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Saturday, August 27, 2016

22nd Ordinary Sunday, Year C, 28.08.2016

Ecclesiasticus 3:17-20, 28-29 / Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24 / Luke 14:1, 7-14

The history of mankind has seen many great conquerors who built great empires.

We have read about Alexander. He was called the Great and rightly so. His empire stretched from Europe to Asia.

Then there was Caesar and the great Roman Empire.

Then a period of time passed before another great conqueror surfaced in Europe. We have heard of Napoleon Bonaparte. He also marched through Europe and conquered most of it.

In the year 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte captured the city of Rome, and took Pope Pius VI prisoner.

Napoleon thought that he could intimidate the Pope and force him to become his puppet because the Church had considerable political power at that time.

But the Pope refused to neither cooperate with Napoleon nor be his puppet, and in a fit of anger, Napoleon shouted at the Pope: If you do not do as I command, I will destroy the Church.

The Pope replied: Oh no, you won’t. Napoleon retorted: Oh yes, I will - within a year.

To which the Pope calmly replied: If we, who are the Church, have for 1800 years, failed to destroy the Church with our sins, I doubt very much you will succeed.

Well, the Church still exists, whereas Napoleon Bonaparte had passed on as just another memory in the pages of history books.

One of the follies of becoming mighty and powerful is that one also becomes proud and arrogant.

Power and might become a “right” that is used to push and to pull in order to get what is wanted.

And usually the casualties are the lowly and the powerless and those who cannot defend themselves. They get swept aside to make way for the powerful and the mighty.

But the 1st reading has this to tell us: The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly, and then you will find favour with the Lord; for great though the power of the Lord is, He accepts the homage of the humble.

In the gospel, Jesus told a parable when He noticed how the guests picked the places of honour.

The parable highlights the fact that our human desires go for the first place and not the last; we desire for the lofty and not the lowly; we want the most and not the least.

But the Lord looks on the lowly and He accepts the homage of the humble and He fills the hungry with good things.

Yes, there is something that the lowly and humble can teach us about the ways of God, because it is to the lowly and humble that God gives His blessings.

It is also through the lowly and humble that God shows His power and might, as this story of the lion and the mouse will show us.

A small mouse crept up to a sleeping lion that had just finished his meal. The mouse longed to have some of the scraps of the leftover meal.

"Since he's sleeping," thought the mouse, "he'll never suspect I'm here!" With that, the little mouse sneaked up and tried to pull off a scrap of the meal. The lion awoke and quickly caught the mouse between its claws.

"Please," said the mouse, "let me go and I'll come back and try help you someday." The lion laughed, "You are so small! How could ever help me?"

The lion laughed so hard he had to hold his belly and he let go of the mouse. The mouse jumped to freedom and ran until he was far, far away.

The next day, two hunters came to the jungle. They went to the lion's lair. They set a huge rope snare. When the lion came home that night, he stepped into the trap and was caught in it.

He roared and roared! He tried with all his might but he couldn't pull himself free. The mouse heard the lion's pitiful roar and came back to help him.

The mouse eyed the trap and noticed the one thick rope that held it together. He began nibbling and nibbling at the rope until the rope broke. 

The lion was freed and was able to shake off the other ropes that held him tight. He stood up free again!

The lion turned to the mouse and said, "Dear mouse, I was foolish to ridicule you for being small. You not only helped me, you saved my life too!" 

So as much as the mighty and powerful lion is noted for its strength and is even called ‘the king of the jungle”, the lowly and humble mouse can be called upon in the time of need.

Well, back to Napoleon Bonaparte. Towards the end of his life, he was exiled on the small rocky island of St. Helena.

There, the former conqueror of civilized Europe had time to reflect on his life and even on Jesus Christ.

He made this statement: Other conquerors founded their empires by force. Jesus Christ alone founded His empire upon love and humility.

Napoleon Bonaparte finally understood why he cannot destroy the Church. His pride is no match for the love and humility that the Church is built upon.

So as the Church we must remember what the 1st reading taught us: be gentle in carrying out your business and you will be better loved than a lavish giver.

The power of love is seen in gentleness and humility. To be gentle and humble is what we are called to be. With that we will overcome the pride and arrogance of the world.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

21st Ordinary Sunday, Year C, 21.08.2016

Isaiah 66:18-21 / Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13 / Luke 13:22-30

Today the 2016 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, comes to a close. The Games started on the 5th August.

