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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

He is risen!

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

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

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

Happy Easter!

The tomb is empty

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

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

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

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

Love without measure

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

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

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

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

An example worth following

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

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

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

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

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

His Word Today: Service

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

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

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

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

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Silver

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Serenity

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

One of the distinguishing characteristics that I have always considered as being part of the life of a fervent disciple is the ability to be serene at all times.  Serenity is the gift that comes when we can place our trust implicitly in the Lord, trusting that at all times, life unfolds as it should be.  This does not mean that it is always the way we would like it to unfold, but rather that it is the way it is meant to be.

At most times during his public ministry, Jesus was serene, especially in moments of prayer, or when he was keenly aware of doing the work of his Father.  However, as he reclined at table with his disciples on the final night of his earthly life, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified: 'Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me (Jn 13:21).  Betrayal, especially by those who are closest to us, can be devastating and a great threat to the search for serenity, yet Jesus faced such vulnerability at perhaps the most difficult moment of his human life.

In our search for serenity, we must also be aware of the occasions when we are made vulnerable.  Despite our best efforts to insulate ourselves against such danger, we must also remember that sometimes, when things don't seem to go as we have planned, it might be the case that God has another plan.  Things are always the way that they are supposed to be.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Welcome

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

The gospel passages we encounter during Holy Week are particularly fruitful sources for our prayer.  For example, today's gospel passage tells us that six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany (Jn 12:1).  This was the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus.  It would appear that this was a place that Jesus and his disciples knew well.  They would have travelled to and from Jerusalem on other occasions, and it is safe to assume that they would have stopped at this home to visit with their friends whenever they did.

On this occasion, we hear that Martha served dinner, Lazarus joined them at table and Mary anointed the feet of Jesus (cf Jn 12:2-3).  Each in his or her own way wanted Jesus and his disciples to know that they were welcome.  Serving food to guests, anointing their dried out and tired feet, and taking the time to engage them in conversation were all gestures of welcome, each of which would have been welcomed by the guests who had arrived at their door.

How do we welcome guests who come to our doors?  Are we attentive to their needs?  Do we seek to afford them the gift of hospitality and refreshment?  On the contrary, the modern-day obsession with individualism and technology provides a fertile ground for serious concern about how the traditional roles of hospitality and welcome are at risk.  If we are serious about wanting to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we need to find ways to do as Martha, Mary and Lazarus did - to welcome him whenever he may knock at our door.

Have a great day.

Important moments

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
14 April 2019, 8:44 am
The stage has been set.  At the beginning of this liturgy, we heard Saint Luke's account of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  Hopes were running high on that day.  All the people were welcoming the one that they believed to be the Messiah.  As the week progressed, the drama unfolded.  The Messiah had a meal with his friends, was arrested and put on trial.  Later that day, he was punished and crucified ... but the story didn't end there.  It was only on Easter morning, when the women went to the tomb and found it empty that the truth of the matter came to light.  Jesus, who had suffered and died, had risen from the dead.

In the coming week, we will gather to observe these final moments in the earthly life of Jesus of Nazareth.  Please consider coming to join us.  The great liturgy of Holy Week will begin on Thursday of this week at the church of Ste-Marie at 7:30pm.  There, we will re-enact the final night of Jesus' life on earth.  We will witness the washing of feet, and we will hear the Lord's command for us do as he has done for us.  The liturgy will conclude with a procession that will lead us to the Church of Our Lady of Fatima, where there will be a period of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament until 10:00pm.

On Good Friday morning, we will gather to commemorate the Lord's passion.  We will hear the details of that day when Jesus gave his life for us.  There will be two moments in the day to hear that story told.  The first will take place at Ste-Famille in Blind River beginning at 11:00am and the second will take place at 3:00pm.  The afternoon liturgy will begin at 3:00pm at Our Lady of Fatima in English and at Ste-Marie in French.

