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 Saint Bernadette parish in Elliot Lake, Ontario.

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

His Word Today: Generosity

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
17 June 2020, 12:03 pm
Good morning everyone,

Today, Jesus speaks with us about the attitude that we should have when we open our hearts in prayer.  It happens - sometimes far too often - that we do and say things so that we will be noticed by a superior, by a colleague, by a loved one ... but when it comes to prayer, Jesus reminds us that the only one we need to be noticed by is God, and God is always waiting for us, ready to spend time with us.  When you pray ... pray to your Father who is in secret (Mt 6: 6).

Our prayer should always result in a sharpened awareness of our concern for others.  This is the reason why Jesus counsels us to give alms in such a way that our right hands do not know what our left hands are doing (cf Mt 6: 3).  Our motivation for being generous should always come from a sense of doing good and doing justice, never from a desire to be noticed.

And the discipline of fasting should never be a means of attracting attention to ourselves.  Rather, it is a spiritual discipline meant to remind us of our dependence on God.  To do otherwise is to have missed the point.  This is the reason why Jesus cautions those who fast not to put on gloomy faces in order to attract attention to themselves (cf Mt 6: 16).

Today, let us pray for the grace to be genuine in our prayer and to marvel at the gift of God's generosity.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Love

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
16 June 2020, 2:47 pm
Good morning everyone,

Today's gospel provides us with one of Jesus' teachings that often poses a challenge.  Speaking to his disciples, he said: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Mt 5: 44).

The natural human tendency is to respond to others in like manner to the way in which they respond to us: if someone likes me, I will make an effort to like them too, but if there is any struggle in a relationship, the natural response is to want to protect ourselves and so we shut off our hearts and close down any possibility of building and nurturing a relationship with the person who has caused us pain.

Jesus calls us not to close our hearts but rather to pray for those who cause us pain.  This does not mean that we should not protect ourselves but rather that we should always seek to keep our hearts open to the possibility that we ourselves might - in such circumstances - be being called to grow.

Today, let us do our best to love others, and to pray for those who are hardest to love.

Have a great day.

Bread from heaven

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
14 June 2020, 8:13 am
June 13 marks the liturgical memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan preacher who was born in Lisbon (Portugal) but who is perhaps most famous in Italy.  Saint Anthony was a very gifted preacher and is still highly revered, especially for his great love for the poor.  In many places where his memory is evoked, people will bring bread as an expression of their devotion.  This bread is blessed and then distributed to the poor.  Perhaps it is also significant that on this weekend, when we remember and pray with this great saint, we also celebrate Jesus who is present among us in the form of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

The first reading for today's Mass, taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, reminds us of the lives of our ancestors in faith who travelled with Moses in the desert.  For forty days and forty nights, the Lord led them in the wilderness, in order to humble them, testing them in order to know their hearts, whether or not they would keep his commandments (cf Deut 8: 2).  For more than three months now, our lives have been changed as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus.  Many aspects of our daily lives have not only been interrupted, but we have had to learn a new way of living.  For many of us, it has indeed seemed like a long journey through the wilderness.  Along the way, we have recognized a growing hunger for social and community events which have been so drastically changed, and most especially, our parish community.

Throughout this time, the Lord has not abandoned us.  For many of us, the inability to attend the weekly celebrations of the Eucharist in person have caused us to be increasingly aware of our hunger for the Eucharist.  Through the use of modern-day technology, we have tried to provide manna - the bread of heaven - to as many of you in a safe manner.  When this pandemic began, many of us were unacquainted with the power of technology.  Never before have we turned in such vast numbers to Facebook Live, to YouTube and to other means of technology in order to remain connected to our faith.  These new ways of celebrating will remain with us now, but even though we have been able to partake in this way, we still hunger for the Eucharist.

It is fitting that on this weekend, while we celebrate Jesus who is the living bread that came down from heaven (Jn 6: 51), I also have the great pleasure to confirm the announcement that was made by our diocesan Bishop that all Catholic churches in this Diocese will open our doors next weekend: in time for Fathers' Day.  We are still hard at work preparing to welcome you.  Our lives have already changed in many ways over these past few months, and you will also notice some changes that we have had to implement in order to keep us all safe.  There will still be three Masses celebrated each weekend, but the times will be slightly different: we will celebrate the Lord's day with Masses on Saturday at 4:00pm (English) and on Sunday at 9:30am (French) and at 11:30am (English) and at least for a little while, we will have to limit the number of people who can attend the Mass in person.  Because of the restrictions of social distancing, we will only be able to accommodate 50 people at each Mass.  In order to be fair, we will be contacting you to register your names for the Masses that you will attend, and you may not be able to be physically present from one week to another.  Fear not!  We will continue to live stream the Masses as we have been doing since this pandemic first arrived, so you will still be able to participate virtually, even if you need to stay home.  Please check our website (stebernadette.org) for more information about how we are preparing to welcome you.

Dear friends, the words of Saint Paul's letter to the Corinthians are just as true today as they ever have been: The cup of blessing that we bless is ... a sharing in the Blood of Christ ... and the bread that we break is ... a sharing in the body of Christ (1 Cor 10: 16).  Let us give thanks today for the great gift of the Eucharist, and let us look with hope to the day when we will gather once again around the Lord's table to receive this precious gift.

