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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

His Word Today: Saint Thomas Aquinas

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
28 January 2020, 8:02 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), an Italian-born Dominican friar who distinguished himself as a philosopher, a theologian and a jurist.  The name Aquinas identifies his ancestral origins in the county of Aquino in present-day Lazio, Italy. Unlike many currents in the Church of the time, Thomas embraced several ideas put forward by Aristotle—whom he called the Philosopher—and attempted to synthesize Aristotelian philosophy with the principles of Christianity.

It seems somewhat fitting that on the occasion of such a feast day, the scriptures present us with a moment when we need to ponder the scene that unfolds in order to uncover the wisdom that is being revealed.  The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house. Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him.  A crowd seated around him told him, 'Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.'  But he said to them in reply, 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' (Mk 3:31-32).  Only at this moment does the full meaning of Jesus' teaching come to light.  He says: ... whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother (Mk 3:35).

What appear at first glance to be a reproach directed toward Mary and the disciples is actually a word of high praise, for she showed us (and she has continued to show us) how we can all live as disciples of Jesus: ... whoever does the will of God ... is my brother and sister and mother.

May Saint Thomas help us today to identify all those who, like Mary, are faithful disciples: those who show us how to do the will of God, and encourage us to do the same.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Angela Merici

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
27 January 2020, 7:51 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Angela Merici (21 March 1474 - 27 January 1540), who was born on a farm near the small town of Desenzano del Garda (Lombardy, Italy).  Following the death of her parents and her only sister, she joined the Third Order of Saint Francis.  A deeply spiritual woman, she had a vision in which she learned that she was to found an association of virgins who would dedicate their lives to the religious training of young girls.  Like the scribes in today's gospel passage (Mk 3:22-30), Angela would have questioned the source of this inspiration, but eventually came to believe it to be of God.  Proof of this truth came to light in the fact that the association was such a success that she was invited to start another school in the neighbouring city of Brescia.

On 25 November 1535, Angela gathered in a small house near the church of Saint Afra in Brescia, along with 12 young women who had joined in her work,  There, they committed themselves in the founding of the Company of St Ursula, placed under the protection of the patroness of medieval universities. Their goal was to elevate family life through the Christian education of future wives and mothers. They were the first teaching order of women religious.

Merici taught her companions to be consecrated to God and dedicated to the service of their neighbour, but to remain in the world, teaching the girls of their own neighbourhoods, and practicing a religious form of life in their own homes. The members wore no special habit and took no formal religious vows. Merici wrote a Rule of Life for the group, which specified the practice of celibacy, poverty and obedience in their own homes. The Ursulines opened orphanages and schools, first in the region around Brescia and later in various places throughout the world.

Saint Angela, who listened to the call of the Lord to be of service to those in need can help us today to be attentive to the Lord's inspiration.  It is He who always brings to light the situations in which He needs us to say yes.

Have a great day.

A great light

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
26 January 2020, 8:24 pm
All around the world, the Church is celebrating today the very first observance of the Word of God Sunday.  This is an initiative that Pope Francis has entrusted to the whole Church so that together, the Christian community will focus on the great value that the Word of God has in our daily lives (Aperuit illis, 2).  For many years, in various parts of the world, efforts have been put forward to help people to grow in their appreciation for the Word of God as an inspiration for our prayer and as a means of motivating us to carry out good works.  Therefore, this new emphasis, which will be highlighted each year on the third Sunday of Ordinary Time, is meant to help revive the responsibility of all believers to be knowledgeable in Sacred Scripture and to keep it alive through committed efforts to pass on the Word to future generations and to foster their understanding this Word which is capable of giving meaning to the life of the Church in the different conditions in which she finds herself.

Because the Word of God Sunday will always be observed on the third Sunday of Ordinary Time, it will also have great value for ecumenism: the ongoing dialogue between the Catholic Church and other Christian faith traditions.  As you know, we are concluding the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity today.  Obviously, it is not a mere coincidence that the Word of God Sunday is observed in such proximity to this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  Rather, it is the fruit of a choice that is intended to mark a further step in ecumenical dialogue, placing the Word of God at the very heart of the commitment that Christians are call to make every day.

