will always, just as Mary chose to do God's will.

On this feast of the Immaculate Conception, let us also ask for Mary's intercession for the grace to do God's will always.

Let us pray that prayer found on the Miraculous Medal, or otherwise also called the medal of the Immaculate Conception.

The prayer goes like this: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

2nd Week of Advent, Tuesday, 07-12-10

Isaiah 40:1-11 / Matthew 18:12-14

It is a human tendency to look with favour on those who are well-behaved, who are obedient, who are smart and intelligent, and generally those who have good qualities.

But those who are out-of-sync, out-of-step, those who seem to dance to a different tune, we tend to leave them aside, we tend to see them as problems.

This kind of situation happens everywhere, and it even happens at home.

One child might be bright and smart; the other dull and may be wayward.

The tendency is to shower the bright and smart one with love and attention, and just give the basic minimum to the other.

Yet the Good Shepherd image that is portrayed in today's two readings showed that God pays special attention to the weak and to those who strayed and are lost.

The Good Shepherd also challenges our human tendencies and also fundamentally our human biasness.

Just as it is the sick who needs the doctor, Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost in their sins.

When we challenge ourselves to try to understand some whom we consider to be a "problem", then we might discover that it is actually we who are solving our own problems.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

2nd Week of Advent, Monday, 06-12-10

Isaiah 35:1-10 / Luke 5:17-26

Not many of us like to be in crowded places, such as at a sale or a fair, where there are greatly discounted prices.

Being in a sea of humanity can be stressful and tiring, and manners and etiquette are being trampled underfoot.

Also it is difficult if not impossible to get what you want or take your time to browse or have time to think.

For the paralyzed man and his friends in the gospel passage, to get to see Jesus is almost next to impossible, given the crowds.

It was futile and maybe even hopeless, we might say.

Yet their determination found a way to Jesus. Jesus may even be looking at their innovation with amazement.

And we see in the paralyzed man and his friends a determined human unity, a human solidarity seeking healing and salvation.

It was a sign of a hopeful human race, and Jesus came to fulfill that hope.

It was the same hope that the prophet Isaiah talked about in the 1st reading when he said - Courage! Do not be afraid.

Yes we need the courage and hope to believe that conversion is possible, that differences between people can be resolved, that forgiveness can be granted.

No human situation is a hopeless situation as long as Jesus is there.

Whether it is a crowd or just an individual, Jesus will still come to forgive, to heal and to save us.

Friday, December 3, 2010

1st Week of Advent, Saturday, 04-12-10

Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26 / Matthew 9:35 - 10:1, 6-8

There will be times when we will inevitably think that God punishes us when we sin.

How else can we explain a string of unfortunate events that happened when we did something wrong and have yet to admit it and confess it.

Could it be that God sends us some spiritual lashes so as to wake us up to our own sins and be repentant?

To think of God as a punishing God is abhorant  indeed because we believe that God is love.

Yet we are not wrong to say that God will discipline His people so that they will walk in His ways.

This we can see in the 1st reading, especially in the last line of the passage - On that day the Lord dresses the wound of His people and heals the bruises His blows have left.

Yes God disciplines His people and yet God also dotes on His people with care and compassion.

It was the same care and compassion that Jesus showed when He saw the crowds and felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected.

Advent is also a time to enter into the silence of God's care and compassion so that in turn we will show care and compassion for the harassed and dejected we see around us.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

St. Francis Xavier, Patron of Missions, 03-12-10

1 Cor 9:16-18, 22-23 / Mark 16:15-20

It is interesting to note that the Major Seminary in Singapore is dedicated to the patronage of St. Francis Xavier.

In the first year of formation, we had to read about the lives of the saints, and St. Francis Xavier was one for compulsory reading.

As I read about his life and his work, I must admit that he is one model that is very difficult to match up to.

His missionary zeal, his perseverance and his persistence in preaching the gospel amidst the political clutter, his courage and determination were all very inspiring.

And it seemed that he spent so much time in the East in places like Goa, Malacca, China and Japan and learning the local languages so that he could preach to the local people that he eventually forgot his own mother tongue (Spanish)

What embarrassed me was that he took the trouble to learn the local languages and I remember those times when I made such a fuss whenever I had to preach in Chinese which is my mother tongue.

In St. Francis Xavier, we can see the words of today's gospel being fulfilled.

And the words of the gospel, the Good News, will continue to be fulfilled in us as long as we are willing to proclaim the Good News in word and in action.

We must always remember that it is not so much our suitability for the task but rather our availability for the mission.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

1st Week of Advent, Thursday, 02-12-10

Isaiah 26:1-6 / Matthew 7:21, 24-27

One phrase that we use very often is to say that we "have to go for a meeting."

And quite often, we say it with resignation and even frustration.

That may be because our experience of many meetings is that those meetings are mere occasions of people wanting to have a say and with time-consuming deliberations on problems but not much of directions on solutions and actions.

In life, we establish ourselves through concrete actions; our actions say who we are.

So words don't count for much if they are not followed by actions.

Similarly as we hear the prophet Isaiah say in the 1st reading - "Trust in the Lord our everlasting Rock" - that trust must be actualized in the concrete actions of our lives and not remain as concepts and ideas or even wishes.

So we trust in the Lord when we choose to tell the truth, because the truth will set us free.

We trust in the Lord when we choose to do good instead of returning evil for evil, because we believe that good will overcome evil.

We trust in the Lord when we forgive others because in forgiving, we too are healed.

But to trust in the Lord means that we build our lives on the Lord our Rock.

It is much easier to build our lives on the sands of pleasure and comfort.

But when the winds and the rains come, there will be no time to call for a meeting with the Lord.

We prepare for that meeting with the time we have now.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

1st Week of Advent, Wednesday, 01-12-10

Isaiah 25:6-10 / Matthew 15:29-37

There is something different about the mood of Advent; different from say the mood of Lent.

Advent brings about a longing and a waiting. In the festive sense, it may mean a longing to get the Christmas shopping over and done, and a waiting for the celebrations and the presents to begin.

But in the more important spiritual sense, the 1st reading creates in us a longing for the promise of God to be fulfilled, as well as for the day of rejoicing in the Lord to come.