His Word Today: Give

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
9 June 2020, 9:58 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Lord encourages us not to lose focus, but rather to remain fixed on the mission that he has entrusted to us.  You are salt for the earth ... you are light for the world (Mt 5: 13-14).  These words sounded strange to the disciples when he first offered them, and they still ring strangely in our ears until we awaken to the depth of love that our God has for us.  Strengthened by this love, we become aware of the light he shines upon us; when we speak from the place of faith and truth, it is Jesus who speaks through us, seasoning our words with his words.

In order for this to happen, Jesus needs us to say yes; even though we ourselves might feel at times that we do not have the energy to respond, he asks us to give of ourselves.  The example of the widow of Zarephath provides inspiration for us today.  When Elijah arrived at that place, he found a widow who was gathering sticks.  He called out to her: 'Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink' (1 K 17: 10).  This poor woman was in a state of desperation.  When Elijah asked her to provide a small morsel of bread, she responded: As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a few sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die (1 K 17: 12).  Yet, because she agreed to prepare a cake of bread for Elijah before the food that she and her son were to receive, she was rewarded.

As difficult as it might be at times to look to the needs of others rather than to our own, the Lord calls us to be outward focused.  If we choose to concentrate our efforts on serving others first, there will always be enough energy, enough love, enough of whatever we need.

Have a great day.

Complete Mystery

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
7 June 2020, 8:15 am
Today, the Church celebrates Trinity Sunday.  Once a year, on the Sunday after Pentecost, we focus our attention on God who is One, but who has been made known to us in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The readings that we have just heard help us to understand who God is in light of this mystery and to comprehend what God does for us.

In the Book of Exodus, we hear the story of Moses who rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai as God had commanded him to do ... The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there ... (Ex 34: 4-5).  Moses went up the mountain and God came down to meet him.  This is always the way.  We look to God for guidance, and he comes to us in order to reveal his mercy, his love, his faithfulness and his patience to us.  Whenever we ask God for the things we need, he answers us.  Sometimes his answers don't come immediately, and sometimes the answers are not as clearly defined as they were when they were chiseled into the stone tablets, but God always answers our prayers.

In the fullness of time, God revealed his plan for our salvation by sending Jesus his Son into the world.  Jesus took on human flesh so that we would be able to see him, to recognize his presence among us, to encounter the love that God has always had for us, his beloved children.  Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus gave us an example of how we too can love God ... and how we can love one another.

After Jesus had risen from the dead, and after he had ascended to heaven, God the Father and God the Son sent us the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Our life in Jesus is a participation in this mystery which is beyond the limits of our understanding, but Saint Paul's letter to the Corinthians gives us some clarity about how we should live our lives.  He says that we should always strive to agree with one another, to live in peace with God and with one another (2 Cor 13: 11).  In order to help us do this, we must open our hearts and pray for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 13: 13) to be shared with us in great abundance.

Today, let us rejoice as we celebrate the great love that God has for each of us.  Our God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (Jn 3: 16).  This is the good news that has been proclaimed to us.  We should strive to live it joyfully every day.

His Word Today: Saint Boniface

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
5 June 2020, 8:28 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, we pray with Saint Boniface, who was born in England around the year 673.  He entered monastic life in Exeter but in 719, went to Germany to preach the gospel.  As a result of the example of his holy life and his fearless teaching about Jesus, many in that land were converted.  Boniface was consecrated bishop and ruled over the church in Mainz.  With the help of many other converts, he also founded or restored dioceses in Bavaria, Thuringia and Franconia.

Like Saint Paul, Saint Boniface courageously demonstrated God's love through his teaching, his way of life, his faith, his patience, his love, his endurance and even his persecution and suffering (cf 2 Tim 3: 10-11) yet, none of this could deter him from his purpose.  In fact, while preaching the gospel to the Frisians, Saint Boniface was killed by pagans in 754.

Saint Boniface is not alone among those who have endured such suffering, and even death, yet from all these ... the Lord delivers us.  In fact, all who want to live ... in Jesus Christ will be persecuted (2 Tim 3: 12); this is a kind of litmus test.  Suffering is usually a sign that what we are doing needs to change, but when it comes to living our faith and to sharing this good news with others, suffering is often a sign that we are on the right path.  Jesus never promised that this work would be easy.  He only ever promised that he would never leave us alone.  He is constantly with us, encouraging us to be faithful.

Let us strive today to remain rooted in the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving us wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 3: 15).

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Important

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
4 June 2020, 8:21 am
Good morning everyone,

From the time when we are children, we begin to enter into various types of relationships: with our parents, with our siblings, with colleagues and with friends.  Each of these can be different in various ways, existing at differing levels of intimacy.  For those who are people of faith, our relationship with God is another of these, but whereas we ourselves may be the ones to initiate other types of relationships, it is God who comes to us first to offer the gift of friendship.

Every Jewish person knows the words spoken in today's gospel passage: The Lord our God is Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and with all your strength (Mk 12: 29-30).  These words need to be understood in the right context.  We are only able to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength because God loved us first, with all God's heart.  It was because God opened His heart to us that we have learned how to love ourselves, to love others and to love God in return.

Loving God also bears fruit for our human relationships.  Jesus says that if our love for God is genuine, it will also be made known in the love we show to others.  This is the reason why he added the second command: You shall love your neighbour as yourself (Mk 12: 31) and gave it as much emphasis as our relationship with God.

