Friday, April 30, 2010

4th Week of Easter, Friday, 30-04-10

Acts 13 : 26-33
John 14 : 1-6

Whenever we hear of a person or a group of people being chosen for a task or a mission, we will have some assumptions or presuppositions or expectations.

We might assume that this person or this group of people have the abilities or qualities for being chosen.

We might presuppose that they deserve the privilege of being chosen because of some talents or skills.

We will also expect them to fulfill the task or mission that they are chosen for.

Yet, for Israel, the Chosen people of God, such was not the case.

In fact, as St. Paul puts it in the 1st reading, they did everything contrary to their task or mission as the Chosen people of God.

Yet, in doing so, they ironically fulfilled the prophesies in the scriptures.

In a way, we can say that God made it straight even despite the crookedness of His Chosen people.

Indeed, it was God who chose Israel and it was God who fulfilled the mission of Israel.

It is God who chose us to be His people.

As His people, we have to learn the lessons from the history of Israel and to straighten up the crookedness of our lives.

We may have failed in the past but let not our hearts be troubled or lose faith.

Let us trust in Jesus who will show us the way of truth so that we will know how to live our lives.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

4th Week of Easter, Thursday, 29-04-10

Acts 13 : 13-25
John 13 : 16-20

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.

This has a profound meaning in today's world especially in the IT age when we are bombarded with so many words.

Furthermore, people in general are not conditioned to listening or reading for long periods of time.

Maybe that's why reading the Bible and listening to homilies can be challenging.

Because it's essentially words, words and more words.

Yet the Word of God is primarily and fundamentally about people.

It was about the people of Israel, it was about the Christians in the early Church.

And it is also about us living in this present world, in the here and now.

That was why when St Paul addressed the congregation in the 1st reading, he began with how God saved the ancestors of the people of Israel and continued to do so right until Jesus came.

Jesus was the Word of God made flesh. Words were no more necessary because God has become man.

God became man so that man will know how to walk in the ways of God.

We are now the bearers of the Good News. Words may be necessary. But may we also be living images of God for others.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

4th Week of Easter, Wednesday, 28-04-10

Acts 12:24 - 13:5
John 12 : 44-50

Generally speaking, we can say that good reading habits will help maintain good eyesight.

Good reading habits here means the distance between the eyes and the book, the posture for reading, and of course good lighting.

It is obvious that without good lighting, one will barely able to see what one is reading and prolonged reading under such adverse conditions will eventually result in bad eyesight.

So we know that good lighting is necessary for reading; yet we must put it into practice.

Similarly, we also know what Jesus taught us. In Him is the light of Truth.

What Jesus taught us is for our good and for our salvation.

But it is not enough to know what Jesus taught us. We also have to put it into practice by living out the teachings of Jesus in our lives.

We know we must forgive others when they wrong us.

We know we must respect the dignity of others and not to indulge in gossips and slandering.

We know we must trust in God even when bad things happen to us.

To do otherwise is to prefer the darkness even though we see the light.

Furthermore, at baptism, we are already enlightened by Christ.

So the light of Christ is already within us.

Let us keep that light shining brightly in us especially in prayer so that we in turn will be able to enlighten others.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

4th Week of Easter, Tuesday, 27-04-10

Acts 11 : 19-26
John 10 : 22-30

During this season of Easter, one of the necessary reflections that we must make is to think about what being a Christian is all about.

The word Christian means "being anointed" or the "anointed ones".

So what are we anointed for, and what should we do as Christians?

In short, we are to proclaim the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is THE Anointed One.

A quick glance through the Acts of the Apostles will give us a picture of how this Good News was proclaimed.

The Good News was proclaimed with the mighty acts of the power of God.

These were manifested in the healing of the sick and driving out evil spirits and forgiveness and conversion.

Essentially it is the Good News of salvation, the Good News of God's love for humanity.

As we heard in the 1st reading, the people associated these acts of the disciples with Christ and hence they were called Christians.

In the gospel, we hear of the people asking Jesus this question - If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.

As for us, we need not tell people that we are Christians.

