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Saturday, August 12, 2017

19th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 13.08.2017

1 Kings 19:9, 11-13 / Romans 9:1-5 / Matthew 14:22-33

The definition of fear in the dictionary is this: an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm; be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or harmful.

With fear being defined as such, one of the difficult questions to give a simple straightforward answer would be “What do we fear most?” Simply speaking, there is no one predominant fear, because we have multiple fears.

But the word “fear” can be put into an acronym that can have two meanings: 
F.E.A.R. – Forget Everything And Run
F.E.A.R. – Face Everything And Rise

So depending on which we choose, we can either let fear overcome us, or we can overcome our fears.

It is said that one of the greatest fears is the fear of death. That is probably true. But it is not just the fear of death. It is also the fear of a slow, painful, lonely death that makes us cringe.

In the 1st reading, we heard that Elijah went into a cave to spend a night in it. But it was not that he couldn’t find another place to sleep in. He went into the cave because he wanted to hide.

Earlier on at Mt. Carmel, Elijah had challenged the 400 false prophets, who were under the patronage of the evil pagan queen Jezebel, to a public contest to see whose God is more powerful.

The false prophets called on their god but nothing happened. When Elijah prayed, a fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice.

Having shown the might and the power of the Lord God, Elijah had all the false prophets dragged into the valley where they were put to death.

But when queen Jezebel heard about this, she issued a death warrant for Elijah, and so he fled to the wilderness and he ended up in the cave for the night.

And it was there that the Lord called out to him. But before Elijah could hear the voice of the Lord, there was chaos – there was the mighty wind, an earthquake and a raging fire.

But after the chaos came the calm – the sound of a gentle breeze – and Elijah went out to meet the Lord.

It was the fear of the wicked Jezebel and the fear of death that made Elijah flee. In his fear, Elijah wanted to forget everything and run. Surely he would have prayed to God to save him. But God also responded in a rather mysterious way.

Before speaking to Elijah in the sound of the gentle breeze, there was the mighty wind, the earthquake and the fire. Elijah had to face all this chaos before he faced God. 

So out of the chaos, God reveals Himself, but we have to first face the chaos, we have to face everything before we could rise and see God in everything.

Such was also the scenario in the gospel. It was deep into the night, there was the heavy sea and in all that chaos, they even thought that Jesus was a ghost.

It was a desperate and chaotic situation, but they can’t forget everything and run, because there was nowhere to run to, other than into a watery death.

So Peter’s reaction of wanting to walk on the water towards Jesus could be a desperate attempt to get out of a desperate situation. But along the way, he was overcome by the chaos around him and he gave in to fear and lost courage and sank.

So when fear shows its face, we can forget everything and run (if there is somewhere to run to) or we can face everything and rise. But to face everything and rise would also require some courage in the chaos.

There was a recent movie called “Hacksaw Ridge” set in WW II, which is based on a true story of a drafted soldier Desmond Doss, who wanted to be a combat medic but refused to carry firearms for religious reasons.

He was ostracized by fellow soldiers for his pacifist stance but went on to earn respect and adoration for his bravery, selflessness and compassion after he risked his life, without firing a shot, to save 75 men in the Battle of Okinawa.
On the battlefield of chaos and carnage, Desmond Doss could choose to forget everything and run for his life. But he chose to face everything and run into the chaos and carnage to save his injured comrades.

One memorable line from the movie was this, as Desmond Doss was running in to save the injured soldiers, he prayed: Please Lord, help me get one more, help me get one more.

But as with most war movies, there is plenty of violence and blood, but it also about courage in the midst of chaos and carnage, and how one man faced his fears and saved others by running into the fire instead of away from it.

So did Elijah after God had spoken to him. He went back to face his fears and continued his mission of being a prophet to God’s people.

As for Peter, there is a story in which Peter was fleeing from Rome to escape persecution, but on his way meets Jesus and asked Him "Where are you going, Lord?". To which Jesus says, "If you desert My people, I am going to Rome to be crucified a second time.” Upon hearing that Peter turned back to Rome to accept his martyrdom.

So Elijah, Peter and Desmond Doss faced their fears and rose as figures of courage in the midst of chaos. 

