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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

How do we glorify God?

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
19 May 2019, 8:20 am
The gospel passage we have just heard occurs immediately after the moment when Judas has left the Upper Room, on his way to speak with the chief priests in order to betray Jesus (cf Mt 26:14-16).  Speaking to the other disciples, Jesus said: Now the Son of Man has been glorified (Jn 13:31).  It might seem strange to think that Jesus - the Son of Man - was glorified in the act of betrayal.  The usual image portrayed by the word glorify is about placing our focus on someone, making a big deal out of them, usually in a good and loving way, and yet Jesus says that he has been glorified in the act of betrayal.

In order to understand the truth of this statement, we need to realize that if Judas had not betrayed Jesus, he would not have been arrested, he would not have suffered, he would not have been crucified, he would not have died - not at that particular moment - and he would not have risen at that moment either.  However, this was the reason for which God had sent him: in order to show us the extent of our God's love for us.  We need to be reminded of this truth, over and over again: it was in his surrender, in his acceptance of human suffering and in his passage through the doorway of physical death that Jesus glorified God.  In this ultimate act of humility, Jesus accomplished the mission for which he was sent.

You and I have also been entrusted with the mission of glorifying God.  We do this every day when we do what Jesus asked us to do.  In those final hours, while he was awaiting Judas' arrival, Jesus told the other disciples: I give you a new commandment, that you love one another (Jn 13:34).  This same commandment has also been entrusted to us.  Like Jesus, we are all called to glorify the Lord, and we do this by loving one other.

The Acts of the Apostles tell the story of how the disciples did their very best to live out this commandment.  In today's first reading, we hear a part of the adventure that Paul and Barnabas travelled to many different places, strengthening the souls of the disciples and encouraging them to continue in the faith (Acts 14:22).  These two followers of the Way had been convinced of God's love for them, and it was this sense of being loved that energized them and drove them to share the joy that they had come to know with others they met along the way.

Even today, the love of God continues to be offered to us because Jesus' gift of self-sacrifice was given once for all time.  Because Jesus glorified God in this way, we too can glorify God by loving one another.  How beautiful it is to see a community of people who joyfully give of themselves out of love for others, with no thought at all for any measure of reward or recognition!

Loving one another is not always easy.  We are far too often made aware of faults and failings, but the more that we strive to look beyond the limits of others, the more we strive every day to love others unconditionally, the more we will contribute to bringing about the realization of the new heaven and the new earth that is described in the book of Revelation (Rev 21:1).  The holy city, the new Jerusalem (Rev 1:2), does not only exist in a vision; it is meant to exist right here, in our midst, and each of us can contribute to the building up of this reality if we try every day to love one another and to glorify God.

His Word Today: Trust

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
17 May 2019, 7:02 am
Good evening everyone,

In today's gospel passage, Jesus is strengthening the hearts of his disciples, encouraging them to trust in him and to grow strong in their faith.  By this point in the story, the disciples have had multiple occasions to learn from their teacher, and Jesus is aware of the fact that his days with them are numbered, yet the words Jesus spoke were still difficult for the twelve to comprehend, much less to accept.

Jesus spoke of the upcoming events as though he were setting out on a journey, yet he knew that what was coming would not be easy for them to endure:  Do not let your hearts be troubled, he told them, you have faith in God, have faith also in me (Jn 14:1).  Jesus genuinely cared for and loved the twelve.  He knew that it would not be easy for them to experience his suffering and death, but like any loving father, who knows that his time is near, Jesus also wanted to encourage them: do not let your hearts be troubled.  As a remedy for the temptation to question their faith, Jesus encouraged them to trust.

Perhaps we have known the great joy of being strengthened in our faith: by loving parents and other adults who have helped us to grow at various points along our journey.  Maybe we have already experienced moments in our lives when we are certain that the Lord is putting us to the test.  We might know at some level that such experiences always result in some kind of growth, but until we experience this growth for ourselves, there will always be some element of doubt or even skepticism.

