Saturday, 16 August 2014

If ONLY...

If ONLY doing what is good, right and holy had been that easy our world will be a peaceful place to be in.

But, yap, that isn't reality...
Thus says the Lord:
Observe what is right, do what is just,
for my salvation is about to come,
my justice, about to be revealed.
ISAIAH 56: 1

To do what is right is never easy, but we have many Saints in the Catholic Church and many contemporary people who had responded to that higher calling to be DIFFERENT from the majority. People such as Mahatma Ghandi, Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), Mother Teresa, Mother Olga, Pope Francis...The list can go on and on. Many and thousands of people striving hard every day to observe what is right and do what is just.

When I decided to embark on a life of obeying God's Will, by living a single life, observing prayers and observing God's Call for me...I made that decision with a deep Love, convinced that God who had inspired me to do good, will never ever abandon me. The decision to dedicate my life to God in the evangelical counsels was inspired at an early age of around 12; special mention of the late Bro Ulric Currie who prayed with me and thought me the Catholic Faith.

In all honesty, it is people who will abandon you in your decision to do what is right; people who through their gossips, judgemental attitude will have a lot of hurtful things to say. My decision to follow God more deeply was met with many hardships. God can understand me, but humans lack that ability to see the ultimate good; people are blinded by the sin of pride and self-centred attitudes. I faced criticisms from my family, from my friends, from ordinary teachers, from church members. People could never understand why was I different, why was I unique and why I was just myself? Honestly, I also cannot explain to others the reason I made that decision of following God, no human words can describe the depth and breath of God's Beauty.

Is it any easier today to do good? It is not easy, I get tired mentally, emotionally, spiritually and sometimes physically because in believing in the beauty and dignity of each student I have allowed myself to work extra hard. Maybe time to take things easy and allow myself to be significant? Lol...No way! Do I still get gossips, judgments thrown at me, lies created about me? Yes! But I am willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel, for the Ultimate Truth.

The message to you, is to remember that to "observe what is right and to do what is just" will never be easy. To live a life that you believe in, the concept of life that you know should be, is never easy; you will be torn into bits and pieces by others, like what they did to Jesus. But you have to persevere in facing persecutions, have humility to be insignificant, the joy of Christ Jesus...Like Mahatma Ghandi, Buddha, Jesus they never give up on the ultimate truth. Keep believing in the life that you want. If you know life is a joyful one...then live joyfully. If you know life must be a simple one...then live a simple life even when others tell you to earn more money.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for me and for everyone who strive, by their daily living, to "observe what is right, and do what is just". AMEN.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

It is not all Gloomy, there are Lights Around

I refer to the many recent tragedies that made the headlines in the recent news. We witnessed in the newspapers, internet and television the events surrounding MH17, Ebola viral outbreak, fighting going on in Libya and Gaza. Adding to all these sad events we now hear news about the gas explosion in Taiwan, and body parts found along the North-South Expressway.
As a frequent visitor to Malaysia, I express my condolences to the victims of these events and my hope is that the souls of the lives lost will find their way to the shores of light and tranquillity. My hope also goes out to the loved ones that all these victims left behind the now single husbands and wives, children who lost their parent, sons and daughters lost. My hope that all of us affected in one way or in another, will find the strength needed to continue our walk towards the future and be that change we wished we saw in the lives lost.
For myself, I lost nobody I knew in any of these tragedies but I am saddened that much of what we saw happening were events linked to human attitudes.
With so much gloomy news around us, it can be a moment we lose focus on the reality that there are lights around us; there are still loving and caring people, happy news around.
I always ask myself, “What can I offer to others?” What can I do for the materially poor, those in depression, the unemployed, and the young who needs to be listened to? What can I do to be that ‘light’, to be that good news I want to see happening more often? For me these recent events have not only invited me to pray more for others, but it has also allowed me to look at the reality around me with a different perspective. It has made me aware of the fact that we in Malaysia are very blessed;we are not at war, we experience no major local disasters.
Admiration is what we express when we see something worthy of respect and contemplation. In all these recent events, I admire the many individuals who are out in the field doing what many of us do not. My admiration goes to the doctors and medical personals treating those infected and dying of the Ebola virus; it makes me sad that some of these people have themselves become victims, dying from the virus. Although not published, I am certain many ordinary people are also giving their time and talents to help prevent the further spread of this disease and in giving support to each other during this time of great suffering.
Tzu Chi Buddhist Organisation is another group of volunteers worthy of admiration. I have also admired their well-dressed uniform clad members and their orderly mannerism. Very often we have heard of them offering counselling and support to those in need in MH370, MH17 and other situations needing humanitarian assistance.
Therefore, though we now grief, though we are now challenged, let us be aware in all these gloomy situations light is ever present. The light of goodness in humanity is very much stronger than the darkness we see in fighting. The light of caring for others is nobler than self-centred acts of doing nothing at all. The light of respect for each other is of a higher value than the gloominess of judgemental attitude.
Yes, we have many sad news around, but I still know there are many of you out there doing good each day at work, in schools, in society and in the community you live in
Bro Kenneth Mary GAN

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Do you plant weed or wheat?

