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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 Saint Bernadette parish in Elliot Lake, Ontario.

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

For what shall we give thanks?

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
13 October 2019, 8:30 am
Across our country this weekend, people are gathering to celebrate and to give thanks for the harvest, and to spend time with family and friends.  It is fitting then that the reading from the second book of Kings relates the details of Naaman, a Syrian court official, a man of significant importance who was cured of leprosy after having immersed himself seven times in the Jordan (2 Kings 5:14), and it is equally fitting that the gospel which we have just heard speaks of an encounter Jesus had with lepers.  In particular, this passage focuses on a Samaritan - a foreigner - who came back to Jesus once he had discovered the fact that he had been healed, simply so that he could express his gratitude (cf Lk 17:15-16).

Like Naaman and like the Samaritan leper, we too have reasons to be thankful today.  Like them, perhaps we are not in the habit of being aware of all the good things that we have received, yet this weekend provides us with a wonderful opportunity to set aside some time to say thank you.  We can begin by expressing gratitude to those who are currently accompanying us as we make our way along the path of life.  We can think with gratitude about those who have shared parts of their own lives with us, those who have motivated us and who continue to inspire us, and we can be thankful for those who now look to us for guidance, since they allow us to pass on the gifts that we ourselves once received.

During the Extra-ordinary Missionary Month, we can also look back at some of the saints who have been examples of commitment to spreading the faith and we give thanks for their heroic efforts.  There are many who came to Canada from Europe, who joyfully spent their lives teaching others about Jesus and helping others to grow in faith.  Among them was an Ursuline nun who was known by the religious name Marie of the Incarnation.  Born in Tours (France), Marie Guyart was the fourth of eight children.  Her father was a wealthy silk merchant.  In fact, she herself was married to a silk merchant before she entered religious life.  After her husband had died, she entered the Ursulines in 1631, at the age of 32 years.  From a very early age, she had a desire to be a missionary, but this desire was not fulfilled until 4 May 1639 when she set sail from Dieppe (France) and ended up in Quebec.  There, she lived for the rest of her life along with other Ursuline sisters, educating young girls.  The Ursuline Sisters are still present in Canada today.

Saint Paul encourages us today to remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David (2 Tim 2:8).  Jesus Christ is the good news, the gospel that has been preached by Saint Marie de l'Incarnation and by all those who continue even today to share the joy of the gospel with others today.  Many who have gone before us, and many who are living in our day have known the pain of suffering hardships, even to the point of being chained like criminals (2 Tim 2:9) yet they endure joyfully so that the word of God can be shared.

Today, let us give thanks for all that we have received, including the gift of our faith.  Let us remember the heroic efforts put forward by our ancestors in faith, including Saint Marie de l'Incarnation, and let us ask them to pray with us so that our efforts to share the joy of the gospel may also continue to bear much fruit.

His Word Today: Saint John XXIII

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
11 October 2019, 7:06 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, we celebrate the Memorial of Saint John XXIII.  Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (25 November 1881 - 3 June 1963) was one of thirteen children born to a family of sharecroppers who lived in a village in Lombardy (Italy). He was ordained to the priesthood on 10 August 1904 and served in a number of posts, as Apostolic Nuncio in France and as an Apostolic Delegate to Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?' (Jn 21:15)  This question, which appears in today's gospel passage, was asked of Angelo Roncalli on numerous occasions: by his mother and by his God.  Each time, he said yes, you know that I love you (Jn 21:17).

Pope Pius XII created Roncalli a Cardinal on 12 January 1953, and he was elected as Supreme Pontiff on 28 October 1958.  Pope John XXIII surprised those who expected him to be a caretaker Pope by calling the historic Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), the first session opening on 11 October 1962.  As a result of his courage and vision, the Church has continued to experience a major renewal ever since.

Each time we are asked the question: Do you love me?, and we answer like Peter did, we too open doors and windows, we too are renewed, and we too have another chance to discover the great love and mercy of our God.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Relationship

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 October 2019, 6:55 am
Good morning everyone,

Human beings are relational creatures.  We need to be in relationship with others.  If we are not, there is a part of us that is missing.  God has created us to be social beings.  A reminder of this truth is found in the gospel passage for today's Mass.

Speaking to his disciples about the importance of relationships, Jesus said: Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence (Lk 11:5-8).

