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!



Saturday, 7 May 2016

Where God Can be Seen

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You are witnesses of these things.
And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;
but stay in the city
until you are clothed with power from on high.”

LUKE 24: 48-49

8th May, 2016 - Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

To me, I view the account of the ascension of Jesus into heaven - where he is now glorified at God's right hand - as a moment to remind myself of the GLORY of Jesus Christ.

Do I hold deeply to this fact, that Jesus, Son of God, is now glorified with God? Have I by Faith in Jesus, been anointed by the promised Spirit to be witnesses to the mysteries that Jesus revealed to me?

The fact that Jesus returned to the Father, is not an issue about Jesus abandoning me, but Jesus had confidence that I can move on, remembering the Truth that will be taught to me by the Spirit.

Month of May - the month of Mary

Who else can I look to for this inspiration, the inspiration to hold on tight to the Truth revealed to me, other than looking to Mary ever Virgin? The Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, held on so deeply to the promises made to her by God. I look at Mary, her "YES" to allow God to have his ways through her - bearing Jesus for the salvation of the world. I look at Mary, her deep faith in trusting in the ways of God, despite the many misunderstandings due to the special nature of her son, Jesus; Jesus was so weird, with different ideas, different thoughts about the faith. I look at Mary, who despite the horrendous torture, suffering and death of Jesus - she remained there, with Jesus, at the moment of great suffering and at his death, holding the lifeless body of Jesus.

Events after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, Mary remained faithful to the promise God made to her; she never abandoned the work Jesus began, she never ran away from the early Church.

'May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation
resulting in knowledge of him.'
Ephesians 1: 17

Mary, my Mother - I can only hope to be a tiny part of your great example.

I can only think about the sacrifices women make for the life of the world; conceiving, pregnancy and birth. We look at women, their great spirit to never give up hope but to make effort to raise their child to the best that their living space permits. We look at women, who after the example of Mary mother of Jesus, are building their children to become temples of the Spirit - obedient to Mother Church and to God.

I remember my late grandmother, who due to a serious heart attack was confined to the emergency ward one Lunar New Year. She was in fact, very alert and willing to spend the reunion dinner with her family. Yet, due to hospital procedures she was not allowed to return home even for a short time. Yet, I was so blessed to bring her, her favourite pig's stomach soup. I was fortunate to be with her, spending the reunion dinner with her and seeing how she so happily ate the meat and drank the soup.

I cannot help but cry, as I write about my late grandmother.

This is the spirit that women bring to society - a unique spirit of uniqueness, gentleness, courage, suffering, silence, creativity. I pray more women, more mothers, will follow after the example of Mary mother of Jesus, so that the WORLD CAN SEE GOD!


Happy Mother's Day to all women -
mothers-to-be, women principals, women teachers, women employers.

Happy Mother's Day - Mary mother of Jesus!


Saturday, 30 April 2016

My First Love

" Jesus said to his disciples:
“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him."


JOHN 14: 23

6th Sunday of Easter


Loving others, is definitely isn't easy.
Is loving God any easier?

Living in a world of plenty, in a situation where Faith - the Catholic Christian Faith - is almost non-existent because many live in ignorance does not make a faithful life any easier. We have seen in the recent events in Germany and Paris, where refugees and displaced people were found to be contributing to public disturbances. We have witnessed on news, the violence of those claiming to be faithful to Islam, these people were found to be suicide bombers or terrorist, shooting down innocent people.

I am not here to discriminate or label refugees/displaced people, but I am trying to highlight that in our plenty, the plenty we have may overshadow our Faith, or overshadow something we hold in high regard.

To me loving God, isn't easy. I will rather face reality, and admit that it is not easy. It is a decision not to be taken lightly too, especially by the many who claim to be Christians but they do not "keep my (God's) word".

Loving God, is not perfection by itself; as human beings we cannot love God on our own. To love God is a step I take every moment, a conscious step towards God's Love. It is not I who love God, but it is God who Loved me first; I come to understand God's Love, what it is to be Loved, only by experience/knowing the immensity of God who Loved me first.

If I have not experienced God's Love, then I will never dare say that I know how to love God.

To me, I am one among many, who were privileged to have encountered a mysterious higher calling. It led me to have a very significantly profound, spiritual experience, that saw me ultimately getting baptized in 1997. This was my first love, but even first loves can be lost if we do not appreciate this first encounter with Love; I need to appreciate my first encounter with God's Love by praying daily, observing (penance) practices that will keep me away from things temporal, I need to be mindful that the Devil is present in my midst.

