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

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

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

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

His Word Today: Mercy

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
18 March 2019, 10:13 am
Good morning everyone,

A few years ago, Pope Francis called for a special extra-ordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.  At the beginning of his pontificate, he wanted to show everyone that the Church should have a merciful face.  In other words, it should always be seen as a place of refuge, not judgement.

Every year, as we prepare for Easter, we are encouraged to encounter the merciful face of Jesus.  In today's gospel passage, we hear the words that He spoke to his disciples: Be merciful just as your Father is merciful (Lk 6:36).  It takes work to practice mercy.

The world around us temps us to respond to judgement with judgement, to condemn those who utter words of condemnation, but Jesus challenges us to forgive and to respond to hatred with a giving heart.  Responding with mercy can be surprising, especially for those who are in need of mercy.  Let's try to be merciful today, like our heavenly Father ... and watch the reactions of others.

Have a great day.

Forging faith

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
17 March 2019, 8:21 am
During the liturgical season of Lent, we prepare our hearts for the celebration of Easter.  During this first week, the Lord invites us to come close to him, to open our hearts to him and to enter into a conversation with him.  Like any other relationship, there is a part of us that hears the Lord’s invitation but might be a bit hesitant, so it might help us to remember others who have also received such a proposal.

In the first reading, we hear about the invitation that God offered to Abram.  As it is in all other cases, God was extremely gentle with Abram, inviting him first to look toward heaven and count the stars ... (Gn 15:5). Then God surprised Abram.  Prior to this encounter, Abram and Sarah had never had children, yet the Lord said to him: So shall your descendants be – as numerous as the stars.

The human heart is sometimes slow to believe what God has in store for us, but God never stops believing in us.  God knew the plan that he had in mind for Abram.  He also knew what was in store for the disciples.  At a certain point, when the disciples were finding it difficult to understand all that Jesus was trying to teach them, he took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray (Lk 9:28).  Most probably, by this point in their relationship, the disciples had seen Jesus at prayer, but they were not prepared for the scene they witnessed that day.  While he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white (Lk 9:29).  As if that wasn’t enough, suddenly, they saw two men – Moses and Elijah – talking to Jesus (Lk 9:10).

An Irish Bishop once explained that Jesus invited the disciples Peter, James and John to witness the transfiguration so that later on, when they experienced the shock and trauma of His passion and death, these three could help them to understand that the passion and death of Jesus were meant to be, but that he would indeed rise again.

Like the disciples, we too need to experience the transfiguration so that we can better understand that suffering and death will always lead to resurrection and new life.  Those of us who have experienced moments of prayer where we are made profoundly aware of Jesus’ presence can understand that there truly is something beyond this world that we can see, feel and touch.  At times when we encounter difficulties or challenges in this life, at times when we must face the questions that truly make us aware of our own mortality, it helps to have a spiritual dimension to our lives.

As Saint Paul reminded the early Christians at Philippi, our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20).  Only someone who has encountered the risen Jesus can truly speak such words with conviction, yet this is exactly what we are all called to do.  As we continue our journey through Lent, let us fix our eyes firmly on Jesus.  Let us ask him to help us deepen our faith and our belief that the suffering of Good Friday is never in vain, but rather that it prepares the way for the greatest miracle, the reason for our faith.  As we become more and more aware of this truth, we too will be better able to see the truth that suffering and death ultimately leads to resurrection and the fullness of life.

His Word Today: Smart

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

In today's gospel passage (Mt 5:20-26), Jesus says to his disciples: unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:20).  In modern-day parlance, he might say something like: You have to be smart about how you live your faith.

In his day, Jesus challenged his disciples not merely to take everything for granted, including the way that they should understand or interpret their faith.  Rather, he challenged them to be smart about applying the lessons of their faith in order to bring new life to the way they lived.