On Holy Saturday, the Church is silent as we contemplate Jesus who laid in the tomb, but as the sun begins to set, we will gather to observe the Vigil of the Lord's Resurrection.  The liturgy begins with the blessing of a new fire and the procession of light.  We will listen to biblical accounts of God's saving work in the life of his beloved people.  During the liturgy on that night, we will witness the baptism of one woman who has expressed a desire to join the Catholic faith and the Confirmation of three women who wish to make this step in their faith journey.  The celebration of the Easter Vigil will take place at the church of Our Lady of Fatima beginning at 7:30pm.

On Easter Sunday, there will be two Masses celebrated, one at 9:00am at Ste-Marie and the other at 11:30am at Ste-Famille in Blind River.  Please consider joining us for as many of these important moments as you can.

His Word Today: Works

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

One of the most powerful ways that we can bear witness to our faith is simply by living lives that are coherent with what we believe.  The witness that is provided by sincere effort speaks volumes to others who themselves may be searching for such meaning in their own lives.

In today's gospel, Jesus says: If I perform my Father''s works, even if you do not believe (my words) believe the works (Jn 10:38).  People may not always believe what we say about Jesus, about what we believe, but they will almost always be convinced by what they see.  The witness of a joyful disciple speaks volumes, but we must also be aware that the opposite is also true: the witness of a life that does not echo that which we believe will cause confusion in the hearts of those who are looking to us for example.

Lent is the perfect time of year to make an examination of the lives we are leading.  We can all ask ourselves What works do I perform and why?  Are these efforts inspired by a fervent desire to follow in the footsteps of Jesus?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Never

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

Today, Jesus offers a word that might make some of us scratch our heads and wonder.  Speaking to a group of Jews, he said: Whoever keeps my word will never see death (Jn 8:51).  Like them, anyone among us who thinks simply in terms of this world will find this teaching to be very difficult.  What did Jesus mean when he said that his word would help us to never taste death?

Keeping the word of God requires us to constantly listen to it.  We must seek it out every day in order for it to be part of our daily routine.  Only in this way will be become accustomed to the discipline of drawing on is wisdom in order to help us live lives of faith, and the ultimate goal of our faith is eternal life in heaven.  In fact, the promise that Jesus makes is that if we keep his word, we will one day pass through the doorway that separates this world from the world of heaven.  This is a new way of thinking about death: not as something sad but rather as a transition.

Jesus himself passed through this doorway: that's the miracle of Easter.  Because he has risen from the dead, we too can look forward to the day when we too will rise to new life - the fullness of life in heaven.  In order to understand this truth, we must first learn how to nourish ourselves every day on the word of God, the scriptures ... and to trust that this word will also help us to look forward in faith and trust to the promise of a future that is bright with hope.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Freedom

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 April 2019, 7:37 am
Good morning everyone,

Once again, Jesus his listeners in today's gospel passage with a new understanding of truth and freedom.  He says: If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (Jn 8:31-32).  The first part of this phrase is something that they - and we - have heard before: If you remain in my word - in other words, if you listen to my words and strive to put them into practice - you will truly be my disciples. 

Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we have all been made part of the family of Jesus, and as disciples or followers of his, we should listen to his words every day.  We can do this by reading little excerpts from a pocket bible or in any one of a variety of ways.  By constantly listening to them, the words Jesus speaks in the scriptures will eventually find a home in our hearts.  Through them, we will learn the truth about God's eternal plan to establish a relationship of love with us,

Jesus not only seeks to enter into a private relationship with us; he also gives us visible and tangible ways to experience his presence every day.  We can encounter him in the people we meet on a daily basis, and we have the Church to help us as well.  The Church is a community of believers.  Together, we are making our way through life, and together we can provide support and encouragement for one another.  We pray for each other, especially those who are in need; and we encourage one another to discover the truth of God's eternal love.  Because God loves us so much, the power of His love can convince us that nothing we say or do can ever separate us from Him.  How wonderful it is to know that the truth we find in God sets us free.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Focused

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

The gospel passage for today's liturgy (Jn 8:21-30) provides us with yet another lesson in discipleship.  Jesus says to the Pharisees (and as always to all of us as well), I am going away and you will look for me ... (Jn 8:21).  Looking for Jesus is the task of every disciple: seeking to live as he teaches us to live, taking care of others as he did, loving everyone according to his example ... all the while looking for him by striving to recognize his face in the faces of those we encounter.

