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Daily Scripture reflections
by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing

Rev. Anthony Man-Son-Hing is a priest of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. Born in Georgetown, Guyana on 23 November 1965, Anthony moved to Canada along with his family in 1974.

He attended elementary and secondary schools in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and received a Bachelor of Arts at Wilfrid Laurier University (1988), He pursued Theology studies at Saint Augustine's Seminary in Toronto (1988-1993) and was ordained to the priesthood on May 14, 1993 for the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. Fr. Anthony is currently serving as Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima and Ste-Marie parishes in Elliot Lake, Ontario as well as Pastor of Ste-Famille parish in Blind River, Ontario.

— The following content is reproduced with permission of Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing

His Word Today: Saint Ignatius of Antioch

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
17 October 2018, 6:13 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch who was born in 35AD in Syria - part of the Roman Empire.  He was an early Christian writer and Bishop of Antioch. En route to Rome, where he met his martyrdom, Ignatius wrote a series of letters. This correspondence now forms a central part of the later collection known as the Apostolic Fathers. His letters also serve as an example of early Christian theology. Important topics they address include ecclesiology (the understanding of the Church and how it functions), the sacraments, and the role of bishops.

Like many other writers who came before him and who have followed afterwards, Saint Ignatius was surely guided by the Spirit (Gal 5:18) as he sought to explain such intricate details about the Church, yet his words paint a vivid picture of a deep-seated relationship of faith, trust and confidence that he had already discovered.

Today, let us ask Saint Ignatius to intercede for us, asking the Lord to strengthen our faith and to help us - like he helped Saint Ignatius - to speak boldly and to witness fearlessly to our faith which is living and active in our surroundings and in our own lives.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Integrity

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
16 October 2018, 7:37 am
Good morning everyone,

It seems that at all stages of life we can fall prey to the temptation to want to look good in the eyes of others. Sometimes we go to such lengths that we even deny who we really are so that we will be able to impress other people.

In the time of Jesus, there was a group of people known as the Pharisees. They were experts at making themselves look good in the eyes of others but in their case, what you saw was not always what you got. Having accepted an invitation to dine with a group of Pharisees, Jesus took them to task.  Saint Luke recounts the story. When the Pharisees asked Jesus why he did not follow the custom of scrupulously washing his hands before dining, he turned the question back on them.

Can you imagine the looks on their faces when they heard him say, although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil (Lk 11:39).  Perhaps today, each of us should ask ourselves the question: Do the words I speak and the images I portray faithfully represent what is truly in the depth of my heart?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Teresa of Ávila

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
15 October 2018, 7:13 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Teresa of Ávila, a Spanish mystic who was born on 28 March 1515 and died on 4 October 1582.  At her Baptism, she was given the name of Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada.  It was thanks to her mother's desire to raise her as a Christian that Teresa first became fascinated with the lives of the saints.  At the age of seven years, she ran away from home along with her brother Rodrigo and set off in search of martyrdom among the Moors - Muslim inhabitants who once populated the Iberian peninsula and the islands off the coast of present-day Italy during the Middle Ages.

Following the death of her mother, Teresa pursued her studies with the Augustinian nuns in Ávila but eventually - on 2 November 1535, at the age of twenty years - she entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation in Ávila, seeking to live a contemplative life.  However, there was a prevailing malaise among the 150 nuns who lived in that Monastery. Every day, many visitors would arrive, many of them of high social and political rankings.  The spirit and practice of prayer became so lax  that this was of great concern to Teresa, so in the early 1560s, she resolved to found a reformed Carmelite convent and to correct the laxity that she had discovered in the Convent of the Incarnation and elsewhere.

In 1563, Teresa moved into a newly-established Monastery of Saint Joseph (San José) and lived for the next five years in pious seclusion.  She revived the earlier, stricter rules which had been part of the life of cloister and also added new rules such as three disciplines of ceremonial flagellation every week and the practice of discalceation, a term which refers to the removal of a nun's footwear.  In time, this revived Order became known as the Discalced Carmelites.

In total, seventeen reformed convents for women, and as many for men, were founded throughout Spain over the next twenty years, though not without much resistance and opposition.

Teresa died on 15 October 1582.  Her last words were: My Lord, it is time to move on. Well then, may your will be done. O my Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time to meet one another.  Pope GregoryXV canonized her in 1622 and on 27 September 1970, Pope Paul VI conferred upon her the distinction of Doctor of the Church.