Gospel for the 26th July (Feast of Sts Anne and Jochaim): Matthew 13: 24 - 30

'The man's servants came to him and said, "'Sir, it was good seed you sowed in your field; where did the weeds come from?" Matthew 13: 27
For me, I find it my peace to support others in their ideas to do things in an improved manner. As a facilitator in a school, I am surrounded by different types of teachers; they each have a very unique personality, flaws as well as strengths. I feel blessed in these diversity of talents and personalities.
Let us face fact, that we are all sinners and there are those around us, maybe you yourself, is an enemy; the evil mind that 'plants seed of weeds' among the good others are plating. I feel when our hearts are not prone to goodness, love, faith and hope it is a sure sign of an illness. An illness that comes about from a lack of oneness with Jesus Christ. As a Catholic-Christian, I become ill when I fail, in my prayer and worship, to become more like Jesus Christ.
This '√≠llness' can cripple me - an '√≠llness' born out of the spirit is an illness that no one can cure. When we are away from God, when we choose a life of ignorance we become less sensitive to the needs of others. When we decide to live an ignorant existence, to have things our way and not God's way, then we are much prone to kill the good we see in others around us; we gossip, we make tales, we instruct others to do certain things to disrupt the plans of those we feel inferior to. We 'plant seeds of weeds' among the 'good wheat others plant' because when our lives are lived based only on our needs we become lifeless, when we disconnect ourselves from God the source of life, we eventually die a slow and miserable spiritual death. To fill this deadly emptiness, evil people start to prevent good from appearing; evil people do not want to see the blossoming of good fruits in the works of others. Evil people places their hopes in destruction of the good plans of others. We soon see people who live ignorant lives, those that maybe smiling and having a good time, we see that such people constantly plan evil unknowingly. They plan evil because they fear to see the good that may arise from good people.
Sadly, when our plot is against a man or woman of God, that plot fails big time. For a long time now, I have people working around me who have instructed others "not to address me as a Brother" and I have those (at least 1 I know of) who try to spread malicious false stories about me just to disturb me. Yet, I am glad I have persevered in these manmade hardships; it is not easy being challenged by others on a daily basis, but I rely on God. God's love is my greatest source of strength and comfort, even when there are times I feel God is so far away from me.

What is our response when we are under attack? My advice is never react in return, maintain your peace because the Gospel says, "Let the wheat and  the weeds both grow together until harvest. Then I will tell the harvest workers to pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them, and then to gather in the wheat and put it in my barn." Matthew 13: 30 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Taste and See That The Lord is Good!

One of the greatest reality that I, myself, have to face every mornings, afternoons and evenings is the reality of human sufferings. In the trips I make on the LRT and buses I see people of different races, religions, understandings, work and different problems. A person who relies on their own personal transport is never blessed with the opportunity to see the many facets of life.

Each day I see laughing faces, people that show that life is good. Doing well in ones life is very important as it ensures social wellness. It is good when I see people greeting one another and being polite; only at very few occasions have I came across people who actually uses words such as "excuse me" and "thank you". To see smiles on the faces of ordinary people reflects that goodness is still very much present. To make things better it brings comfort to know that there are still kind people in the world when I meet with sales attendants, bus drivers and taxi drivers that are humble.

To taste and see that the Lord is Good, let us never forget that God's Goodness is also very much at work in moments where the smile is missing.

Seeing so many different sufferings have made me come to a stage when I asked myself, "WHEN IS IT ENOUGH? I CANNOT SEE THESE SUFFERINGS ANYMORE!"

I have seen...
1) A handicapped with broken crutches; he do not even have a decent walking stick to use
2) A young man travelling on LRT with long metal bars attached to his broken leg, travelling alone
3) Ordinary labourers resting on public chairs; evidence that work is tiring
4) A homeless man at a government clinic to seek assistance with his wounds, he was clearly in some pain and discomfort as shown by his face
5) The most reason breaking news is MH17, the flight that was shot down

Seeing myself now recovering from dengue viral infection, reminds me how good God is. In many ways I am glad to be able to TASTE what it is like to have a common tropical Asian disease, Dengue. Alone I feel so much incapable, but my recovery is made possibly quicker with the help of family and friends. Now bed bound due to the drips I am placed under, my movements are very much limited; each time I return from the washroom I have to call for the nurse to get my drip machine running again. Adding to this I now understand why people always complain about hospital food being tasteless.