Training ourselves to constantly look for Jesus as we make our way through each day is essential if we want to live as people of faith.  Looking for Jesus helps us not to be stopped by the suffering and miseries that are encountered, but rather to recognize these as opportunities for demonstrating mercy and compassion toward others ... simply because we see them not as strangers but as our brothers and sisters.

Ask for this grace today: to look for Jesus ... and to see others as he sees them.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Darkness

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

In today's gospel, Jesus gives us an image which will help us to grow in trusting him.  He says: I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness (Jn 8:12).  This is a significant image for us as we make our way through Lent.

There are so many in our world who - at least on the surface - seem to be progressing in life.  From the point of view of a bystander, such people appear to have plans for their lives; they may even be enjoying a certain level of success, yet if we were to have the privilege of knowing such people at some level, even if it meant only to know a bit about them or to see just below the surface of their appearances, in many cases, we might see how the external appearance does not match the interior reality.

Perhaps we too can identify with this image.  Maybe, at some level or another, we know what it is like to appear outwardly as though we are truly people of integrity, while the truth is that we are still seeing the light that is capable of showing us the way.  Today, let us ask Jesus to shed his light on our lives, to enlighten the darkness of our doubts and to help us to see more clearly so that we can discern the path that we are meant to walk.

Have a great day.

Alone, standing before him

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
7 April 2019, 8:39 am
There is a striking moment mentioned in today’s gospel: a moment that all of us have experienced.  Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him (Jn 8:9).  At the distance of some centuries that have passed since that particular moment, we have the privilege of freezing time and of looking at this scene from different angles.

What was going through that woman’s mind?  She had been caught in the act of committing a major offence.  She knew that she was guilty.  Worse yet, her accusers had brought her to this moment by force.  The penalty for her wrong was clearly outlined, known to everyone.  They would have been within their rights to stone her on the spot.  How many times had she seen this sentence commuted?  How many times before this moment had she counted her blessings, thankful that she herself was not the focus of the punishment?  Had she ever thought to herself that she would never allow herself to be caught in such a predicament?

What thoughts were going through the minds of the men who stood there?  They didn’t have to bring this woman to Jesus, but they did.  They had heard about his reputation for being a respected teacher and they wanted to put him to the test.  Teacher, they called him: a thinly veiled sign of respect.  What they really wanted was to find his weakness.  He had spoken about mercy, but if he was a respectable Jew, he would have to respect the Law.  This woman was caught ... now what do you say? (Jn 8:5)  If he ignored the Law, he himself would be guilty; if he agreed with them, his reputation for being merciful would be tarnished.

What thoughts were going through Jesus’ mind as he bent down and wrote ... on the ground (Jn 8:6).  How well did he know the men who were standing there, looking accusingly at the woman?  Was he aware of their own reputations?  Were the words of the prophet Isaiah resounding in his ears? Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old ... I am about to do a new thing (Is 43:18-19).  What advice could he offer?  What words could he speak?  Did he have to control his emotions as he reasoned his way through this test?

They kept pushing him, questioning him.  They wanted an answer.

Then his words rang out: Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone (Jn 8:6).  Crouched on the ground, she did not dare to look up.  Did she know that their personal reputations were also questionable?  Yet, who was she to make such a judgment?   In the same moment, each of the accusers would have seen their lives flash before them.  He had said, anyone among you who is without sin ... but each of them had their own hidden story, a story that they would never dare to speak aloud.  They went away, one by one (Jn 8:9).

