Monday, 16 November 2015

Staying Afloat

Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him.
- Misericordiae Vultus (Merciful like the Father)

I will enjoy to start off by thinking with sincere gratitude to the many fellow educators, Brothers, Priests and, most importantly, my beloved students. Thank you for being part of my life in both the moments of success and in moments of 'failure' (inverted commas because we all find it hard to identify failures!).
As I end this year 2015, with this blog post, I end with an important message for myself - while I share it with all of you.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on Dec 8th marks both an important feast for me as I renew my consecration to the Immaculate Mother, as well as the start of the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy for the entire Roman Catholic Church (and churches in full communion with Rome).
The Holy Year of Mercy - 8th Dec, 2015 to 20th Nov, 2016.
(Off to canoe in the sea)
Many of my close friends and students will know I am a rather adventurous person. I have done crazy things like outdoor rock climb, canoeing and, of late, I have been dragon boating. Once, Harvinder, Bennett and myself went out to the open sea for our sea canoe; we left Penang Swimming Club and headed for a small abandoned island - if I am right I was told the island is called 'Pulau Tikus'. It was at one of our few adventures that, being amateur canoeists, we went into some technical trouble at sea. I think it was the season of the year, monsoon I guess, and it just rained and the sea was rough. We tried paddling back towards the shore but we just failed, the canoe will just not move. We had to struggle to find our way to get the canoe moving again, which we eventually did after spending much time in panic and worry. Worst still Bennett's canoe was pulled by the wave and he ended up under a small bridge; he got such a fright that he left his canoe and just walked back to the club house by the seaside.
Even though I enjoy canoe, I have a fear of falling into the deep ocean sea; fear of jelly fish and sharks!
After that outing the staff at the club house, or perhaps it was Harvinder, who explained to us why the canoe just did not move. It seems we had to paddle at some correct angle, due to the pattern and condition of the wave that day. Thus, the wrong angle of our canoe made our canoe stationary - no matter how hard we canoed the canoe just did not move!
(Dragon Boat competition in Dec 2014...If I remembered correctly)

(Yes, I arrived at the very top without help and instructions! My first and last time doing outdoor rock climb by Brisbane River)
(Hurt all my fingers in the rock climb - skin came off, blisters. Yet, I never gave up!)
I see the coming Jubilee Year of Mercy, as a time of renewal not only for Catholics but for people every where. With the recent Paris killings, it goes to show again the need for mercy.
A few days ago I was meditating and I imagined my life as being like on a boat, maybe to be more accurate like a ship, a big open vessel. If any of you have been on a boat, a canoe, a ship...there are important elements; leaving from the shore, going out to sea and getting back to shore!
  1. Leaving from the shore....Sharing my own experience leaving for my canoe and dragon boat, leaving for the very first time, is always not easy. There is fear - fear of falling into water, fear of getting stung by deadly box jelly fish and fear of eaten alive by sharks/crocodiles/piranhas may be? Yet, what made me so determine to just leave the shore and start paddling? Yes, because I have made up my mind to paddle!
  2. Going out to sea ... Being out in sea, speaking of a single seat canoe, I enjoyed. Seeing my friends canoeing around me brings in more security. Noticing that we are paddling well and the view is stunning make our confidence level increased. We tell ourselves that we are having a good time! Yet, as in the case of that day when we met some technical difficulties, we started to fear when our canoe did not move and when Bennett's boat was pushed under the bridge.
  3. Getting back to shore...Feeling tired and full of excitement was our feeling. Even on that day where we encountered some technical problems, I enjoyed myself. I am not sure how Bennett felt after his canoe was pushed under the bridge, but I think I just laughed at him (naughty me). Yet, we laughed the entire incident off!
After the day we met technical difficulties, we never met up again for canoeing. Everyone had their own lives to live.

