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Saturday, April 25, 2015

4th Sunday of Easter, Year B, 26.04.2015

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

One of the most prominent Church figures in the 20th century is Pope John XXIII. He was canonized on the 27th April 2014.

Besides the fact that it was he who got Vatican II Council started when nobody expected a 78 year-old Pope to do so, he was also prominent because of his figure.

Before he was elected Pope in 1958, one of his appointments was being papal nuncio to France. It was then that one of the French diplomats described him as “a sack of potatoes”. And if we look at photos of John XXIII, we will somewhat agree.

But one of the prominent characteristics of John XXIII was his sense of humour. Once he went to a school and there he asked the boys what they would want to become when they grew up, and one of them said that he would want to be a pope.

The pope smiled and said: Oh anyone can be a pope. Look at me! If I can become a pope, anyone can become a pope.

Such was the humour of John XXIII. But jokes aside, he knows that not anyone can be a pope, just as not anyone can be a priest.

This Sunday, the Church also celebrates Vocation Sunday and the Church is called to pray for more vocations to the priesthood.

We are called to reflect upon Jesus as the Good Shepherd, and the reflection is focused on the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep.

The reflection goes further for those whom Jesus is calling to be His priests and to follow Him to lay down their lives for His sheep.

It is often said that God will provide. And so it can also be said that God will provide priests for His Church.

But the crisis that the Church is facing is the falling numbers in vocations to the priesthood, and at present there are only 10 seminarians in the Major Seminary, and that is already ringing the alarm bells for the future.

Added to that are the scandals that have rocked the Church and smeared the dignity of the priesthood.

With all those factors weighing in heavily on the Church, the resultant is that there is a growing skepticism and cynicism about the priesthood.

This skepticism and cynicism is reflected in this so-called poem and the title is none other than “No one wants to be a priest” and it goes like this.

It goes like this: 
No one wants to be a priest because …If he begins Mass on time, his watch is fast;If he begins a minute later, he keeps people waiting.If he preaches too long, he makes people get bored;If his homily is too short, he is unprepared.If his voice is strong when preaching, he is shouting;If his voice is normal,people do not understand what he is preaching about;If he goes to visit families, he is always out:If he does not, he does not care for them.If he asks for donations, he is a money-face;If he does not do it, he is too proud and lazy.If he takes time in the confessional, he is too slow;If he makes it too fast, he has no time for his penitents.If he renovates the church, he throws away money;If he does not do it, he allows everything to rot away.If he is with the youth, he forgets the old.If he warms up to old aunties, he must be missing his mummy.If he keeps distance from all of them, he has a heart of stone.If he is young, he has no experience;If he is old, he should retire.As long as he lives, there are always people who are better than him;BUT IF THE PRIEST DIES....THERE IS NOBODY TO TAKE HIS PLACE!Because no one wants to be a priest!!!
But God will provide and the Church must keep praying that those who are called will respond.

And the Church must also pray for those who have responded to the call to be good shepherds who will lay down their lives for the sheep.

As for myself, having been a priest for 17 years, when I was appointed parish priest of this parish, I knew that the sacrifice will have to go one notch higher.

And this sacrifice is best expressed in the Eucharist where I lead the community into prayer with the sign of the cross at the beginning and call upon God’s blessings on the community at the end of the Eucharistic celebration.

In between, I pray that we will be delivered from every evil and that we will have peace and be safe from all distress.

The fundamental task of a priest, as the 2nd reading would put it, is to form his people to be God’s children and to be like Him.

And if his people do not behave like God’s children, then the priest is called to do penance and pray for them because he is accountable for their souls and their salvation.

So I am accountable for your soul and your salvation. And do I want to be held accountable? 

I can only firmly say “Yes” because I am doing this for God who has lavished His love on us by calling us His children.

And God wants all of us His children to be with Him in heaven. And it is my mission as the priest and the spiritual father of this parish community to do that.

Pope John XXIII died on the 3rd June 1963 and his last words were these: "I had the great grace to be born into a Christian family, modest and poor, but with the fear of the Lord. My time on earth is drawing to a close. But Christ lives on and continues his work in the Church. Souls, souls, may they all be one.”

I had the great grace to be a priest serving in this parish community. I also hope to teach you the fear of the Lord and to love Him. 

