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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

Everyone is loved

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
17 February 2019, 8:44 am
On Monday of this past week, the World Day of the Sick was celebrated in various parts of the world, including right here in this city.  Priests from the various parishes in the surrounding area were here for a meeting and this opportunity also gave us a chance to visit patients in the hospital, at Saint Joseph’s Manor and at the Oaks.  As we visited, we saw many smiling faces and heard many people thank us for our presence on that day.  It was important for us to be close to those who are sick on that day so that we could touch the wounds of our brothers and sisters (His Holiness, Pope Francis), and so that they could know of God’s closeness to them in their time of need.

Today’s gospel passage gives a detailed account of those in the time of Jesus who were most often ignored by the rest of society, and even today, they help us to understand that there is an important difference between valuing someone for the sake of something we can hold on to in this life, and truly loving them for who they are, in spite of the fact that they might have nothing.  In fact this is the very reason why we gather here week after week.  We come to worship our God who has always looked upon us with a loving glance, ever since the moment when we were conceived.

Imagine for a moment the surprise with which that crowd must have heard Jesus’ words: Blessed are you who are poor ... blessed are you who are hungry ... blessed are you who weep ... blessed are you when people hate you ... exclude you, revile you and defame you on account of the Son of Man (Lk 6:20-23).  In fact, even today, we need to hear these words.  They provide a valuable reminder that each and every one of us is precious in the eyes of God.  Far too often, we might forget this simple but profound truth, and find ourselves reacting to others, and maybe even judging others according to the measure of this world.  Rather, we should always try to see the world through the eyes of faith, and never lose sight of the fact that we are all brothers and sisters; each of us is infinitely loved by our God who created us.

The prophet Jeremiah explained the infinite love that God has for us in this way: Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord (Jer 17:7).  Perhaps, we might ask ourselves: how implicitly do I trust in the Lord?  Do I place all matters in God’s hands, or do I try to take matters into my own hands, even though I know that God will never provide anything that would harm me?  Do I truly believe that God will always love me, and only seek that which will be good for me?

It might be difficult for us to truly believe this, but we would not be the first to doubt.  Saint Paul wrote to the early Christians in Corinth at a time when they too were experiencing doubts about whether it was actually true that Jesus was the Christ, the chosen and beloved Son of God, and that he had risen from the dead.  Listen again to what he says: If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people, most to be pitied ... but Christ has been raised from the dead (1 Cor 15:19-20).  This is the good news that all Christians need to know: Christ has been raised from the dead.  We need to share this good news with everyone we meet, so that we all can come to believe that we are God’s precious children.

His Word Today: Willingness

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
15 February 2019, 9:47 am
Good morning everyone,

Something that strikes me about the gospel passage that is quoted for today's liturgy is the fact that Jesus was always willing to help those who were truly in need.  Saint Mark recounts the details of his travel to the Decapolis (Mk 7:31-32). This was a relatively sparsely populated part of Israel at the time. In that place, he encountered a man who was deaf and who had a speech impediment. The people asked Jesus to help him.

It is interesting to note that if it weren't for the other people - who actually remain nameless - this deaf-mute might never have met Jesus.

If we are indeed a people who have already heard Jesus speak,  then we are already on the way to becoming better disciples. However it is part of the job description of a disciple to seek out those who are in need of Jesus' help. It is up to us to identify those of our brothers and sisters who are in need and to invite them into a living relationship with the one who we have already met.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saints Cyril and Methodius

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
14 February 2019, 8:39 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saints Cyril and Methodius, two brothers who were Byzantine Christian theologians and missionaries.  They lived in the ninth century and are most well known for devising the Glagolitic alphabet, the first alphabet used to transcribe Old Church Slavonic.

Their missionary spirit is also echoed in today's gospel passage.  Jesus went to the district of Tyre and there he met a Syrophoenician woman who was concerned for her daughter's health.  Thanks to the woman's sound arguments, Jesus granted her wish and healed her daughter.  This gesture of inclusion shows us that the good news of the Gospel is meant for everyone.