Today, let us welcome the advice that Jesus offered to the disciples.  It is also being offered to us: if our faith is tested at times and if we find ourselves facing some kind of trial or challenge, let us turn to God and ask him to strengthen our faith and to teach us to trust in Him.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Place

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

One of my theology professors would often repeat a word of advice to his young proteges as he attempted to teach us how to approach the task of learning and discerning.  In his words, our task - first thing in the morning and last thing at night - was to put ourselves on our knees and to begin our prayer with the phrase: Thank you God that you are God and I am not.  This statement speaks of humility and surrender, basic attitudes for developing our relationship with our God.

At another time in history, Jesus taught his disciples a lesson that was not unlike the lesson that we were taught by that priest.  Jesus said to them: no slave is greater than his master, nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him (Jn 13:16).  In these words, we can discern a lesson in humility and surrender, a lesson about recognizing God's goodness and greatness, as well as His grace and generosity in inviting us to enjoy a personal relationship with Him.

Today, let us dare to ask for the grace to grow in our understanding of God's goodness to us.  Let us strive to let go of the temptation to think that we are the ones who are gods, and let us strive to be messengers of God's mercy.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Isadore

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
15 May 2019, 7:14 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church remembers and prays with Saint Isadore of Seville (circa 560-4 April 636), a scholar who served as Archbishop of Seville (Spain) for more than thirty years.  He was instrumental in orchestrating the conversion of Visigothic kings (of Middle-aged East Germanic tribes) to Catholicism.

Through his continuing efforts he was successful in encouraging many to come to believe Jesus' words: whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me (Jn 12:44).  The truth of these words are just as relevant today as they were when Jesus first uttered them.  We too are invited to believe.

Today, we are thankful to Saint Isadore for his constant and unfailing faith.  Let us ask him to intercede for us, so that we too might come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that God, who sent Jesus into the world is our loving Father.  When this truth is well-founded and rooted in our hearts, we can joyfully share the good news with others too.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Matthias

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
14 May 2019, 7:29 am
Saint Matthias, by Peter Paul Rubens
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Matthias.  According to the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:23, 25) Matthias was chosen by the other disciples to replace Judas Iscariot after Judas' betrayal of Jesus and his subsequent death.  The calling of Matthias to join the apostles was unique because his choosing was not made personally by Jesus, but rather by consultation with the followers of Jesus (cf Acts 1:15)  In addition, Matthias was appointed after Jesus' ascent into heaven and before the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Jesus' lessons, shared with the twelve disciples were also shared with Matthias, for he was one of the men who accompanied the disciples the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among them (cf Acts 1:21).  In fact, the lessons Jesus taught have also been passed on to us, including the words that are recorded in today's gospel: As the Father loves me, so I also love you.  Remain in my love (Jn 15:9).  This is the heart of the key lesson that all disciples must learn and strive to perfect.  At the heart of every call, we are invited to discover Jesus' love, his personal love for each of us.

When we remain in Jesus' love, we are always mindful of the fact that he never leaves us alone, that he constantly seeks to be part of our lives and to share the joy of his love with us.  Once we have experienced the thrill of being called by Jesus to follow in his footsteps, life is never the same.  Today, let us ask Saint Matthias to inspire within our hearts a renewed desire to discover and celebrate Jesus' love for each one of us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Manners

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
13 May 2019, 7:57 am

Good morning everyone,

Do you remember a time when people used to teach their children to observe what we called manners?  Manners are behavioural boundaries that are aimed at being polite to others and making life easier for others, but underlying the basics of manners is an understanding that we must be outward looking, concerned for the well-being of others rather than self-centred.

Manners include simple choices that are always focused on respect for others.  In the gospel passage for today's liturgy, we see even Jesus speaking about living life in accord with the manners we have developed.  Jesus says to those who are listening: whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep (Jn 10:2).

Entering through the gate implies that we strive every day to live according to the rules that have been laid down.  To do otherwise is to live a lie or to try to cheat our way through life.  In the example that Jesus left us, we see that it is possible to live according to the rules: to enter through the gate, rather than trying to jump the fence. It's not always easy to follow the rules, especially when those around us seem to be cheating their way, or finding all the shortcuts, but it is a wonderful way of showing our respect to the One who wants nothing more than to love us and to reward us with the gift of eternal life.

May Our Blessed Mother, whose feast day we celebrate today - under the title of Our Lady of Fatima - help us to follow God's rules, directions that are provided in love to teach us how to love.