We are meant to live in relationship with others, but we must always be willing to work at strengthening the relationships we are encouraged to foster.  This is not easy, but it is an effort that is increasingly necessary, otherwise, we run the risk of knocking at the door only to have no answer from within the house.  Before that happens, let us redouble our efforts to enhance our relationships with one another.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Model

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
9 October 2019, 7:00 am
Good morning everyone,

Little children start learning from the moment they are born.  Using simple observance, they learn actions and reactions and eventually begin to communicate.  As we grow, we pay less and less attention to the power of observance, but it is always present, always ready to do its part to sate our unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

Today's gospel passage recounts a moment that Jesus' disciples probably observed on many occasions. Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him,'Lord, teach us to pray ... (Lk 11:1) Whether Jesus was aware of it or not, the disciples observed him at prayer.  How often had they watched him withdraw to a secluded place, and then act as though the whole world around him did not exist?  Had they watched him out of curiosity?  How long was it before they understood how essential these moments of recollection were to him?  How long was it before they recognized a desire within their own hearts to pray?

Whether we are aware of it or not, people watch us when we are praying.  People can often tell if our prayer times are genuine or whether they are not.  People who have watched us at prayer will often be able to tell if these are moments of anguish or peace for us too ... and if we take the time to speak to them about our prayer, they will soon learn how essential these moments are for us too ... and they will seek to imitate us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Burdened

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
8 October 2019, 6:56 am
Good morning everyone,

How often has it happened that you and I find that we have taken on too many responsibilities, that we seem to feel overloaded with the cares of the world, or struggling beneath the weight of multiple tasks, each of which carries its own deadline and demands?

If we can answer yes to any of the above situations, perhaps we can identify with Martha.  The gospel passage for today (Lk 10:38-42) speaks of the occasion when Jesus came to visit - as was his custom - and Martha found herself struggling to prepare the food for the meal that was to be served.  To her surprise, when she turned to Jesus for help, thinking that he would ask her sister Mary to help with the preparations, Jesus told her to relax.

We can all get overwhelmed at times by the demands we place on ourselves, and yet all we need to do is stop for a moment, take a breath, listen to the words that Jesus offers, and then get up and keep going.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Our Lady of the Rosary

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
7 October 2019, 7:53 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, we celebrate the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, a feast day that was also formerly known as Our Lady of Victory.  It has been observed since 1571.  During that period, there was serious worry about the possibility that the Turkish Ottoman empire would advance and engulf the Christians in Western Europe.

In that year (1571), Pope Pius V organized a coalition of forces from Spain and smaller Christian kingdoms, republics and military orders, to rescue Christian outposts in Cyprus, particularly the Venetian outpost at Famagusta which, however, surrendered after a long siege on August 1 before the Christian forces set sail. On October 7, 1571, the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic maritime states, sailed from Messina, Sicily, and met a powerful Ottoman fleet in the Battle of Lepanto (Southern Greece). Knowing that the Christian forces were at a distinct material disadvantage, Pope Pius V, called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory, and led a rosary procession in Rome.

After about five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth, off western Greece, the combined navies of the Papal States, Venice and Spain managed to stop the Ottoman navy, slowing the Ottoman advance to the west and denying them access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Americas.  If the Ottomans had won then there was a real possibility that an invasion of Italy could have followed so that the Ottoman sultan, who was already claiming to be emperor of the Romans, would have been in possession of both New and Old Rome. Combined with the unfolding events in Morocco where the Sa'adids successfully spurned the Ottoman advances, it confined Turkish naval power to the eastern Mediterranean. Although the Ottoman Empire was able to build more ships, it never fully recovered from the loss of trained sailors and marines, and was never again the Mediterranean naval power it had become the century before when Constantinople fell.
(Source: Wikkipedia)

The gospel passage provided for today's Mass is the account of the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38).  When the angel Gabriel revealed God's plan to Mary, she was filled with questions, thinking that the plan was not rational, but the angel reassured her that all things are possible for God.  Similarly, what must have seemed a daunting task to the naval forces at the time came to pass, with the help of faith and prayer.

Today, we turn to Mary.  Let us present the situations in our own lives, especially those that seem to have no answers.  Let us entrust them to her and trust that she will never turn us away.  Instead, our heavenly mother will always help us to find the answers we seek.

