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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

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.

His Word Today: Saint John Chrysostom

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

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom (349 - 14 September 407 AD).  He served as Archbishop of Constantinople and was an important Early Church Father.  He is most well-known for his preaching and public speaking and for the creation of the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom (the liturgy that is observed by many of the Eastern-rite Churches).

The title Chrysostomos, which has been translated as Chrystostom, translates as golden-mouthed: a reference to his celebrated eloquence.  If we were privileged enough to hear him speak about the gospel passage for today's Mass (cf Lk 6:39-42), perhaps he would focus on Jesus' words: Can a blind person guide a blind person? (Lk 6:39).

Day after day, we are enlightened and guided by the Word of God.  This Word helps us to continue the journey of faith that is the appropriate response to Jesus' invitation: come, follow me (Mt 4:19).  As we celebrate and thank the Lord today for the gift of Saint John Chrysostom, let us pray for the gift of divine sight so that we can perceive the presence of our God and help others to see him too.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Surprise

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

The words Jesus spoke to his disciples could easily be spoken to us today.  In fact, we believe that Jesus continues to speak through his Word which is living and active for those of us who read it, even to the point that it can surprise us and challenge us.

Evidence of this can be found in the first lines of the gospel passage for today's Mass.  Jesus calls us to ... love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you (Lk 6:27-28).  These are challenging words for all of Jesus' disciples.  It is not easy to love those who seek to destroy us, or to follow any of the other advice offered in this phrase, yet this is the way that Jesus encourages us to make a difference in our world.

If Jesus could imagine these behaviours to be possible for us, should we not trust him to know what is best for us?  Should we not look to him for guidance?  After all, he said that he would never leave us alone.  Let us look to him today and ask him to help us to use our words and actions today to do what others will never expect of us: to do good even to those who would seek to do us harm.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: POV

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

In today's gospel passage (Lk 6:20-26), we are invited to see the world - and the people in that world - from a different perspective.  As the saying goes: we are encouraged to see the world as Jesus sees it, and not necessarily as we might see it at first glance.

Jesus teaches us that those in our world who are poor are blessed; those who are hungry will be satisfied; those who are weeping will laugh; those who are excluded from conversations, from advancements, from recognition of any kind ... are precious in the eyes of our God.

These are simple yet challenging words.  Perhaps today, they will help us to look at the world around us just a little bit differently.  Maybe, they will help us to see the people we meet in a different light.  God thinks with larger horizons than we do ... and this is a good thing because he is constantly calling us to grow.  Life can be lived differently depending on our point of view.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Calling

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 September 2019, 10:24 am
Good morning everyone,

The gospel passage prescribed for today speaks of the calling of the disciples.  Saint Luke says that Jesus went to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God (Lk 6:12) before he chose his disciples.

The work that Jesus was doing at the time was a response to the promptings of the Father's guidance.  In fact, all acts carried out by people of faith are meant to be just that: a response that is guided by the will of the Father.  This is the way that we distinguish the difference between acts of the human will and acts that are in fulfilment of a higher will.

Those of us who seek to respond to the guidance of our heavenly Father must learn how to listen for His guidance.  We must all learn how to come away from the normal settings of our daily lives - so often cluttered with noises that stop us from hearing the voice for which we must constantly listen - so that we can pay attention to the voice that teaches us how to follow in His footsteps.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Rigid

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
9 September 2019, 10:56 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the gospel passage shows us a moment during his ministry when Jesus confronted the rigid manner in which some people applied the Law.  On a certain sabbath day, Jesus went into the synagogue ... there was a man there whose right hand was withered and the scribes and Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath (Lk 6:6-7).

Above all else, Jesus wanted to help this man.  He was aware of the Law that forbade any work on the sabbath, but he wanted to point out the distinction between becoming a slave to the Law as opposed to understanding the Law as being created for our good.  This is the reason why he asked a series of questions: Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it? (Lk 6:9).

We must always be willing to follow the law, but we must also be equally as vigilant so that we do not become ensnared by the law, for to do so would be to run the risk of turning away from the possibility to do good ... even to save life.

Have a great day.

The cost of discipleship

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
8 September 2019, 7:28 am
From week to week, we gather in this place to spend time together, to pray, to seek guidance and to be strengthened in our resolve to live out our lives as disciples: followers of Jesus Christ.  Following in the footsteps of Jesus is not a task for the faint of heart.

The first reading that we heard today (cf Wis 9:13-18) is a powerful reminder of how great God is and how wondrous his plans for us are meant to be.  We may have already experienced God's gentle and abiding love for us, but if we are sincere about wishing to submit ourselves to Him ... if we really seek to model our lives on His life, we should also be prepared to be challenged because our God constantly calls us to the realization of truth.