Year 2015, success are somewhat easily recognizable, I saw myself as usual happily and successfully teaching - Science and Chemistry. Besides these, as usual my role was one of a Counsellor as well as a Disciplinarian; again it was a success with students requesting me to guide and be with them in prayer, reprimanded and scolded students (again a few boys cried). In particular, I remembered well the conversation I had with a Muslim boy who comes up to me occasionally to ask me questions pertaining to religion - we had a healthy conversation on what Catholicism means to me. As usual, I dislike speaking on my religious Faith. Instead in my conversation I spoke and asked him about the Islamic Faith; we learn from each other and together we grew in holiness of life.
In imagining my life as this big boat. In 2016, the Year of Mercy, I have decided to strive hard by bringing along Mercy into my boat of life. It is a timely, grace-filled, moment of the year to see where mercy stands in my life; not ordinary mercy as the world understands, but the Mercy that comes from God the Father, through Jesus Christ his only Son.
I desire to strive hard to once again make mercy my cup of tea, because I know how fragile life can be. I see this year 2015, yes majority are major successes- at least, to my point of view. But, I know, I just know that I have done mistakes; perhaps in my standing for what is right and just, I have hurt others; I remember reprimanding and shouting off at two fellow colleagues in front of the officer of the Law. Yes, though they were wrong maybe I just should not have done that. On the other hand,if I have not shouted then the Court of Law may not know how serious the matter was and is in view of the education system.

The sad reality is, why so many of us end up in arguments because many of us dislike speaking directly when there are issues; we enjoy pretending everything is 'ok'. Sooner or later the issue becomes bigger and by that time it is 'K.O' and not 'ok'. Now you know why I am very direct when I speak to people, because I would rather let the other person know the reality. Now you also know the reason I enjoy pulling in teachers, staff, students and ordinary people for a closed door, one-to-one, conversation when I know there is a matter to be resolved.

Useless, to ignore issues. Ignorance will only create more ignorance!

Out in the sea of life, paddling in the current of daily life, sometimes perhaps I find myself moving against the current, life can be pretty much stressful. Adding to this stress are those who are either in my boat or in another boat, but close by me, who either ignores me due to their concentration on paddling their own boat.

Many of you, I am sure have had that moments where you see yourself helpless.
Yet, why so many feel helpless in the current, the tides, of life is because so many are also trying hard to get their boat of life moving. Many are also trying to keep their boat of life afloat and not to sink.
As a Consecrated Catholic, the Year of Mercy must be a year where I recognize my shore. We all at some time in life must get back to shore; if not we will run out on daily supplies in our own boat. We will run out of necessary food if we just remain out at sea.

My shore, to me personally, is about where I belong; it is about my identity as a human person created in the image and likeness of God.
As a human person I identify myself as part of God's family and my own earthly family (my dad, mother, sister, grand parents, cousins, aunts, uncles...). My shore is also about the church that I belong to - the church in Heaven and the church here on earth; sharing the 7 Sacraments, doing works of Mercy, witnessing for the Good News.
The Year of Mercy, I really hope, can also be an eye opener to other people around me. I hope to encounter great sinners like me - women who have undergone abortion, divorced couples, struggling children, victims of abused, those who are greedy with wealth/money, criminals, those who have left the church for valid reasons. I want them, like myself, to make full use of this year of grace. The church has been made opened by Pope Francis for forgiveness to sinners like you and me. Pope Francis has allowed Priests to directly absolve mortal sins of those who have committed big sins such as abortion (please clarify with a Catholic Priest on mortal sins that the pope has allowed them to pardon).
It is also a time for confession - go to the priest, confess our sins, make them realize the reality of wrong doings. Time to also confess to our enemies, those whom we have hurt and those who have hurt us; many do not realize that our wounds in life are indirectly caused by people like me and you, because we are ignorant and shameful of reality - we shy away from the truth about our mistakes.

Till today, I find it hard to bring another person for a good talk about the reality of mistakes, both at work as well as with close friends. Many choose to ignore small mistakes that happen along the journey of life, but we allow ourselves the burden to carry these mistakes; every time this happens a good friendship is affected, worst still it comes to a stand still, no progress. This year 2015 my numerous emails and sms were ignored just because the other party does not want to address the truth of the situation at hand; we sweep under the carpet, ignore the other person, and pretend that everything is 'normal'.
Let us learn to speak and to listen! So, important. Do not only speak things that are good to the ears...Do not only merely listen, but deep in the heart we are ignoring the speaker.
Friends, do not miss out on the Year of Mercy. Firstly, we ourselves must permit ourselves to encounter the Mercy of God - what it means to have done mistakes, be pardoned and set off to live a life free of mistakes (yes, but only to repeat many of those mistakes again).  Then let us move out to be merciful to others - let us go out there, to the margins of society, and shout out that God is Merciful, God wants to pardon our mistakes, heal us and make us whole once again. Let us go out there to bring healing, forgiveness and wholeness to sinners out there in our society.

