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Saturday, July 26, 2014

17th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 27.07.2014

1 Kings 3:5, 7-12/ Romans 8:28-30/ Matthew 13:44-52

Every now and then we may wonder what life is all about. If we have to answer that question again today, what will our answer be? What is life all about actually?

If we had seen the movie “Forrest Gump” (1994), in the beginning scenes, we may remember what he said to the lady when they were both sitting on the bench at the bus-stop.

“My mama always said: Life is like a box of chocolates; you’ll never know what you’re gonna get”.

That is so simple an illustration and yet so true, isn’t it?

Indeed, life is like a box of chocolates and you’ll never know what you are going to get.

You hope that it’s sweet but it may turn out to be bitter. Sometimes it melts in your hand before it could melt in your mouth.

And some chocolates are like fruitcakes – they have some nuts in them.

There is this joke about a tour bus driver who was driving a bus load of senior citizens. After a while a little old lady came up and offered him a small bag of peanuts, which he gladly munched up.

After a while, she came up again with another bag of peanuts, and after a while yet another bag.

Then the bus driver asked : Why don’t you eat the peanuts yourself? She replied: We can’t chew them because we have no teeth.

The puzzled driver asked: Then why do you buy them? She replied: We just love the chocolate coating on them, and we think that you might like the peanuts.

Well, life might be like a box of chocolates but you may not know where the peanuts came from.

But if we can enjoy the chocolate and also chew on the peanuts, then we are indeed happy.

So actually life is all about happiness. And yet life is also all about the search for happiness.

Some search for it in trying to strike the lottery or 4D. Some look for it in fast cars and living on the fast lane.

And in today’s gospel parables, happiness is in finding a hidden treasure and in a pearl of great value.

But the images of the parables point to a deeper reality and a deeper mystery, and that is the kingdom of heaven.

But the kingdom of heaven is not somewhere out there that is hidden and that we have to search for it.

The kingdom of heaven is here, and in fact it is within us, and happy are we when we realize it.

Yes, the kingdom of heaven is happening around us and even in us.

And the 2nd reading tells us that whatever is happening is turned to our good, turned to our happiness when we have love for God.

Recently something happened to my car and I wasn’t too pleased about it.

I was fetching my father to the hospital (he had passed on since) and in a moment of distraction, I scratched the side of the car against a pillar.

It was not a serious dent but it is quite unsightly and I intended to get it fixed.

Then I came upon this story that made me think about what happened in a different light.

The story is about a young and successful executive who was driving along a neighbourhood street in his new flashy sports car.

As he passed a side lane, he heard something smash into the car’s side door.

He immediately stopped the car and angrily got out and saw that it was a brick and it had caused a deep dent on the car door.

He looked around and saw a boy standing nearby and went up to him and grabbed his collar and shouted: What did you do that for? 
That’s a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost you a lot of money!

The boy was quivering and said: Sorry sir, sorry. But I didn’t know what else to do. I threw the brick because no one would stop to help.

With tears streaming down his face, he pointed to the side lane and said: It’s my brother. He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.

Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive: Would you please help me get him back on the wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me. 

Moved beyond words, the young executive tried to swallow the lump that is welling up in his throat. He lifted the handicapped boy to his wheelchair and a quick look told him that everything was okay.

The grateful boy then told the young executive: Thank you very much sir, and God bless you.

Too shook up for words, the young man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair bound brother down the lane and back home.

It was a long slow walk back to his sports car. The damage was quite obvious, but the young man never bothered to repair the dented car door.

He kept the dent there to remind him of this: Don’t go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention.

And neither am I going to fix that scratch on my car because it contains the memories of moments I had with my father.

Well, God won’t throw bricks at us or scratch our cars. Rather He whispers to our souls and speaks to our hearts to tell us what life is all about and what happiness is all about.

Life can be like a box of chocolates and you will never know what you are going to get.

But when we love God, then all things will happen for our good. 

And we will enjoy the chocolate, as well as the peanuts.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

16th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 20.07.2014

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

Among the science-fiction movies that became block-busters, one of the most interesting and fascinating is the Star Wars series.

Even if we have not seen a Star Wars movie, we know something about it.

I remembered watching the first Star Wars movie and it had a dramatic beginning.