These aspects are portrayed concretely as the Lord giving a banquet where there will be rich food and endless rejoicing.

Every tear will be wiped away and the people's hope of salvation is realized as they rejoice and feast with the Lord.

Yet this hope and longing must be translated into life's moments of difficulties and challenges.

In the gospel, the challenge was the shortage of food coupled with difficulty of the time and place.

Jesus again showed that our hope and longing for the Lord is not in vain.

God will provide and He will see us through.

He only wants us to trust in Him and to rejoice in His love for us.

Monday, November 29, 2010

St. Andrew, Apostle, 30-11-10

Romans 10:9-18 / Matthew 4:18-22

In the gospel account, we hear of Jesus calling St. Peter along with his brother St. Andrew.

But there was something else about St. Andrew.

In the gospel according to St. John, St. Andrew was initially a disciple of John the Baptist.

And when John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God, Andrew in turn followed Him.

So we can say that St. Andrew was the first disciple of Jesus.

And it was St. Andrew who brought St. Peter to see Jesus, after telling him that he had found the Messiah.

We can learn much from St. Andrew, especially his attitude as a disciple.

After staying with Jesus and coming to know Him, St. Andrew did not keep this experience to himself, but shared it with his brother St.Peter.

So saints are not nicely sculptured statues, or just pretty colourful pictures on the stained-glass of churches.

They are common people who are opened to Jesus when He came into their lives, and after experiencing Him, they also shared Him with others, just like St. Andrew did.

Let us pray that we will continue to experience Jesus daily and like St. Andrew we will go forth to share Him with others.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

1st Week of Advent, Monday, 29-11-10

Isaiah 4:2-6 / Matthew 8:5-11

An average dictionary has got about 55,000 over entries with over 70,000 definitions.

That is a lot of words, with equally a lot of definitions.

Yet, despite their abundance, words still remain powerful.

A carefully chosen statement can save a situation, whereas a careless choice of words can ruin everything.

So if the pen is mightier than the sword, then the word is as powerful as the action.

In the gospel, the centurion recognized the authority of Jesus and the power of His word.

The centurion was himself a man of authority and so he believed that what Jesus says is as good as being done.

Jesus has said that we are forgiven and healed. He said that He wants to give us peace and joy.

What Jesus has said He has already done for us.

The season of Advent is to prepare us for the coming of Jesus.

May this season also help us realize what Jesus has already done for us.

Friday, November 26, 2010

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 27-11-10

Apocalypse 22:1-7 / Luke 21:34-36

It is a general medical opinion that a lot of diseases like heart-attack, stroke, high-blood pressure and diabetes can be prevented and controlled.

It just requires us to be disciplined in our diet and exercise routines.

But when it comes to preventive measures, we don't usually see the concrete benefits of our vigilance.

Hence we slacken, and we say that another piece of fatty meat or missing another day of exercise won't do much harm.

Or we might even throw caution to the wind and say: let's enjoy now and suffer later.

Yet very often, it is while lying on the hospital bed in pain that we start regretting not taking care of our health and our body.

Similarly neither do we want to spend eternity in regret.

What Jesus is asking of us is to be alert and to be with Him in prayer and to have confidence in what He had promised us.

Jesus had promised us eternity with Him. It is by spending every moment with Jesus in our hearts that we will be prepared for eternity with Him.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 26-11-10

Apocalypse 20:1-4, 11 - 21:2 / Luke 21:29-33

If we had lived or spent time in a place or a country where there is a winter season, we will know how dreary it is.

It can be wet, cold, gloomy, and life comes to almost like a standstill.

But winter will slowly give way to spring, and spring is beautiful.

The sun would be shining but yet it is cool. Everything had a bright tinge to it, from the colour of the grass to the colour of the sky.

So winter does not have the last say in the cycle of the seasons and in the cycle of life.

Out of an apparent lifelessness comes about new life.

Jesus had been talking about the disturbing signs of the end times, signs of violence and distress.

But in today's gospel, He talks about yet another sign, the sign of the kingdom of God.

Hence the disturbing signs are inevitable, but they do not have the last say.

Because the last say belongs to the kingdom of God and to the glorious coming of Jesus.

So when we face a turmoil in life, let us know that the turmoil or distress do not have the last say and neither is it the deciding factor.

The deciding factor rests on our hope in Jesus, who will come and reveal Himself to us in the calm after the storm.

It is in that calm that we know the final word belongs to Jesus.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 25-11-10

Apocalypse 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9 / Luke21:20-28

No one likes to face a disturbing and distressful time. Even just thinking about it makes us uneasy and anxious.

Yet, if we do not have a good grip on our faith, we might just fall into the two-pronged trap of the devil.

This two-pronged trap is called deception and disappointment.

In the midst of trials and turbulent times, it is easy to be deceived by false promises of security and safety, and we may be disappointed when these securities and safety nets break and fail us and we begin to lose our faith in God.

Yet, in the midst of this fear and disappointment, Jesus comes to proclaim the Good News.

He tells us that we see disturbing and distressful things happening around us, that is a sign that the kingdom of God is approaching.

Even the 1st reading gives a similar portrayal - after the persecutions, those who suffered are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

So let us overcome the deception and the disappointment of the evil one by asking the Lord to renew our hope and strengthen our faith.

Only in trusting in the Lord do we dare to look hopefully into the future and journey on in faith.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 24-11-10

Apocalypse 15:1-4 / Luke 21:12-19

When we read about the sufferings of Jesus in the gospels, we can see that he underwent three types of tortures.

The first was the scourging and that was to whip the accused 39 times (which was seldom needed) with leather straps that had lead ball-bearings at ends.

The purpose was to whip the person to within an inch of his death and then stop so that other forms of torture can continue.

The third torture was the crucifixion - put the cross on Jesus, march Him up to Calvary and then execute Him slowly.

Those where the soldiers' orders and they carried it out meticulously and mercilessly.

What was difficult to understand was the in-between torture.

The soldiers wanted to make fun of a half-dead Jesus.

