Saturday, 6 August 2016

Hoping It Is Not Me

Money, opportunities to go higher, new products, friendships, contacts...When I hear that my mind goes wild! My heart gets some adrenalin and starts beating a little fast. My mind, my emotions tell me, "I MUST GET THAT! I MUST NOT MISS OUT!" Or, our body whispers to us saying, "LET THAT OPPORTUNITY FALL ON ME FREELY!"

Friends, we are all the same. But the greatest failure we as human being, with great capabilities can commit, is to fall so deep into those opportunities that we lose ourselves. The greatest failure is to allow myself, yourself, to become a vermin - to turn into an awful worm for the sake of wanting more money, selfish desire to go higher, wasteful desire in wanting new products, emptiness/loneliness in hoping for new friendships or contacts.

Humanity urgently needs to look at themselves before we point our finger to Islam, to Islamic State, to same sex marriage, to personal rights. Why are we so concern when our very own life is not on a straight line? Why are we ill-treating others? When we see cheap labor and chances to commit petty crimes such as tax evasion or telling small lies to our employers/employees, we crab that chance without thinking deeply?

Let us not turn ourselves into vermin.

On the contrary, the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the writing of Luke invites us to faithfulness. Jesus invites us as Catholics, as his hearers and his doers, to constantly be on guard. Be on guard not against the devil, but be on guard to that which can destroy our soul.

Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
Luke 12: 41

When it is money, cheap labor, short cuts, new products...Oh, we will not be asking if they are meant for me! Sadly, when it comes to doing the right thing, when it comes to suffering for the cause of right, we hope so hard that it will not be us, "NOT ME...NOT ME PLEASE! LET THAT BE SOMEONE ELSE."

Be grateful because that dream of yours has indeed fallen on others. Others such as St Dominic who saw a need at his moment in life, and in generosity responded with great courage. He upheld what the church saw as Truth. He safe guarded the divine teachings of Jesus Christ that the magisterium of the Church reveals. St Dominic sets his very life as an example, so that unbelievers may see Christ through his manner of living; austere, simple, holy.

The greatest fault that you and I can commit is to forget that the good things we enjoy today, came from the little and big sacrifices that many men and women before us have done.

Memorial of Saint Dominic
8th August


Joyful friar,
Tolerant master,
Grace-filled preacher
Gospel man of prayer, Holy Father Dominic;
Pray that your sons and daughters may be faithful to your heritage so that other men and women will join
to praise, to bless, and to preach that Jesus Christ is Lord.

AMEN

Saturday, 23 July 2016

I Call Out

Today, as the youths of the Roman Catholic Church starts gathering in Krakow, POLAND for the World Youth Day...I thought to myself this, "I CALLING OUT TO GOD, WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN?"

The weather has started to warm up, my body - nature's natural thermometer - informs me that there is no need for layers of clothe; time for much thinner materials, shorts, sun lotion, sunnies, ice drinks. I am amazed by how much my body can inform me about the environment I live in; without checking the news, I knew that the weather has changed - it has become warmer.

To me, I find that my spiritual side is also very sharp; I have a tendency to pray, pray and pray, to turn to God, to turn towards this greater Truth, that many calls as God, for Spiritual nourishment. Calling out to God, what does it mean to me as an ordinary person - I am only different in my decision in following Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour.

Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
Psalms 138 (Responsorial Psalm)

Let me make it clear, calling out to the Creator, is not a job belonging to the few holy people - perhaps, we like to call these people as fanatics? If you look at it, in the reality of humanity, I am grateful that calling out to God is my natural duty, my natural right, my natural identity.

Imagine a world where we cannot call out to God; a world where we are prohibited from identifying ourselves with something we know exist, something beyond our human limitations. Imagine in moments where we are just so lonely, when like Jesus on the Cross we are left alone, even our closest friends abandon us. We can't call out to something we know is out there? Imagine we cannot call out to that 'something'.

