Click the links under My Blog List to get to Chinese and English weekday homilies.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Pentecost Sunday, Year B, 20.05.2018

Acts 2:1-11 / 1 Cor 12:3-7, 12-13 / John 20:19-23
Usually the meanings of words don’t change much, or at least not so much of a drastic change. Anyway if the meanings of words change too much and too often, then language is no more a means of communication. Nobody will understand each other anymore.

Yet there are some words that have a totally different meaning or a new meaning from what was originally meant.

Today’s feast of Pentecost is one good example. “Penta” is the Greek word which means “five”. “Pentecost” means “fiftieth day”. But it points to the Jewish “feast of the harvest”, which is 50 days after the Passover feast.

But for the Church, the feast of Pentecost does not have any of those meanings. Rather for the Church, Pentecost means the day that the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles as we heard in the 1st reading.

So on that day, while the Jewish feast of the harvest was going on, a new Christian feast was about to take place. And we can say that it really began in a dramatic way.

Well, at first the apostles met in one room and they didn’t expect anything much to happen, or so they thought. 

Then suddenly, there was a powerful wind from heaven. And then something appeared to them like tongues of fire that come to rest on the head of each of them. 

Somehow they knew they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak foreign languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them the gift of speech. And they went out preaching about the marvels of God, and the people heard them in their own language.

So it was a dramatic happening day as the Church burst into birth and that’s why Pentecost is sometimes called the birthday of the Church.

But today as we gather in Church for the feast of Pentecost, there are no apparent dramatic happenings. In fact it is solemn and sober. Yet the feast of Pentecost celebrates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit no less.

So where is the presence of the Holy Spirit? In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is commonly manifested in five forms.

First is the powerful wind as we heard in the 1st reading, or the breath of God which gave man life as recorded in Genesis 2:7. It was the same breath that Jesus breathed on His apostles as He said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit”.

The second form of the Holy Spirit is fire. It was the pillar of fire in Exodus 13:21 that guided the Israelites in the desert. In the 1st reading it was the tongues of flame that rested on the heads of the apostles.

The third form of the Holy Spirit is oil. In the Old Testament, oil was used to anoint priests, prophets and kings. In the New Testament, oil was used to anoint the sick and to bring about healing.

The fourth form of the Holy Spirit is water. Water is a profound sign of the Holy Spirit as it quenches thirst, cleanses and washes wounds and impurities.

The fifth form of the Holy Spirit is in the form of a dove. After the flood, it was a dove that brought an olive branch to Noah (Genesis 8:11) and he knew that the waters have subsided and the earth was dry. The Holy Spirit also descended on Jesus after His baptism in the form of a dove. The dove is also a sign of docility and humility.

So the feast of Pentecost reminds us that the signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit are always present to us. As we come into the church, we mark ourselves with the sign of the cross with Holy Water. That’s already an acknowledgment of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Water.

As we look around at the sanctuary, we see the lighted lamps fueled by blessed olive oil. Fire and oil are signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The breath of God proclaiming the Word of God gives us the Word of life, which in the Eucharist becomes the Bread of life for us.

And docile to God’s will, we worship God with humility, and filled with the Holy Spirit, we go forth to proclaim the wonders and marvels of God.

And with that we become the most profound sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit. But the indicator of whether we are a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit is to look into our hearts and see if we are at peace.

In the gospel, when Jesus appeared to His disciples, His first words are “Peace be with you.” They were filled with joy and then Jesus breathed on them the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus wants our hearts to be at peace. He wants to forgive our sins and heal our wounded hearts. He wants to fill us with joy so that as He breathes the Holy Spirit upon us, we will be raised to a new life with meaning and with direction.

All the means are available to us for our hearts to be healed and to be at peace – the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Holy Eucharist, and all those other signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit, who comes to help us in our weakness.

So let us breathe in the breath of God, and to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so that we will proclaim the wonders and marvels of God, with peace and joy in our hearts.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

6th Sunday of Easter, Year B, 06.05.18

Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 / 1 John 4:7-10 / John 15:9-17 

The difference between human beings and machines is that no matter how much artificial intelligence and programs and sensing devices a machine or a robot may have, it does not have feelings like that of a human being. Or at least not yet. 