May you pray for us priests that we continue the saving work of the Lord so that we will all be one in Christ … on earth, and in heaven.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B, 19.04.2015

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

If we had to keep watch at a funeral wake, there is not much that we can do but to wait for people to come and pay respects.

And if the wake is at the void deck of a block, then when it comes to the late hours of the night, there can be some things to keep us occupied.

Some might gamble the night away; some might be occupied with their hand-phones; some might just watch TV or whatever.

But when I was growing up, when it comes to the late hours of the night, that will be the time when the uncles and aunties will start to tell ghost stories.

And we the kids will be huddled together in terror as we listen and we won’t even dare to go to the toilet.

Some ghost stories sound so ridiculous as I think of it now, but still it made a deep impression on me and my cousins then.

One story is that we have to keep watch around the coffin and to prevent any black cat from jumping over the coffin.

Otherwise the body will rise and start jumping all over the place. 

So the legs of the deceased will be tied together so that they can only jump around and can’t chase people. That’s what we kids were told.

It sounds so ridiculous, right? But when we were kids we just believed everything that was told to us. And we even remember it until now. And maybe even until our dying day.

But seriously, ghost stories only instill fear and at times death and darkness become bigger than our faith in God.

In the gospel, the two disciples told their story of what had happened on the road to Emmaus and how they had recognized Jesus at the breaking of bread. But then He vanished from their sight.

To the rest of the disciples, that sounded like some kind of ghost story. So when Jesus appeared and stood among them, they were in a state of alarm and fright, and they thought they were seeing a ghost. 

And if Jesus had vanished from their sight again, then what we would end up with is a ghost story. After all, it seems that ghosts would appear here and there and then disappear.

But Jesus calmed their fears when He showed them His hands and feet. He invited them to touch Him and He even ate a piece of grilled fish before their eyes.

He proved to them that He was no ghost, and that He was alive. 

And they were overjoyed though they were dumbfounded.

And as He opened their minds to understand the scriptures, there is one truth that came across profoundly.

And that is the God that they believed in is the God of the living and not of the dead, for in God, all are alive.

And the proof is that Jesus is standing right there before them, and certainly more alive than they are.

When death strikes and takes a loved one away, it is difficult to think about that person in the other world.

We might wonder where that person is and other questions that seem to have no answers.

My father, my papa, passed on in June last year. He is the first in my immediate family to pass on and with no experience of a death in the family it was quite chaotic.

Nonetheless, a wake was held, the funeral was conducted, he was cremated and we continued to offer Masses and pray for his soul.

Then at All Souls Day last year, my mum asked me if papa was already in heaven.

I was a bit stumped for an answer and so I told her that I will try to find out, although I didn’t know how.

And then I was told, at short notice, of my posting here. So I squeezed some time to visit my papa at his niche. 

Well, I told him that I am coming here, and I might as well tell you that this was the church of his baptism and also my parents were married here.

Anyway I told my papa that I need to tell my mum whether he is already in heaven so I asked him to pray for my intentions as I begin my ministry in this parish.

As we may know, in the canonization process, at least two miracles must have been performed through the saint's intercession after his or her death, besides an additional miracle for granting beatification. So all in all, it’s three miracles.

Of course, I am not going to put up a cause for my papa’s canonization, but if he is in heaven then I would need his prayers. 

So I asked my papa to pray for my intentions for this parish, not just for three intentions, but I think by now it’s already three thousand and still counting.

To say the least, all my petitions were answered – difficulties were eased, things got started and going, problems had solutions. 

And I will keep asking my papa to pray, not just for me but also for you.

And I want to share with you one sign that enabled me to confidently tell my mum that my papa is in heaven.

About a month or so after coming here I had to fill up a form and I needed to know Fr. Paul Tong’s birthdate. So I asked him and then I had to ask what year was he born in and he told me it’s 1927. He was born in the same year as my papa. And indeed Fr. Paul Tong is like a father to me.

And as if that is not enough, only recently I had to ask Fr. Vincent Chee what year he was born in, and he told me it’s 1937. It’s the same year as my mum! I doubt no more!

It’s not an awesome sign but it’s enough for me to say that my papa is alive and interceding for me and for you and for the parish.

Yes, my papa and all our deceased loved ones are alive and share in the Resurrection of Christ.

So ask your deceased loved ones to intercede for you in your struggles and difficulties of life.