Calling out to God, to me, does not only mean that I need something done; I am searching for God's interference. It does not mean that I want to be holy...It does not mean that I want to be great. Yes, perhaps in my actions of calling out to God, it is for these reasons, but at the same time it is not.

Why?
Scriptures has told us, that holiness means "LIVING THE SAME KIND OF LIFE THAT JESUS LIVED". Calling out to God means I want to be made one, I desire to be me; desire to be me means to be the person that the Holy Spirit is calling me to be. I call out to God, because I have an identity - I know myself and I know God.

Perhaps, if you are still not comfortable calling out to God, it may truly mean that you have yet to find your everlasting identity; an identity that despite the hardships of gossips and persecution, makes you grounded. Calling out is your right, is your vocation - the vocation of every baptized Catholic Christian. It brings me great JOY, I am excited, when my instinct - prompted by the Spirit - urges me to cry out to God my Father.

Have you call out to God today? Have you had that courage to reach out to God, breaking the chains that keep us in fear, in doubt, in low esteem...Have we call out to God who is full of kindness and truth (Psalm 138)? To God who in our calling, this God answers. Have you call out to God?

World Youth Day will see young people calling out to God; some will cry, others will kneel, some will go for confession, others will listen to talks. Whatever our style of calling out to God, be sure that when you call out to God - God who is full of Mercy, God listens to YOU.


Sunday, 10 July 2016

We Have the Answers

No short cuts, no place to play tricks...How nice if I can? Or, at least how nice if the world around me permits it. Yet, I have seen myself going through years of struggle, identity crisis and doubts.

My friends in Jesus Christ, I think we know it all. Humanity has the answer, don't ignore it! It is clear that to achieve some form of academic success we got to pass our examinations; no matter how often we fail, no matter what we have negotiated with our supervisors/lecturers/teachers we got to hand in some form of academic evidence. It is known that if we want money, we got to perform some form of work; those who do not have the ability to work, they too need to prove their case before the government/organization will offer them monetary help.

That is the reality of everyone of us, we got to go through the tunnel, reach the light at the other end - to emerge.

"Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers' victim?"
He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy."
Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise.""

LUKE 10: 36-37

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel today speaks of a dialogue between Jesus Christ and a learned lawyer. I think the lawyer was trying to negotiate about the method to achieve Eternal Life; the Gospel mentioned that this lawyer was trying to "JUSTIFY" himself. This lawyer, a smart person and knows the details of the Mosaic Law - he had all the answers, he knew what he has to do to achieve eternal life.

'There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said,
"Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law?
How do you read it?"
LUKE 10: 25-26

This reminds me of the many issues pertaining to the Church - such as the demand for "women priests", the demand for the Sacrament of Matrimony to be applied to "homosexuals", the demand that priests/religious live a more simple and holy lives (to be more in tune with people), the demand for a Church Magisterium that is certain of her teachings (many complain that under Pope Francis there are so much uncertainties about Church teachings)....Many try to negotiate about going to Church on Sundays (keeping the Sabbath), some try to find their own way to heaven without the Mass or the Sacraments, some have the idea that there is no need to pray.

Though our demands, and the reasons we give to justify ourselves may be valid. But, let us never forget the essential - to me I think the first essential step is to dialogue with Jesus, to speak with God. Just like this lawyer in the Gospel, even though his intention was to test Jesus, he listened to Jesus when Jesus gave him the 3 examples of how to achieve eternal life. The Gospel of this Sunday was written in such a way that there was dialogue, a conversation, between Jesus and the lawyer; one speaks, the other listens.

Don't forget to dialogue with Jesus! I tell you don't!
Because you may achieve equality for homosexuals, you may not come to church on Sundays, you may not pray and yet still go to heaven (or at least you think so?)...But, remember - as history has proved - anything built solely on human effort, will eventually fall and crumble. Remember win your case the hard way - there is no short cuts; live fully the cross.
 (The entrance to Mary Mackillop Memorial Chapel, North Sydney)

So pray, dialogue with Jesus, speak with God in prayer. Tell God who is Mercy your concerns, let God guide you so that you can emerged from the tunnel a more glorious person.
For me I will not want to continue justifying myself - no point testing God, testing people, testing ideas. I would rather live according to what has been prescribed by the Law of God, the Scriptures. As the Gospel reminds us, Jesus also reminds us often, that we have the law - we have the answers - do it, live it, get excited about it.