Let us also remember to encourage the sinners INSIDE our church communities to experience the Mercy of God.
I know I need Mercy, to be pardoned, to be healed and to be made new again, and again, and again....Mistakes unfortunately, we also repeat them. Therefore, as the church says God is always forgiving, God is all the time Merciful. We just need to have courage to pick ourselves up and constantly return to this Merciful God who is ever ready to say, "MY SON/DAUGTHER YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN! GO, DO NOT SIN AGAIN. GO AND BE MERCIFUL TO OTHERS."  
Let us not be found only paddling our own boat of life. This is very selfish!...let us give a chance, in Mercy, to help others to stay afloat too::)) Help others to do some paddling in the current of life::))
Mary, Mother of Mercy - Pray for all of us.
Have a Blessed Christmas 2015...
....A truly Holy Year of Mercy
    .....A good New Year 2016
The Pope's Bull of Misericordiae Vultus is available on

Sunday, 8 November 2015


He sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.

MARK 12: 41 - 42

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Not too long ago I came across 2 Buddhist nuns and a Buddhist monk at a cafĂ©; they were sitting, chatting and enjoying their cuppa. I was seated just on a table very close next to them and I spoke to one of the nuns. One message she told me, that I remembered so clearly:

'Our inner self is like a lake, the surface must be clear (no ripples) then we can see ourselves'

Taking inspiration from that conversation I had with the Buddhist disciples, this Sunday's message is about 'GIVING' - our attitude when it comes to giving. In the Book Gospel of Mark, we see Jesus observing 2 different persons; those who are rich and the poor widow. The similarities of these 2 groups is they both were dealing with money - giving donations at the Temple of Jerusalem. The difference is in their social status and the attitude of giving.

The rich people were giving "large sums", but where did that large sum of money come from? Yes, from their surplus! Their donations came from the 'extra' that they had.

The poor widow, though she only gave 2 coins, she gave from the little she did not have.

We connect this poor widow in the Gospel with the lady Elijah met at Zarephath (in the first reading from the Book of Kings); she too had so little left, yet Elijah insisted she made him some cake! Elijah told the lady to trust in the Lord, that in giving she will receive in return.

Many of us will find this very hard to do, perhaps sometimes I too struggle with this; knowing I have so little, yet I desire to do great things in my giving. Many of us will find this hard because we are so attached to the plenty we have - that is why in asking for donations many will say this, "I WILL HELP WHEN I HAVE THE MONEY!" So this means not only the person will give assistance only when they have enough, but they will wait until they have a surplus - much more than their monetary security. They will wait until their money in the bank is secured, they are financial stable, have securities for a few months in case of emergencies...Then they will only give.

I have also heard people telling me this - they believe they can bring about change in society only if and only when they are 'members' of a political party.

I feel sorry, for people with such mentality. Because in my experience, even with my own begging for donations, we do not hope for hundreds and thousands. I always tell people $1 is good enough!

I strongly know that our lack of civilized mentality in our attitude in giving comes from our lack of self knowledge; we have not come to the full knowledge of ourselves and our God. Indirectly, if we look deeply into our inner self, we have not yet come to the realization of 'what my foundation in life'; we are still hobbling here and there, seeking for worldly securities.

I always know, through many real experiences, that if the Lord has come to us seeking us to give, and we respond sincerely, even when we are so desperately in need ourselves, God will see that our giving do not harm us. Remember, God never sends us on a task that we cannot accomplish. God calls only when He knows that it will lead us to salvation.

The journey after giving is never easy. The poor widow for instance, perhaps after giving those 2 coins to the temple, she will most probably then face the reality that maybe she may not be able to feed herself for her next meal?! This poor widow, in giving away those 2 coins, will now work harder or ensure she goes to work, or do not get fired from work, to gain back those coins.

When I decided to obey God's Call in my life, trusting my future in the hands of God, many advised me otherwise. They told me of the dangers of those within the church (which unfortunately is TRUE!) and they told me of the hardships I may face. Yet, I obeyed as faithfully as I can to God's prompting in my life. I am very certain, even now when I am suffering and insecure (temporally), that God will never ever give me spiritually-good promptings, if those promptings will lead me to hell!

As I once told Dato Peter, "...I face many objections/persecutions...but at the end of the day it is JOY..."

