Sunday, May 24, 2015

Bus-Stop Basics


Pentecost Sunday (B)

Picture: cc Daniel Lee

Sisters and brothers, do you remember the last time you went to a bus-stop? What was it like? And even if you don’t frequent bus-stops, because you travel in your own car, you can probably still remember what bus-stops are for, right? And how they are meant to be used. Of course, bus-stops can be used in many different ways. We can meet a friend at a bus-stop. We can go there to seek shelter from the rain. We can even choose to spend a whole day sitting quietly at a bus-stop. Watching the world go by.

Yes, it’s possible to use bus-stops in all these different and interesting ways. But that’s not really what they are for. We all know that bus-stops are built for one purpose: transportation. We are not really supposed to remain at a bus-stop for an extended period of time. No. We go there to catch a bus. To be transported to another location. Bus-stops are all about movement.

And in order for us to use a bus-stop effectively, there are at least three things that we need to know how to do. The first is recognition. We need to know how to identify the right bus. The one that will take us to our intended destination. We need to know the service number of the bus we’re taking. And, second, when that bus arrives, we need also to know how to flag it down and board it. But that’s not all. A third thing we need to know is, of course, how to wait.

For there will usually be other buses arriving at our stop. Buses that won’t take us to where we wish to go. When these wrong buses show up, we need to know how to ignore them. How to calmly and patiently let them pass us by. Which can be frustrating. Especially if we’ve been waiting a very long time for the right bus. While watching all the wrong ones go by.

Movement and recognition, waiting and boarding. These are what bus-stops are all about. And, strange as it may sound, these are also some of the things that make up Pentecost as well. Consider, for example, the first reading’s description of what it was like when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples. Very likely, our attention will be drawn most of all to the impressive sights and sounds. We’re told that the Spirit’s coming sounded like a powerful wind. And that it appeared… like tongues of fire. But what’s even more important than the sights and sounds are the powerful effects of the Spirit’s coming.

The reading describes these effects in terms of movement. Of transportation. When the Spirit descends upon them, the disciples are transported out of the room in which they had gathered. They are moved. Not only to leave the room. But also to speak powerfully and passionately. Preaching… about the marvels of God.

And not only the disciples, but also their listeners. We’re told that, at the Spirit’s coming, all the devout people living in Jerusalem, people from every nation under heaven, were moved to come together. They all assembled. They were also moved to amazement and astonishment that they could understand, in their own respective native languages, everything that the disciples were saying.

Not unlike a bus-stop, Pentecost is all about movement. Movement from fear to courage. From silence to speech. From division to unity. From confusion to understanding. From being scattered to being gathered together again. Nor does the similarity end here. Also like a bus-stop, Pentecost requires recognition. For the Holy Spirit is not the only thing that moves us. It is not the only bus arriving at our stop.

The second reading presents us with a contrast between two different movements. That of the Spirit of God on the one hand, and that of self-indulgence on the other. And we are taught to distinguish these movements by their opposing effects. By the different directions in which they transport us. When self-indulgence is at work, we’re told, the results are obvious: sexual irresponsibility… idolatry... jealousy... disagreements... envy... and similar things. In contrast, what the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Like a bus-stop, Pentecost is also about learning how to recognise different movements. Different impulses. Different bus services, if you like. The right ones to board. The wrong ones to ignore. And even to resist. But why do we do this? What is our ultimate intended destination? Where exactly do we wish to go? The answer to these questions is found in the gospel. And what an awe-inspiring answer it is. When the Spirit of truth comes, Jesus says, he will lead you to the complete truth. But what is this complete truth? What does it look and feel like?

The gospel reading is taken from the 15th and 16th chapters of John’s gospel. A little earlier, in chapter 14, Jesus had already told Thomas that Jesus himself is the way, and the truth, and the life (v. 6). So if Jesus is himself the truth. And the Spirit leads us to the complete truth. Then, it follows that where the Spirit is leading us is to Jesus himself. The Spirit recreates in us the life of Jesus. The Spirit reproduces in us the Mystery of the Lord’s Dying and Rising. The same joyful Mystery that we have been pondering most intensely in this great season of Easter that is now drawing to a close. This is the wonderful destination at which we all hope to arrive. The Lord Jesus himself. Present to us. Present in and among us. Present even to the rest of the world.

Isn’t this, my dear sisters and brothers, what Pentecost is really about? Recognising different movements. The wrong ones to ignore and to resist. The right ones to accept and to follow. But, if this is true, then surely Pentecost doesn’t just happen once a year. On the last day of Easter. Although we may celebrate the solemn feast on this particular day, Pentecost actually happens every day of every year. For, at every moment of every passing day, we all find ourselves at our respective spiritual bus-stops. Waiting for the right bus to arrive. So that we can allow it to take us to where we are meant to go.

Of course, we may not see and hear spectacular sights and sounds. No roaring winds from heaven. No dramatic tongues of flame. But what is more important are the movements. The impulses we experience. Some transporting us in the direction of selfishness and sin. Others in the direction of love and service and sacrifice.

Sisters and brothers, if Pentecost is indeed about transportation, then what are the buses arriving at your stop? And which ones will you be choosing to board today?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Why Did The Christian Cross The Road?


6th Sunday of Easter (B)

Picture: cc Megan Trace

Sisters and brothers, are you familiar with that series of riddles that have to do with a chicken crossing the road? For example, why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. Or why did the turkey cross the road? To prove that she wasn’t a chicken. Or why did the horse cross the road? Because it was the chicken’s day off. Sounds rather silly. But it could be a serious question too, right? After all, it can be a very dangerous thing for a chicken to cross the road. And if, despite the danger, the chicken still insists on crossing the road, then we might be forgiven for wondering at its exact reasons for doing so.

There are, of course, no chickens in our Mass readings today. But there is someone crossing a road of some sort. In the first reading, we find Peter crossing a rather big road. Perhaps even an expressway. It is the road that divides Jew from Gentile. The clean from the unclean. And not only is it against the law to cross this road, it is also a potentially dangerous thing to do. Who knows what his fellow Jews might think? Who knows how they will react? After all Jews, as you know, believed Gentiles to be unclean. And yet here is Peter, not only speaking to a Gentile, but visiting his home. And, subsequently, even staying there for some days. What are Peter’s reasons for doing this? Why does he cross the road? Why should any Christian bother to cross the road? This, my dear sisters and brother, is the question that I believe our Mass readings are helping us to answer today.