Teresa's life and her commitment to the disciplines of the spiritual life were a sign to her generation (cf Lk 11:29) of the enduring importance of faith.  May her prayers help us to cultivate lives of devotion and prayer in our times.

Have a great day.

Potential

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
14 October 2018, 9:09 am
My grade 6 teacher had a great impact on my life because he saw potential in me and he did everything he could to encourage me to live up to it.  He did the same for every one of the students in our class, and we have always loved him for that.

Jesus also had a gift for seeing the potential in people, and for encouraging them to live up to that potential.  In the gospel account we have heard today, a man ran up to him, knelt before him and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life (Mk 10:17).  Jesus immediately welcomed his enthusiasm and saw great potential in him.  He encouraged him by recalling the Commandments, the lessons that the young man – and all Jews – had learned from their early childhood (cf Mk 10:19) and the young man was eager to point out: I have kept all these from my youth (Mk 10:20).  Like the good teacher that he was, Jesus looked at him, loved him, and then challenged him further: you lack one thing; go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor (Mk 10:21).  We are told that the man was saddened by this advice, and that he walked away, but we do not know whether he ever came back, or whether that question continued to challenge him long after that encounter.

This is the way it goes whenever we encounter Jesus, whenever we express a desire to follow him: he welcomes our enthusiasm, he encourages us and then he challenges us to grow.

On many occasions, Jesus used this approach with his disciples too.  After the enthusiastic young man had left them, Jesus turned to his disciples and challenged them with his observation: How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! (Mk 10:23).  Up to this point, the disciples had understood that Jesus was preparing them for a new kingdom, but their concept of this kingdom was defined in terms of human understandings.  Then, as if in answer to their questioning glances, he used a very intriguing comparison.  He said: It is easier for a camel to go though the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God (Mk 10:25).  This was Jesus’ way of saying to them and to us that entering into the kingdom of God is a free gift that is offered by God, for whom all things are possible (Mk 10:27).

Even today, Jesus offers us the gift of understanding, which is spoken of in the Book of Wisdom (cf Wis 7:7).  Understanding is one of the gifts that is given at Confirmation: an ability to comprehend the world around us not in terms of earthly logic but by the light of heavenly guidance.  It is this spiritual gift that allows us to recognize the face of Jesus in the poor, the sick, the orphan, the widow, the elderly, the weak, the refugee, in anyone who is in need of help ... and it is this gift of understanding that allows us to look beyond the limits of external power, prestige and beauty to discover the true potential that lies within every person.

This week, let us pray for the gift of divine understanding, and let us ask for the grace of being able to perceive the potential in those we meet, so that when our turn comes to render an account for the way we have lived our lives, we can honestly say that we sought out the face of Jesus in those we encountered.

His Word Today: Blessedness

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
13 October 2018, 7:05 am
Good morning everyone,

Have you ever noticed that some attitudes - such as joy and happiness - are often infectious?  We might say that they carry a germ with which we all want to be infected.  The same can be said for blessedness: the knowledge that we have received favour in the sight of God.

While Jesus was speaking - one day - a woman from the crowd called out and said to him: 'Blessed is the womb that carried you ...' (Lk 11:27).  This sounds like a great complement that was meant to be paid to Jesus' mother, intended for her alone to ponder, but Jesus widens the scope of this praise by replying: ... blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it (Lk 11:28).

I used to think that this was some form of denial of his mother in favour of others who were listening to his word, but the truth is that Mary was probably right there in the crowd.  She was the first to hear the word of God and she taught everyone else - by her example - how to observe it.  She can help us today to learn how to listen for God's word, and most especially, how to enrich our lives with the advice that it offers.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Endurance

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
12 October 2018, 7:20 am
Good morning everyone,

Have you ever accepted a challenge, plunged into it enthusiastically and then discovered that even after having had some practice, it is increasingly difficult to remain committed to the original challenge?  This could be the case for someone who is trying to lose weight, or someone who has been given a particularly challenging assignment, or even for an aspiring athlete.

Endurance is the key to such a challenge, but Jesus warns us today that when an unclean spirit goes out of a person, it roams through arid regions seeking rest ... but ultimately returns (cf Lk 11:24).  Even if it finds the house swept clean (ie habits that have been changed), it will continue to tempt us.

