Sunday, 19 October 2014

Homosexuals, single mothers/fathers, poor families... must be ministered too


I have called you by your name,
giving you a title, though you knew me not.
Prophet Isaiah 45: 4
 
Gospel for Mission Sunday/ 29th in Ordinary Time: Matthew 22: 15 - 21
 
This morning, in prayer, I reflected on Isaiah verse 4. I thought about the fact that, who am I that God has His eyes upon me; throughout my life I have only felt blessed in so many ways. At all the roadblocks in my life, I have never known great hardships because God's Grace was sufficient. God's Grace has been with me in bad times as well as in good moments.
 
I am only a speck of dust, an insignificant being among the billions of human being. Yet, God in His greatness has provided me, guided me and assured me of his presence. Who am I?
 
Do not call me a conservative/traditionalist or progressive/modernist, but together with the Roman Catholic Church I oppose the concept of homosexuality as a means in building a family. I do not claim to be an expect in sexuality, nor have the recent Vatican document been released. Yet, I have read past documents on Pastoral Care for Homosexuals.
 
As a Catholic religious man I cannot accept the fact that a man-man and woman-woman relationship is a life giving main factor, and must be recognised as a legitimate family unit! I cannot accept the fact that some groups are pushing for the Catholic Church to allow the Sacrament of Matrimony to be ministered on same sex marriages; a Sacrament is a means where God's Grace freely works, and in matrimony, it is meant to bless, sanctify and confirm a life giving family unit consisting of a man and a woman.
 
I agree that all Catholics must respect everyone despite them being homosexuals or heterosexual, but keeping in mind that homosexual activities are against the teachings of God and the Church. It is our duty to treat everyone with Love and Respect, never forgetting the dignity of each person be it old or young, man or woman, single or attached, capable or handicapped. God Loves us all with an equal love!
 
Together with many, I share an intimate sentiment that YES as people of God we need to give proper care to every individual. Not only homosexuals are suffering, but many families are suffering due to divorce, poverty, illnesses, injustice. The Church has been supportive in reaching out to such individuals, but, like the opinion of many, Yes I do feel much more must and can be done. Yes, our Priests, Brothers and Sisters and even you, ordinary people graced by God have much to do in respecting the dignity of every single human being created in the wonderful image of God. Much more can still be done in terms of pastoral care for families affected by hardships.
 
I admit, seeing my own Parish Church, not much is carried out in giving care to families burdened by hardships. I have hardly hear, maybe not frequently enough, of activities and support given to single mothers, to single fathers, to poor families, to ill members of the family, to homosexuals...Yes, preaching alone and just talking about issues facing the family is insufficient. We need a more active service towards families traumatized and scared by difficulties! Care, space, hospitality and attention must be offered to individuals coming from suffering families.
 
The recent Synod on the Family will close with the Canonization Mass of Pope Paul VI on Sunday, 19th October 2014. The ceremony is available for viewing on Youtube.


Saturday, 11 October 2014

To Build is Not Easy

'Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to...'
Matthew 22: 1-2

Gospel 28th Sunday from Matthew 22: 1 - 14
Jesus, when he describes the nature of God's Kingdom, the kingdom is one reflecting COMMUNION, JUSTICE and CELEBRATION OF JOY. The kingdom of God is described as a large tree where many birds can come and take shelter, and in the case of this week's Gospel, God's Kingdom is imagined as one such as a great wedding feast for 2 sons.
 
To me, due to my own spiritual conversion to Catholicism and my journey with the good and holy Brothers, I have a natural interest to help bring about the building of God's Kingdom here on earth. I have always regard my Faith in God as something personal and more importantly, my Faith is life giving; Faith is both personal and for others, must never be kept in private.
 
I think many fear that to build the Kingdom of God means to preach God, preach the Gospel and preach about the Church. Pretty boring and fearful isn't it?!
 
Friends, gone is that concept and, in the first place, it was never deemed that to build God's Kingdom means to speak only everything to do with God, Gospel and Tradition (Church). No! More importantly to build God's Kingdom is to first ask myself am I a person...
  1. ...for OTHERS? - Am I part of the larger picture? Do I love others and desire to build communion with all believers and non-believers?
  2. ...of JOY? - Jesus promises those who accept Him in baptism the fullness of life! Do I have that religious Joy build upon Jesus my rock?
  3. ...of JUSTICE? - Yes, the Kingdom of God is for everyone but only few are selected. Yes, come to the feast, but believe in the host/owner of that feast (verses 11 to 14).
To build God's Kingdom must first start with me. "Am I a reflection of the Goodness of God's Kingdom? Am I a reflection of the Presence of God every moment of every day, and not only on a Sunday or only whenever I am among Christians?" Must be my question, and your question.
 