Have a great day.

Back to basics

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
12 May 2019, 11:36 am
This weekend, children at Ste-Famille in Blind River and at Ste-Marie here in Elliot Lake are celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation.  In God’s eternal plan, the fact that this significant moment in their lives of faith is taking place on the Fourth Sunday of Easter – which is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations – provides all of us with an opportunity to remember and to celebrate our faith.

In the gospel passage that we have heard today, Jesus uses the image of a sheep.  He says: My sheep listen to my voice.  I know them and they follow me (Jn 10:27).  Anyone who has spent time with animals knows that most of them will get to know the voice of at least one human being.  If human beings spend enough time with them, most animals will get to know us and we will get to know them.  This is God’s desire for us: that we should spend enough time with him.  He already knows us but he wants us to get to know him.  As we do, we will find that he loves us and wants only good things for us ... and when someone wants only good things for us, we want to spend more time with them.

Today, we pray for vocations.  The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocare, which means to call.  Every one of us has a vocation in life because all of us have been called by God to live as his disciples.  When we discover our vocation, we are compelled to live it out.  In the first reading for today’s Mass, we heard some of the details about the vocation that was revealed to Paul and to Barnabas.  They had heard the Lord calling to them, and they responded by travelling to many places, telling others this good news that they had heard (cf Acts 13:14). You might say that they were among the very first missionaries.

When we learn to listen to the voice of the shepherd, his words will always compel us to go out to others and to share the joy that we have come to know: the joy that we have discovered as we have come close to Jesus and spent time in his presence.  People will not always welcome what we have to say.  They may very well question us, challenge us and they may even refuse to listen to us, but that didn’t stop Paul and Barnabas, and it should not stop us either.

Listening for the shepherd’s voice is important, but there are some of us who are visual learners.  Perhaps the Book of Revelation can help us to grow in our understanding that Jesus is preparing each one of us for something wonderful.  The vision described by John is a celebration, a wonderful party.  In his vision, he saw a great multitude of people that no one could count, people from every nation, tribe and language (Rev 7:9).

Earlier this year, Endgame, the latest episode in the Marvel Avengers movie series was released.  It made more money in its first weekend than any other movie in the Avengers series had ever made.  These productions might create a lot of hype but in a relatively short time, their attraction will certainly fade.  Thousands of years after Jesus died and rose again, people are still seeking adventures.  People still need to hear the good news: Jesus, the good shepherd, is still inviting us to embark on the adventure of knowing him, and of knowing the joy of being known and loved by him.

His Word Today: Food

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 May 2019, 7:05 am
Good morning everyone,

What a wonderful gift we have been given!  The Lord has invited each one of us to establish and to nurture a relationship with Him.  This relationship begins when we celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism and continues on a daily basis until the day we enter the Father's house.  Along the way, our God offers us the gifts of the other sacraments in order to help us live fruitful lives of faith.

In Reconciliation, we encounter the merciful face of God and celebrate the profound gift of divine forgiveness.  In the Eucharist, we eat of the Lord's flesh which is true food, and we drink of his blood which is true drink (cf Jn 6:55).  Fed with these special gifts, and enriched by regularly meditating on the word of God, we continue to grow and to mature in our love of God, and we continually perceive His love for us made visible in our daily lives.

Do we take the time to celebrate the Eucharist on a regular basis?  Do we receive the special food of the Eucharist?  And do we ever take time to thank the Lord for sharing this special food with us, for taking care to nourish us, his beloved children?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Response

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
9 May 2019, 7:33 am
Good morning everyone,

Today's gospel passage reminds us of a very basic truth when it comes to the relationship we enjoy with our God.  Jesus said to the crowds, 'No one can come to me unless the Father who has sent me draws him (Jn 6:44).

From our earliest days, we learn the relationship between cause and effect: if I do something, there will be a reaction.  However, human approaches to cause and effect are actually upside down when it comes to the relationship that exists between us and God.  In this case, it is God who does the inviting and we who do the responding.

