Monday, October 21, 2013

Sunday Reflection 20 Oct.2013

The parable of the unjust judge
Last Sunday's Gospel  touches on something very relevant to us in Malaysia today with the Appeals Court overturning the decision of the High Court that allowed the to use the word Allah in the Bahasa Malaysia edition of Herald. As a matter of fact, the ruling now extends to wider aspects as it is now taken to mean that non-Muslims in general are forbidden from using the word, which means it is exclusively for Muslims only. What was a small and non-issue has become major contention that seemed to further distance the Muslims and non-Muslims in the country.
Going by historical facts and the nation’s constitution we all know for certain that Allah is not solely for Muslims but we have 3 senior judges in the country who ruled against that universally accepted fact.
The Christians in particular and non-Muslim Malaysians in general are disgusted with the ruling which they say is unjust and goes against the spirit of the federal constitution on the freedom of worship. The only consolation they have is that the verdict has made the judges, the judiciary and the Malaysian government led by Umno a laughing stock in the eyes of international community. The politicization of Islam by Umno and  its supporters have made the country the look stupid and unjust which is a poor reflection of the Muslims in the country, the majority of whom are moderate and do not agree with the court ruling.
Has the Church achieved what it wanted by taking this issue to the courts, knowing very well they will never get justice? Will it pursue the matter further by appealing to the Federal Court? There are many opinions and we wait for the experts in the church to make the decision on the net course of action.
There are those who say that Jesus in the gospel in relating the story of the unjust judge who gives in to a widow who was persistent in seeking justice was indeed supporting our fight for justice. They say like the widow the church too should continue to press on with its peaceful and legal means to get justice and if we are persistent one day we will get it. But others say that such a fight should be on issues that are more important rather than on trivial ones like using the word Allah. Does the use of Allah the most important issue facing the Church and Christians in Malaysia today?
Jesus message appears contradictory when he said, I promise you, He will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of man comes, will He find any faith on earth?'.
Having faith in Jesus is to be diligently following what he taught us by his words and deeds on earth – love, humility and forgiveness, with great patience and trust. That is why he asked whether He will find that faith among us when He finally comes. Yes, God will grant us justice if we continue to fight for it but that so-called justice must not be for selfish purposes but for the good of all, especially the poor, despised and oppressed. The fight should reflect our love and forgiveness for even our enemies. That is what faith is all about.
The fight over the word Allah is just one of the many fights against injustice in our lives. In our fight for justice we too need that faith in Jesus by being faithful to what he taught us. Do we have that faith that he asked of us?   

Sunday Gospel 20 Oct.2013
Luke 18:1-8
1 Then he told them a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart.
2 'There was a judge in a certain town,' he said, 'who had neither fear of God nor respect for anyone.
3 In the same town there was also a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, "I want justice from you against my enemy!"
4 For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, "Even though I have neither fear of God nor respect for any human person,
5 I must give this widow her just rights since she keeps pestering me, or she will come and slap me in the face." '
6 And the Lord said, 'You notice what the unjust judge has to say?
7 Now, will not God see justice done to his elect if they keep calling to him day and night even though he still delays to help them?
8 I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of man comes, will he find any faith on earth?'

Being rich in the eyes of God

Today’s Gospel is relevant to those who are fighting over their parent’s inheritance. Jesus in no uncertain terms has condemned those who fight for the possessions of this world. Unfortunately many, even those who claim to follow Jesus, fight with their siblings for the property of their parents.
“Take heed and beware of all covetousness; for a man' s life doth not consist in the abundance of things which he possesseth” – Jesus
Jesus says what is not important to search for richness in the eyes of men but richness of the soul in the eyes of God. Let’s reflect to see where we stand in this search of richness in our life. We may have abundance but how rich are we in the eyes of God? How willing are we to share what we have with those who don’t have any?