There were those blue words on a black screen “Long long ago in a galaxy far far away …” and then that famous instrumental theme of the movie.

One of the more famous characters, if not the most famous character, of the Star Wars series, is not one of the heroes or one of the good guys.

Rather it was one of the bad guys, and he can be called THE bad guy.

And he is none other than Darth Vader. And who doesn’t know Darth Vader. He is that imposing character in a black suit and strange looking helmet and he looks like half-man and half-robot.

And there is his famous heavy breathing and he talks through his mask.

But more than his strange dressing and breathing, this Darth Vader character is also intriguing.

In the prequel, which was shown after the sequel (confusing isn’t it) the background and identity of Darth Vader was revealed.

He was originally one of the good guys, but he was tempted to walk on the dark side, which he eventually did.

And the Star Wars story which is essentially a story of good against evil goes on from there.

That story highlights the universal existence  and tension between good and evil.

And it also tries to explain a mystery. It tries to explain the mystery of evil.

It tries to answer questions like “Where does evil come from?” “Why do we become evil and commit evil acts?”

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells a parable that also dwells on the mystery of evil.

Good seeds were sown in the field. Then an enemy came and sowed weeds in the field.

So the cause of evil is zeroed in on this “enemy”. But who is this enemy? And where is this enemy?

It would be convenient to assume that the enemy is somewhere out there lurking in the dark.

Or better still, we can even identify the enemy as the devil, and for the evil that is happening, we can blame it on him.

In a way that is quite true. Even the gospel parable seems to put it like that.

Yet there is another enemy – the enemy that is within!

This story may illustrate what is meant by the enemy within.

The Great Wall of China was and still is a massive structure.

It was also built at a massive cost, especially in terms of human lives. (It has been estimated that more than a million Chinese died over the centuries that it took to build the Wall)

It was built to keep out and to prevent the barbarians from invading the country.

When it was completed, it was thought to be impregnable. Until one day it was broken into, and broken into quite easily.

Along the walls, there are also many gates for the troops to move in and out.

The enemy simply bribed one the gate-keepers, and when everyone was asleep, he opened the gates for the enemy.

The irony was that the Great Wall which was built at the cost of many lives, was breached not by the enemy from without but by the enemy from within.

And that brings up the point about the enemy in today’s gospel.

The enemy that sowed the weeds may not be from without or from somewhere out there.

The enemy may be from within. In other words, there is no greater enemy than ourselves.

In fact if the enemy is from without, it would make us more united.

But it is the enemy from within that will cause the most extensive damage because it begins with internal damage.

And internal damage begins with evil thoughts which will lead to evil desires and evil actions.

At the heart of it all is none other than the heart itself.

Our hearts are created by God and created to be pure and holy.

When we choose to walk on the dark side, we shut God out of our hearts and consequently we let the devil sow his weeds of evil into our hearts.

We become like Darth Vader who was originally on the good side but chose to walk on the dark and evil side.

But even if we choose to walk on the dark and evil side, there is the wheat of goodness in the hearts.

All the evil cannot take away the goodness in our hearts, because it is a goodness that is sown by God Himself.

So let us come back to the light and walk in the love of the Lord and bear a harvest of goodness.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

15th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 13.07.2014

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

It is often said that a picture paints a thousand words. But words can never say it all, because if words can say it all, then there is no need to paint anything at all.

But as much as a picture paints a thousand words, yet a few words can also change the story of the picture.

The great Chinese philosopher, Confucius, was quoted as saying: Without knowing the power of words, it is impossible to know anything at all.

And as much as words can tell a story, words can also change the story.

There is a story of an old farmer who wanted to plough his field to grow crops, but his son who would have helped him was in jail.
So he wrote to his son to lament: I am helpless this year because you are not here to plough the field, so I can’t grow any crops.

A couple of days later, the old farmer was surprised to receive a post-card from his son and it read: Papa, please don’t dig the field. I have buried my weapons there.

Then the next morning, a group of policemen can along with tractors and dug up the whole field but no weapons were found.

The old farmer was confused and wrote back to his son and told him what had happened.

A couple of days later, he got a reply from his son: Papa, now you can go ahead to plant your crops.

This sounds like an incredible story. Yet as much as it sounds incredible, there is an underlying truth in it.

