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Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

The Crucifixion

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You Do Not Walk Alone

irish blessing

May you see God’s light on the path ahead
When the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear,
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.
When times are hard may hardness
Never turn your heart to stone,
May you always remember
when the shadows fall –
You do not walk alone.
(from an old Irish blessing)

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The homily delivered during today’s Mass gives us an opportunity to examine the role of Fathers given today being Father’s Day. Liken to the captain of a ship, the 4 essential pillars that a father has to constantly upholds to steer the ship through its many voyages.

1. A husband – To listen and learn from your other half who is the Chief Officer.

2. A provider – Not one who ensure supplies for the crew for their meals but include the spiritual provisions too.

3. A protector – Fending off pirate attacks that attempt to wrest control. Attacks of pride, lust, selfishness that rocks the stability of the ship – from within and outside.

4. A friend – A close relationship with your children is like a captain who knows his crew and their lives. Their strengths and weaknesses. A compassionate, fair, and concerned captain will encorage and motivate the crew when facing the roughest of weather.

The ship makes many calls during its journey. Sometimes through calm waters, many times through stormy seas. Like a captain, a father has to keep the ship afloat ensuring that the 4 pillars consisting of the bow, stern, portside, starboard, are well secured and stable to sail through whatever climate and conditions.

Wishing you a happy Father’s Day.

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Cold hard floor

homeless

As we tuck into our warm beds every night, let us pray for those who have none.

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A Hit of Humility

Under most circumstances when someone has wronged us, our first initial reaction is probably one of rising anger where we establish our rightful position seeking an apology or compensation from the other party who have wronged us. Though we could be in the “right” and the other party in the “wrong”, perhaps this article which I read in the newspaper today is a good opportunity for us to reflect when we meet such a similar incident.

Life is strange. An unfortunate accident can lead to a memorable experience. Just before Chinese New Year I was returning home when I was involved in an accident. I was about to enter the CTE from Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 when my car was hit from behind by a pick-up truck. The impact flung my car forward but I managed to pull off into the road shoulder and come to a stop without any further mishap. I sat in my car for a few seconds, considering my response to the usual tirade one has come to expect in such situations in Singapore, such as: “Why did you stop so suddenly?” or “Why did you reverse?” and then got out of my car. I felt thoroughly ashamed of myself when the driver approached me and asked if I was hurt. I was dumb-struck when he repeated his question. It dawned on me that he was really concerned about my well-being and was not going to find excuses for his momentary lapse. I assured him I was not injured. He then volunteered to pay for the damages, stating that he was entirely at fault. He asked me if I minded sending the car to his friend’s workshop. I readily agreed and he then led me to the shop in Sin Ming and gave instructions to his friend to do whatever was necessary and to bill him for it. He then hauled the contents of my car, golf clubs and cart, into his pick-up and insisted on driving me home. On the way he disclosed that he was a vegetable delivery man and worked 14 hours a day, seven days a week. He had occasional days off but worked longer hours during Chinese New Year. I asked him how he could afford to pay for the repairs and he said: “I make mistake I pay, I use bonus to pay.” I was now close to tears. Here was a person with minimal education and meagre means, demonstrating the highest principles, while around him people with ample means are involved in devious schemes to further enrich themselves. I made up my mind at that point that it would be criminal on my part to allow him to pay, and told him so. He resisted initially but then gratefully accepted. Mr Chua is worth his weight in gold to Singapore. He amply demonstrated to me that honour and principle are not necessarily related to education or status. Many of our affluent citizens could take a page out of his book. Mr Chua made me realise what Oliver Goldsmith had in mind in The Deserted Village when he said:

Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates, and men decay. Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade; A breath can make them, as a breath has made: But a bold peasantry, their country’s pride, When once destroy’d, can never be supplied.

It is my fervent hope that we will start appreciating the value of people like Mr Chua to Singapore. ~ by Richard Gomez published in TODAY, Page 16, Feb 12, 2009.

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The Recessional hymn still rings in my mind when I celebrated Christmas Midnight Mass at Church of the Holy Family. Titled “Love Has Come To Show The Way” written by Matt Maher, it is a prayer in song bringing out the meaning of Christmas.