Have a great day.

Faith the size of a mustard seed

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
6 October 2019, 6:11 pm
Our Holy Father has asked the entire Church to pay particular attention to missionary activity during this month of October.  In fact, he has designated it as an Extra-ordinary Missionary Month.  On Tuesday evening of this past week, there was a special celebration of Vespers (Evening Prayer) inside the Vatican Basilica.  In his homily, Pope Francis explained: This extraordinary missionary month seeks to be a shock to provoke us to become active in doing good deeds (Homily at Vespers, 1 October 2019).  Throughout this month, we need to focus our attention on the call that Jesus addresses to all of us.

The gospel passage we have heard today puts it this way: The apostles came to Jesus and said, 'Increase our faith'.  The Lord replied: 'If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea', and it would obey you' (Lk 17:5-6).  One mustard seed is almost invisible to the naked eye, and yet Jesus says that even with that much faith - the smallest amount of faith - we can do amazing things.

When we think about missionaries, the first people we might think of are those throughout the history of the Church who have travelled to foreign lands to proclaim the gospel and to introduce others to the person of Jesus Christ.  Here in Canada, we might think of Saint Jean de Brebeuf and his Jesuit companions who lived among the Huron tribe on the shores of Lake Huron, not far from here.  Even today, the seven Jesuit Martyrs still provide us with an inspiring example that waters the faith of all Canadians.  When we think of their dedication and their faith, some of us may think that our own faith is weak, or we might wonder what we could possibly do to provide so heroic a witness.

Travel to foreign lands is one way in which we can be missionaries, but it is not always necessary for us to travel in order to share our faith.  We can begin doing this right here, at home, in the place where we live.  This parish of Saint Bernadette is still in its infancy here in Elliot Lake.  Over the past few months, we have begun to familiarize ourselves with new surroundings, with new faces of brothers and sisters who gather with us to celebrate the Eucharist and to strengthen our faith.  As pastor of this parish community, my hope and dream is that we can create a space here in this parish where everyone will feel safe, at home and welcome.  In order to create this space, we will first need to establish a new Parish Pastoral Council who I will invite to help me put in place all the building blocks that we need to create this special environment of hospitality.

In the coming weeks, we will elect a new Parish Pastoral Council, so I would invite you to consider the possibility that God may be inviting you to lend your voices to this form of strengthening the faith of all our parishioners.

When a new Parish Pastoral Council is to be established, the Diocesan Norms permit the Pastor of the parish to determine the number of members who will partake in that assembly.  The pastor is also permitted to appoint up to 50% of the membership, while others are to be chosen by election from the parish at large.  Keeping this in mind, I believe that we can begin with a total of six people who are part of the Parish Pastoral Council.  In the coming weeks, I will choose three of those persons, and the remaining three will be elected.  Beginning today, I invite you to consider who you might wish to nominate for a position on the newly-formed Pastoral Council.  Nominations may be submitted in writing either at the parish office or via the collection baskets until Friday, October 18.  On the weekend of October 19 and 20, ballots will be provided and all those who are in attendance will be invited to cast their votes.  I will announce the names of the members of the Parish Pastoral Council on the weekend of October 26 and 27.

Saint Paul reminds us all today that in calling us to be his children, and in sending us out with the mission to share the good news of the gospel, God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power, love and self-control (2 Tim 1:7).  I encourage you then to take these words seriously.  In the coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to help you consider carefully whether God is inviting you to share your talents as part of our new Parish Pastoral Council.  If so, I invite you to be courageous in offering your candidacy, knowing that this call to service is also a call to love.

His Word Today: Saint Francis

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

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi (born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, 1181/2 - 3 October 1226).  Having had a privileged youth thanks to his father who was a silk merchant, Francis chose to renounce his fortune because he recognized the need for a much simpler life.  In fact, he was radical in his choice, choosing to live the life of a mendicant (ie begging for his food and for all his physical needs, rather than availing himself of his family's fortune).

Such radical choices are also evident in the gospel passage for today.  Jesus calls warning words: Woe to you Chorazin, woe to you Bethsaida, for if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented (Lk 10:13).