Perhaps today we can ask ourselves whether or not we have a missionary spirit.  Are we able to look beyond the barriers that sometimes divide us from our brothers and sisters?  Only in this way can we truly enact the good news of the gospel.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: From Within

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
13 February 2019, 9:27 am
 Good morning everyone,

Jesus speak some interesting words today which end up challenging some of the dietary laws that were emphasized by the leaders of his time. Knowing that they were  looking at him with detrimental eyes, he  explained that food that enters the body from the outside cannot defile the body. This must have caught everyone by surprise. He dared to challenge the teachings of his religious superiors.

 Jesus challenged the teachings of his day on many such occasions. The reason why was because he wanted to  show us that religion is not a matter of laws for the sake of laws. Rather it is about  establishing a value system based on love.  If the value system of love is at the centre of our relationships then we will understand that dietary laws are meant to help us but never to constrain us.

Jesus invites us to discover the gift of new life. This new life is found and rooted in a relationship with him. He wants to have a personal relationship with us like the relationships that we might have with other human beings. Let us invite him today to reveal his heart to us. As we strive to live lives motivated by love we will also be more and more aware of the words we speak. That which comes out of us will also demonstrate the presence of our loving God in our lives.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Ears

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
12 February 2019, 7:35 am
Good morning everyone,

I wise person once reminded me that each of us has two ears, two eyes and only one mouth. This was a somewhat polite way of reminding me that in some situations we need to listen very intently  and we need to look purposefully at certain situations before we venture to speak.

The gospel passage that is proposed for today's prayer provides us with another example of a time when Jesus might have used this word of advice.  The Pharisees who were watching him tried to question him about the reasons why his disciples didn't seem to be following the rules. Jesus took their own argument and turned it back on them.  You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition, he told them (Mk 7:9).

This is a sobering and challenging thought for each of us. We may all be tempted from time to time to cling to human traditions and even to judge others based on our interpretation of these traditions. Rather we should first ask ourselves what is God's will for us? Let us try today to listen for His voice, to be more aware of God's Commandments and seek to live according to them. We might be surprised at where this might lead.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: World Day of Prayer for the Sick

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
11 February 2019, 7:26 am
Good morning everyone,

Today the church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for the Sick. This annual observance began in 1992 but this time around it has a special twist: the observance launched two days ago in Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta (India), the city associated above all with Mother Theresa, the Church's great patron saint of the sick.

This holy woman modelled her life of service on that of Jesus himself. In the gospel passage proposed for today's liturgy,  people immediately recognized Jesus and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard that he was (Mk 6:54-55).

Today we pray for all of those of our brothers and sisters who are sick, suffering, and in need. May the Lord who  is always close to his children hear our prayer for them, come to their help and bring them back to health.

Have a great day.


Do it again

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 February 2019, 8:28 am
During my years in undergraduate studies, I chose to be part of the University choir.  Every Monday evening, we would practice for three hours, and once or twice a year, we would put on a concert for other students and residents in the local city.  I remember the first night that I arrived for practice.  They handed me the music and sat me in the tenor section.  The conductor pointed at the pianist who played a chord and we were off.  There was no time spent teaching us the parts: that was our own responsibility.  Inevitably, we would sing a bit and then we would be stopped.  The conductor would point out something that needed to be done differently and then he would say: Now, let’s start again ... and we would return to the point from which we had started.  I don’t remember how many times we repeated the music, but I know that at some points, we grew exasperated when he asked us to repeat the musical phrase yet again ... until we had almost memorized the music.

I have often wondered whether Simon felt exasperated when Jesus said to him: Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch (Lk 5:4).  Simon, James and John were fishermen.  They had worked all night long, but they had caught nothing (cf Lk 5:5), yet when Jesus asked them to let down their nets yet again, they agreed, and the outcome was remarkable: they caught so much fish that their nets were beginning to break (Lk 5:6).