And the truth is that words have the power to paint a picture and to create a story.

Yes, words can make something happen, and cause a reaction.

The parable that Jesus told in the gospel also sounds rather incredible.

Any sensible sower would sow the seeds on fertile soil. He would sow the seeds where they will produce a harvest.

But the sower in the parable seemed to be a rather careless sower.

Because some seeds fells on the edge of the path and were eaten up by birds.

Some fell on patches of rock and others fell among thorns. That is futile sowing, not fertile sowing.

But of course some fell on rich soil and produced their crops, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

And Jesus ended off this astonishing parable with this statement: Listen, anyone who has ears.

And even as we listen, we may be wondering if that sower was wasting his time and effort and the seeds.

Why sow seeds that will end up as bird food? Why sow seeds that won’t germinate or that will eventually die?

But the lesson in life that we must keep learning is that nothing is wasted, because every action has a reaction.

The reaction may be delayed, may be obstructed by resistance and opposition, but nonetheless there will be a reaction.

One profound aspect of this action and reaction is in the usage of words.

Words are not cheap, neither are they ineffective. If anything, they are packed with the power to ignite an explosion.

And more so with God’s Word. As we heard in the 1st reading, God’s Word does not return to Him empty without carrying out His will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.

Yes, God speaks and we seem to have some difficulty hearing Him.
By and large, we are practicing Catholics. If practice makes perfect, then are we anywhere near perfect?

We come for Mass every week, we hear three scripture readings, but is there anything happening in us?

We may resonate with this story of a man who said to his wife: I am going to stop going for Mass! I listen to the readings, I hear the priests preach, but I can’t remember anything. It is doing me no good. So I am going to stop going for Mass.

The wife thought for a while and replied: Then I am going to stop cooking for you! Because you can’t remember what you ate yesterday, you are getting fat and it’s not doing you any good. So I am going to stop cooking for you.

Maybe that is also the story of our lives. We don’t think that anything is happening to us, even as we try to listen.

But God will not stop speaking. A picture may paint a thousand words, but a few words will change the story of the picture.

More so when it is God’s Word. It will never return to Him empty without carrying out His will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.
All we need is to keep listening, and God will change the story of our lives. 
It may sound incredible, but that is the truth of the power of God’s Word.
We have the ears, so may we listen to God’s Word and produce a harvest.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

14th Sunday, Ordinary Time, Year A, 06-07-14

Zec 9:9-10 / Rom 8:9, 11-13 /Mt 11:25-30    
                      
The most happening country, at the present moment, is needless to say, Brazil! Because that is where the World Cup is happening!

And even if you are not a football fan, you will see the World Cup logo all around, and of course the country that is hosting it is printed right beneath the logo.

Besides football, Brazil is also famous for other things like coffee, corned beef, samba and the Mardi Gras! 

And there is one other thing that Brazil is also famous for. It’s a tourist attraction, a must-see if you ever go to Brazil.

It is that 100-foot, white-coloured statue of Christ the Redeemer and it is located at the peak of the 2300-foot Corcovado mountain.

At such a height, it makes an impressive sight.

It is a symbol of Brazilian Christianity and an icon for the city of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.

Yes, that statue seems to be looking on at Brazil and on the whole world.

And there is also something interesting about that statue. Christ is not nailed to the cross or seated on a throne or in some triumphant posture.

Instead, the statue of Christ the Redeemer is standing straight, with His arms stretched out wide, almost 90 feet apart.

He seems to want to embrace the whole world. Or He seems to be opening His arms in welcome.

Whatever it may be, the statue of Christ the Redeemer depicts one of the most beautiful passages in the gospels, and it is the passage that we have just heard.

Jesus said in today’s gospel: Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.

Oh yes, we surely know what labour is. And we also know about labouring and labouring until we feel so overburdened that we feel so stressed out and feel like giving up on life.

At least those football players in the World Cup know what that is all about.

They are burdened with the pride of their country as they sweat it out for 90 minutes at each match.

They may be highly paid, but they are also highly stressed to perform and to deliver. For them football is not just a game.

And winning is not everything; it is THE only thing. And if they don’t win, then there goes everything.

Yes, a lot of pride is at stake. But that’s where the problem is, and that is also where our problem is.

We huff and puff, and labour and burden ourselves because our pride is at stake.

We want to perform, we want to deliver, we want to be the winner.

And yet Jesus tells us: Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

So when we are stressed with the burdens of life, we just have to turn in humility to Jesus, who will welcome us and embrace us and we will find rest for  our souls.

The key to finding rest for our souls is none other than in humility, the direct opposite of pride.

In the modern age of technology where a World Cup match in Brazil can be telecasted “live” on the tv screens and we can see whatever that is happening in “real time”, the telegraph and the Morse code would seem so archaic.

But just about 100 years ago, it was THE means of communication.

Its inventor, Samuel Morse, was asked if during his experiments he ever came to a stage when he didn’t know what to do next.

Humbly and modestly, he replied: Oh yes, more than once. And I must say that it is a matter of which the public knows nothing about. Whenever I could not see my way clearly, I would kneel down and pray to God for light and understanding.

And he added: I had made a valuable application to electricity by inventing the telegraph and the Morse code, not because I was superior to other men, but solely because God who meant it for mankind would reveal it to someone, and He chose to reveal it to me.

Samuel Morse, the great inventor who contributed to modern communication was humble enough to acknowledge that his ideas and inventions came from God.

Only the humble of heart will be blessed by God. 
Only the humble of heart will find rest for their souls. 
Only the humble of heart will go to Jesus and be welcomed by Him.

And Jesus, like the statue of Christ the Redeemer, will open His arms to welcome us and to embrace us, if we are humble enough to go to Him and tell Him that we need Him.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sts Peter and Paul, Year A, 29.06.2014

Acts 12:1-11/ 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18/ Matthew 16:13-19

There is an epidemic going on and it’s capturing the headlines and resulting in lack of sleep and heavy eye-bags.

Of course, I am not talking about a serious disease. I am talking about the World Cup fever. It all started in Brazil on the 12th June, with all its thrills and spills.

And already some of the big boys of the game had been sent packing home.

And some jokes had been made about that. For example, what is the difference between a tea-bag and the England team? Answer: the tea-bag stays longer in the cup!  : ) 

And of course there are some less scorching jokes like this one:

A man takes his seat at the World Cup Final. He looks to his left and notices that there is an empty seat between him and the next guy. 

The man asks: Who would ever miss the World Cup Final? The other guy replied: That’s my wife’s seat. We have been to the last five World Cup Finals together, but sadly she passed away.

The man said: Oh I am so sorry to hear that. But couldn’t you get another member of the family, a friend or someone else to come with you?

The guy replied: No … they are all at the funeral!  : 0

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the two great pillars of the Church.

We may think that these two saints are like two peas in a pod, and if we were to give names to a pair of twin boys, the obvious choice would be to name them Peter and Paul.

Peter and Paul may seem to give us an impression of unity, but in fact, they were more of an incompatibility.

They were more like oil and water, and their differences go deeper than that of liquid viscosity.

That fact is that initially, they would have wished the other to be dead, and they won’t even bother about attending the other’s funeral!

St. Paul, when he was Saul, was part of the mob that stoned Stephen, the first martyr, to death.

And following that, king Herod started persecuting certain members of the Church, as we heard in the 1st reading.

He beheaded James, the brother of John, and when he saw that this pleased the crowds, he targeted Peter and had him put into prison.

The Church then prayed fervently for Peter, and he was miraculously rescued from the prison by an angel.

By then Paul had become the No. 1 enemy of the Church as he relentlessly persecuted Christians and he even went as far as Damascus to capture Christians.

But it was there on that road to Damascus that something striking happened to him and then things changed drastically.

So initially, Paul was the hunter and Peter was the hunted; Paul was the persecutor and Peter the persecuted.

They were on opposite and opposing sides. Paul had the political power to carry out his persecution, but Peter had the spiritual appointment for his protection.

But even after Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, he and Peter did not immediately become friends, and they also did not see eye to eye on Church matters.

They were as different as oil and water and they even had their differences recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. And in Galatians 2:11-14, Paul even called Peter a hypocrite in his dealings with the Gentiles.

It was rather strange that Jesus would choose these two men who were far from perfect or even suitable to be the two pillars of His Church.

Yet, that also showed that the Church is both divine and human – that there is a spiritual force guiding and working through her human instruments.

Although in life, St. Peter and St. Paul had their differences and shortcomings, it was in death that they were united in a common goal and mission.

Both died in Rome as martyrs (Peter was crucified upside down and Paul was beheaded) and that showed that their lives were not for their own glory but for the glory of God.

This feast of Sts. Peter and Paul teaches us that despite the differences and failings of personalities and characters, the Church can still be united in a common goal and mission.

Even now in the Church, there are some who are conservatives and some who are liberals; some are traditional and some want to be modern; some want discipline and others want freedom.

Yes, the Church is like a mixture of oil and water, and yet we, like St. Peter and St. Paul, are called to rise above our differences just like oil floats above the water, and be united in a common goal and mission.

As we heard in the gospel, Jesus promised that the gates of the underworld can never hold out against the Church.

Yet, we also must be reminded that our differences must not give the opportunity to the underworld to tear us apart from within.
Rather, like St. Peter and St. Paul, let us be united in love for Jesus and for one another.

St. Peter and St. Paul showed that in their lives they loved Jesus and hence in love they also accepted the other even if they did not agree totally with the other. 

Hence as they were united in life, so were they united in death, and now they are united in glory.

Likewise, let us be united in love, so that whether in life or in death, the gates of the underworld will never tear us apart.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Trinity Sunday, Year A, 15.06.2014

Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9/ 2 Cor 13:11-13/ Jn 3:16-18

Today we celebrate the feast of Trinity Sunday. Sounds like a heavy and serious kind of feast.

But not knowing how to start the homily seriously, I can only think of starting with a joke.

But I was warned not to use this joke unless the congregation is matured enough, and also they may not laugh.

But I will take the risk and see how. So here it goes.

Q. Why is the doctrine of the Trinity important?
A. Those who abandon it begin prayer with the words “To Whom it may concern.”

Psalm 2:4 states: “He who sits in the heavens laughs.” (NRSV). So it seems that God has a sense of humor but this is not the unanimous opinion of all theologians.

Well, if someone were to ask us – What or who is the Holy Trinity?   How would we reply?

We will probably have recourse to some textbook answer like – The Holy Trinity is 3 persons, one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

After that we might not know what else to talk about, and we might also not be too sure what we are talking about.

Or we might just start reciting the Creed, an easy way out, but people will still not know what we are talking about.

Well, today’s feast is not about words, or description or definition.

The Holy Trinity is essentially a mystery. But that mystery is revealed – we know that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

But that mystery is revealed and yet it is also revealing. In other words, we know something about God, but yet not everything.

Today’s gospel gives us another revelation of the mystery of God. It’s a profound revelation and it is this : 

God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.

Now, do we know what that means essentially?

But before we start to give serious answers, let me share with you another joke.

After being married for 25 years and intending to make their silver anniversary a memorable one, the wife asked her husband to describe her, after being married for 25 years.

He looked at her slowly, and said – You’re A,B, C,D, E,F,G,H, … and I,J,K.

The wife was puzzled and so she asked – Now what does that mean?

So he said – Adorable, Beautiful, Cute, Delightful, Elegant, Foxy, Gorgeous, Hot.

The wife smiled and beamed and said – Oh you are such a sweet darling. What about I,J,K?

He said – I’m Just Kidding!

Hope that the wife won’t ask for any more descriptions when it comes to their golden anniversary.

Well, the man was only one letter away from telling his wife what she meant to him.

From A to K, he just have to move on to L, and L would stand for “love”.

And that’s what the feast of the Holy Trinity is telling us.

That God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.

To have eternal life means to live in the Spirit of God’s love, which is the love of the Father for the Son, and the Son for the Father.

And what does that mean practically? The 2nd reading would put it as this – help one another, be united, live in peace.

Today is also Father’s Day, and we thank God for our fathers and the love they give to us.

Myself being a spiritual father to this spiritual family, I can say that I understand what a father feels for his family.

Fathers want to protect and provide for their family.

They may not show that kind of tender love which is associated with mothers, but fathers give that assuring presence of love.

As I was reflecting on the presence of the father in the family, a childhood memory came to mind.

There was a time when my father had to work the night shift, and at that time I was in my early primary school age.

So after dinner, my father would rest for a while, and then leave for work around 9pm.

I remembered that every time he left the door of the house, I had this sad feeling that I would really miss my papa, and I didn’t want him to go.

But yet, all I could say was “bye bye”.

I guess that to our fathers, we are not so emotionally expressive.

But I can certainly say that the presence of the father in the home brings about a sense of love and security.

So fathers may not be Adorable, Beautiful, Cute, Delightful, Elegant, Foxy, Gorgeous, Hot. 

But for them, we can say it’s I,J,K, and it’s not I’m Just Kidding.

But I,J,K as in I Just Know. Know what? I Just Know that my father loves me.

Yes, we just know that our fathers love us.

We call God our Father. We also know that God our Father loves us.

We also know that God will empower all fathers to be living reflections of His love for us.

With all the fathers present here, we give thanks to God.

And with all the fathers present here, we also want to proclaim that God is Trinity, and that God loves us eternally.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Pentecost Sunday, 08.06.2014

Acts 2:1-11/ 1 Cor 12:3-7, 12-13/ Jn 20:19-23

Just a couple of days ago, there was an amazing as well as alarming discovery at a place that is quite near here.

A group of workers were resting against a tree near the Outram Park MRT Station.

They were also admiring its heart-shape stump. Then something else caught their attention.

Nestled in a crevice between two of the branches of the tree was a rather strange-looking object.

It was strange enough for the workers to alert the police, and that strange-looking object was later identified as a WWII hand grenade.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal team from the army was  immediately activated and sent to the scene.

The team managed to remove the WWII relic from the tree and safely dispose of it several hours later.

Who would have thought that the interesting and amazing sight of a heart-shaped stump on a tree would lead to an alarming discovery of a WWII hand grenade?

So, for almost 70 years, the grenade was there between the branches while time just went by.

People would have walked past that tree and children might have played near that tree or even climbed its branches but it remained undiscovered until now.

And even through such a long time had passed, it was uncertain whether that grenade would explode or not and hence the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team was called in.
It is rather strange to think that a tree with a heart-shape stump would have a hand grenade between its branches.

This alarming discovery may give us some spiritual reflections about ourselves.

Our hearts are made pure and beautiful in order to hold the love of God.

Yet, lodged in the cracks and the dark corners of our hearts are our sins.

And while that WWII hand grenade had remained unexploded, our sins have caused explosions within ourselves, and the shrapnel of our sins have also caused hurt and harm others.

The disciples of Jesus would have known this well enough. When the sins in their hearts exploded, they betrayed and denied and deserted Jesus.

Their hearts were shattered and they gathered behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. Yes, fear has gripped and overwhelmed them.

And where fear is overwhelming, there is no peace of heart at all.

Hence, when the Risen Christ appeared to His fearful disciples in that room, His first words were: Peace be with you.

He came not to judge or condemn them. He came to bring them peace and heal them of the wounds caused by the explosion of their sins.

His healing peace brought about joy in their hearts and they were ready to receive the Holy Spirit when He breathed upon them the Spirit of forgiveness and healing.

Today, as we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, we celebrate the peace that Jesus wants to give us.

It is a peace that brings about forgiveness and healing.

It is a peace that makes us realize that the Spirit is given to each of us in a particular way for a good purpose, as we heard in the 2nd reading.

Yes, the Spirit is sent into our hearts to diffuse and clear away the sinful explosives that are hidden in the cracks and corners of our hearts.

The Spirit is the powerful love of God that will turn our fear into fortitude.

It is with the Spirit that our worldly words will be turned into heavenly prayers.

It is with the Spirit that our darkness will be turned into light, and our falsehood into truth.

It is with the Spirit that we will bring order out of chaos and love out of hatred.

It is with the Spirit that we will be sent forth to clear out the sinful explosives in the hearts of others.

And just as Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into His disciples, we too must breathe in the Holy Spirit.

And with the breath of the Holy Spirit, let us speak words of peace that will bring about healing and forgiveness.

Our hearts are made for peace but there is always the presence of sinful explosives that can shatter our hearts and plunge us into the darkness of fear.

May the Holy Spirit guard and protect us as we proclaim and bear witness to the Good News of peace and forgiveness.

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