Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday in the 4th Week of Easter
Removing Splinters…
Readings: Acts 13:26-33; Psalm 2:6-7, 8-9, 10-11ab; John 14:1-6

Some of us have probably had the experience of having a splinter under our skin or a food fragment lodged between our teeth. It irritates. You struggle to get it out. Well, I’ve been experiencing something of that feeling, on and off, since last Sunday afternoon. That was when our parish had its Parish Pastoral Council Meeting. And I beg your patience as I attempt to use this reflection on today’s Mass readings to remove the splinter.

At the meeting, we spent more than half the time discussing the twin issues of how to enforce a better sense of decorum among those who come to our church for Mass and how to make us a more welcoming parish. I do think these are very important issues. And I do remember actually preaching on one of them some time ago. Still, what discomforted me was the approach we seemed to be taking. Do we really help people to be more respectful at Mass and more welcoming towards others by waving a finger at them continually? Was this how those of us who are respectful and welcoming arrived at this happy state? Or was it not rather because we heard and were moved by the gospel? Was it not because something happened within us? The very something that both Paul and Jesus proclaim so passionately in the readings today.

Rather than enunciating certain conventions of dress and codes of conduct to be enforced, both are eager to proclaim a Way to be walked. As Jesus highlights in today’s gospel, this is a Way that transforms hearts that are troubled into hearts that are trusting. It is also a Way that the apostles walked. As Paul tells us in the first reading, they moved from being companions of Jesus to being witnesses. And Jesus even says quite explicitly that he himself is this Way. One moves from being troubled to being trusting when one gradually learns to accompany Him everyday, even as He continues, in our own lives, to journey from Galilee (the place of His ministry) to Jerusalem (the place of His passion, death and resurrection).

Hearing this message proclaimed so powerfully today, one wonders whether it is reasonable to expect that once someone begins walking this Way, issues such as decorum and welcoming might actually begin to address themselves. Could it be, then, that the question we should really be asking is how we might proclaim ever more powerfully the at once consoling and convicting message of Christ, such that those who worship in our parish might find their troubled hearts touched and moved to trust in Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?

Both as individuals and as a parish, how effective are we at proclaiming this message today?


  1. I noticed a lady who very often didn't dress "appropriately" to church. But I saw that she bothered to go around congratulating the newly Baptised after the Easter Vigil Mass. I reckon that only one who are touched by the joy of Baptism, would they have the gut and enthusiasm to go around congratulating "strangers". It seems that this lady is spiritually more closer to God than some who dress their "Sunday Best"!

  2. Lately I have been agitated that many of the youth in my confirmation classes are still not 'touched' inspite of the efforts we put into the lessons.

    Thank you Fr Chris for this timely reminder. It's like suddenly I realise that it's most unproductive to try 'waking' them up by my own efforts!

    It makes me think back of my own journey towards knowing Christ better. First of all, it was because of God's generosity to allow my heart to be opened to His gospel. It was because something happened within me! And definitely not by someone waving a finger at me!

    Going forward, I must continue to ask for God's grace to allow me to grow to be a person of love and trust. That amidst this love and trust relationship, the gospel may be proclaimed not only in words but through our actions too. That one day the troubled hearts may be touched and moved to trust in Him always. Cecilia