To differentiate the matter even further, machines and robots are more predictable and easier to handle. Human beings are more temperamental because of their feelings. 

For example, if we go to an electronics shop to buy a laptop, we will look around and try out the various models on display. Whichever model we finally choose, it won’t display any elation, nor will the others display disappointment. It’s business as usual and that is quite predictable. 

Not so for a human being. Finding acceptance and facing rejection will result in a spectrum of emotions and feelings. 

This is quite evident in a job application. If we are called up for an interview, we will feel happy because we are being considered as suitable. When we go for the interview, we will feel tense and anxious because it will be a test of our worth.  

After the interview, only two things can happen: acceptance or rejection.  

If we get accepted for the job, then we will feel happy and good about ourselves because our worth is recognized. But if we get rejected, then we might feel sad and dejected and maybe even depressed. 

So in short, it can be said that often our happiness is dependent on being accepted and recognized for our worth. On the other hand, our sadness is the result of feeling rejected and we see ourselves as useless and worthless. 

But is that really so? Is our dignity and our worth dependent on how others see us and whether they accept or reject us? 

The bad news is that we cannot make people like us, love us, understand us, accept us or to be nice to us. The good news is that it actually doesn’t matter much. 

But more than that, if we live for people’s acceptance, then we will die from their rejection. Our dignity and our worth don’t depend on the assessment of others. 

But the really good news is what Jesus tells us in the gospel: As the Father loves me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. 

And to add to this good news is that Jesus chose to love us. So Jesus not only accepts us in our unworthy sinful state, He chooses to love us with the same love that God the Father loves Him. 

Jesus tells us this so that the joy of His love will be in us and that will make our love and our joy complete. 

So when we realise that Jesus chose to love us, that God’s love is given to us in full, and that His love makes our joy complete, then we will realise who we really are, and that we will want to remain in God’s love. 

Then we won’t live on other people’s acceptance nor will we die from their rejection. God’s love is enough for us and we only want to remain in His love. 

A story goes that the children in a catechism class were calling each other names and making fun of each other and some were hurt by all the name calling. 

The catechism class teacher decided to take this opportunity to teach the children about who they are and how much Jesus loves them. 

After she had quieten down the class, she took out a $50 note and asked, “Who would like to have this $50 note?” 

All the children put up their hands and said, “I want, I want!” Then the teacher crumpled the note and said, “Who would like to have this now?” All the children put up their hands and said, “I want, I want!” 

Then the teacher threw the crumpled note on the floor and stepped on it, and then asked, “Who would still like to have this $50-dollar note now?” All the children put up their hands and said, “I want, I want!” 

So, the teacher asked, “Why? I have crumpled it, stepped on it, and you all still want it?” And the children all replied, “Because it is still a $50 note.” 

And then the teacher said, “Yes it is still a $50-dollar note. You have been taught that everyone is created in the likeness of God and that God loves everyone, and no one can take that from you.  

Even if others make fun of you and call you names, God still loves you because you are created in His image.  

And you should not make fun of others or call them names because God loves them and they are created in God’s image too.” 

The children got the point, and we would have gotten the point too. Yes, Jesus loves each of us with the love of God the Father so that our joy can be complete. 

We need to remain in His love so that we can bear fruits of love for others to receive God’s love and come to know who they are. 

Jesus chose us and He loves us. Let us in turn bear the fruit of love for others so that they will open their hearts to Jesus and that their joy be complete. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

5th Sunday of Easter, Year B, 29.04.2018

 Acts 9:26-31 / 1 John 3:18-24 / John 15:1-8
The month of April is coming to an end, and we are looking forward to the month of May. Because in the month of May there are two public holidays.

The 1st May is Labour Day and then on the 29th May is Vesak Day. So there is a public holiday at the beginning of May and another public holiday at the end of May. How nice if every month is like that huh.