For those who struggle every day with addictions, for those who face difficult situations in life, for those who live with so many challenges that they find it difficult to find life, joy and light in their lives, we need to pray today.  These are the ones who struggle to stay on the right path, but with our help, they can make it: one step at a time.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Seek

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
11 October 2018, 7:29 am
Good morning everyone,

If we are truly fortunate, there is at least one person who we can call on - at any time of day or night - should we be in need of help.  This is the kind of relationship that Jesus says we can have with his Father.

Speaking about the relationship they could (and we all can) cultivate with our heavenly Father, Jesus told the disciples: Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you (Lk 11:9).  This kind of trust may not be easy for us to imagine, especially if we are not accustomed to a life of prayer, but it is possible for every one of us to establish this level of trust.  It all begins when we are able to call out to God.

Perhaps today, we may find a moment or two to whisper a few words - even if they are tentatively uttered: God, if you're there, help me to believe.  Then get ready; the answers may come flooding in and they will be wonderful.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Prayer

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 October 2018, 7:47 am
Good morning everyone,

Even while a child is in its mother's womb, it begins to hear its mother's voice, and the voices of others who are in frequent contact.  As the child is born, it continues to learn language - with remarkable speed - until that child begins to experiment with words him- or herself.

Learning languages seems to come naturally for most young children, so why should we think that it should be any different for us as we learn to know God?  Jesus gave us words that can be used when we pray - when we try to speak with God - and this language can also be learned and understood by human beings. 

Father, hallowed be your name (Lk 11:2) - translation: Father, may your name be held holy.
Your kingdom come - translation: may the kingdom of heaven become a reality in our lives.
Give us each day our daily bread (Lk 11:3) - translation: Give us everything that we need for this day.
And forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and lead us not into temptation (Lk 11:4) - translation: here's where the rubber hits the road, since we are asking God to forgive us to the extent that we ourselves forgive others who have wronged us ... and we ask Him not to put us in situations where we can be tempted, but by extension, we also agree not to put ourselves in such situations.

These are simple words, but they hold great challenge for us, if they are properly understood.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Distractions

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
9 October 2018, 7:38 am
Good morning everyone,

I think that at one time or another, we have all set resolutions for ourselves and then failed to live up to them ... and at one time or another, we have all made excuses for our shortcomings, but worse yet, at one time or another, we have all cried out in accusation of someone else's shortcomings while choosing to turn a blind eye to our own.

Martha was doing what every woman of her time would have done: she was busying herself about the task of serving her guest.  It would have been one thing if she had come to Jesus and asked his forgiveness for being delayed, but rather, she attempted to pronounce judgement upon her sister for not running to her help (cf Lk 10:40).  How often have we cried out in similar words, calling judgement on someone who we thought should be helping us, rather than asking that person directly to lend a hand?

In the end, the point of this story is that when we are in the presence of Jesus, we should choose the better part and sit at his feet rather than busying ourselves with all kinds of other activities.  Let us pray today for the grace not to become distracted from the most important part of our day, but rather to remain focused on Jesus, listening for his wisdom and guidance.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Be thankful

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
8 October 2018, 8:22 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, Canadians are celebrating Thanksgiving.  We gather with family and friends to give thanks to God for the abundance of the harvest and for many other blessings we have received.  At times such as these, we are also mindful of many others who are nowhere near as fortunate as we are.

For most of us, it is not difficult to recognize how fortunate we are, but it might be a bit more of a stretch for some to extend our gratitude into service of others.  Perhaps it is fitting that Saint Luke's gospel proposes the encounter between Jesus and a scholar of the law who sought to test him (cf Lk 10:25-37).  He recognized that he was indeed fortunate to have learned the law very well, and even to have applied it to some extent, but when Jesus challenged him, it was evident that he still had some room for growth and maturity of his understanding.

Have we dared to ask Jesus: Who is my neighbour? (Lk 10:29) and if we have, have we ever been surprised by the answer?  Jesus is always ready and willing to stretch us, just a little at a time, in order to open our eyes, our hearts and our spirits so that we can learn to see and to appreciate the many blessings we have received, and to share the bounty of what we have received with others who are in need.

Have a great day.