The first reason why Peter decides to cross the road is because he has come to a certain realisation. The truth I have now come to realise, Peter tells his listeners in Cornelius’ house, is that God does not have favourites. Peter crosses the wide road that separates Jew and Gentile, because he has come to realise the same truth that Paul writes about in the 1st letter to Timothy. That God desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (2:4).

Now this is a radical shift in thinking. Especially for someone who believes himself to be a member of a chosen people. And that is true also for the rest of us Christians. We too believe ourselves to be a chosen people. But it’s important for us to understand the nature of this choice. God indeed chooses us. But not in a way that excludes others. We are not members of an elite club. God has no favourites. God wants everyone to be saved. Which is why, like Peter, every Christian is called to cross the road. To share the good news we have received with others.

But how did Peter come to this realisation in the first place? He didn’t arrive at it on his own. It was revealed to him. And that is the second reason why Christians cross the road. Revelation. In Peter’s case, the revelation had come in the form of a vision he experienced even before he was invited to Cornelius’ house. In this vision, Peter had heard God telling him that what God had made clean, he was not to call unclean.

What’s more, while at Cornelius’ house, Peter receives yet another revelation. With his own eyes and ears, he witnesses the power of the Holy Spirit at work. For only just after he begins to speak to his hosts, and even before he has had a chance to pray for them, his listeners suddenly start speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. With this new revelation, any remaining doubts Peter may have had before are now dispelled. God really does wish even Gentiles to be saved. Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people?

But that’s not all. The second reading reminds us of an even earlier, more foundational, revelation than these. God’s love for us was revealed, we’re told, when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him. This is the foundational revelation. The revelation in which Jesus crossed the infinitely wide road separating heaven from earth. Creator from creation. Divinity from humanity. Holiness from sin. Life from death. Revelation. The second reason why Christians cross the road. The revelation of God’s deep love for us. Granted by the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.

The gospel gives us one more reason for crossing the road. If you keep my commandments, Jesus tells us, you will remain in my love… What I command you is to love one another. The third reason why Christians cross the road is so that they may remain in the love of God. May remain in the God who is love. For to cross the road for others, is also to imitate Christ, who crossed the road for us. It is to love as we have first been loved. And so to live in God, as God lives in us.

Realisation, revelation, and remaining. These are the 3 key reasons why we Christians cross the road. Even when it’s inconvenient. Even when it may be a dangerous thing to do. These are the reasons why we love, even our enemies. Why we share the Good News, even with strangers. Why we reach out to the poor and the needy, even when our efforts may go unnoticed or unappreciated. The reasons are clear enough. This is what our readings do for us. They give us the answer to the question why do Christians cross the road?

But there is another question that we need to ask, isn’t there? The answer to which we do not find in our readings. For even if we know why we should cross the road, we need also to know what exactly are the roads that each of us needs to cross at this particular point in time. Perhaps there is someone against whom we have been bearing a grudge. Or who has been bearing a grudge against us. Could this be the time for us to cross the road from conflict to reconciliation? Perhaps there is a situation of injustice that we know of, but have been keeping quiet about. Could this be the time for us to cross the road from silence to speech? Perhaps, like Peter, we too know a Cornelius. Someone who might be interested in Christ. Could this be the time for us to cross the road from apathy to evangelisation?

Sisters and brothers, not unlike that notorious jay-walking chicken in the riddles, we Christians have been given more than enough reasons to cross the road. But what exactly is the road that you are being asked to cross today?

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Caring For The Elephant


Wedding of Ian & Gillian

Readings: Genesis 1:26-28, 31a; Psalm 118; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8; Mark 10:6-9
Picture: cc Amanderson2

Ian and Gillian, dear friends, do you still remember the story of the blind men and the elephant? As the story goes, several blind men had never seen an elephant before. So they found one and felt it with their hands to discover what it was like. But each person touched a different part of the animal, and so drew a different conclusion. The guy who felt the ear said the elephant was like a huge fan. The one who felt the tail said it was like a piece of rope. The one who felt the trunk said it was like a snake. And so on. Since their experiences were different, they could not agree as to what the animal was really like.

Which of them was right? Well, anyone who can see will be able to tell them that they are all right to some extent. But since they can’t see, the blind men don’t know that. They can only judge from their limited experience. Does this mean that they are doomed to argue forever? Does this mean that they can never be friends? Not really, right? For although they may disagree over what the animal is like, they can agree on at least one thing. They can agree that it is indeed an elephant that each of them is touching. They can agree that the animal is real. That, in itself, is a significant point of agreement.

And this is already more than enough for them to come together to cooperate on a single project. To care for that elephant. To make sure that it has enough to eat and to drink. To make sure that it lives a happy life. What’s more, as the blind men work together, perhaps it’s possible for them to go even further. Perhaps each of them can share his experiences of the elephant with the others. So that they can each learn to better appreciate where the others are coming from. And, in the process, learn to live peacefully with one another, without having to argue all the time. Perhaps they will even start an organisation of blind men, devoted especially to the care of orphaned elephants...

There is, of course, no elephant among us today. And thank goodness for that. But there is a question that some of us may be asking. As we gather on this joyous occasion, when Ian and Gillian are united as husband and wife. The question is this: How did this day come to pass? How did this happy couple meet and fall in love? How did they decide to get married?

I don’t propose to tell the whole story. I’ll leave you to ask the happy couple for the details. If you don’t already know them. As far as I know, there’s actually more than one way to tell the story. According to one version, it all began 14 years ago. With a very helpful catechism classmate by the name of Bertrand. Whose remarkable teenage efforts at matchmaking are finally bearing fruit today. (Is Bertrand here by any chance?)

But Bertrand is not the only one we have to thank. For his efforts would have come to naught if Gillian and Ian hadn’t struck it off. If they hadn’t found a mysterious connection with each other that has lasted all these years. Through various separations and reunions. So... thanks to Bertrand… But not just to Bertrand. According to another version of the story, something bigger than Bertrand was at work. Something that goes by various names. Some call it fate or kismet. Others luck or fortune. The idea that this relationship is somehow written in the stars.