We too need to be smart about the way in which we live our faith.  If we are, others will see what we do and the way we care for one another, and our actions and words will inspire others to make a difference in the world.  This is what Jesus meant by saying that we need to be salt for the earth, light for others, leaven for the sake of all those we meet.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Ask

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

As we continue our journey, Jesus wishes to instruct our hearts.  He wants to teach us about the kind of relationship that we can have with his Father.  Our God has an open heart that beats constantly with warmth and love for us.  At any time, we can come to Him and ask our questions, or we can ask for something that we desire.  If it is for our good, if the object of our desire will help us to live better lives, we will receive (cf Mt 7:7).

Perhaps we have never stopped to consider the fact that we have a God who loves us in this way: that our God is truly exceedingly generous and will never deny us anything, as long as that thing will serve us well and allow us to be more sincerely and honestly the people we are intended to be.

Dare to pray with bravery today.  Ask, and you will receive ... and know that if you ... know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask (Mt 7:11).

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Sign

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
13 March 2019, 7:42 am

Good morning everyone,

In today's gospel passage, Jesus is surrounded by crowds - as he was so often - and he happened to remark: This generation ... seeks a sign (Lk 11:29).  Were the people skeptical of Jesus?  Were they seeking proof?  Did they even know what they were looking for?  Did they realize who he really was?  What kind of sign would have convinced them?

If Jesus was alive in our day, would we still be seeking signs?  I had a conversation with a group of people recently. We were lamenting how much the current culture seems to have changed - and just in the last few decades.  Less and less of younger generations today seem to be even aware of Jesus, much less do they seem to be interested in developing a personal relationship with Him.  Yet they also seem to be a curious generation, constantly seeking answers, looking for signs.

What about us?  Is there some level at which we too are still looking for signs in order to believe the truth that has already been shared with us: our God has always loved His people (that's us).  Our God has constantly sought opportunities to enter into a personal relationship with each one of us.  Why are we still looking for signs ... instead of celebrating the fact that God loves us?

Have a great day.


His Word Today: Pray

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
12 March 2019, 7:43 am
Good morning everyone,

During this special time of Lent, the Lord is inviting us to come close to him and to open our hearts so that He can speak with us and feed us with his special food.  In human terms, we refer to the process of coming close to God as prayer, and in today's gospel, Jesus teaches us the perfect words that we should use.

The Lord's Prayer begins with words of praise offered to God (cf Mt 6:9) and then presents a hope that God's kingdom may be established (cf Mt 6:10).  We know that we cannot do this without God in our lives, and so Jesus says that we should turn to Him for the nourishment we need (cf Mt 6:11).   Most of all, we must always remember that our God offers us the precious gift of forgiveness (cf Mt 6:12) and will never lead us into any situation that will in turn cause us to be distanced from Him (cf Mt 6:13).

The challenge that this prayer presents is that although we ask for all these gifts, the Lord reminds us that we must also be willing to live these same truths for the sake of our brothers and sisters.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Look ahead

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
11 March 2019, 8:19 am
Good morning everyone,

At the beginning of Lent, the prophet Joel called us to return to the Lord (Joel 2:13).  Yesterday, we were reminded of the temptations that Jesus faced after having spent forty days in the desert (Lk 4:1-13) and as we know only too well, the devil continues to tempt us to find other answers to our quest, even though the only answer that will truly quench our thirst is to return to the Lord.

Some of us have been on this journey, longing to return to the Lord for quite some time now, yet we constantly seem to find excuses, reasons to delay our return.  Today, Jesus reminds us that we don't have an infinite amount of time to delay our return.  When the Son of Man comes in his glory ... all nations will assemble ... and he will separate them one from another (Mt 25:31-32).  The time is coming, even though we do not know exactly when.

Lent can also be a time for us to hear the Lord's words once again: Come, you who are blessed by my Father (Mt 25:34), yet we should never forget that there is a flip side to these words too.  If we choose to ignore the needs of others, constantly believing that we can live life in a hedonistic way, we will be surprised to hear the Master's voice when he comes.  It's not too late for us to recognize our great fortune.  We are blessed by the Father, so let us rejoice.