When we have to face our fears may we have the courage to run into the chaos. And when we feel that we are sinking into our fears, let us remember how Peter cried out: Lord! Save me! We will feel the saving hand of Jesus.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

17th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 30.07.2017

1 Kings 3:5, 7-12 / Romans 8:28-30 / Matthew 13:44-52
Let us begin with a question about our health, and maybe let us look at our dental health. When was the last time we went to the dentist? It is recommended that we go to the dentist for a check-up every six months. That’s the recommendation. But our assessment is “no pain, no need”.

But as it is, we don’t like to visit the dentist because it means two things. Either it is a filling for a cavity, which at times feels like a brain surgery, because of all that drilling and the pain shoots up the brain. Or it will be an extraction, i.e. to pull out the teeth.

For those of us who have an upcoming dental appointment, here is a little story to prepare you to meet your dentist. A man went to a new dentist to remove a wisdom tooth for the first time. The man told the dentist, “I am afraid … it’s my first time taking out a wisdom tooth.” The new dentist told him, “Me too … it’s my first time.” 

By and large, the dentist wouldn’t want to do an extraction unless it is really necessary. But when it comes to the wisdom tooth, it’s quite another matter.

Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties. Maybe when we start to get wiser, those wisdom teeth will grow as well. Sometimes these teeth can be a valuable asset to the mouth when healthy and properly aligned. But more often, they are misaligned and require removal.
So it doesn’t mean that the more wisdom teeth we have or try to keep, the wiser we are. In fact, it would be wiser to remove those wisdom teeth if they are giving us teething problems.

In the 1st reading, the Lord appeared in a dream to Solomon and said, “Ask what you would like me to give you.”

Now, that’s like a blank cheque, isn’t it? If the Lord were to appear to us and ask us that same question, just how would we reply? Because there are so many things that we want – health, wealth, happiness, security, good looks, etc.

As a young king, Solomon could have asked for more “teeth”, not more wisdom teeth, but more “teeth” to have more “bite”, so that he can control his subjects and his kingdom, victory over his enemies, long life, prosperity, security.

But he asked the Lord for this: Give Your servant a heart to understand how to discern between good and evil, for who can govern this people of Yours that is so great?

And the Lord replied: I give you a heart wise and shrewd, as none before you has had and none will have after you.

And truly, Solomon was noted for his wisdom. There was this instance of two mothers living in the same house, each the mother of an infant son, and they came to Solomon. One of the babies had died, and each claimed the remaining boy as her own. Calling for a sword, Solomon declared his judgment: the baby would be cut into two, each woman to receive half. One mother thought the ruling fair, but the other begged Solomon, "Give the baby to her, just don't kill the baby!" The king declared the second woman the true mother, as a mother would even give up her baby if that was necessary to save his life. (1 Kings 3:16-28) This judgment became known throughout all of Israel and was considered an example of profound wisdom.

Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom to govern God’s people because he was aware and humble enough to admit that he was young and unskilled in leadership.

So the Lord is also asking us what we want for Him. Certainly it would be something that we have to think carefully about.

It would be something like the treasure hidden in a field, or like that pearl of great value that the gospel speaks of. In both cases, the two finders sold everything they own and bought it.

But also like the fishermen who hauled in the dragnet and then collected the good fish in a basket and threw away those that are of no use, we also need the wisdom to discern what is good and what is fleeting and temporary.

There is this story of a bus-station attendant who was handed a wallet that someone had lost. He looked inside the wallet. There were a few dollars and a holy picture of Jesus in it. But there was no identification of the owner.

After a while an elderly man came to claim the wallet. The attendant asked him to prove that it was his before he would give it to him. The old man smiled and said, “There is a picture of Jesus in it.” But the attendant was not satisfied. He said, “That is no proof. Anyone can have a picture of Jesus in his wallet. And why is your photo or IC not in there like the others.”

The old man took a deep breath and explained. “My IC is with me. As to why my photo is not there, this wallet is given to me by my father when I was in school, and I used to put a photo of my parents in it.

When I was a teenager, I was proud of my looks and so I replaced my parents’ photo with my own. Then I got married and I replaced my photo with a photo of my wife. Then my first child was born and then I replaced my wife’s photo with my baby’s photo.”

Then his voice began to quiver. “My parents passed away many years ago. Recently my wife passed away too. My children are too busy with their families to look after me.