Even today, Saint Francis continues to challenge us.  Increasingly, voices are calling out for the world to pay attention to climate change; millions of our brothers and sisters live day to day, not knowing whether they will have enough food to feed their families; and many families are living in precarious situations, not even aware in some circumstances that they need help.

Let us pray today for the courage to be agents of change so that we may have eyes to see the mighty deeds that are being done in our midst, so that we can do what we can to be instruments of the Lord's peace.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Pray and do

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

Today, the Lord provides us with a task and a request at the same time.  The gospel passage appointed for today's Mass unveils a moment at which Jesus is sending seventy-two other disciples into the mission.  Perhaps it is fitting that this passage should be placed before us in the beginning days of the Extra-ordinary Missionary Month that has been mandated by our Holy Father.

Jesus says to us, as he said to the seventy-two before he sent them out: The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; so ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.  Go on your way ... carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one on the way (Lk 10:2-4).  Just as Jesus sent his disciples out, the Holy Father is challenging the entire church to see this extraordinary missionary month ... as a shock to provoke us to become active in doing good deeds - to be notaries of faith and guardians of grace - but missionaries (Homily at Vespers, 1 October 2019).

The Lord is calling each of us to become active in doing good deeds.  Let us join our voices with the voices of others throughout the centuries whose prayers have also risen to heaven: Lord, we know that the harvest is abundant; send us to work, and give us the courage to say yes to your invitation.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Guardian Angels

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
2 October 2019, 7:44 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of the Guardian Angels.  The Old Testament speaks of the prophet Daniel's guardian angel as having a role to play in strengthening his resolve: Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them (Dan 10:12).

The Church has continually taught that each of us - God's precious children - as a guardian angel, one who is sent by God to watch over and to protect us.  They also act as messengers between us and the throne of God.  The gospel writer reminds us of Jesus admonishing words: See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father (Mt 18:10).

Whereas the Saints intercede for us before the face of God, our Guardian angels watch over us, protecting us as we make our way along the paths that ultimately will lead us to heaven.  Along the way, it is good to know that we are not alone, but that we have these heaven-sent protectors watching over us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus

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

Today, the Church celebrates and prays with Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus.  Marie Françoise Thérèse Martin was born 2 January 1873 and died 30 September 1897.  She was a French Discalced Carmelite nun (OCD) who is still very well known and loved the world over today. Thérèse has been a highly influential model of sanctity for Catholics and for others because of the simplicity and practicality of her approach to the spiritual life.

Known simply as the little flower, Theresa continues even now to teach us how to be childlike in our faith.  One might even say that she is spending her heaven helping us here on earth to become like children (Mt 18:3).  Known for her little way, Theresa was able to speak of profound truths of faith in very simple words, thereby making it possible for all people to learn more about God and to know that it is possible for all of us to be close to Him.

Today, let us ask this holy woman to intercede for us, asking the Lord to continue the work that has already been begun.  May she who promised to send roses as the sign of her continued willingness to answer our prayers and as proof of her willingness to spend her heaven doing good on earth help us to always remember that each one of us must become like children in the sight of our heavenly Father.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Jerome

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
30 September 2019, 8:43 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of Saint Jerome (circa 347-420 AD).  Born at Stridon, on the border between the Roman provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia, on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, an area that corresponds to current-day Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, Kosovo, part of Serbia and most of northern Albania.

As a teenager, he made his way to Rome, where he learned Latin and some Greek.  He continued his studies, travelling from place to place in order to do so until his mid-30s when he plunged himself into the study of the Bible.  In fact, the legacy he left to the Church was his work in translation of most of the scriptures from Greek and Hebrew to Latin.  He also provided extensive commentaries about the various passages contained in the Bible.

If Jerome were to comment on the scripture passage proposed for today's liturgy (Mt 13:47-52), he would find a way for us to understand Jesus' words: The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.  When it is full, they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets (Mt 13:47-48).

Our lives are filled with a variety of experiences.  Each of them filters our perception and enriches us, including our experience of prayer and our encounters with the living God.  When the nets of our lives are full - ie when the time comes for us to leave this world - it will be time to sit down and sort through the experiences - the time of judgement.  In the meanwhile, it is good that we should remember this analogy so that we can begin even now to practice the art of sifting through our lived experiences in the light of faith, all the while looking forward to the day when we will see God face to face.

Have a great day.