And when we have our prayers answered, then let us give thanks to God.

Let us forget about those ridiculous ghost stories and be witnesses of the Resurrection of Christ and His presence among us.

And rising from our sinfulness, let us also be witnesses to repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

It has to begin with us; it has to begin from us.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

2nd Sunday of Easter, Year B, 12.04.2015

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

Just taking a moment to look around, are we able to see who is missing?

We may wonder what kind of question is that. How would we know who is missing? In the first place we may not even know the names of the persons sitting in front of us or behind us or even beside us.

Of course that is something that needs to be worked at – getting to know each other by name – instead of feeling like a stranger in Church, of all places!

But even if we really know each other by name, are we able to see who is missing?

Well, we may say that those who are missing are those who have chosen not to come here.

But having said that, there is a certain group of people who are missing because they can’t come here.

One of them is my relative who has a chickenpox infection and the rashes broke out on Tuesday so she has to be confined at home.

And because chickenpox is contagious, she can’t come to Church even if she wants to. 

And also she certainly won’t want to come to Church with all those rashes and blisters on her face and hands.

I asked if she would want me to go over and pray for her.

She declined and said that I might get infected, although I already had chickenpox.

And she also said this – If I am missing from Church nobody will notice; but if you are missing from Church everybody will know. 

And nobody will go near you if they know you have chickenpox.

In the gospel passage, when the Risen Christ appeared to His disciples, we know who was missing from among them.

Thomas didn’t have chickenpox, he also didn't have a bad bout of flu nor was he on medical leave.

He chose not to be with the disciples. We were not told why he chose to stay away.

But when the disciples told him that they had seen the Lord, he refused to believe and he demanded that he would want to put his finger into the holes into those hands of Jesus and even his hand into His side, before he could believe.

It could be that his faith was so shattered and he was so devastated that nothing short of touching those wounds of the Risen Christ could make him change his mind.

Well, Thomas got what he asked for. Eight days later when he was with the rest of the disciples, the Risen Christ appeared again, and He came specifically for Thomas.

Whether Thomas put his finger into those holes and his hand into the side of Jesus is left to us to speculate.

But it was not so much for Thomas to put his finger and his hand into those wounds of Jesus. 

Rather it was for Jesus to touch the wounds of the shattered and devastated Thomas.

Thomas has often been called the “Doubting Thomas” and that is because Jesus said to him “Doubt no longer but believe.”

But the “Doubting Thomas” may also be the “Hurting Thomas” in that his shattered faith at the death of Jesus was too much for him to bear and so he didn’t want the rest of the disciples to see him at his worst. And so he stayed away from them. 

The missing Thomas was not just a doubting Thomas but also a hurting Thomas.

So as we look around we may begin to “see” who is missing. Some can’t be here because of they are aged and home-bound or ill or hospitalized.

But some are not here by choice. They may have been disappointed or angry with God or had a bad experience with a church member or with a priest (sigh …)

But we who are here may also not be that steadfast in faith either. 

We may have “spiritual chickenpox” with rashes and blisters that are painful and hurting. But it is all within.

But just as chickenpox is contagious, we too spread our pain and hurt onto others resulting in more pain and hurt.

Today the Risen Christ comes to us and touches our wounds to heal our pain.

More so, today is also called “Divine Mercy Sunday”. Jesus is the mercy of God and He wants to heal us so that we can believe in Him and in His love for us.

We are not asking to put our finger and our hand into those wounds of Jesus. 

We are asking Jesus to put His hand into our hearts to heal our pain and hurt.

When we are healed of our doubting and our hurting, then we will be able to reach out to those who are missing.

May our prayer be that we bring back those who are missing so that together we will proclaim Jesus as “My Lord and my God!”

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Sunday Year B, 05.04.2015

Acts 10:34, 37-43 / Col 3:1-4 / John 20:1-9 

If we had watched the state funeral last Sunday, we would have remembered that the Prime Minister was the first to give the eulogy.

His beginning words were these – “This has been a dark week for Singapore. The light that has guided us all these years has been extinguished”. He was, of course, referring to the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.

Yes, it had been a dark week for Singapore. But even in that darkness, there arose many little lights that showed the emotional side of Singaporeans and also the best side of Singaporeans.

At least it can be said that Singaporeans were united as a nation in bidding farewell to her founding father.