The soldiers took off His clothes and put a robe on Him, put a crown of thorns on His head, put a stick on His hand and hailed Him "King of the Jews"

And then, they spat on Him. Spittle was not intended to hurt the body. It can't.

Spitting at a person is meant to degrade him and to insult his dignity. We can say it's a psychological torture.

By doing so the soldiers felt big by making Jesus look small.

Well, as Christians, we may be spared of physical torture, but we can be assured that we will have our share of the spittle.

It comes in form of gossips, back-biting, slandering, lying, accusations.

Oh yes, we have had our share and we have also retaliated with drop for drop.

But let us stop this vicious cycle of spitting at each other by heeding what Jesus told us in the gospel : Your endurance will win you your lives.

Others may spit at us, but we don't have to spit back.

Jesus didn't. In fact He endured the spittle all the way to the cross, and there He won life for us.

Monday, November 22, 2010

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 23-11-10

Apocalypse 14:14-19 / Luke 21:5-11

If we had paid some attention during our history class in school, we might have some recollection about the 7 Wonders of the ancient world.

But if we can't remember much of them, then it is quite alright because none of them have survived till now, except the great pyramids of Egypt.

But even that is danger of a slow deterioration coupled with the effects of pollution and other detrimental factors.

But what has appeared in their place are other wonders of the modern world.

So this tells us that everything is subject to the wear and tear of time, and nothing will last forever.

But the deeper reality is that the old gives way to the new. There is this constant progression of replacement.

A deeper reflection of what Jesus said in the gospel would lead us to see more than just a doomsday prediction or an end of the world prophecy.

Rather we will see that it is not the old world dying but a new world coming to birth.

God is constantly re-creating the world until His kingdom is established in the world.

But it must begin with the Church and with each individual who is called a Christian.

Sinfulness must eventually give way to holiness just as the old gives way to the new.

The greatest wonder of the world is the holiness of the Church and its members.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

34th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 22-11-10

Apocalypse 14:1-5 / Luke 21:1-4

Whenever the gospels mention about widows or orphans, the reference is to a group of vulnerable and defenseless people.

The society at that time was when the man of the house was the sole-bread winner, and the wife and the children were totally dependent on him.

To be a widow meant having to fend for herself and maybe even to depend on public charity, which was quite slow in coming.

In the gospel, Jesus used the offering of the widow as an occasion to teach about generosity.

The measure of generosity is not about how much is given but rather how much is left-over.

For the widow, after her offering to God, there was not much left-over, maybe almost nothing at all.

For that widow, she had given all that she could.

Jesus in turn would have to give everything He had, all He could give, just to save us.

Let us remember that generosity begets generosity and love begets love.

Let us be loving in our generosity and know that God always blesses our love and generosity.

Friday, November 19, 2010

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 20-11-10

Apocalypse 11:4-12 / Luke 20:27-40

When we talk about death and the after-life and heaven, we are obviously talking about matters  that are beyond human comprehension.

But at the same time, we also try to use human understanding and experience to describe the after-life and heaven.

So we will use terms like eternal rest, eternal joy and happiness, the heavenly banquet, in order to have an idea of what it is like.

But one of the most difficult topics to discuss is about relationships in the after-life.

What will happen to family relationships and spousal relationships and friendships in the after-life?

It is truly intriguing and we can speculate and wonder about the question that the Sadducees posed to Jesus.

But if we are going to speculate on that question and try to formulate possible answers, then we may have missed the point.

The important point is that in the after-life in heaven, everything is focused on God. Nothing else matters.

God is the God of life, for in God all are alive, and it is from Him that all will continue to draw life, even in the after-life.

Even on earth, it is the God of life that unites us together with His love.

So our relationships must be rooted in God who gives us the fullness of life and love.

Only in God will we be fully alive and our relationships will also be loving and life-giving.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 19-11-10

Apocalypse 10:8-11 / Luke 19:45-48

One of the most difficult attitudes to counter, whether as a teenager or as an adult, is peer pressure.

If we want to stay in with the crowd, if we want to be accepted, if we don't want to be the odd-one out, then we have to give in to the peer pressure.

That might mean keeping silent and not doing anything even when we see injustice and oppression and corruption happening.

In the gospel, when Jesus walked into the Temple, He knew that there was already a price on His head.

It was a day that He should have played safe and keep cool and look away from the injustice and corruption happening in the Temple precincts.

But it was happening in the Temple, right there in His Father's house.

In cleansing the Temple, He incurred the wrath of those who were already against Him.

Not only did Jesus just drove out the injustice and corruption from the holy place, He restored the Temple to its dignity.

The people coming to offer sacrifice in the Temple would then experience the life-giving presence of God and come to know God's love for them.

May the life-giving love of God also cleanse the temple in our hearts as we participate in this Eucharist.

May it also give us the courage to confront injustice and corruption and to live our lives in freedom and with the dignity as God's children.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 18-11-10

Apocalypse 5:1-10 / Luke 19:41-44

The gospels mentioned of two occasions that Jesus shed tears.

One was one when His good friend Lazarus died. The other was what we just heard in the gospel.

Indeed, Jesus had every reason to shed tears over Jerusalem.

In the year 70AD, the city was destroyed and Temple was razed to the ground when the revolting Jews were crushed by the Roman army.

All because the message of Jesus, the message of peace did not sink into their hearts.

They did not heed the signs that God gave them.

As for us, we too can avoid impending danger and even tragedy if we look clearly at the signs in our lives.

If we do not heed the signs that God is giving us to enter into a deeper relationship with Him in prayer and to live a life of love and peace, then we are making ourselves prone to the danger and the tragedy of sin.

Let us ask God to enlighten us so as to heed the signs from God that we see around us.

When we understand the message of love and peace, then there will be no more tears.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 17-11-10

Apocalypse 4:1-13 / Luke 19:11-28

Any shrewd person who listens to today's gospel parable will certainly have some questions to ask.

Questions like : Why must that servant be punished for not making more money out of that one pound? Anyhow, the master should be happy enough to get his money back isn't it?

Well, from the logical point of view, yes.

But if we apply this premise to our lives and to our dealings with others, then this world would be a very selfish place.