Have I recognized God's love for me?  Has this love motivated me to be more thankful?  Has God's love for me softened my heart and made it possible for me to look at my brothers and sisters in a new light?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Stir

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
3 June 2020, 8:35 am
Good morning everyone,

The words that Saint Paul addressed to his beloved Timothy remind us today of our own call to remain focused on what is truly essential.  I remind you - he writes - to stir into flame the gift of God that you have received ... For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power, love and self control (2 Tim 1: 6-7).

From the day of our baptism, our God has been building and strengthening his presence within us.  This presence is made known to us through the great love that God has for each of us.  Love is never meant to make us question, but rather to create an environment where we can be ourselves, experience true happiness and know that we are supported at all times as we strive to reach our own personal potential.

God's love for us is constant; it never wavers.  If we experience doubt about God's love, God is always waiting for us to turn back to him.  His wish is to strengthen us with his power, especially when we ourselves are weak.  This power makes it possible for us to transform even cowardice into renewed strength so that we can allow the light of God's love to shine in and though us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Belong

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
2 June 2020, 8:45 am
Good morning everyone,

In modern times, it is rare that we actually carry cash in our pockets and purses, but we still have legal currency - both paper money and coins - which might find their way into our possession from time to time.  The monetary notes and the coins we use in this country bear images that are significant to us, and the same has been true in countries throughout the world.

In the time of Jesus, the currency in Israel bore the image of the Roman Caesar.  Jesus and his disciples were well aware of this, hence the reason why he asked the Pharisees and Herodians who were trying to trap him: Bring me a denarius to look at (Mk 12: 15).  Those people had no idea what was coming next: Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God (Mk 12: 17).

This same advice holds true for us today.  Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.  How can we do this.  Ever since the beginning of Christianity, Christians have always been encouraged to be good citizens - to pay our taxes, to act justly in all matters - but we are also encouraged not to lose sight of the fact that we are destined to be citizens of heaven.  For this reason, Saint Peter encourages us today to wait for and hasten the coming of the day of God (2 Peter 3: 12).

Are we aware of the fact that we are people of hope?  How do we demonstrate this hope to others?  Do we look forward to the coming of the day of God?  Does this practice fill us with joy and joyful anticipation?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Mother of the Church

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
1 June 2020, 8:55 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.  Saint Ambrose of Milan was the first to use this title in reference to Mary, but how can we understand it today?

The creation accounts in the Book of Genesis remind us that even from the beginning of time, our God has always wanted to live in peace with us - wanted us to find fulfillment and joy - but the devil is always at work, trying to tempt us into believing that we ourselves can be like God.  Fortunately for us, God never grows tired of coming in search of us, especially when we get lost.  After Adam had eaten of the tree, the Lord God called to him and said: 'Where are you?' (Gn 3: 9).  God is constantly calling out to us as well.  It is He who comes looking for us, even before we ourselves are aware of the fact that we have wandered away: Where are you?  ... and He is always gentle with us, always inviting us to grow, always willing to help us.

The gospel account for today's Mass also gives us a glimpse into the loving heart of God: When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold your son'.  Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother' (Jn 19: 26-27).  Out of love for us, God comes looking for us.  When He finds us, he takes stock of the situation, recognizes our needs, and immediately places the people and the resources that we need before us.  Woman, behold your son ... behold your mother.

Jesus gave Mary to John because he knew that John needed a mother, someone to guide him, someone to love him, someone to help him grow and mature so that he could come to his full potential.  Like John, let us turn to Mary today.  She is our Mother too, the Mother of the Church.  She is always ready to help us, to believe in us, to walk with us and to lead us.

Have a great day.

Different but the same

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
31 May 2020, 9:09 am
There are actually two accounts of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles recounted in today's scripture passages.  In the Acts of the Apostles, the arrival of the Spirit is characterized by a sound like the rush of a violent wind ... that filled the entire house ... Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them (Acts 2: 2-3).  This description makes the moment sound as though there was a violent storm: wind and fire that must have been alarming to those who were present in that place.

Sometimes, the Holy Spirit is made known to us through experiences that actually frighten us.  Admittedly, when we are faced with major crises like traumatic experiences, close brushes with death or sufferings and diseases that threaten to tear us apart, it can be easy for us to become lost in our own drama instead of seeing such experiences as moments of blessing.  Could it be that in the midst of tumultuous situations, the Spirit of God is indeed present?

On the other hand, the gospel account speaks of the arrival of the Holy Spirit as a much more peaceful encounter.  Standing among the disciples, Jesus breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit ...' (Jn 20: 22).  I have always envisioned this moment as a rather serene encounter: Jesus' breath wafting warmly over all the disciples, not in a threatening way but rather in a very peaceful, heartwarming fashion.

Peace is the gift that the Lord offered to his disciples when he appeared to them that night.  Human understandings of peace paint a picture of serenity, the absence of violence.  This image is very different from the one that is portrayed in the account of Pentecost that is told in the Acts of the Apostles.  Is it possible that the arrival of the Holy Spirit was both peaceful and disturbing, both serene and violent at the same time?