Matt Maher wrote a song for the Christmas season called “Love Has Come.” His words recognize the power of the Christmas event, and challenge the listener to live that meaning and message the whole year. Check it out. The first verse and refrain offer a perfect prayer.

With one voice the angels sing
songs that make creation ring.
Prophets hear and call us to
live in spirit and in truth.

Word of God, enthroned,
dwell in us forevermore.
Love has come to show the way.
Hallelujah, peace be with us.
Love has come to show the way.

As you click on Youtube below to listen to the hymn, spend a moment reflecting on the meaning of the lyrics as you pray.

With one voice the Angels sing;
songs that make creation ring
Prophets hear and call us
to live in spirit and in truth
Father Yahweh, Elohim;
voice of thunder, spirit wind
Breathe on me your very life;
Grace will make the darkness bright

Word of God enthroned,
dwell in us forevermore;
Love has come to show the way
Halleluiah, peace be with us
Love has come to show the way

God of covenant divine,
lead us to the end of time
Beyond sorrow, beyond fear;
beyond pride and earthen tears

Keeper of the sacrifice,
manifest in Jesus Christ
Born to die and wake the dead
As we hunger, keep us fed

Now salvation has come
in the New Jerusalem
Dancers dance and singers roar;
proclaiming Jesus Christ is Lord.

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Sharing a meaningful article published in MyPaper for your reflection. Have we been like the blind girl in the story below?

Many of you will agree with me if I describe life as an odyssey – one that comprises both short trips and long-haul adventures representing the various legs of our journeys. Some people view the days of their lives in chronological order while others see life as a series of episodic vignettes. Then there are those who use their professional pit stops as benchmarks to measure their career progression. Whichever way you choose to classify them, every experience contributes something significant to our lives. Regardless of whether these incidents are positive or negative, enjoyable or painful, fleeting or prolonged, it is important to remember what we have gone through and how we have perceived ourselves.

We can lead fruitful lives only by appreciating these precious milestones. I know people who went from rags to riches, only to forget where they had come from. For instance, there are some who boast of being self-made millionaires, failing to acknowledge those who have been instrumental to their success. I firmly believe that no man is an island. Unless you are a hermit living in a remote mountain somewhere in Timbuktu, the people around you, and your relationships with them, make you who you are.

There is a story about a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind. She detested everyone except her loving boyfriend, who was always there for her. One day, she turned to him and said: “If only I could see the world, I will marry you.” It wasn’t long before someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was finally able to see everything, including her boyfriend. He asked her: “Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?” The girl looked at him and saw that he was blind, just like she was before. She had not expected that and the thought of looking at his closed eyelids for the rest of her life totally turned her off.

Her boyfriend left in tears. Days later, he wrote her a note saying: “Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.”

This story illustrates how selfish, knowingly or otherwise, we can sometimes be. It shows that we can easily forget where we came from. We often take our friends and loved ones for granted, even though they’ve helped us through the most trying times. You can take the story as either a reality check or a gentle reminder, but always remember: It’s important to embrace a selfless outlook, and to never forget what it was like before. Only then can we appreciate the existing relationships that we have.

(Written by Geoff Tan, Senior Vice-President of the SPH Marketing Division and General Manager of SPH NewMedia for Zapcode.) ~ MyPaper, 5th Oct 2008.

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Catholics celebrated the annual Feast of All Saints on 1st Nov. A day to commemorate the saints who have led a simple and holy life, an extraordinary one too. Last Saturday, I attended a remembrance ceremony held at Dover Park Hospice. A simple gathering of the families whose loved ones have passed through the doors of the hospice. A hospice whose medical, administrative, operations staff and the volunteers tended to the medical, physical and psychological needs of terminal patients who stayed there during the last days of their lives before they pass on.


^ Dover Park Hospice.


^ As the names of the deceased were read, the family members pasted a little note on the dove. Written notes of remembrance of the dearly departed whose lives we were once a part of.


^ As a symbolic gesture of “letting go” the anguish of missing our loved ones. Balloons made ready for the family members.


^ As we get over the death of our loved ones, the release of the balloons signify that “letting go” to allow us to gain the strength to continue with our lives.


^ A time to remember our dearly departed loved ones.