Let us, let me, together with Holy Mother Church cry out to the coming of the Holy Ghost - praying that the Spirit may help us to experience God's Love and grow in intimacy with God who is Love. We remember that God is always ready to Love us, God is full of Love - let us turn to God who is Love.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

I Hear a Voice

“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first,..." Acts 13: 46

Jesus said:
“My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me."  JOHN 10:27 -30


4th Sunday of Easter - Good Shepherd Sunday (Vocation Sunday)

This morning in reflection, I was rather disturbed about why Jesus will compare me to an animal? Jesus compared his relationship with those who have been given eternal life (believers), as that of a shepherd with their sheep.

But, yes, it is because at the time of Jesus Christ shepherding was a very common activity; sheep and shepherds were common.

I am very much made fearful, or disappointed with my self when I see that I am very poor at understanding. I can hear so much sounds around me, and to some sounds I listen intensively. Yet, the amount of effort I take to decipher what I listen is tremendously minimal! When I reflected back today, on recent events, I see how often I have made undesirable response to situations.

So often I act upon what I feel rather than on what I have thought with feeling; I believe that it is important that our responses be thoughtfully processed through the mind as well as the heart. Perhaps, like many, I too complain about time being the factor. We want things fast, people expect us to do things fast....Fast, fast, fast...No time.

Perhaps, that is why many people shy away from discussing about wrong doings? Maybe this is the reason many simply reply with, "I AM ONLY HUMAN", thinking it is the best way to not give a reason when bad decisions are made? Yet, we must remember that some moments in life God does speak with a fearful, undesirable and unfriendly voice; look at the Old Testaments, where he send Prophets and Prophetess to testify to the people - that people change their ways.

Today, I am challenged to take on humility. Humility, so that like the sheep, I too can be shepherded to green pastures and flowing streams. Shepherded because I know my master, the shepherd, I hear his voice and I follow - I am willing to follow Jesus, the good shepherd. Why I follow Jesus, because Jesus is the only good and perfect shepherd who gave His life for me, rose from the dead and is now glorified in the Kingdom of God, His father.

I am aware that Jesus speaks to me in gentle and insignificant ways; in the events of life, through others around me, through the challenges I face. I pray that through humility, through my willingness to hear the voice of God around me, and then to take steps to walk towards the direction of the shepherd, I hope to perform better in life - to live a purposeful, God-centered life. In moments where I am stubborn and stuck, events where the shepherd's voice is not clear, maybe when I feel His voice is not even present, I know Jesus will come in search for me, carry me over His shoulders, mend my wounds and lead me forward.

I hope that through humility and patience I will be able to better conduct myself so as to be a good ambassador of Jesus Christ.

As a teacher-brother stationeries are one of the essentials. Recently, I took some minutes to give each pen a wipe down, aware that many microorganisms may be present on them. I take my vocation as a teacher seriously because,
"I know of one means only by which to attain to perfection: LOVE. Let us love, since our heart is made for nothing else."


Sunday, 3 April 2016

Temporary Tattoo and a Lit Face

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.


Gospel of John 20: 20

2nd Sunday of Easter (End of Easter Octave)

Dear friends,
What does it mean to belief?

I am fortunate to have a friend, who has a stall in the market of South Bank. This year, I have visited him once to just take things easy, chill under the autumn sun, to do some people watching at his stall. Next to his stall was a temporary tattoo vendor; a young men, armed with his air brushes of different colours and banners displaying his various tattoo designs.

A family, with 3 young children had just enjoyed their dip in the public pool, they were strolling. Saw the temporary tattoo stall and decided to allow their children to get a tattoo each. A boy and a girl were given that opportunity, but the other child was too young to appreciate a tattoo, the child was still an infant.

Between the girl and the boy, the boy was the youngest about 3-4 years of age. My friend and I were just so captivated to see his reaction during the entire process of getting a tattoo. The boy went up to the banner of available designs, pointed to one design and the vendor got out that design. The boy was then placed on a high stool, he got the areas of skin cleansed with alcohol, the stencil design placed over his skin and the air brush started working.

It took less than 1 minute, mind you.

Oh, we were so captivated when we saw the face of that boy! Once the vendor took away the stencil and the tattoo appeared on the boy's skin, the boy's face just lit up! The boy's reaction was one saying, "I CANNOT BELIEVE IT! IT'S AMAZING!

The next thing the boy did was to go up to his daddy, and showed it to his dad. Of cause the dad was not all that excited compared to his son's.

Don't we adults sometimes miss out on getting easily amazed by what we hear, see, and touch?

Thus, before we ask ourselves what believing means, perhaps we must see if we are willing to 'select out tattoo design...allow ourselves to be placed on a stool...wait patiently as our skin is cleansed with alcohol...the working of the air brush...the removal of the tattoo stencil...'. Will our face lit up when we see the design on our skin?