Last weekend, we mandated new Lectors for this parish.  I thought about postponing that moment until this weekend in order to further emphasize the importance of the Word of God in the midst of our weekly assembly, but perhaps it is enough that we should recall that beautiful moment when our brothers and sisters said yes to the invitation to proclaim the Word of God in the midst of this assembly.

The significance of today's celebration is also echoed in the words that we have heard proclaimed today.  The prophet Isaiah says: the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light (Is 9:2), the psalmist reminds us that the Lord is my light and my salvation (Ps 27:1), and the gospel account demonstrates that even for those who sat in the region and shadow of death, a light has dawned (Mt 12:16).  This light that helps and guides us as we make our way through life is the Word of God, a word that is living and active, a word that is just as alive today as it was when it was first proclaimed.

Day after day, at every gathering of God's people, we listen to this Word and we pray that this Word will take root in our hearts so that our lives may be perfumed with its odour and so that we may live by its guidance.  Not everyone is able to be present for every moment at which the Word of God is proclaimed in this place, but we are all capable of reading the Word of God on our own.  It only takes a few moments; we only need to read a few words, or a few lines each day.  If we do, we will discover more and more the truth that Saint Paul speaks today: the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God (1 Cor 1:18).

His Word Today: Saint Francis de Sales

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
24 January 2020, 7:11 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales (21 August 1567 - 28 December 1622).  Known for his deep faith and his gentle approach to dealing with the religious divisions of his day as a result of the Protestant Reformation, this Bishop of Geneva (Switzerland) is also known for his writings on the subjects of spiritual direction and spiritual formation.

Today's gospel passage (Mk 3:13-19) points to a moment in Jesus' life when he too had to seek direction and inspiration in prayer before appointing twelve of his disciples whom he also named apostles (those who are sent) (cf Mk 3:14).  Any of us who are called upon from time to time to make decisions can understand that this must not have been an easy task for Jesus to accomplish.  Rather, he had to pray, to seek heavenly wisdom and to allow himself to be inspired by it in order to make informed and wise decisions about who he would call and send.

This truth still holds for us today.  Like Jesus, we too need to pray for heavenly guidance, especially when we are faced with important decisions.  Perhaps in such situations, we can also call upon Saint Francis de Sales, asking him to inspire us with the gifts of direction and formation so that we too can be wise in carrying out the tasks that the Lord asks us to accept.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Crowds

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
23 January 2020, 7:38 am
Good morning everyone,

It is curious to note that in today's gospel passage, Mark describes great crowds of people who came to Jesus.  They followed him from Galilee ad from Judea ... they came from Jerusalem, from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and from the neighbourhood of Tyre and Sidon (Mk 3:7-8).  In fact, it even seems that Jesus had to ask the disciples to implement some crowd control (cf Mk 3:9).

We were not physically present to see those crowds, but many of us may recall the vast crowds that gathered to listen to the preaching of Pope John Paul II at any of the many World Youth Day gatherings he hosted, and other such gatherings that have followed since his death have been just as impressive.  Such crowds only assemble in order to listen to words that are compelling.  The speaker must have a message to impart, and that message must be relevant in order to reach vast numbers of people.

If we were among the crowds that gathered to listen to Jesus, what kinds of questions would we have in our hearts?  What kinds of answers would we be seeking?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Vincent, Deacon

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
22 January 2020, 7:43 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the third-century deacon named Vincent, otherwise known as Vincent of Saragossa. He was born at Huesca, near Saragossa, Spain and spent most of his life in the city of Saragossa, where he was educated and ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Valerius of Saragossa.  The Bishop commissioned Vincent to preach throughout the diocese, and because he (the Bishop) himself suffered from a speech impediment, Vincent acted as his spokesman.

During the persecution of Christians which was carried out by the Roman Emperor Diocletian, Vincent and his Bishop were both imprisoned.  Both continued to profess their faith, even when to do so meant that they would be severely punished.  In the case of Vincent, such a decision led to his ultimate martyrdom, but his example of care for his brother provides us with a living example of the words spoken in the gospel today: when Jesus entered the synagogue, there was a man there who had a withered hand (Mk 3:1).  Despite the discouraging words offered by the leaders of the time, Jesus healed the man, a sign of his concern for his brother.