Like the conductor standing in front of that choir, Jesus asks us to practice our lines.  The specific tasks he asks us to perform are not difficult in and of themselves, but the fact that he asks us to repeat the same tasks, even if we don’t perceive any effect, can leave us frustrated.  Some of us pray the same words day after day, year after year and we don’t see anything change.  Some of us speak kindly to others and still it seems that we are ignored ... and how many times have we messed something up and said sorry, then tried to change and we end up messing up again?  The good thing is that no matter how many times we mess up, our God is always willing to give us another chance.

Jesus never asks us to do something that we cannot do, but he will often ask us to practice virtue over and over, no matter how many times we mess up ... until we get it right.  When Simon Peter saw the miraculous catch of fish, he fell down at Jesus’ knees and said, Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man (Lk 5:8).   Like Simon, and like Isaiah, when we witness the great goodness of our God, we too can sometimes respond by saying: Woe is me (Is 6:5) or Go away from me Lord because we are made aware of our own unworthiness, yet God does not judge our unworthiness; God loves us for who we are.

It was because of God’s love for his people that Christ died for our sins ... that he was buried, and that we was raised on the third day ... (1 Cor 15:3-4).  What we are called to do every day is to practice following in his footsteps.  We must continue to pray day after day, even if we don’t see the results right away; we must continue to speak kindly to others, even if they might ignore us; and every time we fall down, we must get up again, say sorry, dust ourselves off and try again.  Eventually, we’ll get it right.

His Word Today: Maybe

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
8 February 2019, 7:01 am
Good morning everyone,

The gospel passage for today's liturgy presents the figure of Herod, the King of Israel (Mk 6:14-16).  The figure of Herod, like his ancestors, spoke immediately to the human heart of his time about the presence of the Romans, about might and power, and yet, the figure of Herod also shows us that there was a level of curiosity in the heart of this man when it came to understanding who John (the Baptist) was.

Many people, even today, put on brave faces in an attempt to convince the people around them that they have life figured out, that everything is under control, yet the very people who portray the essence of calm and control may still have room in their hearts to wonder ... this is the place where Jesus enters into our lives, with the power to change our questioning and doubt into wonder and awe.

Perhaps we too have known this truth in our lives.  Perhaps even now, we still seek answers to our pondering.  If this is the case, perhaps this is the day for us to imitate Herod: choose to believe that Jesus is truly alive and active in our lives.  Ask him to help you to grow in faith and trust that he is always close, ready to help us when we are in need ... and always willing to envelop us in his love.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Go

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
7 February 2019, 11:03 am
Good morning everyone,

The gospel passage for today speaks of a moment in Jesus' life when he invited his disciples to go out into the world (Mk 6:7).  He gave them very specific instructions: take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts (Mk 6:8).

Can you imagine how vulnerable those disciples were.  They would have set out with very little to give them a sense of security, yet this was done on purpose because only in this way could they learn the essential truth that we must always recognize: we must rely on Jesus, and remember that he is always with us.  If we forget this truth, then we end up doing our own work, not the work that Jesus intends us to do.

Dare to go out into the world that the Lord puts you in today.  Dare to leave behind whatever it is that you find yourself relying on for comfort and security.  Dare to trust that Jesus will always be with you.  He is always close to every one of his beloved children, placing us on the path that will allow us to cooperate in doing his work on earth.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Paul Miki

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
6 February 2019, 7:47 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, we remember and pray with Saint Paul Miki, born in 1562, who was a Jesuit seminarian, one of the twenty-six martyrs of Japan.  Having been taught by the Jesuits, Saint Paul joined the Society of Jesus and became a well-known and successful preacher.  Because of his work, many others converted to Catholicism.  Out of fear of the Jesuit influence and not understanding their intentions, the ruler of Japan began persecuting Catholics.  Paul Miki was arrested and jailed along with other fellow Catholics who were later forced to march more than 966 miles from Kyoto to Nagasaki.  There, he was cruelly put to death.