It might take a bit of time and experience for us to understand and appreciate this truth because when it comes to loving, no one can love more deeply or more sincerely than God can, and just when we think that we are doing something to please God, that's precisely the moment when we come to understand that it was God who first called out to us and invited us to enter into a relationship that is characterized by love, forgiveness, acceptance and infinite patience.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Food

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

We all need to eat in order to survive, but how often have we considered the fact that we need to receive the special nourishment that our God gives us in order to live in eternity?

In today's gospel, Jesus tells us: I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst (Jn 6:35).  In fact, those who receive this special food, which we call the Eucharist, and everyone who believes in him who has provided this food for us also bears the pledge of eternal life.

This special food is offered freely for all those who are in need of it, for all those who need to grow in their faith and for all those who must rely on it as a source of divine strength.  So let us approach the source of this special food and let us joyfully sing our praises to God.  Let us also receive the special food he offers and let us continue to trust that this special food will indeed lead us to the reward of eternal life.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Signs

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
7 May 2019, 7:09 am
Good morning everyone,

The culture into which Jesus was born was filled with expectation.  At the time, the Jewish people were looking forward to the immanent arrival of the Messiah: the promised One of God.  At the same time, there were many other prophets who were foretelling the coming of the Messiah, and each of them was competing for attention by providing signs and indications that would prove his validity.

Enter Jesus.  Like all other prophets at the time, he was providing proof of his right to claim the title of Messiah, but unlike the other sages, his words rang true.  When the crowds asked him to provide proof, he gave them bread to eat: bread that had been miraculously multiplied, and yet he spoke of another level at which his listeners could understand his role of providing nourishment for them.  I am the bread of life, he said, whoever comes to me will never hunger (Jn 6:35).

Even today, Jesus repeats this very same promise to us.  He is the source of the eternal bread that will always satiate our hunger.  If we turn to him in times of need, he will always listen and he will always give us what we need - not necessarily what we might want, but what we truly need.

Today, and every day, he invites us to turn to him, to trust in him and to believe that he will always fulfill his promise to provide for our needs.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Believe

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

Today's gospel passage places us with the people who go in search of Jesus after they have witnessed the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and the fish (cf Jn 6:22-29).  I have often wondered about the true motivation for all those people to go off in search of Jesus.  They had witnessed something wonderful.  Did they think that it was some kind of magic?  Were they caught up in the wonder of the moment, looking for some more wonderful proof that this man Jesus was not like anyone else they had ever met?

What about us?  When we think about Jesus, what kind of image do we conjure in our minds?  Do we go out in search of Jesus as we live our daily lives?  Do we recognize him in the people we encounter? Or does he remain the hero of a story that we have read in a book?

Every day of our lives, Jesus invites us to seek him out, to encounter him in unexpected and sometimes surprising situations.  Each one of these occasions is another opportunity for us to grow in our belief that He loves us infinitely and unboundedly, and that he wants to share the gift of his love with us.  In turn, we can share this love with others, showing them by our own convictions the true source of the joy and the love we have to offer.

Have a great day.

The next steps

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
5 May 2019, 11:20 pm
Those first few days following the resurrection of Jesus could not have been easy for the disciples to experience.  They had been filled with such hope, and then Jesus had been arrested, put on trial and killed.  Even though they had seen the risen Lord in the Upper Room, the joy that had filled their hearts was far too easily replaced by doubt.  Today’s gospel tells us that some of them had gathered on the shores of the Sea of Tiberius (cf Jn 21:1-3).  The scriptures record only a few words, spoken by Peter: I’m going fishing, yet we can hear disappointment in his voice, and perhaps we can sympathize with him too.

For the last few months, all of us who are part of the Catholic communities in Elliot Lake have been asking increasing numbers of questions about the next steps for our local Church.  Like the disciples, we too may be feeling doubts and fears about what is to come.   Like the disciples, a part of us longs to go back to the way things used to be, but we cannot go backwards; we must face the future, and we can do this because, like the disciples, Jesus meets us where we are and asks us to cast our nets, and to bring some of the fish that we have caught – that is to say that we are being invited to bring our talents and gifts and to share them freely and lovingly so that together we can build a vibrant community of faith in this city.

The members of the Transition Team have been hard at work planning the details of the final liturgies that will be celebrated in the parish churches of Ste-Marie and Our Lady of Fatima. It is our hope that each of these celebrations will be an opportunity for us to look back, to remember the lives of faith that have been lived in these two places of worship and to give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received.

