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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Reflection 2020-11-30 Monday Week 1 of Advent - St Andrew

Romans 10:9-18; Psalm 19; Matthew 4:18-22

What is Prayer?

Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippains 4:7-8

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Reflection 2020-11-15 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Proverbs 31:10-13, 16-18, 20, 26, 28-31; Psalm 128; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30

One of the problems with following the Readings for the day is some parts are cut off, in today’s First Reading, the parts are probably deemed offensive to women. But these parts should be included when we read the First Reading. It gives the role of a woman in the family from God’s perspective. It is God’s plan for them to take care of the family. Verses 14-15 say: She is like a merchant vessel bringing her food from far away. She gets up while it is still dark giving her household their food, giving orders to her serving girls. Verse 19 says: she sets her hands to the distaff, her fingers grasp the spindle. Verse 21-25 say: Snow may come, she has no fears for her household with all her servants warmly clothed. She makes her own quilts, she is dressed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gates taking his seat among the elders of the land. She weaves linen sheets and sells them, she supplies the merchant with sashes. She is clothed in strength and dignity she can laugh at the days to come. Lastly, verse 27 says: she keeps good watch on the conduct of her household, no bread of idleness for her.

Contrary to what society tells us, the man and woman have their specific role in the family. The man deals with forces and issues outside the family while the woman deals with issues inside the family. This is not an issue of capability, but it is about the role God has given them. This is what the Gospel talks about. The master gave his servants talents based on their ability. God will not put us in situations we cannot handle. When we do what we are supposed to do, then our efforts will bear fruit. But if we refuse to do what is expected of us, like the slave who put his talent in the ground, then we will not bear fruit.

Yes, many women are more capable than men and there are many men more capable than women. But the point is we have to do what we were designed to do. The Psalm tells us: Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways. You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you. In our life, we need to fear the Lord. The Psalm redefines fear of the Lord as walking in his ways. We do what God wants us to do, not what we want to do.

Many people are not happy with their lives because of the wrong idea that they can strive to achieve what they want to achieve. When our goal for ourselves is something based on our imagination, we may achieve it, but we will not be satisfied with it.

We are do what God has planned for us: to glorify his name. This is done by walking in his ways. The Second Reading says, you are not in darkness for that day to surprise you like a thief. You are all children of light and children of the day… So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. We stay sober and not intoxicated by our own ideas and our desires. Instead, we take on the dream God wants us to have, so that we can do what we are expected to do and be who God wants us to be, for the glory of his name.

Lord, let me aspire to be the person you want me to be. Put in my heart your dream for me, your will for me, your passion for me. Give me courage to accept it and obey you for the glory of your name.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Reflection 2020-11-03 Wednesday 31st Week in Ordinary Time – St Charles Borromeo

Philippians 2:12-18; Psalm 27; Luke 14:25-33
St Paul tells us in the First Reading to: work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
While salvation is by grace alone, we need to cooperate with that grace and do our part. God provides the grace so we can will and work for his good pleasure.
Jesus gives two parables in the Gospel today. The first one on building a tower and the second one on going to war. In these parables, Jesus tells us to make sure we commit ourselves when we surrender ourselves to Jesus. There is no turning back. We cannot be distracted by anything except the work of Jesus, not our parents, or anyone should distract us. Neither should our possessions distract us.
St Charles Borromeo was born from a noble family in the 1500’s. His uncle became pope who made him a cardinal at an early age. Despite these, he poured himself into reforming the Church which, at that time, was plagued by corruption in the hierarchy and battling the Reformation movement. He was a leading figure in the counter-Reformation together with Ignatius of Loyola and Philip Neri. As an Archbishop, he implemented reforms in his Diocese such as establishing seminaries to form future priests properly because he believed the abuses in the Church that resulted in the Reformation movement were caused by ignorant clergy. These reforms were met with resistance but he persevered.
St Charles is an example of someone who committed his life to the Lord and pursued God’s will through the grace of God.
Lord, let me always cooperate with your grace to work for my salvation with fear and trembling. Let me take my salvation seriously and detach myself from anything that will distract me from doing your will. I pray for holy bishops, priests and deacons who will commit their lives fully to you, and cooperate with your grace to do your will for your good pleasure. St Charles Borromeo, pray for me that I may live for the glory of God.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Reflection 2020-11-03 Tuesday 31st Week in Ordinary Time – St Martin de Porres

Philippians 2:5-11; Psalm 22; Luke 14:15-24
The First Reading speaks of the total submission of Jesus to the Father. Although God, Jesus did not hold on to his divine nature. Instead, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, becoming man and humbled himself and became obedient to the point of dying on a cross. Because of his total surrender to the Father, God exalted him over all creation. Jesus showed God exalts the one who submits to him. This submission is seen in obedience to his will, in the case of Jesus, even death on the cross. Trust in the Father is seen in obedience to him. For those who obey God, they will enjoy what God has planned.
The parable in the Gospel today shows us what God has planned for us. He wants us to enjoy what he has prepared. He sent his slave to call those who were invited to come and have dinner. But those who were called had reasons and did not come. In anger, the owner said this: Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.
The slave went out and told the lord this has been done and there still more room. The master said: Go out into the roads and lanes and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.
The master tells the slave to compel, or force people to come. God desperately wants us to live with him and he accepts us as we are: poor, crippled, blind and lame. We are sinners and God accepts us as we are. The question then is: am I willing to accept God’s invitation to come to him? Am I willing to come as I am to God and let him do what he wants to me when I obey him. This life God has planned will be full of suffering. But one thing is guaranteed, when we obey and submit to God, he will give us what he has planned for us. What has he planned for us? Look at what he did to Jesus.
Jesus humbled himself and obeyed God, so now, he is exalted in heaven above all creation. When we obey God, we will also share in this victory of Jesus.
St Martin de Porres is someone who dedicated his life in obedience to God. He was an illegitimate child of a Spanish nobleman and freed slave of African and Peruvian descent. His father abandoned him so his mother had to raise them in poverty. When she could not support her children, she sent him to a primary school and placed him with a barber/surgeon. At that time, Peruvian law prohibited those with African and native descent from becoming full members of religious orders. Martin entered the Dominicans as a volunteer and practiced barbering and surgery.
He was assigned to the infirmary and remained there until his death. He cared for the sick and is known for his miracles and care for the sick. This dedication to service was grounded on his love for the Eucharist. This allowed him to surrender himself to allow God to fulfill what he has planned for St Martin.
Lord, may I surrender myself fully to you and obey you in all you say. Receive me, poor, weak, lame, blind. Transform me so I can live the life you have planned for me.