Respond with compassion

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
29 September 2019, 8:43 am
In today's gospel passage, Jesus speaks to the Pharisees, and especially to those among them who loved money and physical possessions.  He was particularly concerned with this group of people because he loved them as much as he loved all others and wanted them to understand the true meaning of wealth.  You see, the danger exists in those who set their sights only on physical possessions, because earthly riches can weaken our ability to understand the sufferings of others.

The story includes a rich man who is very proud of his achievements, but his pride blinds him to the needs of the poor man Lazarus.  This rich man has become comfortable, surrounded with a life of ease.  He may still have been a really good man, but his love of money disoriented his good intentions and made him unresponsive to the needs of those around him.

Jesus makes it clear that we already have the help we need in order to resist the temptation of pride.  The prophet Amos warns that wealth tempts people to think only of themselves (cf Amos 6:1) and the Ten Commandments instruct us to respond to the needs of others, especially those who are poor (cf Ex 20:12-17).  It is not surprising then that Abraham rebukes the rich man with powerful words: remember that during your lifetime, you received good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here and you are in agony (Lk 16:25).

Jesus wanted everyone to fight the good fight of the faith; to take hold of the eternal life to which we are called (1 Tim 6:12).  This is the reason why he chose to offer a parable that shows all of us that being merciful and loving can help us overcome temptation.  Mercy and love are at the heart of God's divine love for each one of us.  If we have recognized these gifts in our own lives, we ourselves can respond by striving to reduce the suffering of others through our acts of compassion and love.

His Word Today: Saint Vincent de Paul

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
27 September 2019, 7:57 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul (24 April 1581 - 27 September 1660), a French priest who dedicated his life to serving the poor.  He was renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity.  He is also the founder of the Congregation of the Mission: a society of apostolic life that includes both priests and brothers; and the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, a Society of Apostolic Life for women.

The gospels tell us that at the sight of the crowds, Jesus' heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned (Mt 9:36).  Here, Jesus shows us by his own reaction that his heart is not unlike our hearts.  Jesus is moved by the presence of those who are in need, and so should we.  This is the simple lesson that we learn from the example of Saint Vincent de Paul.

Let our prayer today be a request that the Lord might work within our hearts to make us aware of the needs of our brothers and sisters, and that we may be inspired by a deep and abiding concern for those in our world who are unable to find peace because they are troubled and feeling abandoned.  Merely by asking for such a grace, we are already beginning to make a difference.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Curiosity

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
26 September 2019, 7:55 am
Good morning everyone,

If we are truly honest with ourselves, we will soon discover that many if not all of the characters mentioned in the scriptures hold some part of the traits that we too identify as our own.  Evidence of this truth can be found in today's gospel passage.  Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening and he was greatly perplexed (Lk 9:7).  In fact, he was so perplexed that he kept trying to see him (Lk 9:9).

The reasons for Herod's perplexity were admittedly somewhat self-centred.  His initial intrigue at least had little to do with really wanting to get to know who Jesus was.  Rather, it was about seeking answers to his own inquiring, yet this is not so unlike many of us who begin our quest for faith in the midst of questions that have little to do with seeking the person of Jesus and much to do with responding to questions that seem to arise from our own hearts.

Have you ever considered the fact that Herod's curiosity is not so unlike our own curiosity when it comes to finding ways to see Jesus?  Only when we come face to face with the carpenter/preacher from Nazareth can we begin to seek the answers that we truly want to ask.  Only these answers will ever truly respond to the longings of our hearts.  Don't ignore the curiosity; instead, follow it and allow it to peak your interest.  The journey awaits.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Mission

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

Have you ever heard the phrase: You are exactly where you need to be, when you need to be there?  It can often happen that we look prayerfully at the events of our day and discover incidents that we may not immediately have seen; in hindsight and in prayer though, we discover that such moments are opportunities for us to recognize God at work in and through us.

At a certain point in time, Jesus sent his disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick (Lk 9:2).  In addition, he instructed them to take nothing for the journey (Lk 9:3).  This is a word of encouragement for us as well, not to take anything for our journey, nothing that will distract us from focusing on Jesus.