The closing liturgy for Our Lady of Fatima parish will be celebrated on Saturday afternoon, June 1st beginning at 4:00pm, and the final Mass at Ste-Marie will be celebrated the following day: June 2nd beginning at 9:30am.  Following the completion of these Masses, the two churches will be closed and there will be no weekday Masses celebrated during that week.  The regular weekday liturgies will begin again on Tuesday, June 11th.

On Sunday morning, June 9th, we will celebrate the first Mass in the new parish church of Saint Bernadette, beginning at 10:00am.  This will be an opportunity for all of us to celebrate a new beginning in the story of faith that we are writing together here in this part of the Lord’s vineyard.

Beginning on the weekend of June 15th and 16th, the regular schedule of Masses for the Lord’s day will include two Masses celebrated in English – one on Saturday afternoon at 4:00pm and the other one on Sunday morning at 11:00am; and one Mass celebrated in French on Sunday morning at 9:00am.

At the conclusion of today’s gospel, Jesus spoke with Peter and granted him a new beginning (cf Jn 21:15-19).  Let us pray for one another, that this new beginning will be a time of grace and blessing for all of us.

His Word Today: Saints Philip and James

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
3 May 2019, 6:57 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saints Philip and James (the son of Alphaeus), two of the disciples who sat at the feet of Jesus and learned first hand about his vision for the Kingdom.

Philip came from Bethsaida, the same town as Peter and Andrew.  He was one of the disciples who Jesus called to follow him.  In time, he told Nathanael about Jesus, the one about whom Moses wrote (Jn 1:45).  Philip gives us the example of one who truly understands that the good news of knowing Jesus must be shared with others.  It cannot be kept as though it is meant simply for our own salvation.

James, the son of Alphaeus is also known as James the Lesser, not to be confused with James the Greater, the son of Zebedee.

We get a little glimpse into the world of the disciples in today's gospel passage.  Jesus is speaking with the disciples, answering their questions about the Kingdom and the path that we humans must follow in order to arrive at our ultimate destination.  When Philip demonstrated his enthusiasm, asking Jesus: show us the Father, that will be enough for us (Jn 14:8), Jesus helped Philip to grow in his understanding: Whoever has seen me has seen the Father (Jn 14:9).

The disciples' questions are also our questions.  Today, let us ask Saints Philip and James to pray with us that we too may welcome the word of Jesus, and that our divine teacher may help us to grow in our knowledge of Him.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Athanasius

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
2 May 2019, 7:45 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria (circa 296-298 to 2 May 373 A.D.), who was the twentieth Bishop of Alexandria (present-day Egypt) - a position he held for a total of 45 years (circa 8 June 328 to 2 May 373).  During that time he was exiled on at least five occasions by order of four different Roman emperors.  Despite the persecution, he was an accomplished theologian and the chief defender of the Church's belief that there is one God who exists in three distinct persons - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - who have existed co-eternally (ie from the beginning of time).

This trinitarian belief is further strengthened in today's gospel passage: The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him (Jn 1:35), and whoever believes in the Son has eternal life (Jn 1:36).

Let us ask Saint Athanasius to pray with us today.  In thanksgiving for his work of clarifying our understanding of who God is, let us bravely set out with the mission to share this news with those we encounter: God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is one God, but made known in three distinct persons who promises us the gift of everlasting life in heaven.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Joseph the Worker

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
1 May 2019, 7:17 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the second of two feast days dedicated to Saint Joseph.  The first is celebrated on March 19 - the Feast of Saint Joseph, the Husband of Mary - and the second is today's Feast of Saint Joseph, the Worker.  Saint John Paul II once said of Saint Joseph: He is a man of great spirit.  He is great in spirit, not because he listens to the words of the living God.  He listens in silence, and his heart ceaselessly perseveres in its readiness to accept the truth contained in the word of the living God.

Alongside the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph cooperated in creating the necessary conditions so that God, who so loved the world could give his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life (Jn 3:16).