In life there are many struggles, no one can escape from suffering. What is important is the manner we face those sufferings, overcome those sufferings and help others to achieve salvation.
When the 2 Buddhist nuns and Buddhist monk, faced me, clasped their hands in prayer and bowed - I was stunted! I was not after the glory of being acknowledged, but the very moment they bowed I managed to see their inner minds; these were human beings living at a higher state of life. In their offering of reverential bowing, I saw their GIVING - I saw the purity of the giving. Their purity of giving those bows, did not draw greedy pride in me, but it immediately showed me our ability to be humble, to treat each other as fellow human beings and to have no walls between each other.
Knowing when to give and how to give is so important; we first need to have inner self security. Only when we are sure of ourselves, and certain of our connection with the God of Jesus Christ, then will our giving be fruitful. 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Taking Bold Steps

[Just got back from my photo shoot...see how prominent are those lovely eye brows!]
On Saturday, 30th October I had my photo shoot done by Eugene from a bridal studio in Penang. I think what made me had this interest in doing a photo shoot was due to the rising numbers of local Malaysian fashion designers, models and artists. Seeing them on Facebook, made me curious on what is it like to be in a well taken photograph? I wanted to have this experience of what is the purpose behind taking a good photo, get to know the life/personalities of artists and the entire process involved in taking a good photo.
At the studio I was given a good make-up and hair-do; I was rather taken aback on how striking and unique my eye-brows are! Then I had to do various posts, which fortunately my stranger-friend Eugene Hong noticed I am very reserved as I found it hard to relax my lips and shoulders; he had to keep reminding me to "RELAX!" Yes, smiling for photographers is never easy for me. Sadly, the pictures taken with me smiling were the ones I did not really like. In the pictures I also got to see how flabby I can be, the manner our dressings can make us stand out (to show our body properties)...
Overall, I had a good afternoon spent with Eugene, but he has plenty of room for improvement. I think if I had not made the crazy decision to get a well done photo shoot, I will never have met a unique person such as Eugene and to know what photographers actually do.
I must admit I am never good with photographs, I am not natural for my photos to be taken.
On the other hand, you may be thinking why am I wasting $65.41 (RM199) for a photo shoot? I think it was a learning experience that will benefit my students in the future; now when students tell me they are going to become models, they are going to become make-up artist, they dream of becoming photographers...I can give them good advice, because most often many people have a weird understand of those in the arts stream of work; many feel make-up artists and models are "gays" - homosexuals.

All Saints day found me spending the afternoon trying to make a good sponge cake filled with coconut jam (kaya), but sadly the cake seemed to turn out not quiet right. Never the less, I am sure it will taste good. Just that now the cake that was meant to be a gift for a principal, did not come about; I will have to enjoy it with my family then.

All Saints Day and All Souls Day - does bring back memories to me, and I am sure to many of you. I think what worries me a bit are the bad, unwanted, memories.

**I am happy to share here, in public, a little about the time when I made a request to Father Guardian (leader of the Franciscan Community) that I find it best to live out my vocation "in the open". I told him that the four walls of the friary, which is the living space of friars, were too safe for the practice of religion.

I was very glad that Father Guardian agreed with me totally, and he thanked me for my "honesty".

I think if I had not made the request to leave the confines and comfort of the friary, despite being told by the religious "to stay on for at least 2 to 3 years", I don't think I will be where I am today. I do not think that I will have met hundreds and thousands of students that have gone through me. I do not think I will be able to reach out to those who were really in need.

It all begins with one step...This then leads us onto a journey!

Today, being All Saints Day, do read up on the life of at least one Saint; not necessary to be a recognised Saint, but even any people whom you are sure led Saintly lives and are now in heaven. The first step to be a Saint is to make a bold step! If you are fearful of the consequences, if you are reluctant...You will never be on the road towards Sainthood.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Let me see again

Then Jesus spoke,
'What do you want me to do for you?'
The blind man said to him, 'Rabbuni, let me see again.'

MARK 10: 51

As I was reflecting on the Gospel passage for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, from Mark 10: 46 - 52, I cannot help but to see myself as a person with limitations with a great invitation.