Wasting time justifying ourselves, will only mean that others will achieve eternal life, and not us who are constantly in a debate about "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Be obedient to the Teachings of the Catholic Church and follow strictly the call of the Gospel; that is how we can attain eternal life. Jesus reminded the lawyer in the Gospel today, that there is no point justifying ourselves when the answers are there - written.

Yet how often when new matters arise, we so often see ourselves in conflict? We get angry, we get upset, we get excited for the wrong reasons. Let us pray for each other, for the capacity to contemplate and remain calm in the presences of uncertainties.

I wish all of you well and have a good week ahead!

Sydney Opera House
Finally I made it to Adriano Zumbo pastries!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

My Best Friend

I was walking back from the gym this evening, just before 7.30pm. As I turned the corner, another young man, who was walking towards the same direction, met me at that exact point - we walked ahead together. A few seconds later, he looked to me, saw my attire and asked, "You had a good workout at the gym?" So, as we walked we had a casual conversation as I sensed that he was a nice but lonely man; he was holding a large bottle of alcohol in his left hand. I asked him, "who are you drinking with tonight?" His reply was...............

"I am drinking alone,  I HAVE NO FRIENDS."

When I saw opposition parties begin to be elected in Malaysia - I saw HOPE; hope for a Malaysia where everyone regardless of race, religion, social background can call their land HOME. In Penang - YB Lim Guan Eng was elected. Wow, he carried out all that I have written into the Star paper many years before he came into power; green bags, greener Penang, promoted healthy initiatives, encouraged state staff members to smile, gave better wages to bus driver. Very good job!

I thought he was a man of his word, I had the idea he was honestly humble; he rejected the idea of politicians having luxurious cars, he suggested to remain in power only for 5 years, he promoted open tender system and he spoke against corruption.

"Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

LUKE 10: 20

When I heard the reply, "I HAVE NO FRIENDS." I remembered Ms Woo, former teacher of Stella Maris, who also once told me she has no friends. What I'm trying to convey here is loneliness is a very common disease; one way or another many of us have an empty space that we long to fill up.

Is corruption your friend or enemy? I bet many of us have not actually sat down quietly and question ourselves on what corruption really is? Many thinks that corruption just have got to do with the wealthy, famous, politicians, institutions (banks, temples, churches, mosques...), companies...

Let me tell you, somewhere in your daily life corruption is one of your friend. It may not be your bests of friends - but don't deny you have relied on corruption often, or at least at the major turning points in your life. I'm not trying to say that I am perfect, but I can only remember a very insignificant moment in life where I was involved in corruption; a school in Malaysia received me as a teacher without any form of interview, because I was recommended by the Catholic Church.

The good thing was I did my work very well and honestly.

CORRUPTION - we easily forget what many of us speak against. We always say we are ANTI-corruption. Do we know that it means we are against any corrupt behavior? Corruption is basically a human behavior - a behavior that only benefits you, a few, or a selected group of people. Corruption means actions that lead to great outcomes within a very limited time and very limited resources. Corruption means easy privileges without doing much. Corruption means a straight path towards the goal, without having any concern with regards to the amount of employees who were ill-treated and the natural resources wasted.

When you say that you are against corruption- when you think that you are 'clean'; it means you rather take the long journey, painful journey, without contacts/connection, without recognition/reward to achieve your success in life.

I always 'boast' that in my entire life, except that one corrupt time, I have never taken the easy step. Many people, even my relatives, have offered to put me in 'CONTACT' with certain people so that I can easily get my voice or concern heard. I have friends and family who will put me with certain people so that I can easily get a job, or to become a priest/brother.

I have never used any of those methods.