And then there is, of course, the Christian version of the story. A version told in the readings that we just heard. According to this version, the story dates back, not just to 14 years ago, but way back to the very beginning of creation itself. The first reading tells us, that when God created the human race, God decided to create not just individuals, but relationships. From the beginning of creation God made them male and female. And God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good.

But what exactly was so very good about this relationship between the man and the woman. The answer is found in the second reading, which speaks to us of love. Not just any kind of love. Not just the love that we may have for shopping at Takashimaya. Or for eating durians. Or for collecting Hello Kitty dolls. The reading tells us that this love is what makes life worth living. Without this love, we can even give our bodies to be burnt, and it will do us no good. After all, don’t suicide bombers do the same? This love is different. It is always patient and kind… never jealous… boastful or conceited… never rude or selfish... This love never comes to an end.

And the reason it doesn’t come to an end is because it doesn’t originate with us. It comes from God. It is out of this love that God creates the human race. It is out of this love that God sent his only Son, Jesus, to save us from our selfish ways. It is out of this love that God has seen fit to unite Ian and Gillian as husband and wife. And what God has united, man must not divide.

So there we have it. Different versions of the same story. Different opinions as to how this joyous union we are celebrating came to be. Different ideas about whom we have to thank. Bertrand. Kismet. God. But which version is true? Which version do you believe? Very likely each of us here will believe something different. And none of us has the means to prove the others wrong. But that’s okay. For even if we don’t agree about when, how and by whom this connection between Ian and Gillian came to be. We can at least agree that these two young people are truly very much in love. We can at least agree that they do experience some mysterious connection with each other. A connection strong enough to give them the courage to commit their lives to each other. For the rest of their days.

And because we can agree about this, the rest of us can come together to cooperate with each other. To commit ourselves to doing whatever we can to ensure that this beautiful relationship continues to survive and to thrive in the days ahead. Isn’t this also something that we are celebrating today? Not just the union of two individuals. Of Ian and Gillian. But also the coming together of various very different people. With very different beliefs. Yet bound together by a common bond. A common concern. A common friendship. A common love. For Gillian and for Ian. Something that unites us in spite of our differences. Something that may even lead us to share our experiences with each other. To learn from one another. And to live fuller lives as a result.

Ian and Gillian, my dear friends, what are you prepared to do to continue caring for the elephant in the days ahead?

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Sponsorship & Space



5th Sunday of Easter (B)

Picture: cc John

Sisters and brothers, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word sponsor? What does sponsorship mean to you? If you’re like me, you’ll probably think of the phrase, And now a word from our sponsors... You’ll think of the provision of resources, especially money. And it’s true. Very often, to sponsor something is to finance it. To sponsor someone is to provide her with monetary support. But doesn’t sponsorship have another meaning? One that involves more than money?

When someone applies for citizenship or permanent residency in a foreign country, for example. The applicant is often required to name a sponsor. A citizen of that country, who is willing to take responsibility for the conduct and character of the applicant. And this is true not just of the countries of the world. It’s also true of the community that is our church. As you know, every new inquirer joining the RCIA is assigned a sponsor. A baptised Catholic who accompanies the person through the process. Someone who takes responsibility for him. Someone who sees to her needs. Who teaches him the way things work.

More than provision, sponsorship is also about inclusion. More than just the supply of resources–be it in money, or in kind–sponsorship is also about the offer of hospitality. It’s about making space for newcomers. It’s about helping strangers to find their place in a community. To sponsor someone is to allow the person the privilege of making a new home among us.

And haven’t we all had some experience of the importance of sponsorship in this sense? Don’t we all know what it feels like to be a newcomer? Whether in school or at work. In church or at a party. We all know what it’s like to be on the outside looking in. We all know that feeling of immense gratitude and relief, when someone on the inside takes the trouble to come out to receive us. To ease us into unfamiliar surroundings. To introduce us to new people. To quiet our anxieties. To make us feel at home.

Sisters and brothers, we all know the importance of sponsorship. Of hospitality and inclusion. Isn’t this why we find Barnabas  such a likeable person? In the first reading, Saul is the obvious newcomer to the Christian community in Jerusalem. He is the outsider. And not just any ordinary newcomer. Saul has a history of persecuting Christians. It’s no wonder that everyone is scared of him. Unwilling to welcome him into the community.

Fortunately for Saul, someone on the inside intervenes on his behalf. The reading tells us that Barnabas took charge of Saul, introduced him to the Apostles, bore witness to his conversion to Christ and to how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. In effect, what Barnabas does is to act as Saul’s sponsor. He helps Saul to find a place in the church in Jerusalem. If not for Barnabas, perhaps Saul would never go on to become the great apostle Paul.

But he does. And we see the beginnings of this radical transformation already in the first reading. Where we’re told that Saul started to go around with them in Jerusalem, preaching fearlessly in the name of the Lord. But what is really happening here? Isn’t Saul doing the very same thing that Barnabas had done for him? Through his preaching, Saul offers his listeners a new home in the community of believers. He speaks of their inclusion in the communion of saints. Just as Barnabas had sponsored him, so now Saul looks to sponsor others.

But that’s not the whole story, is it? That’s not quite the complete picture. If it were, then the church would not be that much different from any other group of people looking to recruit new members. Even credit card companies do this, don’t they? By preaching the good news that membership has its privileges. But the Christian community is not a credit card. The sponsorship we provide is not inclusion in an elite group. A gathering of people richer, or smarter, or more socially connected than everyone else. What then is the Christian version of sponsorship? What are we really members of, if not an elite group?

We find the answer in the gospel. Where Jesus speaks about being the true vine, in whom we, his disciples, are the branches. Jesus is, of course, using an image from agriculture. And yet, what the vine does for the branches is not that different from what the sponsor does for those who are sponsored. Like the sponsor, the vine is the place of hospitality and inclusion. The location onto which foreign branches can be grafted. Where they can make a new home. Where they can find new life. Except that this is no ordinary home. This is not just any ordinary human life. Instead, what we believe is that, in Christ the True Vine, we the branches gain entry into the very life of God! As the second reading reminds us, whoever believes in Christ and keeps his commandments, lives in God and God lives in him.