By what we do, they would know we are Christians.

They will know we are the anointed ones of God by our acts of love.

Monday, April 26, 2010

4th Week of Easter, Monday, 26-04-10

Acts 11 : 1-18
John 10: 1-10

Back in 1968, Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical which was titled " Humanae Vitae".

An encyclical is a letter addressed by the Pope to all the bishops of the Church and the teachings contained in it are to be heeded.

The English title of that encyclical is this - The Right Order to be fulfilled in the Propagation of Human Offspring.

In that encyclical, Pope Paul VI taught about the dignity and the respect of the human life of the fetus, a teaching which was reiterated by the popes after him.

He urged against the use of contraception and artificial birth control methods, as well as fertility methods which violate the respect and dignity of the human person in the fetus.

At that time, this teaching of the Pope was criticized as being backward and out of touch with the current trends of society.

But now we see the consequences of not heeding what the Pope taught at that time.

Legalized abortion and safe-sex methods only resulted in higher teenage pregnancies and abortions.

Yet on the other hand, there is this contradiction of falling birth rates.

Experiments on the embryo have gone as far as cloning and other bizarre ideas and practices.

As the Church, let us listen to the one voice, the voice of the Good Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd still speaks through the Pope.

As we heard in the 1st reading, the Good Shepherd spoke through Peter and the Jewish Christians realized that God also wants to grant salvation to the pagans.

Let us listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd especially in the teachings of the Church.

Because it is a voice that calls us to life.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

3rd Week of Easter, Saturday, 24-04-10

Acts 9 : 31-42
John 6 : 60-69

Some creatures are rather revolting by sight. I would think that maggots and leeches would fit into this category.

Yet of late, medical science has found out that maggots and leeches can be helpful in treatment.

For eg. maggots have been used in treating sores on diabetic patients and leeches have been used to stop bleeding.

Who would have thought that maggots and leeches would have such useful purposes in life and in medical science?

Likewise in life, what we used to reject or scorn at an earlier point in life, we will somehow come to accept and sanction later on in life.

When Jesus gave His discourse on bread of life in the gospel, the people rejected Him then.

Now we take that profound discourse for granted and maybe even too lightly.

We might have become too casual to the words of Jesus about the bread of life that He wants to give us.

Yet the message of Jesus about Him being our spiritual food and drink is not just for this life.

His is the message of eternal life. There is no need to look for another message.

We need to continually deepen our understanding of this message of Jesus.

More than just accepting the message, may we also become the message that will bring others to see in Jesus the bread of eternal life.

Friday, April 23, 2010

3rd Week of Easter, Friday, 23-04-10

Acts 9: 1-20
John 6 : 52-59

What we heard in the 1st reading reading is often called the conversion story of St. Paul.

Yes, in many ways it is a conversion story.

Yet, when we think about it, just what did St. Paul convert from.

He wasn't a bad or evil man. In fact he was a good Pharisee, and he wanted to protect his religion.

I would think that what St. Paul went through was a great enlightenment and realization.

On that road to Damascus, he realized that Jesus lives in His followers when he heard the voice saying: I am Jesus, and you are persecuting Me.

For St. Paul, that was an enlightenment and a deep realization as well as a deep experience of Jesus.

In the gospel, Jesus said that whoever eats His body and drinks His blood lives in Him and He lives in that person.

As we partake of the Eucharist, let us ask Jesus to give us a deep realization and an experience that St. Paul had.

Let us ask the Lord to heal and strengthen us with His body and blood so that we too, like St. Paul will go forth and proclaim that Jesus is Lord and Saviour.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

3rd Week of Easter, Thursday, 22-04-10

Acts 8 : 26-40
John 6 : 44-51

Mornings are usually rush-hour for most of us. There are so much things to be done in so short a time.

Yet mornings are also a beautiful time if we just take a moment to reflect.

Night is giving way to the light, and everything is cranking up and coming to life.

Yet there is so much of unseen power that is working non-stop, even during the night.

For one, there is the power of the air-waves which we get to hear on the radio and our mobile phones, etc.