Giving Thanks

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
7 October 2018, 7:36 am
This weekend, families and friends are coming together to celebrate Thanksgiving.  This autumn festival gives us a chance to see people who we love, but it also gives us a chance to look back upon the months that have passed and to be grateful to God for the gifts we have received.

This past summer was an especially warm one.  We haven’t seen this kind of warmth for a long time ... and so we give thanks to God for the sunshine and the warmth of the summer that has resulted in abundant harvests.  We also witnessed one of the most active forest fire seasons in recent memory, so we give thanks for the efforts of all those who were involved in various efforts to keep us safe.

Gratitude is a theme that also appears in the scriptures.  The Book of Genesis reminds us today of the very beginnings of our history, a time when God was creating the world.  Even then, God loved all that was being created; even then, God was concerned for our wellbeing.  Did you know that there are two creation accounts in the bible?  The first one (Genesis 1) describes God creating all the elements of nature – light, darkness, dry land, seas and oceans, vegetation, sea creatures and land animals ... and then human beings.  The second account (Genesis 2) is the one that we have heard today.  In this account, human beings are created first, and then out of the ground, the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air (Gn 2:19) and God went even further.  As these creatures were being created, God brought them to the man to see what he would call them.  This is an amazing image: God wanted us to be part of the process of creation!  But even that wasn’t enough.  The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field: but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner (Gn 2:20).  God knew, even at the beginning of creation, that each one of us needed a companion to share our journey through life, and this is true even today.  Each one of us needs at least one other person with whom to share the joys and the struggles of life.  Sometimes, that person is a husband or a wife, sometimes that person is a friend, or a helper who appears in our lives precisely at the moment when we are in need.

Jesus understood his Father’s love and concern for us, but he was also aware of the ways that some people have tried to twist the truth in order to promote their own self-importance.  When the Pharisees asked him to clarify one of the teachings that had been handed down from Moses – one of the most venerated human being in the history of the Jewish people – Jesus turned the question back on them, and explained that from the very beginning, God made human beings male and female (Mk 10:6).  Then he went on to explain: For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife ... they shall no longer be two, but one (Mk 10:7-8).

As we gather to give thanks, let the festivities of this weekend also include a prayer of thanks for the companions that the Lord has placed upon our paths: for those who help to lighten the load when we are struggling and for those who are present to share the joy of happier moments too.

His Word Today: Prosperity

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
6 October 2018, 7:31 am
Good morning everyone,

Do you really believe the words that we hear in the scriptures: that the struggles of this life will lead to the joy of eternity spent in heaven?

Both of the scripture passages proposed for today's meditation hint at this reality.  We hear the final words of the Book of Job (Job 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17) which describe the exceeding prosperity that Job enjoyed after the struggle; and we hear some of the details of the 72 disciples who returned to Jesus to enthusiastically recount the details of their adventures (Lk 10:17-24).

This is the truth for all of us.  We can all look forward to heaven: an eternity of joy, constant enthusiasm and excitement because every day will be a new opportunity for adventure.  In the meanwhile, we can practice the art of looking forward to such an adventure by looking for the signs of divine intervention: they are constantly present in our daily lives.  All we have to do is look for them.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Gifted

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
5 October 2018, 9:21 am
Good morning everyone,

Have you had the experience of someone who recognizes a talent of yours, or perhaps someone recognizes something that is a hidden gift of yours? Sometimes we're not even aware of the ways in which we have been gifted, or the talents that we possess until someone else points out these blessings for us.

This is the case in the gospel passage that is proposed for today's thought and prayer.  People in the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and even Capharnaüm were unaware of the great gift that was given to them:  Jesus Christ, the son of God was passing through their midst and they were not paying any attention to him (cf Lk 10:13, 15).

Our God is constantly trying to communicate with us. Sometimes these attempts take place during the ordinary circumstances of daily life. Sometimes they are to be found in surprising situations where we would least expect to find Him. Be on the lookout today, listen carefully today.  And if you should encounter a precious moment or an experience of God, stop for just a moment and say thank you.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Francis of Assisi

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
4 October 2018, 7:47 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, we celebrate the liturgical Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi, who was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone in late 1181 or early 1182 in Assisi (Italy).  His father was a prosperous silk merchant who dreamed of the day when Giovanni would inherit his wealth and fame, but Francis had other ideas.  In his early twenties, Francis suffered from an illness while on a military expedition against Perugia.  He was taken prisoner and spent a year as a captive.  He tried to return to his carefree life but after experiencing a vision, he slowly began to change his life.