Have a great day.

Well rooted

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 March 2019, 8:47 am
When my family first moved to Canada, we settled in Sault Ste. Marie.  The yard that surrounded our home was entirely surrounded with a variety of trees and plants.  During the twelve years we spent there, we watched as those plants and trees grew: some of them to be very tall indeed.  We even had to thin out the trees as they continued to grow, in order to make room for the ones that remained to grow healthily.  On more than one occasion, we removed a tree only to find that its root system was intertwined with the surrounding vegetation.  On such occasions, it was almost impossible to decide which roots should be removed and which ones should be left, but this too was a valuable lesson for my brothers and me to learn.

On this first Sunday of Lent, the scriptures remind us that all of us belong to a family of faith that has deep and well-established roots.  The Book of Deuteronomy presents words that were spoken by Moses, almost 4,000 years ago.  Even then, he was reminding the people that our family of faith traces its roots even further back in time: to a moment when our ancestors went down into Egypt and lived there as aliens (Deut 26:5).  Like an old gnarled tree, our family has its share of scars, but there is great beauty too: the kind of beauty that can only be seen in a tree that has been weathered by time and experience.

It is the strength that we draw from our rootedness in this family of faith that helps us to appreciate the true beauty of this liturgical season of Lent.  Thanks to our connection to the life of this family of faith, we can also remain focused on our goal of being focused on Jesus, no matter what temptations might come along.

Even in these first days of Lent, we are often tempted to take our eyes off the focus that we first established on Ash Wednesday, but like Jesus did, we must take time every day to strengthen the bonds of faith and trust that exist between us and God.  If we do, then especially when we are tempted to turn our gaze away from him, we will remember that he alone can help us not to get lost.

In the case of Jesus, immediately after his baptism in the Jordan, he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil (Lk 4:1-2), yet even in that time, he ate nothing at all so that he would not be distracted from the discipline of daily conversations with his Father.  Like Jesus’ experience in the desert, we too have been given this time of Lent as a privileged occasion to enter daily into the discipline of opening our hearts to the Lord and of listening for his gentle voice, a voice that speaks of his unbounded love and mercy.

Jesus’ temptations help us to see that even after spending so much time establishing the routine of constant prayer, the devil was still able to tempt him (cf Lk 4:3, 6, 9-11), and it seems as though each of the temptations was more difficult to resist, yet Jesus found strength to refute the devil’s temptations because he was so firmly rooted in God’s word.  This word is near to us, on our lips and in our hearts (Rom 10:8).  Firmly established with this word as our foundation, we can turn to God and ask him to open his merciful heart to us during this holy time of Lent

His Word Today: Feasting

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

During the forty days of Lent, we are given a precious opportunity to renew once again our commitment to spending time with our God in prayer.  In this sense, spending time simply means being in the presence of God so that he can share His wisdom with us - like a father might do with his children - and so that we can benefit from these lessons in order to enrich our own lived experience of faith.

In the gospel passage proposed for today's liturgy, the disciples of John came to Jesus and asked, 'Why do we and the Pharisees fast much but your disciples do not fast? (Mt 9:14).  Jesus' answer to this question helps us to understand the precious opportunity that we have been given during this Lenten season.  He says: Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? (Mt 9:15).  While Jesus was with the disciples, they had the precious opportunity to sit in his presence every day, to soak up his wisdom, to ask questions and to make his wisdom their own.

The opportunity that was afforded to the disciples is also offered to us.  This precious season of Lent is an invitation for each of us to spend time with Jesus - the bridegroom - in prayer.  The more opportunities we find to do this, the more we will be able to discover the joy that comes from being with Him, and the more our hearts will be nourished with the special food of His presence.  Having fed our hearts with his precious food, when the time comes for us to mourn - to face moments of doubt - our souls will be able to endure because we have been enriched through the discipline of spending time in His presence.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Rejected

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

Only one day into the Lenten journey, the words of the gospel passage show us that Jesus didn't try to deny the fact that his journey would not be easy.  Even as he was inviting his disciples to follow him, he was brutally honest about what they could expect, and the same is true for us.