Never the less, despite my suffering and the amount of sufferings I see everyday, I rejoice that I am still able to constantly give thanks to God. I give thanks because I am still very able to TASTE and SEE that God is truly and magnificently good.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

By the Sea

'On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea.'
Matthew 13: 1

Gospel 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Parable of the Sower) : Matthew 13: 1- 9

I think the only time of the year that I make a point to sit by the sea, is during the end of the year holidays. Sometime during Advent and Christmas, is the time I look forward to sit by the sea; placing myself on the soft sand, taking a stroll by the sea shore, reading a book and having something to munch and absorbing the beach atmosphere. Penang has many beaches to offer, and tourist make their presence felt by the colour of their skin, language and way of dressing.

There are a myriad of activities going on by the sea.

I ask myself, "Why will Jesus want to sit by the sea?"

Today, I see Jesus doing the same- Jesus left the house and headed for the sea of Tiberius. He too is trying to 'escape' from the large crowd that never seems to leave him. I think Jesus must have bought some bread and fish, sweets too, as he walked to the sea. Jesus needed sometime for himself, away from the crowd.

Doing the work of God, personally to me, is not an easy task. I tend to take my tasks a little far too seriously, because if I am not serious I feel that I am cheating my dear students. Thus I believe in an honest work, even with answers to questions given to students will be done first by me; I do not believe in referring to the answers given on the back of the book.

That is why I sometimes need time to just "SIT BY THE SEA", like Jesus, to get away from my work. This is important for all of us, to that moment to be by the sea is important. If not we risk the chance of either going mad or not doing the work of God, but our own self-centred work.

Sunday, a Sabbath Day for Roman Catholics, is taken seriously by me. A day I commit to attending Church Mass and just 'sitting by the beach'; I 'sit by the beach' (metaphorical) by relaxing, playing my games, going to the gym, resting. This done, I am energized to start a new week whereby all Glory is Given to God Alone.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Smelling like Fish in Praising God

I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.

PSALMS 145: 1-2

14h Sunday in Ordinary Time

It has been a rather mentally, physically and spiritually challenging week for me as I minister to my beloved students. It is not easy when as an educator I face not only with the need to disperse knowledge, but I witness to the diverse attitudes that each student has. As a person who is sincerely concerned for the needs to my students, I do occasionally shout at them and discipline them for the sake of keeping them aware that if you want to be somebody, you just got to work hard and believe in the effort you put in.

At the end of the day, let us face the fact that nothing comes freely. Yes, God's Grace is given freely, but to be somebody in this world we need to be brave, dedicated in achieving our goals and persevere in hardships; to be somebody here is not something given freely.

This is how I bless the Lord, this is how I praise God enthusiastically.

It is not an easy thing to do, waking up every morning, when the first thing I generally do is to sit/kneel and start thinking of God in the person of Jesus Christ, His Son. Spending time in silent meditation followed by Morning Prayers. As I step out of into the world to begin a new day, I place my very self in the hands of God alone. Keeping my entire self into His Hands means that I entrust the entire day's activities/events into God's Hands; God is the one who has His ways through me.

The only thing I hope to gain in each day is the fact that I have offered to others the Love of Jesus. I am really glad that each moment of the day I get to speak to 2 or more students; giving them advices and asking them about their day.

Is my job easy? No way!!!! By the end of each day I am mentally, spiritually and physically exhausted that my only desire is to get a nice cold shower. As a young man I enjoy walking around school, just to look at my beloved students even when they may 'HATE' me big time because I shout at them in class or for some other lame reasons. I love to see what my students do and, I pray, as I walk around the school they will know that I am indirectly supporting their efforts to be fruitful students.

That is why I sweat so much in the Malaysian heat and I smell like rotten fish by the afternoon, because I love moving around the school; working hard, going the extra mile, for my students.

I do not easily enjoy just sitting in the air-conditioned room, or mixing around with other teachers to gossip. I rather spent my school hours doing something meaningful, doing things that eventually lead to the greater good. Sitting around with teachers, gossip and look for items to buy is a mere waste of time- this is at least what I personally feel. Hired by the school to share the Catholic Faith and to serve the school, I am bound to work tirelessly to the benefit of all students, regardless if they hate or love me.