From day to day, we must constantly focus our attention on Jesus; we need to look to him for guidance and we need to develop our awareness of his presence, guiding us as we set out each day on our journey.  If we begin each day from this point of view, and if we are persistent in maintaining our resolve to follow him, we will become more and more convinced that we are indeed exactly where we need to be, when our presence is needed.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Action

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
24 September 2019, 7:58 am
Good morning everyone,

Yesterday, the Holy Father, Pope Francis sent a video message to those who are participating in the United Nations Summit on Climate Change.  The meeting is taking place in New York, and among the most talked-about participants, there is a teenager from Sweden who is speaking out strongly and challenging all those who are in attendance to take action and not to settle for mere platitudes.

Greta Thunberg is still young, but she is causing quite a stir, perhaps not unlike the attention that was focused on Jesus when he re-defined the established norms of his time.  In the gospel proposed for today's Eucharistic celebration, he says: My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it (Lk 8:21).

We too have a choice to make.  We can choose to hear the words of Jesus and not to allow them to affect us, or we can choose to listen attentively for these words and to allow them to influence our actions.  Jesus is calling us to act, the response is up to us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Pio

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

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saint Pius (Pio) of Pietrelcina, a Capuchin Franciscan Friar who lived between the years 1887 and 1968.  Born Francesco Forgione, he was given the name of Pio when he entered the Order.  Even as a young Friar, Pio was afflicted with a number of illnesses including gastroenteritis at age 6 years and typhoid fever at age 10.  As it turned out, he suffered physically for most of his life, but he accepted it as a gift from God.

As a youth, Francisco reported that he had experienced heavenly visions and ecstasies (a type of altered state of consciousness characterized by greatly reduced external awareness and expanded internal and spiritual awareness).  He was about 10 years old when he first felt drawn to the life of the Franciscans.  This desire continued until he entered the noviciate of the Capuchin Friars at Morcone on 6 January 1903.  Two weeks later, he took the Franciscan habit and the religious name Fra Pio.

For the next seven years, he studied and prepared for priesthood.  Throughout this period, he continued to experience poor health, but he never allowed this to stop him.  Eventually, he was ordained a priest and sent to live - along with a small community of seven friars - in the Capuchin Friary of Our Lady of Grace, located in San Giovanni Rotondo, in the Province of Foggia.  He lived there for the remainder of his life.

Saint Pio is known and loved by the Italian people because of his piety and because of the rare gift of the stignata: the spontaneous appearance of bodily wounds, scars and pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ, on the hands, wrists and feet.  In a very tangible way, this holy man practiced the advice that Jesus gives to his disciples: Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me (Mt 16:24).

Padre Pio compared weekly confession to dusting a room weekly, and recommended the performance of meditation and self-examination twice daily: once in the morning, as preparation to face the day, and once again in the evening, as retrospection. His advice on the practical application of theology he often summed up in his now famous quote, Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry. He directed Christians to recognize God in all things and to desire above all things to do the will of God.  Many people who heard of him traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo to meet him and confess to him, to ask for help, or to have their curiosity satisfied.

Padre Pio died at the Friary of Our Lady of Grace on 23 September 1968.  His funeral Mass was celebrated three days later and was attended by more than 100,000 people.  He was Canonized on 16 June 2002 by Saint John Paul II.  The Shrine of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina was dedicated by Saint John Paul II on 1 July 2004 and continues even today to be a place of pilgrimage and prayer for pilgrims from all corners of the world.

May this beloved Saint intercede for us today and help us to always look to Jesus for guidance as we seek to follow him.

Have a great day.

Aim to serve

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
22 September 2019, 8:07 am
The scripture passages for today guide our thoughts and our prayers to the question of service; in particular the question of what it means to serve the Lord.  In the gospel passage (Lk 16:1-13), the dishonest manager has taken his position for granted.  We can presume that at least for some time, he has been using what rightfully belongs to his master to enrich himself ... and now he has been caught (Lk 16:1-2).

Even more than the loss of his position as a steward, he fears becoming an outcast, so for once, he deals honestly with his neighbours by changing their contracts to reflect what they truly owe and removing the extra charges with which he may have intended to line his own pockets.  Seeing his willingness to change, his master is able to re-establish his trust in his manager.

Like all of Jesus' parables, this story speaks of our heavenly Father and the relationship he seeks to establish with all of us.  The master is God and we are the managers of his property.  God is the complete opposite of a self-interested master.  His unfathomable love for us means that he dedicates himself to our well-being, showering us with gifts in order to help us to achieve the ultimate goal: an eternal home with him in heaven.  Like the manager, one day we will all have to give an account for the way we have used God's gifts.