My limitations...'...a blind beggar was sitting at the side of the road.' Mark 10: 46
In my reflection, as I pondered on the manner the gospel passage relates to me today, I cannot help but to see myself to be as helpless and as hopeless as this blind beggar - Bartimaeous. Adding to this, to identity specifically my limitations is not easy at all; many of my weaknesses are intertwined, they are interconnected. It is like an endless net, trapping the light from shining. Fear, doubt, uncertain of what I desire are often the grassroots of my sins.
Jesus giving Bartimaeus his sight
A great invitation...Jesus stopped and said, 'Call him here,'...What do you want me to do for you?' Mark 10:49, 50
As with Bartimaeus, I am privileged to have Jesus giving this invitation to me each day. Jesus has done this with me at my conversion to Roman Catholicism, and he renews this invitation for me to "COME" each day. Jesus invites you and me to "COME" and he asks each of us, "what do you want me to do for you?"
Sadly, as I was reflecting, I do not even know what I want Jesus to do for me. There is so much to say, but so often so hard to know what I need. Don't we see this happening to us so often? So much to complaint, but so little time to appreciate, so little knowledge to identity our greatest need. So much to say about events and people, but so little to say about what is my specific need; it is like not knowing why we are even speaking about other people and events around us.
Perhaps, our greatest need is that of Bartimaeus...A simple, humble request, "LET ME SEE AGAIN".
Perhaps, by gaining our spiritual sight, we can then, like Bartimaeus, follow Jesus along the road (Mark 10: 52); we can then see the Truth, the beauty of life, and follow that path.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

I can, you can, we can!

Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared."

Mark 10: 39-40

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

"We can, everything is possible!" Are slogans we may all share in common. The possibility of reaching our dreams in life only if we persevere, believe in ourselves, have faith. This we think, only THINK ya, that we can all do.

Jesus acknowledged this fact when the disciples responded with, "WE CAN" (Mark 10: 39). The disciples in their urgency to 'claim' for themselves the best spot in the Kingdom of Heaven, immediately said "WE CAN"; the disciples had faith that they are able to be part of the suffering and glory of Jesus Christ, they envisioned that they can go through, no matter what, the unforeseen future together, close with, in union with Jesus.

I am sure, you know what happened at the end with the disciples? How many were at the cross with Jesus? Didn't Peter denied Jesus, three times? Did Judas take the sum of money offered in exchange for the person of Jesus? Did not the disciples doubt that 5 loaves and 2 fish was enough to feed the 5000?

Jesus is wise by stating that the ultimate decision on who gets to sit on his right and on his left is the decision of God the Father.