So on Labour Day, the economic and social achievements of workers are acknowledged and celebrated, and the rights of workers are highlighted. Most offices and factories will also be closed.

Except of course the essential services won’t be closed. Certain things will have to keep going – buses and trains will be running; public utilities like water and electricity won’t be shut down; the rubbish will be collected and cleared.

And in Singapore, shopping malls and restaurants won’t be closed, because in Singapore, shopping and eating are essential, maybe even critical, especially on public holidays. If there is nowhere to shop and nowhere to eat, there might be a riot!

And of course, the Church won’t be closed and the priests will be working even on public holidays. Because the Church provides an essential service – the Mass. Actually it is a divine service. So for our parish, even on public holidays, it is services as usual – Mass in the morning and in the evening, and we are open all day.

Yes, the Church is always open, not just on Saturdays and Sundays, but everyday, even on public holidays. Because the Church must provide this essential and divine service of being the House of God. The Church is the “Home” of God, where we come and be re-connected with God.

In the gospel, Jesus used an image to express this essential connection which may be familiar to us. He said that He is the vine and we are the branches. We may be familiar with that as we look at a bunch of grapes and we can see how closely the grapes are connected to the stem.

But Jesus also gave us an image which is immediately familiar and clear to us as He says: Make your home in Me, as I make Mine in you.

The image of home gives us the idea of a place where we must go back to, no matter how far we have gone.

It is a place of comfort, of  belonging, a place where we can be at rest from the noisy and busy world.

It is a place where we re-connect with our loved ones and have a sense of security.

It is a place where we can be ourselves and at the same time we learn to be more than ourselves, and that’s why it is said that “charity begins at home”.

Yes, it is at home that we learn to be charitable, to be patient and compassionate, to be loving and forgiving, so that even outside of home, we will bring along those “home” values and share them with others.

Even though no home is perfect, yet we strive to make our home as peaceful and as happy as we can.

Similarly, the House of God, the Church, is our spiritual home. We can’t say that our Church is perfect as somethings do irritate us – the sound system gets cranky, the air con is too cold, the car-park gantry doesn’t respond, the pews are too narrow, and whatever.

Those things can be irritating, like mosquitoes and flies are irritating. But that shouldn’t irritate us or make us become irritating to others.

Because what unites us is so much greater than what irritates us. And as we come home to the House of God, we are re-connected with Jesus and it is His love that flows in us and through us as we connect and unite ourselves as brothers and sisters in Jesus.

And that’s why Jesus said that He is the vine and we are the branches. And not only that, our mission is to bear fruit, and one of which is to bring others to our spiritual home so that they can come to know Jesus and to be connected with Him.

And so despite the imperfections and irritations, we are still proud of our spiritual home and we want to bring others to our spiritual home and introduce them to Jesus.
Well the next RCIA journey will begin on the 9th July. The RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) is where non-Catholics come to know about the Christian faith, and to know more about Jesus and the Church.

We may not be a happening church or a well-known church. In fact we are just a quaint little church tucked away in a quiet corner of the busy Orchard Road area. Some may not know the church exist, or know where the church is.

Yet the intake for the last three RCIA journeys are modest and encouraging enough. Even though the other bigger and better known churches start their RCIA journey about the same time, we just have to wait and see who will come.

But more than just wait and see, if we are proud of our little and simple church, then we would want to bring our non-Catholic friends to the RCIA and also journey with them as they come to know more about Jesus.

More importantly, we want to help them to find their home in Jesus and for Jesus to make His home in them.

That is the fruit that we are called to bear. That also means that we ourselves have found our home in Jesus, and that when we come to church, we have come “home” to God’s House, and that we are re-connected with Jesus and draw from Him love, peace and joy.

Yes, the fruit that we are called to bear is to tell others about Jesus and about our spiritual home that we have found.

When they respond, we must also journey with them and to help them find their way home.

