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.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Joy a Mark of True Unity

15th June, Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

I just started reading Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in today's world. His urging to all Catholics begin beautifully with this sentence:
'The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.'
 
As I celebrate Trinity Sunday, a doctrine on the understanding of 1 God in 3 Divine Persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), I am so touched by the second reading taken from 2 Corinthians 13: 11- 13 that says:
'To end then, brothers, we wish you JOY; try to grow perfect; encourage one another; have a common mind and live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All God's holy people send you their greetings.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all'.
 
If you ask me the method to be JOYFUL, I will gladly say look at 2 Corinthians 13: 11 - 13. To be people of joy, to be a truly rejoicing people, we need to see where is our foundation.
 
Am I joyful? Overall I will confidently say I am very happy where I am in life not because I have secured myself a job, money and a room. But because I have truly encountered Jesus, maintained that encounter through daily sacrifices and I permit the grace of Jesus to be reflected through the way I live.

Keep calm and drink coffee...it helps only for a moment.
 
Joyfulness does take various forms in our existence, because in moments of pain our joy is accompanied by sadness. You know, it is not easy to live in a community of people. It is easy to live with friends that we get along very well, but that is not enough. To live in joy only with people we 'enjoy' to be with...Oh, that is not true joy and such joy will not last. Trust me, I have been through it and life's journey will proof it.
 
True, lasting joy is joy that has the ability to embrace everyone. This joy must be a joy that is able to struggle for perfection in our relationship with everyone as community (at work, in church, society...). We work towards a perfect community by encouraging others even when this means our suggestion (/s) will be ignored, be of single mind and live in peace.

Yes, not easy at all and maybe that is why many of us chose to push aside those we do not get along well with. Building a truly joyful community of people is never easy, but it is not impossible.

I consider myself having followed the points given in 2 Corinthians 13: 11- 13, but it is never easy because majority of people do not observe such characteristics in their quest to build a team. Bear in mind I use the word team here because our groups of people at work, even in church, are not true community at all; very often individualistic mentality is present. Yes, we do live in the midst of a very individualistic society. A society that desires other people to be like them, we do not like people who have a different thinking to us. We ignore the poor and the cries of mother nature; we consume, we neglect the needs of others. The sad thing is many materially rich people then come home, sit on their couches and self proclaim by saying, "Oh, I am happy!" How sad if we lie to ourselves that we are happy when we have not worked tirelessly hard to live as a community marked by joy?

But, let us remember this, Jesus wish for us is that we are JOYFUL. Can you be joyful and share this joy even with those you do not really like? I have done that, though it is very challenging.

I leave you and myself with this words from 2 Corinthians 13: 5,
'Put yourselves to the test to make sure you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Do you not recognise yourselves as people in whom Jesus Christ is present? - unless, that is, you fail the test'.

Want to have joy that last? Next time I will ask myself, "Am I in the Holy Presence of Jesus Christ?"

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Love love love

When I was in a relationship with a girl, a Sri Lankan and a very pretty girl, we spent every moment that we had together. We each wanted to be in each others company, though I admit that I desired more time alone rather than with her. When I am in love my life changes, my needs is no longer mine but ours. In this loving relationship we shared moments together. In this relationship we held hands, we kissed, we hugged, we went for movies...I shed tears when I had to go on trips.

The day I decided to break up with my girlfriend, was the worst day for her; she cried over the phone in Melbourne. I did not entirely felt painful because my heart has always been in a deeper love with God.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments."
John 14: 15

The Gospel of the 6th Sunday of Easter speaks on this LOVE; a love so deep as in keeping all that Jesus Christ has proclaimed. To live by the commandments of God is not an easy task, because it is not merely observing the rules. In living by the commandments of God, the commandments become my way of life; my entire living experience must be a reflection of the commandments of God, the Gospel.

The Gospel way of life is very challenging and it must be aided by sufficient prayer. In prayer I lay myself in the hands of God, I place my very self in the mystery of God. The words I say in silence, are words expressing my desire to remain as faithful as I possibly can to His commandments. The prayerful words are not only about petitioning God to grant me specific things in life, but more importantly to me, I ask for the grace to serve and love with the Love of Jesus Christ- God's Only Son.

On days when I am so tired from school, I either do not observe prayer or I just pray a simple prayer. True enough this is dangerous to my spiritual life, because a Gospel way of life without sufficient moments of prayer is hypocrisy. If I proclaim that I follow the commandments of God, but have no time to spent in prayer with God, then I am a liar! Without observing moments of prayer in a day, then I am merely a hypocrite who is just blindly 'keeping' the commandments. When I do not observe prayer, then my life becomes a mere daily ritual and it has no potential in giving life to others.

Prayer is a moment of intimacy with God; in prayer I talk to God, I allow God to speak to me, I permit myself to feel God's Presence. By praying I submit myself to God, I give my entire daily work to God. In this submission, I submit to the entire commandment of God- to His Gospel, to proclaim His Gospel message by my living, not by mere words. In prayer the Holy Spirit, the advocate, leads me to God and as a consequence of this prayer I go forth at peace knowing that through living my life God's glory will shine.

There are so many moments in my life that unknowingly others have been touched by my example and my way of working. I have people coming to say to me, "my son says that you are close with students. I come to thank you for that, for your heart." I never knew that others do see the love I have for what I do everyday. I only do ordinary things in school everyday, but it is God who gives Life to what  I do.

This is how I love Jesus- by living out His commandments....

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Each is Different

"There was no book, no Ten Easy Steps to Mainstream Your Severely Autistic Child waiting for me on the shelf, and I didn't have the slightest idea where to start."

-The Spark

Very often people cannot seem to understand me. They feel that I am rather extraordinary, to the extend one person claims that "I seem to be enjoying my walk" even when it rains. I had teachers who started their classes with prayer because I was in the class watching them.

It is not easy to be different, and I had always desired to follow my heart. In fact I do acknowledge that I am different from the mainstream society. But, don't get people like me wrong. It is not a bad thing to be different from the rest. In fact not to be different will be the worst thing that can happen in any society- it will mean losing new talents, new gifts, new personalities!

Like the mother in the book called 'The Spark', my understanding and way of life seems to be many steps ahead of what I am supposed to be doing. I seem to be many steps in the future; I am not following the current culture, but I have allowed my mind to move according to its capacity.

To work wonders, to give the best to an autistic child, we do need to have the bravery to be way beyond our current culture- we need to be daring to be counter cultural! If not we will never see the benefit we may or may not get.

FEAR is the worst enemy of life. To fear to do what is sincerely and piously right, will make us loser at the end of life's race. To fear to allow our minds and our hearts to expand beyond the borders will mean to give up on an opportunity to be the person you are meant to be.

So, never fear my friends!