Jesus reminds us that discipleship makes some tough demands on us: Whoever of you does not give up all their possessions cannot be my disciple (Lk 14:33).  Saint Paul demonstrates this truth in his willingness to continue speaking about Jesus even if to do so meant that he had to be imprisoned (cf Philemon 9).

Why then should we follow Jesus?  Would life not be easier if e were to follow our own desires or only commit ourselves half-heartedly to living our faith?  Yes, in the short run, perhaps this would be easier on us, but the real reason why most people choose to attempt anything that is challenging is because of the results.  An athlete sacrifices and trains for better performance; a student reads, writes and reviews consistently to obtain desirable grades.  So too, following Jesus will produce greater results than anything else we might commit to doing.

The result of following Jesus is everlasting life.  Our earthly lives are perishable.  Some day these tangible bodies of ours will all return to dust, but God has promised to restore and to perfect the life we originally received.  Christ came to show us that our earthly lifespan does not have to be all we know.  God has prepared something much better for us: eternal life in paradise, and it is ours to be enjoyed without end.

His Word Today: Fresh

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

In today's gospel passage, we see a moment when Jesus' actions caused the local law makers to ask questions (cf Lk 5:33).  His way of living and acting was so different from what they expected that they had no point of reference, no way to understand his motivation.

Even in our day, when we see something new, something that we do not understand, we will ask questions - or we should ask questions.  Asking for clarification is good because it helps us to grasp the fact that something we are witnessing is meant to give us a fresh perspective, even if at times it may challenge us to look at a given situation in a new light.

Perhaps today we can pray for the grace to look at the world around us with fresh eyes.  There is always something new for us to learn, to see, to appreciate ... and if we can manage to recognize it, perhaps we will be able to appreciate the fact that something new, something fresh, something exciting is unfolding right before us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Purpose

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
5 September 2019, 7:42 am
Good morning everyone,

Every time that I hear the account of the calling of the first disciples (Lk 5:1-11), I am reminded of the fact that although it might appear at first glance as though the interactions Jesus had with people in the scriptures were unplanned, in reality, these moments were always part of the unfolding of a much larger plan.

The same is true for us today.  We may not always be aware of the ways in which Jesus' plan for us is unfolding, but the more we learn to look at life through the lens of faith, the more we will become aware of the plan that is unfolding, and the more we will be able to marvel at the wonders of God's presence.

Pay attention today to the moments of grace, in which Jesus' presence in your life is made known.  Sometimes we tend to miss them, but they are always there.  All we need to do is open our eyes, and ask Him to help us to see them.  Jesus is always working with purpose, a purpose that is His to know and ours to discover.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Help

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
4 September 2019, 7:31 am
Good morning everyone,

The gospel passage for today's liturgy places us in the home of Simon, where Jesus met Simon's mother-in-law (cf Lk 4:38-39).  I have always wondered whether Simon was the one who called out to Jesus and told him about his ailing mother-in-law.  Was it he who invited Jesus to enter his home, to draw close to his elder who was in need?

Just as he was willing to visit with that weakened woman, so he was also willing to draw close to many others who were brought to him later that day: those who were sick with various diseases (Lk 4:40).  In each case, he opened his merciful heart and was present to them in their need.  In the same way, our loving God draws close to us whenever we call out to him.  He is aware of our need and is always ready to heal us, to respond to our call and to reassure us of his love for us.

Today, let our prayer be heard by our loving God.  We may not be aware of our own weakness.  We may consider ourselves not to be in need of the divine physician, but it is enough for us to call out, to ask him to visit us ... he is always ready to share with us the gifts that we need.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Gregory the Great

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
3 September 2019, 7:54 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Pope Gregory I, commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great, who was Pope from 3 September 590 to 12 March 604 AD. He is famous for instigating the first recorded large-scale mission from Rome, the Gregorian Mission, to convert the then-pagan Anglo-Saxons in England to Christianity. Gregory is also well known for his writings, which were more prolific than those of any of his predecessors as Pope.

On the day when we celebrate the memory of the Vicar of Christ, the one who is sent to embody the presence of Jesus himself among his people, it seems interesting to note that the scriptures propose the scene in which Jesus' disciples were arguing among themselves about which of them should be regarded as the greatest (cf Lk 22:24-30).