It is a major international multi-sport event with more than 11,000 athletes taking part and 306 sets of medals were given out.

The Olympic Games are held every four years and hence for some athletes, it’s a “now or never” opportunity.

And certainly it can be a great ecstasy to win a medal at the Olympics, and we Singaporeans knows how it feels as Joseph Schooling won for Singapore the first Olympic gold medal.

Singapore won only one medal but it was enough for an overwhelming celebration for our nation.

But let us also remember that Joseph Schooling had to overcome the disappointment of finishing last in the men’s 100m freestyle semi-finals, which was the other event that he competed. So winning the gold in the 100m butterfly in record time is really an achievement for him.

And if we think that Usain Bolt, aka “Lighting Bolt”, has always been the winner, well, he too knows how it feels to come in at last place in a race, although it was due to injury.

Still, to come in last on the world stage is like being an extra in a movie set; you are just there for decoration and it’s like self-humiliation.

In the gospel, Jesus said something interesting about being first and being last.

He said that those now last will be first, and those now first will be last.

He seems to be using a sporting competition as an analogy, where there is a first place and a last place.

And then He seems to be talking about a reversal of fortunes, where the first become last, and the last become first.

He could be talking about a race, a race of another nature, a spiritual race. 

As how 1 Cor 9:23-25 puts it - in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize. They run in such a way as to win the prize. Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable.…

So it is a race where we want to win but it is not to be in the first position.

It is a race where from the last position we want to encourage others to go on ahead of us so as discover for themselves their own strengths and abilities.

It is a race where if there are others behind us, then we want to motivate them to be better than us so that they won’t feel dejected and rejected.

It is a race where we run but for a very different objective.

And it will take a lot of training in humility to see the spiritual objectives and to do it for a crown that is imperishable.

And this kind of spiritual training in humility is certainly not easy because it goes against our instinct to be in the first position and to be a winner, and not a loser.

But as the 2nd reading tells us: The Lord trains the ones that He loves and He trains all those that He acknowledges as His sons. 

Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as His sons.

The suffering that is part of our training is to help us let go of what is perishable so as to win what is imperishable. 

The race of life is a race uphill. To win it without a struggle is perhaps to win it without honour. If there were no difficulties, there would be no victories. If there is nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to achieve.

And the first race would be in our own thinking. Let’s say that there is a race and there are only three runners and you are one of them. 

You would want to go for the first position, the gold medal, and if not then it will be the silver.

Would you settle for the third position, the bronze medal, which is as good as being the last?

But to accept the third position means that you let two other people go ahead, and that is Jesus, others and then you – J,O,Y. Indeed there is joy in being third, or last. So it’s not about gold or silver or bronze. Rather it is about Jesus, others and then you. J-O-Y. That’s the joy of the race.

Joseph Schooling won an Olympic gold medal but he also brought joy to a 12-year old Pathlight student who dedicated a “mouse with medal” drawing to him.

For 12-year-old Jolie Lim, who is autistic, Joseph Schooling's historic win is an inspirational story about overcoming life's challenges. 

To express how she felt, Jolie produced an A3-sized drawing under the encouragement of her mother.

Jolie had hoped to meet Schooling to pass him the artwork during his victory parade on Thursday, but she had to sit for her PSLE exam in the morning.

After the exam, she and her mum could only rush down to Raffles City Shopping Centre, the last stop of the victory parade, at around noon. However, Jolie is afraid of crowds and was unable to catch a glimpse of the swimming star.

At her mother’s request, The Straits Times helped to pass on Jolie's drawing to Schooling's minders. The drawing, which took Jolie three hours to complete, depicts a mouse with a gold medal, beating its larger competitors including an eagle, a cat and a dog.

On Thursday night, Schooling responded in an 11-second video, thanking Jolie for her drawing. It was a simple gesture, but one that meant much to Jolie.

Schooling is a winner, but he also helps others to be winners. 

The joy of winning is when Jesus and others go before you. It’s a joy that all the medals in the world cannot give.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Assumption of the BVM 2016, 14.08.16

Apocalypse 11:19; 12:1-6, 10 / 1 Cor 15:20-26 / Luke 1:39-56

Can you make a guess what is the happening news over the past week?