Dedication to the tasks at hand and faithfully completing my tasks is in itself the method I use to enthusiastically praise God.

So, have you extol (enthusiastically praise) God today by your life?

Saturday, 28 June 2014

To See is To Have

'Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.'

1 John 4: 7-8

When I look at the image of the Sacred Heart I see the person of Jesus with his human heart exposed. I see Jesus presenting His Heart, exposed all out for everyone to see, to touch. In that, Jesus reminds me of His great Love for me; a love so intense that Christ allows Himself to be wounded- thus the crown of thorns around the flaming heart.

In showing me His Heart, Jesus invites me to experience His Love; Christ Loved me first, and this enables me to Love others. The only one true dignity of a Christian person is his/her right to love one another. To hate others is to have no place for God in our lives.

St Margaret Mary Alacoque, who was reported to have received visits from Jesus to begin the observance of the Devotion to His Heart, experienced the intense experience of God. This woman who experienced the apparitions of Jesus the Sacred Heart, lived in that Divine Presence. St Margaret's experience was so intense that she lived out that experience of God's Love and preached the need for us to constantly return to the source of God's Love in the person of Jesus Christ; Jesus constantly invites all of us who labour and are over burdened to come to Him.

To experience the Love of God is not impossible if we are brave enough to look deep into the heart of Jesus Christ. In that heart we live in that divine moment, filled with God's Love. Transformed by that Love of God, in return we Love others. Let us live in God's Love every moment of the day, let us return to Christ and put behind all that are burdensome.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

My Trip to Australia 2014

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."
John 6: 51

Gospel for the Feast of Corpus Christi: John 6: 51 to 58

A wonderful time to be back home with family.

Visiting Australia again, when my last trip back was in 2012, was another fantastic trip. Back home again was a feeling no one can take away from me. I never got asked, "Where am I from?" or "Am I Chinese?" My actions and many of my thinking were well accepted, and I was respected by all for who I really am.

I am very appreciative to the other 3 Brothers at St Norbert's Priory who welcomed me as true Brothers in Jesus Christ. I was truly happy to see all of them making a solid effort to be present at meals and they saw that I had the required silence and privacy as I spent solid hours in Prayer and Reflection. THANK YOU my Brothers in Australia! Deo Gratias!

Thanks to one of the Brothers, I got to visit the high school and had small casual talks with the students. The students were so respectable as they were polite and made no single loud noise the entire day. It was amazing! The students were also very polite when they responded to my questions. Sadly, the Year 11 students were a little shy. The school is not a very huge one, while the primary school was on the other end of the Church grounds; in total I was told there were 900 students in the school community. I was asked to stay on there and teach the children as the Brothers say my terror as a disciplinarian and my good English will do the children well. But, I declined as I feel I want some more time.

During my stay with the Brothers, I had the opportunity to enjoy music and culture again! I always make it a point to attend a cultural performance in the form of drama, dance or musical at least once every year. This time I was blessed to have the privilege to enjoy Timeline by the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

When I asked the reason for the rather tranquil atmosphere of the school? The Brother answered, "The school's discipline is top notch!" The Brothers' rooms are on the school grounds; just walk 2 seconds across the drive way and we are there. The entire day I did not hear a single chaotic sound.

The late Br. Edward Ikari.
May he rest in Peace.
I pay tribute to a young man of unassuming personality; never standing out, just living his life within the seminary. In some ways he faced some difficulties caused by his previous seminary before joining the one I was in; that is why I always pray that the church hierarchy will be more merciful after the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I never got to know him in a more deeper way, as most of the time he and myself kept to ourselves. He died early this year 2014, and I pray that he has finished his journey in his earthly life.
Visiting my friends in Australia was the greatest moment for me; just relaxing, not worrying about the need to keep to time and just appreciating, soaking up, the kindness of my friends. Many paid for my food and I enjoyed staying at their place. To my friends, thank you for your generosity and the memorable moments.
I was fortunate to have my friend driving me down all the way to Noosa Heads just for a stroll and sight seeing; it was a bit chilly and to have a dip in the sea was not a brilliant idea!
I got nothing much back from Australia, as I will often return there. I was happy to get the first volume of Avengers, a couple of key rings and a Captain America mug. Adding to these I got a whole lot of Bonds wears and Australian made chocolates. Yes, the weather in Australia was fantastic- I neither sweat nor smelt smelly. The sunshine was great too!

Above all I thank Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour, for the opportunity to have the generosity of people who often supported my life in Malaysia and Australia. God is great and in obeying God, I have never felt empty. God is there by the side of all His Faithful servants.