One light was extinguished, but the fire burned on in many other little lights.

Tonight we began our Easter Vigil with the blessing of the fire, a ritual that happens only once a year actually.

The fire was blessed, and from it the Easter Candle was lighted, and it continues to burn in the sanctuary lamps and in the votive candles in the parish house.

The fire is also a symbol of the divine presence of Christ who is the Light of the world. 

We also receive that light at our baptism when we were given a lighted candle to symbolize that we are enlightened by the light of Christ and that we are to live as children of the light.

But here is where, if we reflected deeper, there seems to be a contradiction and an opposition of symbols.

We were baptized with water and then we are enlightened by fire.

Water and fire don’t go together. Water extinguishes fire, but fire can also boil water and can eventually evaporate the water.

But in the divine mystery, water and fire take on a combined spiritual purpose in our lives.

Water permeates into stone structures and hence no matter how sturdy a building may be, there will eventually be a leaking problem somewhere. 

And in the confrontation between a stream of water and a rock, the stream of water always wins, not through strength but through persistence.

Later we will renew our baptismal promises – we will renounce sin and evil and the devil, and we will also profess our belief in God. 

And then we will be sprinkled with holy water. The spiritual significance is that God will shower His love upon us until His love permeates into our hearts until we turn into fountains of living water that will in turn flow to others.

But just as education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of the fire of wisdom, the cleansing water of God’s love makes us shine with the light of Christ.

The Easter celebration of the Resurrection of Christ also reminds us spiritual powers of fire and water.

Fire gives light and it also radiates warmth. The fire of God’s love is in us so that as children of the light, we radiate the warmth of God’s love to others, and that’s just by being who we truly are – the children of the light.

Being baptized with water, we also take on the spiritual meaning of water, in that clean water is essential for life and so we must be life-giving to others.

Also water is considered as the universal solvent, and so we pour out our lives for others so that we can help them to solve their problems in life.

We will bless the water later and it will be distributed in Holy Water bottles. But the blessed water is not to be kept in those bottles for display or for it to evaporate.

We bring it back to bless our homes, our workplace, bless our children, and also bless ourselves so that God’s love will continue to permeate into our hearts and into our lives.

Last week the light that guided our nation was extinguished and on the day of the state funeral there was, ironically, a heavy downpour, and it was challenging for those who lined the streets to bid their last farewell.

But there was a quote from the blogger Mr. Brown, (who usually makes candid comments and remarks).

He wrote – The rain came down in torrents. No one ran. No one left.

The light may have been extinguished, but it lighted fires in the hearts of Singaporeans.

For us, the light of the Resurrection of Christ is shining into our hearts to light up the fire of love in us.

May the fire of love warm up the waters in which we are baptized and may we go forth and be the life-giving waters for the world.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Palm Sunday, Year B, 29.03.2015

Isaiah 50:4-7 / Philippians 2:6-11 / Mark 14:1 -15:47

During the last couple of days of national mourning for the founding father of our nation, there were long queues to the Parliament House where the body of the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is lying in state.

On Friday when the numbers swelled by the thousands, there was an astonishing announcement by the State Funeral Organizing Committee.

Singaporeans were “strongly advised” not to join the queue to pay their last respects as the waiting time in the queue could be as long as 8 hours or even 10 hours!

Then on Friday night the queue to pay last respects to the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew was suspended until further notice for the safety and wellbeing of those in line. 

What was astonishing was that Singaporeans were advised NOT to join the queue to pay their last respects.

It was astonishing because the higher the number of people paying respect, the more impressive it would be in terms of publicity.

But the huge crowds made it too overwhelming for crowd control.

But it is understandable that Singaporeans want to pay their last respects to the man who made what Singapore is today.

In the gospel we hear of another man whom the people had cheered and then later on jeered at.

In the gospel passage on the entrance to Jerusalem, the people spread their garments on the road and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields as Jesus rode on a colt.

The crowds cried out “Hosanna!” to acknowledge Jesus as the Saviour.

But Jesus didn’t ask for the adulation of the crowds or for their tribute.

Then in the long gospel passage on the suffering and death of Jesus, we heard of the crowd again. And this time they cried out “Crucify him!”

The crowd had turned against Jesus and even His disciples had abandoned Him.