Concern for those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ can sometimes challenge us to make some difficult decisions, but in the end, to do so is to act according to the example of Jesus himself.  May Saint Vincent of Saragossa intercede for us today and help us to always place the needs of others ahead of our own perceived desires.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Agnes

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
21 January 2020, 7:24 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, we remember and pray with Saint Agnes, a young girl who lived at the end of the third century and the beginning of the fourth century after Christ.  Agnes (from the Latin agnus, which means lamb), was born circa 291 AD in Rome and she died a Martyr's death on 21 January 304 AD during the persecution of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

To this day, Agnes is venerated most especially in Rome where, on this day every year, lambs are presented to the Holy Father.  The Pope blesses them and then they are shorn.  The wool from the sheep that are blessed is then returned to the Holy Father and woven into the pallia - the woollen scarves that will be worn by those who will be appointed as Metropolitan Archbishops in the coming year.

This tangible link with the faith that was lived by Saint Agnes and by others who have endeavoured to live out the faith that has always been inspired by God, and made known to us in the love of Jesus Christ helps us to keep before us the words of advice that we hear today in the gospel of Mark: The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath (Mk 2:28).  Let us ask Saint Agnes to help us today to live as people of faith, seeking to be able to recognize the goodness of God that is all around us and giving thanks for the gift of a loving God who is so attentive to our needs.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saints Fabian and Sebastian

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
20 January 2020, 5:47 am
Good morning everyone,

Anyone who has launched a new project or tried to implement a new way of doing things may be familiar with the fact that not everyone we encounter will welcome the novelty of such approaches.  In fact, it takes a little while - and sometimes a lot of patience - for people to see the wisdom of new approaches and to turn away from established routines.  In the meanwhile, they will often challenge new ideas, sometimes inflicting much pain and suffering, whether or not such suffering is an intended outcome.

We see evidence of this truth in the gospel passage for today's Mass. The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fasting.  People came to Jesus and objected: 'Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?' (Mk 2:18)  The people's curiosity can even be interpreted as a kind of judgement.  Many of us would perhaps question our motives, unless of course there was another, clearly defined truth unfolding, which was the point that Jesus wanted to emphasize: New wine is poured into fresh wine skins (Mk 2:22).

New approaches can often be surprising.  New, fresh ways of looking at situations can often provide opportunities for renewed and invigorated approaches.  Such was the case with both of the Saints who are celebrated today.

The early Church experienced great persecution.  Many questions were asked by those who were unfamiliar with the new Way, but the Holy Spirit has constantly been at work, and therefore God has continually been surprising us with new approaches.  In the early part of 236 AD, Fabian had come to Rome while elections were being held for a new Pope. Although he was present, Fabian was in the mind of none of the electors, yet according to the story, after 13 days of the conclave, a dove suddenly descended upon the head of Fabian. To the assembled electors, this strange sight recalled the gospel scene of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at the time of his baptism by John the Baptist and Fabian was elected by acclamation.

After the death of Saint Fabian, there came another example of commitment to the novelty of the faith: this time in the person of Saint Sebastian (256-288 AD).  In 283, he entered the army at Rome and eventually became one of the Praetorian Guards, all the while keeping secret the fact that he himself was a Christian.  Because of his unwillingness to sacrifice to the Roman gods, as was the practice of the time, he was arrested and sentenced to death.  Once again, Sebastian's insistence on a new way led to great suspicion and suffering but ultimately, his conviction led him to gain the martyr's crown.

May these two venerated men continue to intercede for us today, inspiring us to be aware of the ways in which the Holy Spirit is still calling us today to something new.

Have a great day.

Beginning

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
19 January 2020, 8:07 am
Having now completed the liturgical season of Christmas, today, we mark the beginning of Ordinary Time.  It is perhaps fitting that the gospel passage we have just heard places us with John the Baptist, reflecting on the encounter he had when Jesus was baptized.  The words of the gospel make it sound as though John is telling the story to someone after it has already taken place: I saw Jesus coming toward me and remarked to those who were nearby: I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel (Jn 1:31).