This week in Rome, the long-awaited Synod of Bishops on Youth began.  Two years ago, Pope Francis called for this gathering of the Synod which has already called for input from young people from Canada and other countries who were invited to speak about their concerns about the Church.  Young people are also present at the Vatican this month to take part in the deliberations at the Synod which officially began yesterday with the celebration of a Mass in Saint Peter's Square.  In his homily, the Holy Father spoke poignantly about the need for the Church to listen carefully to the concerns of youth so that we may remain relevant to their concerns.  This concern was echoed in the opening address that His Holiness offered to the delegates when they gathered for the opening session of the Synod yesterday afternoon.

Saint Francis is well known for the courage he demonstrated in re-building the Church.  It is significant that this year, as we remember and celebrate him, we are also looking toward the concerns of other youth - not so much different in some ways from the young man from Assisi - who are also daring to speak about their dreams and hopes for the future of the Church.

Let us dare to listen carefully to the concerns of those who are young, and to pray that the advice that is being offered during the Synod will help the Church to remain close to and relevant to young people today.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Consider carefully

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
3 October 2018, 7:45 am
Good morning everyone,

The advice we receive from today's scripture passages relates to not making decisions too hastily, and at the same time, not putting off decisions for too long.  There are some decisions that are time sensitive, and there are some that are worth taking a bit of time to consider carefully.  It's not always easy to figure out which ones are which.

We who have been called to follow Jesus might like - at some points - to delay our decision to do what we know that faithful disciples should do, but Jesus warns that if we have heard the Lord's invitation: Follow me! (Mk 9:59) we should consider carefully the way that we answer.  On the other hand, sometimes we ourselves are in a hurry to say: I will follow you wherever you go! (Mk 9:57) when we would be much better to stop for a moment, consider the options, and then make our decision.

In either case, what is needed is the gift of wisdom, so that we can consider carefully the choices that lay before us, making sure that the decisions we make are wise - according to the measure of the disciples' heart that is the focus of everyone who finds inspiration in modelling our lives after Jesus.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: The Guardian Angels

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
2 October 2018, 7:17 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of the Guardian Angels.  Whereas we know the names of some of the angels - like Michael, Gabriel and Raphael - there are countless hosts of other angels, and some of them are assigned to be our spiritual body guards.  These are the ones we call our guardian angels.

When we are conceived, each of us receives at least one - sometimes more than one - guardian angel.  Each one of these is assigned for one task - and one task only - for our entire lives: that is to help and guide us along our pilgrimage through earthly life and to protect us from danger.  Like loving mothers, our guardian angels are constantly running before and behind us, doing their best to keep us safe and loving us unconditionally.  Our guardian angels comfort us, guide us and bring special people and opportunities into our lives just when we need them.

Jesus speaks again today about the presence of children in our lives (cf Mt 18:1-5), as reminders that we are called to be humble.  It seems to me that if we take the time to realize that each of us is so loved that our God - and our guardian angels - are constantly looking out for us, each one of us is also a precious child in the eyes of these heavenly helpers.  Be on the lookout today for the sometimes subtle ways in which they are present in our lives, and give thanks to God for the gift of your guardian angel(s).

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Theresa of Lisieux

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
1 October 2018, 7:19 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, we celebrate the liturgical Memorial of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, also known as Ste-Thérèse of Lisieux.

Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin was born on 2 January 1873 in Rue Saint-Blaise, Alençon (Normandy) in France.  She felt an early call to religious life, and overcoming various obstacles, in 1888 at the early age of 15, became a nun and joined two of her elder sisters in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux. After nine years as a Carmelite religious, having fulfilled various offices such as sacristan and assistant to the novice mistress, and having spent her last eighteen months in the Carmel in a night of faith, she died at aged 24, following a slow and painful fight against tuberculosis.

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (her religious name) is widely venerated even today.  She is commonly referred to as the Little Flower of Jesus or simply as the Little Flower.

She is one of the little children - not unlike the one that Jesus placed in the midst of the disciples when they began to argue (cf Lk 9:46-47).  With the simplicity, clarity and directness of a child, Thérèse was able to explain faith in very simple language.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons why she has always been so widely loved.  Her simple Way of following Jesus has inspired so many people that the Basilica that stands in her native Lisieux is the second-largest place of pilgrimage in all of France, only outnumbered by Lourdes.