In the depths of His distress, Jesus even cried out “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?”

The man who sacrificed His life to save humanity was abandoned, mocked and humiliated to a shameful death on the cross.

Today, we the Church honours and praise Jesus for saving us through His dying on the cross.

As we enter into Holy Week and into the Holy Triduum, what Jesus is asking of us is to stay close to Him as we recall His suffering and death.

If our nation can be overwhelming in paying respect and tribute to the man for what he did for us and for our country, then all the more we must unite ourselves more fervently with Jesus in recalling His suffering and death.

Jesus suffered and died to save us because of His love for us.

Suffering and dying without love is futile and worthless.

In meditating and uniting ourselves with Jesus in His suffering and death, may we also offer up our lives to Jesus and die to ourselves so that we will discover the meaning of love and sacrifice.

May the love of Jesus overwhelm us so that we will be able to offer our lives for the salvation of others.

Jesus did it. The late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew did it too. Will we be willing to do it too?

(The Roman Catholic Church, along with the rest of Singapore, mourns the loss of our nation’s founding father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. In memory of the late Mr Lee, Archbishop William Goh celebrated Mass at St Joseph’s Church (Victoria St)  on Friday, 27 March. A copy of his homily "The Founding Father as a Befitting Title Given to Mr Lee Kuan Yew" can be found here)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

5th Sunday of Lent, Year B, 22.03.2015

 Jeremiah 31:31-34 / Hebrews 5:7-9 / John 12:20-33

Whenever we come across this phrase “life-threatening situation” what would we think it would be?

It would certainly be one that would cause bodily harm or that our life is in danger from an external hostile and aggressive force.

One typical example would be that when we are walking alone in a dark alley and a robber jumps out and points a knife at us and growls with that typical line: Your money or your life!

In a situation like this we will have to make a snap decision as to whether it is our money or our life. We won’t have time to say – Let me think about it …

Or if the robber were to say – Give me all your money or I will cut off both your ears, we are certainly not going to bargain by saying “Does it have to be both?”

Whatever it is, let us pray that we won’t have to undergo such a traumatic experience of a life-threatening situation.

It is certainly not a joke when life is being threatened with a mortal danger.

We may not know when we are going to die but if death were to jump at us like a robber and stare at us in the face, then we have to make snap decisions.

It is then that we will realize how precious life is.

Today’s gospel passage begins with some Greeks approaching Philip with the request that they would like to see Jesus.

Probably those Greeks have heard about the great things that Jesus was doing and so they want to see who He is.

And so Philip and Andrew went to tell Jesus about this request.

And from there on we got a bit lost. Because Jesus didn’t give an answer to the request. He didn’t say yes or no, or that He was busy or that He will see them later.

He practically went on a monologue that begins with “Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”.

If we were those two disciples, we would have reacted as they might have, with that “Huh?” kind of look. Just what are they going to tell those Greeks.

If those two disciples were confused by what Jesus said, then we have the advantage of context and perspective.

Because by now we should understand that Jesus was facing a life-threatening situation. 

His hour has come and He says that His soul is troubled. It is the agony in the garden told in a different way.

He was like talking to Himself and asking Himself if He should ask the Father to save Him from this hour. 

And He answered His own question – But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour.

So by now we should understand what Jesus meant by saying that unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain. 

By now we should understand what Jesus meant when He said that anyone who loves his life loses it and anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for the eternal life.

For Jesus, His life was precious to Him. And as He sees death approaching, His soul is troubled. He is distressed by it.

But as He teaches us to die to ourselves, then He too must show us how to do it.

Jesus indicated the kind of death he would undergo when He said – And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself.

Indeed by dying on the cross, Jesus showed us the meaning of life.
A wise man was asked this question – What is the greatest difficulty in life? 

His answer is this – To have no burden to carry.

It may sound rather intriguing, but not to have any burdens in life to carry is like saying that life has no meaning to live for.

Over the past week, we would be anxious, or at least concerned over the medical condition of a politician.

Known as the founding father of the nation, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s medical condition had deteriorated and many Singaporeans had expressed their well-wishes and prayers for him.

There is a line that he wrote in his book “Hard Truth”: I have spent my life, so much of it, building up this country. At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life.

A Singaporean posted this reflection – “My late father raised me. My Church fathers guide me. The founding father had given me a nation to call home.
The first gave me life. The second teach me to live. The third, he gave me a living.”