Luke 12:13-21
 Monday 21 October 2013

13 And one of the multitude said to him: Master, speak to my brother that he divide the inheritance with me.
14 But he said to him: Man, who hath appointed me judge, or divider, over you?
15 And he said to them: Take heed and beware of all covetousness; for a man' s life doth not consist in the abundance of things which he possesseth.
16 And he spoke a similitude to them, saying: The land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits.
17 And he thought within himself, saying: What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said: This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and will build greater; and into them will I gather all things that are grown to me, and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years take thy rest; eat, drink, make good cheer.
20 But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee: and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Pope Francis on Prayer

Pope Francis: prayer is not simply saying words 'like a parrot'
By Elise Harris
Pope Francis greets pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square during his Oct. 2, 2013 general audience. Credit: Marianne Medlin/CNA.
Pope Francis greets pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square 
during his Oct. 2, 2013 general audience. 
.- In his daily Mass, Pope Francis touched on the importance of prayer and forgiveness in the life of a Christian, warning against common attitudes which “close the door” to God.

“The Lord tells us: 'the first task in life is this: prayer.' But not the prayer of words, like a parrot; but the prayer, the heart: gazing on the Lord, hearing the Lord, asking the Lord,” said the pontiff during his Oct. 8 daily homily.

Pope Francis celebrated his daily Mass in the Santa Marta guesthouse of the Vatican, where he chose to reside shortly after he was elected as Bishop of Rome.

The Pope centered his reflections on the prophet Jonah from the first reading of the day and on Martha from the gospel narrative, stating that both characters are united by a similar problem: neither of them knew how to pray.

Recounting the story of sisters Mary and Martha in the gospel reading, the Holy Father said that when Martha asked Jesus to have Mary get up and serve, Mary chose the “better part,” meaning “that of prayer, that of the contemplation of Jesus.”

“To the eyes of the sister, this was time lost, it even seemed, perhaps, a bit of a fantasy,” he said, “But who wants that? The Lord: ‘This is the better part,’ because Mary heard the Lord and prayed with her heart.”

When coming from the heart, “we know that prayer works miracles,” he emphasized, reflecting on how the Lord delivered the people of Nineveh after Jonah had preached to them about the imminent destruction of the city.

The inhabitants were saved, he noted, because they believed the words of the prophet and were converted, “and from the greatest to the least called upon the divine forgiveness with all their strength.”

Although the people of Nineveh were redeemed, Pope Francis highlighted the erroneous attitude of Jonah, who desired a harsh judgment for the people, rather than a merciful one.

“There are others like this stubborn Jonah” who mirror this attitude, he said. “He went, he prophesied, but in his heart he said: ‘But they deserve it. They deserve it. They were asking for it.”

“He prophesied, but he didn’t pray! He didn’t ask the Lord to forgive…only to beat them. They are executioners, those that believe themselves to be just!”

The Pope concluded his remarks by warning those present against prayer that is redundant, pessimistic and unforgiving, saying that Christians must always be careful to guard against the temptation to fall into these attitudes, and must always choose “the better part.”

He challenged those in attendance, stating that “we ourselves, when we don’t pray, what we’re doing is closing the door to the Lord. And not praying is this: closing the door to the Lord, so that He can do nothing.”

“On the other hand, prayer, in the face of a problem, a difficult situation, a calamity, is opening the door to the Lord so that He will come.”

“This is what praying is,” he stressed, “opening the door to the Lord, so that he can do something. If we close the door, God can do nothing! Let us think on this Mary who has chosen the better part, and makes us see the way, as the door is opened to the Lord.”


 “ ... prayer, in the face of a problem, a difficult situation, a calamity, is opening the door to the Lord so that He will come. “ .. praying is, opening the door to the Lord, so that he can do something. If we close the door, God can do nothing!- Pope Francis

Very right and thoughtful teaching of the Holy Father of something so close to our heart as Christians.We all pray everyday but do we pray with the right mind and in the way God wants?
Praying is not asking God for favors but opening our hearts to Him so that He can guide us and give us the wisdom to do do right in the face of difficulties in life.Reciting memorized prayers like a parrot are of little or no use if it does not come passionately from the bottom of our hearts.

We all make mistakes and get into problems sometimes even into tragedies and disasters.We beg and plead that God save us from our our ordeals and torments.Often he fails to come to our aid not because He does not love us but rather because we do not open the closed doors of our hearts to him. How can God come into our hearts to help us out of our troubles if we do not open our hearts to him in passionate and unselfish prayer?
God is not sitting up there overlooking us,to grant all our petitions, but He is one who is waiting to come into our hearts,our minds and our lives especially in times of trouble to guide us to do the right thing and make the right decisions to solve our problems.How can He come in when we closed our hearts and continue to live in sin - greed,selfishness and immorality?