The work that Saint Joseph accomplished was precisely the task of listening attentively to the voice of the Lord who directed his actions.  Today, we too can ask Saint Joseph to intercede for us, so that we too may learn how to entrust our efforts to the loving care of our heavenly Father, in order that our efforts too may contribute to the fulfillment of his eternal plan.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Pius V

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

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of Saint Pius V (17 January 1504 to 1 May 1572).  Antonio Ghislieri served as Pope from the day of his election to the See of Peter on 8 January 1566 until his death.  This was not an easy time to lead the Church.  There were many questions about unity that needed to be delicately attended to, and it was Saint Pius V who faced this task.  He gained a reputation for putting orthodoxy before personalities.

Being objective in judgement was also a crucial requisite for Nicodemus, the Pharisee mentioned in Saint John's gospel: the one who met with Jesus in the dark of night.  Nicodemus had to be objective in his questioning.  He had to set aside any prejudice that may have existed in order to make room in his heart to welcome the Word that Jesus proclaimed: a word that is eternally young, ever fresh.

Jesus invites us all to hear these same words and to be as objective as we can in exploring the truth that his words bear.  It is - as a wise and holy man once said - when we dare to pray through the questions of our faith - that we come to believe the truth that the Son of Man must be lifted up so that those who believe in him may have eternal life (Jn 3:15).

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Catherine of Siena

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
29 April 2019, 7:34 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena (25 March 1347 to 29 April 1380).  One of only four female Doctors of the Church, Catherine distinguished herself first as a lay woman associated with the Dominican Order and later as a philosopher and a theologian who had great influence on the Church of her day.

Shortly after she joined the Sisters of Penance of Saint Dominic and professed her vows, she received the gifts of the stigmata (wounds in her hands and feet resembling the wounds of Christ) and mystical marriage (the New Testament portrays communion with Jesus as a marriage).  Despite her constant pain, she accompanied the Dominican chaplain to Avignon in the role of Ambassador of Florence where she played a role in convincing Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon and to return to Rome.  She subsequently worked tirelessly, writing letters to princes and cardinals in order to promote obedience to Pope Urban VI.

Saint Catherine's diplomacy and her dedication to promoting unity in the Church were no doubt born out of her own zealousness to know and love Jesus.  This is the same thirst that brought Nicodemus, a Pharisee who lived in the time of Jesus to come to Jesus under the cover of darkness (cf Jn 3:1) and to begin his own search for truth.

Like these two figures, we too must look to Jesus if we want to discover the path that we must follow today.  He is always ready to show us the way, and he is always willing to walk alongside us so that we never have to walk alone.

Have a great day.

Jesus: God's Divine Mercy

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
28 April 2019, 8:35 am
The gospel for this second Sunday of the Easter season places us with the disciples in the house where they had met (Jn 20:19).  The gospel writer tells us that it was evening on the day Jesus rose from the dead ... and the doors of the house ... were locked for fear of the Jews. At this point in the story, they had already heard the testimony of Mary of Magdala and the other women who had gone to the tomb early that morning. Peter and John had run to the tomb and confirmed the fact that the stone had been rolled away. Yet, despite these hope-filled experiences, the disciples still feared for their lives.  If the Jewish authorities had put their Teacher, their Master, to death, perhaps they too would be killed if they dared to show their faces.

What about us? Have we ever experienced such fear? Have we ever known a time when we had good news to share, but we were afraid to speak for fear that we would be ridiculed or judged for speaking. Have we ever chosen to remain silent, with the doors of our hearts locked for fear of being ridiculed?

Even though the doors of the house were locked, and even though the disciples were fearful, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you' (Jn 20:19). Even in the moments when they were most filled with doubt and fear, Jesus stood among them and offered them the gift of his peace, his reassurance and his mercy ... and these gifts were also offered to Thomas, even though he was not with the other disciples when Jesus came (Jn 20:24).

Jesus knows our hearts even better than we do. He knows that no matter how fervently we may believe all that we have heard about him, there is always a part of us that remains imprisoned by fear and doubt, but even in situations where we are paralyzed by doubt, Jesus still stands in our midst and says to us: Peace be with you!  It is this powerful gift of his peace, the beautiful gift of his mercy at work within us that allows us to discern, to witness and to appreciate how patient he is with each one of us.

On the second Sunday of Easter in the year 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Saint Faustyna Kowalska and established the annual celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday. Since that day, the Church has continued to observe this feast day.  Maria Faustyna Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament (1905-1938) was a Polish nun and a mystic who received visions of Jesus.