Worst still is when I see that I have gotten the attention of my superiors' (boss and supervisors) attention because of my excellent work performance, the next thing I will do is I will either commit a huge mistake to upset them or I will run away (resign without notice). I am not comfortable with easy excess to glory.

I always tell myself that if there are many ordinary people around me who have no such privileges, who are poor, who are lonely...Then if I take those corrupted steps, that makes the glory I gain to be in vain. As Jesus says in this Sunday's Gospel from Luke 10: 1-12; 17-20...not to take the glory for a successful work done, but to glory in the fact that our name is written in heaven.

You may have done very well, you may have performed very well at work, but remember take glory not in the extra money you get, or the high position you get...take glory that your name is written in heaven, in God's heart. Take glory that you have touched lives, you have made an impact, you brought change.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Arise!

He (Jesus) stepped forward and touched the coffin;
at this the bearers halted,
and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!”


Luke 17: 14

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

This morning, I cannot help but to consider two things:
1) "Did Jesus smile?" A question from a retreat organizer to the Year 8 students.
2) Do I listen well?

Answer to item 1: Did He smile?
- You know, I was thinking today that we are missing so much. We lose so much not to have enough statues, crosses, holy pictures and rosaries that remind us that maybe, just maybe, that Jesus did smile. To me, I know Jesus smiled when he was on earth because Jesus, God, is happy with me. I am sure if you strive to live in Christian Perfection, Jesus is smiling on you too. Jesus is happy with us, we see this so eminent in the lives of many Saints on earth, who despite pain, hardships and persecutions they persevered to the very last moment.

Answer to item 2: Listen
- Jesus called the dead youth, in the coffin, to arise...To get up from the dead! Of cause my first reaction was one of doubt. Is this a fact that a dead body came back to life? Or, is it a metaphor? One of my greatest fear is to lose my hearing ability, to become deaf to the voice of Jesus calling out to me. There are many ways I can lost this hearing ability:
a) Far too LOUD - yes, God does not shout at me or at you. Throughout my life, in my spiritual retreats, I have never encountered a shouting God. God calls us with a voice- gently, like the wind, a comfortable voice. God meets you and I where we are - not where we not are. So, never thing that God is mad/angry at you...God is not loud. You are louder than God, we so often are louder then God.
b) Far too FAMILIAR - Today, I had a few seconds of doubt. I doubted that my daily routine of Morning, Evening and minor prayers through the day is because of a routine. I fear that the honour I think I am giving to God, is my own doing and for my own personal security. I doubt that perhaps, maybe, my Christian observance is of my own doing, man-made, and not centred on God.
I hope at the Final Resurrection when we rise from the dead, I hope I am still hearing. So that when Jesus Calls me, I can arise!

 This 1/2 dozen of flavoured milk was on sale, so I bought it today. Partly, because I desired to do something different to keep me motivated for the week. Sometimes, it is good to do something out of the ordinary - when we dare to step out, then Grace can work. Never get too familiar - if not we miss out on hearing Jesus calling us, "I tell you, arise!!!!"

Yesterday, being a Saturday I was out the entire afternoon with friends for a movie of X-Men. Saw this Ninja Turtle backdrop and decided to be silly...Sat and took a picture::))
Smile - remember Jesus, God, is happy with me and with you::))

Saturday, 28 May 2016

When we Need Him, He Satisfies us

"TEACH me so to worship the sacred mystery of your Body and Blood,
that its redeeming power may sanctify us always."
[Concluding Prayer Evening Prayer 1]

Feast of Corpus Christi - 29th May, 2016

This great mysterious feast of the Body & Blood of the Lord, Jesus Christ can bring us to reflect on the Faithfulness of God both in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. To sum it all, to me I see this feast as a celebration, a worship, an adoration of the reality that in my daily journey in life, God is always Faithful to His Covenant. God is always Faithful, God is loyal both to you and to me, despite the fact our reality may seem to be so hopeless, so painful, so meaningless.