It is interesting to note that on the day when we remember that it was so difficult for Paul Miki and his companions to be accepted for their faith, we also hear the story of Jesus' arrival in his hometown, where he too was not accepted (cf Mk 6:4).  Over the centuries, fear of the unknown has often proven to be at the root of misunderstandings.  Jesus worked very hard during his life to break down the misunderstandings of his time; even today, there are prophetic voices calling out to us, urging us to work hard at promoting avenues of mutual understanding.

Today, we can make a difference if we choose to work toward understanding others, their motivations and their reasonings. When we do, we might just discover that others are not so different from us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Agatha

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
5 February 2019, 7:25 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Agatha (circa 231-251 A.D.)  We know little about her earthly life, other than the fact that she was from a rich and noble family who lived in Catania (Sicily).  As a young girl, she made a vow of virginity and later rejected amorous advances from the Roman prefect Quintianus.  Her insistence on living, not according to the dictates of human beings but rather according to the call of the Lord earned her a martyr's crown.

The gospel passage proposed for today's meditation presents two other women who also faced perils but triumphed because of the presence of Jesus in their lives (cf Mk 5:21-43): the daughter of Jairus and a woman who had suffered from hemorrhages.  In both cases, the women mentioned in the gospel passage were also in peril, but ended up triumphing because of the faith of others.

The world we live in often turns a blind eye to the humanity some of our brothers and sisters, choosing instead to see them as objects worthy of being set aside, ignored or treated as property.  In contrast to this, Jesus came to show us that each one of us is cherished, precious in the eyes of our God, and because we are precious, we should also cherish all the brothers and sisters who share our journey through earthly life.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Change

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
4 February 2019, 6:51 am
Good morning everyone,

There is a saying in popular culture that advocates for change: To live is to experience change.  The problem is that no one likes change.  We human beings are creatures of habit.  Once we have established our routines, we will resist change, even if that change might be necessary or might represent something that is better for us.

In today's gospel passage, we see Jesus at a moment when he encounters a man who is possessed by demons (cf Mk 5:1-13).  This man had been dwelling among the tombs, continually haunted by the demons, but unable to free himself of their influence.  Perhaps he had gotten to the point where he himself had begun to lose hope that he might ever see a day when he would be free of them.  Perhaps he had begun to resign himself to the fact that he would have to live with them for the rest of his days.

Do we know of anyone who is living with demons today?  Modern-day demons are no different from the demons of days gone by.  They are sly, they try to convince us that they are no longer around, all the while distorting our ability to think clearly, to reason soundly and to be all that we are intended to be.  Perhaps we ourselves need Jesus' help to free us from demons, or perhaps we know of someone who does.  Today, let us seek out an encounter with Jesus so that we can ask him to free us - or the ones we love - from the demons that enslave us.

Have a great day.

Prepare to be surprised

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
3 February 2019, 8:57 am
Today, we have come once again to sit in the presence of Jesus.  Here, we hope to learn from him whatever it is that we need to learn so that we can continue in the coming week to live as his disciples.  The gospel passage we have heard today is the continuation of the episode we heard last week.  Once again, we are seated with all those friends of Jesus who gathered in the synagogue in Nazareth, hoping to hear him say something wonderful.  Perhaps they expected him to recognize the role they had played in helping him to grow, to learn and to be prepared to face the world.  Jesus was expecting them to ask him to perform a miracle.  After all, they had already heard of such things happening in Capernaum (cf Lk 4:23).  However, the words Jesus spoke surprised them.  The words of the gospel should always surprise us, jar us, wake us up.  In this way, we learn how to listen as though we have never heard the story before.