The Solemnity of Pentecost marks one year since the Parish of Saint Bernadette was established.  If we look back over the past year, we can see moments when there was great serenity and joy, celebration and togetherness ... but we must also admit that there were growing pains: moments when things didn't go the way we might have hoped that they would.  This past year has been characterized both by peaceful encounters and moments when we have all been challenged.  Like the scripture passages, our experience of the birth of this new parish has been characterized with experiences that have been very different one from another at times.  However, we must remain rooted and confident in our belief that the Holy Spirit is indeed present and at work among us.  It is the Holy Spirit who finds ways to sow unity in the midst of discord, the Holy Spirit who is always at work: sometimes in ways that we do not comprehend, the Holy Spirit who invites people who are from very different backgrounds, each of whom brings different experiences to the table, to discover that we are all brothers and sisters on a common journey, and that we need to walk side by side, helping one another to find our way.

There are a variety of gifts, but all the gifts we have been given are from the same Spirit (1 Cor 12: 4).  There are varieties of services needed in order to build up a vibrant parish community (1 Cor 12: 5).  Sometimes it might take a little while to discern the needs, and then to identify the gifts that are at our disposal, but we can all do our part by praying for the Spirit's guidance and inspiration and by opening our hearts.  In this Spirit, we were all baptized into one body - regardless of our ethnic backgrounds - and we have all been made to drink of the one Spirit (1 Cor 12: 13).  How can we recognize the presence of the Spirit among us?  We come to the Lord, each of us bringing our own gifts, each of us bringing our own points of view - which are not necessarily the same as those held by everyone else, and we pray for the grace to be attentive to the promptings of the Spirit who is always at work, building up the body of Christ.

His Word Today: Charges

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
29 May 2020, 8:42 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the scriptures focus our attention on charges: not the kind of charges that we might make on a credit card, but the charges that might be levelled against someone in court.  Throughout the first days when the Apostles were going out to spread the good news of the gospel, life was not easy for them.  Their adventures are recounted in the Acts of the Apostles.  We have been reading through these adventures all through the Easter season.  Today, we find Paul - who himself was once a Roman soldier, but who had experienced a conversion - in prison in Caesarea.  The chief priests and the elders of the Jews had brought charges against him while he was in Jerusalem and demanded that he be put to death (cf Acts 25: 15) but since the Romans were in charge, they had to follow Roman law, which did not permit for someone to be put to death without a fair trial.  They stood around him but they could not charge him with any crime that would merit him being put to death (cf Acts 25: 16, 18).

These accusers were uncomfortable with Paul because when he spoke about Jesus, people listened to him.  When he spoke about Jesus being put to death, people understood what he was saying, but when he spoke about Jesus being alive again (cf Acts 25: 19), the chief priests and the elders had trouble believing.  They could not fathom the possibility that someone could rise from the dead, yet this is the ultimate triumph that is proclaimed by all those who are followers of Jesus ... including us.

No amount of human reasoning can make sense of the resurrection.  This is an act of faith, a decision that each one of us must make: to believe that there is a God who loves us, a God who loves us so much that he came to live among us, a God who loves us so much that he willingly accepted a torturous death so that he could show us the way to heaven.  When the apostles were witnessing these things, they were filled with fear - I think we all would have - even to the point that Peter denied knowing Jesus at all, so that he himself would not run the risk of being condemned to hang.  Jesus knew this about Peter, and yet he forgave him because Peter never truly stopped loving Jesus (cf Jn 21: 15-17).

The charges that were brought against Paul were the same charges that were brought before Peter, and they are the same charges that are brought before each one of us: Do you love me?  Jesus asks this question in order to test us and if we admit the truth, if we accept the charge of loving Jesus, then he sends us forth to feed his people with the special food of our love, our compassion, our faith and our commitment ... these are the gifts that have been entrusted to us so that we can share the joy of being charged with loving Jesus.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Family

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
28 May 2020, 8:15 am
Good morning everyone,

There was a time, not so long ago, when there were many large families.  Admittedly, every family has its challenges, but at some level, all parents want to care for their children and all siblings will fight to protect one another.  There is a bond that unites families.  The same can be said for the family of faith to which we belong.  This is a very special family which has a loving God as head of the household and a long line of ancestors - which is constantly increasing - of holy people who have gone before us.

In these days preceding Pentecost, the scriptures give us a very intimate look into the prayer life that Jesus had.  Saint John's gospel recounts the words of Jesus' prayer to his Father, to our Father.  This is a prayer that is being offered for his disciples, for all of us: I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one (Jn 17: 20-21).  Across the centuries that have come and gone since then, Jesus is continually interceding for us: that we may all be one, members of one happy, holy and healthy family.

This family of ours has been given a great gift, for we have been entrusted with the gift of hope, hope in the resurrection of the dead.  This means that our earthly lives are not an end in themselves, but a journey that will lead us home to be with our Father in heaven.  Do we truly believe this to be true.  Jesus spoke about it with his disciples.  The disciples came to believe it; strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they spoke bravely about it to others (cf Acts 23: 6-11), and many other members of our family of faith have done the same ... even in the midst of these trying times.

If we truly believe that we are called to believe in the resurrection, how do we demonstrate this hope to those we encounter?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Rooted

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
27 May 2020, 8:47 am
Good morning everyone,

As the period of isolation and social distancing continues to stretch out before us, many people are getting fidgety: some businesses are beginning to open their doors with restrictions, and the warmer weather is enticing us to relax the restrictions, but there are still voices calling to us, telling us to stay the course.  What is important is that we cannot afford to lose focus.  We must remain vigilant if we want to protect ourselves and others, especially during this time when we do not have a vaccine to combat the coronavirus.