Knowing that his disciples were misinterpreting his claim to be the promised Messiah, Jesus wanted to set the record straight.  Whereas they were expecting him to somehow wield political power, his idea of leadership was very different: The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected ... and be killed and on the third day be raised (Lk 9:22).  This plan must have been surprising to them, and so we should also expect that God's plans will surprise us.

Lest we become discouraged at the thought that our Messiah's plans are not the same as our dreams, Jesus explains: If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily (Lk 9:23).  We should never be surprised by the fact that God's plans for us may be different from our own hopes and dreams, but we can also find comfort in the fact that he will never abandon us.  He has already suffered, been rejected, been killed ... and been raised ... and he promises that this will be the way for us as well.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Ashes

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

As the day goes on today, how many of us may find ourselves walking along the sidewalk, or sitting in a restaurant or doing other errands when someone may point to our foreheads and giggle, or make a comment about dirt that we have forgotten to wash away?

Today is one of the days when we most effectively bear witness to our faith.  As we begin the season of Lent, ashes on our foreheads remind us of our mortality since our bodies will all return to ashes after we have died.  They also remind us that we should live every day in hope of heaven which will be our reward when this earthly life is complete.

In answer to questions from strangers, we can explain that the ashes mark the beginning of a special time when we are called to come closer to God.  Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we prepare to celebrate Easter ... the greatest feast of our faith.

Receive ashes today and wear them proudly as a mark of the faith that we have been invited to live.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Everything

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
5 March 2019, 7:36 am
Good morning everyone,

In the gospel passage for today's Mass, we hear the voice of Peter speak.  I can imagine that he was perhaps frustrated at this particular moment.  Perhaps he had seen what he perceived to be affluence and comfort in the lives of others and this led him to question his own choices.  His words ring across the centuries: We have given up everything and followed you (Mk 10:28).  Perhaps we too have known this experience: disillusionment at having followed what we believed to be the right path, only to find that in place of reward there were only more questions.

Jesus responds with words meant to console the heart of one who is disillusioned: there is no one who has given up ... everything ... for my sake who will not receive a hundred times more in this present age ... and eternal life in the age to come (Mk 10:29-30).

It can be very difficult for human beings to grasp the wisdom of Jesus' words, but they contain a truth that has stood the test of time.  Look around and you will soon see: there are those who are reluctant to give up everything in order to follow Jesus.  Are they truly happy ... or are they still searching?  There are some who have given up everything for the sake of Jesus and his kingdom who seem to possess an inner joy because they know that in their willingness to renounce one treasure, they have a greater treasure to look forward to.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: What else?

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
4 March 2019, 8:04 am
Good morning everyone,

As we prepare for the beginning of the Lenten season, the gospel passage today issues another challenge.  Jesus is setting out on a journey when a man runs up to him and asks: Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? (Mk 10:17).  I wonder if we have asked this question of Jesus in prayer.

The answer Jesus gives (at least the first part of the answer) is something that we all might expect: the Commandments are like a prescription for maintaining good spiritual health, but that young man wanted more.  We should all want more when it comes to the promise of eternal life, and it is the next part of the story that is most intriguing.  When the man assures him: Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth (Mk 10:20), Jesus looked at him and loved him (cf Mk 10:21).

Many if not all of us can rightly say - like the man in the gospel - that we have kept the Commandments, but how many of us have had the experience of knowing that Jesus is looking at us, gazing at us, and loving us?  This is perhaps the simplest and most profound experience of prayer: to know that Jesus is looking at us and loving us.  Perhaps this can be the beginning of our Lenten experience.  Ask the Lord simply to look at us and to love us.