Sitting at the feet of Jesus, we are gathered in the school of love.  Here we learn more and more every time we gather about how we should love, and what better teacher can we have to teach us about love than the author of love.  Our God, who has always longed to share the gift of love with us, spoke to the prophet Jeremiah saying: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you (Jer 1:5).  Each one of us can find great reassurance and consolation by spending time in prayer, simply repeating these words in our minds and in our hearts because the gift of love that was offered to Jeremiah has also been offered to each one of us, and God’s love is not like human love: it is not based on any conditions but rather, it is freely given regardless of what we might have done, regardless of what excuses we have invented in order to distance ourselves from the author of love.

Saint Paul helps us today to deepen our understanding of the love that Jesus wants to share with us.   Instead of being lured away by the voices of this world that make all kinds of empty promises, our God invites us to taste the same sweetness that the apostles and the saints have known.   Attempting to explain the depth of this treasure, Saint Paul says: Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude (1 Cor 13:4-5).

It should always surprise us to hear these words.  We live in a world that strives to be patient, yet human efforts will always fall short of God’s ability to be patient with us.  In an ideal world, we would all be kind to one another, but God will always outdo us in kindness.  If we truly want to be disciples, we will constantly judge our words and actions in terms of whether or not they are willing to bear all things, believe all things, hope always and even endure all things (cf 1 Cor 13:7).  This sounds idyllic, yet this is how our God loves us.

Dear friends, in this place, week after week, imperfect humans dare to stand in the presence of our God who alone is perfect.  Here, we are encouraged – over and over – and always with infinite gentleness and compassion as we progress toward the truth that is the source of our rejoicing (cf 1 Cor 13:6).

His Word Today: the Presentation of the Lord

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
2 February 2019, 7:24 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.  The oldest written account of the celebration of this Feast dates back to the fourth century A.D. and an account which was penned by a Spanish nun by the name of Egeria.  She kept a diary of her pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  In it, she writes: The fortieth day after (Christmas) is indeed celebrated here (in Jerusalem) with the greatest solemnity.  On that day, there is a procession to the (Basilica of the Resurrection) and all assemble there for the liturgy ... (Egeria, Diary of a Pilgrimage, chapter 26).

It seems that at that early date, the Feast did not have a specific name and was simply called The Fortieth Day After the Nativity. Later it was called The Encounter of Our Lord, referring to the encounter of Saint Simeon with Jesus in the Temple which is the theme of the oldest homily on the Feast, ascribed to Hesychius of Jerusalem (who died after 450). In the West, the Feast was called The Purification from Mary’s compliance with the legal purification prescribed by the Law (Lk 2:22). In the English speaking world, however, the term of Presentation was adapted since on that day Jesus was presented (offered) to God in the Temple (Lk 2:22).

The first mention of candles being used on this Feast is traced to the fifth century A.D.  Sometime in the middle of that century, a Roman matron by the name of Ikelia speaks of their presence, and both Saint Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) and Theodore of Ancyra (d. 446) mention the use of lights during the procession that takes place on this Feast. The custom of blessing candles on the Feast of the Presentation was introduced to fill the needs of the people.  Its introduction into our Rite was relatively recent, during the seventeenth century, but its roots reach venerable antiquity. As recorded in The Chronicle of Saint Theophanes, Emperor Justinian I had issued an order in 541 A.D. that on the Feast of the Presentation, a candle-light procession be held throughout the city to implore Divine Protection against pestilence and the numerous earthquakes that plagued the city.

Let us celebrate this feast with joy.
Have a great day.

His Word Today: Unseen

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
1 February 2019, 7:47 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the scriptures remind us that God is constantly at work, in ways that we are sometimes unaware, unless of course we learn how to see with the eyes of faith.  Seen solely through human eyes, we might indeed see a man scattering seed on the land (Mk 4:26), or we might see mustard seeds ... being sown on the ground (cf Mk 4:31), but without the eyes of faith we will never be able to know or appreciate how those seeds are able to sprout and grow.