By telling us that he is the vine, Jesus is offering himself to us as our true sponsor. The one who includes us, who makes a privileged space for us, in the very life of God. This is the marvellous Mystery that we are celebrating, especially in this joyous season of Easter. The Mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. By which, we have all been given a place, a home, in God.

But we only reap the benefits of this sponsorship, if we claim it for ourselves. If we continue to make our home in Christ. If we remain in him. And we do this by acting in the same way that Barnabas and Saul acted in the first reading. By taking the trouble to sponsor others. As the second reading reminds us, our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something alive and active; only by this can we be certain that we are children of the truth… If the new life of the true vine flows in us, we will bear fruit. If we are truly members of the Church, the Body of Christ, then we will naturally desire to invite others to join our number. To experience our life. To share our home. To partake of our joy.

A joy that many around us are seeking so desperately. Without even realising it. People who may take pride in being the insiders of this world. But who remain outsiders in the kingdom of God. People who think they are living the good life. But who are really dying, bit by bit, with every passing day. If this is true, then is it not our responsibility as Christians to reach out to them? To usher them into the Body of Christ? To graft them onto the True Vine? To sponsor them so that they may share in the life of God?

Sisters and brothers, especially at Easter, we remember and we celebrate the wonderful way in which Christ has already gained for us a home in God. Do you know someone who needs to hear this good news? Someone who needs to come to know Christ?

Sisters and brothers, is there someone in your life who is still looking for a sponsor today?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ultramarathon


4th Sunday in Easter (B)
(Good Shepherd Sunday)

Picture: cc Asiaone News

Sisters and brothers, imagine for a moment that you’re making a long journey. Maybe you’re running an ultramarathon. Like Mr. Yong Yuen Cheng and Mr. Lim Nghee Huat. Who have both decided to celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday by running 50 km every day for 50 days. Or maybe you’re climbing a mountain. Or making a pilgrimage of some kind. Whatever it is, the journey is long and the way is hard. Can you think of some challenges you might face along the way? Obstacles that prevent you from completing your journey? I can think of three.

The first is exhaustion. If the journey is long and hard, it’s likely that, at some point, your body is going to start feeling the strain. Maybe your legs will go soft. So that you’ll need some place to rest. Or a source of support. Like a walking stick. Or a travelling companion.

The second challenge is discouragement. Especially when the going gets tough, and your body starts complaining, it’s likely that you’re also going to feel like giving up. Maybe you’ll find your mind drifting to the comforts of home. And maybe you’ll start questioning yourself. Asking why you were stupid enough to go on this journey in the first place. When this happens, you’ll need to be reminded of two things. Your reasons for setting out. As well as what is waiting for you at your destination. Remembering how your trip began, and where it will end, can encourage you to persevere. To continue on your way.

The third challenge is danger. Such as the danger of getting lost, or of being attacked. In such situations of danger, what you’ll need is a protector and a guide. Someone to show you the way when you don’t know which direction to take. Someone to defend you from whatever may threaten your safety.

Exhaustion, discouragement, and danger. Three challenges that people who make long journeys have to face. But why am I talking about all this on this 4th Sunday of Easter? When our church celebrates Good Shepherd Sunday? And when we’re supposed to pray for more vocations to the priestly and religious life? The reason becomes clearer when we recall what we prayed for at the beginning of Mass just now. We asked that we the humble flock may reach where the brave Shepherd has gone before. We asked God to help us to arrive at our destination. Which means that, whether we realise it or not, we are all meant to be on a journey. The same journey that Jesus, our Good Shepherd, has already made and completed. By his Cross and Resurrection. The journey from death into life. From selfishness into love. From darkness into light.

My dear friends, as followers of Christ, we are all called to make this journey. Whether we like it or not. This is our vocation. And it’s not easy. We face challenges. At times, we may find ourselves overcome with exhaustion. Too tired to go on. Especially when our temptations just don’t seem to go away. No matter how hard we struggle against them. What are we to do when this happens? Our first reading and the psalm remind us that, instead of giving up, we need to keep making Jesus our cornerstone. To keep leaning on him. To let him be the stable and solid support for our aching bodies and trembling knees. For it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

At other times, we may feel not just tired, but also discouraged. Especially when we are made to suffer for our beliefs. Times when, precisely because we choose to follow God’s ways, we end up losing out to those who don’t. So that we may ask ourselves why we are so stupid. Why we don’t just do what everybody else does. Why, for example, we continue to refuse to step on others, or to stab them in the back, just to get ahead.

At such times, the second reading reminds us of two important things. First, we are reminded of who we already are. We are already the children of God. We are already the brothers and sisters of Christ the Lord. The One who gave his life for us. This is the reason why we act the way we do. Why we live differently from others. We live as Christ our brother lived. We act as he acted. And we face the consequences the way he did as well. Second, we are also reminded of what we are to be in the future. That we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is. This is the goal of our journey. Our final destination. And our greatest dignity. Far more precious than any earthly success. To be like God himself. To see him as he really is. To be reminded of these things–of who we already are, and of what we will become–is to find new courage in times of discouragement.

And then there are also times when we may find ourselves in danger. In danger of getting lost or misled. Times when, even though we very much want to do what is right, we just can’t seem to see clearly the direction we should take. Times when the line between right and wrong, between good and bad, or between good and better, seems too hazy for us to recognise.

At such times, we need to remember what Jesus tells us in the gospel. That he is the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. When we are in danger of getting lost, he is the One who continues calling out to us. Showing us, by his example, the way we should go. When we are in danger of being deceived, he is the One who keeps us safe from harm. What we need to do is to stay close to him. To keep asking him to teach us to recognise and to follow his voice. As he speaks to us in the silence of our hearts. As well as in the different people and situations that we encounter everyday.

A sure support in exhaustion. A timely reminder in discouragement. A reliable shepherd in danger. These are the things that we find in Jesus our Lord. These are ways in which he helps us to meet the challenges of our journey. So that we can persevere to the very end. But that’s not all. To follow Jesus on the journey is not just to receive help from him. It is also to reach out to others who need our help. To be a support for those who are exhausted. To be a reminder for those who are discouraged. And to be a shepherd to those who are in danger. To do what Peter is doing in the first reading.