All that I ever held close to my heart is now far away from my reach. I have this picture of Jesus in my wallet because it is only now that I realized that He is always with me and He will never leave me alone. If only I had realized this earlier, I would have His picture when I first got this wallet.” 

Whether we have a picture of Jesus in our wallets or not, we should realize that we are created in His image. And His image in etched in our hearts so that we can reflect and share this divine image with others so that they can see the true treasure that is within us.
Yes, we already have that treasure. What more do we need to ask for or search for?

St. Thomas Aquinas, the great Christian philosopher and theologian, wrote many works that influenced the Church. It was he who wrote the lyrics of the great Eucharistic hymns like “Humbly we adore Thee”.

There is a story that he had a vision of Christ on the Cross and was asked by the Lord what reward he wanted for all he had done and written. St. Thomas answered, “Non nisi te, Domine.” (Only you, Lord.)

Jesus is our only reward and our eternal reward. We don’t need to have the wisdom of Solomon to realize that.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

16th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 23.07.2017

Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 / Romans 8:26-27 / Matthew 13:24-43

One of the rather tedious things to do is house-keeping, which is also known as spring-cleaning. But whether it is spring or summer or autumn or winter, cleaning the house is not something we look forward to, and it is not something we like to do often, much less every day.

We can actually tolerate quite a bit of dust and we will only realize that it is getting too much when we start writing notes and phone numbers in the dust on the table. Then maybe it’s getting too much.

And some people can give funny reasons for not doing housekeeping or spring-cleaning:
- My room is not dirty. I clean it every other day. Just that today is not every other day.
- My room is not untidy. I just have everything on display, just like a provision shop.

And when it comes to housekeeping, it is not only physically tiring, it can be mentally taxing. We have to think carefully about what we want to throw away as junk. Because junk is sometimes defined as something we throw away three weeks before we realise we need it. So to throw or not to throw, that’s the question.

The question in the gospel parable is kind of similar – to weed it out or not to weed it out. That was with reference to the darnel, a kind of weed that looks similar to wheat in the early growing stages, but can only be distinguished when it is matured.
Not only can darnel choke out the wheat, its seeds are also poisonous. So we can imagine how tedious it can be to harvest wheat that has got darnel with it. It is like trying to sort out between sugar and salt.

But to begin with, what was sown was wheat, and it was good wheat. And then when everybody was asleep, the enemy came and sowed darnel among the wheat and made off.

And it was only when the wheat sprouted and ripened that the darnel appeared as well. And weeding out the darnel was out of the question.

This parable can be used to explain the origins of sin and evil, and the conclusion can be this: The devil did it!

But that would only be highlighting an obvious problem. But what about the solution?

In the parable, the solution is given at the harvest time – the wheat and the darnel will be separated, the wheat going to the barn, the darnel going to be burnt.

That is the end-time solution to the problem of evil. In the end, evil will be held accountable, and evil will be punished. That is the end-time. But for us, what is it for the meantime?

To begin with, as much as the parable distinguishes between wheat and weeds, between good and evil, the reality of this world is not separated into two camps.
Because the fact is that no one is absolutely good and no one is absolutely evil. In each of us, there is a mixture of both, some more, some less.

But we must also realise that God has sown good seeds in us, so that we can bear a good harvest. And we also have to realise that there are some poisonous weeds crawling within us that would make us forget who we are and what we are called to be.

There is a reflection on our current lifestyle that somehow causes a distortion in our lives. The reflection is this:

  • When TV came to my house, I forgot how to read books. 
  • When the car came to my doorstep, I forgot how to walk. 
  • When I got the mobile in my hand, I forgot how to write letters. 
  • When computer came to my house, I forgot spellings. 
  • When the air-con came to my house, I stopped going under the tree for cool breeze
  • When I stayed in the city, I forgot the smell of the countryside. 
  • By dealing with banks and cards, I forgot the value of money. 
  • With the smell of perfume, I forgot the fragrance of fresh flowers. 
  • With the coming of fast food, I forgot to cook traditional cuisines.
  • Always running around, I forgot how to stop. 
  • And lastly when I got WhatsApp, I forgot how to talk.

One of the consequences of the weeds of our lives is that they make us forget who we are and what we are called to be.

The 1st reading reminds us that like the man who sowed good seeds, God has sown goodness in us and the reading says this: By acting thus, You have taught a lesson to your people, how the virtuous man must be kind to his fellowman, and You have given Your sons the good hope that after sin, You will grant repentance.