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Pope Francis leads the way again

Pope voices hopes for change in another lengthy interview

 October 01, 2013

Pope Francis has again caused a sensation with a lengthy interview, telling the Italian daily La Repubblica that he will work toward a Church “that is not just top-down but also horizontal.”

The interview—which appeared on the same day the Pope began consulting with the Council of Cardinals about possible Vatican reforms— ranged over the Pope’s hopes for the Church, his concerns about youth unemployment and neglect of the elderly, his favorite saints, and other topics.

La Repubblica has made the entire interview available in an English-language translation.

The interview was conducted by Eugenio Scalfari, the founder of the left-leaning Repubblica. Earlier in September the newspaper had published a long letter from Pope Francis, responding to an editorial by Scalfari. Now, Scalfari reveals, the Pontiff followed up with a phone call, suggesting a private meeting. That meeting, which took place last week at the Pope’s apartment in the Casa Sanctae Marthae, furnished the material for the interview.

Scalfari, a professed non-believer, opened the conversation by expressing some misgivings that the Pope might try to convert him. The Pope quickly put him at ease. “Proselytism is solemn nonsense,” he said. “We need to get to know each other.”

Nevertheless, the Pope challenged his interlocutor at several points in their conversation. When Scalfari said that he did not believe in the existence of a soul, the Holy Father replied: “You do not believe in it but you have one.” And when the Italian journalist said that the Pontiff would not be able to convert him, the Pope replied: “We cannot know that—but I don’t have any such intention.”
In answer to a leading question about the problems facing the Church today, Pope Francis answered:
The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old... You tell me: can you live crashed under the weight of the present? Without a memory of the past and without the desire to look ahead to the future by building something, a future, a family? Can you go on like this? This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing.
Regarding the need for change within the Church, the Pope complained about a “Vatican-centric” view prevailing in Rome, and said “I’ll do everything I can to change it.” He said that the atmosphere of the Vatican can nurture narcissism, with courtiers flattering superiors and protecting their own temporal interests. “The court is the leprosy of the papacy,” he said.

When Scalfari observed that some priests tempt him toward anti-clericalism, the Pope replied sympathetically: “It also happens to me that when I meet a clericalist, I suddenly become anti-clerical. Clericalism should not have anything to do with Christianity.

Later in the interview the Pope says that St. Augustine and St. Francis are his favorite saints, and speaks at length about the example of St. Francis and his desire to follow it, especially in his work to rebuild the Church.

Pope Francis also discloses that although he does not consider himself a mystic, he did have a unique spiritual experience just after the conclave voted to elect him as Roman Pontiff. As he fought off anxiety and doubt, the Pope recalls, “I closed my eyes and I no longer had any anxiety or emotion. At a certain point I was filled with a great light.” The experience lasted only a moment, the Pontiff says, but gave him a great sense of peace.

Scalfari concludes the interview with this observation about Pope Francis: “If the Church becomes like him and becomes what he wants it to be, it will be an epochal change.”


Another courageous act of the Holy father - willing to meet an atheist over dialogue with goodwill and love,saying “Proselytism is solemn nonsense.We need to get to know each other.”
The Pope's willingness to reach to non-believers is a lesson in humility for all of who claim to be staunch Christians but refusing to meet with goodwill and dialogue with so called "sinners",those who do not believe in what we do.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Remembering Mahatma Gandhi Bday 2013

 Tribute to the soldier of peace

Tomorrow 2 October is Mahatma Gandhi's 144th birthday. This great man lived a life of extreme simplicity promoting peace and non-violence at all costs. He was against any form of violence for whatever reason and he called himself a soldier, not one who fights wars but a soldier of peace. He defeated the might of the British Empire not with force but by his non-violence  and peaceful resistance to its racist policies which won him the respect and admiration of the whole world including the British themselves.
It is ironical that he spent his entire life fighting a war against violence but ultimately was killed violently at an advanced age at the hands of his own people who felt he was selling off their rights to the enemies.
As a tribute to this great man whom many called Mahatma, I like to share a short self-compiled video of him. He was not a man of great wealth or power and neither was he the ruler of vast empires, but he left behind a simple and humble legacy that has become the conscience in the hearts of millions to this day.