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Saturday, February 28, 2015

2nd Sunday of Lent, Year B, 01-03-2015

Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18 / Romans 8:31-34 / Mark 9:2-10

One of the must-have delicacies during this festive season is the barbequed meat, aka “bak kwa”.

Those bak kwa smell as good as they taste, and although they may not be worth their weight in gold, but at more than $50 a kilogram during this season and having to queue up to get it before the Chinese New Year, they are like more precious than gold.

Bak kwa is usually made from pork but it is difficult to say which part of the pig it comes from.

But it doesn’t really matter; as long as it is delicious, we won’t bother.

And we also won’t bother how the pig feels about it. It can’t put up a fight anyway.

(If pigs can put up a fight they will learn karate – so that they can give a pork chop : P )

But pigs can’t put up a fight, and that’s why they end up as ham and bacon and bak kwa.

They can’t fight but they surely can feel. When a piglet is taken away from the mother, there will be tears in her eyes and she will make a mourning sound. The piglet will end up as roast piglet and the mother knows it.

Oh yes, pigs and other animals have feelings too, if we pay attention to their reactions.

If animals have feelings, then more so do human beings and there is a whole set of vocabulary to express those human feelings and emotions.

But in the 1st reading, we don’t seem to hear how Abraham felt.

God put him to the test, and Abraham was told to take his son, his only child Isaac, whom he loved, to be offered as a burnt offering.

The next thing we heard is that they arrived at the place God had pointed out, and Abraham stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son.

Abraham is a man of faith, but he certainly has feelings too. It was he who bargained with God as he tried to save the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

And now he has to sacrifice his own son. How did he feel about it?

We would have guessed that initially he would be shocked, and then he would ask questions like “How come?” and “How can?” At least we would ask those kind of questions.

And we would also wonder why God would demand for human sacrifices. 

But for Abraham, he had seen it happening in the other cults at that time and now the God he is worshipping is asking this from him.

So for him, it was like a case of no choice. Feelings and emotions aside, he had to comply with what God was asking of him.

But as Abraham seized the knife to kill his son, he was stopped by an angel.

So in stopping Abraham from killing his son, God in effect is putting a stop to human sacrifices.

And in effect, God is also saying that the only sacrifice He wants is that of obedience.

But for us obedience to the will of God is often subjected to our feelings and whether it is worth it or not.

A story goes that a king assembled his ministers. He handed a minister a glowing pearl and asked him how much it is worth.

The minister replied that it is worth more gold than a hundred caravans could carry.

Then the king ordered the minister to break it. But the minister replied that he wouldn’t dare do such a thing. And the king seemed pleased at his reply.

One by one the king asked the ministers how valuable the pearl is and each one would raise the value higher than the other.

But when ordered to break it, none of them would do it. They took the cue from the first minister.

Then the king’s faithful servant came along and the king asked him how valuable the pearl is. The servant replied that it is certainly much more than he can think of.

Then the king ordered the servant to break the pearl. Without hesitation, the servant took a hammer and broke it into pieces.

The ministers were shocked and screamed at the servant and asked him why did he break the precious pearl.

The servant replied – What the king says is worth more than any pearl. I obey and honour the king, and not some coloured stone.

With that the ministers realized their true standing with the king and what the king thinks of their obedience.

Jesus is the beloved Son of the Father. He is also obedient to His Father, an obedience that would lead Him to the cross.

God did not demand for Jesus to shed His blood in sacrifice.

It is the sin of mankind that demanded for His blood.

Jesus has shed His blood to save us once and for all from our sins. 

There should be no more shedding of blood, no more taking of revenge, no more pay-back, no more eye for eye and tooth for tooth.

Let us listen to Jesus and be obedient as He was obedient.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

1st Sunday of Lent, Year B, 22.02.2015

Genesis 9:8-15 / 1 Peter 3:18-22 / Mark 1:12-15

We are into the Lunar New Year (or the Chinese New Year) and according to the Chinese zodiac, this is the Year of the Goat.

So if you are born in the Year of the Goat, and going by the sound that the goat makes, then our wish for you is that “Meeh the Lord bless you.”

The Chinese zodiac has twelve animal symbols, and a person born under particular animal symbol is said to manifest the characteristics of that animal.

So in that sense, it is good that there is no year of the toad. That would be rather challenging where looks are concerned.

Even if that is changed to its relative, the frog, then one of the attributes won’t be that of singing.