Because we will become very calculative and ask questions like: why must I waste my time for the benefit of others, or why must I be generous to others..

But let us remember that what we have, be it our time, our resources, our money, all that we have, is a gift from God.

And if gifts are not shared, then this world would indeed be a very poor and sad place.

And if gifts are not shared and used, then those gifts will also deteriorate and be wasted.

So in whatever we have been called to do, let us do it joyfully, because God always blesses a joyful and self-giving servant.

Monday, November 15, 2010

33rd Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 16-11-10

Apocalypse 3:1-6, 14-22 / Luke 19:1-10

One of the famous religious paintings is by William Holman Hunt. It is called the "The Light of the world".

It was an allegorical painting that represented Jesus carrying a lantern and knocking on a long unopened door that had  overgrown weeds.

It represented what the Lord was saying in the 1st reading: Look, I am standing at the door and knocking; if one of you hears me calling, and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him.

The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside, and the night scene represented the need for light.

Yet Jesus is carrying the lantern and persists in knocking on the door.

He knows that the door of the human heart will eventually open to him.

The tax-collector Zacchaeus in the gospel was one example of the door of the heart opening to the light of Christ.

Let us also persist in praying for ourselves and for those in need of conversion and salvation.

The persistent knocking of Jesus and the light of His love, coupled with our fervent prayers will open the hardest of hearts.

The reason why Jesus came is to knock on our hearts and to seek out and save what was lost.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

33nd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 15-11-10

Apocalypse 1:1-4 - 2:1-5 / Luke 18:35-43

There is a phrase which we use to express a sincere empathy and compassion for a person.

We would say : you have got to be in his shoes to know what he is going through.

To be really in someone's shoes is to feel how he feels, to see how he sees things as well as to understand his thoughts.

For the blind man in today's gospel, he saw nothing other than to bring his needs before Jesus.

He just needed Jesus to listen to him and understand how he felt about life and how he longed for sight.

Jesus asked the blind man this question : What do you want me to do for you?

If Jesus were to ask us that same question, what would be our immediate response?

If we have to think awhile for an answer or have to make a choice of several options, then we may not be desperately needing Jesus, as the blind man needed him.

So if Jesus were to ask us that question let us ask that we love Him more and more.

In the first reading, the Lord had a complaint against the church of Ephesus.

He said that they have less love now than they used to.

May our only prayer request to Jesus is that we will love Him more and more everyday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 13-11-10

3 John 5-8 / Luke 18:1-8

There is no doubt that God listens to our prayers. And God would certainly pay attention to earnest and persevering prayers.

And if we think that God is not answering our prayers, then maybe we have to see what our prayers are all about.

In other words, we have to listen to our own prayers, for a change.

Prayer is not about trying to change God's mind or God's will.

It would be rather absurd to assume that if we say long and persistent prayers, God would finally give in and grant us what we want.

That would make prayer look like some kind of magical method that can make God do something.

Rather prayer is an act of faith and it is the source of strength which will empower us.

It is with prayer that we will continue to strive for justice and work for peace.

It may mean that we come to realize and accept that some things cannot be changed immediately.

It may also mean that we put our trust in God and believe that with God, nothing is impossible.

Whatever it may be, our earnest and persistent prayer should bring our wills to conform to God's will.

It is God's will "to see justice done, and done speedily".

Thursday, November 11, 2010

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 12-11-10

2 John 4-9 / Luke 17:26-37

The "stand-by" state in electrical and electronic equipment like tv sets and dvd players and computers is interesting.

In that state, when the equipment is activated, it immediately jumps to its full operational capabilities without having to go through the start up process and other delays.

But it is also a state in which it uses a considerable amount of energy as compared when it is totally shut down.

For most of us, life is generally busy, but it is usually busy with monotony.

In other words, we are usually busy with the same stuff - work, chores, assignments, appointments.

After a while, we might just enter a shut-down state as in that we might just exist for function but may not have motivation.

Like Jesus said in the gospel, we just slide into the monotony of eating and drinking, buying and selling, and we shut down to life and meaning.

Yet the 1st reading reminds us to watch ourselves because there are many deceivers in the world.

Hence we must stand firm in faith and stand-by with truth in our hearts, and prepare to witness to the truth. All the time!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 11-11-10

Philemon 7-20 / Luke 17:20-25

Human beings have this tendency to want to have a hold on the future in order to have a sense of security.

That is why fortune-telling and horoscopes etc. is such an attractive and thriving business.

Yet we may get so engrossed about wanting to know the future that we lose hold of the present.

We forget to live in the here and now.

That is what Jesus meant when He said that "the kingdom of God is among you".

In other words, the kingdom of God is in the present and in the now!

God wants to be present in the NOW of our lives and it is in the here and now that He reveals Himself to us.

Our present may not look that nice and rosy.

We may be struggling in our difficulties and worries and anxieties.

Just like in the 1st reading, the slave Onesimus was worried about his future because St. Paul was sending him back to his former master Philemon.

Yet it is in those difficulties and struggles that God reveals to us how much He loves us.

He even let His only Son Jesus suffer grievously and die for us.

In Jesus we are assured that God will always be with us. As it was, as it is  and as it always will be.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 10-11-10

Titus 3:1-7 / Luke 17:11-19

A story has it that two angels were sent to collect the prayer petitions of the people.

One angel was given a basket to collect the people's needs and requests, and the other angel was given a basket to collect the thanksgivings.

On their way back to heaven, the angel carrying the basket of the people's needs and requests was full and over-flowing, whereas the the angel carrying the people's thanksgiving was light and there were few thanksgiving.

That is not surprising isn't it. By and large, people are more concerned with their needs rather than the need to give thanks.

In the gospel, even Jesus expressed disappointment that those who were healed of the dreaded disease of leprosy did not come to give thanks.

In the 1st reading St. Paul instructed Titus to remind his people that was their duty to be obedient to the officials and representatives of the government.

If that is considered a Christian duty, then all the more it is an obligation and also the very essence of being Christian to give thanks to God for His blessings and graces.

What more will God not give since He had already given His only Son?

We only need to give a basket-full of thanks and praise to God.