To help others on their journey even as we continue to receive help from the Lord on our own. This too is our vocation. And we fulfil this vocation in different ways. Most of us do it as lay people. Married or single. Doing our best to shepherd the people we meet in the world. In our homes and workplaces. In our schools and on the streets. But we also need priests and religious. People who shepherd others in more religious settings. But whether we are married or single, priest, religious, or lay, we are all called to follow Christ in his dying and rising. And to be Christ to those who travel with us on the way.

Sisters and brothers, today the Good Shepherd continues to call us to follow him. What do you need to keep persevering on your journey today?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dream Home


Wedding of Philip & Wendy

Readings: Genesis 1:26-31; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:9-12
Picture: cc  Mark Moz

Philip and Wendy, my dear friends. If it was completely up to you, where would you wish to live? Where would you choose to call home? Would you live in Singapore? Or in another country? In a house? Or in an apartment? And what would your dream home look like? How many rooms would it have? How many floors? Would it have a garden? A verandah? A driveway? And what would you be willing to do in order to find and to keep living in this place? How hard would you work? What sacrifices would you make? How much money would you spend?

Wendy and Philip, I’m not sure if you are aware of this. But, by your choice of scripture readings today, you are actually sharing with us your answers to these questions. You are telling us where you wish to live. What you want your home to look like. And what you are prepared to do to keep living in this place.

In the first reading, from the book of Genesis, after creating the first man and woman, God gives them the whole world for them to live in. Now this may not seem surprising to us. Of course, you have to choose to live in the world. Where else can you live? But God doesn’t just tell the first man and woman to live in the world. God also teaches them how to make the world their home. Be fruitful, God says, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth…

But what does this mean? What does it mean to be fruitful? To be masters of the earth? Is it just a matter of bearing more and more children? Or simply to be able to make everything else in the world do whatever we want? Is that all it takes to be at home on this earth? As you know, my dear friends, later on in the story, the first man and woman do eventually have children. But they do not feel at home in the world. In fact, out of jealousy, their first child, Cain, kills the second one, Abel. And then, as punishment, Cain is made wander homeless over the face of the earth.

In the same way, we can live in the world, but still not feel at home in it. We may even live in a big house. Drive an expensive car. Wear nice clothes. Have plenty of children. But still feel as though something important was missing. Still feel like homeless people. So what must we do to be at home here on this earth? Where and how exactly must we live? Jesus gives us the answer to these questions in the gospel. As the Father has loved me, he says, so I have loved you. Remain in my love.

Remain in my love. My dear friends, this is the house that Jesus has prepared for us. The place he wants us to call home. The love that he has for us. The love that he showed us when he chose to come among us as an innocent and helpless baby. When he died for us on the Cross. And was raised to life on the Third Day. This is the love that Jesus means. The place we can truly call home. Where we can find lasting joy. Even on this earth. Even when we may face difficulties. Even in the midst of trouble of any kind. As Jesus says, I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. The love of Christ, the Son of God, who gave his life to set us free. This is the place that you, Philip and Wendy, are choosing to call home.

But how do we find this place? And what must we do to keep living there? The second reading tells us that our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active. It is, of course, important to tell people that we love them. And we hope that you, Wendy and Philip, will never stop telling each other that. But, as we all know, love is shown more in deeds than in words. It’s quite pointless, for example, for me to keep telling my spouse and children that I love them, if I never feel the need to spend quality time with them. Similarly, we show our love for God not just by talking, but by also by acting. By doing what God wants. By making time and space, in our daily lives, for God and for others. To live the way Jesus lived. Lives of loving service.

This is what you, Wendy and Philip, are committing yourselves to do. This is the place that you are choosing to make your home. Not just a particular country or district. Not just a big house or a posh condominium. Not just a residence that can be bought and sold. More than anywhere else, the place that you are choosing to call home is the love of God, shown to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And, by our presence here today, the rest of us are committing ourselves to help you live in this special place. To support you by our friendship. Especially in times when it becomes difficult to remain in love. Times when the thrill of the honeymoon may have slipped away from memory. And the burdens of daily routine may seem too heavy to bear. Especially in times like these, we all need people to help remind us of the promises we have made. People who are themselves also trying live where we have chosen to live. To live in love. To live in Christ. To live in God.

This, my dear friends, is what we are celebrating today. Not just a union of two lives. But also a community’s commitment to keep living in the same place. To keep sharing a common home.

Philip and Wendy, my dear friends, what are we prepared to do to continue living in the joyful home of God’s love today?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Spiritual Makeover


3rd Sunday of Easter (B)

Picture: cc David Pacey

Sisters and brothers, do you sometimes feel bored with your life? Have you ever felt like you’re stuck in a rut? Needing to experience something new? To break out of your dull routine? What do you do? How do you go about renewing yourself? Some people get a makeover. They change their appearance. They dye their hair. Do their nails. Draw their eyebrows. Change their wardrobe. Diet and exercise… And then there are others who, instead of changing the way they look, change the things they own. They get a flashier car. A bigger house. A newer phone. Maybe even a younger wife... Or a richer husband…

But what if all these changes are just not enough? What if you still feel stuck? What if you need more than just a renovation of your looks? Or an updating of your belongings? What if what you need is a spiritual makeover? What do you do then?

I believe this is the question that our Mass readings help us to answer on this 3rd Sunday of Easter. In the gospel, it’s quite clear that the disciples are badly in need of a spiritual makeover. We know this from the way they react to the appearance of the Risen Christ. The reading tells us that they were in a state of alarm and fright, because they thought they were seeing a ghost.

A ghost, as you know, is a creature that is stuck. Something that’s supposed to be dead and gone. But that refuses to leave. Is unable to leave. Remaining, instead, to haunt places and people. To cause a disturbance. To act as a painful reminder of unfinished business. Of stubborn grudges and suppressed guilt. Of squandered opportunities and bitter regrets. Of unmourned losses and ignored pain. In the gospel, the disciples are haunted. Not just by the death of Jesus. But also by how they abandoned and denied him. Their Master and Friend. In the gospel, the disciples are stuck in the rut of their own guilt and shame. Unable to move on.