'Miracle' Statue at Subang Jaya.
I have great devotion towards the Virgin Mary, and yes miracles in my life had happened through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. The very reason I came to know Jesus Christ was through the Virgin Mary, in particular through the weekly Saturday devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Priests do not discourage this devotion!). Yes, it was miraculous because my very first experience of this devotion happened when I was only around the ages of 10-12 years old, alone in the side chapel. To my amazement I could recite the prayers myself without any help! Mary was also strongly present in my high school life, through the daily recitation of the rosary with the late Br. Ulrick Currie. I ultimate got baptized and my entire life changed for the better.
There are too many miracles to tell here, but yes miracles happen to me regularly! Even till today!
To those involved in the spreading of news of this 'miracle' at Subang Jaya, Malaysia: Very important we must ask what we want? What do we desire out of this miracle and the entire saga about pushing the Vatican for approval. No offence, but when I read and listen to news accounts given by those praying at the grotto containing this 'miraculous' statue. I must honestly say, there is no sound faith present in the words thrown for reporters, the people giving comments to reporters have very shallow, superficial and tepid Faith.
No offence, and yes I am not in the right to judge on who has Faith and who doesn't.
Miracles, they are supernatural events most offen attributed to a Divine Being. We are all in some way wanting that, and many may be desperate for miracles; the sick, the elderly, the lonely, the depressed, those who find life too ordinary.
To observe a miracle requires FAITH....I am sure for us who attend Catechism Sunday School Classes we have seen videos, or if not, at least been told the accounts on the apparition of Mary at Lourdes and Fatima. The Virgin Mary appearing to young children of poor background, but what we see similarly shared by all these children were their simple and authentic Faith. These children listened and obeyed to the very funny requests made by the Virgin Mary to them - Mary told them to return on certain dates and times, in Lourdes she even asked the girl to dig the ground to find a spring...Yet, the children did all these to the disapproval of their parents, the local Church and the inhabitants of their village.
Miracles requires Faith and Faith must lead to action. What is this action? For a Catholic Christian this action must ultimately be a conversion of ones life; to live the same life as that of Jesus Christ (see the New Testament).
Now you will wish you never had miracles! But, yes this is why miracles happen,and this is why people desire miracles. Isn't it? We want something out of the ordinary (extraordinary), yet we find it so tremendously hard to live a life that is extraordinary (out of fashion).
Miracles do not stop when the lame can walk or the blind can see again. Yes, all these are signs of a miracle, but the greatest sign that there is a miracle is when it effects the soul of those who had observed and experienced a miracle.
To me miracles happen every minute! Trust me it does and I have, and continue to, experience miracles every day!
Why many cannot experience a miracle is because we are too caught up with OURSELVES! We are too engrossed with what we want that we have become so 'blind' and so 'deaf'. Those going to Subang Jaya they go there trying to 'see' if the miracle is 'true'? They are not there for their lives to be converted! They are not there to become better missionaries! They are not there to be of better help to the poor! Those going to Subang Jaya are not going by Faith, but by sight; they want to 'see' for themselves, take selfies, take pictures, then post on instagram/facebook so that they and the whole world can gossip.
This is why Vatican is normally very cautious to acknowledge any miracles, because the fruits (the outcomes) of any miracle must be seen in the lives of those who experienced those miracles; by the way the fruits of the miracles must last for years. Feeling "peaceful" after praying in front of the statue at Subang Jaya, that cannot be considered the sign of an authentic miracles unless that peace bears fruits to many good works for the salvation of all. Of cause there are cases where extraordinary miracles are confirmed within a few years, because the miracle is clear. But miracles such as crying, growing and moving statues are harder to decipher and the fruits to be seen in those participating in such miracles will require many years before it is confirmed as authentic.
But, let me tell you. Many miracles happen to us daily and they are not confirmed by the Vatican, not even by the church, not even by ordinary people. This does not mean our experience is false. The Holy Church do not disapprove that miracles can happen on a daily basis, but for the Church to confirm that a miracle is authentic (good for universal worship/acknowledgement) will require in depth study as it involves the matters of Faith at a universal level. 
Believe me or not, if you say you felt God or a Saint touching you in prayer...Go tell this to any strong believer, do you think they will believe?  Just the other day, I shared my daily faith experience with my relatives. You know what their reply was? They said to me, "You think we can live as if 'MANNA DROPS FROM HEAVEN', everything trust in God and have Faith....They are Saints, you are not!"
In short, with regards to the miracles at Subang Jaya, or anywhere in the world, even if they are not approved do not worry. If you think they are authentic, good for you! Prove to everyone that the miracle you experienced is genuine by living the same kind of life that Jesus lived.
Our Faith does not grow smaller, but bigger in the event of any genuine miracle even if the Vatican does not recognize of it. Our Faith grows more glorious even if miracles are met with disapproval by normal everyday folks.
"Blessed are those who suffer, persecuted for my sake...Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!"

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Taking It All In

Indeed the word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
HEBREW 4: 12
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
God's Word is much sharper than a two-edged sword, cutting through everything to reach the very depth of a human soul. Nothing in us, not even our deepest thoughts are we able to hide from God.
What does this word of God want from us? Who is "God's Word"?
Jesus Christ, the incarnate wisdom of God, comes to us. We have direct excess to the Holy One of God, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God through Jesus Christ made us His Sons; we are all children of God, men and women of God.
Jesus, He does not come to judge us, to condemn us, to spoil our plans. Jesus comes to save! That is the reason for God's Word to become flesh!
To me, as a Franciscan, I still find it a challenge to be fully embraced by Jesus Christ - the Word of God. You know, there are moment I enjoy walking my own paths; taking my own ideas, doing things my way. It is ok, mistakes happen and mistakes can only be good to me, only if at the end of the day I look back to God's Word; allowing God's Word - Jesus - to once again penetrate my deepest self, and remove all that hinders my relationship with God. Sin remains sin, if I do not become aware of the presence and the great work that God's Word is doing in me; it is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.
As fragile as I can be, I want, in the limitations placed by the luxurious of this world, give up all my riches and follow Jesus Christ more intimately. That is my one and only desire.
Who can we turn to as a model of this perfect intimacy with God, other than the Virgin Mary?
Yes, no doubt Mary's life was marked by great disappointments seeing her son Jesus doing God's Will. To see Jesus persecuted, tortured, abandoned by his disciples, crucified and laid in the tomb? Mary's life seems like a great failure! 
Yet, what role does Mary teach me? I see in Mary, the realisation of a perfect life here on earth, the realisation that each person is able to acknowledge each other, despite differences, as brothers and sisters. This is the desire of God, to unite us in Christ and to be with God in Heaven. I see in Mary, giving me a message that even when there is plenty to do each day, it is always possible not to forget God; it is always possible to have in our minds the greater good. I see in Mary, the courage to allow God's Word, which is sharper than any two-edged sword, to shape her soul.
Mary reminds me, that nothing good can come about if I only sit and do nothing...She reminds me and all of us, of the need to be Missionary Disciples; to go out there, leave behind our riches, our positions, our comfort...Go out there to bring God's Love to everyone; to the sick, to the broken, to the least.
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
"You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
At that statement his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