So even before asking why there are wicked people, why there is evil, let us do some spiritual housekeeping and spiritual heart-cleaning, and to admit that we have allowed the weeds of sin to enter into our hearts and choke out the wheat of goodness.

So repentance is about cleansing our hearts of the weeds of sin so that that when we are faced with the wickedness and evil of this world, we won’t resort to that kind of “eye for eye, and tooth for tooth” reaction. Anyway fighting fire with fire only creates a bigger fire.

Rather we fight evil with the goodness and kindness that are planted in our hearts by God, and Jesus reminds us of this in today’s gospel parable.

So let us remember who we are and what we are called to be. That is the meantime direction, and it is also the end-time solution.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

15th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 16.07.17

Isaiah 55:10-11 / Romans 8:18-23 / Matthew 13:1-23

Over the course of this week, there were a couple of incidents that would have caught our attention. Not only would they have caught our attention, they would have also stirred our emotions.

On Tuesday, the front page of the newspapers had a picture of a man in his 60s standing over the slumped body of another man, with by-standers at a distance looking on.

The man had stabbed the victim who later died of his wounds. It turned out that the victim was the son-in-law of the attacker.

It was certainly a family tragedy as two lives came to a different end, and our hearts certainly would feel for the family in their grief and pain.

Then on early Friday morning, a viaduct undergoing construction collapsed, killing one worker and injuring 10 others. Again, one life was ended and probably many other lives will be changed.

In the face of these two tragedies, and the other tragedies of life, we could only utter a single-worded question – “Why?”

Yes, “Why?”. And we may probably ask further questions like “Why must resort to killing?” and “Why can’t they build things safely and properly?”
Many other questions can also be asked but not many answers can be given. And most of the time, there are no answers.

And as we listen to the gospel parable and think deeper about it, we may also want to ask “Why?”

The sower went out to sow. Some seeds fell on the edge of the path and the birds came and ate it up.
Others fell on patches of rock and didn’t grow for long.
Yet others fell among thorns and got choked.
And then others fell on rich soil and produced a harvest.

But why is the sower so careless in sowing the seeds? There seems to be so much loss and wastage and maybe only a quarter of what is sowed produced a harvest.

Logically and mathematically, this is not productive or effective. On paper, it is a failure.

So logically on paper, the sower is a failure. So why this kind of parable? Is there any meaning to this?

Logically and on paper, it is a failure. But spiritually and on prayer, there is a sublime power.

We have to listen to what the Lord said in the 1st reading: As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for eating, so the word that comes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.

The Lord has sowed the seeds of His Word on us and have the seeds produced a harvest? 

Well, in little and simple ways, they have. Last Monday, we began a new journey for the RCIA. We started the journey rather late, maybe we are the last church to start the RCIA. We didn’t expect many Inquirers, maybe just a handful at most.

But we prayed, silently though, because we didn’t want to sound like we were so desperate, but in a way we were. Well, the Lord sent, more than just a handful, 16 Inquirers to be exact. Which is actually very good, considering we started very late, and we are a rather quaint little church. So there is much work to do now, and our prayers are needed for these Inquirers and the RCIA team.

As for the 1st Friday Mass and Devotion to the Sacred Heart and the 13th-of-the-month Rosary, it is not with overwhelming attendance but certainly it is edifying and encouraging to see that people have responded to the call of prayer and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and to the devotion to Our Lady in the Rosary.

Yes, in little and simple ways we are bearing a harvest and more so when we come for Mass each Sunday, we want to offer to the Lord a bountiful harvest of prayer.

More than just praying for ourselves and for the petitions offered to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are called to pray for the Church, for the world, for all peoples.

The tragedies that we see around us are more often than not, man-made. Because when we think about it, it is man that created the problems, and when the problems become too serious, they end up in tragedies.

But where tragedies result in suffering, the remedy is in the praying.

The 2nd reading tells us that the suffering in this life cannot be compared to the glory that is waiting for us in the next life.

But while on this earth, while in this life, we are called to face that suffering with our praying. 

And we must believe that there is much more that we can ever imagine that is accomplished by prayer-power than by any human power.