In turn we will receive blessing upon blessing, grace upon grace.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dedication of Lateran Basilica, Tuesday, 09-11-10

Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 / 1 Cor3:9-11, 16-17 / John 2:13-22

The Lateran Basilica was built around 324 by the Roman emperor Constantine, and it is the cathedral of the city of Rome.

The Lateran Basilica is the official church of the Pope since the 4th century.

It is also called the "Mother of all churches" and on Holy Thursday, the Pope and priests will celebrate the Eucharist there.

This feast reminds us that we belong to the universal church, with Christ as the Head of the Church which is His Body.

Hence we acknowledge that the Church is not just a building, but the body of believers who are scattered all over the world, yet spiritually united in the body of Christ.

We also acknowledge, in the celebration of this feast, that the Pope is the head of the Church and we pledge our obedience to him and our unity with the whole Church.

May we continue to be united as Church and as the Body of Christ and be a sign of salvation to the world.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

32nd Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 08-11-10

Titus 1:1-9 / Luke 17:1-6

People who are given the responsibility of teaching and formation have an honorable as well as a tremendous task on their shoulders.

But the fundamental requirement is that they have to practice what they preach.

Whether as parents or teachers or priests, they form and teach others by their example, especially the young.

The young may not listen to words of wisdom but they will surely observe our actions and examples.

It is by our actions and examples that they form their character and habits in life.

So it is from us adults that the young learn how to forgive or how to be revengeful, how to love or how to hate, how to be generous or how to be selfish.

If the young learn from us either the good or the bad, then we as Christians can also be a source of inspiration or a source of scandal to others.

For that reason St. Paul urged Titus in the 1st reading to choose church leaders carefully.

It is by their life and example that they lead and teach.

In the gospel Jesus also told us to watch ourselves and to be aware of our actions and examples.

We also have to realize that our actions and examples flow from our hearts.

So if Jesus is not there then our actions and examples are leading others nowhere.

Friday, November 5, 2010

31st Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 06-11-10

Philippians 4:10-19 / Luke 16:9-13

It is often said that "Money is the root of all evil". A more accurate expression may be: "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.

When it comes to the topic of money, there are no shortage of quotes, but endless worries over its shortage.

Interestingly enough, today's readings also talk about money.

St. Paul talked about money, not about its shortage but rather about how he managed.

So whether in poverty or in plenty, full or empty stomach, there was nothing he cannot master with the help of the One who gave him strength.

Jesus also warned us in today's gospel that if we cannot be trusted with money, then who will trust us with genuine riches.

But the lure of money is just one in the array of temptations and pitfalls that people have fell into.

At the core in the discussion of money and its use and abuse is the virtue of honesty and integrity.

At the core of the teaching of Jesus in today's gospel is the question of who and what is our master.

That question will be answered when we show that we can be trusted in small things.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

31st Week, Oridnary Time, Friday, 05-11-10

Philippians 3:17 - 4:1 / Luke 16:1-8

Many a times, some of our best ideas come about out of a desperate situation.

It takes some urgency or emergency to get us to try out ideas and options that we would not have considered before.

Such was the case with the dishonest steward in today's gospel.

This parable can be difficult to interpret and understand if we don't understand the point that Jesus was making.

Jesus was focusing on the urgency and energy with which a worldly man secures his future when it is in jeopardy.

Jesus is even urging us, the children of light, to have an urgency when it comes to our eternal future.

Otherwise, as the 1st reading puts it, we might end up making food into our god and can even be proud of something that we ought to be shameful and worldly things are the only important things to us.

St. Paul urged his people not to give way but to remain faithful to the Lord.

Hence the urgency is not to get into a flurry of activity to prepare for our eternal destiny.

Rather the urgency is in the ordinary and the monotony of life.

When we can be faithful to the Lord in the small ordinary things and remain focused on the Lord despite the monotony of life, then we are prepared for eternal life.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

31st Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 04-11-10

Philippians 3:3-8 / Luke 15:1-10

Whenever we are at a supermarket or a shopping center, we may come across this announcement over the public announcement system - that a child was found wondering and the parents are to come and claim back their child.

Usually it is when the child is found wondering around and brought to public attention that the parents then realize that their child was missing.

In the gospel, we hear of a different kind of announcement.

It is an announcement of a search. It is a search for an object or a thing that may seem quite unimportant or of little value, and that it can even be written off.

But it is a different kind of search. It is God who is doing the searching and He is searching for those who have lost their way in life.

They are lost and yet they are considered as unimportant and of little value and can even be written off.

To think that God is frantically searching for such persons is indeed very mind-boggling, because we usually wouldn't be bothered about such persons.

We can even say that God is desperately searching for the lost.

Yet that is the God that we believe in because it is revealed to us that God loves us with an everlasting love and He wants us to be in the joy of His love.

To put it simply, God cares about each one of us and loves us dearly and He wants us to remain with Him always.

Just as we search desperately and frantically when we lose our wallets and hand-phones, God searches for us when we go astray and get lost in the way of life.

No one is unimportant or of no value to God. Because each person is created unique and is special in the eyes of God.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

31st Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 03-11-10

Ephesians 2:12-18 / Luke 14:25-33

There is a story about two university professors who were talking about their students.

One professor said that he had about 200 students who attend his lectures.

The other professor thought for a while and then he said : I also have about 200 people who attend my lectures, but I don't know how many of them are really my students.

We might think - how can one listen to the lecturer and not be his student? What is the difference anyway?

That's the same question that Jesus is asking us also : What is the difference between a follower and a disciple?

Great crowds followed Jesus wherever He went, but He was not too concerned about the  number of followers.

He was more concerned about who really wanted to be His disciple.

To be a disciple of Jesus means to learn from Him, to give up one's will for His and to have Him as the sole master of his life.

In the 1st reading St.Paul gave various aspects of discipleship.

One is to do all that has to be done without complaining or arguing so as to remain innocent and genuine children of God.

For St. Paul, he would even be willing and happy to shed his blood for the faith of his people.

Yes,  the price of discipleship had to be carefully considered.

Because either Jesus is Master of our all, or He is not master at all.