As we all know, whether it is frogs or toads, they can’t sing; they can only croak.

But there is one frog that can sing. If we are from the era of Sesame Street and the Muppet Show, then we will know who that frog is.

We would know, or at least heard of Kermit the frog. Kermit is a singing frog, at least in the Muppet Show.

And he has a hit in the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979, and the title of the song is “Rainbow Connection”.

The song begins with “Why are there so many songs about rainbows, and what’s on the other side?”

And you know what they say about you will find at the other end of a rainbow? Whatever they may say, at the other end of the rainbow is just the letter “W”  :P

The 1st reading talks about a bow in the clouds, meaning to say, a rainbow.

It was a rainbow that came after a lot of rain, 40 days of rain. It was a lot of rain and also with a lot of pain.

It was with a lot of pain that God decided to cleanse the world of sin and evil with the flood and only Noah and those with him and those animals in the Ark were saved from the flood.

And so after the flood subsided, God set the rainbow as a sign of the Covenant with Noah and every living creature for all generations – that water shall never again become a flood to destroy lives.

Sin has a destructive effect. It destroys the relationship between God and man, between man and his fellow man, and between man and creation.

The waters of the flood washed away and destroyed that sin, and water has now become a sign of salvation and the rainbow bears testimony to it.

If the rainbow in the 1st reading is the sign that bears testimony to the saving love of God, then in the gospel the sign of God’s saving love is none other than the desert.

We heard that the Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness of the desert, and He remained there for 40 days, and He was tempted by the devil.

In the harsh and torturing environment of the desert it is easy to give in to the temptations of the devil and to give up the fight.

And there is also this rather interesting line - He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after Him.

Why would the gospel mention in particular the wild beasts?

Well, the 1st reading also mentioned about wild beasts, those wild beasts that Noah brought into the Ark.

Those wild beasts were saved from the destruction of the flood.

In mentioning that the wild beasts were with Jesus, the gospel wants to point out to us that the saving mission of Jesus has begun.

And it began, of all places, in the desert, and in being with the wild beasts, Jesus brought nature back to God, just as Noah brought along the wild beasts into the Ark.

Jesus brought nature back to God in the harsh environment of the desert and from the devil’s temptations.

The next stage of His saving mission will be more difficult, and that is to bring mankind back to God.

And it will have to happen, more painfully, on the cross with the pouring out of His blood.

But just as there can be no rainbows without the rain, there can be no salvation without the pain.

Jesus knows that. And He wants us to know that too.

Life is like a rainbow. We need both the rain and the sun to make its colours appear.

But the damp disappointments followed by the scorching frustrations of life can make us forget the love of God for us.

Yet, it can also bring out the true colours within us, the colours of love that God has painted in our lives.

Oh, about Kermit the frog singing that song “Rainbow Connection”. It may sound like some kind of lullaby or kiddies song.

But in the Muppet Movie where Kermit first sang that song, he was in a swamp and he looked at the rainbow. He was told that it’s just a vision, just an illusion.

But he goes on to sing that as he reflected on the rainbow, he hears a voice and he heard it too many times to ignore it, and it’s calling him to be something that he’s supposed to be. 

It all started out by just looking at the rainbow, and its colours, and then he found the connection with his life.

The colours of the rainbow bears testimony that God wants to brighten our lives with His saving love.

We bear that rainbow of God’s love within us and that is the Good News that Jesus came to proclaim.

If we believe in that Good News, then we in turn must bear witness to that Good News and be a rainbow of God’s love in other people’s lives.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

6th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 15.02.1015

Leviticus 13:1-2, 45-46 / 1 Cor 10:31 – 11:1 / Mark 1:40-45

We have often heard it said that “no pain, no gain”.

Whatever we make out of it, we may also want to ask if for all the gain, is it worth the pain?

Pain is defined as a highly unpleasant physical sensation caused by illness or injury, or a severe mental suffering or distress.

Whatever it is and whatever it may be, pain is something we want to avoid.

So there are such things called painkillers, and we will go for them when the pain is like killing us.

Of course painkillers can also be used for an adverse purpose.

There are some people who take an overdose of painkillers in order end their painful lives.

Having said so much about pain, what do we think is the greatest pain?

It may sound rather surprising, but the greatest pain is not to feel pain at all.

If we are wondering whether the greatest pain is not to feel pain at all, then let us think about the leper in today’s gospel.

Leprosy is a disease that results in a lack of the ability to feel pain and thus loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries.