Which is why the Risen Christ appears to them in the first place. To get them unstuck. To give them a spiritual makeover. And it’s helpful for us to pay close attention to how Jesus does this. Notice that he takes great care to convince the disciples that he is not a ghost. Touch me and see for yourselves, he says. A ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have. He even takes the trouble to eat a piece of fish in front of them. By doing this, Jesus shows the disciples that the damage caused by the Crucifixion has been repaired. The One who died has now been raised. More importantly, he doesn’t hold a grudge against them, for their weakness and cowardice.

A ghost appears to haunt and to frighten. To accuse and to blame. But the Risen Christ is not a ghost. He is not stuck. He is not a thing of the past. But a promise for the future. He comes to bless and to console. To reconcile and to renew. Peace be with you! All the disciples have to do, to get unstuck, is to humbly accept this gift. The precious gift of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. To receive it and to bear witness to it before the whole world.

And this is exactly what Peter does in the first reading. He bears witness to the Resurrection. And notice how he does it. Notice that he follows the same steps that Jesus takes. He first proclaims the marvellous news of how the terrible effects of sin have already been reversed. You killed the prince of life, he says. God, however, raised him from the dead. Peter does not act like a ghost. He doesn’t haunt the people. Doesn’t just recall their faults to make them feel bad about their past. Instead, he points them to the future. He shares with them the incredible news that their ruptured relationship with God has already been renewed. All they have to do now is to claim the gift for themselves. To repent and turn to God. So that their sins may be wiped out. So that, like Peter and his companions, they too can become unstuck. Pointed in a new direction. Given a spiritual makeover.

But what does it mean to repent and turn to God? What does repentance look like in practice? Is it just a matter of being baptised at the Easter Vigil? Or going to confession in Lent? Or coming to Mass once a week? Or saying our prayers every day? All these things are important, of course. But they are not enough. The second reading tells us what more is required. We can be sure that we know God only by keeping his commandments. By doing what God wants. By living, everyday, according to the wishes of God.

And this includes acting the way Peter acts in the first reading. Doing what the Risen Christ does in the gospel. Helping the people around us to get unstuck. Teaching them how to move on. Not by haunting and accusing them. Or judging and blaming them. But by encouraging and inspiring them. By reminding them that the Crucified Christ has already been raised. And because Christ has been raised, their sins have already been forgiven. Forgiven not because they deserve it. But because God insists on loving them. On renewing their lives. On being their friend.

This is what it means to repent and to turn to God. Not just to try our best not to do wrong. But also to help others to do what is right. To obey the command of the Risen Christ to go and bear witness to the Resurrection. To proclaim the good news of God’s love and mercy and compassion. For it is only when we do this that our own lives can truly be renewed. It is only when we help others to get unstuck that our lives are given a new direction. As the second reading tells us, when anyone does obey what he has said, God’s love comes to perfection in him. We enjoy more fully the benefits of God’s love by sharing it with others. We enter more deeply the Mystery of the Resurrection by bearing witness to its power in our world.

Isn’t this what the Easter season is about? It’s a time for us to deepen our appreciation of God’s love for us shown in the Dying and Rising of Christ. First, by remembering and celebrating how our own sins have already been forgiven. As we are doing now at this Eucharist. How Christ has already gotten us unstuck. Has already pointed us in a new direction. And then, by going out and sharing this good news with others. With our family and friends. With our colleagues and acquaintances. And even with our enemies and strangers. With anyone who needs to experience the power of the Resurrection.

Sisters and brothers, Easter is a time of renewal. God wishes to refresh us. To point our lives in a new direction. Do you need a spiritual makeover today?
 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

When In Rome...



2nd Sunday of Easter
(Divine Mercy Sunday)

Picture: cc Joe Ross

When in Rome-dot-dot-dot. 

Sisters and brothers, can you complete the sentence for me? Of course you can, right? It’s simple. When in Rome... do as the Romans do. We’re all familiar with this proverb. We know what it means. When in a foreign place, try your best to blend in. To follow what everyone else is doing. That’s good advice. At least for the most part. It helps us to learn from the locals. And to avoid trouble. But surely the proverb holds true only for the most part. And not all of the time. Not in every situation. Why do I say that?

Well, what if the Romans happen to be cannibals? What if they feast on human flesh? And what if they practice human sacrifice? What if they even offer the lives of their own children in worship to their local gods? What are we to do then? Are we still to do as the Romans do? Shall we simply continue to imitate them? Just for the sake of blending in? Just to avoid trouble?

Of course, that is one option we can choose. To go to a foreign place and do exactly what the people there do. But that’s not the only option. We can also refuse to imitate them. Refrain from doing what we consider to be wrong. We can choose to continue keeping to what our conscience teaches us to be right. And we can do this in two ways. Or rather at two locations. First, we can choose to do this from the safety of our own home. That’s to say, we can refuse to travel to Rome in the first place.

Which is, of course, the easier option. The far safer choice. The one that avoids trouble. The other option is much harder. Which is to actually insist on keeping to our own values while living in a foreign land. Among a strange people. Even if it gets us into trouble. To choose this last option is really to rewrite our proverb. And to do it not just with our lips. But with our lives. No longer when in Rome, do as the Romans do. But when in Rome, keep doing what your conscience says is right. No matter the cost.

If this last option sounds really stupid and reckless. Then we can perhaps begin to understand how the disciples must be feeling in the gospel today. As they huddle together in that room with the doors closed, for fear of the Jews. They have just witnessed the horrible fate of their Lord and Master and Friend. He travelled from his heavenly home to a foreign land. To their own sin-soaked world. On a mission of mercy. To teach people how to live differently. How to act no longer out of selfishness and fear. But out of love and compassion. And so to enter into the fullness of life. Yet, for all his trouble on their behalf, they sent Jesus to his death. A most painful and disgraceful death.

What possible reason then can the disciples have for wanting to follow in the Lord’s footsteps. To die as he died. To be disgraced as he was disgraced. Surely, what happened to Jesus is proof enough that the proverb should be strictly followed. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Or else, don’t go to Rome at all. If you insist on doing what is right, then better to lock your doors and remain at home. Better to stay far away from all foreigners.

Sounds like good advice. Sounds like the prudent thing to do. And yet, that is precisely the mistaken choice that the Risen Christ comes to correct. To those who have been frightened out of their wits. Scared into hiding behind locked doors. Jesus comes on another mission of mercy. First to console. By word and by deed. He says to the disciples, Peace be with you. Then he shows them his hands and his side. And they are filled with joy. Their pain and sorrow transformed into gladness and delight. They rejoice because the One who had died lives again.