Like the disciples gathered in the house on the evening hours of the day when Jesus rose from the dead, Saint Faustyna shared the details of her visions and as a result, even today, the experiences that are described are as fresh and life-giving for us as they were for those who first read them.

Through the intercession of Saint Faustyna Kowalska, may we be attentive to the many signs and wonders (Acts 5:12) that continue to be accomplished among God's people. Renewed by the light of the risen Lord, may we proclaim in Word and deed: Jesus, my risen Lord, I trust in you.

He is risen!

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
21 April 2019, 8:08 am
Waking from a coma that had lasted for twenty-three years, the Blegian man Rom Houben suprised many people.  Some of them even spoke of resurrection.  This term was also used in reference to people who Jesus raised to life: the daughter of Jairus (Mk 5:41), the young man from Nain (Lk 7:14-15) and Lazarus (Jn 11:43-44).  In each of these cases, people were restored to physical life and their existence was prolonged.  Later, they would die again.

Jesus' resurrection is another matter.  Raised from the dead, Christ will never die again; death has no power over him (Rom 6:9).  This is not merely a matter of returning from a coma or having a second chance at life after a clinical death, but rather it is an entrance into an existence that unfolds beyond the limits of space and time, an existence in God.  From now on, the Risen One ensures his luminous presence everywhere and at the same time. And everyone who welcomes him is in touch with his life. Is this not what is evoked by the tomb that was found empty on Easter morning?

At the end of our earthly existence, we will experience the same resurrection: to die in the world, once and for all, to rise and remain forever with God. Today, we are already taking part in this new life when we love like Jesus loves us.

Happy Easter!

The tomb is empty

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
21 April 2019, 1:25 am
Two years ago, I made my most recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On the last morning of our trip, we found ourselves in Jerusalem. Early in the morning, our group of 42 pilgrims arrived in the city. Together, we made our way along the Via Crucis - the Stations of the Cross.  It ends at the Holy Sepulchre: the tomb in which the body of Jesus was placed following the crucifixion. Our guide had warned us that there are normally many visitors lining up every day to visit this holy place. While we stood outside and meditated on the last three stations of the cross, our guide went to check the length of the lineup to enter the tomb. We had only just finished our meditation on the thirteenth station when Anton arrived to call out to us: Come, come now, the tomb is empty!

This is the scene I have always envisioned at the moment when the women who had visited the tomb on Easter morning arrived in the Upper Room, when they told the Eleven what they had experienced at the sepulchre: about the two men who stood in front of them in dazzling clothes (Lk 24: 4) In fact, this is the way that we must all understand life, because the Passion of the Lord does not really end with death on the cross, but rather with him coming out of the tomb.

Following the ignoble death of their Lord, the Apostles lost heart: their dream of a new kingdom had just collapsed. They wanted to return to their old lives, the lifestyles they had known before they had met the Master of Nazareth. It was at this time that the Lord took the initiative to call his Son from death and lift him up: his teaching, his plana and his gestures turn out to be authentic and life-giving. For us, and for the whole Church, this resurrection is the fulcrum of faith.

In fact, it is for us that the Lord raised his Son, because along with him, he wants to lead us into the new life in which we have been participating since the day of our baptism. From that point on, as disciples of Christ, we are constantly being invited to radiate the light of the resurrection. We do it when we turn away from selfishness and direct our lives towards love without measure.

Love without measure

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
19 April 2019, 10:59 pm
Today, it is particularly difficult for us to realize how difficult it was for those who knew Jesus' to admit that a crucified man might be their saviour. Infamous torment among the Romans, crucifixion was the worst possible punishment according to Jewish tradition (cf Deut 21:23).

The gospels tell us about the almost inhuman suffering of a destitute and vulnerable man, unjustly accused and sentenced. Why did he suffer? Was his cross the price to pay in order to calm the wrath of God and obtain our salvation in exchange? Certainly not. For it is not the sum of the sufferings suffered by Jesus who saves us, but the gift of his life, given out of love for us: a love without measure and a life given without measure. The Passion of Christ is certainly a story of terrible suffering, but it is also an incredible love story offered once and for all.