To be a builder is never easy - we need lots of muscle and burning of energy! Happy Building!


Sunday, 5 October 2014

What is it all about? Franciscan life?

4th of October- Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
Why do I find the teaching of St Francis so appropriate for my Catholic Faith?

Jesus promises me eternal life, a good life with a promise of happiness. The only way that I can really be happy, be free, is if I renounce an inclinations to things around me that will prevent me to celebrate this fullness of life promised by Jesus. Franciscan living also reminds me of my need for penance; I am weak as well. Some of my biggest are are my struggle to be humble, patience and docile.

How do I live a full life?

By embracing the joys and sadness that each day has in store for me. To see God's Love in every circumstances and all people. Living life in its fullness is by celebrating the life God gives me...

Some of the crazy things I have done in my life are:
1) Karate, Sea Kayak, Gym and Dragon Boat...
...Dragon boating was a dream I always had, a dream to participate in an Asian sport. I was fortunate to finally been invited to join a dragon boat team in Kuala Lumpur. This team are made up of very fine men and women, I really enjoy being among them as I do share some similar way of thinking with the members.
Rock climbing was the craziest thing I did and below are the pictures of that adventurous day; my first time, I had no major problem and I arrived at the very top! Despite my fingers tearing and bleeding I NEVER GAVE up...That is my spirit, I am CONVINCED of the abilities God has given me, I am convinced of myself.


2) Cooking, baking, making desserts and tasting new delicacies are still my all time favourite:)



3) Still faithful to the Call of God to serve the Church...How do I do this? Through teaching in schools and some help to the poor.

4) Passion for life and for people...reflected in my love for travelling, seeing new cultures and mixing with people of different wavelengths. I also love arts and comics...
Hong Kong...


Captain America mug is one of my favourite mugs in my collection...

 
China....
 
Melaka...

 5) Putting God's needs and the needs of others first...

 
 
In short to be committed to God, to be a missionary...It means to be highly CONVINCED of your potential born out of a deep relationship with Jesus Christ!
I am SO HAPPY, SO PEACEFUL...
St Francis of Assisi- Ora Pro Nobis!
 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

In Joy for Life

Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.

Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.


Philippians 2: 3-6
Gospel for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Matthew 21: 28-32
 
Each day I see the goodness of life, the joy of celebrating life, the fullness of life. Who teaches me that? I see it mainly in those I serve- my students. I look at my students, their relaxed and easy going attitude, their willingness to learn new things...You know. These students just amaze me! They are the reason I am who I am today. Without my students teaching me life values, I may not be as rich as I am today; rich with life, rich with happiness, rich with willingness to head on towards the future.
 
Many asked me, "Brother Kenneth, where do you get that strength to be so YOU? How do you do it, maintaining what you are everyday of the year; wearing the same clothes, working in the same creative style?"
 
I have no answer to that, because it will be a crazy answer. I gain that vigour for life by renouncing myself and striving to take on the "mind of Jesus Christ" (Phil 2: 5).
 
It comes naturally to me, to strive to conform my relationship with everything around me - with people and with the environment - according to my deep loving relationship with God in the person of Jesus Christ.
 
Dear friends, I still see posters around the shopping malls on talks being given to teach the public the Path to Happiness. Let me tell you, you and I will never be eternally or completely happy if we do not first RENOUNCE ourselves. If we constantly bind ourselves tightly to things, to money, to emotions, to gossips...We can never be free. So, free yourselves, renounce yourselves, say no to what you want and think more about other people and think LAST about our own needs. That is why I am different with other 'teachers' because I think about what my students need...not what I need. When I serve the poor, I think about what the poor people need and not what I can give to the poor.
 
When we think first about others, we can find solutions for them and, more importantly in doing so we are enriched; we learn something beautiful about life when we think about others first. In serving the students and the poor I have always end up only HAPPIER, LIFELIER, JOYFUL...Though I am materially poorer...

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Only One Rule

Pampering myself from time to time, may sound like vanity; it may sound like I am attracting others to me, or wanting to gain attention. Today, I spent time with some very fine group of people having a good laugh and talk over Japanese buffet. This was good as I got to know others better and had sometime to just be myself; away from the ordinary work I do and the usual thoughts I have.