Like the people of the Old Testament, I so often see myself struggling to come to terms about why am I not rewarded by my principal, by my teachers, by the Bishop, by fellow priests? I wonder why my holy life, the extra step I take to be present with students at Holy Mass even when I am not required to...Why are my actions not acknowledged, but sometimes it is despised!!!????

I am sure, many of you sound like me, we grumble. We complaint like the people of the Old Testament, we want more; we want water, we want food, we want it in plenty! Yes, God was Faithful to His people in the Old Testament, and God did feed them with manna; bread, that was said, to have fallen out of the sky.

We want things, I want things in plenty, not little! Mind you. So often we want good, big, beautiful things...But, do we need it?

How do we use what we want? If we end up not using our wants correctly, in short, we do not need it.

This Feast of Corpus Christi, I pray, I ask God to purity my wanting, my desires. That I may not only want Him to aid me, but I need Him in my wanting - without Him I cannot remain alive. I need Jesus, who is present in the Bread and Wine to come transform my life, so that I may never grow tired in giving myself to others.

Therefore, make up your mind.
Do you want or do you need?
Two choices, equally good, equally attractive - "WANT" will not necessarily satisfy your desire, but "NEED" will last you till death, and after that, in Eternity.


"Wanting the Bread of Heaven is insufficient.
Unless I Need Him, who is my sure Daily Bread from Heaven,
to descend into my very being - that like Christ Jesus, I may imitate Him in giving myself as bread broken for all.
Unless I need this sure Bread from Heaven, my wants will never be satisfied."
-Br. Kenneth Mary GAN


Saturday, 21 May 2016

Knowledge

"How rich are the depths of God - how deep his wisdom and knowledge - and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods!

Romans 11: 33

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Explaining the concept of the Trinity, I think I will fail. But, if you are a Roman Catholic rejoice for we are faithful to the Scriptures - "how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his (God's) methods"!

Yet, it is not impossible to come to a deeper and profound knowledge of God if we will only listen by first emptying ourselves. Sadly many of us, we are unwilling to empty ourselves of our privileges; we are more concern for our own welfare rather than putting the welfare of others before us. Many of us we have no time to stop, listen and open our hearts to the identity of others; I highlight the word 'identity' here because each of us have our unique purpose in life - we have our problems, we have our happiness, we have our ups, we have our downs. We all seek friends, we seek groups of people, who can identify with us and our unique personalities.

Yet let me guarantee with you that despite 'finding' the perfect group or the perfect friends to belong to, we have challenging moments; quarrels and misunderstandings. Why? Because so often, even when we are friends with our friends, and good members of our groups, so often we fail to listen. That is why many of us do not spend time to bring people to sit down for a cup of tea/coffee and appreciate one another. We rather gossip about current news, about sales/discounts in the store, we gossip/share what others tell us...We find so little time to speak about the contributions made by others, even by our friends (mind you!) because we are more concern about being friends, about being part of the group.

Yet have we really come to know the identity of our friends, of the group members of the group we join? Do we know the unique giftedness of the other? Do we know the deep insights of the other person?

To know the Trinity is basically that. Am I willing to really listen to the other? Am I making myself available, empty, to come to the knowledge of the Father, the Son and the Spirit; three individuals?

'Knowledge - intellectual or spiritual - is the ultimate reward of our persistence.'
-Br. Kenneth M GAN

It is a living experience. The mystery behind the Most Holy Trinity is not a theory, it is not an idea. The teaching about God being a trinity of persons, is a Doctrine that is something alive, vibrant, ever forward yet unchanging - God is supreme; the Father, Son and Spirit.

Gloria Patri, et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.

Before I stepped into the Church of the Immaculate Conception for my first time, I never had the concept of God; at that young age I had no inclination to religion or the desire to be religious. But, I did remember that a book on the Lives of the Saints that was written very briefly for children was a book I read years before I had the desire to step into the Catholic Church; perhaps that book developed in my brain a desire for higher Truths? Yet, for no particular wish of mine a feeling, a sudden desire burst forth in my heart; I expressed to my family that I want to enter a Church. And even having stepping into the Church, attending Catechism class on Sundays and soon I started attending Mass - the idea of God and Jesus Christ was never to be found in me. Yet, as months and years went by, I grew in my wisdom and knowledge of God and the role of Jesus Christ.