There is also the National Day celebrations held for the first time at the Sports Hub. There is the Olympics in Rio with the Singapore swimmers making some waves. 

But earlier in the week, the thing that is capturing all the attention is a game, a game that is played using the mobile phone, a game that is called “Pokemon Go”. 

And the craze over that game is almost like incredible. There are hordes of people walking around looking at their mobile phones, instead of looking out for the traffic, and then stopping all of a sudden and then swiping on their phones.

I see this as I stand at the front of the church. Then I was told that the church is one the Pokestops. In fact, the whole stretch of Tank Road has Pokestops at the Teochew Building and the Hindu temple and also the SHRM college.

And then I was told that all landmarks are Pokestops, and that includes religious, cultural and historical places. It seems like the purpose is make people go to these places and to learn more about these places and also to make friends along the way who are also playing the game. So that’s why the game is called Pokemon Go – to go to these places and catch those Pokemons and make friends.

Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game, meaning it meshes the virtual world with the real world on the smartphone. Players navigate their neighborhoods and parks using the game's built-in maps. The maps are real, based on Google Maps. On the map, virtual characters known as Pokemons appear. Players try to catch these Pokemons by traveling to the character's location on the map. 

Once there, they must "capture" the Pokemons by hitting it with a virtual ball. The entire virtual world is experienced through the smartphone. 

It is interesting that people get so caught up with this game, maybe because it is the blending of the virtual reality and the real world. 

But if people get so caught up with this augmented reality, then do they know of another reality, and that is the mystical spiritual reality?

The 1st reading gives us a glimpse of this mystical spiritual reality. 

The sanctuary of God in heaven opened, and the ark of the covenant could be seen inside it. A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with twelve stars on her head for a crown.

What would we think about that? Is it real? Just as the game would need a smartphone in order to enter into the augmented reality, we also would need something to see and enter into that mystical spiritual reality. We need to have eyes of faith to see what the 1st reading is telling us.

We not only need eyes of faith, but we would also need to have ears that would listen to the sound of the Good News.

In the gospel, when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb, and filled with the Holy Spirit, she made this pronouncement to Mary: Of all women, you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

Today we celebrate this blessedness of Mary in her Assumption into heaven. Having completed the course of her earthly life, Mary was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory by the grace of God.

Jesus, by His Resurrection, conquered sin and death, and He ascended into heaven to open the gates for us and Mary is the first to receive the fruit of His salvation. Mary believed that the promise made to her by the Lord would be fulfilled. That promise is also made to us who believe.

But just as Elizabeth proclaimed that Mary is blessed, we too must ask for that blessing and be a blessing for others.

Last Saturday, the Pokemon Go game was launched in Singapore and there were people at the front of the church doing their catching. 

One of our Year of Mercy helpers was at the front waiting to receive a pilgrimage group coming to our church. She saw a young man doing his catching, and not being too sure what he was doing, asked him what it was about.

It turned out that he is a Catholic and his family lives in Oxley Rise but they don’t come to this church.

He himself has not stepped into this church before and so she gave him a “tour” of the church and explained a few things to him. He noticed the statue outside but he didn’t realise it was the statue of Mother Mary until she told him. And he kept commenting how beautiful the church is and that he will come here for Mass since it is so nearby.

It is not an unusual story of conversion or miracle, but that young man came here for an augmented reality. But he left here with an experience of a mystical spiritual reality.

That Year of Mercy helper was a blessing for him and I believe that God will also bless her for her service to God and to the church for being a helper in the Year of Mercy.

Being one of the Pokestops has its pros and cons. Some of us might think that it would be a nuisance when these gamers wonder around outside the church. (We made it clear that they can’t do their catching in church).

But can we also be a blessing for them by helping them to realize that there is more to life than just that augmented reality in their smartphones?

Yes, there is the mystical spiritual reality that is waiting to be encountered and we can help them experience this reality by being a blessing to them.

Let us pray that we be blessed just as Mary is blessed. Let us serve the Lord and do whatever He tells us so that we will receive His blessings. And with God’s blessings, let us also be a blessing for others.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

19th Ordinary Sunday, Year C, 07.08.2016

Wisdom 18:6-9 / Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 / Luke 12:32-48

Nowadays the word “security” is used not just for big establishments and organizations.