The baptism of Jesus is a fitting image for our reflection today because this Sacrament transforms us and makes us children of God, a new creation.  For as long as we live, we are constantly discovering the meaning of this truth.  Baptism is a Sacrament of rebirth through which we receive graces from God in order for us to set out on the journey of faith.

During the liturgy today, we will call forward and mandate a number of our brothers and sisters who have responded to the call of the Lord to share their talents and gifts with us: some of them will proclaim the Word of God in the weekly assembly and others will assist with the distribution of the Eucharist, the Bread of Life.  Each of these is a call from God; from the moment of our Baptism, he is constantly calling to us, encouraging us to recognize the talents and gifts with which we have been graced,  and encouraging us to use these gifts in order to share the joy of our faith with others.

The first reading we heard today says it this way: The Lord said to me: 'You are my servant ... in whom I will be glorified' (Is 49:3), but the Lord goes on to say: I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach the end of the earth (Is 49:6).  Our God is glorified when we use the gifts he has entrusted to us in order to serve others.  In this way, we share the light of our faith, and do what we can to spread the good news of the gospel.

This weekend marks the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  Throughout this coming week, there will be a variety of moments set aside in various places throughout the world when people of various Christian traditions will gather to pray together.  Even if we are not able to take part in any formal sessions, we can all join our prayers, asking the Lord to renew within us the grace of our Baptism.  All Christians share a common Baptism.  Even though we may pray in different ways, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, all looking forward to the day when we will once again be able to stand around the same Eucharistic table and share the Lord's meal together.

In the meanwhile, we can ask Saint Paul to pray for the grace of unity among all Christians.  May he who was called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus (1 Cor 1:1) ... intercede for us so that together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:2), we may be living signs of the grace we seek and the peace that we hope for as gifts from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

His Word Today: Speaking

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
17 January 2020, 7:13 am
Good morning everyone,

Have you ever wondered what it was like to sit at Jesus' feet ... to hear him teaching?  Perhaps you have had the experience of being in the presence of an extremely good teacher, one who manages to capture your attention and hold on to it.  One who knows you well enough to be aware of the moments when you are paying attention and the times when you are not, or the things that will excite you and the things that you find boring.

Jesus was a good teacher, one of those who knew how to hold the attention of those who were listening, one who knew how to speak to the issues that were important or pressing on the minds and hearts of those who were listening.  This is the reason why many gathered together so that there was no longer any room for them, not even around the door (Mk 2:2).

If you were one of those who was gathered around the door and trying listen to Jesus' words, what would you be hearing?  Would Jesus words be intriguing?  Have you ever considered the fact that others are always listening to what we say?  Do they find what we say intriguing?  How can we give life to those who hear our words?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Pity

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

The gospel passage for today begins by setting the scene: Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand to heal the leper (Mk 1:41).  The heart of our God is infinitely capable of compassion.  When we are weak, our God provides the strength that we need.  Even when our desire to help others overwhelms our physical capacity, our God is still willing and able to restore us.

I do will it; be made clean!  With a word, Jesus restored that man to wholeness.  In the same way, with a word, he is capable of restoring us to wholeness.  All we need to do is to call out for help, but first, we must be aware of our need.

The leper called out for help because he hoped that Jesus would be able to restore him to wholeness.  What prayer do we raise to heaven?  Like that leper, we too must learn to trust that our prayer will be heard.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Deserted

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
15 January 2020, 8:16 pm
Good morning everyone,

The gospel passage for today places Jesus at the end of his visit to the synagogue in Capernaum.  There are many actions described in Saint Mark's telling but I want to focus today on one line that appears near the end of the passage.  After having encountered Simon's mother-in-law, and having met many others later that evening, Jesus went to bed.  He rose early the next morning, left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed (Mk 1:35).

Such moments of recollection appear at various times throughout the scriptures.  We can only imagine what those times were like, but we know that for Jesus, they were precious moments when he could pause, pray and be strengthened.  Like him, we too need to seek out such moments for ourselves, otherwise we run the risk of quickly exhausting our energy.