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Souls Day, Tuesday, 02-11-10

Today, or maybe some time along the week, we will make it a point to go to the cemetery or the columbarium to pay a visit to our departed relatives and loved ones.

Paying a visit to the departed in the cemetery or at the columbarium is a solemn occasion.

We will say a prayer and if possible light some candles at the tomb.

I will be bringing my parents to visit my grandparents' niche later on in the day.

My parents will do what they did every year when they visit my grandparents' niche.

They will say a prayer and then they will take turns to stand before my grandparents niche to say something personal.

It is amazing and edifying just  to see my parents talking to my grandparents just like as if they were alive and present before them.

That was profound for me because even in death, the bond of relationship is not broken or forgotten.

In death there is a separation but in faith there is a connection.

Because we believe that God is God not of the dead but of the living.

So the departed are alive in God and if they are still in a state of purification in Purgatory then the Church teaches us that we can help them with our prayers and Mass offerings and other works of faith.

Indeed praying for the departed is a profound act of faith because it expresses our faith in eternal life and in the saving love of God.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Saints Day, Monday, 01-11-10

Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14 / 1 John 3:1-3 / Matthew 5:1-12a

 Back in the year 1800, a 16 year-old boy had to leave home to find work to support his poor family.

The only thing he knew was how to make soap which he learnt from his father.

So he set off with all his worldly possessions in a bundle dangling from his hand, and with the words of his mother in his head – Seek first the kingdom of God.

On his way, he met the captain of a canal-boat and when he heard of the boy’s plans, he gave him this advice.

“Start right and be a good man. Give back to the Lord all that belongs to Him of every dollar that you earn. Make an honest soap and you will make it through life.”

When that country boy arrived in the big city, he found it hard to get work.

Remembering the last words of his mother and also the godly advice given him by the captain of a canal-boat, the youth dedicated his life to God, determining to return to God an honest tithe of every dollar he earned.

So, when his first dollar came in, the young man sacredly dedicated ten cents of it to the Lord.

This he continued to do as he became more successful.

He set a company which manufactured soap and the business grew miraculously.

The honest proprietor and businessman dedicated two tenths of his earnings; and then three tenths, four tenths; and then five tenths.
He was also a philanthropist and gave to charity and good causes.

Soon his make of soap became a household word throughout the world.

So who was that 16 year-old boy in this story?
Well, his name is William Colgate. And who has not heard of Colgate’s toothpaste and soap products.

Well, this story is not an advertisement for Colgate products, but I am telling the story of William Colgate because of what he believed in.

He remembered his mother’s words : Seek first the kingdom of God.

He also remembered what the canal-boat captain told him : Start right and be a good man. Give back to the Lord all that belongs to Him of every dollar that you earn. Make an honest soap and you will make it through life.

In today’s gospel, Jesus is telling us what it takes for us to make it through life and to attain eternal life.

The Beatitudes are not just about good advice.
It is about the blessings that God wants to give us when we live that way of life.

The saints believed it and lived it out in their lives on earth, and now they live eternally with God.

If William Colgate can believe in the words of his mother and that of the canal-boat captain, all the more we must believe in the eternal words of Jesus our Lord.

Because they are the words of life on earth that will lead us to the life above.

Friday, October 29, 2010

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 30-10-10

Philippians 1:18-26 / Luke 14:7-11

By and large, we have the etiquette and the decorum to be shown our seats in a function or at a dinner reception.

We certainly don't want to be embarrassed to take a seat we assumed to be ours only to be told otherwise.

Nonetheless the parable of Jesus tells us that we have this innate desire to be honoured and maybe even exalted.

Because it cannot be denied that we liked to be looked up too. For some it may even be an obession.

But for all the adulation and limelight that we might get, what and how will it matter in eternity?

In the 1st reading, we hear of St. Paul's dilemma.

He wants to be with Christ but yet he know he had to stay on for a while in order to help the early Christians progress in their faith.

Yet St. Paul also knew that all praise and honour is to be given to God alone.

So let us be aware of our tendency to be in the limelight and receive the applause.

Yet all this does not matter in eternity. What matters then is that we continue to praise and glorify the Lord.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 29-10-10

Philippians 1:1-11 / Luke 14:1-6

One of the distracting things that can happen when we are at work is when someone comes in unexpectedly with a request or the phone rings and the person at the other end of the line has a difficult issue to discuss.

Whenever such things happen, our thoughts and ideas and concentration on our work gets thrown off and we may have to start all over again when we get back at it.

To us, it may just be another person with a request or another call to attend to.

But whatever it is, the person has a need or a request, and that need may be urgent or important to that person.

That person will certainly feel disappointed or frustrated if he were told to come back another day or to make an appointment first.

In the gospel, the man with dropsy may be having it for a long time.

But the fact that he was standing in front of Jesus meant that he was hoping that Jesus could do something for him.

Jesus was going for a meal but He didn't put the man on hold or tell him to come another day.

For Him, that man could be cured immediately and He would do it.

We have our own work and it may be urgent and important.

But let us also remember those occasions when we needed help immediately and we actually got it.

We have to realize that it was God who sent us the help, and so we too must help others in their need when they come to us.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles, Thursday, 28-10-10

Ephesians 2:19-22 / Luke 6:12-19

Some ancient Christian writings have it that St. Simon and St. Jude went together as missionaries to Persia, and were martyred there.

This may explain the lack of historical information on them and also why their feastdays are usually put together.

Even the gospel accounts do not say much about them.

St. Simon is called the Zealot (or Zealous) maybe because of his patriotism and nationalism.

St. Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest, which according to some accounts, was used to preach the Good News

Devotional prayers to St. Jude helped people, especially newly arrived immigrants from Europe to the US, deal with the pressures caused by the Great Depression and World War II and other political and economic and social changes.

St. Jude is also invoked as the patron saint of desperate cases.

So even though we may not know much about the historical facts of these two saints, we know that they are praying for us.

We also have recourse to them in our needs, especially to the intercession of St. Jude.

They also remind us that we have to keep faith in Jesus and trust in Him always.

They even laid down their lives for Jesus in order to witness to Him.