Security has been implemented in the things that we use in daily life like computers and mobile phones, in ATMs and internet banking, in cars and offices and shops.

Besides going all the way to national security, there is no doubt that first and foremost, we must take care of our domestic security.

Gone are those “kampong” days when we don’t need to lock our doors and the neighbours will keep an eye for us.

At home we have sophisticated electronic security systems like security cameras and fingerprint sensor-and-lock system, etc.

Nonetheless, some old-fashioned security systems can still do the job, as this story will show us. 

From the shadows in the distance, the man watched as the family packed their bags in the car, locked the doors and then drove off for their holidays. The man waited till it was dark and then he emerged from the shadows and he went to the front door and rang the door-bell of the house.

When there was no answer, the man, a seasoned burglar picked the lock of the front door and got in. Then just to be sure that no one was in the house, he called out, "Is there anyone in?"

Hearing nothing, he was about to move on, when he was stunned by a voice, "I see you, and He sees you!" The burglar panicked and called out, "Who's that?" And again, the voice came back, "I see you, and He sees you!"

Terrified, the burglar switched on his torchlight and pointed it towards the direction of the voice. He was relieved to see that it was a parrot in a cage and it recited once again, "I see you, and He sees you!"

The burglar laughed to himself and said, "Oh, shut up stupid bird. 

Anyway, who is this “He”? Is it another bird friend of yours?"

And the parrot replied, "He is right below me!" And the burglar shined his torch at what was below the parrot's cage. And there he saw this “He”, a huge Doberman, looking at the burglar with those eyes, and growling. And then, the parrot said, "He sees you, and He will get you."

Yes, we all need some kind of security against theft and burglary and other threats. As Jesus said in the gospel: You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house.

But in the beginnings of Israel as the People of God, it was God Himself who broke through the walls of their enemies. When they were oppressed and under slavery in Egypt, God worked through Moses to break the chains of slavery and broke down the walls that imprisoned the Israelites and set them free from bondage.

The climax of this event was the parting of the Red Sea where the Israelites crossed into safety and the Egyptians perished in the waters of the sea.

In a mighty and marvelous way, God showed that He was their Saviour. He is their only security and He will fight their battles for them.

We fast-forward from that Exodus event to 700BC, when Jerusalem was laid siege by the ferocious Assyrian army that threated to exterminate them, just as how they had exterminated the other nations earlier.

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria sent a letter to taunt king Hezekiah of Judah. At this taunt, Hezekiah was crushed, recognizing his hopeless position. In great grief, Hezekiah took Sennacherib's letter to the Temple, spread it out for the Lord God to see, and prayed over it. The Lord God responded by inspiring the prophet Isaiah to write a long poem about Sennacherib's defeat. The Lord promised that Sennacherib would be unable to attack the city. 

That night, a plague struck the Assyrian army surrounding Jerusalem, and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers died. Sennacherib, spooked by this, withdrew from Jerusalem. Not long after, he was assassinated. 

Once again, the Lord God showed that He was the security of His people as long as they had faith in Him and trusted in Him alone. 

And what God has done for His people, He is still doing whenever His people is under a threat.

We may remember the 1986 People Power Revolution in the Philippines. It was a peaceful and non-violent revolution as the people, together with priests and nuns knelt in front of tanks and armoured vehicles and prayed the Rosary.

We may also remember that on the 7th Sept 2013, Pope Francis led a global prayer vigil at St. Peter’s Square against a military attack on Syria and for peace in Syria. God heard the prayer and the attack was averted.

And in this current atmosphere of fear and tension of terrorist attacks, with security on high alert, we the Church has a mission.

We must be dressed for action and have our lamps lighted. Prayer is to be our action so that the light and power of prayer will scatter the darkness of violence and terror.

Just as Moses and Hezekiah called upon God, just as the people of the Philippines and Pope Francis called upon God to intervene and to dispel the threat, let us do likewise.

All the security measures and safeguards can only be effective when we call upon God to be our security and to fight our battles for us.

If we don’t stand by God, we will not stand at all. But when we stand by God in prayer, then there is no need to be afraid. God will stand by us to protect us and to fight our battles for us.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

18th Ordinary Sunday, Year C, 31.07.2016

Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23 / Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11 / Luke 12:13-21

There are some movies, as well as movie characters, that we will remember even long after the box-office screening.