Have a great day.

Preparing for Lent

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
3 March 2019, 8:03 am
In just a few days, we will begin the annual discipline of Lent: the period of forty days that is given to us each year so that we can prepare our hearts for the great celebration of Easter.  I will speak more about how we can prepare for this celebration when Ash Wednesday arrives, but even now, I think we can all begin to think about what our experience of Lent might be.

In the gospel that we have heard today, Jesus asks some questions that might help us to orient ourselves and to prepare our hearts.  He asks his disciples some interesting questions - which appear to be rhetorical, but questions that probably led them to reflect on their own situations.  These same questions can also help us to do the same.

Can a blind person guide a blind person?  Will not both fall into a pit? (Lk 6:39)  Our lives of faith are a constant journey that begins at baptism; a journey that will not end until we are reunited with our Father in heaven.  Along the way, our God is always near to us, but it is up to us to follow his guidance.  Unfortunately, at times, we choose to follow the guidance of others, and sometimes the others that we choose to follow can become lost themselves.  Have we fallen into this trap?  If we have, Lent may give us a chance to start again, to focus on Jesus and to follow him because he knows the way that we should travel so that we can find our way home to our loving God.

Why do you see the speck in your neighbour's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? (Lk 6:41)  Human beings seem to have an uncanny ability to recognize the faults of others, but at the same time, we also seem to blind to our own faults.  Is this because deep within our hearts, we may be aware of our own weakness but we don't want to admit it to anyone - even to ourselves - in case we might be perceived as weak in the eyes of others?  Perhaps we think that the admission of guilt will somehow make us less in the eyes of God, or in the eyes of others?  Yet, if we were the parent who was seeking to console a child who had done something wrong, would we not immediately want to speak reassuring words, to tell our precious child: There is nothing that you could ever do that would make me love you less than I do right now?  Perhaps as Lent begins, we can ask for this grace, and perhaps if we can hear these words addressed to us, we would be more willing to be merciful with others.

Dear friends, it is not too late for us to change our hearts.  Metanoia - the changing of hearts - is the grace that we are invited to experience during the liturgical season of Lent.  Since the day of our baptism, God has been at work within us, planting the seeds of goodness, mercy, forgiveness and love and helping us to recognize these seeds within us as they continue to grow and to bear fruit (cf Lk 6:43), and all of this is in preparation for the day when these mortal bodies of ours will put on immortality (cf 1 Cor 15:54).

Let us prepare our hearts in the coming days so that we will be able to set out on the journey of Lent, together with the Lord who never leaves us alone.  He will guide us every step of the way until we reach our eternal home, until we celebrate the great joy of the resurrection that is the gift of Easter.

His Word Today: Understand

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

Today's gospel passage begins with a question that is asked of Jesus: Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife? (Mk 10:2).  Within the words that are spoken by the Pharisees, there is a hidden hope: they either want him to change the teaching or they want to put his teachings to the test.

Every adolescent will - at some point - challenge the rules, and it seems that this is what the Pharisees are trying to do with Jesus.  Did they want him to change the teaching or were they out to challenge him, hoping to find some weakness in his arguments?  Even in adulthood, there are times when we would prefer to challenge the rules that God has established for us, but there is a deeper lesson to be learned here too.

True wisdom always stands the test of time.  If God's laws have indeed stood the test of time, why is it that we should think that God should change the rules just for us?  Instead, should we not ask a different question: how can we approach the author of such wisdom, and ask for the gift of this wisdom to be shared with us - at the level of our hearts?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Motivation

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
28 February 2019, 7:32 am

Good morning everyone,

Every day is a new gift, a new opportunity to do something wonderful. However how many of us stop to think about doing things that are wonderful for the sake of someone else? In fact the duty of a Christian is to look first and foremost for the  Face of Jesus in the people that we meet every day. Mother Theresa of Calcutta was one of those who perfected this art. Every day she looked for the face of Jesus in the people she met.