But Jesus doesn’t just console. He also commissions. As the Father sent me, so am I sending you. Sending you away from the apparent safety of home. Sending you out into the messy and dangerous world. On the same mission of mercy that I received from my Father. To live the same way I lived. The way I taught you to live it. And to do it with the courage and joy that I am now imparting to you. In the Holy Spirit. The courage and joy that comes from knowing that I am alive. The courage and joy that comes from believing that, even if you have to suffer, even if you have to lay down your life as I did, you too will be raised. You too will enter the fullness of life. And not just you. But also those who accept what you say. Those who choose to follow me.

To be consoled and commissioned. To be supported and sent out. To live, in this world, the values of the world to come. This, my dear friends, is the dangerous yet joyful experience of Easter. An experience that has concrete effects. Effects described for us in the first reading. Where we’re told that the whole group of believers was united, heart and soul. And this unity is shown in a very concrete way. Everything they owned was held in common. So that none of their members was ever in want. Social historians tell us that their works of charity and mercy were what set the early Christians apart from the rest of society at that time. The disciples lived in the world. But they did not do what the rest of the world did. And, as a result, they sometimes had to pay the price for standing out. Persecution. Suffering. Even death.

And yet, many persevered. Why? How? By holding firm to what the second reading teaches us today. That anyone who has been begotten by God has already overcome the world; this is the victory over the world–our faith. And this victory is shown in charity and mercy. In the willingness to be sent out into the world. To live no longer for ourselves but for others. To live differently from the world. So that the world might be saved.

Sisters and brothers, this is what Easter is all about. This is what the Resurrection means. Victory. The victory of mercy over selfishness. Of charity over indifference. Of life over destruction. This is the faith that our readings invite us to profess. And to live out. Joyfully and courageously. In our own world today. For, like the early Christians, we too live in a sin-soaked society. Which operates in ways contrary to the gospel. Ways that may even look like cannibalism and human sacrifice. Privileged people (including myself) maintaining our privileged lifestyles by feeding (knowingly or not) upon the broken bodies and difficult lives of the underprivileged. And grownups sacrificing their children (more or less knowingly) to the idols of money and success.

Sisters and brothers, can we deny that these things still happen today? In this modern world of ours? And if we can’t, then surely we must ask ourselves what we Christians are prepared to do about it. The options are clear. We can live in the world in exactly the same way as everyone else. Hiding our faith behind locked doors. Professing it only with our lips. Within the safe air-conditioned confines of this church. One to two hours a week. Or we can let ourselves be sent out by our Crucified and Risen Lord. To live in charity and mercy. In justice and peace. In courage and joy.

When in Rome-dot-dot-dot.

Sisters and brothers, how will you be choosing to complete this proverb with your life today?

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Through A Glass Darkly


Easter Sunday

Picture: cc Dave

Sisters and brothers, have you ever tried looking through a glass window or door? Like the doors of this church, for example? What do you see? Well, it depends, right? If the space on the other side of the glass is brightly lit, then you see whatever is there. But what if that space is dark? What if it’s much darker than your side of the glass? Well then, very likely, all you’ll see is your own image reflected back at you. Which can be quite frustrating. What do you do then?

Busybody that I am, I sometimes try to take a closer look. I go right up to the glass. Cup my hands around my face. And stare hard into the dark. Hoping to see something. But if even such extraordinary efforts don’t yield any results, I usually give up. I continue on my own merry way. On my side of the glass. Forgetting what might be there on the other side. Until, perhaps, the next time I happen to pass by again.

Looking through a darkened pane of glass. Isn’t this a good image of what life is like? Mostly, we go through our days so busy with our many concerns that we don’t bother to think about whether or not there may be another side to things. A deeper side. A side that can help us make sense of everything else. Of course, there are times when we may be drawn to pause. To take a break from our frantic dashing about. And to try to peer through the glass. To try to penetrate the meaning of life. But it’s not easy. All too often our view is clouded by the burdens and pleasures of daily living. So that all we see is our own reflection. And when that happens, it’s easy just to give up. To stop looking. To continue, merrily or not, on our usual way.

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that the desire to discover what’s on the other side of the glass doesn’t really leave us. It remains. Hidden somewhere at the back of our minds. Buried within the inner recesses of our hearts. Waiting for the right moment to surface. And there are times when this desire grows especially strong. Times of crisis, for example. A career setback, or a failed relationship. A serious illness, or a death in the family... But what can we do then? How are we to see through the darkened glass in a moment of crisis, if we haven’t already learned to do so in a time of relative calm?

Sisters and brothers, I think this is the question that our Mass readings help us to ponder, on this first day of Easter. In the gospel, Mary of Magdala and the other disciples are facing a terrible crisis. The man whom they were following. The one on whom they had pinned all their hopes. Whom they believed to be the Messiah. Has died. And he has died a most brutal death. An utterly disgraceful death. A death that puts into question everything they had believed him to be. What are they to do now? How will they carry on?

Mary does what her heart draws her to do. She goes back to the place where her master’s body was laid. Probably to mourn and to weep. But what she finds there shocks and upsets her. The stone had been moved away. In the darkness of her grief, Mary assumes the worst. They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him. Wrapped up tightly in the pain of her loss, Mary is unable to penetrate the Mystery of the Empty Tomb. Much like what happens when we try to look through darkened glass, all she sees is her own reflection.

And yet, to her credit, Mary does not give up. Her love is too great. There is no possibility of her simply walking away. She rushes off. But only to call for help. Then she returns to the darkness of the Empty Tomb. And, painful and confusing though it may be, she stubbornly continues to gaze into the depths of the Mystery. She stares into that darkened surface. Hoping that somehow, when the time is right, the light will begin to shine.

And it does. Gradually it does. In the reading, although the Risen Christ is still hidden from view, enough light is already shining for at least one of Mary’s companions to identify the signs of new life. The disciple whom Jesus loved gazes through the darkened glass of the Empty Tomb. And his eyes begin to penetrate the Mystery. He saw and he believed. And not just him. Shortly after this, Mary herself too will see. She too will believe. And life on this side of the glass will never be the same again.