Do we regularly take time to go off to a deserted place?  Do we take time to be present to Jesus and to be aware of the ways in which Jesus is present to us?  Are we aware of the energy that we draw from the practice of regularly spending time in the presence of Jesus?  Somehow, it seems that when we are faithful to this practice, we always have enough energy, creativity ... and we are able to welcome others with patience and with love.

Have a great day.

Rooted in Mission

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
12 January 2020, 8:29 am
Throughout the Christmas season, we have witnessed a number of moments at which God has surprised us: a virgin was chosen to conceive and a respectable young man was put to the test when he was invited to take on the role of foster father to the Son of God; our God came to us not in the form of an intellectual, but rather in the form of a child; that precious child was born not in luxury but rather in a stable; the first visitors were shepherds, those who were among the least regarded people in society; and strangers from the Far East came bearing gifts.  Today, we see the final part of this scene: the Baptism of the Lord.

As with all of the other key moments in the story of the nativity, the Baptism of Jesus also included its own share of surprises.  Jesus did not claim any level of privilege for himself; instead, he took his place in line, along with all the others who were coming to John at the Jordan to be baptized (Mt 3:13).  In fact, it was John who most most surprised to find Jesus standing in the river.  When he arrived, the shock was evident in John's voice.  He said: I need to be baptized by you ... (Mt 3:14).  Yet, Jesus' appearance at the Jordan was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophesy: Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights (Is 42:1; Mt 3:17).

Jesus' public ministry began on the day when he was baptized.  In the same way, each one of us who has been baptized has also been sent out on mission.  Our mission in life is to share the good news: to tell others about how God anointed Jesus ... with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed (Acts 10:38).

Parents who have brought their children to the Church and asked for them to be baptized accepted a responsibility to share this good news with their children, but all of us have the same responsibility to tell others about God, about the love that God has for each of us, about how God anointed Jesus, and about the good deeds that Jesus did while he was here on earth.  Our grandparents shared this news with us, our parents also helped us to grow in our knowledge of God, and hopefully we ourselves have known the great privilege of being aware of God's presence and blessings in our lives.

Many of us might have grown up with a concept of God as a supreme being who is far away from us, but in truth, our God is very close to us, always seeking new ways to surprise us.  When we are baptized, we begin our lives in faith.  At the same time, our mission to share the good news also begins.  It takes a while for us to learn this good news, to experience it for ourselves, but only after we have encountered the joy of knowing Jesus can we share this good news with others.  How have we experienced this joy in our lives, and how have we shared this joy with others?

His Word Today: Everyone

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 January 2020, 7:13 am
Good morning everyone,

We profess that Jesus came from heaven as the gift of God to his beloved people, in order to save us from our sins.  The gospels recount many occasions where Jesus met with people who were considered to be excluded from society, but people who always remained precious in the eyes of God.  Evidence of this appears in today's gospel passage, where Jesus encounters a man who is filled with leprosy (Lk 5:12-16).

The man cries out: Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean (Lk 5:12) and Jesus response demonstrates warmth and willingness: I do will it; be made clean (Lk 5:13).  I wonder - and we are not told - whether there were ever cases of Jesus encountering such prayers, where the cries went unheeded.

Jesus only asked one thing in response to his generosity: Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed (Lk 5:14).  Even today, we live within an established code of conduct, an established value system.  Jesus never sought to ignore the rules, merely to show us another way that is focused on love.  Even today, he continues to call us to this standard: inviting us and encouraging us always to live by love, love for everyone.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: What?

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
9 January 2020, 8:05 am
Good morning everyone,

Today's gospel passage begins at a moment when Jesus returned to Galilee ... News of him spread throughout the whole region (Lk 4:14).  What was that encounter like?  People heard that he had arrived.  Had they also heard about miracles that he had performed in other places?  Were they happy to see him?

Eventually he arrived in Nazareth where he had grown up, and went ... into the synagogue on the Sabbath day (Lk 4:16).  How many faces did he see there ... familiar faces, or people he had once known but hadn't encountered for quite some time?  Was he excited about catching up with them, spending time?  Sometimes, people who haven't seen each other for years can meet and soon feel as though no time has passed at all ... and at other times, they are like strangers who have grown so far apart that they can no longer find anything in common.