In today's gospel passage, we hear the words of Jesus that might be addressed to us as well:  anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to me ...  Will not lose his reward (Mk 9:41). We could turn these words around and picture not us as the receptionists of good work but rather those who are in need. How often do we give simple things to those in need?  Sometimes, what we give is not so important. Rather, what is important is that we respond to the needs of those who are in our midst.

Be on the lookout today for those who are in need. We have no idea what they will need or when they will need it. We don't even know if we will have what others will need. All we can do is open our eyes and look with faith. Jesus will do the rest of the work. He will place us on the paths of those who need to find him. He will place us on the paths of those who need to hear his words. He will even give us the courage to act as his disciples.

Have a great day. 

His Word Today: Others

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

What's the saying?  No one can do the job as well as I can?  How often have we found ourselves in a position where we are called upon to instruct someone else about how to carry out a specific task, and then entrust them with the responsibility to perform that task ... only to discover that the other person doesn't do the job like we would, or as well as we would?

In today's gospel, the disciples come looking for Jesus, complaining that some else was driving out demons in the name of Jesus (cf Mk 9:38).  Their reaction is a very typical human behaviour.  After all, they had been the ones who spent all the time in training with Jesus.  How then could it be that someone else just happened to begin driving out demons?

Jesus' response to their inquiry gives us a glimpse into his heart, which is much larger and more curious than we might imagine.  He says: Do not stop him.  There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me (Mk 9:39).  This response necessitates a much wider view, and that is exactly what our God possesses: a much wider view of the situation than we do.

Let us pray today for the grace to see the world as God does: with a wider view of reality that includes the dimension of divine love.  Perhaps then we will be able to perceive the mighty deeds that surprise us, and understand them as proof of work that is beyond our own capacity.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Retreat

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
26 February 2019, 7:38 am
Good morning everyone,

In today's gospel passage (Mk 9:30-37), we hear about a moment when the disciples were on retreat: meaning that they were travelling with Jesus and he did not want anyone to know about it (Mk 9:30), as though they were to spend time only with him.  This is what it's like when we come away with the Lord to spend time on retreat: we take time away from the normal demands of daily life in order to spend time with him.

The first time we experience a retreat of this kind can be an un-nerving experience for some, especially if we are not used to spending that much time focused on listening for His voice, or spending that much time allowing Him to be present to us, yet such moments can be extremely rewarding because it is often in such experiences - away from the hustle and bustle of daily routines that we can allow ourselves to come face to face with ourselves, with the questions that the Lord wants to ask of us and with the preoccupations that sometimes hold us back from truly listening to his voice.

In the case of the disciples, when they took time to simply be in his presence, they came face to face with their own question: Who among us is the greatest? (Mk 9:34)  Interestingly, when they finally admitted this truth to him, he sat down, called them to him and taught them the true meaning of leadership through service (Mk 9:35-37).  What about us?  Are we still hesitant to admit the questions that preoccupy us?  Can we dare to place these questions before the Lord in prayer?  Are we ready to hear his answers?  They will never harm us, and they may even teach us something about his understanding of love and service.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Accompany

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

A very important Meeting for the Protection of Minors in the Church has just concluded at the Vatican.  Pope Francis called for this meeting because he recognized that the Church needs to be serious about protecting minors if we are to have any hope of re-establishing the credibility among God's people that we once had.  It is important that we learn to listen attentively to those who present cases of children and adolescents who have been harmed, and that we do all in our power to provide for their care so that the wounds that have been inflicted can heal.

Today's gospel passage (Mk 9:14-29) provides an example of a child who has been possessed by a mute spirit (Mk 9:17).  Jesus takes the time to listen to the child's father who pleads for his son and is compassionate.  This is the first step in any such situation where healing is required.  Eventually, the father brings his son to Jesus so that he can see for himself the extent of the damage that has been done, and Jesus - who has established a relationship of trust with the boy's father - reassures him that it is possible for his son to be healed (Mk 9:20-24).  Finally, Jesus prayed in the presence of the possessed child and commanded the spirit to come out (Mk 9:25).

