Monday, January 31, 2005

Gerasene Demoniac & Singapore's Casino

Today's Gospel was about Jesus & the Gerasene Demoniac (Mk 5:1-20)
And as I reflected and as Fr Gerard spoke in his sermon about how the people begged Jesus to leave the area, it just brought to mind the article in the papers about how religious institutions should keep out of the debate over the casino. (Too bad I can't find it online)

But if i remember it correctly, it was saying how religious bodies should not interfere with matters of the economy or something like that. And it just seemed so funny how the situation seemed so much like what was happening in the time of Jesus.

Lets say the spirits in the man are the evils of the casino. Then comes someone who says, let me cast out the evils into those pigs, and you get this human being back again. But the people say, why do you want to do that for? We have managed to isolate all the evils into one man, put all the controls in place where he will be less of a nuisance, and we have our pigs to keep us rich. Why don't you mind your own business, and not come and bother us.

But the problem is as in the gospel, the evil is not so easily contained.

"he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains,
but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed,
and no one was strong enough to subdue him" Mk 5:4
And so just for the sake of the cash cow or pigs, we are willing to sacrifice the few humans who might be affected by the casino. The gospel really puts it into perspective.

And of course, Jesus, once again is told, don't come and tell us how to run our lives. Praise God for all you who raised objections, we need to continually pray hard for the human dignity to be placed above money.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

"Quiet! Be still!" --- Peace

Today's Gospel from Mk 4:35-41 reminded me of a quote I saw at the house of a customer back in my plumbing days.

"God will either calm your storm, or let it rage while he calms you"
Although I pity the poor disciples.
"A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. (Vs 37)"
In this kind of circumstance, what else were they to do. And I guess the did the smart thing of going to their master to seek help. So why did Jesus scold them?

On reflection, I guess their approach was wrong... but so human. So many times, when we meet some trouble, some obstacle in life, we turn to God. But instead of humbly asking Him for help, we say, "Do you not care that we are perishing" And He answers, "Do you not yet have faith?" Reminds me of Fr Fossion and his rebuttal to people who say "Father, you have no heart." when he doesn't cry at funerals. And he simply replies to them "You have no faith."

And it brought up the memory of another story about a storm
There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest...

perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize?

The King chose the second picture. Do you know why?
"Because," explained the King, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."

'and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus' - Philippians 4:7
Jesus was trying to be that example of peace for the disciples, until they woke Him up. And so often we panic in our own anxieties and fears, that we rush our Lord for an answer. And sometimes He says "Quiet! Be still!" to us, to have faith that He is in control, to surrender.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Earthlights - Rich/Poor Divide

I got this from Edmund when I got back from the chalet. Another example of the great divide in wealth in the world.

Click to Enlarge

This picture was taken on the 27th of November by a number of NASA satellites. It shows all the inhabited and uninhabited regions of the world.

The amount of light seen represents the development or underdevelopment of the region.

The world is brightly lit up in the three main developed areas:
North-America, Western Europe and Japan while the south is mostly in darkness (except for more developed areas such as Australia, South Africa and Brazil) but you must not forget the natural boundaries, like the Sahara and the rain forests.

Weekend Reflection - Part 3 - Human Weakness

Now the third part of the reflection was on what we humans are doing.
Because on Sat night, someone brought up the topic of why there are poor people in the world. And so the the discussion was steered towards social justice. Quite a few examples were brought up.

Jude brought up how there is still hunger in the world, while in the US, it was documented that farmers or some organisation would rather throw away tonnes of tomatoes, than let them be sold, so that there would not be an over-supply and result in a drop in prices.

I brought up the point of how it appeared in the papers, the map of the world, and how it contrasted the numerous tsunami warning stations in the Pacific ocean compared with none in the Indian ocean.

And the other examples of how those who have are not giving to those who do not. Now I think of it, those people in melbourne protesting over the exploitation of third world countries, of Nike, of the rich-poor divide, they had a point. I used to think that they are whackos, just protesting to safeguard australian businesses.