However, the good news is that we see in Jesus' story that the manager is forgiven at the moment when he puts his master first - instead of himself - to say nothing of the many times in the past that he may have ignored his master's presence.  It is still not too late for us to make sure that we are serving the right master.  To serve God faithfully, with the gifts he has given us, means doing everything we can to speak and act out of love, and what more perfect example can we possibly find than the selfless and merciful love that Jesus has shown to us?

His Word Today: Saint Andrew Kim Taegon

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

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Andrew Kim Taegon (21 August 1821 to 16 September 1846).  He was the very first Korean-born Roman Catholic priest and the patron saint of Korea.  He was canonized along with more than 120 others by Saint John Paul II on 6 May 1984.

After being baptized at age 15, Kim studied at a seminary in the Portuguese colony of Macau. He also spent time in study at Lolomboy, Bocaue, Bulacan, Philippines, where today he is also venerated. He was ordained a priest in Shanghai after nine years (1844) and then returned to Korea to preach and evangelize. During the Joseon Dynasty, Christianity was suppressed and many Christians were persecuted and executed. Catholics had to covertly practise their faith. Kim was one of several thousand Christians who were executed during this time. In 1846, at the age of 25, he was tortured and beheaded near Seoul on the Han River. His last words were:

This is my last hour of life, listen to me attentively: if I have held communication with foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him.

Saint Andrew and his companions leave us with a legacy of the words of Jesus being put into action: If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Lk 9:23).  Let us ask this holy martyr to pray for us today, that we too will have the courage to take up our own crosses and to follow wherever the Lord should lead us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: With Love

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
19 September 2019, 8:13 am
Good morning everyone,

Two thousand years after his death, Jesus is among the most remembered people in history.  His actions and words certainly made an impression on those who saw him, those who heard his words.  An example of his influence appears in the gospel passage prescribed for today (cf Lk 7:36-50).

Invited to dine at the home of one of the Pharisees, Jesus took advantage even of those moments to teach - at times without even having to speak a word.  It is interesting to note that the gospel writer recounts the details of a woman who enters the house and stands behind him.  She began to bathe his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair (Lk 7:38).  While the Pharisee continued to speak accusing words, this woman was more eloquent while maintaining her silence.

Perhaps the lesson that we can learn today is that there are times when we need no words, but at all times, we should strive to act with love.  Like the woman, our actions will speak louder than any words that could ever be spoken.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Anyway

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
18 September 2019, 7:52 am
Good morning everyone,

Anyone who has ever been invited to a position of leadership knows that at some point or another, no matter what we try to do, someone will criticize our efforts.  The key in such situations is to be sure that the decisions that are made have been well-thought-out and that the choice that has been put forward is truly made in the best interests of the people we are seeking to serve.

Even Jesus found himself surrounded with nay-sayers of his time.  To whom shall I compare the people of this generation? ... They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another (Lk 7:31-32).  As our current Holy Father has reminded us on many occasions, gossip is poison.  It destroys relationships, it has the potential to destroy dreams and to cut people off far short of their potential.

Jesus uses this image to challenge us to hold our heads high, even though there will always be those who will challenge what we say or do.  He challenges us to speak anyway, to love despite the possibility that others may ridicule us, to make ourselves vulnerable anyway, trusting that in the end, we are called to care not for strangers but for our brothers and sisters.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Robert Bellarmine

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
17 September 2019, 8:03 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of Saint Robert Bellarmine (4 October 1542 - 17 September 1621), an Italian Jesuit Cardinal who was canonized in 1930 and named a Doctor of the Church - a title that has been awarded to only 36 of the saints.

Bellarmine was a professor of theology and later served as Rector of the Roman College. In 1602, he became Archbishop of Capua. He was a major figure in supporting the reform decrees of the Council of Trent, which dealt with many serious issues and calls for change which came about as a result of the Reformation.  Along with others, he helped to re-orient the Church so that we could continue faithfully following in the footsteps of Jesus.