Lying in her sick bed, Thérèse made a promise to spend her heaven doing good on earth.  To this day, if someone asks for her intercession, they will often encounter roses as a sign of celestial assistance.  Today, ask Thérèse to help you, and then be prepared to see the signs that she has indeed done her part.

Have a great day.

God's Work

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
30 September 2018, 9:04 am
The disciples have been travelling with Jesus and, along the way, he has been teaching them a number of things.  They have arrived in Capernaum and they are talking together about the lessons that Jesus was teaching them.  The disciples are really eager students.  They want to understand what Jesus is teaching them, but sometimes, their enthusiasm gets the best of them.

John – the brother of James, the son of Zebedee – says: Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to stop him because he was not following us (Mk 9:38).  We can almost hear the enthusiasm in his voice, mixed with a bit of hesitation, as if he’s trying to prove to Jesus that he’s done something really good, but at the same time, looking for his approval.  Have you ever encountered this situation in your own family, or in your workplace?  Have you ever found yourself in John’s position, eagerly trying to impress someone while at the same time hoping that you’re on the right track to understanding how things are supposed to be?

Poor John.  Can you imagine what he must have felt like when Jesus responded, not by saying: Right John, now you’re catching on.  No, Jesus replies in a surprising fashion.  He says: Do not stop him, for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me (Mk 9:39).  I can almost hear the disciples muttering among themselves: But what does he mean?  We’re the ones who he’s been teaching.  We’re the ones who have been learning about this new kingdom, we’re the ones who are supposed to be doing miracles, we’re the ones who he has chosen to be the leaders ... Their enthusiasm was getting the better of them, and Jesus had to stop them in their tracks.  He had to revise his lesson plan so he could help them to understand that the work God was calling them to do was much bigger than their own egos.

Human beings have always had difficulty grasping this concept:  the work that God is calling us to do is much bigger than our own egos.  Even in the time of the Prophets, when the Lord came down out of the cloud and took some of the spirit that was on Moses and put it on the seventy elders (Num 11:25), they were surprised that their ability to prophesy was limited ... but what was even more surprising was the fact that two other people, who were not among the elders, had also received the spirit of God and were able to prophesy (cf Num 11:26-27).  Here again, the work that God was calling the Israelite people to accomplish was much bigger than they could comprehend.

The same is true today.  When we look at our own lives, when we ask ourselves: what work does God want me to accomplish?, some of us might think that we have already done wonderful things: and we have.  Some of us might think that we’re retired and so it’s time to rest, but God’s plans for us are much larger in scope than we can comprehend.  This isn’t meant to scare anyone, but rather to keep us vigilant because God is full of surprises, but they are always accompanied with the gift of joy.  Ask God to show you what he wants you to do, and to give you the strength and the wisdom to accomplish it in his name.

His Word Today: the Archangels

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
29 September 2018, 12:02 pm
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.  Gabriel was the angel who was sent to Mary to announce to her the plan that God had for her (cf Lk 1:26-38) and Raphael is traditionally associated with all manner of healing, such as in the gospel of John where he is mentioned in association with stirring the waters of the healing pool of Bethsaida (cf Jn 5:1-3).  Michael is traditionally portrayed as the great defender.

In recent times, the Church has been undergoing serious trials of all kinds.  Christians are being killed for their faith in various parts of the world, accusations are being brought against priests and other Church officials - some of which are legitimate, but not all - and we are in need of such heavenly assistance.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis is calling upon all of the faithful throughout the world to be united in praying the Rosary during the month of October - a month that is traditionally dedicated to the Rosary - asking the Mother of God and Saint Michael to protect the Church from the devil, who seems to be trying to divide us and to distance us from God.