The answer to this question is found only by those who have been granted the gift of faith.  Only in faith can we see the hand of God at work in these situations and in the many more that are part of our daily lives.

It is true that even without faith, we can continue to live our lives, but with the gift of faith, with the gift of belief in God and in his Son Jesus Christ, we can see life differently. Let us dare to trust in God, and let us ask him to open his heart to us so that we can grow closer and closer to him, day after day.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint John Bosco

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
31 January 2019, 7:41 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, we celebrate the Memorial of Saint John Bosco, an Italian priest who founded the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians.  He was known as the priest of the poor and of abandoned children.  Saint John Bosco was an exceptional educator motivated by love and confidence which he shared with young children.

In this way, Don Bosco - as he was known throughout Italy - was a lamp, shedding the light (cf Mk 4:21) of his faith upon those who benefitted from his conviction and love.  The same is true for us as well if we dare to share the gifts that the Lord has given with those we encounter.

Don't try to hide your faith today because of fear or uncertainty.  Instead, trust that our God is always with us, gently loving us and encouraging us to share the good news we have encountered with those we meet. Our God loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus so that we might know how close He is to us and how much He loves us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Seeds

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
30 January 2019, 7:26 am
Good morning everyone,

There are few of Jesus' parables that are better known than the one that is proposed in Saint Mark's gospel today (Mk 4:1-20).  Jesus speaks of the Word of God being shared with those who hear it and compares the success that God's word encounters - it's ability to evangelize and convert the hearts of those who hear it - to the land on which seed falls.

Our God continues to sow the seed of His word in our hearts every day, but it is up to us to cultivate and develop the conditions so that God's word will be able to take root.  Some of us have not heard God's word at all (like the land that is dry and trodden, where birds eat the seeds faster than they can germinate); some of us have heard God's word but we haven't spent much time considering it (like the seed that falls on rocky ground); some of us are so concerned with providing for our families and for those we love that there is little or no time left for us to contemplate God's word (like the seed that falls into thorny ground); and some of us are truly fortunate because we are aware of God's presence in our lives and able to recognize the fruit of his presence in our words and actions.

Any of these conditions could be the state in which we find ourselves every day.  Let us never tire of striving to open our hearts willingly so that we can invite our loving God to plant his word in our hearts.  May there always be enough rich soil for this word to sprout and grow.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Call

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
29 January 2019, 8:31 am
Good morning everyone,

Today's gospel passage begins with a very interesting line.  Saint Mark tells us that the mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house.  Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him (Mk 3:31).

The mother of Jesus and his brothers were standing outside the house.  How often have we felt that even though we are trying to send our prayers to Jesus, we too are standing outside the house, in a place where we are somewhat distanced from him.  At times there is noise - other distractions - that seem to stop us from knowing that our prayers have reached the ears of Jesus, or perhaps keeping us from recognizing his answers to our prayers.

Even though the mother of Jesus ... was standing outside the house, she did not doubt that her prayer would be heard and so she sent word to her son.  So can we.  No matter how distant we may feel that we are from the side of Jesus, He is always close to us, always ready to listen.  Let us pray today for the grace to trust that whatever prayer we may offer will be heard and welcomed by Jesus, for he is always attentive to the voices of his beloved children.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Thomas Aquinas

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
28 January 2019, 8:50 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) who was an Italian Dominican Friar (part of the Dominican Order), a Catholic Priest and a Doctor of the Church (a title given within the Catholic Church to saints who are recognized to have made significant contributions to theology or doctrine through their research, study or writing).  He was an immensely influential philosopher, theologian and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism.