This story is our story.  Each one of us is an accuser.  Each one of us is that woman.  Each one of us has our own story to tell.  Instead of accusing, let us pray for the conviction to do as Saint Paul did: to regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus (Phil 3:8).  This moment will end, and we must go out into the world to share this good news with those we encounter.

His Word Today: Perspective

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
5 April 2019, 7:13 am
Good morning everyone,

Saint John's gospel was written from a totally different vantage point compared with the other three gospels.  The fourth gospel - as it is sometimes called - was penned long after the death of Jesus, and through the lens of a conviction that Jesus was divine, the Son of God.  This is in contrast with the other three gospels which focus more on recounting the life of Jesus.

From the vantage point of this fourth gospel, the assumption was that although Jesus knew of his divine origins, there were many who doubted this to be true.  We see a hint of this in today's gospel.  Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ? But we know where he is from (Jn 7:26-27).

How often it happens that we refuse to believe the evidence we encounter: evidence of God's existence and action in our world, merely because we get too caught up in the humanity of our situations.  Today, let us open our eyes in faith and look particularly for evidence of the presence of our loving Father, his work of sharing the gift of love with others, and the ways in which he invites us to cooperate with his plan of salvation.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Light

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

Today's gospel passage is a continuation of the passage we heard in yesterday's liturgy.  Today, Jesus speaks of the importance of John (the Baptist).  Jesus refers to John as a burning and shining lamp ... who testifies on my behalf (Jn 5:35, 32).  But the truth is that although John's light was important in order to point us in the right direction, ultimately, Jesus has testimony that is greater than John's (Jn 5:36).

John came to bear witness to Jesus, and Jesus came to bear witness to the Father.  This is the good news that Jesus tried to share with us; this is the good news that has been passed down through the generations; this is the good news that has been passed on to us.  Each of us has a choice to make:  we can accept this good news and choose to believe it, or we can turn away from it and refuse to believe that it is true.

For those who have dared to test its validity, those who have come to believe in the truth of this light, there is no other explanation that makes any sense - other than to believe that our loving God came to live among us in the form of a human being - just like us - in order to share the light of his truth with us.  This Lenten season is a privileged opportunity for all of us to come to this conclusion on our own, through our own prayer and reflection.  In the end, this truth is the source of the light that guides our steps as people of faith.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Hear

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

John's gospel is the place where we find some rather extended speeches that Jesus made to those who challenged him.  These speeches are not always easy to understand, unless we are able to study them closely.  Today's gospel account is taken from one of those speeches, but what can we take from these words for today's prayer?

Toward the end of the passage, Jesus says: the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out (Jn 5:28).  We can only imagine how shocking these words must have been to those who heard them.  Prior to Jesus, no one had dared to speak about God as his father, much less to suggest that he could command time or raise the dead to life.  Yet the empty tomb demonstrates that this is precisely the miracle of Easter: Jesus died and rose again to the fullness of life.

We who are part of the family of believers are heirs to this promise as well.  If Jesus died and rose again, we believe that we in turn will rise to the fullness of life in heaven once our lives here on earth are complete.  Every day, we live with this hope in our hearts because we have heard the words of promise that when our turn comes, we too will hear the voice of God and be raised.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Mercy

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

The scriptures preserve for us the details of the encounters that various people had with Jesus.  Each of these encounters was a privileged moment because each of them was another occasion for human beings to encounter the mercy and compassion of God.  Today's gospel passage recounts a moment when Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem; there he met a man who has been ill for thirty-eight years (Jn 5:5).

In the words of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, this was a moment when misery met mercy.  Jesus could have ignored that man, but instead he stopped, bent down and paid attention to him and listened to his plea (Jn 5:6-9).