Today is also the day when we remember and pray for all First Responders: fire fighters, ambulance attendants, police, doctors, nurses and all those who stand ready to help us when trials occur.  Pray for them, and pray for us, that we will aways strive to be faithful and joyful disciples of Jesus.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Promise

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
28 September 2018, 6:52 am
Good morning everyone,

Earlier this year, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario issued a Pastoral Letter for Catholic Education entitled Renewing the Promise.  This is the third Pastoral Letter that the ACBO has issued in regard to Catholic Education.  The first (issued in 1989), which followed the decision of the Ontario Government to grant full funding for Catholic education for all levels of primary and secondary education, established a clear and compelling mission for Catholic Schools.  The second (issued in 1993), focused on the importance of leadership in this mission, and this third Letter reminds all of those who are involved in the mission that Catholic schools are - and always will be - places where children and young people may find solid and enduring values to give hope, meaning and purpose to life through an authentic relationship with Jesus.

This was Jesus' intention when he formed the first Catholic school:  with his disciples.  After having spent some time with them, teaching them about God's love for all people, he put them to the test: Who do people say that I am? (Lk 9:16) ... but he went further: But who do you say that I am? (Lk 9:20).  This is the same for all of students who seek to learn the ways of Jesus.

Each one of us must ultimately answer the question: Who do I say that Jesus is?  In order to do this, I must first have established a personal relationship with Him, and this is the gift that we pass on to all students, based on the Promise that is being renewed within each one of us every day.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Vincent de Paul

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
27 September 2018, 8:04 am
Seventeenth-century portrait of
Saint Vincent de Paul
by Simon François de Tours
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, a French priest who was born in 1581 in the village of Pouy, in the Province of Guyenne and Gascony, in the Kingdom of France.  His parents, Jean and Bertrande de Moras de Paul, were peasant farmers.  There was a stream close by their farm that was known as the Paul and it is believed that this may have been the derivation of the family name.  In an effort not to be perceived as of noble birth, Vincent wrote his name as Depaul.

At the age of 15 years, his father sent Vincent to a seminary, paying for his education by selling his oxen.  Vincent's early interests in the priesthood were largely with the intent of establishing a successful career and obtaining a benefice so he could retiring early and support his family.  He was a brilliant student, by the age of nineteen years, he was already ordained a priest - on 23 September 1600 and within the next few years, he earned a Bachelor of Theology degree and a Licentiate in Canon Law.

After some pastoral assignments, he was appointed as chaplain and tutor to the Gondi family, Florentine bankers.  While preaching a mission to peasants on the Gondi estates, his sensitivity to the plight of the poor was sharpened.  Vincent became convinced that he should direct his efforts toward helping the poor.  Beginning with the poor tenant farmers, Vincent went on to providing assistance to many of the country people in surrounding areas.

He went on to serve the poor in many ways: collecting funds for missionary projects, establishing hospitals, gathering relief funds for victims of war and to ransom 1200 galley slaves from North Africa.

Vincent was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse, and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.  He died in Paris on 27 September 1660.

Today's gospel speaks of Herod's curiosity to understand who Jesus was (cf Lk 9:7-9).  This curiosity is often the first step on a journey that still leads disciples, like Vincent and other modern-day followers, to discover a compelling relationship with Jesus that changes our lives and makes us aware of the needs of others.  Let us pray today for the courage to say yes to Jesus when he tugs at our hearts and places us in circumstances where we can respond generously to his promptings to be of service to others.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Dusty feet

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
26 September 2018, 7:30 am
Good morning everyone,

It can sometimes be difficult to be a disciple.  To be a follower of Jesus, we have to be willing to proclaim the gospel with fresh words and always in life-giving situations, but when this means that we must challenge the status quo, it often means that we will face some resistance from those who have grown comfortable with their routines and lifestyles.

Jesus never promised that proclaiming the gospel would be a matter of comfort.  In fact, he challenged the disciples to leave all their comforts behind: Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food nor money, and let no one take a second tunic (Lk 9:3).  Jesus recognizes that there will always be some who will welcome the freshness of the gospel (cf Lk 9:4), but there will also always be some who will resist.

The important point is that those who are called to share the gospel should not grow discouraged.  Instead we should always remember that it is His news that we are called to proclaim.  He will always give us everything that we need so that we can proclaim the Good News (cf Lk 9:6).

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Hear and act

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
25 September 2018, 11:43 am
Good morning everyone,

Jesus' words in today's gospel passage may strike us a very strange.  His mother and his brothers (those who were part of his extended family) came to him, but were unable to join him because of the crowd.  Eventually, word got to him: Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and wish to see you, but he replied: My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it (Lk 8:19-21).