MARK 10: 21

Let us all allow God' Word - Jesus Christ - to dwell in us. 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

A Fool Am I

The rule and life of the lesser brothers is this: To observe the holy gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, living in obedience without anything of our own, and in chastity.
Recently, I observed the Transitus and life of Saint Francis of Assisi; Feast day on 4th October, with the Transitus being on 3rd October. I had the privileged to observe these days of prayer and remembrance with the Franciscan Brothers of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei, as well as with the Franciscan Sisters of Charity. I prayed and remembered all the Franciscans throughout the world.
RECOGNITION - Many of us are dying for it! Don't we? Come on don't lie, deep down some where in the darkest parts of our hearts and minds, we want at least a little recognition. Many people die for 'likes' on Facebook, instagram. We want people to at least greet us on our days of festivities - birthdays, feast days, wedding, new years. We hope for a good bonus at the end of a working year.
I look at Francis of Assisi, whose birth name is Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, nicknamed Francesco. I look at his life, on his passing into eternal life (Transitus) I was reading a section touching on the days leading up to his death.

Do you know what Francis was doing?
Francis, thought back to the very day he experienced a DREAM; the day when he had the light of God shining on his life, awakening him on his purpose in life. He was so faithful, even as death approaches, he was faithful in uniting himself to the purpose God has commissioned him to do.
In the few years when Francis was so ill with eyes and abdominal complications, Catholic Priests were still treating him disrespectfully; inviting Francis to their house for a meal, they jokingly and on purpose, offered Francis poor food. If you would read up on the entire life of St Francis you will see it was not an easy life, not easy to live our life with a purpose.
A purposeful life, a life enlightened by a divine commission, will always be a contradiction to the current living condition surrounding us. But, if you want to fully live this one life you got on earth, it is worth opposing the current fashion to live a well lived life. If not, your life will just be so fashionable that it losses its meaning; that is why many people can at times find life boring and meaningless.
Francis' life was a life marked by many painful encounters, many of which were caused by those around him. Many disappointments were caused by his followers as well as the Priests who opposed to his idea about living a Gospel life in Humility and Poverty. During the time of Francis, Priests had mistresses and were living in luxury - to have Francis suggesting to live a humbler and simpler life was too hard to bear for others, even the Priests.
Yes, you are right.

The purposeful life of Francis was not recognized by the Church during his time. Many hated him, called him a fool and spat on him. But, Francis impacted many...His purposeful life, gave meaning to me till today, even after 800 years ( to be exact, about 789 years) since his death!
Like Francis....I share his love for things green, I love silence, I admire the poor.

Year of Consecrated Life : I like this statement made by Pope Francis in America.
“What about you?” It is significant that these words of the elderly Pope were also addressed to a lay woman. We know that the future of the Church in a rapidly changing society will call, and even now calls, for a much more active engagement on the part of the laity. The Church in the United States has always devoted immense effort to the work of catechesis and education. Our challenge today is to build on those solid foundations and to foster a sense of collaboration and shared responsibility in planning for the future of our parishes and institutions. This does not mean relinquishing the spiritual authority with which we have been entrusted; rather, it means discerning and employing wisely the manifold gifts which the Spirit pours out upon the Church. In a particular way, it means valuing the immense contribution which women, lay and religious, have made and continue to make, in the life of our communities.

I must admit publicly here, the Pope is wise!
Many of our priests and religious do not know how to look after their people; a few years ago my Parish Priest had this to say to me, "Do not disturb me....I am running MY parish". Sorry, this priest is deeply mistaken of his role and identity. The Priestly Ministry is not solely about management and possession. I strongly belief the very main reason for the dwindling in new, holy and good religious is because of such priests in our midst; priests who criticize the good the people does rather then discerning the good the Spirit is seeking to do through others.

Attitudes such as this, a judgmental and gossiping attitude, brings death and not growth. As Pope Francis says gossipers are terrorist who places a bomb and then runs away.