It is often at the times in our lives when we are most aware of our frailty that we feel most vulnerable.  It can be reassuring for us to know that precisely at such moments, our God is close to us, opening his merciful heart so that he can be present in the midst of our misery.  There are no words for such meetings.  The only suitable reaction is to open our hearts in return and to welcome the gift that is offered.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Wonders

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

There seems to be a note of exasperation in Jesus' voice today.  John tells us that he has left Samaria and made his way to Galilee.  The people of Galilee welcomed him.  Their joy must have been a balm for his soul, yet he would not easily have forgotten about the rebuff that he had experienced in Samaria.  When the royal official approached him in Capernaum and asked him to come down and heal his son who was near death (Jn 4:47), Jesus' response was rather harsh: Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe (Jn 4:48), yet he granted the official's wish with a simple word: You may go, your son will live (Jn 4:50).

The world around us seems to have changed so much in recent years that we too might be tempted to react with harsh judgments, rather than to believe implicitly that there is faith in our midst, yet we should never stop listening for the insistent cries of the fathers and mothers in our midst who plead for the needs of their children: Sir (madam), come ... help us (Jn 4:49).

Jesus' heart is infinitely compassionate, and if we ask him, he will soften our hearts too.  Let us make this our prayer today: Jesus, we are only too well aware of the ways in which our hearts have been hardened by jealousy, indifference ... even skepticism.  Come and help us, soften our hearts today and help us to be present to your people.  Open our eyes so that we may perceive the signs and wonders you continue to perform in our midst every day.

Have a great day.

The heart of the matter

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
31 March 2019, 7:58 am
Today, we have met Jesus at a moment when many people – including tax collectors and sinners – were gathering around him.  Jesus always welcomes those who come close to him, but that day, there were also others in the crowd - the Pharisees and scribes – who were not impressed that Jesus made room in his life for those who were considered outcasts.

The parable that Jesus told was meant to show them that there is room for everyone in the merciful heart of Jesus.  The parable begins with a scene that would have been very well understood by all those who were listening: A man had two sons (Lk 15:11).  With just these few words, every person who heard the story would have understood that this man was very proud, but then the unthinkable happened.  The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me’ (Lk 15:12).  In modern-day parlance, the son was effectively saying to his father: I wish you were dead.  One can only wonder at the discussion that must have preceded such a comment.  How much the father must have been hurt by such a comment!

Like every parable, this story is our story.  I am sure that there are some who are here who could tell a similar story, or some who know someone else who has had to live this nightmare: a son, a daughter, a brother or a sister who has chosen to walk a different road.  Who among us does not know of someone who has distanced him or herself from those who once were considered loved ones?  Perhaps we have not been distanced from family and loved ones, but we have chosen to walk a path that has distanced us from regular prayer because we have chosen to believe that we can live life better if we don’t have anyone else – including God – placing expectations on us.

At some point in our lives, we all choose to walk such a path, and as long as life continues to be enjoyable, we feel like we’re doing well, but at some point or other, we all find ourselves in some situation where we are no longer in control.  For awhile, even when we encounter difficulties in life, we can keep up appearances, but eventually, we come to our senses (Lk 15:17).  It takes great courage to admit that we have made a mistake.  Admitting vulnerability is never easy on the human ego, but the parable of the Prodigal Son shows us that our God has a heart that is infinitely merciful.  No matter how far we may have wandered, no matter how long we have been away, our God is always waiting for us to come home.

The image of the Father in the parable gives us a glimpse into the merciful and forgiving heart of our God.  If our God is willing to come running toward his prodigal children in order to welcome them home, should we not strive to be merciful to those who may have turned their backs on us?  Lent is the perfect time to change our hearts, to come home to our Father who will always welcome us with open arms.  If we ourselves have known the experience of being the prodigal child, I wonder whether that would change the way we relate to others.  Even small actions and words of welcome will speak volumes to wounded hearts.

