Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I read with interest the report “Sacred vessels stolen from church” which appeared in the Star, August 17 ,2007.
According to the report parishioners attending the early morning mass at the Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Ipoh were shocked to find that its sacred relics were missing. Thieves had broken into the building and carted away the church’s tabernacle containing its five sacred vessels worth RM5,000.
The report suggested that the parishioners and the parish priest were more concerned with the loss of the five vessels in the tabernacle worth RM5,000, rather than in their contents which is priceless – consecrated hosts representing Christ himself.
This incident, is not just a theft, but is a real test of our faith by Jesus. His coming to us in Holy Communion should be the source of the strength and zeal to pass Him to those around us and not lock him up in the confines of the church and the tabernacle only to be visited whenever we have problems.
Jesus is always out there alive in the world, in our midst and especially in the people around us including the thieves who “stole” Him from the church.
Monday, October 15, 2007
September 26, 2007 was a tragic day for the people of Myanmar, a day of national tragedy and mourning. It was the day when the army opened fire on unarmed civilian protestors and Buddhist monks.
The ruling military junta did not hesitate to use force even against unarmed, peace promoting and modestly robed Buddhist monks. They were kicked and beaten as soldiers rounded them up and shoved them onto trucks. Doors of the monasteries were broken; things were ransacked and taken away.
The cowardly and brutal acts of the ruling military junta should be condemned by the whole international community. Definitely these acts of aggression against unarmed civilians and monks are inhumane and treacherous to the human race. On the other hand the actions of the brave people of Myanmar need to be praised and supported by all.
How did the world react to these atrocities being commited against innocent people? Yes, the world reacted but hesitantly and without enthusiasm as the military junta brutally and fatally crushed the peaceful unarmed pro-democracy protesters.The United Nations was divided and stood powerless to stop the massacre. It seemed to have lost it credibility. The rich and powerful nations,who often preach on human rights,appeared to have lost their moral responsibility towards the poor and oppressed in the world.Neghbors in Asia,particularly ASEAN,did not see the need to do anything other than merely offer half-hearted condemnation.
What is more distressing is that even the Christian community especially our own Church seemed to be silent on the issue. There was no strong condemnation from our top Church leaders in Malaysia and the world. Have we too lost the moral obligation to mankind like during the Holocaust?
It was dismaying that not a single word was mentioned on the plight of the Myanmars during our Sunday masses. We seem to be contended to pray and worship God in isolation, ignoring the pleas of our neighbour, the people and monks of Myanmar, as they were being brutally crushed while struggling for peace and freedom.
The least we could do was offer special prayers and empathizes with them but that too we failed. Everyday we pray for the Pope, our bishops, priests, ourselves and our families but conveniently forget the oppressed people in Myanmar who are most in need of our prayers.
We call ourselves Christians, the followers of Christ, it may be pertinent here to reflect how Christ-like are we in our daily lives?
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Lazarus and the rich man
There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there used to lie a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with what fell from the rich man's table. Even dogs came and licked his sores.
Now it happened that the poor man died and was carried away by the angels into Abraham's embrace. The rich man also died and was buried. In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his embrace.
So he cried out, "Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames." Abraham said, "My son, remember that during your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony.
But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to prevent those who want to cross from our side to yours or from your side to ours."
So he said, "Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father's house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too." Abraham said, "They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them."
The rich man replied, "Ah no, father Abraham, but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent." Then Abraham said to him, "If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead."
This Sunday’s readings clearly tell us what we should do to attain eternal life. In today’s world we are all striving to be like the rich man, who lived in luxury – very comfortable mansion, luxurious cars, dining in porch restaurants with famous personalities, good food, wine, music and women. To achieve all these we go all out to accumulate more and more wealth.
In our obsession with trying to make more and more, we forget the poor Lazarus just at the gates of our mansion. We pass by him several times a day but are do not, or more rightly refuseto, see him. He is in front of us, hungry, naked, sick and wounded but we do not see or hear him. We continue to enjoy and satisfy our senses least perturbed by the poverty and misery of those around us. How will God reward us if we ignore Him in the pleas of those in our midst?
In our materialistic world today, we even tend to bribe God to enter His Kingdom.We fast, abstain and diligently receive all the sacraments without fail. We build majestic churches organize mammoth feasts, banquets and mass worship sessions in His name but refuse to acknowledge Him in those in need around us.
We refuse to talk to one another, refuse to smile at those we meet and we harbour so much hatred and jealousy towards those who are better off than us. We refuse to humble ourselves to go down and share our gifts with those less fortunate than us. Is it fair to expect God to reward us for holding Him to ransom?
Monday, October 01, 2007
The ruling military junta did not hesitate to use force even against unarmed, peace promoting modestly robed Buddhist monks. They were kicked and beaten as soldiers rounded them up and shoved them onto trucks. Doors of the monasteries were broken; things were ransacked and taken away.
The cowardly and brutal acts of the ruling military junta should be condemned by the whole international community. Definitely these acts of aggression against unarmed civilians and monks are inhumane and treacherous to the human race. On the other hand the actions of the brave people of
In this whole incident, two important events impressed me greatly.
Firstly it was the bravery of the people of
Secondly the mutual love between the people and the monks was exceptionally captivating. It was touching to see the people forming a human shield around the monks who lead the procession. The people were willing to give their lives to defend their monks.
We witness a situation where two groups of people each willing to even sacrifice their lives for each other. These actions of the monks should be a lesson for not just Buddhists but for all. It puts us to shame when we compare our own clergy-laity relationship.
Injustice and oppression occurs everywhere all the time. It is there in the government, in our offices, in schools, in our families, among friends and even in our Church. Those in positions of power adopt all sorts of tactics and maneuvers to deny the ordinary people their legitimate rights. They become masters of the very people they are supposed to serve.
Dissenting voices are quickly shut up, whistle blowers are punished and freedom of expression denied. The entire government machinery, media, armed forces, police and the judiciary are abused to silence those who speak the truth. Jesus himself was a victim of the rich and the powerful.
As Christians it is our obligation to speak out against injustice and oppression wherever and whenever it occurs. We may not be a position to do great things to change the whole world but we can do little things with great passion and love to change the small world around us.
What do we do when the government bulldozers through unfair policies that are detrimental to the people? What do we do when people in power in the organizations we are in misuse their power and funds? What do we do when our calls for moderation, accountability and reform are not heeded? Very often, under such pressures, we lose hearts and quit but is quitting the right decision?
Let’s offer special prayers for the brave people of
the peace and freedom that they yearn for over four decades. As we pray for our fellow men in