Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday - Crucifixion

Good Friday is day to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus.To Christians all over the Cross, on which Jesus died has become the symbol of their faith. To them the cross is a reminder of suffering and pain which they must bear in this life for eternal life.What should the cross mean to us today?

Today the cross to us refers to the numerous trials and tribulation that we have to undergo in life from the time of birth till death; as a student, working adult, a husband or wife, a parent, a caring child to our parents, a retiree and finally as a neglected elderly parent during the last days of our lives.

It refers to the many troubles we face in standing up for truth and justice in this world where the meek and humble are bullied. It refers to the many challenges we face in bringing up our children through thick and thin. It refers to the pain we undergo when our children neglect us at the time when we need them most. It refers to the pain and suffering we undergo when a major illness or tragedy strikes us and our families. Finally it refers to the pain that we go through when someone close leaves us and when people who meant so much us betray us.

The cross should remind us for the need to have a heart to forgive even the cruelest and those who do all kinds of harm to us. It should also remind us not resort to anger, hate or violence even against those who hurt us. The words of Jesus as he hung dying on the cross, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”, is a clear reminder that we should love and forgive even those who persecute and harm us.

As we venerate the cross today let us remember the many people around us who may be suffering like Jesus on that fateful day of his crucifixion. Let us remember the many people who are longing for food, shelter and above all for our love and consoling words and physical presence.

Let us pray for those suppressed and despised in society and those seeking justice from the unjust. Let us pray for those seriously ill or dying. Let pray asking God to give us the courage and a loving heart to bring a little comfort to them.Let us pray for the conversion of sinners especially those in our own families;our rebellious and disobedient children,our vengeful siblings and friends.let us pray for our leaders that they will begin to walk in righteousness,giving out justice,peace and goodwill to the people. Let us finally pray that God give us the virtue forgiveness, to forgive even our worst enemies.

Good Friday is a time to seek forgiveness from those we hurt and repentance for all our sins against others – parents, children, friends and those we encounter. It is a time to get out of our sinful lives and return to the path of righteousness and good morals.

The cross is not a symbol of sorrow but one of love, sacrifice and forgiveness

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday – Courage to do right

Today we celebrate  Palm Sunday which commemorates the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem just before his most cruel and agonizing torture and death of the cross. On Palm Sunday the people gave him a rousing welcome like a king, waving palms and shouting “Hosanna”, but just a few days later those very people who exalted him turned against him and turned him over to the Romans to be killed in the cruelest way one can imagine – crucifixion.

Why did those people suddenly change, from loving to hate Jesus? Why did Jesus allow himself to be treated like a king knowing well the same people will turn against him and demand for his death?

When I was young Palm Sunday was an enjoyable event, waking up early and rushing to get hold of the best palms, wave them and go I in procession. I was just like the crowd who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem 2000 years ago.

But today many years later, after going through the arduous journey in life, that historic journey of Jesus into Jerusalem means much more than waving palms and singing “Hossana”.  It is a solemn reminder that life is full of thorns not roses and we must be prepared to stand up against all the injustices and pains in life.

Jesus knew he will be persecuted and killed but yet he went through that journey willingly with great courage. Do we have that courage to face up to all the injustices, pains and persecutions in our life to uphold truth? In being righteous, our own children may go against us,siblings and closest friends may leave us but will we crumble under such pressure?

Yes, the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is a symbol of courage to even facing a cruel and most unjust death. To each one us too who claim to follow him, it is all about courage to do the right even in the most unjust and painful situation. It is about courage to stand up for our principles against all forms of insult especially if it comes from the ones you loved and trusted most.

In our family, our places of work, our church and our country, we face injustice. We witness the good and righteous being ‘persecuted’ but the bad facilitated and enjoying the company of those in power. The temptations of greed, power,wealth and lust are real to which many succumb.

Do we have the courage to say ‘No’ to these evil and continue to remain steadfast to our principles of truth and righteousness? If not we would be been just like the crowd that welcomed Jesus only to abandon him when he needed them most.