Staying focused was the challenge that faced the disciples after Jesus left them.  He knew that it would not be easy for them to remain rooted, especially as the first winds of challenge began to blow.  For this reason, he prayed and asked the Father to watch over them and protect them: Holy Father, keep them in your name ... so that they may be one just as we are one (Jn 17: 11).  It is reassuring for us to remember that at all times, someone is praying for us, imploring the Father to keep us rooted in our faith, to keep us focused on the mission that has been entrusted to us.

Just as Jesus knew that it would not be easy for his disciples to go out into the world and to remain rooted, so Paul was also worried when the time came for him to leave his beloved Ephesians.  Having heard of Jesus' tender care for his own disciples, and of his prayer for God's help to guide them, Paul too spoke tenderly to the Christians that he was leaving behind: I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come among you ... and from your own group, some will come forward perverting the truth ... so be vigilant (Acts 20: 29-31).

These challenges are still present today.  We too must remain rooted in our faith and committed to the task of carrying out the mission that has been entrusted to us: to share the joy of knowing Jesus with everyone we meet, and encouraging them to discover the power of his love.  There are many ways of doing this, but all of them depend on us remaining rooted in our own personal relationships with the One who sends us out to his people.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: the Mission

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
26 May 2020, 8:41 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, we hear some of the final words that Saint Paul spoke to the Christians of Ephesus.  This was one of the young communities who had heard the Word of God and who were growing in faith.  It was Paul who had first proclaimed this word to them and they had welcomed it, but now it was time for him to leave them.

Paul did not have an easy time accomplishing the mission that had been entrusted to him.  He reflected with the Ephesians: I served the Lord with all humility and with the tears and trials that came to me ... and I did not at all shrink from telling you what was for your benefit ... I earnestly bore witness for both Jews and Greeks to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus (Acts 20: 19-20).  Despite all the trials, Paul remained faithful to the mission.

Even in that moment, while he was reflecting on these things, Paul felt compelled to carry on with the mission, despite the fact that there would be more obstacles: But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me (Acts 20: 22-23).

Have we known and admired the commitment in others to remain focused on the Mission that the Lord is calling us to, despite the trials that always seem to accompany such a commitment?  Have we recognized the same invitation to enter into the Mission ourselves?  If we accept it, there will be trials but the Holy Spirit will always be with us, to warn us of the trials that await and to strengthen us in our faith so that, like Paul, we too can say: I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20: 24).

Have a great day.


by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
24 May 2020, 10:02 am
The gospel passage we have just read concludes with the final words that Jesus spoke to his disciples: Remember, I am with you always ... (Mt 28: 20).  After all the time that they had spent with him, after having experienced so many amazing moments, after having learned so much ... after having witnessed his suffering and death on the cross, and then having encountered him in risen form, the time had finally come for him to leave the disciples, but he wanted to make sure that they would never forget him so he spoke those wonderful words: remember, I am with you always.  We all need to remember this promise: the Lord is with us always.  He is with us in times of joy and in times of sadness, he is with us when there is much sunshine in our lives and he is also with us when there are clouds.

It is not always easy to remember this promise.  The disciples' hearts must have been breaking that day when they watched him leave them again, and yet his words were still ringing in their ears: I am with you always ... I wonder what happened after he had been raised up to heaven on that day.  Did they stay in that place, each one of them perhaps remembering a moment that they had shared with him?  He had come back from the dead and had appeared to them during forty days, speaking about the kingdom of God (Acts 1: 3), and now he had told them to remember all these wonderful moments that they had shared together as a way of helping them to deal with the grief of this second loss, but also as added proof that what he had told them while he was alive would really come true.

They also remembered some particularly poignant moments, like flashes of memories from the time he had spent with them.  Stay in Jerusalem and ... wait there for the promise of the Father (Acts 1: 4).  Why had he asked them to do this?  He had told them that the Father would send another Advocate; there were more gifts to be received from God.  This same advice is also true for us today.  It is never easy for our hearts to be at rest when there are changes happening around us, yet the Lord asked the disciples to stay where they were and to wait.  Often, when change occurs, we feel like we have been set adrift; we want to move as quickly as possible into another established routine, we want to find something familiar so that we can feel settled again.  However, Jesus is always with us, even at times when we are in turmoil.  What we must do is sit still - as difficult as that might be - and wait for the Lord to show us the next move.

You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1: 8).  Jesus had shown his heart to the disciples during the time he had spent with them, and because they had seen his heart, their own hearts had been changed.  They had once been a group of misfits: people from all walks of life who knew very little about each other and yet they had been seduced by the voice that had called to them, invited them to follow him.  They were eager to spend time with them, but they had no idea how their lives would be changed.  Now that they had experienced such tender love, such profound mercy, now that they had witnessed such miracles, now that their hearts had been changed, he was inviting them to be his witnesses, to tell other people about what they had experienced.  In fact, their witness has reached all the ends of the earth and thanks to that, we have heard the word.  We too must receive this word, allow it to transform our hearts and then be willing to be witnesses of that which we have learned.

Do we ever pray for the grace to remember that Jesus is with us always, to always remember that we are never alone?  At times in our lives when we have experienced great change, have we prayed for the grace to stand still and to wait for the Lord to show us the path that we should follow?  Have we heard the Lord's invitation addressed to us, a call to witness to our faith in action?  Jesus is counting on us to continue the work that he began: calling people together - at times even misfits - and helping all people to open their hearts so that the Lord can make us all his disciples.