I believe that life is about openness. By openness I mean, I am always ready to face whatever lies in front of me; work issues, social problems (Ebola, war...), insecurities that life may bring me. To have such a lively courage comes from the strength I gain from a life built on PRAYER. Prayer is a life stream, an ever flowing stream whose water reaches to the many areas of my life. Water is unstoppable and as water flows it shapes the area it flows through. The same with prayer, prayer when prayed with full of sincerity, honesty and a deep love has the capacity to touch my life, heal my wounds and to lift me up to great heights.

I think the discipline I find to pray and to have a deep trust in God comes from my past. My past was marked by an experience where God mysteriously led me to conversion; finding that my life has meaning in Jesus Christ through the Catholic way of life. At that age it was so easy, I did not question my desire to be a Catholic but at the same time I knew it was not the wrong decision in committing my life to God through the Roman Catholic Church.

That is why Jesus asked us to have a child-like Faith; a faith that, yes, does not blindly belief, but a faith that comes to life through a relationship with God the Father. You know, Faith keeps me so EXCITED. Faith is an excitement about LIFE! Faith is life after all, because God desires each of us to live life to the very very very full!

This way of life has allowed me to accept anything that life offers me; be it the possibility that my lessons may not be enjoyable, be it the possibility of me offending others unintentionally, be it the possibility that I may fall and hurt myself later. Life, to me, is not about fear. Fear cripples me, but Faith heals and raises me high up. To fear will stop me from having the ability to move forward one step; just like a frightened child, who will not dare move in the face of danger. I rather have Faith as it will bring me further forward in life.

That is why many people wonder of the reason for me being so positive, so simple in mind and so naïve to situations.

After all, my life has only one rule and that is LOVE. Love of God who has given me such a blessed life, and love of others around me whom I serve each day.

“You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
Love does no evil to the neighbour;
hence, love is the fulfilment of the law."
ROMANS 13: 9 - 10

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Recognizing

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Matthew 16: 15 - 16

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

I was speaking to a lady over the weekend, and she claimed that it is easier to know me if I spoke and mixed around more. In fact more than one ladies made that comment. In my opinion, I informed that lady, "Isn't it easier to know me through my mystery, being a private person?" She responded, "No, it isn't easy to know a person through privacy."

I don't think we can ever know another person to the level we ourselves wished we had known them. Why? Can we ever truly know the emotions of another? Do words we speak fully describe the inner feelings and thought of others? Can we admit that we really know the journey others had to make to be where they are today?  Throughout my existence I have failed to achieve knowing my friends and others to the full. My friends and other people also failed to deeply know me.

Words we speak are only descriptive. Some wish to speak through metaphors, while others enjoy saying things they do not mean. Recently, many people were shocked by the death of Robin Williams, because they thought of him as a man full of life and a very healthy person. Many could not accept that this actor was in reality a sick man; a man battling with depression.

Today in the Gospel, Jesus asked the very same question we find ourselves asking others, "Who do you say I am?"

I think when I questioned others what they think of me, I like to discover if that other person - perhaps my friend - truly respects me for who I am and is sincere in the friendship. When I ask others what they think of me, maybe I want to be affirmed? Maybe I want to see if my 'friend' is really a friend after all, because it is very difficult to find a real friend. Maybe I am looking for a true and lasting friendship, hoping that we remain true friends until the day we depart from this temporal life.

Jesus asked the very similar question, because Jesus wants to see if his disciples who had been following Him really know who he is. In this case, Jesus wants affirmation on the part of the disciples that they know that He in fact comes from God and is the Son of God. Sadly, only one disciple recognized Jesus as the "CHRIST".

Thus, it is not easy to know another person unless our lives are marked by openness. We need to be open, and when we say be open means the peace to face all that lies before us. Once we resist what lies in front of us, we create anger and hatred within us that only prevents us from facing reality. To know another person, we need this willingness to be without prejudice and judgement. That is why many of us, with me included, fail to really know another person.

If we fail to recognize the WHO in another person, how much more will we fail to know WHO Jesus really is? To come to recognize Jesus as the Son of God, I share with you my own true personal journey of how God allowed me to recognize Him. If you want to know God and respond to God's Will you will need a spoonful of:
  1. Openness - If you go through each day judging things around you, you will not discover the beauty of things and events around you. God is there...
  2. Prayer - Find time to be quiet, to think deeply...God is a mystery...
  3. Forward - Go forth, face each day as a day made by God, a brand new day...After all it is God who comes to us. It is God who chooses to reveal Himself to you in His time, not our time.

Like what St Paul said to the Romans:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord
or who has been his counsellor?
Or who has given the Lord anything
that he may be repaid?
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.

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
Queensland