That is why God wants to sow the seeds of His Word in us. So that we can produce a harvest of prayer, and signs and wonders will rain down from heaven, and bring healing and reconciliation on earth.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

14th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 09.07.2017

Zechariah 9:9-10 / Romans 8:9, 11-13 / Matthew 11:25-30

Last week, the priests of the archdiocese went for their annual clergy retreat, which was from Monday to Friday.

Going for a retreat may sound like a relaxing time and some people may think that the priests do nothing there but eat, sleep and pray.

And if that is really the case, then it sounds rather strange that we are asking you to pray for us priests as we go for the retreat!

But even before going for the retreat, we had to ensure that things are in order in the parish – that bills are paid so that the electricity and water won’t be cut-off, the rubbish is cleared, the stove is switched off, etc.

And then comes the things to pack – toothbrush, toothpaste, shaver, soap, clothes, medicine etc.

So even as we began the retreat on Monday morning, the mind was still whirling and wondering if we had forgotten something or left out something important.

Letting go is certainly easier said than done, because whether priest or lay person, we are still human and we tend to be anxious and worry and fret over so many things.

And so we began the retreat with the phrase that we heard in the gospel, as Jesus says: Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.

The word “rest” could almost inevitably conjure up ideas of lying around or lazing around doing nothing, with no worries, no anxieties, no problems, no pain, no illness.

But is that the kind of rest that Jesus is talking about? Because to fully understand what Jesus meant, we also need to hear the rest of what He said – Shoulder My yoke and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, My yoke is easy and My burden light.

St. Augustine understood what Jesus meant as he wrote in his prayer-reflection: O Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

So the “rest” that Jesus is talking about is not merely a physical bodily rest as in like some kind of couch potato.

The rest that Jesus is talking about is the stillness of the heart, the stillness that is an experience of peace, and it’s a peace that the world cannot give but only Jesus can.

And that was why the crowds followed Jesus. He gave them an experience of peace when He spoke about the mercy and compassion and forgiveness of God with parables like the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, the Good Shepherd, the 11th-hour workers in the vineyard.

Jesus showed the people the heart of God, the heart of love and mercy and compassion.

And He invites us to come and rest in that heart of God. And if our hearts desire for that rest, then He also tells us what our hearts should be like. 

Our hearts must be like that of Jesus – gentle and humble – then our hearts will be at rest in the heart of God.

All this sounds well and good, and the people followed Jesus and they believed that He was the Messiah, the Saviour.

They believed until Jesus was arrested, tortured, nailed to the cross and crucified to death.

With that, all is shattered, including that invitation “Come to me …” Because if Jesus who is gentle and humble of heart was killed by evil and wicked men, then the “Come to me” is just a big joke. There is no point in being gentle and humble of heart.

But if Jesus died and nothing more, then there is nothing else to talk about.

But Jesus died and He rose from the dead. And that changed everything and turned everything around. His invitation to “Come to me” are not just human words but they are risen words, words that have power, words from the Risen Jesus who overcame evil, sin and death.

And because of that, the 2nd reading has this to say: Your interests are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made His home in you. In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ, you would not belong to Him, and if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then He who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to you.

The priest who conducted the retreat for the priest is Fr. Olivier Morin SJ, a man full of life and peace. He has a prosthetic foot (artificial foot) and it was obvious in the way he walks, and he wears sandals.

To quell our curiosity, he told us that he had an accident and his foot had to be amputated. He recalled that when he was on the operating table and the doctors were trying to save his foot, he was in intense pain, so painful that tears were rolling down from his eyes.

In that intense pain, he suddenly felt a hand holding his hand. He opened his eyes a bit and he could see that it was one of the nurses who reached out to hold his hand to comfort him.

No words were spoken, just a firm grip of the hand but that was enough for him to withstand the pain and brought him comfort and to know that someone cares.

Jesus comes to us through people we know as well as people whom we don’t, to comfort us in our pain and distress. No words may be spoken, but we know it is His healing touch.

May we also be the hands and the heart of Jesus to bring about comfort and healing to others, as well as bring those who labour and are overburdened to Jesus. 

May we all find rest in the heart of Jesus, and may we also be gentle and humble of heart. That is the healing and comfort that the world needs from us.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Annual Priests Retreat 2017

My dear brothers and sisters,

The priests of the Archdiocese of Singapore will be having their annual retreat from 3rd July Monday to 7th July Friday.

I will also be at this retreat and I am really looking forward to it for a time of silence and prayer.