His Word Today: Transformed

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
22 May 2020, 7:52 am
Good morning everyone,

In the gospel passage for today's Mass, Jesus is speaking with his disciples.  This is a tender time for them: they all know that the time they have with the Master is drawing to a close and there is great anxiety among them.  Jesus acknowledges this anxiety.  He knows that they will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices ... you will grieve, he tells them, but your grief will become joy (Jn 16: 20).  Caught up in that moment, I wonder whether they were even capable of truly hearing the words he was speaking, much less understanding what he was trying to tell them.  When anxiety and fear have a grip on us, we are often unable to hear such reason ... but Jesus wanted to reassure them: your grief will become joy.

In order to help them understand this, he used a concrete example: When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world (Jn 16: 21).  When the time comes for a woman to give birth, she is in anguish, she is in pain.  If we have not experienced such pain ourselves, it is impossible to fully comprehend it, but when she has given birth to a child the world around her changes instantly.  The pain and scars of childbirth are still evident but in that moment, the mother is not aware of it because she is overcome with joy.

When we encounter such debilitating pain in our lives that we are unable to function, we are also enveloped in the pain that blinds us to everything else around us, but when we witness the resurrection - when the pain has been relieved - we realize that it is possible to rejoice again.  Jesus rose from the dead, there is hope for a better tomorrow.  We will grieve at some moments in our lives but have faith faith: our grief will be turned into joy.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Witness

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
18 May 2020, 8:29 am
Good morning everyone,

With the words of the weekend's scripture passages still ringing in our ears, today's offerings help us to stay focused on those same words ... and to deepen our understanding of how they can be lived out.  Jesus said to his disciples: When the Advocate comes ... he will testify to me and you will testify (Jn 15: 26-27).

At the moment when Jesus was speaking these words, the disciples could not even imagine what he was saying ... and as we hear them now, perhaps we ourselves cannot imagine ourselves being called to testify to Jesus.  Testifying to Jesus is something we hear of in the lives of the saints, or in the lives of people of deep faith who we have known.  Such heroes might include Pope John Paul II (whose birthday was on this day) and Saint Teresa of Calcutta, but have we ever thought of ourselves as being the people who are called upon to testify to Jesus?

The Acts of the Apostles recount some of the details concerning Saint Paul's travels.  As we read those details (cf Acts 16: 11-12) we might consult a map to get a sense of the places he visited, but we need also to put ourselves in his shoes in order to appreciate what that travel was like.  It was a different time in history, the modern conveniences of travel were not even known so this was an arduous task yet Paul was willing to undertake the adventure so that he could share the news about Christ, his life, his death and his resurrection with people throughout those lands.

One of the results of hearing the gospel preached is that the Lord enlivens all those who hear his word and accept it.  Even today, those who come to believe are often filled with love that is made known through great generosity.  Outside the gates of the city of Philippi: On the sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river where we thought there would be a place of prayer. We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there. One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home,” and she prevailed on us (Acts 16: 13-15).

How is the Lord calling us today to be generous with our time ... to be witnesses of His presence, His teachings and His promises in our world?

Have a great day.

Another Advocate

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
18 May 2020, 7:43 am
Throughout the Easter season, we reflect on the miracle of the resurrection and in the light of that truth, we hear anew the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples in those final days of his earthly existence.  As we hear them again, these words shed new light on the reality of our lives and remind us that Jesus has not left us.  Instead, he has gone before us to prepare a path for us, a path that will lead each one of us one day to the fullness of eternal life in heaven.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments, and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate who will be with you forever (Jn 14: 15-16).  Jesus asked the disciples only to love him.  This is the same for us.  Jesus asks us only to love him, but how do we love him?  ... by keeping his commandments.  The greatest of all the commandments he gave was to love God and to love our neighbour.

Therefore, we can ask ourselves:  Do I love God?  How do I show my love for Him? ... and do I love my neighbour?  How do I try to show God's presence to the members of my family?  Do I strive to be a witness to God in the relationships I nurture with my friends?  Do I demonstrate my love for God in my respect for the gift of human life?  Do I try my best to honour God in giving thanks for the gift of the environment?  Do I recognize the gift that I have been given and do everything I can to keep my body healthy?  Do I spend time in prayer for others, especially those I know who are experiencing doubt, fear, uncertainty or illness?  Do I try my best to console those who are sick?  Do I ask for the grace to recognize Christ in those who are suffering?  Do I pray for those who are caring for others ... those who cannot care for themselves?

Jesus said: If you love me, you will keep my commandments, and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate.  The disciples did not understand the gift that Jesus was promising them.  Have you ever stopped to think about the gift that Jesus and the Father sent to us?  Jesus called that gift the Advocate.  Later on, this gift would become known as the Holy Spirit.  The Church teaches that the Spirit descended upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, and ever since then, the Holy Spirit has been living among us.  At times, we might be tempted to think that all the stories that are told in the bible are just stories, but the truth is that the Holy Spirit, the Lord's gift to His beloved children is alive and active among us.  This was the Father's ultimate gift, a gift that is still present among us even today.

The Holy Spirit, acting in our lives, helps us to remember all that Jesus told us.  This same Spirit is at work in us, helping us to find the words we need to speak to our friends and neighbours about the joy of our faith.  It is this same Holy Spirit that kindles within us the gift of compassion for those who are sick, suffering and in need ... and it is this same Holy Spirit that reminds us every day that we are precious and deeply loved.