In his day, Saint Thomas faced many difficult situations and moments when his intellect was challenged.  Rarely was he found lacking.  We see another occasion, where Jesus too was put to the test, in today's gospel account: The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, 'He is possessed by Beelzebul', and 'By the prince of demons he drives out demons' (Mk 3:22).  Jesus response to this accusation is brilliantly reasoned and we can almost hear him speaking these words gently, unhurriedly and with assurance:  How can Satan drive out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand (Mk 3:23-24).

We are all put to the test from time to time.  Let us pray today for the guidance we need so that we will be able to find the words and the confidence to speak the truth that is in our hearts.  Jesus is always with us, ready to help us to live our faith.

Have a great day.

Sharing the news

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
27 January 2019, 5:47 pm
This week, thousands of young people from all corners of the world are gathered in Panama to celebrate the 34th World Youth Day.  As I heard the news of this gathering, I was immediately drawn back in time to the times when I myself was able to attend other World Youth Day gatherings.  Each of them was a celebration of faith and an opportunity to encounter the joy of youth, and a privileged moment for all those who were there to experience an encounter with Jesus.  Each time I came back home, there was exciting news to share about new friends I had made or about an experience that had helped me to grow in faith.  I wonder what stories the young people who are gathered in Panama will bring home with them, and I wonder how those stories they have to share will be received.

Today’s gospel account speaks of a time when Jesus himself came home with stories to tell.  Even before he arrived, he was already gaining a reputation throughout Galilee.  People in his hometown must have been excited to hear the stories that he would have to share.  Is it any wonder then that after he had read those words from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him (Lk 4:20)?  I have often wondered about the thoughts that might have been going through the minds of all those people at that precise moment: Did some in the crowd still remember him as a child?  Were they truly excited to hear all about his adventures?  Did they think that he was home to stay?

And what about us?  Have we ever had the experience of someone in our family going away, perhaps even moving away for a time and then coming back home to visit?  Were we excited to sit around a table and to hear about all the adventures that had been encountered?  This is the fervor that I imagine might have been present in the crowd as they listened to the priest Ezra reading the Law of God before the assembly (cf Neh 8:2-3).  They too would have been excited to hear the good news that Ezra had to share.

In fact, every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we have another opportunity to hear a portion of the gospel – the good news – that Jesus wants to share with us.  Sometimes the news he has to share brings us consolation, at other times it excites us and fills us with great joy; sometimes it encourages us, and at other times it compels us to ask ourselves some serious and difficult questions.  Each time we hear it, the gospel invites us to grow in our relationship with our God and in our relationships with others.

We see a prime example of this in the second reading that we have heard today. Saint Paul writes to the Christian community at Corinth – and across the centuries, to us as well – comparing our role within the Church to the different parts of a body.  Just as the body is one and has many members ... so it is with Christ ... in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body (1 Cor 12:12).  Therefore even though we may all have come from different ethnic backgrounds, even though we each have our own story to tell, we are all united in faith; we are travelling the same road, hand in hand with one another.  This alone is exciting news worth sharing.

His Word Today: the Conversion of Saint Paul

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
25 January 2019, 7:01 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Conversion of Saint Paul.  The New Testament recounts the incident in the life of Saul - a Pharisee of Pharisees - who intensely persecuted the followers of Jesus.  Following an encounter that he had with the risen Jesus, Saul ceased persecuting the early Christians and himself became a follower and a fervent defender of Jesus.

The gospel passage proposed for today's liturgy speaks of Jesus' commission for the disciples to go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to everyone (Mk 16:15), but none of them would ever have imagined that such a dramatic conversion was possible.  Instead, by the grace of God, the one who had once persecuted the fledgling community was able to explain to others: I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city ... I set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem
in chains for punishment all the Christians who were there but while I was on that journey, I heard a voice saying to me: 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? (Acts 22:3, 5-7)

Not all of us experience such a dramatic encounter, but all of us are invited to encounter Jesus.  If we are courageous enough to say yes, our lives will be changed forever.  He will use our hearts to reach the hearts of others and to invite them to journey with him toward the kingdom of heaven.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Francis de Sales

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
24 January 2019, 7:30 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church commemorates Saint Francis de Sales (21 August 1567 – 28 December 1622) who was a Bishop of Geneva (Switzerland). He became noted for his deep faith and his gentle approach to the religious divisions in his land resulting from the Protestant Reformation. He is known also for his writings on the topic of spiritual direction and spiritual formation, particularly the Introduction to the Devout Life and the Treatise on the Love of God.