So the leper does not feel physical pain but the pain increases in his heart as he is being cut off from family and society and left alone to fend for himself.

And at that time there was no cure for leprosy and so it can be termed as terminal, a slow death sentence.

It was in such a state that he came desperately to Jesus and pleaded on his knees, “If you want to, you can cure me.”

And the response from Jesus was sharp and pointed – “Of course I want to! Be cured!”

And the leper was cured! But let us also remember that when the leper was cured of his leprosy, he will begin to feel physical pain once again, just like you and me.

Generally, there are two types of pain – pain that will hurt us and pain that will change us.

We won’t usually associate pain with Hawaii. In fact we may think Hawaii as an escape from the pains of life.

But back in 1864, things were different. In the island of Molokai, there was a leper colony.

It was there that a priest, Fr. Damien, went to, and for sixteen years he cared for the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of those in the leper colony.

Then one day after a long missionary trip, he went back and while preparing to bathe, Fr. Damien accidently put his foot into scalding water, causing his skin to blister. 

But a surprise awaited him; he didn’t feel any sensation. Then it dawned upon him that he had contracted that dreaded disease – leprosy.

Certainly, not feeling any sensation and not feeling any pain would have caused a pain in his heart.

But that pain in his heart also changed him. The next day he announced that he was a leper and with that he was embraced passionately by the leper community.

He continued to serve the leper community till his death in 1889 and was canonized St. Damien in 2009.

Certainly, it was an inspiring and heroic account of a man who turned pain into gain.

As Fr. Damien wrote in one of his letters – “ ...I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ.”

Certainly we may not be that heroic and self-sacrificing. In fact we would rather avoid pain, and even at all cost.

But not to feel pain could well be the greatest pain. In avoiding pain and not wanting to feel pain, we have become insensitive and indifferent to ourselves and to the others around us.

In other words, we could have become spiritual lepers and not feeling pain within ourselves and the pain of others.

And that brings back what the leper in today’s gospel said to Jesus – If you want to, you can cure me.

Yes, Jesus is our Saviour and our Healer. To ask Jesus to heal us and to cure us does not mean that we are asking for a pain-free life.

In fact it might just be the other way round. We are asking Jesus to heal us and cure us so that we are able to feel the pain within us and the pain that others are suffering from.

Yes, pain can hurt us, and yet pain can also change us.

Jesus went through the pain of the cross in order to save us.

The pain of the cross became the gain of salvation.

When we are able to accept the pain of our lives, then we are healed of our spiritual leprosy.

We are healed of our insensitivity and our indifference to the pain of others.

And just as Jesus reached out and touched the leper and cured him, we too will be able to reach out and give that healing touch of Jesus to others.

So, of course Jesus wants to heal us. But let us remember what we are asking for as we say to Jesus “If you want to, you can cure me”.

It may mean that we are willing to accept the pain. But it is a pain that will have tremendous gain.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

5th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 08.02.2015

Job 7:1-4, 6-7 / 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23 / Mark 1:29-39

Life would be very much easier if there is always someone to solve our problems.

We just have to dump our problems with that person and then just wait for solutions. Life would be so easy for us then.

There is a sports equipment company that has this slogan “Just do it”. Our slogan would be “Get someone else to do it”.

Children would get their parents to do it, when it comes to homework (that’s called outsourcing). Older siblings would get their younger siblings to do it, when it comes to housework (that’s called bullying).

And when we get our colleagues to do it, it’s called “arrowing”.

Maybe that’s why at meetings, we try to keep our heads as low as possible so as to avoid getting arrowed.

To be arrowed and burdened with other people’s problems can rather frustrating and annoying.

As Job says in the 1st reading “life is but a burden”, “nothing more than pressed service”, “no better than hired drudgery”.

It is certainly very frustrating when you have to solve other people’s problems, and there’s no one to solve your problems.

Oh yes, life is full of problems and we will always be looking for that “go-to” person to dump our problems with and then wait for solutions.

In the gospel, we can see who that “go-to” person is. He is none other than Jesus. 

On leaving the synagogue, He went to the house of Simon and Andrew and there they told Him about Simon’s mother-in-law who was down with fever.

And so Jesus went to her and took her by the hand and helped her up and the fever left her.

Then that evening after sunset, they brought to Him all who were sick and those possessed by devils.

In fact the whole town came crowding round the door and He solved problem after problem, curing those who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another and casting out devils.

Those problems were bad news, but Jesus turned them into Good News.