For what the disciples see turns their lives around. Transforms them into the very thing that Peter claims to be in the first reading. No longer grieving orphans and fearful victims. But brave witnesses to the Crucified and Risen One. We have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead, Peter exclaims. And he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people.

But that’s not all. The transformation is not just something that happens only once in the past. It is an ongoing process. A continual exercise of looking at things we do not understand. And learning to recognise signs of new life. Isn’t this what brings Peter to the home of Cornelius in the first place? Cornelius, as we may remember, is a gentile. A Roman centurion. Ordinarily, a good Jew would not visit such a person. Considering him unclean. But just before receiving the invitation to Cornelius’ home, Peter had seen a vision. In which the Lord had told him not to call unclean what God had made clean. The vision provides Peter with light to see gentiles like Cornelius with new eyes. So that the same thing that happened to the disciples at the Empty Tomb, now happens to Peter at the home of a believing gentile. He sees and he believes. He hears and he obeys. And a whole family is ushered into the fullness of life.

All of which helps us to better understand what is meant in the second reading, when it tells us to look for the things that are in heaven. To let our thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth. It is not that we are forbidden to look at or think about whatever we may find in the world. That would be impossible. But we should look at our world always through the darkened glass of faith. Always through the Mystery of the Dying and Rising of the Lord. And we should do this especially with the things that confuse and upset us most. The things that we understand and value least. The various crises that we may encounter in our lives. The different classes of people whom we neglect. Or against whom we may be prejudiced. For here we find the Empty Tombs of our lives. Here are the places where the light of the Crucified and Risen One is waiting to shine. So as to transform us. And, through us, the rest of our waiting world.

Sisters and brothers, today, after 40 penitential days of Lent, we begin 50 joyful days of Easter. 50 days devoted to letting the light of Christ penetrate the darkness of our hearts and our world. 50 days of gazing into Empty Tombs and at believing gentiles. Waiting for the Risen One to enlighten and to transform. To inspire and to empower...

Sisters and brothers, what must you do to continue gazing steadily into the darkened glass today?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Death As Revelation


Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (B)

Picture: cc Choo Yut Sing

Sisters and brothers, what has this past week been like for you? These last seven days of national mourning, following the passing of the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew? For me, perhaps more than anything else, it has been a time of revelation. Of uncovering things that I didn’t know before. And not just about the man himself. His extraordinary intelligence. His boundless energy. His steadfast devotion. I think we more or less knew all of that already.

What I’ve found particularly striking about these days is what they have revealed about us. The people of Singapore. I used to think that we cared only about the more mundane and practical things. As well as the more trivial and nonsensical things. I thought that we would bother to queue up only for stuff like primary school places and lottery tickets. Or iPhones and Hello Kitty dolls. But I was wrong. The enormous outpouring of gratitude and grief that we’ve witnessed over these days have proved me wrong. People willing to stand in line for up to 8 hours in the hot sun. Just to pay their last respects. Old people. Sick people. People in wheel chairs. People with babes in arms. People weeping openly, unrestrainedly. People kneeling, and even prostrating themselves, in prayer...

Sisters and brothers, over these last seven days, something that was previously hidden, at least to me, has now been uncovered. The deep respect and admiration that Singaporeans have for their founding father. Mr. Lee’s passing has indeed been a time of revelation.

And if this is true of the death of someone who helped to build a nation only fifty years old. How much more must it be true of the death of Someone who announced the coming of an eternal kingdom? How much more will the dying of Christ, the Son of God, also be for us a time of revelation? Isn’t this what we find in our readings today? As Jesus goes to his Passion, his suffering and death on the Cross reveals hidden things about the people around him. It uncovers the jealousy of Jesus’ opponents. The chief priests and the scribes. Who plotted to have him killed in secret. So as not to cause a disturbance among the people. It lays bare for us the terrible disloyalty of Judas. The close friend. Who broke bread with the Lord. And then betrayed Him with a kiss. It exposes the cowardice of Peter and the other disciples. Who denied and deserted their Master. At the time of his greatest need. As well as of Pontius Pilate. The governor. Who was more anxious to placate the crowd than to save an innocent man.

Thankfully, however, cowardice and deception are not the only things that the Lord’s death uncovers. As Jesus goes to his Passion, there are also those who courageously step forward to show their care and concern. There is the unnamed woman at Bethany, for example. Who lovingly prepared Jesus’ body for burial. There are the other women. The two Marys, Salome and their companions. Who watched his Crucifixion from a distance. And there’s Joseph of Arimathea. Who boldly went to Pilate and asked for his body.

Like the passing of Mr. Lee, the Passion of Christ too is a time of revelation. It reveals something about the people around him. Who they are. What they stand for. And what the Lord’s Passion does for these people, it can also do for us. In this holiest of weeks, as we accompany Jesus on the Way of the Cross, his Passion and Death can reveal to us something of ourselves as well. Of who we are. And what we stand for. This can be a time for the Lord to uncover for us the true extent of our commitment to him. Of the place that he holds in our hearts and in our lives. A time for him to lay bare our generosity and our courage. As well as our cowardice and deception. Not to accuse or to condemn us. But to free and to transform us. To challenge us to do better.

For the dying of Someone great is not just a time of revelation. It is also a time of inspiration. Of being called and empowered to rise above ourselves. To build on foundations already laid for us. Foundations revealed by the Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ. He is the Suffering Servant of the first reading. The One who makes no resistance to those who humiliate and torture him. He is the Humble Slave of the second reading. Who, though equal to God, freely empties himself. Even to the point of accepting death on a Cross. He is the Crucified One of the gospel. Whom, at his death, a soldier identifies as a son of God.

Sisters and brothers, in the days ahead, as we remember the Lord’s sacrifice for our sakes, as we allow his Passion to uncover who we really are, we can also be inspired to follow the Way that he walked. To patiently bear our own crosses. For love of God and neighbour. And to reach out to those who may struggle more painfully to carry theirs. The people around us who suffer and who need our help. People who have less than we do. Both materially and spiritually. Those who need someone to help them with their crosses. As Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus with his.

Sisters and brothers, as we enter this holiest of weeks, what is the Passion and Death of Christ revealing to you about yourself today?
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