The gospel proposed for today's Mass places Jesus at the gates to the city of Nain, where he met a woman who was greatly distressed (Mt 7:21-29).  Her world had been turned upside down when her only son had died.  Without her even realizing it, Jesus re-oriented her by bringing her son - the one who would care for her and support her - back to life.  We might even say that Jesus restored within her the gift of hope for a better future.

Like Jesus, like Robert Bellarmine, perhaps someone needs us today to help them, to re-orient them and to give them a reason to hope.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saints Cornelius and Cyprian

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
16 September 2019, 8:27 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of two holy men who lived during the third century.

Life has always been difficult for those who choose to follow Christ.  Evidence of this is abundant especially during the first centuries of the Christian era.  The Roman emperors, who exercised temporal power at the time did not take kindly to anyone who would not submit to their orders.  We see evidence of this in the stories of today's heroes.

During the third century, the Roman emperor Decius decreed that all those who would not renounce their Christian faith should be killed.  Fabian, who was Pope at the time, was killed, along with many others, but there were some who denounced their faith and were spared.  This was yet another attempt to defeat the Church.  The thought was that without a pope, the Church would die away.  Emperor Decius even went so far as to prevent the election of a successor to Fabian, but some priests managed to secretly carry out an election.  While the emperor was at war, Cornelius was elected to succeed Fabian as Bishop of Rome.

There were added complications too.  A priest named Novatian and his followers believed that those who had renounced their Christian faith could never return to the Church, even if they had repented, so Cornelius assembled a council of bishops to settle the dispute.  The council affirmed Cornelius' belief and condemned Novatian's theory.  Cornelius spent two years as Pope before he was arrested under the emperor's command and banished.  He died in exile in 253.

Cyprian - who was Bishop of Carthage in North Africa - was a supporter and a friend of Cornelius.  Cyprian was a native of Carthage, born in 210.  He served as Bishop of Carthage for almost 10 years, but only really experienced peace for the first year of that term.  The persecutions that were carried out under the emperor Decius began around 211, and like Cornelius, Cyprian too had to address the challenges voiced by Novatian.  Persecutions also continued after Decius' death and eventually, Cyprian was arrested and tried for being a Christian.  When he was read his death sentence, he replied by exclaiming: Blessed be God!  He was martyred in 258.

Cornelius and Cyprian were friends.  Like the disciples, they helped each other to live faith-filled, self-sacrificing and loving lives.  We too are called to help our friends to live lives of faith so that we can all remain close to God, and we can be reassured by the words of Jesus' prayer for the disciples: Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one (Jn 17:19).  These are words that Jesus continues to pray for all of us.

Have a great day.

Love, mercy and forgiveness

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
15 September 2019, 8:06 am
Today's scripture readings all remind us of the boundlessness of God's mercy.  In our flawed humanity, we continually stray from the path that we already know leads to eternal life, but God's compassion and forgiveness are much stronger than his justifiable anger.  God never gives up on us.

The first reading speaks of the Israelites turning away from God in order to worship a golden calf (cf Ex 32:8).  On the surface, it might seem difficult for us to relate to this reality, but we are constantly bombarded with voices that entice us to acquire more and more superficial possessions: new cars, bigger homes, more stylish clothing, jewels, gadgets ... and so on.  Each one of these can be a modern-day golden calf, ultimately luring us to turn our attention away from God.  How easy it is at times to give in to such temptations!  Yet, God calls us, in the silence of our hearts and the intimacy of prayer, to forsake these false gods and to return to Him.

Saint Paul provides a prime example of one who truly understands the tenderness and mercy of God, gifts that are always ours for the asking.  Speaking of his own personal experience, he says: I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me (1 Tim 1:12).  Each of us can repeat these words if we ourselves have come to know them to be true in our own lived experience.  In the end, it is Christ Jesus who constantly strengthens us and prepares us for the mission he entrusts to us.

Saint Luke focuses our attention today on the pain of loss and the rejoicing that follows when that which has been lost has been found (cf Lk 15:11-32).  The most powerful element of this passage is the story of the lost son who abandoned home and family in favour of reckless living.  Perhaps we can identify with this pain ... or perhaps we can more easily see ourselves in the elder son's discontent and envy when the father warmly welcomes his brother home.  Maybe, there is a bit of both these characters in us.

Today, let us pray that our heavenly Father will grant us the grace to answer the call to recognize and to welcome his love, his mercy and his forgiveness.

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