Especially so for those kind of movies that make us laugh and cry. 

It does what good movies are supposed to do: make us feel alive and feel what it is like to be human.

One of those movies has its title which is also the name of the main movie character.

We would know what movie it is with this memorable line from the opening scenes: “My mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’”

Yes, that’s from the movie “Forrest Gump” and it’s about this fictitious character, though not very intelligent, has accidently been present in many historical moments. But he has a sweetness and the charm of a childlike innocence.

There is this story about the day finally arrives when Forrest Gump dies and goes to heaven. He is met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter himself. The gates are closed however, as Forrest approaches the gatekeeper. St. Peter says, "Well Forrest, it's certainly good to see you. We have heard a lot about you. I must inform you that the place is filling up fast, and we've been administering an entrance examination for everyone. The tests are fairly short, but you need to pass before you can get into Heaven." 

Forrest responds "It sure is good to be here sir. I was looking forward to this. Nobody ever told me about any entrance exam. 
Sure hope the test ain't too hard; life was a big enough a test as it was." 

St. Peter goes on, "Yes, I know Forrest, but the test I have for you has only three questions. Q1. What days of the week begin with the letter T? Q2. How many seconds are there in a year? Q3. What is God's first name?" 

Forrest Gump thought for a while and said, "Well, the first one - how many days of the week begin with the letter "T"? That one's easy. That'd be Today and Tomorrow." 

The Saint's eyes open wide and he exclaims, "Forrest! That's not what I was thinking, but.... you do have a point though, and I guess I didn't specify, so I give you credit for that answer. How about the next one?" asks St. Peter. "How many seconds are there in a year?"

"Now that one's harder," says Forrest, "But I guess the only answer can be twelve." Astounded St. Peter says, "Twelve!? Twelve!? Forrest, how in Heaven's name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?" Forest says "There's gotta be twelve seconds in a year: January second, February second, March second....." 

"Hold it," interrupts St. Peter. "I see where you're going with this. And I guess I see your point, though that wasn't quite what I had in mind, but I'll give you credit for that one, too." "Let's go on with the next and final question. Can you tell me God's first name?" 

Forrest replied, "Howard." "OK, OK," said a frustrated St. Peter, "I guess I can understand how you came up with your answers to my first two questions, but just how in the world did you come up with the name Howard as the first name of God?" 

"That was the easiest one of all," Forrest replied "I learned it from the prayer – Our Father who art in heaven, Howard be thy name … St. Peter pushed the gate open and said, “Run, Forrest, run!”

Those are certainly odd and naïve answers but they give another perspective to what is the usual and expected.

As Christians, we are not to give odd and naïve answers to the questions of life. Rather we are to give a spiritual and heavenly answer to the material and earthly questions.

Hence it is a matter of getting our hearts back to basic. But this basic is not about the usual and the expected. It is not about going with the flow of what others think and measure with.

The 1st reading gives us questions to ponder over. “For what does man gain for all the toil and strain that he has undergone under the sun? What of all his laborious days, his cares of office, his restless nights?”

It’s not a matter of how much we have travelled but in which direction we are travelling. It is not about how much we are thinking but in which direction we are thinking.

Hence, the 2nd reading urges us to have our thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on earth, because the life we have is with Christ in God.

That is why we must kill everything in us that belongs only to the earthly life: fornication, impurity, guilty passions, evil desires and especially greed, which is the same as worshipping a false god.

And greed was what consumed the rich man in the gospel parable. 

And for that, God has this to say to him: Fool! This very night the demand is made for your soul; and this horde of yours, whose will it be then?

All of us, and each of us will one day have to stand before the Lord, and like the joke about Forrest Gump at heaven’s gate, we may be given some questions to answer.

But God won't ask what kind of car we drove, He'll ask how many people we drove who didn't have transportation.

God won't ask the square footage of our house, He'll ask how many people we welcomed into our home.

God won't ask about the clothes we had in our closet, He'll ask how many people we helped to clothe.

God won't ask what our highest salary was, He'll ask if we compromised our character to obtain it.

God won't ask how many friends we had, He'll ask how many people to whom we were a friend.

Let us not wait till we stand at heaven’s gate to have the answers.
The life in heaven begins with how we live our lives on earth. 