Perhaps it is not by coincidence that today's gospel passage also speaks of acceptance and renown - as it was experienced by Jesus.  A large number of people followed him from Galilee and from Judea (Mk 3:7) and from many other places.  They followed because they had either heard of his good works or they had witnessed them themselves.  Like Jesus, Francis de Sales also became known by many, perhaps even admired by many because of his faith.

And what about us?  Do we dare to live our faith each day in ways that are visible to others?  It is through the commitment of those who have already encountered Jesus in prayer, and those who have come to believe in him that others will also be able to see for themselves that our Lord lives, that He is constantly seeking after us, seeking our good.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Hard hearted

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
23 January 2019, 8:36 am
Good morning everyone,

There are some situations where rules are needed, and there are some times in life where the rules must give way to compassion.  Believe it or not, it is sometimes much easier to live in a world where the rules are clearly defined; although the rebel in each one of us longs to be free of the rules, when these limits are not clearly defined, we end up in situations where confusion can easily prevail.

The world of rules was a very familiar place to the synagogue officials, but I wonder whether they recognized the fact that their insistence on following the rules actually closed them off from the warmth of compassion, replacing it rather with a cold and calculating outlook on life.  Unfortunately, the attitudes that characterized the synagogue officials still exist today.  Every one of us can sometimes find ourselves looking at life in that same way: we know the rules and it would be much easier to follow them than to try to navigate through them.

On the other hand, we see Jesus; every time we see the world through his eyes, we see things differently.  When we look with compassion, our hard hearts are softened and we are able to see the men and women of our times who are crippled and in need of assistance (cf Mk 3:1).  Today, let us ask Jesus to grant us the grace of softened hearts so that we can see the world through his eyes.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Wisdom

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
22 January 2019, 7:32 am
Good morning everyone,

I once was asked to define the difference between knowledge and wisdom.  It took some thought, but I eventually offered the following explanation: knowledge is the awareness of facts and data while wisdom is the ability to use the knowledge that we have amassed.

If we apply this logic to today's gospel passage, we find Jesus using his knowledge of the Law to point out wisdom: how to apply the Law.  When some of the Pharisees questioned him about his disciples who were gathering corn on a Sabbath day, he might have felt fear at the possibility of their judgement, or embarrassment at having been caught.  Rather, he used this occasion to point out the wisdom that he had gleaned: The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath (Mk 2:27).

In our time, we might consider how we apply the laws by which we live.  Laws should always be meant to define the limits within which we live, and it's up to each one of us to use the knowledge we have gained in order to discover how we can use that knowledge wisely.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Agnes

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
21 January 2019, 8:11 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Agnes of Rome, a young girl who was born circa 291 AD and is believed to have died in 304 AD). Details about her life cannot be authenticated but she is believed to have been a young girl of about thirteen years of age, a virgin who was martyred who was martyred in Rome during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian on 21 January 304.

Tradition teaches that she was a beautiful young girl from a wealthy family.  She had many suitors of high rank and the young men, slighted by her resolute devotion to religious purity, submitted her name to the authorities as a follower of Christianity.  She was brutally tortured and killed for her choice to follow Christ.

When Jesus was asked about why his disciples did not fast, he responded by asking a question: Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? (Mk 2:19).  Agnes knew that nothing else would suffice because she had already met the bridegroom who loved her - and who loves us - with infinite love.  We too are invited to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus: to realize that he is the deepest desire of our hearts, and nothing else will do.

Have a great day.

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