In the gospel, Jesus speaks of an awesome and immense power.

It is the power of God that draws the hearts of people to Himself.

For Jesus said: No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me.

It was the same power that drew the eunuch to be baptized, as we heard in the 1st reading.

The power of the love of God can soften and open hearts, even the most hardened and obstinate.

Because it is a power that is filled with love.

In our busyness and haste, let us be aware of this power of God's love that wants to fill our hearts.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

3rd Week of Easter, Wednesday, 21-04-10

Acts 8 : 1-8
John 6 : 35-40

We don't usually accept mistakes or an unexpected turn of events that leave us fretting away and wondering what is going to happen next.

But history and the experience of our lives show us that many discoveries and movements have their origins from apparent accidents and mistakes and unexpected events, rather than from carefully planned programs and processes.

Such was the case with the discovery of penicillin.

Such was the case with the independence of Singapore.

Such was the case with the early Church in its first missionary movement.

Had the Christians not been persecuted in Jerusalem, they would not have gone to Samaria, at least not at such an early stage, to preach the good news about Jesus.

And the Good News needs to be spread because people need to know that besides the material world, there is also the spiritual world.

Besides material needs, there are also the spiritual needs.

Besides physical hunger, there is also a spiritual hunger which only God can satisfy.

Jesus came to do the will of His Father and that is to be the bread of life and to fill the spiritual hunger of people in the world.

So when things don't go our way, that is when God wants to show us His way.

That is when Good News is going to happen, so that we may see and be filled with it, and in turn share that Good News with others.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

3rd Week of Easter, Tuesday, 20-04-10

Acts 7:51 - 8:1
John 6 : 30-35

In the 1st reading we hear of two young men.

One was being executed and dying on the ground.

The other was there watching and approving the execution of the first young man.

At that point in time, Stephen and Saul had nothing really in common.

But later on, Saul, whose name will be changed to Paul, will be the greatest missionary for Christ and an apostle to the Gentiles.

As we reflect on the scene of the 1st reading, we may come to see that Paul's later conversion could be the fruit of Stephen's dying prayer.

It is said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christianity.

Stephen was martyred; in time to come Paul will also have a martyr's end.

Both were able to sacrifice their lives for Christ because in Christ they have found all that they longed for, all that they hungered and thirst for.

Jesus was their life and their bread of life and from Him they drew strength to pour out their blood in witnessing to Him.

May Jesus also fill our hunger and quench our thirst so that we in turn will share the bread of our lives with others.

Monday, April 19, 2010

3rd Week of Easter, Monday, 19-04-10

Acts 6 8-15
John 6 : 22-29

Retirement might sound like a wonderful thing.

Because when we think about retirement, we might have this notion of a stress free life, going for holidays and to places which we have not been before, and doing things which we never had time for.

Yet we have also heard of stories about how people lose their purpose in life after retiring.

Some get depressed and for some, life just fades away.

It seems that once there is nothing to work for, no purpose or objective in life, then there is also no meaning in our life and for our existence.

In today's gospel, Jesus is asking us: What are we working for?

Is it something that we can relish and treasure, not just into our retirement, but also way into eternity?

In the 1st reading, the deacon Stephen knew that God was working in him and through him and so even in spite of the oppositions and dangers, he kept focus on his service for God.

Stephen believed in Jesus and he knew that the most fundamental in his work for God is to witness to Jesus. That he did, right to the end.

Because in the end, that is what counts. Not just in this life but also in eternal life.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

2nd Week of Easter, Saturday, 17-04-10

Acts 6 : 1-7
John 6 : 16-21

It is said that when carrying water in a pail, in order to prevent the water from spilling, all that is needed is just to float a piece of wood on the water in the pail.

Whether this really works or not, I am not sure because I don't need to carry water in a pail for long distances.

Yet if this method really works, it only shows that even a simple task like carry water in a pail requires a stabilizing factor.

The Church also requires a stabilizing factor.

Whether the task is about distributing food to the poor or bringing peace to a troubled situation, the Church must remember this.