Have a blessed Holy Week

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Lent reflections 2014


Catholics all over celebrate Ash Wednesday today, a day when we are reminded that we came from dust and unto dust we will return one day. To symbolise our mortal bodies, we receive ashes on our foreheads. To most of us it may just be a ritual but we should reflect deeply on what it really signifies today in a world driven by money, greed and lust.

Lent is not about just about fasting, abstinence from certain worldly luxuries and attending church and feeling sorry for the unjust and painful death of Jesus on the cross. It is about humility and showing love to those in need, doing some sacrifice for someone in distress and forgiving someone who has hurt us.It is about fasting and prayer to prepare ourselves for facing the many challenges ahead that will test our faith and patience. In short it is about emulating Jesus during his last 40 days preparing himself for his passion and death.

There may not be any hard-core poor around us but there many around us in need and suffering from all sorts of problems and in pain and misery. There are many who are lonely, sick and dying, hungry and homeless, hurt by those they loved, those suppressed and denied their rights.

In our country today as Christians we face the greatest test of our faith - patience and love for our fellow Muslims who seem to be at war with us. The Allah issue, the alleged proselytization of Muslims and the false notion that we want to create a Christian state here in Malaysia are causing great deal of tension in our multi-racial country. All we wanted was our rights to practice our faith freely as provided for in our Federal Constitution but for that we are being accused of being anti-Islam and anti-Malay and trying to incite hatred for the Muslims. These we know are baseless allegations but how do we counter them remains a formidable task.

As we step into this period of Lent let us meditate on the suffering, humility, forgiveness of Jesus as he was unjustly sentenced to death on the cross. Despite the cruel way he was killed, he did not fight back but forgave all those who inflicted so much pain onto him. Let us ask Jesus to give us the same humility to accept theses injustices against us and the courage to forgive those who plot against us to create chaos in the country.

The solution to the present conflict between Christians and Muslims to some extent also lies in our hands. It is about sacrificing a little to allay the fears of our fellow Muslims who are becoming increasingly more suspicious of us. This Lent if we want to do some sacrifice for the sake of peace, it should our claims to Allah. It is not because we are afraid or weak but because we are humble and strong to forgive those who insult us.

 Lent is also about “Repent and return” to the ways of God from the sinful lives we may leading now. God has given us full freedom to do what we want with our lives. We go into the world and do lot of evil. But God is always waiting for us to return to him, repent and return. He has given us all we need to realize our wrongs - a discerning mind, adequate intelligence and guiding lessons, at times painful, in life. If we still ignore His calls and signals to repent, it is too bad. 

God is all forgiving - even the most serious sin he will forgive if we repent. Those of us who are living in sin, Lent is a time to open our eyes to realize the wrongs, repent and return to Him who is waiting to take us back into His arms.  

This  "repent and return" theme may bring a little reassurance to those whose spouse, children or even a close friend may have left them and are involved some sinful activities. Pray and continue to do good and have hope the separated person will repent and return to you one day we must be prepared to accept them back.
If God can wait and accept the return of even the greatest sinner who are we to reject those who have sinned and repents. We too must accept them back with open arms like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Have a meaningful and blessed Lent

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sunday Relection 23 February 2014