Yes, Jesus is waiting for them, everyday, including public holidays. So let us get on working. We want to bear fruit and bring others home to Jesus. Because coming home to Jesus is really where we want to be.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

4th Sunday of Easter, Year B, 22.04.2018

Acts 4:8-12 / 1 John 3:1-2 / John 10:11-18

We may recall that this year, Ash Wednesday fell on a particular day – 14th Feb – which is also popularly known as Valentine’s Day. So for Catholics who have to observe that obligatory day of fasting and yet wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their loved ones, they could have a special romantic candle-light dinner with bread and water. Well, it’s not that often that Ash Wed falls on Valentine’s Day.

Also we may recall that Easter Sunday fell on the 1st April, which for the secular world is a day of jokes and pranks as they call it April’s Fool’s Day. 

So it seems like for this year, God had a sense of humour – Ash Wed falls on Valentine’s Day and Easter Sunday on April Fool’s Day.

But for the Church in Singapore, 14th Feb is a significant day because it is the anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral. So this year, the Cathedral did not celebrate the anniversary of its dedication because of Ash Wed. But because the Cathedral is dedicated to the Good Shepherd, then it would be celebrating its feast-day today, since this Sunday is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday.

The Cathedral was dedicated to the Good Shepherd because in the early days after Singapore was founded, a priest, Fr. Laurent Imbert, stopped over in Singapore and he could well be the first priest to celebrate Mass on this island. 
Later, he secretly joined the other missionaries in Korea, which at that time was persecuting Christians. When the persecutors were closing him on him, he wrote that famous letter to his fellow missionaries, saying that “the good shepherd is the one who lays down his life for his sheep”. He hoped that by surrendering himself, the authorities would spare the lives of the other Catholics. Subsequently, he was tortured and beheaded.

Back in Singapore, when the building of the Cathedral was completed and to be dedicated, news of Fr. Imbert’s death was known, and so were the contents of his letter. It was then decided that the Cathedral was to be dedicated to the Good Shepherd, in memory of Fr. Laurent Imbert.

Last year, when the Cathedral was re-dedicated after extensive renovations, the relic of St. Laurent Imbert was also interred into the altar of the Cathedral. And with that, the connection between the Cathedral and the man whose letter inspired the name of the Cathedral came to a full circle. St. Laurent Imbert not only knew the Good Shepherd, but like the Good Shepherd, he also laid down his life for his sheep.

Today, as we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, we hear once again what Jesus says of Himself – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.

And on Good Shepherd Sunday, the Church also highlights the promotion of vocations to the priesthood. The Church echoes the voice of her Good Shepherd in calling out to those who hear His voice to follow Him and to lay down their lives in service for God and for His people.

But with the drastic drop of the number of vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life as well, we may wonder if the Good Shepherd has stopped calling. So has Jesus stopped calling? Or have we stopped listening?

The fact that the Church is called to be the sign of salvation means that God will always provide for the Church. In every age and from one generation to the next, God will always call out to those whom He has chosen to be priests to serve as shepherds of God’s flock.

But to lay down one’s life in service of others calls for sacrifice. When it comes to making the sacrifice, the tendency is that we expect others to make the sacrifice, but not us.

The voice of the world says that sacrifice is for losers. The world wants to be served and not to serve.

But the voice of Jesus tells us that He came to serve and not to be served and to even lay down His life as a ransom for many.

So it can be said that the salvation of many depends on the sacrifices of a few, those few that are called and chosen.

And we have seen these few, and we may even know some of these few.

Bro. Simon Ho, who is one of our parishioners, is now in his 4th year of formation in the Major Seminary. He gave up a promising teaching profession to answer the call of the Good Shepherd. We pray that he will persevere and that one day we will be able to see his ordination.

Fr. Michaelraj left his native diocese in India to serve in Singapore, which is a new and challenging environment for him. But he has done well and we pray that he will be blessed for answering the call of the Good Shepherd and that he will be a blessing for us too.

And Fr. Paul Tong, at 91 years-old, is still actually in active service and not retired, as some might think he is. For him there is no retirement or finishing line when it comes to laying down his life in service of God and His people.

So we priests and seminarians ask for your prayers that we will continue to serve you with the love of the Good Shepherd.