As such, the next homily post will be for 14th Ordinary Sunday, 9th July 2017.

Requesting prayers for myself and my brother priests that we will be renewed and re-focused so that we will continue to faithfully serve the Lord and His holy people.

Thank you. May God bless you!

Fr. Stephen Yim

Saturday, July 1, 2017

13th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 02.07.2017

2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16 / Romans 6:3-4, 8-11 / Matthew 10:37-42

If we were asked to name an Old Testament prophet, then depending on our Bible knowledge, we may be able to come up with some names.

And if we had been attentive enough at Mass, then we might be able to remember some of the prophets’ names like Isaiah, Samuel, Ezekiel and Elijah.

And talking about Elijah, he had a successor and his name is almost like that of Elijah, ie. Elisha. This is the Elisha that we heard about in the 1st reading. The woman saw in him a holy man of God, and she gave him food and lodging whenever he passed by that way.

And then in exercising his prophetic role, he told the woman, “This time next year, you will hold a son in your arms.”

So a prophet not only proclaims the Word of God and interprets the signs from God, he is also called to be the channel of God’s blessings for the people.

One rather obscure act of Elisha is in the 2 Kings (2:18-22) when the people told him that the water was bad and causing the land to be unfruitful, and affecting the people because they drink it.

Elisha then went up to the source of the stream and invoked the Lord’s blessings and then sprinkled salt into the water, thereby cleansing it and brought healing to the land and the people.

That is why in the Church’s Rite of Blessing of Holy Water, blessed salt is sprinkled in the water in the form of a cross, so that Holy Water is used for purifying, cleansing and healing.

So although Elisha may not be a big-name prophet, his prophetic action is repeated in the prayer of blessing of Holy Water.

In as much as prophets have names, there are also some prophets who are not named, and some others may not be prophets but nonetheless had a prophetic role.

We may remember that on one occasion, when Jesus went to the district of Tyre and Sidon, there was a Syro-Phoenician woman who came up to Jesus asking Him to heal her daughter who was tormented by a devil.

Initially, He answered her not a word, and when she knelt and begged Him, Jesus said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the house dogs.”

To which she replied, “Ah yes, Lord, but even the house dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.

That Syro-Phoenician woman may not be a prophet but in humbling herself to the likeness of a house dog, she brought about healing for her daughter.

And that is one of the primary roles of a prophet: to bring about God’s blessings and healing for others.

And talking about house dogs, or pet dogs, some of us keep dogs as pets, or wish to have a pet dog. And if we have a dog as a pet, we would surely love our dog.

And if dogs can talk, have we ever wondered what they would say to us? I came across this write up called “The things dog-lovers should not forget”?

Here are some points extracted from that write-up, and it is put in a way that our pet dog is speaking to us.

1. Please don’t be annoyed when I jump all over you the minute you walk through the door. I have a lot less time on this earth and I’m happiest when I’m spending that time with you.

2. Talk to me. We may not speak the same language, but just the sound of your voice always brightens my day.

3. Comfort me when I am scared. I’m not used to a lot of noise or new things, and you make me feel safe.

4. Give me time to understand what you want from me. I promise I’ll try my best.

5. Please don’t stay angry with me for too long. You have your family and friends to make you happy. I only have you.

6. Show me that humans can be loving and are not filled with hate.

7. If you treat me well, I promise to be your best friend forever.

8. I love it when you teach me new tricks. It gives me the chance to impress you and I love it when you are proud of me.

9. When I get old, please love me as much as you did when I was young. I might not be a sweet little puppy anymore, but I love you as much as I did then.

10. Please be at my side when I take my final breath. I know it won’t be easy, but I really need you with me when my time on this earth comes to an end. I will be scared, but you are the only person I can trust to be with me.

11. When I am gone, please remember these words: People are born to learn how to lead a good life and be a good person every day. Dogs already know how to do that. So that’s why they don’t need to live so long.

Yes, if only dogs can talk, that might just be what they would say to us.

But actually we hear that every day. It may be from our children, our parents, our family members, our friends, our colleagues, even from strangers.

We hear those words that have a prophet voice in them. Let us welcome those prophet words and we will receive a prophet’s reward.

And the reward is this: as we listen, so we will speak and like a prophet, we will bring about God’s blessings and healing for others.