If only the richer countries like japan, usa, australia, who set up such a network of stations had helped the poorer countries of indonesia, india, sri lanka, maldives set up one also. If the thailand tourist promotion board had not worried so much about how a false alarm would affect the economy.

And like Jude brought up, yes, so 150,000 died in this disaster, and so much money was raised to help them. But there are so many other places where hunger, sickness, poverty, abortions, drugs, suicides are killing much more. But there's nothing sensational about those, so they just get brushed past.

How reflective of the human nature, to be selfish, to want power. No wonder so much of the new testament is about loving your neighbour. And how Christ's way is not the way of the world.

So where was God in all that. He was there. Where were we humans. We only came after that. Now there are plans to build by the US to build tsunami stations in the indian ocean. Too little, too late.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Weekend Reflection - Part 2 - God's Creation

While at the chalet, on sat morning, I woke up to do my Morning Prayer. So I walked out to the beach, sat on the breakwater, and started.

Staring at the sea and the hills of johor across it, while saying the invitatory psalm brought much meaning to the verses :

"A mighty God is the Lord, a great king above all gods. In his hands are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his. To him belongs the sea, for he made it, and the dry land shaped by his hands." psa 95:3-5
So there I was, admiring the beauty of the His creation (i guess this is wat Sr Carol meant by creation spirituality) when our great God decided to greet me good morning with a rainbow. This despite it not having rained & not a raincloud in sight.

Then it started to drizzle. And then it occurred to me that if i wanted the beautiful rainbow, i had to accept the rain too. Similarly as we learn in geography, mountains are formed through the movement of the earth's crust. And earthquakes are a result of that movement. So this got me thinking about the tsunamis. And whether it was all part of God's plan. Cos just the day before, I was reading the forum page, and how different people were "arguing" over where God was in the whole tsunami tragedy. But more on that in the next part.

For me, I was just enjoying the nice rainbow, the cool breeze, and the light drizzle that God sent to water his grass and plants around me.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Weekend Reflection - Part 1 - God's Will

Over this weekend chalet, there was time to get away from it all and to reflect, many thoughts came to mind, which were all somehow related, yet different. To make it easier to read, there are 3 parts to it: Gods Will, Creation, What are we doing.

The first part is called God's Will, because as I was packing my stuff, I was switching channels, and I reached the MTV channel, which I would normally bypass because of all the trash they show these days, when I heard the words 'I've been searchin, praying'. So I stopped switching channels. (of course partly becos the singers voice was sweet and the tune was slow and soothing)

Anyway, after that came the words 'God's Will'. And of course this intrigued me, as I also try to search for God's Will for me. but it so happened to be the end of the song. So I went online, to search for the lyrics of the song. And it provided an interesting view of God's Will.

I met God's Will on a Halloween night
He was dressed as a bag of leaves
It hid the braces on his legs at first

His smile was as bright as the August sun
When he looked at me
As he struggled down the driveway,
It almost made me hurt

Will don't walk too good
Will don't talk too good
He won't do the things that the other kids do,
In our neighborhood

I've been searchin', wonderin', thinkin'
Lost and lookin' all my life
I've been wounded, jaded, loved and hated
I've wrestled wrong and right
He was a boy without a father
And his mother's miracle
I've been readin', writin', prayin', fightin'
I guess I would be still
Yeah, that was until
I knew God's Will

Will's mom had to work two jobs
We'd watch him when she had to work late
And we'd all laugh like I hadn't laughed
Since I don't know when

Hey Jude was his favorite song
At dinner he'd ask to pray
And then he'd pray for everybody in the world but him


Before they moved to California
His mother said, they didn't think he'd live
And she said each day that I have him,
Well it's just another gift
And I never got to tell her,
That the boy showed me the truth
In crayon red, on notebook paper,
He'd written Me and God love you

I've been searchin', prayin', wounded, jaded
I guess I would be still
Yeah that was until...
I met God's Will on a Halloween night
He was dressed as a bag of leaves