And that is, no task is too small for the Church not to require the grace of God.

And on the personal level, no task is too small for us not to require the grace of God.

The apostles in the early Church knew the importance of prayer and the necessity of grace in every aspect of the life of the Church.

They knew from experience that without prayer and praying for God's grace, they will be like a boat in the storm and they will succumb to anxiety and fear.

Very often, the solution to the problems we face in life is as simple as floating a piece of wood on the water.

Yet it certainly requires prayer and God's grace to know what to do and how to do it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

2nd Week of Easter, Friday, 16-04-10

Acts 5 : 34-42
John 6 : 1-15

In its 2000 over years of existence, the Church had undergone many trials and tribulations.

When the Church was split into the Eastern and Western Church in 1054, people thought it was the end of Christianity.

During the 16th century when the Church was corroding from corruption and immoral practices, and when the Protestant Reformation came along, people thought it was the end of the Church.

In this present time, we hear of the terrible scandals in the Church, and we begin to get shaken.

We wonder what has become of the Church and what is the Church all about?

Yet we cannot negate the fact that the Church is divine as well as human.

As Gamaliel puts it in the 1st reading - if this is of human origin, it will break up of its own accord.

We are crushed and confused by the scandals of the Church.

Yet we still have the mission of feeding those who still hold on to their belief in God and in the Church.

God has given us the five loaves and two fish. We cannot just sit there and rot with it.

With the grace of God, we must rise and embark on the mission of feeding and healing those whose faith was shaken and shattered by the scandals.

We only need to entrust ourselves into the hands of God who is merciful and compassionate.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

2nd Week of Easter, Thursday, 15-04-10

Acts 5 : 27-33
John 3 : 31-36

In life, we use a lot of everyday things, from computers to cars.

We make use of these things although we are not too sure how it works. We only see the results and the effects.

Similarly in the Christian life, we are not too sure how faith in God works.

But people of faith show it in their transformed lives.

They transform especially the secular notion of obedience.

For people of faith, obedience to God is not seen as a curtailing of their freedom.

Obedience is understood in the biblical sense as in listening to the Word of God and then making the choice to act in accordance to God's will.

That was what Peter meant in the 1st reading by being obedient to God.

It is an obedience that comes from listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, believing in it although there are risks and difficulties, and finally acting on it with love.

The person of faith will continue to testify so that the earthly ones may be reminded of the things that are from above.

People may not want to know what our faith is all about. But they would certainly want to see how our faith works in us.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2nd Week of Easter, Wednesday, 14-04-10

Acts 5 : 17-26
John 3 : 16-21

In our fast and busy world, we don't usually have the luxury of time to do much reading.

Even when it comes to the newspapers, we would be satisfied just to read the headlines or the highlights or the summary.

The details can be left to another time.

The Bible is a thick compilation of 73 books.

Yet the Bible can be summarized into a simple but profound message that runs throughout, from Genesis to Revelation.

This message can be found in today's gospel and specifically in 3 : 16-17.

"God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not be lost but may have eternal life."

Yes, God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but so that through Him the world might be saved.

When we understand this core message of the Bible, then we will also understand what true love is, what sacrificial love means, and also the meaning of our life and existence.

Then we will also know what God has called us to do.

God wants us to be proclaimers and witnesses of His saving love for the world.

God who calls us to this mission will also enable us to fulfill it, just as He enabled the apostles to proclaim the Good News despite the persecutions they faced as we heard in the 1st reading.

May we give time to the Lord everyday in prayer so that we will grow deeper in our love for Him and that it may be reflected to others.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2nd Week of Easter, Tuesday, 13-04-10

Acts 4 : 32-37
John 3 : 7-15

There is a book in the Old Testament called Qoheleth (or Ecclesiastes) that begins with this phrase: Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.

It gives a graphic description of vanity as like chasing the wind.

Vanity can also come in many forms like looks, intelligence, talents, but whatever it is, one can never get enough of it.

For eg. when it comes to looks and appearances, we can never get tired of looking at ourselves in the mirror.