May we also put forth our needs through the intercession of St.Simon and St. Jude, and may we also offer our lives to God in this Mass.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 27-10-10

Ephesians 6:1-9 / Luke 13:22-30

In a written exam, usually there is the question and the answers are marked according to how well the question is answered.

If we think that is difficult, then how about the other way round - the answer are stated, and we have to provide an appropriate question for it.

That may be more difficult, because very often finding the right question is more difficult than finding the right answer.

In the gospel, we heard about someone asking Jesus this question : Will there be only a few saved?

And from the answer Jesus gave, we know that the question needs some rethinking.

Jesus only said what kind of people will be there.

In other words it is those who dedicate themselves to the Kingdom of God who will be in heaven.

The 1st reading also stated a particular group of people who will be saved.

They are children who are obedient and honour their parents.

It even highlighted that it is a commandment that has a promise attached to it.

So the answers to salvation and eternal life can be found in the Bible.

It is for us now to ask ourselves some questions about what we want to do with the answers that we have.

Because the answer is as important as the question.

Monday, October 25, 2010

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 26-10-10

Ephesians 5:21-33 / Luke 13:18-21

It is just simply amazing how Jesus used the often taken-for-granted things of nature and everyday life to explain the mystery of the Kingdom of God.

In today's gospel, He used a mustard seed and yeast to let His listeners reflect deeper about the wonder of what God has created.

Indeed we take so many things for granted that we have become dulled to wonder and mystery.

But it is in the ordinary things of life that we can see the wonder and the mystery of the Kingdom of God.

Similarly, the 1st reading tells us that marriage is not just a social institution but it is a reflection of the love relationship of Christ and His Church.

Married couples have to look deeply at their marriage and at themselves to see that the Kingdom of God is in them and they must grow and bear fruits of the Kingdom.

We too have to look deeply at ourselves and see that the Kingdom of God is within us and urging us to grow.

May we not take anything for granted. May we also not take ourselves for granted. May we also not take God for granted.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

30th Week, Ordinary Time, Monday, 25-10-10

Ephesians 4:32-5:8 / Luke 13:10-17

If we had seen someone since he was a baby and then the next time we saw him was when he was 18 years old, we would be amazed at his growth and development.

We will be amazed at how much can happen during the period of 18 years.

We may even say that 18 years just passed by just like that and that baby has become a fine young man.

But for the enfeebled and double bent woman in the gospel, 18 years did not pass by just like that.

And things did not get better along the years; in fact it may have gotten worse and worse with each passing year.

It may not be the story of just that woman in the gospel.

We too may have been bent with pain - physical, emotional, spiritual. We feel burdened and hence we too are unable to stand firm and upright.

Jesus came to lift us up from the pains and burdens of life so that we can raise our minds and hearts in thanksgiving to God.

Physically, we may stand upright, but emotionally and spiritually, we may be double bent and the only thing that we can see is the dirt and the sludge on the ground.

Let us ask Jesus to heal us and lift us up. He will do for us what He did for the woman in the gospel because He is our Healer and Saviour.

We don't have to wait another 18 years. We don't want to suffer that long. Nor does Jesus want to see us suffer for that long either.

Friday, October 22, 2010

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 23-10-10

Ephesians 4:7-16 / Luke 13:1-9

As we look at our world, we may notice a certain disparity.

There are the first world countries, i.e. the developed countries, and then there are the developing countries, and then there are the third world countries.

Some people have come up with this weird idea  that God had blessed the first world countries and left out the underdeveloped countries.

Maybe that idea is implicitly connected to the age-old thinking that misfortune has a certain connection with sin.

It is because of this sin that a person or a nation forfeits God's blessings.

In today's gospel passage, Jesus out-rightly rejects this sort of thinking.

Yet Jesus went on to say that if His listeners do not repent, then they too will perish.

In other words, a person or a nation that rebels against God is on the road to disaster.

Even for our nation, we may have come this far because of a strong pragmatic direction and determination.

Yet we also cannot deny that God has blessed our nation with progress and stability.

Hence we have to always look back at the spiritual values of faith and morality.

For us Catholics, the urgency is even greater.

As the 1st reading puts it, each one of us has been given his own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it.

We should not be tossed one way or another and carried along by every wind of false teaching or deceit.

Rather we should live by the truth and in love so that we shall grow in all ways into Christ.

May Christ be our only way and our only goal.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 22-10-10

Ephesians 4:1-6 / Luke 12:54-59

There is a song with the opening lines that goes like this :
"I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.
I believe that somewhere in the darkest night, a candle glows."

In a way, that is a good reminder for an awareness of the things we see around us.

We may have seen flowers and lighted candles, sunrise and sunset, and we just pass them by without thinking or reflecting.


We may have also seen many other things and passed them by without reflecting and wondering.


We have seen wars, violence, oppression, injustice, poverty, death and we just pass them by. 

We are numbed by it and have become numbed to it.


Or we have seen a smile, a helping hand, care and compassion and understanding, and we have also become indifferent to it.


Jesus is reminding us to look, to observe and to reflect on the signs in our lives and then to act on it.

May this prayer of St. Francis help us in our reflection : 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 21-10-10

Ephesians 3:14-21 / Luke 12:49-53

Very often when we want to settle a problem quickly, we tend to look for compromising solutions or the easy way out.

So in order to handle a problematic child, we tend to give things and money instead of spending time with the child and trying to understand the real needs of the child.

And when we see something not right being done, we tend to look away and pretend not to see.

We tend to play-safe and not to get involved, as long as it does not concern us.

Even if it does concern us, we will want to protect ourselves first.

But that was not what Jesus did.

Jesus knew what His Father wanted Him to do and say, and He was committed to His mission.

Jesus did not want to have conflicts. In fact he came to gather people into the peace of God's kingdom.

But when conflicts and oppositions came, He refused to compromise.

For Jesus, there are no play-safe and guarded options or messages.

He was on fire for love and truth, for righteousness and justice.

If we are to follow Jesus, then we too must be prepared for conflicts and oppositions whenever they arise.

Yet the first conflict and opposition will come from within ourselves.

We have to be prepared to go through the fire that Jesus brings so that we will burn away the option of compromising solutions and the easy way out.