 Love your enemies 
Last Sunday’s Gospel reading is relevant to us today in facing the Allah issue and our attitude in confronting our so-called ‘enemies’. Jesus was crystal clear on what we should do in such situations when we are confronted with such enemies who are unjust and unreasonable
Jesus was one of the few who asked us to love not just those who are ours but to love our enemies as well. It is very easy to love those who like us and are ours but most difficult to love those who hate us and are different from us.
Jesus had asked us to do something almost humanly impossible, to love our enemies, to offer the other cheek when struck on one and never to turn away anyone who comes to us for help. He had demonstrated his love for his enemies by His passion and death on the cross, how can we keep to his commandments when confronted by our enemies today?
Great men like Mahatma Gandhi and martin Luther King Jr. and most recently Nelson Mandela have tried to live up to this principle of loving their enemies and have succeeded to a great extent, illustrating to us that we can do it if we put our hearts to it.
As his followers of Christ, let us ask God to give us the wisdom and courage to love our enemies like the way Jesus did. We may not be perfect like Him but that is what we must try, doesn’t matter if we fail.
The reading for the day
Gospel, Matthew 5:38-48
38 'You have heard how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.
39 But I say this to you: offer no resistance to the wicked. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well;
40 if someone wishes to go to law with you to get your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
41 And if anyone requires you to go one mile, go two miles with him.
42 Give to anyone who asks you, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.
43 'You have heard how it was said, You will love your neighbour and hate your enemy.
44 But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you;
45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and the wicked alike.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much?
47 And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional?
48 Do not even the gentiles do as much? You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.'

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Economic woes and the fight against injustice

Despair looms as New Year begins

It was an emotional and touching sermon at mass last Sunday as the priest touched on the prevailing deplorable political situation in the country. The ongoing kangkung controversy might have a started as a joke but is something not to be laughed at and ridiculed as serious issues lie masked behind it.
The main among them is the escalating cost of living due to rising price of almost everything. The year 2014 is going to be very difficult one for the ordinary man on the street, especially those earning less than RM2,000 a month. How is he going to feed his family? How is going to pay for shelter over his head? How is going to pay for the school expenses for his children? How is going to find money to pay for the medical emergencies in the family? These are some of the doubts that are causing great anxiety and fear among many Malaysians who are struggling to make ends meet. To make matters worse we are told that that some of those receiving monthly aid from the Welfare department are denied such aid for no genuine reason. How are they going to survive?
With every passing day the present government seems to be increasingly proving to be totally incapable of managing the national wealth and economy of the country. It is not capable of putting an end to the massive corruption that is draining away the people’s hard earned money, resulting in the need to increase the price of almost every commodity, including the basic fundamental needs of the rakyat. Where are the people going to find the money to support their basic needs when the bulk of the wealth is being siphoned away in the name development?
As expected the kangkung issue has now been successfully manipulated to become a racial one by the politicians at the expense of the well being of the people. Instead of finding ways to overcome the economic problems facing the nation we are now taken into another confrontation of the races in the country, when the Allah issue is yet to be solved. The government and its proxies are bent on just uniting the Malays and Muslims to gian the support suppress the minorities whom they see as anti-government and a threat to their continued hold onto power. They are prepared to resort to any means, including the misuse of the various institutions, to do that which is indeed frightening. Where are all these leading us and our nation?
A feeing of hopeless has set in and the people are angry and want to act but not sure how to do so. What we fear most is that the people will being pushed against the wall may resort to violence that would be detrimental to all.
As Christians there no doubts that we must stand against injustice. We cannot be passive and ignore all the injustice around us. The question is what can we do when all the institutions are lopsided and refuse to see our plight which is legal and justified. Our fight against injustice we must go on but must be based on the teachings of Jesus – humility, love and forgiveness. There is no place for revenge, anger and pride in our struggles. Truth must be defended however bitter it may even if it is against us as it will finally prevail.
Amidst these economic and political uncertainties, we are told in a neighboring parish, there are plans for raising funds to build a multi-million ringgit Pastoral Centre. It is ironical that instead of finding ways to alleviate the financial burden of the people, the church in embarking on projects to cause more difficulties for them. It is an indication of a total lack of sensitivity for the plight of the poor.
We have just to look around and the plight of suffering people will be glaring at us. Instead of spending money on buildings, this is the time to start a fund to help the poor out of their financial crisis. For a start we begin by helping those in our parish who we know well.
We have the means, the resources and the talent to set up such a skillful team at parish and diocese levels. What we need is a will and commitment in our hearts which is sadly lacking. We are repeatedly told to donate generously to build churches and pastoral centers for God but we forget that God does not need buildings but our hearts to dwell. In the building of God’s Kingdom, it is God who takes care of our needs not we who take care of His.