The arrival of the casket, the tears and sobs of relatives heard from the rooms on the death of a loved one, the empty bed where once a patient used to lie on…to stare at death in the face every possible day by the staff and volunteers of the hospice, you can’t help but realise that these ordinary people, from whichever race, creed, religion they are from, have rendered their best palliative care from the bottom of their hearts to the terminally ill in their chosen profession. These are the ordinary saints amongst us.

And while we remember the Saints on Nov 1, Nov 2 was the Feast of All Souls. A day we remember the dearly departed. Those whom have shared their lives with us.


^ Mass at Church of St Teresa on All Souls Day, 2nd Nov 2008.


^ The blessing of the columbarium at Church of St Teresa by Archbishop Nicholas Chia. 2nd Nov 2008.

May it be a day for us to remember our dearly departed. It is also a timely reminder to cherish the moments we share with those who are still alive…our spouse, family members, relatives and friends.

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An article published in today’s The Straits Times brings to mind our responsibility for our actions even in the face of fearing severe punishment for what we have done. It was a case where a man riding his motorcycle on his way to work was knocked down by, not one, but two vehicles. In both instances that happened a few minutes apart, the drivers of both vehicles that hit the victim did not stop to render help. Instead, they drove on leaving the victim at the accident site. The victim died from his injuries.

But instead of stopping, the 58-year-old drove away from the fatally injured motorcyclist, picked up her husband at the terminal, and went home. Read on.

What thoughts could have raced through the minds of both motorists when the vehicles they were driving hit the victim? Surely it must have been the fear of being prosecuted that outweighs the moral obligation to stop their vehicle and render help to the victim. “If nobody saw the accident, I still have a chance to escape punishment”. This was probably the next thing that made them drove on without stopping to help the victim. I guess both motorists do not have the faintest idea that their actions will cause immense grieve to the victim’s family.

As the old saying goes “whatever goes round comes round”. A stiff penalty was meted to the hit-and-run motorists. Even if no one knows what you are doing, God does.

The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out. ~ Thomas Babington Macaulay

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That’s not FAIR!!

Is it fair if you have worked for 12 hours straight and you receive the same wage as someone who only worked for an hour? That’s not fair. And precisely that’s what the Gospel described yesterday (see previous post). But the message of the Gospel is not about how we take a view to fairness. Rather, it’s about the lavish generosity of God’s mercy and love.

The celebrant in yesterday’s homily described about a well-known actor, John Wayne. The older folks will remember John Wayne as the suave swashbuckling hero who starred in cowboys and Indians movies. John Wayne was not a Catholic. Three times married and twice divorced, he led a care-free life during those days when his acting career was raking in good money. Just before his death in 1979, he asked to be baptised into the Roman Catholic Church acknowledging the life he led was not what God had prescribed. The Archbishop of Panama administered the Sacrament of Baptism, Holy Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick on John Wayne before he passed away.

If one can be granted salvation by making amends at the last moment given God’s lavish generosity, why can’t I lead the life I choose now? Perhaps at the last moment, I can do what John Wayne had done. Be a last minute entrant into heaven’s gate.

Is God’s lavish generosity fair to others who have been leading faithful lives all this while and yet unsure if there’s a place for them in heaven? That’s unfair, just like the workers in the Gospel passage. Those who worked longer hours got the same wage as those who only worked for an hour. It’s just illogical and unfair in the minds of humans. But God’s ways is always illogical beyond human comprehension. There are two responses to approach God’s lavish generosity which is thought to be unfair in our minds.

1. We can choose whichever way to lead our lives, even in direct opposite to what God had taught. But again, we would not know when the hour will come when God calls us. Don’t forgo the opportunity to reflect upon our lives to realise that we need to get back on the right track.

2. For those who have been struggling to lead faithful lives and still doing so, don’t give up and don’t feel envious by comparing yourself with others. If you understand God’s loving generosity for you, lavish in His generous love and bask in his graces bestowed on you. He knows your struggles and he gives you his graces to overcome them.

Is God still unfair? Perhaps to some if we look at it from the human logical viewpoint. But God’s ways is not man’s ways. Continue to bask in his lavish and generous love for us. He works in ways beyond our comprehension.

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