The wisdom presented in this gospel passage is the truth that our God is always with us, that success according to God's plan has nothing to do with our success but with God's success in converting the hearts of all His people.  In the footsteps of Saint Gregory, the Successors of Peter continue even today to work at sowing the seeds of hope, unity and concord among the people who follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  What can I do to plant such seeds in the hearts of my brothers and sisters?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: New

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
2 September 2019, 10:01 am
Good morning everyone,

In the gospel passage proposed for today's liturgy, Jesus stands in the synagogue in Nazareth at the beginning of his public ministry.  This was a defining moment for him, his introduction to the rest of the world as it were.  He stood up to read and was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it is written: 'The spirit of the Lord is upon me ...' (Lk 4:16-18).

As we begin this new month, as students and teachers prepare to return to school, this is also a significant moment for many of us.  As it was in the time of Jesus, God is at work within us today.  The spirit of the Lord is upon us too.  This spirit is at work in our hearts, but how often do we stop to recognize the ways that God's work is made manifest in our lives.

Be attentive to God's spirit today.  Pay attention to the many ways that God is present in your life today: the people He invites to walk with you today, the circumstances He places you in, the ways in which He invites you to assist others, helping them to also increase their awareness of God's spirit that is present in all our hearts.

Have a great day.

Be radical

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
1 September 2019, 1:50 pm
The last time I set foot inside a bookstore, I was amazed to see the number of books that were scattered among the shelves, each of which bore titles dealing with self-improvement, enhancing self-esteem and assertiveness.  Thanks to the wonders of modern-day technology, many of these titles are now available at our fingertips.  Books can still be read in paper format, but increasingly, they can also be accessed in audio and electronic formats, all available on a smartphone.  In a world where so much information is instantly available, it seems that our appetites for knowledge are never quenched.

In today's gospel account, Jesus says that when you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour ... instead, go and sit down at the lowest place (Lk 14:8, 10).  In other words, we should not presume such honours for ourselves.  In the words of one of my professors, we should not become puffed up with pride or think ourselves better than others.

Jesus was radical in his challenges as he faced the power brokers of his time.  He constantly challenged them to put others ahead of themselves and to reach out to those who could not repay their kindnesses ... and the gospel continues to challenge us even today: how we interact with others, who we invite to share our dinner table ... these choices and others like them indicate the type of people we truly are.  Every day, Jesus invites us to move away from being self-centred and to become increasingly other-centred in our choices and actions.

As our relationship with God continues to grow, we realize day after day how much we are loved.  We develop increasing abilities to understand the strengths and limitations that we possess.  As we gather for this Eucharistic celebration, we give thanks to God who dwells within us, and the more we come to recognize the depth of God's love for us, the less we feel the need to be first in line, or to have the best seats in the house.

With passion

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
18 August 2019, 8:25 am
This week, the scriptures provide us with examples of passionate commitment.  In the first reading, we hear the story of Jeremiah, someone who wasn't afraid to stand with the Lord.  When he dared to speak God's truth to a stubborn, corrupt king, he was thrown down a well (Jer 38:6) and left there to die, yet this did not deter him from his commitment to doing what God had asked of him.

This past week, we celebrated the Liturgical Memorial of Saint Maximillian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan priest who lived in the early part of the 20th century.  Passionately committed to promoting devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, he established and supervised a monastery near Warsaw, operated an amateur radio station and was involved in many other organizations and publications, each one of them aimed at promoting faith among God's people.  During the second World War, he was imprisoned at Auschwitz.  There he volunteered to take the place of another man who had been condemned to die.  He is now part of the great cloud of witnesses (cf Heb 12:1), people of faith who have given their lives for the gospel.

In today's gospel, Jesus says that he will bring division, not peace (cf Lk 12:51).  When we face a hostile reaction for choosing to follow Christ, we are challenged to go deeper into the heart of Jesus.  How do we contend with the cross of insults, gossip, broken relationships and family quarrels?  The writer of the letter to the Hebrews challenges us to look to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2).  Jesus presents us blameless before his Father.  Sometimes, along the road that leads us to our ultimate goal, we encounter humiliation, but this is the road that leads us to eternity.

The Holy Spirit provides us with the skills we need to remain committed to following Jesus.  We can even accept suffering if we understand it as having redemptive value according to God's plan.  If we truly embrace this truth, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (cf Phil 4:13).

His Word Today: Saint Stephen of Hungary

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

Today, we pray with Saint Stephen of Hungary (circa 975 AD - 15 August 1038).  Not all details about his life are clearly documented, but it seems that he served as the last Grand Prince of the Hungarians from 997 to 1001 and then as the first King of Hungary from 1001 until his death in 1038.  He was the first member of his family to become a devout Christian.  His country enjoyed a lasting period of peace during his reign and provided a preferred route for pilgrims and merchants travelling between Western Europe and the Holy Land or Constantinople.  Following his death in 1038, there was civil war in Hungary for many years.