His Word Today: Credibility

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
15 May 2020, 8:49 am
Good morning everyone,

Throughout the Easter season, we hear the details of the adventures undertaken by the Apostles and the early Christians as they began to share the joy of the resurrection with others.  There is also documented evidence of some of the first attempts at spreading the good news that were met with disbelief: some of those first missionaries circulated among those communities of Christians and tried to speak about Jesus, but without any established credibility.  This led to confusion (cf Acts 15: 24), and something had to be done.

The important thing was that the mission of the Church had to continue.  The most essential aspect, the reason for the Church's existence is the proclamation of the message that Jesus first shared with his disciples: Love one another as I have loved you (Jn 15: 12).  This is the message that must still be proclaimed today.  These words of Jesus are spoken to each one of us.  When we hear them in the depths of our hearts, when we begin to believe that they are addressed to us personally, we are filled with a joy that perhaps we have never known before.  From the knowledge of our own relationship with Jesus, we then can set out like the early disciples did to share this news with others.

The disciples had to send written greetings along with Paul, Barnabas and the others (cf Acts 15: 23-29) in order to establish some degree of credibility.  In time, these emissaries were able to establish their own credibility and became trusted, beloved and respected figures.  In fact, the credibility of Jesus' love for us has stood the test of time: this love has never failed.  It is just as true and genuine for us today as it was for those first followers who discovered it.  They went out and joyfully proclaimed it to others, and so must we.

As the first signs of possibility that the restrictions imposed in order to protect us from infection with the coronavirus are being relaxed, these are uncertain times and many are still skeptical about venturing forward.  We all need to be careful, we all need to be prudent, but like the first morning of the Resurrection, the followers of Jesus need to find ways to repeat the Easter message: He is risen, and because He is risen, there is the promise of resurrection for all of us too.  More than anything else, people need to hear this message now, and they need to also find credible witnesses who can demonstrate in concrete fashion, the truth that they - that we - are all deeply loved.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Matthias

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
14 May 2020, 9:13 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Matthias, who is remembered and venerated as one of the Apostles, although he was not among the twelve who were chosen personally by Jesus.  The Acts of the Apostles record the facts: After the death of Judas Iscariot, Peter stood up in the midst of the assembly and said: '... it is necessary that one of those who accompanied us ... and became with us a witness to his resurrection ... be chosen (Acts 1: 21-22).  These were the criteria that were set out: that the one chosen should be one of those who accompanied us - in other words, one of those who was with Jesus, who spent time with him, who knew him - and one of those who witnessed his resurrection.

Only those who have spent time with Jesus: those who have come to know him - not only to know about him, but to know him - and those who have experienced the great joy of knowing that Jesus knows and loves us, can truly bear witness to him.  Jesus himself told the disciples: As the Father loves me, so I also love you.  Remain in my love (Jn 15: 9).  Day after day, the Lord invites us to spend time with him.  He wants us to be aware of his love for us; he wants us to remain in his love.

Just as it was important that the one who was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot among the first disciples was one who had personal knowledge of the love of Jesus, and that that person was a witness to Jesus' resurrection, so it is for us today.  Even now, Jesus needs us to bear witness among the people of our day to the truth of his love for us.  We can only do this with authenticity and credibility if we speak of the love that we ourselves have known ... and we speak with greater conviction about Jesus resurrection if we are willing to give personal testimony to our own encounters with the risen Lord.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Our Lady of Fatima

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
13 May 2020, 8:51 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, there is great celebrating in Portugal as we remember the great favour that was shown to three shepherd children - Lûcia dos Santos and her cousins: Francisco and Jacinta Marto.  In the spring of 1916, they were herding sheep at the Cova da Iria near their home village of Aljustrel.  They later said that they were visited three times by an apparition of an angel.  They said that the angel - who identified himself as the Angel of Peace and the Guardian Angel of Portugal taught them prayers, as well as to make sacrifices and to spend time in adoration of the Lord.

Beginning in May 1917, the children reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary, whom they described as the Lady more brilliant than the Sun. The children reported a prophecy that prayer would lead to an end to the Great War, and that on 13 October that year the Lady would reveal her identity and perform a miracle so that all may believe. Newspapers reported the prophecies, and many pilgrims began visiting the area. The Marian apparition of 13 October became known as the Miracle of the Sun.

More than 100 years later, the apparitions in Fatima are still fresh in our memory.  Even today, the words of Saint Luke's gospel are as pertinent for us as they ever have been: Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it (Lk 11: 28).  The Blessed Virgin provides an example for all of us of total dedication to hearing the word of God and obeying it.  The children of Fatima provide another example for us of the simple faith that is needed in the hearts of all those who seek to listen for heavenly guidance.  The Angel had taught them the words of the prayers that they would need, and the Lady encouraged them to use the words of these prayers to intercede for the end to the tragedy that was threatening the world at the time.

Today, we too turn to the Lady of Fatima.  Inspired by the simple but profound lessons she taught to the children, we too seek her intercession today.  May she who inspired so many to turn to God in their time of need also help us to do the same.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Difficulty

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
12 May 2020, 8:51 am
Good morning everyone,

The scripture passages proposed for our reflection today help us to see the reality that faces everyone who accepts the Lord's invitation to take up the mission of sharing the gospel:  it's hard work!  Knowing that the road ahead would not be easy for those first disciples, Jesus offered them some encouragement: Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid (Jn 14: 27).  These are the same words that the Lord offers to us when we feel that the task ahead of us is daunting: Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid ... I am with you.