Just as out of chaos, creation came forth, then out of bad news will come forth Good News.

There is a story of a famous tennis player who trained hard for the championship.

But unlike other famous players, he lived simply and even took public transport.

Because he trained hard, he won the championship and the $10 000 prize.

As he walked to the bus-stop with the prize money, a woman went up to him, crying, saying that she has a sick dying child and she needed $10 000 to save her dying child.

Without a word, the tennis player gave her his $10 000 prize money.

A week later, the tennis player was at a café and a news reporter went up to him and asked him if he had given a woman $10 000, and he said yes.

The reporter then told him that he has bad news for him. The woman does have a child but the child is not sick nor dying.

The tennis player asked, “Really?”  The reporter said, “Yes, really. You had been cheated!” (guess what happens next?)

The tennis player said, “I mean is it really true that her child is not sick nor dying?”

And the reporter replied, “Yes, the child is not sick nor dying.”

Then the tennis player said, “Thanks be to God! That’s the best news I’ve heard all week.”

That’s certainly good news, as long as we can look beyond that $10 000.

The point in the story is that the bad things in life can open our eyes to the good things we weren’t paying attention to before.

But in order to see the good things and to see the Good News, we need to heed what Jesus is telling us – Come to Me all you who find life weary and burdensome and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28)

Jesus Himself knew the weariness and burdens of life, and we heard in the gospel that in the morning, long before dawn, He got up and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. 

It was prayer that made the difference, the difference of turning bad news into Good News, the difference of turning problems into solutions.

To end off, let us listen to this short poem called “The Difference”.

I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day. I had so much to accomplish that I didn't have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task. "Why doesn't God help me?" I wondered. He answered, “You didn't ask." 

I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, gray and bleak. I wondered why God didn't show me. He said, "But you didn't seek.” 

I tried to come into God's presence. I used all my keys at the lock. God gently and lovingly chided, "My child, you didn't knock." 

I woke up early this morning and paused before I entered the day. I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.

So let us not tell God how great our problems are, but let us tell our problems how great God is.

Then problems will turn into solutions, and bad news will turn into Good News.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

4th Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 01.02.2015

Deut 18:15-20 / 1 Cor 7:32-35 / Mark 1:21-28

There was (and there still is) a practice in the Church of the blessing of throats, although not much emphasis is given to it.

It falls on the day after the feast of the Presentation, which is on the 2nd February.

So on the 3rd February, which is the feast day of St. Blaise, there is a blessing of throats, in which the invocation is made to the intercession of St. Blaise for the blessing.

The candles blessed on the feast of the Presentation, which is the day before, is made into a shape of a cross and placed over the throat as the priest says the prayer of blessing.

The purpose of the blessing is for the protection against any physical ailment of the throat, and hence those who use their voice often should come for the blessing.

It is usually quite a solemn occasion as the faithful come up individually and the priest cross the candles and invokes the blessing.

It is usually solemn until the boys come up, and boys being boys, will try to act silly and hold their throats after the blessing as if they were choking, and of course the priest will stare at them.

Whatever the boys or others think of it, the blessing is more than just to ask for protection against throat diseases or throat ailments.

It is also to sanctify the throat and to protect it against spiritual ailments like speaking profanity, cursing and gossiping.

Because, as Scripture says, if anyone claims to be religious but don't control his tongue, he is fooling yourself, and his religion is worthless (James 1:26).

That’s the purpose of the blessing of throats and also to make us more aware of what comes out of our mouths.

In the gospel, we heard that Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach and His teaching made a deep impression because He taught with authority.

In other words, what came out of His mouth were words of truth spoken with love and that brought the people closer to God.

But in the same gospel passage, we also heard from a man who was possessed by an evil spirit and it was shouting.

Actually it was shouting out a truth, but it spoke the truth, not with love, but with anger and hatred.

Yes, Jesus is the Holy One of God. Yes, Jesus came to destroy evil.
All that is true, and confronted with the Truth and by the Truth, evil which is the source of all lies reacts with anger and hatred.

In the face of such hostility, Jesus had only this to say: Be quiet! Come out of him!

Those few words of Jesus are indeed words of truth and spoken with authority.

The evil spirit is ordered to be silent and with that it is expelled out of the man.

What happened in the gospel passage is indeed very relevant to us.

Of course we are not possessed by any kind of evil spirit. But we cannot deny that that evil lurks somewhere inside of us.