The life of a peacemaker is never easy.  In order for him to be successful, he had to be very wise and possess clarity of thought and a keen intellect.  We see evidence of both these traits in the gospel passage provided today (cf Mt 19:3-12).  Some Pharisees approached Jesus and tested him, saying: 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife ...'? (Mt 19:3).  Jesus had to tread very lightly in order to bring clarity to this teaching, but he did manage to find his way.

At times, there are questions placed before us that need serious thought and reflection before we act on them or provide our answers.  Saint Stephen reminds us that it is never a bad idea to pray for the gifts of clarity and intellect, and to use these gifts for the good of those we are called to serve.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

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

Today, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The details of this celebration are not spelled out in the scriptures but rather in the lived tradition of the Church.  According to this tradition, we believe that when the Virgin Mary completed her earthly life, she was assumed, body and soul, into heaven.  She is the only human being who is believed to have been accorded this privilege - with the exception of Jesus himself.

The gospel passage proposed for today's eucharistic celebration is that of the Visitation.  It provides an example of Mary's generosity: that at the time when she learned of her own special place in the plan of salvation, she did not choose to remain focused on herself, but rather she travelled to the hill country with haste ... where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth (Lk 1:39-40).

Today, let us ask Mary, who was obedient to God's plan to intercede on our behalf.  With her help, may we be courageous and trusting enough to say yes to the Lord whenever He may call out to us.  Our God is calling each one of us, never to a situation that will bring us harm, but always to new, refreshing and exciting ways in which we can cooperate in the unfolding of his great and loving plan.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Maximillian Kolbe

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
14 August 2019, 9:32 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saint Maximillian Kolbe, a Polish-born priest, a Conventual Franciscan who was imprisoned and died in the German death camp at Auschwitz during the second World War.

The gospel passage appointed for today's liturgical celebration focuses on the words of Jesus: ... love one another as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends (Jn 15:12-13).  The life of Saint Maximillian helps us to understand these words more clearly.  At a time in history when people were being persecuted for their belief in God, he promoted the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and founded a monastery in Warsaw.  At a time in history when intellectuals were being suppressed, he operated an amateur radio station which he used to spread the gospel.

At this moment in history, we too face challenges if we aim to follow the advice that was outlined by Jesus: a call to love one another as he has loved us ... willingly, radically and unreservedly.  Not all of us are called to lay down our lives for others, but all of us are called to love.  If Jesus could love us to the point of giving his life for us, and if saints like Maximillian have shown us that it is possible to follow Jesus' example, to what point would we be willing to go in order to live our faith?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Greatest

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

One of the marks that distinguishes a good teacher is an ability to explain very complicated concepts in simple terms.  This is not easy to do, but it is one way that we can identify those who truly understand.  Jesus is one such teacher.  The gospel accounts point out many occasions when he spoke about very complicated concepts using words and examples that made these ideas come alive in the hearts of those who heard him speak.

In today's gospel passage, the disciples pose a question: Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? (Mt 18:1), and Jesus surprises them by explaining that greatness - in the kingdom - will not be measured by any degree of physical accomplishment, but rather by our ability to become like children (Mt 18:3).  In other words, it will not be enough to simply be able to explain the kingdom in language that children can understand; we ourselves must become like them.

Saint John Paul II often told us that we should all strive for heaven.  If this is true - and we should all believe it to be so - then we should constantly strive not only to know about Jesus, but to know him.  Our God is constantly seeking opportunities to meet us - in prayer, in other people and in the circumstances of our lives - and he rejoices when we come to him like little children seeking to place our trust in him.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Overwhelmed

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
12 August 2019, 8:06 am
Good morning everyone,

In today's gospel passage (Mt 17:22-27), we have a glimpse into the intimate words that Jesus shared with his disciples.  Those twelve were not so different from us, for when Jesus said to them: The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him ... (Mt 17:22-23), they were overwhelmed with grief.

We too are overwhelmed at times when we consider all the suffering that we encounter: people who are experiencing fears and doubts, others who are grieving, still others who seem to have any myriad of questions, all of which demand attention, even if they cannot be adequately answered in a satisfactory length of time.  Just as the disciples contemplated what it might be like to face the world without Jesus at their side, we too must at times entertain such thoughts.  If we have begun to experience life with Jesus, we will never want to be deprived of his company.

When we find ourselves having to face situations that seem to overwhelm us, let us turn confidently toward Jesus.  Let us ask him to remain close to us and to always remind us that he was raised on the third day (Mt 17:23).  This was and always will be the conclusion of the Christian story: he suffered, he died and he was raised on the third day.  What an eloquent source of hope this is for us and for all those who are searching.

Have a great day.

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