I attribute those months and years of me neither wanting to be in the Catholic Church, nor did I not want to be in the Catholic Church to the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit was at work in me to bring me to the mystery of God and Jesus Christ his son.



"The Father is not the Son nor the Holy Spirit; the Son is not the Father nor the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is not the Father nor the Son: but the Father is only Father, the Son is only Son, and the Holy Spirit is only Holy Spirit.

To all three belong the same eternity, the same unchangeableness, the same majesty, the same power. In the Father is unity, in the Son equality, in the Holy Spirit the harmony of unity and equality."

- Augustine of Hippo



Saturday, 14 May 2016

Doers not Keepers

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
John 20: 20(b) - 21

Pentecost Sunday, 15th May 2016

Have I questioned myself, "Am I a doer or a keeper?"

Am I as one claiming to be Catholic, to be Christian, taking it easy by staying safe, keeping a low profile, occasionally quoting Biblical verses to others, occasionally when there are opportunities we try to pull people into the Church, or like the Protestants who love 'talking' about how great Jesus is? Am I a keeper of God's commandments?

Or...Am I a doer?

Am I one that who has been baptized into the Life, Death & Resurrections of Jesus Christ, living a life that is in imitation of Jesus, a temple of the Holy Spirit - allowing God's Grace to flow out through me, my presence among people need not be noisy (talk, quoting Bible, talking about faith...) but a silent yet profound presence.
Am I a doer of God's commandments?

We have heard so much about Pope Francis, I need not write here about him. I wanted to share that our very way of life is in itself a proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus. Why I want to share this? Because it is important...The Pope has reminded the church (you & I), that the church must not be a fortress - like a museum of treasures. The Church is not an empty Vatican City where things are kept, the Church has its foundation (Vatican City) on the unchanging Mercy of God, that is alive! The Pope has invited us to go out there, to the least of every issues or every person; this need not be in the refugee camps, prisons etc. There are also many around you, around me, who lack life (faith, emotions, mental), lack physical needs, lack moral needs, lack hope.

Let me tell you, as I have myself gone through, it is toughest to proclaim the Good News among those who have plenty. While not neglecting the needs of the very poor at the margins of society, don't forget the very rich, who sadly live very 'poor' lives, in our urban cities.

As we celebrate Pentecost, it is not only about the descending of the Holy Spirit to give selective gifts to people; many Charismatic members rejoice about getting selective gifts such as speaking in tongues, healing, preaching...but never did they ask the spirit to help them live the same life as Jesus lived. It is about the coming of the promised Spirit that breaks barriers, so that we may go forth - to go forth as Witnesses about the Truth of Jesus Christ; love, forgiveness, mercy, moderation in the use of earth's natural resources, assisting the poor. We need to be reminded that yes, in terms of everyday language we are called to be LOUD, the opposite of "LOW profile". The Holy Spirit is here to grant us Peace, so that with this Peace we may "die" to our flesh, our temporal needs and temporal ideas, so that we can truly live - truly alive in Jesus Christ.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,
you will live.
Romans 8: 13

I find myself very 'loud' in my way of living; the way I dress, the way I behave, the way I treat the poor, my thoughts/ideas about social justice...My existence is unfortunately very different from others, because I believe, that like Jesus Christ my needs come last. In the life I live, in the service I render, my thoughts about myself must be last. That is why many just cannot 'understand' me.

Many unfortunately always believe in keeping a low profile, and if you are a Christian-Catholic and think of living a low profile, then there is no need for you to celebrate Pentecost. This is because at Pentecost the Spirit came down, to move the disciples and Mary forward - TO GO FORTH.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus!
Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

Mary, Mother of the Church, Pray for us!