Jesus had changed since the last time he was home.  Having proclaimed the words of the passage from the Book of the prophet Isaiah (Lk 4:18-19), he then spoke a few words that must have shocked at least some of those who heard them: this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing (Lk 4:21).  Could they see that something was different?

Have we ever met someone after not seeing them for a long time?  Is there someone you haven't seen for a while who you would like to meet?  How do you envision the conversation unfolding?  Imagine having such a conversation with Jesus?  Would it be any different?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Courage

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
8 January 2020, 7:39 am
Good morning everyone,

The gospel passage used for today's Mass describes a moment when the disciples had been separated from the physical presence of Jesus.  Having set sail upon the sea, they encountered a storm. The wind was against them and they were being tossed about while rowing (cf Lk 6:48).  Anyone who has been caught in such a storm will know how terrifying it is to lose control.

As the story continues, Jesus appears in their midst, calling out to them: Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid! (Mk 6:50).  These words are significant because whenever we are discouraged, filled with questions or doubting, the Lord is always close to us, ready and willing to reassure us and to strengthen our faith.

We are only too aware of our own weaknesses, but it helps to be reminded from time to time of the fact that the Lord is always on our side, always waiting to encourage our hearts.  Let us entrust ourselves to him today and ask him to grant us the courage to be his disciples.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint André of Montreal

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
7 January 2020, 7:35 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates Saint André of Montreal (9 August 1848 - 6 January 1937), a lay brother who was part of the Congregation of the Holy Cross (CSC) and lived in Montreal (Quebec).  Despite his physical frailty, André's holiness was recognized by the pastor of his parish who noticed his devotion and generosity.  He sent Andre to the Order along with a note that said: I'm sending you a saint.

Having been accepted into the Order, André was given the task of porter at the Collège-Notre-Dame.  While also serving as sacristan, laundry worker and messenger within the community, his primary role was to greet those who came knocking at the door.  He never lost his sense of humour.  Often, he would say to those who asked: When I joined the community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained for 40 years.

Over those many years, André's compassion was demonstrated to thousands who would come to meet him.  They would share with him their struggles and joys, they would ask him to pray with them, and many of them would be rewarded with miraculous signs confirming their faith.

The gospel passage for today's Mass also speaks of the gift of compassion: When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them (Mk 6:34).  The same was true for Brother André, and the same can also be true for us.

Let us ask the Lord to bless us today with the great gift of compassion.  Inspired by the lived example of the Doorkeeper of Montreal, may we learn to love one another more deeply and to selflessly care for one another.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: New

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
6 January 2020, 7:39 am
Good morning everyone,

Saint Matthew's gospel tells us today that when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee (Mt 4:12).  We believe that Jesus knew John.  He was most certainly aware of the work that John was doing.  I have often wondered whether at the time when John was arrested, perhaps Jesus questioned his own call.  The scripture says only that he withdrew to Galilee - that he moved to a new place.

It would seem that having moved to Capernaum, he began his public ministry, calling others to repentance, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel and curing diseases (cf Mt 4:13, 23).  News of John's arrest must have saddened Jesus, but he did not let such sadness deter him from carrying out his mission, and neither should we.

God has a plan for each of us.  We will never ultimately be able to find our true fulfillment in anything earthly.  Rather, God will always show us the way: the places where we need to be, the people we need to encounter and the words that we need to speak.  When we open our hearts to him and allow him to lead us, our mission will be made clear and we ourselves will discover the joy of living as His disciples.

Have a great day.

Arise and shine

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
5 January 2020, 1:20 pm
Across the limits of time, the prophet Isaiah calls out to us today: Arise, shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you! (Is 60:1).  Throughout the Christmas season, we have been remembering and celebrating the great gift that our God sent to us.  The light of God's presence came to us in the form of a child and the glory of God has risen upon us.