In the gospel, Nicodemus took pride in himself as a Pharisee and as a teacher of religion and a man of knowledge.

But it is also this pride, or vanity, in his knowledge that led him to ask the question: How can this be possible?

He had some fixed ideas about God but when the ways of the Spirit goes beyond his knowledge, he was like trying to catch the wind with a net.

Even when we look at the 1st reading, and we hear that the whole group of believers were united in heart and soul, sharing everything in common and no one was in need, we may wonder if this can ever happen in our present times, and if this can ever be possible.

Yet the ways of the Spirit and the mystery of God can address all possibilities.

When we are moved by the Spirit, all possibilities can turn to realities.

When we are moved by the Spirit, we won't be chasing the wind; we will move with the wind.

Monday, April 12, 2010

2nd Week of Easter, Monday, 12-04-10

Acts 4 : 23-31
John 3 : 1-8

The usual practice for the Rite of Baptism is to use water as the form or the means for baptism.

So whether it is infant or adult, whether it is by immersion or by affusion, the form or the means is water.

The symbol of water gives us the indication that baptism washes away our sins and purifies us and makes us God's children.

Yet water has also an additional meaning. It also points to the descent of the Holy Spirit into our hearts at our baptism.

So at our baptism, it is like what Jesus said in the gospel - we are born again through water and the Spirit.

The waters of baptism purify us, and the Spirit sanctifies us.

The Spirit sanctifies us to be a people of prayer who will listen to the promptings of the Spirit.

It is in trusting in the Spirit that we will experience the power of prayer.

In the 1st reading, as the disciples prayed, the house where they were assembled began to rock.

May our hearts too be moved by the Spirit when we pray.

As our hearts begin to be moved by the Spirit in prayer, we also pray that the hearts of those whom we are praying for be moved so that they too will follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easter Octave, Saturday, 10-04-10

Acts 4 : 13-21
Mark 16 : 9-15

Faith is a gift from God. It is not something we can earn or acquire by our own efforts or resources.

But how God grants this gift of faith and in what measure is somewhat a mystery.

A person can read the whole Bible and the profound theological books and listen to the most persuasive preacher and yet do not have faith.

On the other hand a person can just come across an ordinary mundane experience and yet be converted, as in the case of St. Augustine and St. Ignatius of Loyola.

In the 1st reading, ordinary uneducated laymen like Peter and John were preaching about the resurrection of Christ.

There was even proof of what they were saying in the person of the healed cripple.

Yet the elders and the scribes somehow did not believe them.

In the gospel, Mary Magdalene went to tell the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead.

But they refused to believe her. (Well, it can be very difficult to believe that a person can rise from the dead).

The main phrase that runs through the readings is "did not believe".

The gospel even mentioned that Jesus reproached His disciples for their incredulity and obstinacy for their refusal to believe in His resurrection.

As for ourselves, regardless of whether we were inherited the faith because of our parents or came to believe in the faith in our adult years, the challenge for us is to grow and deepen in our faith.

If faith is a gift from God, then we must treasure and nourish this gift with prayer and devotion.

We also must persist in our faith. That is one profound way of proclaiming our trust and faith in God.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Easter Octave, Friday, 09.04.10

Acts 4 : 1-12
John 21 : 1-14

The last chapter of the Gospel of John is chapter 21, and today's gospel passage is taken from that chapter.

And this passage recalls many occasions for reminiscing.

When Peter said he wanted to go fishing, probably he wanted to recall how his life had turned out since the time he left his fisherman trade to follow Jesus.

And then there was the miraculous catch of the 153 fish; another reminder for Peter of that occasion, at the same lake, when he witnessed a miraculous catch of fish under the similar circumstances.

And then the sight of the charcoal fire. It was while standing before another charcoal fire that he denied knowing Jesus.

And then the bread and fish - it certainly reminded him of the miraculous feeding of the thousands.

It was in the midst of all this recollection and reminiscing that Jesus asked Peter the question "Do you love me?"

How else could Peter answer?

And when Jesus asked him to feed His sheep, how could he reject?