Evil can lurk inside of us because of sin. Sin creates an opening for evil to enter and sin then continues to fester.

And sin and evil then create a turmoil within us and from within us profanity, cursing, gossip and harmful words come out of our mouths.

And to all the turmoil that is in us, Jesus commands with these words – Be quiet!

To be quiet is to be still. As God says in the psalms – Be still and know that I am God.

We will remember that Jesus ordered the winds and the waves to be still when the disciples in the boat were caught in the storm.

Those winds and waves are not out there but in our hearts and stirring up a storm.

To these winds and waves of the heart, Jesus is commanding – Be quiet! Be still!

Much has been said about opening our mouths and saying the wrong things and creating unnecessary storms.

We need to remember to open our minds before opening our mouths.

We need to open our minds and our hearts to hear those words of Jesus: Be quiet! 

Yes, we need to quieten our minds and hearts and to be still and to know that Jesus is the Holy One of God who comes to bring us peace.

It is with His peace that we will realize that as much as we use our tongues to praise the Lord, we also use it to speak profanities and harmful words, and that is certainly wrong.

May we listen to the command of Jesus to be quiet and to let our minds and hearts be still and to be at peace.

When we are at peace, then we will speak the truth with love. 
And may what comes out of our mouths be a blessing for others. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

3rd Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 25.01.2015

Jonah 3:1-5, 10 / 1 Cor 7:29-31 / Mark 1:14-20

When we were in primary school there was a science question that we would love to answer because we know the answer.

Also it’s because the answer is so “obvious” and we just can’t miss it.

And so what is that question? Here it is – What is the biggest animal in the world?

The Blue Whale. The blue whale is a marine mammal. It measures around 30 metres (98 ft) in length and 180 metric tons (200 short tons) or more in weight, it is the largest known animal to have ever existed.

Oh yes, such a big marine mammal would certainly capture our imagination and fantasy, maybe because most of us have not seen a real blue whale before.

(By the way, there was a skeleton of a blue whale found in Port Dickson in 1893 and it was displayed in the National Museum until 1969.)

The whale (blue or otherwise) is such a big animal that it even found its way into the Bible.

We will surely remember that story of the big fish that swallowed Jonah and he was in the belly of that fish for three days before it spit him out on the shore.

That big fish is believed to be a whale although quite a bit is left to the imagination.

One day, a teacher was talking to her primary 1 class about whales when a little girl had a question.

Little Girl: “Do whales swallow people?” Teacher: “No, even though they are much bigger than a person, they have throat pleats that filter their food of krill and plankton.

Little Girl: “But my mummy says that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.” Teacher getting agitated: “Blue whales cannot swallow people.”

Little Girl: “Well, when I get to heaven I’ll just ask Jonah if he was really swallowed by a whale.” Teacher, getting a bit flustered, said: “What if Jonah went to hell?”

Little Girl: “Then you go and ask him.”  : P

Whether Jonah was really swallowed by a whale or not, in the 1st reading, we heard that the word of the Lord was addressed a second time to Jonah and he was told to go to Nineveh to preach.

That was the second time. So what happened at the first time?

At first when Jonah was told to go, he said no. God told him to go east, Jonah went west. God told him to deliver a message of fire, but he headed for the water. And that was where he got swallowed by that big fish.

Obviously for Jonah, to answer God’s call was not an easy thing and it took three days in the belly of that big fish for him to come to his senses.

It was only after then that he realized that it was time to do what God had told him to do.

It was such a contrast in the gospel passage as we hear how Jesus called His disciples. He called them to follow Him and they left everything and followed Him.

It sounded so easy for the disciples to answer the call of Jesus.

But we must remember what Jesus said before that – The time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe in the Good News.

Yes, the time had come for Simon and Andrew, and James and John, to realize that Jesus was calling them to something better and something higher.

They were fishermen and so their profession was to catch fish. So the more they catch the better.

But it is said that the things you own will end up owning you.

They were catching fish for a living but if the meaning of life is just to catch fish, then their lives might just end up being swallowed by a big fish, just as Jonah was swallowed by a big fish.

Yes the time has come for Simon and Andrew, and James and John to answer the call of Jesus.

The time has come for us too, to know that Jesus is calling us to believe in the Good News.

We only need to give God our time to serve Him, but more often than not we say we have no time.