And we pray for you too, that if God calls you, or calls your son to serve in the priesthood, you too will make that sacrifice.

Only a few are called and chosen, and when those few make the sacrifice to lay down their lives in love and service, then many will be blessed, and many will be saved.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B, 15.04.2018

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19 / 1 John 2:1-5 / John 24:35-48

Back in the past, in the so-called “good-old-days” one of the activities of the priest was to do home-visits. And because communication back then wasn’t that developed (not every house has a telephone), those home-visits can be surprise-calls. But the surprise can go both ways. It could be a surprise for the family, or it could be a surprise for the priest.

One senior priest, who was from those “good-old-days” was relating how he had to wait outside the main door for 15 min because the family was scrambling to tidy up the house and to get properly dressed.

Those were the “good-old-days”. Now if a priest wants to do home-visits, he has to call and make an appointment with the family, and it can be quite inconvenient for the family – not all are at home, they have to tidy up the house, they have to be properly dressed, etc. So now it’s like: Father, don’t call me, I will call you, if I want you to visit me.

So people will call the priest only when he is needed, e.g. for house-blessing. And talking about house-blessing, this week I had four house-blessings. The reasons for the house-blessing range from wanting the new house to be blessed to strange happenings in the house.

Especially when people think that there are “ghosts” lurking or hiding somewhere in the house. Not everybody believes in ghosts, but everybody seems to be afraid of them. Also during the day, not everybody believes in ghosts, but at night they are more open-minded.

There is a saying “when one door closes, another door opens”; that is of course a figure of speech. But in reality, if one door closes and another door opens by itself, then it’s time to do something, like call for the priest.

Yes, the supernatural or the unexplainable, can make our hair stand and we feel a chill. Whatever it is, we don’t welcome these encounters and it’s best that we don’t have these encounters at all.

Today’s gospel gives an account of an encounter that the disciples had. Two disciples came and told the rest of the disciples what sounded like some kind of ghost story, that they had seen Jesus, who was crucified, died and was buried. 

What a story to tell the disciples when they were all hiding in a locked room for fear of the Jews. And while they were talking about all this, Jesus came and stood among them. In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost!

And what a situation to be in. They can’t run outside and shout “Ghost! Ghost!” because they will be caught. So there is no choice other than to face this Jesus, whom they thought has come back as a ghost to haunt them for deserting Him during His suffering. That’s quite similar to what most ghost stories are made of.

But that’s also where the “ghost story” ends, when Jesus said to them, “Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves. A ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.”

Although they couldn’t quite believe it and stood there dumbfounded, yet they were also relieved. What Jesus said to them calmed their fears. 

Jesus did not come to haunt them or to settle scores for deserting Him. Although forgiveness was not mentioned, it was understood. 

Only when they have calmed down, then they understood those first words of Jesus “Peace be with you.” Only when their hearts were at peace then their minds could be opened to understand the scriptures that spoke of Jesus who would suffer, die and rise from the dead. Jesus is certainly not a ghost!

Whatever our opinion of ghosts may be, the ghosts that often haunt us are the ghosts of our own making. We create these ghosts when we sin, because it is the ghost of our sins that come and haunt us.

For the disciples, their desertion of Jesus in His suffering and death made them think they were seeing a ghost when He appeared to them. But it was their sin that was haunting them.

As for us, we will recall our wrong-doing and how we have sinned against others. Hurting someone can be as easy as throwing a stone into the sea. But we may or may not have an idea of how deep that stone went into the heart of that person.

It may be our parents whom we have neglected or was unkind to when they were alive. Now that they are gone, all the flowers that we put at their niche or tombs would not appease our regrets.

Or the person that we have cheated in a relationship. Seeing that person brings out the ghost of the past and we feel how deep the stone has gone into the heart of that person.

Or how we have schemed to sabotage a person. Our misdeeds haunt us as we think of the revenge that will be taken against us if we are found out.

Yes, the ghost of our sins comes to haunt us even in the daylight and we live in the darkness of regret, anxiety and fear.