And when it came for him to lay down his life for Jesus, how could he not do it willingly?

Because when it comes to Chapter 21 of the Gospel of John, Peter knew that Jesus is the only one who can save us.

It was a conviction which he declared in the 1st reading.

We too will come to a Chapter 21 of our lives.

And as we recall and reminisce what God has done for us in our lives, may we also say, like Peter, that we love Jesus, and may we proclaim His as Saviour.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter Octave, Thursday, 08-04-10

Acts 3 : 11-26
Luke 24 : 35-48

Nobody likes to look at wounds because the sight of wounds give us a squirmish feeling, especially grievous wounds.

We could also feel the pain of the wounds and the suffering that it caused.

When Jesus showed His disciples His hands and feet, they would have certainly seen one thing.

They would have certainly seen the grievous wounds in His hands and feet, wounds that were caused by the nail, wounds that were the signs of His crucifixion.

But after Jesus showed them His wounds, their fear turned in joy.

Indeed by His wounds and by the sight of His wounds, they were healed of their fear and their anguish of having deserted and abandoned Jesus in His darkest moment.

As we look at the wounds of the Risen Lord, Jesus in turn also wants to look at the wounds of our hearts.

He wants us to show Him our wounds, to tell Him what is troubling and disturbing us, to tell Him our hurts and pains, as well as our anger and resentment.

Because Jesus is the Risen Lord, He is our Saviour and our Healer.

As the 1st reading puts it: It was for you in the first place that God raised up His servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.

Indeed, by the wounds of the Risen Lord, we are healed and saved.

We only need to turn to Jesus for healing and salvation.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Octave, Wednesday, 07-04-10

Acts 3 : 1-10
Luke 24 : 13-35

The main reason and purpose that a priest is ordained for is because of the Eucharist.

So it is imperative that a priest should celebrate the Eucharist with reverence and with devotion.

To the laity, this might sound rather superfluous.

After all, that is what a priest does everyday and hence he should be more than familiar with the Eucharist.

But precisely, that is where the problem can begin.

Because if familiarity can lead to contempt, then routine can be the death of reverence.

The problem can also afflict the laity especially when they say that the Mass is boring.

Maybe they are like the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. They have yet to truly hear Jesus and they have yet to see Jesus in the breaking of bread.

Yet these are the questions we need to also ask ourselves. What did we hear at Mass? What did we see? Did our hearts burn within us at Mass?

There is no gold or silver that the Eucharist will offer us. But we will be filled with the greatest gift and treasure of all - the Risen Christ!

Indeed, at every Eucharist, the Emmaus experience awaits us.

Because Jesus wants to fills our thoughts and set our hearts on fire with His love.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tuesday within Easter Octave, 06-04-10

Acts 2 : 36-41
John 20 : 11-18

Whatever race or whatever dialect group we belong to, we all have learnt a language from our earliest days.

That language we call the mother-tongue.

We may have learned other languages along the way, but we will not forget our mother-tongue.

Because the mother-tongue creates a very intimate resonance within us.

It is used to tell us that we are loved; we use it to express love.

When Mary Magdalene addressed Jesus as "Rabbuni" the gospel makes it a special note that she said it in Hebrew.

In such an intimate moment, she used Hebrew, which was probably her mother-tongue, to express her love for Jesus.

Because more than just being the mother-tongue, it is also the language of the heart.

In the 1st reading, when Peter spoke to the Jews, he also spoke from the heart, and that was why they were convinced.

From his heart, Peter addressed Jesus as Lord and Christ.

For us, over and above our devotional practices and beliefs, we too must have an intimate relationship with Jesus.

We too, like Mary Magdalene and Peter, must address Jesus by an intimate name with a language which is from the heart.

Because it was God who first called us by a special name, even when we were in our mother's womb.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday within Easter Octave, 05-04-10

Acts 2 : 14, 22-33
Matthew 28 : 8-15

Truth has a way of bringing out the stuff that people are made of.

In the gospel, we see two groups of people with different reactions to the empty tomb.