Every person who is entrusted with a level of leadership in the Church must learn to do as Jesus did - to welcome those who plead for their children, to listen attentively as they tell their stories, to establish relationships of trust and then to do all in our power to bring about the healing that is needed.  This is delicate but necessary work if we are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, helping our brothers and sisters to overcome the scourge that has possessed them so that they can be set free.

Have a great day.

A defining moment

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
24 February 2019, 3:37 pm
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you (Lk 6:27-28). The gospel passage that we have just heard describes a defining moment in the ministry of Jesus and in the lives of his disciples.  There were a few such moments during the time that the disciples shared with Jesus when he described a way of life that was – and still is – very different from the life that his followers had been used to living until then.  Ever since that moment, those who have followed in his footsteps have been trying to put those words into practice ... including us.

This week, there is a special Meeting taking place in Rome, one that has drawn the attention of many in our country and indeed around the world.  At the very beginning of their meeting, Pope Francis set the tone:  In the light of the scourge of sexual abuse perpetrated by ecclesiastics to the great harm of minors, I wanted to consult with you, Patriarchs, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and Religious Superiors and Leaders, so that together we might listen to the Holy Spirit and, in docility to his guidance, hear the cry of the little ones who plead for justice (Pope Francis, Introductory Remarks, 21 February 2019).

In various parts of the world, Bishops and other Leaders in the Church have been listening to the cries of the little ones – children, teenagers and adults – who have been crying out for justice, but unfortunately, too many of these voices have been ignored.  Not any more!  This is a defining moment in the history of the Church.  For far too long, we have not wanted to stand face to face with the truth that innocent people have suffered unspeakable harm and the result is that the reputation of the Church and of her members has suffered and continues to suffer.  Many of those who once placed great trust in us have turned away because when they needed us, we too turned our backs.  Not any more!

From a human point of view, it does not seem natural for us to want to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us or to pray for those who abuse us, but these are precisely the attitudes that have defined Jesus’ disciples throughout the centuries.  He never wanted us to be like everyone else.  He wanted us to set an example so that others would see a different way.

On Wednesday of this week, prior to the beginning of the Meeting in Rome, the members of the Organizing committee met with 12 people who have suffered abuse – men and women from different parts of the world, who wanted to share their stories.  In addition, each of the participants who is present for these Meetings has brought stories of others who have also suffered. 

Skeptics would have us believe that nothing will come of the meetings that are taking place in Rome this week, but the gospel by which we live challenges us to show the world that this is indeed a defining moment in the life of the Church.  The holy people of God are watching, and we must all pray that this Meeting in Rome will result not in simple and predictable condemnations, but concrete and effective measures to be undertaken.

His Word Today: the Chair of Saint Peter

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

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. This is the day on which all Catholics across the world celebrate our unity. The Chair of Saint Peter refers to the chair on which Saint Peter, the first pope sat while he served in charity.

To this day the Bishop of Rome, that is to say the pope, is the successor and living sign of Saint Peter still among us. The gospel passage for today places upon the lips of Jesus the question: and who do you say that I am? (Mt 16:15) This question must be answered not only by popes but by all of those who follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

This week in Rome, the pope is presiding over a meeting of all Presidents of Episcopal Conferences from all over the world. Together they are listening to testimonies from those who have been abused by clergy and trying to establish policies that will protect all minors in the Church. This is indeed a dark chapter in the life of the Church, however it is also a moment when we must learn how to be close to those who have been hurt. As Cardinal Antonio Tagle reminded those who were there at the meeting, we must learn from this experience how not to deny allegations against the integrity of the Church but rather to investigate them and to bring the truth to light.