But today we hear the words of consolation “Peace be with you”. Jesus wants to forgive us but at the same time we must also pray for forgiveness and to seek forgiveness from the ones we have hurt and done wrong to.

That is what repentance for the forgiveness of sins is about.

It is not easy to embark on repentance for the forgiveness of sins, but it is not impossible. With Jesus nothing is impossible. He came to bring us to repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

He wants to free us from the anxiety and fear of being haunted by the ghost of our sins.

Repentance for the forgiveness of sins is necessary for true peace in our hearts. When there is peace in our hearts, there will be no ghosts to fear.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

2nd Sunday of Easter, Year B, 08.04.2018

Acts 4:32-35 / 1 John 5:1-6 / John 20:19-31

Generally speaking, a person has five senses – the sense of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and the sense of touch. All these senses are important as they send signals to the brain so that we can respond to what our senses are telling us. There is also the “sixth sense” but that is beyond the scope of science.

Of these five senses, the seeing and the hearing functions are often engaged and that’s why the audio-visual gives us a lot more information about the world around us and about our surroundings.

But with that comes the problem of fake news. Aided by social media and by computer graphics, fake news can spread like wild fire because its intent is to generate excitement and anxiety, regardless of the consequences.

For example, recently there was a video clip circulating on social media about strong tidal waves lashing out at Bedok Jetty. It looked so real, but it turned out to be fake news.

Then on Good Friday (it is said that on Good Friday it always rains around 3pm) it was reported that strong winds destroyed chicken coops in Chua Chu Kang. Singapore rarely has those kinds of strong winds, so it sounded like fake news, until it is reported in the newspapers. That was what happened on Good Friday, and it made some news. 

On the religious scene, Good Friday was the day we recalled the suffering, death and burial of Jesus. Then on Easter Sunday we celebrated His Resurrection, which is often called the greatest celebration of our faith.

So we have heard about the Resurrection and we even celebrate it. But how much about the Resurrection do we actually believe in?

For Thomas, who was not there when the Risen Jesus first appeared to the disciples, he did not want to believe it. He thought that the disciples were spreading fake news.

For Thomas, hearing what the rest of the disciples say about the Risen Jesus did not convince him. He retorted with a demand: Unless I see the holes that the nails made in His hands and can put my finger into the holes, and unless I can put my hand into His side, I refuse to believe.

Thomas made such a stark demand because too much had already been demanded from him, with the result that his faith was broken. He had put his faith and hope in Jesus, and that came crashing down when he saw Jesus being crucified, died and was buried.

He was so disappointed that he didn’t even want to be with the rest of the disciples. He didn’t want to be in the misery of their company, since there was nothing to hope for and nothing to believe in anymore. 

He wanted to forget about everything and move on. And then the disciples had to tell him this news of the Resurrection.
Of course he won’t believe them. For him to believe them, he stated his demands clearly. He had already been disappointed and it was painful, and he didn’t want to be disappointed again.

Eight long days had to pass before Jesus appeared to them again and this time Thomas was with the rest of the disciples.

Jesus came specially for Thomas and invited him to put his finger into the holes of His hands and to put his hand into His side. Whether Thomas actually did that or not, we are not told.

Thomas only exclaimed: My Lord and my God!

Jesus came to let Thomas touch His wounds. But actually Jesus came to touch the wounds of Thomas. Jesus came to touch his wounds of disappointment and pain, and to heal him of his grievous doubts.

It can be said that the first miracle that the Risen Jesus worked was to heal the heart of Thomas. The proof of that healing was that Thomas made that profound proclamation of faith: My Lord and my God.

Even as we hear all this, it doesn’t mean that we will have no doubts about the Resurrection of Jesus. Though we may not say that the Resurrection is fake news, we have not seen the Risen Jesus or touched His wounds.

And when the troubles and struggles of this world begin to overwhelm us, doubts will arise and shake our faith and even break our hearts.

We get angry with God for not answering our prayers, and we get disappointed with God for not helping us in our needs.

But God is loving and merciful. This Sunday is also called Divine Mercy Sunday. 