The women saw the empty tomb, saw the Truth, ie. the Risen Christ, and then went off to proclaim the truth with joy in their hearts.

The soldiers saw the empty tomb, went to report to the chief priests and the elders, cooked up a lie and then lived on in fear and in worry.

Strange that the second group of people who are supposed to be people of courage and bravery, somehow succumbed to cowardice and deceit.

And it is surprising that the first group of people, the women, who were powerless, discounted and devalued, were the ones who lived up to the truth and courage.

So as long as we have something to lose, whether it is our social standing, our reputation, our security, our investments, our pride, then we will have a difficulty with the truth.

But the Easter greeting of the Risen Christ always assures us that He knows how we feel and He knows what we need.

The Risen Lord wants to calm our hearts so that we too can proclaim the truth.

The Truth, who is the Risen Lord, will set us free.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday, 02.04.10

Isaiah 52:13-53
Hebrew 4:14-16, 5:7-9
John 18:1-19,42

Whenever we mention “Good Friday” the first impression we have is the cross.

Obviously that is the most recognizable and easily understood symbol of Good Friday.

Simply because Jesus died on the Cross on Good Friday.

The gospel recounted for us how Jesus was betrayed and abandoned by his own disciples, how he was rejected and condemned by His own people, and how He suffered and eventually died on the cross.

Today we are also reminded that Jesus suffered and died for us even though we are still sinners.
Jesus is the Son of God. That means that Jesus is God.

He didn’t have to go through all that suffering and painful death.

Yet, Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross because He loves us and He will love us right to the end.

Furthermore, His love for us is an unconditional love.

Nothing can ever separate His love for us.

So even when we are struggling with sins like hatred and unforgiveness, or selfishness and greed, or lust and impure actions, Jesus will still love us.

Jesus wants us to know that His love for us will help us turn away from sin and turn back to Him in love.

Hence the cross symbolizes the unconditional and everlasting love of Jesus for us sinners.

Later, we will come forward to venerate the cross.
Let us tell Jesus that we love Him and we need His love to help us become loving persons.

Let us also ask Jesus to be merciful to us and forgive our sins.

The cross is indeed a sign of God’s love for us, a sign of God’s mercy and compassion for us.

In the cross, we will find salvation, in the cross we will find healing and strength.

Let us thank Jesus for loving us and saving us as we venerate the cross.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) 01.04.10

Mass of the Last Supper
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-15

Today is called Holy Thursday. Some of us might remember that it is also called Maundy Thursday.

That word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin word "mandatum" which means mandate, and it refers to the new commandment of love which Jesus gave to His apostles at the Last Supper.

Indeed, it was a night of love, and Jesus showed how perfect His love was.

Yet it was also a reminder that love entails sacrifice.

In the first Passover, a lamb was sacrificed and its blood was poured out on the doorpost as a sign that Israel was to be freed from slavery.

At the Last Supper, Jesus was the Lamb of God who would have to pour out His life so that we could be freed from the grip of sins.

When it comes to saving mankind from the grip of sins, let us remember that it was not easy for God to sacrifice His own son.

Neither did Jesus look for a quick fix for a broken world that was shattered by sins.

Yet in the breaking of the bread, Jesus foreshadowed His self-sacrifice on the cross for the salvation of the world.

And then came an action that is difficult to express in words.

In the strangest of divine actions, Jesus who is Master and Lord, got up from the table, and with towel and basin, washed His disciples’ feet.

And this upsets our perception of social norms and how things should be. Even Peter protested.

Peter and the rest did not understand what Jesus did then.

Maybe they understood it later when it came to their turn to go down on their knees and pour out their lives for others.

Are we also able to comprehend the meaning of what Jesus did?

On this holy night of the Church’s Triduum, Jesus instituted the Eucharist and He then washed His disciples’ feet.

The Eucharist is about sacrifice. The washing of feet is about service with humility.

One flows from the other.

Jesus, our Lord and Master, gave us this example so that we should follow. It is a mandate.

When we truly understand the mystery of the Eucharist and the washing of feet, we too will take up the towel and pour out our lives for others in love and service.