God's Will - Martina Mcbride
And after reading the lyrics, and spending time at the chalet thinking of the words over and over again. I came to the conclusion... so often we are like the singer of the song, "searchin', wonderin', thinkin' Lost and lookin' all my life" trying to find this complicated explanation of God, His plan for us, when actually its really simple, and it really brings to life what Jesus meant when he said,
"Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." (Mk 10:15)
So simple yet as the singer says, we are 'wounded, jaded' by the world around us, that we can't believe that God's Will for us is that simple. And yet this small boy, dispite his physical disabilities, has accepted God's love, and so willing to bring that love to others, praying for all except himself. Compared to that post on the msc blog which Tim brought up about praying for ourselves instead of others.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own

I managed to find the poem by Archbishop Oscar Romero. Many times we expect immediate results, and we become so carried away in "Working for God, that we forget that it is His will, and His work". Like Fr John said, "We do our best, and God will do the rest."

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own
It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a small fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about:
We plant the seeds that will one day grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything,
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it well.
It may be incomplete but it is a beginning,
a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders;
ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.
Archbishop Oscar Romero

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Today the word "PURPOSE" kept coming to me.

Firstly, when I got back in the evening, I saw the lovely bloom of the hibiscus flowers in the garden, and so I remarked that I should take a photo of it. To which my mum, remarked, "If you want to take, better take now. The hibiscus flower only lasts one day and wilts at night." Which made me wonder... What a waste that this beautiful flower blooms for just one day, and then dies. But I came to realise, that the flower functioned for the purpose it was designed for. To bloom, attract insects, get fertilized and wilt.

For those who remember, I found it hard at the last retreat to pick something to describe what I felt. But looking at that flower, made me reflect on my own purpose in life. What was the purpose of God giving me breath and life each morning. I also realised that many days just go by, without me thinking of the purpose.

And then as I was in the goood shepherd room, I saw the poster which had the words from Archbishop Oscar Romero's A Future Not Our Own. This was also telling us about God's purpose for us in our lives. And lastly the passage for sharing from Eph 3, alsp spoke about the revealing of God's purpose through Christ and St Paul to the gentiles.

So the challenge for me is to take some time each day, to reflect on my purpose for that day. Whether I can be like the hibiscus flower and bloom each day a different flower, to attract others with the sweet Love of Christ. (At the moment its talk, and hopefully someday can reach)

And I also realised that just long as I have stopped blogging, I have also stopped reading the Purpose Driven Life. I really should finish up the last few chapters.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Today Kristine shouted for me. Turns out there was a wierd looking caterpillar with a giant green bump on its head crawling on her bed. So I caught it and put it in a container with leaves. Hopefully this time I can use my digital camera, and capture the different phases it goes thru from caterpillar to butterfly/moth.

And then I was reading Marcus' email about the suggestions for the name for the YA Mass. And one of it was Metanoia. Which got me to think abt metamorphosis which the caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly.

And so I went to search the meaning of metanoia and found it means "spiritual conversion or awakening; fundamental change of character" from Greek for `change one's mind, repent'.

While metamorphosis is about the physical transformation. Metanoia is about the spirit, the mind, the character. And I hope that if I look back at these postings, I will be able to capture my own metanoia, like the way my photos will capture the metamorphosis of the caterpillar.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Mass for the Tsunami Victims

2 things really disappointed me today.

Firstly, when I saw the attendance today at mass. Quite sad, that many Catholics can't even come together on one evening, to pray for our fellow brothers and sisters who are suffering.
Which got me to think, either we are really indifferent, or the "I already donated money" syndrome, or maybe Catholics don't see the mass as an important form of prayer.

Second thing was that they changed the readings for the mass.
The gospel for the day was supposed to be the one where Jesus healed the paralytic Mk 2:1-12. Personally I felt that was so apt for this situation, where the friends of the paralytic went out of their way to climb the roof just so that that Jesus could heal their friend. And today it could have been used to remind us to be friends to those suffering and in need of Christ's healing power. To go out of our way, out of our comfort, and allow God to use us as his instruments to bring healing and peace in this world.

And I was too caught up with my own thinking, that I can't remember what the actual gospel passage was read, and that there was the reading of the bishop's letter instead of a sermon didn't help me to relate the gospel in anyway.