Then maybe we need to listen to this poem “No Time” - 

I knelt to pray but not for long, I had too much to do.
I had to hurry and get to work, for bills would soon be due.
So I knelt and said a hurried prayer, and jumped up off my knees.
My Christian duty was now done, my soul could rest at ease.
All day long I had no time, to spread a word of cheer
No time to speak of Christ to friends, they'd laugh at me I'd fear.
No time, no time, too much to do, that was my constant cry,
No time to give to souls in need, but at last came the time, the time to die.
I went before the Lord, I came, I stood with downcast eyes. 
For in His hands God held a book; It was the book of life.
God looked into His book and said "Your name I cannot find, I once was going to write it down...But never found the time"

Of course the ending is just to wake us up. God surely will have time for us. In fact He has given us all the time in the world.

But as the 2nd reading says – our time is growing short. 

If our time is not offered back to God and to do what God is calling us to do, then time will swallow us and we will always end up with no time.

The time indeed has come for us to believe that when we do what God wants of us, and that primarily will be to serve Him in our brothers and sisters, then it will always be a time of Good News.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

2nd Ordinary Sunday, Year B, 18.01.2015

1 Sam 3:3-10, 19 / 1 Cor 6:13-15, 17-20 / John 1:35-42

We may know this song that goes by the title “What a difference a day makes”. 

The song begins like this – “What a difference a day makes, twenty-four little hours, brought the sun and the flowers, where there used to be rain.”

Oh yes, what a difference a day makes. And if what a difference a day makes, then we can imagine what a difference a year makes.

Day by day we think that nothing changes but one year ago, would we ever have imagined that we are what we are now?

Maybe one year ago, we hoped to get slimmer, but one year later we only got fatter.

One year ago, we had hoped to get richer. One year later we are still hoping.

One year ago, we were younger. One year later, we are certainly older and maybe grown a bit wiser.

But whether it is one day or one year, things have changed, whether we want it or not, whether we liked it or not, whether for better or not.

As it is said, not all change is for the better, just as not all movement is forward.

And even if everything else is inconsistent, then change is the only constant.

For the young Samuel in the 1st reading, change was going to take place. God was calling out to him to be His prophet.

For Eli the old priest, change was also going to take place.

At the third call of Samuel, Eli realized and understood that his time is over and that Samuel was going to take over.

In the gospel, we also see that change is happening. John the Baptist saw Jesus passing by and he stared hard at Him.

And then he said to his disciples – Look, there is the Lamb of God. 

Hearing this, the two disciples left him and followed Jesus.

John the Baptist also realized that in pointing out Jesus to his disciples, his time was going to be over. He must decrease and Jesus must increase.

The theme of today’s readings is about answering God’s call. But that would mean that change needs to happen, and that we must be willing to accept this change in order to answer God’s call.

The phrase “to change our minds” does not mean that we are fickle-minded. Rather it may mean that we are open-minded about the situations that we encounter.

There is a story of a big company in a big city that was manufacturing soap and packing it into small boxes.

But there was a flaw in the production lines. Some boxes were not loaded with the soap and were shipped out resulting in complaints from customers.

So consultants and engineers were called in to analyze the problem and then they introduced a combination of mechanical and microelectronics automation, with X-ray technology and the problem was successfully solved.

So whenever there is an empty box in the production lines, it will be detected and picked out. The whole system costs $900,000.

That was the big company in the big city. A much smaller company in the outskirts also had a similar production line and hence a similar problem.

The owner told the supervisor to solve the problem immediately. 
Being a small company it was obvious that forking out $900,000 is not an option.

The supervisor thought about the problem and he managed to solve the problem with just $190.

This was his solution. He bought a high-powered fan with that $190, and put it next to the production line. The strong draught from the powerful fan blew away the empty boxes. So problem solved, for $190, instead of $900,000.

A few lessons can be learnt from this story. One of which is that technology is not necessarily productive. Another is that knowledge is not synonymous with creativity.

But what is obvious is that there are many ways to solve a problem.

It’s whether we are open-minded enough to change our minds and look at other simple solutions.

If they can say that what a difference a day makes, then what a greater difference an open mind makes when it is ready to change.

Because those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything at all.

As we saw in the 1st reading, Eli was open-minded enough to see that God was calling Samuel.

In the gospel, John the Baptist was open-minded enough to see that Jesus was the Lamb of God and pointed Him out to his disciples.

May we be open-minded enough to see the ways of God and open our hearts to the call of God.

We may have heard this before – Yesterday I thought I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wiser, so I am changing myself.

When we change ourselves to answer God’s call, then what a difference we will make.