Only then will we understand the freedom and peace of living in the truth.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, 20-10-10

Ephesians 3:2-12 / Luke 12:39-48

We all know how unpleasant and frustrating it is to wait for someone or for something.

We just have to remember the last time we missed the bus or the train, and we have to spend the unproductive time waiting for the next one to come.

Or if the delivery person or the repair-man tells us that he will come between a certain time.

We may have no other choice than to just sit around and wait.

Not only can it be boring, the time is like wasted away.

Yet as much as we don't like to wait, let us also realize that the Lord is waiting for us.

He is waiting for us to respond to His promptings and to use the gifts and talents that He has bestowed upon us to reach out and serve others.

There is always someone waiting for us to help them in their troubles, to show love and care, to listen and to share.

In the 1st reading, we knew why St. Paul was so zealous and fervent about his mission.

Because he knew that what was entrusted to him was a gift of grace from God.

He knew that much was entrusted to him and much was also expected from him.

The Lord has entrusted us with His love. May we not wait any longer to put His love into action.

Monday, October 18, 2010

29th Week, Ordinary Time, Tuesday, 19-10-10

Ephesians 2:12-22 / Luke 12:35-38

We usually like to be notified in advance if someone wants to pay us a visit.

Then we will tidy up our house or office and prepare something to welcome and entertain our guests.

But if someone visits us without prior notice, then we may be caught in an inconvenient or untimely situation.

But for those servants in the gospel passage, they knew that their master will return from the wedding feast, just that they do not know when will it be.

Jesus is telling us to be ready and alert always and He will visit us in the form of persons whom we don't usually pay much attention to or whom we don't usually have time for.

We must be ready and alert and be aware that it is in such persons and situations that Jesus is paying us a gracious visit.

Because whenever Jesus pays us a visit, it is always a visit that comes along with His blessings of love and peace and joy.

It may be at an inconvenient and unexpected time, but it will always be a God-filled and blessed moment.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

St. Luke, Evangelist, Monday, 18-10-10

2 Timothy 4:10-17 / Luke 10:1-9

To serve God by proclaiming the Good News is never an easy task.

From the 1st reading, we get to see that St. Paul had to struggle and endure a difficult time.

His band of co-workers had split up and some had even gone against him.

His only consolation was that St. Luke was with him, and he made it a point to say it.

From the few occasions that St. Paul mentioned him as his beloved physician, and from what St. Luke wrote in the Gospel and in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, we get to see what the person of St. Luke was like.

He was a committed friend of St. Paul, and he paid special attention to those that were forgotten or pushed aside by society.

He wrote about Jesus reaching out to the poor, the lowly, the outcasts, the sinners and women.

What he knew about Jesus, he wrote it in his gospel, and he certainly carried out in his life.

His commitment to St. Paul in his time of need bore witness to that.

As we read the gospel according to St. Luke and mediate on it, a challenge is also awaiting us.

We too have to write another account of Jesus.

It is going to be an account that is not written in words but in actions for all to see.

From that gospel of our lives, others will be able to see who Jesus is.

Friday, October 15, 2010

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Saturday, 16-10-10

Ephesians 1:15-23 / Luke 12:8-12

The term blasphemy may be generally defined as anything from defiant irreverence to intentional sacrilegious acts .

Hence it can mean acts like cursing God or willfully degrading things relating to God.

It can also be attributing some evil to God, or denying Him some good that should attributed to Him.

Yet we believe that God is love and forgiveness and He will forgive us even if we had committed the most heinous sin.

So what did Jesus mean when He said that "he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven"?

The purpose of this phrase was to strengthen the disciples in the face of persecution and to deter them from falling into apostasy (giving up the faith) out of cowardice or doubt.

It was also meant as an admonition - a sin can only be unforgivable if repentance is impossible.

So in other words, it is not whether God will forgive; it is a question of whether we want to repent or not.

Because along with repentance is also the trust in God's love and mercy and forgiveness.

To be able to declare that is to stand before others and witness to God and all that He has done for us.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 15-10-10

Ephesians 1:11-14 / Luke 12:1-7

When we can understand what hypocrisy really is,  then we may also realize that it  is not a private affair.

Because the hypocrisy of the individual affects other people and it also distorts the opinion and impression of others.

Hypocrisy not only comes in many disguises; it needs many disguises.

For example, indifference or contempt may masquerade as innocence when we say "I don't know"

Legality wears the makeup of legitimacy when it is stated that abortion is legal.

Opportunism puts on the apparel of kindness to cover up ulterior motives and vested interests.

But hypocrisy can only survive as long as there is fear.

Jesus tells us in today's gospel not to fear because fear causes anxiety and unrest.

Fear also makes us blind and we can't see our self-worth before God, and it blocks us from receiving God's love.

Let us offer our fears, our anxieties and worries to the Lord, so that what is covered will be uncovered and what is hidden will be made clear.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

28th Week, Ordinary Time, Thursday, 14-10-10

Ephesians 1:1-10 / Luke 11:47-54

In the Bible, there are the writings of the 13 prophets, all of which can be found in the Old Testament.

But if we were to read the history of the prophets, we will come to see that their writings were reviewed and accepted as prophetic only after their deaths, and of course, when their prophesies came true.

So in other words, prophets were not accepted during their life time.

That was simply because the prophets disturbed those who were comfortable; comfortable and complacent about their faith.

Similarly for Jesus, who was the Prophet of God, He was also not accepted by the religious echelons.

As it had happened in the past, the scribes and Pharisees began plotting against Jesus with the intention to do away with Him.

So how do we fare in comparison with the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees?

We surely won't do what the scribes and the Pharisees did.

But with our indifference and mediocrity as Catholics, we may have buried the teachings of Jesus and distorted the truth .

Let us realize that we stand accountable and answerable to the voice of God in our hearts and its promptings.

Yes, the prophetic voice of God comes to disturb the comfortable, and at the same time brings comfort to those who are disturbed.

So let us listen to the prophetic voice of God, the voice of God that brings us comfort and strength so that we can stand humbly before the Lord as we give an account of our lives.