Such a love without measure, lived to the end and relayed by the testimony of so many people through the centuries continues even today to inspire us to imitate it by serving our brothers and sisters out of love and inspired by the example of Jesus Christ. In fact, if the events we are recalling today do not tell us anything, then we should be the ones to shout: Woe to us!

There is infinite love and life in the Passion and in the death of Christ.  This love, this life is only waiting for the morning of Easter to break forth.

An example worth following

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
19 April 2019, 1:56 am
Tonight we are gathered to relive the first moment of the Pascal Triduum. In order to better understand and appreciate the significance of this moment in the life of Jesus and his disciples, we must re-read the narrative provided to us in the first reading we heard tonight. This is a meal that is shared with family and neighbours (cf Ex 12:4) but it is not a meal like any other normal meal. This meal must be eaten quickly: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand (Ex 12:11). It may seem strange that this meal is eaten so quickly, but there was a deep meaning to this evening and in the shared meal.

It was this Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples the night before his death, but that night Jesus did two things that astonished his disciples: the breaking of the bread and the washing of the feet. The details are recounted in the Gospel story (John 13:1-15) and in the letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 11:23-26).

Two thousand years later, the breaking of bread is part of the ordinary life of the Church; it lives in her memory like a most precious treasure. Not so with the washing of feet. This gesture, strange and often annoying, is only done on Holy Thursday, and even so ... this is not always the case. However, these two acts - the breaking of the bread and the washing of the feet - are inseparable because of their origin and their meaning: both are born out of the same love that beats in the heart of Jesus, love that is offered to the world. As for the Eucharist, Christ commands his disciples to do as he did: You too must wash one another's feet (John 13:15), he says.

We can imagine the disciples' heads when Jesus knelt before them. This gesture, which manifests the folly of God, was the exact opposite of their dreams of greatness. Christ becomes a servant because he knows only how to love. The people of God - that is, we - can not hope to do better in our heads and in our hearts than to renounce the temptations of power and instead to serve the Gospel and one another.

The Holy Thursday liturgy we are experiencing reminds us of this truth. It's up to us to put it into practice.

His Word Today: Service

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

We have arrived.  As the light fades from this day, we will begin the Easter Triduum (the liturgy that celebrates this holy time unfolds over the space of three days).  The gospel for the Mass of the Lord's Supper (which will be celebrated tonight) explains how Jesus put his love into service: During supper ... he rose from the table, took off his outer garment, took a towel and tied it around his waist ... and began to wash the disciples' feet (Jn 13:4-5).

In most cases, it would not take too much work on our part to figure out who the people are that we love most.  Jesus challenges us to consider how far would we be willing to go to be of service to those we love.  On the surface, we might be quick to say yes to any request that might be made, but Jesus goes further ... taking on the role of the least significant person in the crowd, even though he merited the place of the most important.

Witnessing Jesus' willingness to go the extra mile does two things: it shows us that love doesn't have to be expressed in grandiose gestures, and it shows us that we can never outdo God in his generosity and his willingness to be part of our day-to-day lives.  Such love is absolutely inspiring.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Silver

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
17 April 2019, 7:39 am
Good morning everyone,

At this point in the story of Holy Week, we stand as witnesses, looking on as Judas makes a bargain with the chief priests.  What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?  They paid him thirty pieces of silver (Mt 26:15).  Judas was the keeper of the common purse, the funds that were possessed by Jesus and his disciples.  If he were alive today, he would be the treasurer or the bursar.

Jesus knew his disciples very well.  He knew their strengths and he knew their weaknesses ... and he loved them all.  Jesus loved Judas even though he may have had difficulty separating his own sense of self worth from the money that was in his possession.  It is understandable that Judas would have used his skills to bargain prices on many other occasions, but in this case, he was using his skills to determine a price for a human life.

With the exception of God, none of us is worthy of the privilege of setting a price on anyone's life.  Human life is priceless, yet unfortunately there are some in our world who still think that they can set a price on such treasures ... treating them like common objects that can be bought and sold.

If we are aware of such tendencies either within our own hearts or the hearts of others, we need to pray today for the grace of conversion and a renewed understanding of the priceless treasures that have been entrusted to our care.

Have a great day.

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