The point is clear. When we give up our lives for others, when we carry their burdens, and offer our lives as a sacrifice for others, then we are indeed following Jesus who came to serve and not to be served.

The life-threatening danger is that we choose otherwise – we want to be served and not to serve.

To have no burdens to carry is indeed the greatest life-threatening danger.

There is no need to think about it. If we truly believe in Jesus, then we will do like He did. 

We will offer our lives for the salvation of others, as well as for our own salvation.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

4th Sunday of Lent, Year B, 15.03.2015

2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23 / Ephesians 2:4-10 / John 3:14-21

If we were to look at the little red book that is in the pews, it is called "The Order of the Mass". And at the bottom, in smaller letters it reads “New English Translation”.

The artwork on the cover is a symbol of the cross, and on the spaces in between the arms of the cross are the letters IC, XC, NI and KA.

IC, XC are the initials for Jesus Christ.

But what about NI and KA? Actually it is one word NIKA. It is a Greek word, and it means victor or conqueror.

So the letters around the cross stands for Jesus Christ the Victor or Jesus Christ the Conqueror.

We may not have known what NIKA stands for because it is a foreign word. But we know of a word that is derived from it “NIKE” a famous brand in sports.

So we know what NIKA stands for and what Nike might mean (besides the “Just do it”). But we may not know what the name Nicodemus means.

It is a foreign sounding name, and not many people have that name, and maybe for a good reason.

In today's gospel, the man who came to look for Jesus at night is called Nicodemus. He was also a Pharisee.

 But what does the name Nicodemus stands for?

There are two parts to the name : nico and demus.

Nico means "victory", and demus means "the people".

So Nicodemus means "he is the victory of the people", or "he who claims victory for the people".  

So it is actually a meaningful and also a powerful name.

Yet the Nicodemus in the gospel came to see Jesus under cover of darkness because he was afraid for his reputation and status as a Pharisee.

The man whose name means “victory of the people” has come to see the man who is the Victor and the Conqueror.

And out of the strange meeting in the night, a very profound and enlightening truth is proclaimed.

In fact, this truth is often called the summary of the whole Bible, the very gist of the good news of salvation.

And it is this: God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that anyone who believes in Him may not be lost but may have eternal life.

For God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world but so that through Him the world might be saved.

That is the powerful and profound truth. That is also the truth about God and His deep love for us.

Jesus shines His light on us so that we live in the light of truth and love.

Some of us are afraid of the dark. The dark can be quite frightening. 

But are we afraid of the light? We may not think so. But our reaction to the light can tell us otherwise.

We shield ourselves from the light; we squint or even close our eyes from the light.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” (Plato)

When men are afraid of the light, then tragedy happens as what we heard in the 1st reading.

The heads of the priesthood right down to the people added infidelity to infidelity and defiling the Temple that the Lord had consecrated for Himself in Jerusalem.

The Lord God tirelessly sent them messenger after messenger since He wished to spare His people and His house.

But they ridiculed the messengers of God, they despised His words, they laughed at His prophets, until at last the wrath of God rose so high against His people that there was no further remedy.

Their enemies burned down the Temple of God, demolished the walls of Jerusalem, set fire to all its palaces, and destroyed everything of value in it.

It was a national tragedy that went down into history.

As Jesus said in the gospel – though the light has come into the world, men have shown they prefer darkness to the light because their deeds were evil.

An interesting fact is that “where the light is brightest, the shadows are deepest” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe).

This coming Friday evening, our parish is having the Reconciliation service. The priests of the City District are coming to our parish to hear our confessions.

An often-asked question is this - Should I go to confession if I haven’t committed any sins since my last confession?

A rather candid answer given is this - No, you should stay at home and wait for your canonization papers to arrive! 

But seriously, if it’s been several weeks since your last confession, you have probably not examined your conscience very carefully. 

“The just man falls seven times a day” (Prov 24:16). So if we’re thinking that we don’t have any sins to confess, then Jesus has got nothing to conquer and there will be no victory for Him.

But we know that under the light, there will be shadows, and the brighter the light, the deeper the shadows.

Jesus is the light that will scatter the shadows of our sins. 

When we confess our sins and are reconciled to God, we turn away from tragedy and with Jesus we march into the light of victory.