And then again.... I think i'm becoming a bit too crititcal about such things. Time for a "Pride Check"

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Lion King & The Wedding Dinner

Today at Mass, during the consecration, when Fr Ho was lifting up the Host, I all of a sudden had a flashback of "The Lion King", where the Rafiki, the wise man of the jungle lifts up Simba, the new king of the jungle, all the animals gathered bow down to pay homage. And I guess, that's what I should be feeling during that time of consecration, when the Host is shown to me. That is my king.

And then at our Tuesday sharing, Colin chose the passage from Jn 6:22-59. The topic on the Eucharist. And I guessed I've come to realise that in this year of the Eucharist, i have subconsiously focused on the Eucharist in my life. And I've been trying to make it relevant in my life.

Take for example my Sunday's sharing on the eucharistic celebration compared with a wedding dinner. I've come to realise that how interested we are in the mass stems from our relationship with Christ. Much like our attitude / joy at a wedding dinner depends on our relationship with the couple.

There are those wedding dinners, that we dread to go because we barely know the couple, and we are there because its a neighbour or boss' daughter. And we can't wait for the last course to be over, so that we can go home and sleep.

And then there are those wedding dinners, which we look forward to weeks ahead, we talk about what we are going to wear, how we can help. And at the actual dinner we actually spend time talking to the couple, to our friends around. And at the end of the dinner, we stay on to continue the celebration of that joyous event with the couple.

And so, I guess, for most of my first 24 yrs of life. Mass was a chore, or a habit, something I just did, without much focus on God's presence, or in a word "Sacrament".

And I thank God for sending Fr Erasto last year, and posting Fr Ho here and making the mass more reflective & meaningful in my life.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Thy Will Be Done

Today Fr Bill Heng preached a really fiery sermon. He always does.

But one thing which he said really struck me. (Although I can't remember how he linked it with the Baptism) That when Christ prayed, it was always about doing His Father's will. From the finding in the temple, to teaching His disciples to pray, to the garden of Gethsamane. And finally, on the Cross before He died, he said "It Is Accomplished".

Which made me think. My whole life, I always checked myself with "If I die today, am I ready / Holy enough to meet God. But today's sermon, made me think, I should be thinking, "If I die today, would I be able to face God and say 'It is accomplished'."

I won't say it is a sudden realisation, but I guess today's sermon just sparked something. But this idea of doing the Father's will, is something that has been coming up, from reading "Weeds among Wheat - Where Prayer and Action meet" by Thomas Green. And even Ernest's comment that day, that if he dies, he'll go up to God, and say, 'I did the best with what you gave me.'

So, the challenge this year for me, is to continually discern, not only for the future, but even for the present... What His will is for me. And to strive to do it, such that I can say, 'I did the best with what you gave me.'

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Long Time Coming

A New Year has arrived
Its been a long time since I last blogged...

With the confirmation camp and the whole Parish Assembly and PPC process, was too busy and just lost the momentum to update.
Also I realised that I took too long to compose my postings, and it was making me very unproductive in my work.
But I have realised 2 things about myself in the last few months, and it kinda applies to why I stopped blogging.

1) I'm a person of habit and fixed timing.
I realised this one day when I forgot to switch my phone to silent before mass. And then I realised that I would check and switch my phone to silent at the same place in church before I entered. And that day I did not walk by that particular place. So I didn't do it.
So even my prayer life and blogging. If I don't fix a set timing to do it. It will just pass me by and I wouldn't even remember. Like I used to do the morning prayer in the office before work, but once I stopped that, it took me a while to get used to doing it after I wake up.

2) I'm a perfectionist in the most inefficient way
I've come to realise that I waste a lot of time wanting to be perfect in small details. Using the theory that 20% of the effort would give 80% of the results, and the remaining 80% of the effort would only gain the last 20% of the results. I would spend a lot of time trying to get that remaining 20%. Like when I blog, it takes so much effort for me to put my thoughts in a proper way, must have flow, must make sense, must be spelled correctly.

Well today, I hope after the second long break, I would frequently update this blog, and spend less time perfecting my postings which of course might mean that the postings would not be that easy to read ;-Þ