And when we stand at heaven’s gate, may we be welcomed by God who is generous with His mercy and compassion. 

There will be no questions asked when we ourselves have been generous to others with our love, mercy and compassion.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

17th Ordinary Sunday, Year C, 24.07.2016

Genesis 18:20-32 / Colossians 2:12-24 / Luke 11:1-13

Generally speaking, people do pray. More so for us as Catholics, we pray, whether sporadically, as in once in a while, or every day. 

And when we come for Mass, we pray. So we can say that at least we pray once a week, and hopefully we pray more than that.

By and large, when we pray, we pray for our own needs and intentions. At least we begin somewhere in prayer.

How our prayer is answered that depends on God surely. But as much as prayer is a serious affair, there can be a humourous side to it.

Not to say that prayer is a joke, but jokes about prayer can at times reveal how we are praying and what we are praying for. Here are some examples.

Man - God how long is a million years to you?
God – Oh, it is just like a minute.
Man - God how much is a million dollars to you?
God – Oh, it is just like a cent to me
Man - God can I have a cent?
God – Ok, just wait a minute …

A priest preached sermons that were very long and boring. And for the final hymn, the congregation would sing “God of mercy and compassion.” 

Then one Sunday the priest announced to the congregation that he will transferred to another church and that it was Jesus' wish that he leave that week. 

Then for the final hymn, the congregation got up and sang loudly: "What a Friend we have in Jesus!" 

Just a joke, but when we say we joking, there is an underlying truth about the reality.

What we heard in the 1st reading may seem to be like a joke.

The outcry was against the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and God was about to inflict a punishment on them for their grievous sin.

Abraham stood before the Lord and he began to plead by saying, “Are you really going to destroy the just man with the sinner?

He began by saying what if there were fifty just men in the town. And then he bargained for forty-five, and then forty, and then thirty, and then twenty, and then finally ten.

As much as the punishment was going to be serious, the bargaining that Abraham had with God does seem rather funny.

It sounds like something we like to do at the road-side stalls where there is no fixed price and it’s a matter of how much we can haggle to get the cheapest price.

But as much as it may sound rather funny, that is also the reality with God’s mercy. God’s mercy is funny in that it comes at the “cheapest price”.

Abraham stopped at ten, but would God have relented if Abraham went down to just one?

The Bible tells us that the Lord God is slow to anger but rich in compassion and mercy.

And in the gospel, Jesus tells us the key that would unlock this compassion and mercy of God. And the key is persistence.

In the parable, persistence will be enough to make the man get up and give his friend all he wants.

And that is why Jesus tells us this: Ask, and it will be given to you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 

For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him.

So Jesus tells us to ask, to search, to knock. Not just once or twice or hope that we will be lucky the third time around. 

But when we ask, when we search, when we knock, the first time, and then a second time and then a third time, and then how? And then what?

Abraham went from 50, to 45, to 40, to 30, to 20 and then to 10. Would we go further than that by going all the way with 5, and then 4, and then 3, and then 2, and even to 1?

Every week, in the acrylic petition box that is next to that big statue of the Sacred Heart, there are about 250 petitions, and at times 300 or even more.

Let’s say that Jesus appeared to me and tells me that if I can find 50 virtuous and just persons in this parish to pray for these petitions, He will answer all of them. Do you think I can find 50 virtuous and just persons to pray for these petitions?

Will there be 50 virtuous and just persons in this parish community to pray for these petitions so that Jesus will answer these petitions.
Or will I have to say, how about 45, or 40, or 30, or 20, or 10, or 5, or just 1?

If it has to be just one, then will you be the one? Will you be the virtuous and just person who will offer yourself to pray for these petitions every day so that others will experience the love and compassion and mercy of Jesus?

For those who write their petitions, they have already expressed their sincerity and need. Will there be anyone who will pray for their need?

Every Friday at the evening Mass we offer those intentions to Jesus, and especially at the 1st Friday Mass when we offer up all the intentions to His Sacred Heart.

We pray that for those whose petitions are answered, they will have a deeper devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and in turn be the missionaries of His love and mercy.

We just have to pray and ask and persist in doing so. 

A million graces will be poured from the Heart of Jesus. And we won’t have to wait a million years for that.