It's the same with daily living, do we allow ourselves to go through the process? We can never believe, be truly convinced Catholic Christians, if we do not allow ourselves to freely experience the process. If we want to belief that Jesus is risen, and not only risen, but glorified...Then we have to allow God to lead us in the process of our discovery, our faith discovery.

We need to freely avail ourselves, be child-like, be free...So that we can realise, we can 'truly understand the waters in which we were cleansed, the Spirit by which we were reborn, the blood by which we were redeemed'[ Concluding Prayer of 2nd Sunday of Easter].

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Spray n Wipe

"Little lights, coming together as ONE..."
- Was a message I once gave to the Salt+Light Student Prayer Group.

As I enter Holy Week - from 20th March as Palm/Passion Sunday and culminating in the greatest celebration of the Roman Church - EASTER TRIDUUM (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday)! I look forward to Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Last week, it was a very testing time as I intensified my abstinence and fasting. It was indeed a spiritual battle, questions and ideas flooded into my mind - "Is Jesus really the Son of God? Or, did he CLAIM to be one?" I will not claim that I was comforted that one of the Gospel of the week touched on Jesus speaking to the Jewish elders, Jesus told them that it is fine you don't want to believe in him, but Jesus told them to at least believe in the work he does; believe in God who does the good through Jesus Christ.

I dare share my doubts that Jesus is the Son of God, because Faith is a LIVING PROCESS. Faith is not dead! Faith is in the resurrection of Jesus - Son of the Living and True God. We live in a very noisy world, yes, our Faith can and is tested. Our persistence to be truly a disciple of Jesus not only by name, but through a way of living is not easy.

Holy Week is just like this - a very noisy event! We got Palm Sunday (Jesus enters Jerusalem, the place he will be put on the cross), Holy Thursday (having his last meal, washing of feet, commandment to serve), Good Friday (his persecution, torture and death), Holy Saturday (Jesus' body in the tomb) and Holy Easter Sunday (Jesus rises from the dead). We see different faces in these events, we see those who loved Jesus, we witness the cruelty of others, we see women and children, we look at Pilate, we see the soldiers who tortured Jesus, we see Mary Magdelene, we see Peter, we see John, we see the angels in the tomb, we see the linen used to wrap the corpse of Jesus.....

I enter Holy Week tracing the steps Jesus took on His final journey on earth with the insights I received out of today's Silent Retreat conducted by the Verbum Dei Missionary Sisters at Bardon.

Some words that God spoke to me through Scriptures were:
1) "But they persisted..." Luke 23: 5 - The Jewish elders and the crowds, they persisted that Jesus be condemned under Pilate. I asked myself, in my daily living, am I persistent for the correct issues and right reasons? Do I find myself insisting after events and situations that speaks for Truth, for the good of the poor, for families, for life, for the environment? Or do I persist only in issues and situations that feed my personal comfort? Where is my focus, where do I invest my strengths in?

2) "The disciples then went home again." John 20: 10 - Often, I am like Peter and John, who after having seen an empty tomb, I still forget that Jesus has told me that he will rise from the dead. We are slow to believe aren't we? I take time to believe, in challenging situations, in my down depressing times, I forget the message of Jesus. Our eyes are easily fixed on the miserable empty tomb, forgetting that Jesus has overcome his suffering and death, and He is now glorified! I must, by prayer and faith, constantly remember that Jesus is greater than my miseries. My miseries are meant to lift me, to form me for greater things.

3) "Do not cling to me,...." John 20:17 - Jesus mentioned this to Mary Magdalene, not to hold onto his earthly body that has risen from the tomb. Jesus told Mary to wait until he returns to the Father in Glory. Then at that time, when Jesus is in all His Glory - is his true self, revealed - then Mary, the disciples and all people can cling to Jesus hard. Jesus does not want us to be shallow and blind followers, Jesus challenges us to look not at his earth mortal being, but the message that is found in the fullness of His person in God the Father; in his glorified self, this is what we worship and believe, a Jesus glorified and seated at the right hand of God the Father.

I enjoy using this detergent for cleaning. Why, you asked? Because on the label it says, "SPRAY N WIPE"! Easy, less work for me, I use it for my floor, table, bath and toilet.

As I enter Holy Week, I remember that life's circumstances are not as easy as a spray n wipe. How nice if that is how daily living is; any struggle, any dirt, any pain, any arguments, any miscommunications, any thing we do not like about our bodies (oh, I know I don't like certain things about my body!), any failures (business, career, family)...How nice if it is as easy as spraying and wiping? We know life isn't that easy. But, as a Catholic-Christian I firmly believe that Jesus, Son of the Father, has risen. Baptized into the death of Jesus, I have been anointed to RISE WITH JESUS; no earthly pain, no evil here on earth can lock me down. I can rise and I shall rise!

I hope this is your realization, too, this coming Easter.