This encouragement has the power to strengthen our hearts, and we must often return to them, listening for them and allowing them to provide balm for our souls whenever we are questioned, doubted or even put to the test in some other way because of our faith.  The Acts of the Apostles recount many such trials that were faced by the first disciples (cf Acts 14: 19), but they did not allow doubt and fear to paralyze them because they were firm in their conviction that the Holy Spirit - the Paraclete - was with them.

The same is true for us.  We are not alone in the task of proclaiming the good news of Jesus' resurrection.  He sent the Holy Spirit to accompany us and to strengthen us, to inspire us and to give us the words that we need so that we can continue the mission.  Let us courageously take up the invitation to be his witnesses in the world, always knowing that with Him by our side, we can face the difficulties but they will not be able to stop us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Audacity

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
11 May 2020, 8:08 pm
Good morning everyone,

The gospel passage for today presents yet another moment during which Jesus was instructing his disciples about the times that were to come.  He told them: The Advocate, the Holy Spirit
whom the Father will send in my name: he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you (Jn 14: 26).  Jesus gave his disciples a lot of information during those precious moments, but at the time, the words he was speaking were difficult to hear.  They could not fathom the possibility that their trusted companion would somehow not be able to continue as their teacher.

Instead, Jesus was telling them about what was to come: about his suffering and death, but also about his resurrection and about the face that the Advocate would be sent for them, to accompany them and to help them to be courageous in their task of spreading the good news.

Indeed, the Spirit did come and the disciples were filled with audacity as their own faith was strengthened.  They went out from their own hiding places and found their way to places near and far.  The Acts of the Apostles recount their adventures, including the encounter that Paul and Barnabas had when they arrived in Lystra, a city in Lycaonia.  Like Peter, Paul and Barnabas met a crippled man who had been lame from birth (Acts 14: 8).  They could easily have walked past him but instead they stopped, looked at this man with deep concern and compassion and then invited him to stand up, having been healed of his infirmity.

Such miraculous happenings were only possible because of the apostles belief and faith, and because of the presence of the Holy Spirit - the gift of God who was sent into the world in order to accompany those of us who are his disciples.  Like Peter, Paul, Barnabas and all those who were called to go out into the world, we too must dare to stop when we are confronted with the miseries of the world.  We must have the audacity to look at people with deep compassion and we must have the faith to do what we can to help them.  Many others before us have done just this, and we can too.

Have a great day.

Encouraging words

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 May 2020, 2:27 pm
The gospel passage we have just heard narrates a precious moment that Jesus shared with his disciples in the Upper Room on the night before he died.  There was great sadness in that room.  Jesus knew that the time was near for him to leave them.  He also knew that the pain they would have to endure would be overwhelming and he wanted to encourage them, so he told them: Do not let your hearts be troubled (Jn 14: 1).  These are words of profound faith.  Perhaps we have heard such words from the lips of others we have known and loved, others who are on their death beds, others who know that they do not have long to live in this world, but they are filled with faith and trust that they are soon going to be with God.  People of faith can utter such words, but those who hear them sometimes have trouble believing them because when our hearts are breaking, no words seem adequate to comfort and console us.

In fact, Jesus made some remarkable claims while he sat with the disciples that evening: he told them that he would come back for them (Jn 14: 3), that they already knew the way to the place where he was going (Jn 14: 4), that in seeing him they had already seen the Father (Jn 14: 9), and that they would ultimately do greater things that he himself had done (Jn 14: 12).  The disciples must truly have had quizzical looks on their faces.  What could these words Jesus was speaking possibly mean After all, Jesus healed dozens, maybe even hundreds of people during his public ministry and the gospels tell us that he fed many thousands of hungry people.  Yet the truth is that since that day when he told the disciples that they would do even greater things, there have been countless millions of people who have received medical attention from Christ's followers, not to mention the vast numbers of those who have been fed, consoled and had the good news of the gospel spoken to them.

All this work has often taken place while Jesus' followers have faced moments of trial and want.  Even in those first days when the disciples were just beginning to spread the good news, there were already challenges.  The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles shows us that the resources at their disposal were already being tested.  They had to get creative in order to find a way not to neglect anyone, most of all those who needed their help, including the widows who were in a precarious position and most needed to be cared for (cf Acts 6: 1).  The task of being present to those in need can often seem too big a responsibility.  At times such as those, we need to turn to God in prayer and faith like the disciples did.  We need to discern new gifts, to call forth these gifts from others and to entrust them with the task of working with us to care for God's people (cf Acts 6: 3-6).

Let us pray today for the grace to recognize the many ways in which the Lord is inviting us to share our gifts with others.  Like living stones, we are being built into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2: 5).  The Lord is truly calling us to believe that even greater things are yet to be accomplished.

Words of encouragement and blessing for our mothers

Today, across this country and in some other parts of the world, we are celebrating Mothers' Day.  Let us pray especially for our mothers, for all those who are expectant mothers, for all mothers who have adopted children, for grandmothers, for godmothers and aunts and for all those women of faith who willingly and joyfully share the example their lives with others, never being concerned for any measure of recognition, but willingly giving of themselves in order to share in Christ's work of loving and caring for his beloved children.  May God bless and reward all of you most abundantly.

→ Previous posts from Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing