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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Simply Pray for Malaysia...that Justice will Prevail

“Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.” (John 20:27, Douay Rheims)
The joy of Easter remains a promise and not yet come to fulfilment for all those who still suffer political persecution in Malaysia.
As Catholic Christians and christians of all denominations, the resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us a new birth to a living hope…the hope that leaders of governments will work to ensure that all people can live in harmony, equality, justice and peace, in full and true freedom; that the power of Christ’s resurrection will destroy the culture of corruption, the culture of death!
A certain expectation is in the air in Malaysia.  Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the people in Malaysia have grown downcast and sometimes deeply distressed over the last 50 years or so…they have hoped that things would change for the better…that the corrupt government would change.
So far, all their hopes have come to nothing.  Yet, their hearts are still burning…Could it happen this time?  Yes, Jesus…let your love, mercy and grace come upon this land.  Yes, like the disciple Thomas, we will doubt no longer but believe.
“Behold I will cut off all that have afflicted thee at that time: and I will save her that halteth, and will gather her that was cast out: and I will get them praise, and a name, in all the land where they had been put to confusion.” (Prophecy of Sophonias (Zephaniah) 3:19, Douay Rheims)
On this week leading to the Divine Mercy Sunday, the Parliament of Malaysia has been dissolved…another expectation is in the air…that of the 13th General Elections…where new State and Federal governments will be elected by the people…that is, if the country has a clean and fair elections, including clean electoral rolls; not one that has been tampered by the ruling government, one that contains phantom voters!
We trust and believe with confidence that as Jesus Christ bore our wounds to heal them, He too will heal the land and the people across Malaysia.  Let His glory and justice shine forth on His people.  Jesus continues to reassures us by His wounds that He is no stranger to our human flesh and its suffering.  Let us always place all our trust in Jesus.
“Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword?” (Romans 8:35, Douay Rheims)
As the disciples, on the road to Emmaus has hoped that Jesus of Nazareth will be the one that set them Israel free, the people of Malaysia…Christians in Malaysia are quietly hoping that the Opposition will simply return victorious and set Malaysia free.
No matter how weak we are, Jesus is our strength; no matter how empty we are, Jesus is our fullness; no matter how sinful we are, Jesus is our holiness.  All we have to do is to cry put His holy Name.  Jesus will protect us from all evil.
“Neither is there salvation in any other.  For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts of the Apostles 4:12, Douay Rheims)
As the incumbent ruling government machinery continue abuse federal funds and spread lies, commit crimes, buy votes, provoking religious freedom, cook up conspiracies, practice selective persecution, creating media chaos, preaching sex tales and manufacturing of porn video tapes in order to desperately hang on to corrupt power, each Malaysian Christian must feel, during this Easter season, duty bound to exercise their right and responsibility to decry crimes against our fellow citizens. 
This time, the people of Malaysia will exercise responsible stewardship and decisively decide that the rotten and corrupt crooks in the Barisan Nasional government must be absolutely destroyed and evaporated once and for all time.
Christians in Malaysia have a moral obligation to do what is right and maintain Gospel values; that no one is exploited for personal gain, that everyone can practise religious freedom and have good access to basic human needs.  Let all Malaysians vote for a new Malaysia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Let Christians and pilgrims the world over simply pray for the people of Malaysia during this month leading to the 13th General Elections...that Justice will surely prevail.

For the Sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on Malaysia and her People!

Blessed and Joyful Easter to All Pilgrims the World Over.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Moving into the Most Holy Week of Human History

We truly praise the Most Holy Name of Jesus and give full glory to Him alone who humbled himself to save us.

O, Lord, I pray that pilgrims all over the world will have a truly meaningful Holy Week...filled with your touch of transformation, healing and forgiveness.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Snatched from the World...Possessed by God

Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent or lesser known as Rose or Laetare Sunday; mid-point of Lent.  The word Laetare (“lay-TAH-ray”) means Rejoice and is taken from the Latin translation of Isaiah 66:10-11, which is the Entrance Antiphon for the day.  In this Mass, the colour violet or rose is used.  Today the Catholic Church interrupts Her Lenten mournfulness; the chants of the Mass speak of nothing but joy and consolation; to encourage her children to persevere more fervently and courageously towards the end of our holy Lenten journey.
Nevertheless, joy seems to be the last thing on my mind today.  A close aging relative is down with a mild stroke and has been bed-ridden and hospitalised; earlier in the week, admitted to the Medical Intensive Care Unit as he was down with severe dengue fever; a mosquito-borne viral infection.  There is no specific treatment for dengue/severe dengue but he was fed alternative traditional herbal medicine known as porcupine date; a rare “stone” as one would call it, found in the stomach of a porcupine.  It is said among traditional healers that when a porcupine is wounded or sick, it will look for herbs to heal itself and as the healing process takes place, a “stone” may form in the stomach.
My heart is also a little restless, given that I have been robbed by a motorcyclist yesterday of something which is of great sentimental value to me, given to me by my grandfather, something like 38 years ago; a gold chain with a simple cross and a medal of the Sacred Heart which I have worn since.  Truly, snatch thieves at petrol stations are cruel and heartless barbaric creatures.  On the flipside, I thank God for protecting me from any serious harm; my Guardian Angel and St Michael must be working extra heart, I am sure.  Otherwise, I could have been either fatally stabbed or mercilessly slashed.  I am humbled by God’s love for me, a sinner.
This incident reminded me of some verses taken from St Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Chapter 3 verses 8-9, “I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him.”
Similarly, I have always been comforted by the Letter to the Romans, Chapter 8 verse 28 which reads, “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good: to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.”
My joy at this mid-point of the holy Lenten season is that I am happy because the anger did not rise within me for having “lost” some favourite material item.  Rather, I offered my prayers to the so-called aggressor so that the blessed chain and holy medals will touch and heal his inner being and bring him home, as appropriately mentioned in today’s gospel taken from St Luke on the prodigal son.  “..a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; was lost and is found.”
Deep down, this Lent, I have also come to be even more aware that God loves me more and has showered his grace upon me to enable me to surrender what I love most deeply so that he can work greater wonders for his greater glory.
I thank my God this Lent for giving me the strength to thank him for this rather unfortunate incident, as the consequence of this is that I have come to learn, albeit in a painful way, a little bit more about forgiving others, becoming overly attached to material things of the secular world and more importantly, about the radical work of his hands for me, a simple pilgrim, on my journey back home.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lent 2013...A Time for Change

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

A simple sharing to begin the Holy Season of Lent...

The holy season of Lent is a time when we seek wisdom via self-sacrifice, becoming as much as possible and to the best of our human abilities, dead to sin; so that we can rise with Jesus to new life.  Yes, as Psalm 89 echoes that the Lord has been our refuge from one generation to another…yes, Lord, make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart.

This Lent, as we are reminded in the reading taken from the book of Tobit 4, let us once more all turn to the Lord with our whole heart, be faithful to Him throughout this season…never entertain the will to sin…never follow the ways that are not right…never turn our face from any poor man…to give bread to those who are hungry…most of all to bless the Lord God in everything.

“O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:13, Jerusalem Bible)

As Christians, we are constantly reminded to practise the Gospel values…our vocation…in our ordinary daily work…or more precisely, “ordinary busy daily work”.  Wherever we go, wherever we are…there is the Catholic Church.  We must strive to live faithfully and make our work holy…a testimony that God is with us and God goes with us…wherever we go.

In the secular world today, so much is happening so fast that we are constantly occupied or rather, busy; hardly have time to think, ponder, reflect or even pray!  People these days simply do not have time or make time to stop and think…people today are hardly bothered or contemplative of their journey, their path…we are all caught or trapped in a “rat race”; for what?  This is the question we all need to constantly ask ourselves; a question I always ask myself.

This Lent, fellow pilgrims, let us not fall into the trap of workaholism; our tendency to overwork.  Have we all lost focus on eternity and instead choose to live in this temporal life on earth?  Does everything that we labour and plan for now, focus on eternity?  What are we so busy about?  Have we not taken time to stop and think deep enough?  What is our perspective of life, our journey?  Do not the ashes marked and crossed on our foreheads remind us of anything?  What has the materialistic world come to for us when we sometimes cannot even find time to get decent rest?

I quote from Scott Hahn’s book on his spiritual journey in Opus Dei, “We have succumbed to the materialism of Revelation’s beast, marked repeatedly by the sixth day (of Creation) – 666 – perpetually returning to the world of the workweek…” and not finding the seventh day which is the Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. (Exodus 31:15)

Each year, more than the season of Lent, we welcome and even look forward to the invention of new techy gadgets, labour-saving devices, the Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Galaxy Note II…all aimed at extending the 6th workday well into our time in the car, at home, with the family, at church, even at mass on Ash Wednesday!  The world we live in is losing (or has totally lost) its ability to sense God’s being and His holy presence.  Our secular work has transformed us (by our very own choice) to worship our work, our bosses, our projects, our salary slips…emptying the church of its “body”; as a consequence, worship, prayer time, scripture reading time, God's time…are being shoved aside…we push God out of our lives with the simple excuse that “there is simply no choice but we have to work to feed the family, our children's future, for our retirement, etc., etc.”.

This 2013 Lent, let us choose to remember our baptism when God entered or was poured into the rhythm of our lives.  Without God, we would simply be music with no rhyme, i.e., noise.  From my own journey, I can testify that without God, work becomes chaotic, disordered and empty.  God is simply all we need...God alone is enough!

This solemn Lent 2013, there is also a veil of sadness in our hearts following Pope Benedict XVI's emotional farewell retirement announcement, radically breaking a 600-year tradition, deciding to retire on February 28, 2013; after nearly 8 wonderful and memorable years...for, as he puts it, the good of the Church.  This Pope has taught us very simply about not being held to ransom by power; instead, to simply serve the flock.  Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the path of power is not the road of God.  Let the truth be spoken rather than what needs to be heard.  The Pope has taught us, this Lent, that individually, we are not as important as the institution that we lead.

This Lent, we all struggle to decide to bring some spiritual order into our ordinary work days; to make it a bit more extraordinary for God and for others.  Let us not forget God and fall into the sin of depending on our own mortal selves too much, too easily.  Without God, our lives would have been un-livable and restless, distracted by the seductive noise of the world...we then become part of this noise.

This Lent, be simply quiet and listen to the whisper of the Lord.  Surrender your work to Him.  Turn around, turn God-ward, be a good Catholic, not a Workaholic!  The choice is yours...but then, as humans, none of us would know if there would be another Lent for us...  Therefore, in full solidarity with Pope Benedict XVI, let us choose to make more room for God in our lives today...choose to make music with our lives for God, as part of His heavenly orchestra praising and glorifying God.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lent...Making the Choice to Defeat the Evil One

Quietly but surely, the season of Lent is dawning upon us again.  It only seems like just yesterday that we have celebrated Christmas...looking for the star...searching for Christ.

Once again in this early part of the New Year 2013, we experience a fast forward from the hidden silent growing up years of Jesus in Nazareth and dive straight from the scene in Bethlehem to Jerusalem…transforming what is just a mere 10 km or 6 miles distance between these two venue to a key moment that has changed humanity forever.  From the birth of our Jesus to the Passion of the Christ…from the wooden crib to the wood of the cross…from the manger in Joseph’s hometown to the unused tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.

The Latin term for this most Holy and penitential season of Lent is “quadragesima” or more commonly known as “forty days”…forty days prior to Easter…a time of scrutiny, self-examination, quiet reflection, penance, fasting, sacrifices, repentance, turning-over, change…bringing about discipline, towards a new spring into our lives…renewing our journey through life…renewing hope.
I would like to see it simply as an annual time of preparation for the celebration…re-steering our lives, our journey back towards God…living the Gospel values daily…becoming a bit more like Jesus…to others.
For the majority around the world, the beginning of Lent merely passes by without a whisper of reflection, sandwiched between the more “popular” Valentine’s Day and Chinese Lunar New Year of the Snake.

For Catholics and certain denominated Christians, the sacred period of Lent is an opportune time of grace showered upon us to save ourselves from the eternal fires of hell.  For many others, in certain parts of the politically corrupt world, on-going oppression and persecution persist against the backdrop of unhealthy, corrupted and stained so-called “democracy”, whereby general elections are rigged and mainstream news media twisted to report lies and brain-wash; the people’s cry for change constantly dampened and evil continue to blatantly rule the day.  For the latter, only a clean and fair general election can provide the only opportunity to evict the ruling government for the first time after 50+ years.
Lent in this Year of Faith 2013 will be so much more significant and meaningful for many across the world who constantly harbour hopes of change for a more equitable, clean, free and just future, free of the evil sins of corruption and provoking racial persecution; many a land across the world must be healed and turned God-ward.  Indeed, Lent 2013 will be a period of intense spiritual warfare where the good will prevail to see the ultimate defeat of the evil one.
With this, let us pray this Lent that we will always keep our eyes constantly fixed on Jesus and to simply and meaningfully reflect on the reason and purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice and death on the cross for each and every one of us.
Indeed, if we simply listen to our hearts and dare exercise our choices bravely and wisely, Lent will be a time for the cleansing of our souls…the beginning of a new and better tomorrow, the rise of a new dawn…the healing of this noisy and corrupted materialistic world, the forging of solidarity amongst humanity…acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, the Alpha and the Omega…and Allah as the One True God for the Christians, Jews and Muslims.