Let us pray today that the challenges of our day will not darken the light that the Lord wants the church to bear. It is important that the light of faith be shared with all peoples so that we will not lose our way but rather that we will continue to be prophetic for the sake of all those who look to us.

Have a good day.

His Word Today: Saint Peter Damian

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

Today, we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Peter Damian (circa 1007 - 21 or 22 February 1072 or 1073), a Benedictine Monk and a Cardinal who was later declared a Doctor of the Church (1828).  Peter's childhood was not an easy one.  He was orphaned at an early age and then raised by a number of his elder siblings until one of them agreed to provide an education for him.

Peter was an important figure in a time when the Church was in great need of reform.  At such a time which called for change, Peter encouraged the followers of Jesus to go back to their own roots, to examine their own willingness to be faithful to the call to discipleship.  In the words of the evangelist Mark, we might say that it was critical to Peter Damian that Christ's followers ask themselves the same question that Christ himself asked of the disciples: Who do you say I am? (Mk 8:29).

Inspired by the example of Saint Peter Damian, let us seek today to be faithful followers of our divine master.  Let us begin our day by asking ourselves: Who do I say that the son of man is? ... and how does my answer to that question determine the extent of my commitment to following him?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Gentleness

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

Every time we encounter Jesus, we have another opportunity to observe how he works.  Even if we do not get to observe the miraculous outcomes of Jesus' efforts, we must admit that he worked with remarkable tenderness, especially with those who had been wounded and with those who were suffering.

Saint Mark tells us today that when Jesus and his disciples arrived in Bethsaida, people brought to him a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him (Mk 8:22).  The people believed that with one touch, Jesus could restore this man's sight, but Jesus was infinitely tender and careful with him, perhaps because he knew how fragile this man was and how much extra care he needed.

Have we ever had an awareness of the infinite gentleness with with Jesus approaches each of us?  Although Jesus will always invite us to enter into relationship, He will never force us to cooperate; rather he will always open his own heart and allow us to come close ... at our own pace, until we are comfortable in His presence.  And what about us?  Do we invite others to approach with such infinite gentleness?  Do we take the risk of opening our hearts and inviting others to come close?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Confidence

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

Throughout the time he spent with the disciples, Jesus tried to instil confidence in them.  The process included calling them to live a new life, and day after day, finding ways to reassure them that they were capable of being living examples of joy, love and forgiveness for others.  A key part of their confidence was drawn from their own ability to recognize that their strength and conviction came every day from their connection to Jesus.

The same is true for us today.  Each of us who is a disciple of Jesus is still a living sign of Jesus' joy, love and forgiveness, but like the original disciples, we must feed our souls on the presence of Jesus so that we can understand that he is the bread - the source of nourishment - that we need (cf Mk 8:14).

As others come to us today, looking for guidance, let us dare to point them to the source of the nourishment that we feed on - the bread of Jesus' joy, love and forgiveness.  These sources will never let us down.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Bravery

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
18 February 2019, 8:22 am
Good morning everyone,

Usually, when we read the gospels, we hear about the powerful signs that Jesus was able to accomplish.  It is rare that he refused to help those who came to him ... except in this circumstance.  The Pharisees - the ones who were responsible for maintaining the orthodoxy of the Jewish faith asked him for a sign, but they really were not interested in seeking good.  Rather, they were trying to test him, and he knew that their intentions were not entirely pure.

With great bravery in the face of those who had established power, Jesus dared to refuse their request:  Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation (Mk 8:12).  I wonder what the faces of those Pharisees must have looked like in response to such words.

Sometimes, we all need to pray for the gift of paresia (holy bravery) in order to speak the truths that need to be spoken, regardless of those who may hear them and regardless of the results that may ensue.  Ask the Lord to give you the gift of holy bravery today so that you can courageously share the truth that is already living in your heart.  Our world needs such courage, more than you might think.

Have a great day.

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