Jesus knows the doubts in our hearts. He knows the wounds that we have inflicted upon our hearts by our own sins. He wants to touch our hearts with His mercy so that we can be healed.

Healing was the first miracle worked by the Risen Jesus, and the first gift to His disciples was peace, when He said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Healing and peace is what the Risen Jesus wants to give us. That is certainly no fake news. In fact, that is the Good News! 

And blessed are we who believe in this Good News from our Risen Saviour.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Sunday, 01-04-18

Acts 10:34, 37-40 / Colossians 3:1-4 / John 20:1-9

There is a simple game that we are familiar with and it is called “scissor-paper-stone”, played often by children.

It is a game that is usually played between two persons, in which each player simultaneously forms one of the three shapes with an outstretched hand, so it is either a scissor-shape, or a paper-shape, or a stone-shape. 

It has only two possible outcomes other than a tie – one player wins and the other player loses. As it goes, one shape will win another but will lose to the other. 

So scissors will win the paper because it cuts the paper, but scissors will lose to the stone. Though the stone will win the scissors, it will lose to the paper because paper wraps up the stone.

It is a game of chance in that one player will win and the other will lose, unless both come up with the same shape, in which case then it is a draw.

A rather interesting aspect of the game is that although the stone can win the scissors, yet it loses to the paper, in that the paper will wrap up the stone, at least according to the theory of the game.

In the Resurrection story, there is always the empty tomb and the stone that was used to cover its entrance. That stone made its prominence when it was rolled over the tomb in which Jesus was buried to seal the entrance of the tomb.

That stone was something to be reckoned with, at least it was not so easy to overcome it with paper as in that “scissor-paper-stone” game. Weighing about 2 tons and about 2 meters in diameter, it was rolled at a downward incline and over the entrance of the tomb and sits on a deep groove, thus effectively sealing the tomb. 

Moving the stone from the entrance of the tomb is not impossible, but that is certainly not an easy task, and there is no need to. Once it is rolled over the entrance of the tomb, it is sealed and it is case-closed, not to be reopened. It can be effectively called a tomb-stone.

In a way, it can be said that it was the final stone that the enemies of Jesus threw at Him to make sure that He was dead and gone.

But from a tomb-stone, Jesus made it into a stepping-stone that revealed the Resurrection. The stone was rolled away to reveal an empty tomb. Jesus is not there, and it is not because we do not know what happened. We believe that He is risen.

The stone that is rolled away, and the empty tomb are just signs, but it is with faith that we believe that Jesus is risen.

It is also with faith that we look at life and think of how to respond to the stones that are thrown at us and that lay before us in the path of life.

Those stones can either be stumbling blocks or stepping-stones. Those stones can force us into the tomb and cover us up, or we can ask Jesus to roll away those stones and bring us to new life.

So with those stones, we can choose to make them into tomb-stones, and that would be a “case-closed” and a dead end. That was what they intended to do with Jesus.

But with those same stones, we can choose to make them into stepping-stones that lead us to understand the Resurrection of Jesus, and stepping-stones to the new life that the Risen Jesus wants to give us so that we become living stones in the hands of Jesus, living stones that He can use as stepping-stones for others to come to know Him and believe in Him.

In that “scissor-paper-stone” game, the stone “loses” to the paper. Now for the stones that are thrown at us and those stumbling blocks of stone that lie in our path, let us wrap them up with paper.

Not just any ordinary paper but with these petition-slips that are always available at the entrance of the church.

Let us write down on these petition-slips those hurting and stumbling blocks of stone in our lives and put these pieces of paper into the petition box to offer them to Jesus.

Every Friday at the evening Mass, we offer up those petitions in the petition-box to Jesus.

And as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, I also want to testify that the Risen Jesus will receive our petitions, He will hear our prayers, and He will answer them.

Simply because He is risen, and He wants us to rise with Him and to be living stones building up His Church.

Jesus also wants us to be stepping-stones for others to come to Him and believe in His Resurrection.

We believe that Jesus is our Risen Saviour. Let us proclaim this Good News to those who are still living in their tombs and waiting for the stone to be removed.