Sunday, 16 November 2014

No Time?

His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant!'

Matthew 25: 26

Recently I had a conversation with a friend who was wanting me to join in with a group, to distribute food to the homeless in Penang. Thus, I questioned his activity of food distribution and found out it was as easy as just collecting money from each member of the group, drive down to town, open the trunk, the homeless will all queue up without any invitation, distribute and go back home. When I asked, "Is that what you call Christian Charity?" My friend replied, "We are all working people, so we have NO TIME."

I am sure many people are like that, and we cheat ourselves by saying, "I FEEL SO GOOD - I HAVE DONE 'CHARITY!"

Today's Gospel reading is again urging each of us to be good and faithful servants of the talents that has been given to us. The talents that we have are supposed to multiply - I am sure if we are good in something, we will want it to increase in numbers/influence. Many successful people do not keep their ideas and knowledge within themselves, but they channel these through their work, so that the benefits are seen. For example, I have students who are interested in basketball and how they channel this interest is by participating in a basketball competition.

Yes, to multiply the talents - God's gift to us - is not easy. Work can be difficult because people are always people, they will condemn you, judge you, persecute you. Just like what happened to many great people and Saints. Did they not crucify Jesus Christ? Did they not criticise and condemn holy men and women who did good for society and the Church?

That is why as the servants work to multiply their talents, Jesus also included the word "FAITHFUL". We each need to be faithful, to be consistent, in following the Gospel values in our quest to multiply the talents that we have. Work life does not need to be a place where we become cruel - many have the idea that in a workplace if we are Muslims, we cease to be Muslims, if we are Buddhist we cease to be a Buddhist...No! We each are individuals, and we are all different - differences are strength to a company/workplace; differences need not divide us! Differences when nurtured well and listened to can bring great success and reform to a workplace; many different talents bring progress.

Thus, as we work let us remember that we are called by God to multiply our talents for the success of the Kingdom of God. Work life and work place are avenues where we place our gifts at the service of others, in building up of a more just and peaceful world.

Therefore, the frequent reason given when people asked, "have we done charity lately?" must cease to be "I HAVE NO TIME." This reason of having no time, in todays technologically dependent world, is no longer valid. You can proclaim God, you can speak of goodness, in the very place you work and live.

Charity is putting God in everything you do and in everywhere you are present.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Saint or mere Soul?

Everyone who has this hope based on God makes himself pure,
as God is pure.
- 1 John 3: 3
Solemnity of All Saints (1st November)
It is a privilege for people, mainly my students, to meet me these couple of years. I am now a confident, courageous and contented young man. I am thankful of my gifts and I am passionate about life. Yet, many will never know the extent of the persecutions, set-backs, disappointments and daily internal pain I had to face everyday to be where I am today; many will never clearly know my past.
Have you ever thought why the Church remember the dead on two different dates - 1st and 2nd November? Why All Saints on 1st and All Souls on the 2nd? Yes, both of these days are of equal importance celebrating a human person who lived in the past; our relatives, friends, Saints.
I believe it is a choice for us to make on how we desire to live our lives? For a Christian, it is the time of the year to question our commitment to the Faith in Jesus Christ; are we fully committed Christians or a luke-warm Christian? Are we Saints or mere ordinary souls? A happy life pushed around by God or a life pushed around by the movement of the temporal world?
The Saints were very committed Catholic-Christians who suffered for what God calls them to do; they lived as closely as possible to the demands of the Call of God, some to the point of death - making them Martyrs. Bear in mind it is never easy to commit to God, as it always results in a very different way of life.
All Souls Day, on this day we remember our loved ones and friends. Yes, these people are also children of God. But what separates these souls from the souls of Saints, is the fact that many of us, ordinary souls, desire to be in control with our destiny. The Saints were willing to suffer for their Faith in God - Saints had both feet in the Faith and they surrendered their will to God. Ordinary souls, on the other hand, had one foot in the Faith and the other in the world; these souls were indecisive.  
Yes, hearing the sermon of the Priest, to be a Saint sounds simple but the living of that Sainthood is difficult! To be a Saint is possible if we are willing to LISTEN to the Word of God, and perform what we are called to do even when faced with difficulties. A Saint never gives up following God's Call even when it means insults from others, poverty (no luxury), condemnation from the Church, gossips by others...
Many will never know the extent of my suffering when I requested to respond to God's Call in Malaysia. Deciding to leave Australia was not easy, as it came with a Spiritual encounter; I experienced the presence of the Devil in the Friary (Religious House of the Brothers), I suddenly cried in front of the image of Our Lady when the Brothers were praying for me not to leave and my conversation with the Superior. Never easy, I knew I will miss out on the opportunity to become a great brother and, perhaps, a priest? But, I had to do what I knew to be right for me. I had to act upon what I prayed on in my discernment.
I choose to commit myself totally to Jesus when I was still a very young boy, when I was in Year 7; I commit myself to live according to Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, I  decided that Jesus is my Lord even before I got baptised. I decided to allow Jesus, to allow God, to surprise and capture me in His Love. That commitment was my desire to be totally captivated by His Love and to rely on God alone, and live committedly in God's ways.
Yes, along the way many saw my thinking and life style to be very extraordinary - very unusual, almost CRAZY; I was not like the 99% majority of people, who enjoys living life the way they feel like it. My life was not a careless life and I prefer to live out each day's activity in an attitude of reverence and holiness. My life was never a care-free life, just going with the flow, earning money, getting a nice car. On the other hand I put a lot of thought into my daily life style because I know the good I do will benefit others, while the bad I do may hurt others. I constantly ask God to guide and direct me, hoping that what I do is according to His will.
This extraordinary weird life came with a lot of persecutions, hardships, disappointments. In the past I was insulted by Brothers, Priests, my parents and even my good friends. They claim that:
  • My desire to serve God, that desire is from the devil
  • I am a fake monk
  • I will misuse money meant for the poor
  • I am traditional, too rigid
  • I must not dress in the religious habit
  • ......many more mind you! Lol!
Initially facing these insults, I thought WHY follow God when I can have a more peaceful, luxurious and 'happy' life denying God and going my own ways. What for putting up with these comments, when even the church (Brothers and Priests) insults each other and insults me? But, thank God I was always aware of His presence, and I was confident that all that God gives me is ALWAYS GOOD!
It was only in Australia, and after many years of formation and experience in Australia, that I knew I was correct in obeying the ways of God. I can never be happier! I am now very happy following God even though it means a hard life; lack of money, minimal luxury, prayer life, trusting in God even when the situation looks bad, insults from teachers...Not an easy life! Many will not do what I do, but I do it not for my Glory. If I had given up God's Call for me to be His Faithful follower, I think these will had happen:
  1. Lack of ONE man to be a good and holy educator
  2. Lack of ONE educator who is confident in his style of teaching, confident with his knowledge and starts each class with "Let us remember that we are in the Holy Presence of God"
  3. Lack of ONE religious man who is always willing to take the hard path; committed in the duty as an educator and in the service of the poor.
  4. Lack of ONE witness of the Gospel who will reach out to Church members; I am aware that even ordinary people like us need assistance. Not only the poor!
  5. Lack of ONE man who is passionate about life, and inspires others to do like wise
I stress 'ONE', because it is possible to take you alone to set hearts aflame with the Love of Jesus. The decision to be a Saint or a mere Soul is yours and mine to make. I choose a Saintly life, because I want to live life eternally happy, eternally full, eternally abundant! Life rocks!
All Glory Belongs to God Alone.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

All Things are Possible

"We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love."
-Saint Catherine Laboure
Holiness is possible! Do you believe? I guess so!
To some they think that holiness purely means: 1) praying the entire day, 2) visiting the Holy Land, 3) a must to be a priest or become a sister or brother....To me holiness is about living the entire moment of the day in the presence of God, able to savour the goodness that life brings to us, the good as well as the bad. Holiness is about having an encounter with the person of God through His only son Jesus Christ, sharing our encounter with God to others through the way we live.
St Therese

If we look at the past, many ordinary men and women have sensed the mystery of God, they have encountered God in extraordinary ways. To St Bernedette and St Catherine Laboure they both saw the vision of Our Mother Mary. To St Francis and St Ignatious, it was said that they started to change their life after a divine dream in their sleep. But to many too, the gift of holiness came to them in ordinary ways, the action of Grace.

I am sure at one stage of your life, and if it has not it will come with time, you will have a great inspiration where something or an event makes you think, "Ah, this is what I can do....!" That is your gift - a discovery of your self, the person you are meant to be as God created you.
St Bernedette
Did these ordinary men and women immediately become heroes and heroines? No! Definitely not! God or the mystery of life (to those who yet believe in God) does not push His ways forcibly on us. When God gift us the gift of holiness, it is up to us to accept that gift and with time we grow into what that gift is meant to do for us; each individual has a different way where the gift of holiness manifests itself. Also like you, many heroes and heroines of the past had to undergo hardships to send their message out. People, not even the Church, believed St Bernedette when this young girl ran and told the public that the Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared! Many could not take that 'unbelievable" statement! Only after many attempts, and to some it took many many YEARS, for their message to be taken seriously by others and the Church. Some of you today may face such situations where people cannot accept or understand the reason behind your way of life (job, thinking, life style...). But never give up! Trust me! If what you do is purely from God or is done in full sincerity you will with time achieve what you are meant to do.
So, believe in what you can do. If you have the courage to persevere and constantly believe in your call/vocation/dream you will eventually succeed. Yes, maybe the final product of your endeavours may not be like what others may think it should, but remember God give each of us a unique gift. You maybe given the gift of Knowledge but the field of Knowledge is so wide. It can be about science, or knowledge about the mystery of the human mind, or it could be about knowledge on paranormal activities. Yet, it is still knowledge! You may be given the gift of love for food, but the way this gift is manifested is wide. Maybe in your love for food you are called to cook for the poor, help in a soup kitchen, or set-up a restaurant and become rich by it?
Believe, believe, believe and have confidence in your unique giftedness. Do not let what others or the pressure of society cause you to lose hope. Remember what a Saint used to say, "All that God ask of us to do is GOOD!" Believe in your gift, in your purpose in life and stay strong, because what you have been given is always GOOD!
If you give up you will NEVER become the person you are meant to be, you will NEVER become a great Saint!

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...


 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!
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