Priests and religious do not forget to deeply love those you serve...May your vocation inspire others to follow you.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Handshake - Acceptance and Humility

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out."

MARK 9 : 42 - 48

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Yesterday, on a Saturday as I drove towards home, I reflected on what I will share in my blog today. I was enlightened by the idea of a handshake. How many of us reflect on why we shake another person's hand? What is the idea behind having our hands shaken, offering our hands to the other to be touched and held?

The idea of we are all "flesh and bones" came to mind. In a handshake, I acknowledge that the other person is as the same as myself; we have our sad stories and broken dreams, we have our joys and good news, we have different but rather similar stories from the past to share, we have dreams and hopes.

In offering my hand, I acknowledge my need to be touched; we are all humans, we are not solitary beings living alone. We seek communion with others. In giving my hand to the other in a handshake, I learn humility and I learn how to let the other accept me with all my strengths and limitations.

In shaking the other person's hand, I strive to accept the other for who he/she is; not judging the person.

You know, we have a great God. I am so blessed to have found life in Jesus Christ and his commandments give me great Joy. Despite the struggle in living an extraordinary, sometimes friends say I am weird, I find great joy in being able to be there, just be there, witnessing for the youths and the poor. I am delighted, though I gain only insults and hatred, I am happy to speak out loud for the protection of the environment, for the prevention of exploiting education for the sake of money and for good governance of society.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart.
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
- Psalms 19 : 9
Humans are the greatest weapon of destruction, coming from Pope Francis' speech in America, and I recall those in Malaysia living in haze.

An annual problem that I belief has been happening for decades long, yet no end to the problem, not even the slightest sign of striving to reduce (not terminate) the annual haze; either on the part of Malaysia or Indonesia or where ever the haze originates from. My question to all of us is, "Is this what we call PROGRESS? Is this what we mean by more MONEY?"
I see Malaysians going about without face mask, breathing in all the polluted air and I can only think that inside the body, living cells are dying, and worst still, cancer cells may be accumulated annually due to haze.

What a quality of life is this? A bad quality!
If you are concern for the haze situation, blame not only the government, blame yourself too!
Have you stop buying products coming from companies causing the haze? If you are a employer/business person, even when there are cheap products/resources from Indonesia (if haze is coming solely from Indonesia) are you still buying from Indonesia? If you are affected by haze, are you still contributing to the haze by burning petrol from your vehicles, burning joss sticks and joss papers?
Remember, if you do not want to be a small solution to the haze problem, then why should you demand a great solution from those who govern you?
Mooncakes that are in this style...New to me:)
These mooncakes are in fact expensive; one cost about $5.80. I prevented myself from buying them, but last week I decided to just buy two to try. To be honest they are not bad at all, but find it hard to agree that these delicacies can be called 'mooncakes'!??!!
I was recently discussing with another, whether to accept the offered housing property or to decline. I am more keen to decline, then to accept the housing property. Because, if this housing property will lead me towards a sinful life, then I rather give it up! If the property will make me greedy for rental money, make me proud so I can boast to people, make me selfish to I can stay alone and shut myself up from the rest of the world....Then I rather go on living in the true spirit of Franciscan Holy Poverty.
This also make me recall, that in Malaysia for example, people become greedy when it comes to money. I have had knowledge that people will demand "market price" rental rate, even when the market price is supposed to be for a well kept property, furnished and maintained. I have seen unscrupulous land lords who demand good rent without providing even the basic necessity of a well maintained property.
How can we live happily, joyfully and healthily...Knowing that there are others who have to pay high rents, for a property condition that is either average or below average? How can humanity be so cruel to demand market price rate, when others are suffering due to low paying job, due to their inability to get good jobs (though not the fault of their own...that is why I always demand schools to look after the poor, those who cannot afford to pay for a better education)?
Will you lose much, to look after your brothers and sisters out there, those who are poor?
Will you lose much to give an honest rent price to another?
Will you lose anything to look after your environment so that all of us can feel the healthy sun raze, breath good air quality, listen to the chirping of the birds in the sky? 
Year of Consecrated Life - I must add, in the recent past, religious brothers and sisters are also to be blamed for the indirect contribution to the destruction of the environment. Many had sold off aches of green lands to gain good market price, to companies. Many good and prime lands are now sadly turned into concrete monsters; shopping malls, apartments and office buildings.
We as Church, are so slow to trust in God and so timid in our response to take great risk for the Glory of God and Humanity.