His Word Today: Important

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

Today's gospel passage provides a summary of the most important focus for our prayer.  The scribes asked Jesus to explain which of the commandments was the most important.  There were more than 600 rules outlined in the Old Testament, but Jesus explained that they could all be summarized in two: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart ... soul ... and mind, and you shall love your neighbour as yourself (Mk 12:30-31).

These two rules go hand in hand.  We cannot separate them.  We should love the Lord with every fibre of our being.  Thankfully, our God has first loved us, and will always love us.  Our love for God is, and always will be, a response to the love that God has for us.  And the natural response to the knowledge of God's love for us is that we should seek to love others.

Love is the fruit of the relationship we share with our God, and with others.  Are we aware of the love that God has for us?  Have we ever been aware of this love?  Motivated by God's love for us, do we look at our brothers and sisters with love and compassion?  Do we seek to help and serve them because we truly want the best for them?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Discernment

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
28 March 2019, 7:56 am
Good morning everyone,

One of the most well-known gifts that Saint Ignatius of Loyola left to the Church was the practice of the discernment of spirits.  This practice was developed through his own practice of being aware of his surroundings and learning from his own experience.

Many years before Saint Ignatius, Jesus demonstrated the importance of discerning spirits.  We see evidence of this in today's gospel passage.  Some of the skeptics who witnessed his miraculous healings questioned his authenticity, posturing that it was by the power of ... the prince of demons that he drove out demons (Lk 11:15).

Knowing the truth of the situation, Jesus explained: Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste (Lk 11:17), therefore the truth of the situation was - and is - that it is by the finger of God that he did this good work.  We can be confident in this truth, and we can share this good news with others too.  Jesus has overcome the power of the prince of demons and has come to proclaim the kingdom of life and light.  Let us share this good news with those we meet.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Fulfillment

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
27 March 2019, 7:48 am
Good morning everyone,

At the hunt of their power, the Roman emperors commanded the territory that stretched as far west as modern-day Britain, as far north as modern-day France and Germany, and  as far east as modern-day Israel. At the time when Jesus walked the earth, the Romans were indeed in charge of most of this territory. Anyone else who inhabited those lands had to comply with the rules that were outlined by those who were in charge.

When Jesus came along preaching a new way of living,  expectations and hopes among the Jewish people were that at sometime soon a new Messiah - which is to say a new ruler - would come along. The disciples and many of those who heard Jesus speak thought perhaps that he would be the one to fulfil this role. This is the context in which today's reading can be understood. Whereas the disciples were hoping that the old laws and rules might be abolished in favour of a new kingdom, Jesus wanted to clarify things. He said to them: Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets:  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill (Mt 5:17).

What about us? Do we have any expectations about Jesus? Do we have hopes and dreams about what our relationship with Jesus might or should be? Have we been disappointed when we discover that our expectations sometimes fall short, or don't seem to be fulfilled at all?  The problem with this mentality is that somehow we think that we can control God instead of being part of His eternal plan. Today, let's just ask our God to use our talents and gifts as He sees fit. Then just sit back and marvel at the wonderful things that unfold.

 Have a great day. 

His Word Today: 77 Times

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

Today, the Lord gives us a lesson about forgiveness.  It is already an act of humility to admit to ourselves that we are in need of forgiveness.  Perhaps it is someone else that we need to approach, asking for this grace but perhaps it is the Lord himself who needs to forgive us.  The good news is that our God never tires of offering the gift of forgiveness, every time that we turn to him and ask.

Something that is more difficult for us is the act of forgiving others who have done us wrong.  Our human nature does not forget the experience of being wronged, and it seems that our humanity has a natural tendency to seek out vengeance, yet Jesus told Peter (and by extension, he tells us as well) that if a brother - or sister - sins against us ... we must be ready to forgive not seven times but seventy-seven times ... (Mt 18:22).

Today, let us ask the Lord to open our hearts to the possibility that we might consider offering forgiveness rather than judgement.

Have a great day.

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