We might have expected that if Jesus' mother came looking for him, he would have stopped what he was doing, that he might have been more attentive to her.  We might even expect that his apparent refusal to interrupt whatever it was that he was doing might have been seen as an insult, but we should never forget that Mary was the first to hear the Word proclaimed to her, when she encountered the angel and learned about God's plan.  From that day forward, she pondered these things deeply in her heart.  Whereas her human heart would have been disquieted by Jesus' words, she would also have recognized the truth they contained: My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it (Lk 8:21).

Mary was the first and the most perfect of the disciples.  Even now, she stands ready to help us.  When our hearts are troubled, when we think that we are being wronged, perhaps we can ask her to remind us of the importance of hearing the word of God and acting on it.  This is the task of every disciple.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Light in Darkness

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
24 September 2018, 9:32 am
Good morning everyone,

There was a planned power outage in the community where I live.  It took place yesterday from 7:00am to approximately 1:00pm.  Because we had no electricity, we had to use flashlights in order to read the scriptures.  It reminded me a lot of the Easter Vigil, but at one point during yesterday's liturgies, I noticed that since the light sources - we were using LED lights that sat flat on the altar and on the lectern - were sitting beside the books they were meant to illuminate, we would have to raise them, just a little, in order for them to shed their light on the pages we needed to read.

At one point while Jesus was teaching the crowd, he said to them: no one lights a lamp and then hides it under a vessel, or sets it under a bed; rather he places it on a lamp stand so that those who enter may see the light (Lk 8:16).  It seems that this is a simple matter of physics.  If we had raised the light sources just a bit - put them on their own lamp stands, they would have given off more light and everyone who entered could see them.

The same is true about the way that we share our faith with others.  If we hide the fact that we are faithful followers of Jesus, we will soon be hidden beneath the many layers of expectations that society places upon us, but if we allow the light of our faith to shine out brightly, we can overpower the darkness and lead others to the source of the light - Jesus Christ.

Have a great day.

The Master's class

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
23 September 2018, 11:15 am
This weekend’s gospel places us with the disciples at a time when we might say that they were still at teachers’ college.  There were no buildings and no classrooms at the time; instead, they were travelling through Galilee and Jesus was trying to teach them some very complicated concepts: The Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise (Mk 9:31).  Those poor disciples really had to bend their minds around this concept because Jesus was telling them that the secret to success lies not in any earthly measure, but rather in giving everything away, to the point of suffering and even dying, so that we can rise to new life.

Even today, this is a difficult concept for us to grasp.  No wonder the disciples argued with one another while they were travelling along (cf Mk 9:33).  In a sense, you might say that they had formed their own study group, but Jesus had to intervene again in order to help them to grasp the concept.  The extra time and effort he invested was well worth the effort though because even today, every disciple who follows after Jesus must understand that the secret to our success does not lie in any measure of earthly power, but rather in our ability to joyfully share our talents and gifts with those we meet, even to the point – if necessary – of giving our lives.  We should never be worried about giving to this point, because Jesus has promised us that we will rise again, just as he did.

This is the task that every one of us has been given.  Every disciple of Jesus must ultimately learn this truth: we have been entrusted with the great promise of eternal life, and every day of our earthly life, we can look forward to enjoying eternal life in the presence of our God.  As we become more and more convinced of this truth, we find ourselves looking at the world around us less and less from the perspective of competition, less and less concerned about taking revenge on those who make life difficult for us (cf Wis 2:12), and more and more able to look with compassion upon situations where envy and selfish ambition lead to disorder and wickedness of every kind (cf Jas 3:16).

Instead of this way of thinking, Jesus challenges us to seek a different kind of wisdom that is found in purity, peace, gentleness, willingness to yield and filled with mercy (cf Jas 3:17).  In order to understand this lesson, we have to learn to be servants.  When Jesus realized that the disciples were having difficulty with this lesson, he took a little child and put it among them, and taking it in his arms, said to them: ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me ...’ (Mk 9:36-37).

Every child possesses the gift of innocence.  If a child’s innocence is nurtured carefully, if it is not corrupted with the worldly attitudes of envy, ambition and revenge, it has the ability to show us the face of Jesus.  Have we seen his face lately?  Let us all look for him, ask him to help us to understand the lessons he wants to teach us this week.  Let us ask him to show us how to serve others, and let us ask him to teach us how to look forward to eternal life in heaven.

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