So let us be united as one in Jesus and pray for those in need, because God our Father is waiting to pour His mercy and compassion and everything that is good for those who ask, and ask, and persist in asking.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

16th Ordinary Sunday, Year C, 17.07.2016

Genesis 18:1-10 / Colossians 1:24-28 / Luke 10:38-42

Our eyes are important to us. They help us to see and to make our way along in life.

Certainly, good vision is an asset, but it can only be an asset when good vision enlightens the mind to make a good decision and to say the right things.

There is a story of a man who had just drawn his pay on Friday. But instead of going home, he went to the casino and stayed out the whole weekend and spent his entire paycheck. 

When he finally appeared at home on Sunday evening, he was confronted by a very angry wife and was barraged for nearly two hours with a ranting befitting his actions.

Finally, his wife stopped the nagging and simply said to him, "How would you like it if you didn't see me for two or three days?"

To which he replied, "That would be fine with me." 

Monday went by and he didn't see his wife. Tuesday and Wednesday came and went by with the same results.

Thursday, the swelling in his eyes went down just enough for him to see his wife a little bit   : 0

Just a funny case of how the eyes can be useless when the mind is blind and the mouth says all the wrong things.

Yes, our eyes are important in so much as they can see.

But our eyes are important not for how they look or what they look at, but for what they see and how they see.

In the 1st reading, Abraham was sitting at the entrance of the tent. It was the hottest part of the day.

He looked up and he saw three men standing near him. Now it was the hottest time of the day, and he could have gone in back to his tent and pretend that he didn’t see those three men.

Instead, Abraham got up and ran to greet them and offered them the best hospitality he could. 

At that hottest time of the day when he could have looked away and pretended that he didn’t see anything, what he saw caught his heart and he acted on it. And for that he was blessed and rewarded.

Yes, God’s blessings come, and they come at the hottest time, at the most unlikely time, at the most unexpected time and at the most inconvenient time.

So it is not what we look at that matters. It is what we see and what catches our heart. What Abraham saw caught his heart and he also caught God’s blessings.

In the gospel, Martha and Mary welcomed Jesus into their home. But they welcomed Him in different ways.

Mary sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to Him speaking. Martha did the serving. Then she got distracted with all the serving when she saw Mary sitting there.

And what came forth from her mouth was nothing less than a complaint. She said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.”

And then Jesus gave this profound and memorable teaching: Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one.

Although Jesus said that Mary has chosen the better part, it does not mean that what Martha did was no less better.

What Martha did was equally good, but she gave in to distraction. 

Her service was her blessing, but she lost her concentration. What could have been her compliment became her complaint.

What we see is the reality before us, and if we don’t like or can’t change the reality, then instead of complaining, we need to change the eyes that see the reality.

And then we will be able to see how God is blessing us. God’s blessings come to us at the hottest time, at the most unlikely time, at the most unexpected time and at the most inconvenient time.

But may we see God’s blessings in situations and circumstances such as these:

Prayer is not a "spare wheel" that we pull out when in trouble, but it is a "steering wheel" that directs the right path throughout the journey. So pray always. It is a blessing.

Why is a car’s windshield so large & the rear view mirror so small? 
Because our past is not as important as our future. So, look ahead and move on with God’s blessings

Friendship is like book. It takes a few minutes to burn, but it takes years to write. Good friends are a blessing.

Old friends are like gold! New friends are like diamonds! If you get a diamond, don't forget the gold! Because to hold a diamond, you always need a base of gold!  

All things in life are temporary. If it’s going well, enjoy it, they will not last forever. If it’s going wrong, don't worry, they can't last long either. Just keep counting our blessings.

Often, when we lose hope and think this is the end, God smiles from above and says, "Relax, my child, it's just a bend, not the end!  
When God solves our problems, we have faith in His abilities; when God doesn't solve our problems, then He has faith in our abilities. May we be able to see that.

A blind person asked St. Anthony: "Can there be anything worse than losing eye sight?" He replied: "Yes, losing your vision!"  

When we pray for others, God listens to us and blesses them, and when we are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for us.  

Worrying does not take away tomorrow's troubles, but it takes away today's peace.

So let us not worry and fret about so many things. Only few are needed; indeed only one.

May we have the eyes to see which is the one. 

Abraham saw it and was blessed. Mary saw it and was blessed.
May we also see it and be blessed.