Today, we hear some more of the story: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem ... wise men from the East came to Jerusalem in search of the child.  They had observed his star at its rising and had come to pay him homage (Mt 2:1-2).  Those visitors from the East were astrologers, people whose function was to look for signs in the stars; once they had discovered the sign of the star, they needed to follow it, to find the Messiah.  Arriving in Jerusalem, they went first to Herod - the Magi expected that the star would lead them to the new king and therefore they went in search of the king within Herod's palace, but when King Herod heard the news, he was frightened (Mt 1:3) for he saw this new king as a threat to his own power.

In the child Jesus, the visitors from the East recognized the fulfillment of God's promise; they were filled with love and showered Jesus with signs of that love in the form of the precious gifts they had brought with them (cf Mt 1:11), yet the greatest gift was the one that God shared with us: the child, his own son, the promised Messiah, the light that rose upon us, the light that has been guiding us all out of darkness.

This light dispels the darkness that results from the misguided words of those who seek only their own desires.  The Magi were able to lift up their eyes and look around (Is 60:4) in order to see beyond the cunning but short-sighted demands that Herod placed upon them.  Like those visitors, the love of our god helps us to face our own fears, to move beyond our own temptations to become confused by the voices of this world and to discover instead the light of His love that will never deceive us.

The encounter of the visitors from the East shows us that God sent his Son not only for the sake of a few, but so that all people might be enlightened by his presence.  As Saint Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians, we have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise of Christ Jesus (Eph 3:6).  The light of God's love shines upon all the world.  He came among us so that we could all come to know that each one of us is precious to Him, for every one of us is a child of God.  This is the good news that we have come to know.  This is the good news that we must share with those we meet every day.

His Word Today: Holy Name of Jesus

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
3 January 2020, 7:45 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Most Holy Name of Jesus.  The veneration of sacred names has been observed since the time of early Christianity but veneration of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
developed as a separate type of devotion in the Early Modern period (approximately 1500 AD to 1800 AD).  Official observance of this feast dates back to 1530 AD.

Today's gospel passage provides an example of one who venerated the Holy Name of Jesus.  John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said: 'Behold the Lamb of God ... A man who is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me (Jn 1:29-30). These are the words of one who already enjoys a relationship with God, perhaps one who has already developed a prayer life.

Like John, each of us is also invited to enter into a relationship with Jesus: including frequent moments of prayer when we listen in faith to the voice of God who loves us.  God was made known in the person of Jesus, who came among us in the form of a little child.  This is the joyful news that was proclaimed to the shepherds, the news that we celebrate every year at Christmas.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saints Basil and Gregory

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
2 January 2020, 8:06 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, both of whom were Bishops and Doctors of the Church (a title awarded them because of their distinguished teachings).

Saints Basil and Gregory were actually life-long friends, first as university students in Athens and later as monks.  They were both important teachers of the Eastern Church and both came from Cappadocia in what is now Central Turkey and hence they are known as Theologians of the Cappadocian School.

Basil was born in 330 AD.  Following his studies he became a monk and a hermit before he was consecrated Bishop of Caesarea (Modern-day Kayseri) in his native Cappadocia.  He was not only a theologian but a very pastoral bishop and deeply concerned with the plight of the poor.  He produced a monastic rule, known as the Basilian Rule which is followed everywhere by monks and nuns of the Eastern Church.  He died in 379 at the relatively early age of 49.

Gregory was born in the town of Nazianzus, also in Cappadocia and also about 330 AD.  He was the son of a bishop and, like Basil joined the monastic life.  He was ordained a priest relatively late in life.  He was first made bishop of an out of the way town called Sasima but later was asked to go to Constantinople to restore harmony to the community there following the divisions of the Arian heresy.  In this he was very successful.  In later life, Gregory retired to the – for him – more congenial life of study and prayer in a rural setting.  He died in 389.

Both Basil and Gregory were deeply involved in dealing with the Arian heresy, so named after Arius, a monk from Alexandria in northern Egypt, who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ.  It was Basil’s teaching in particular which influenced the Council of Constantinople (381) in revising the Nicaean Creed of 325 into the form we now use on Sundays and feasts.

Have a great day.

Amazement and pondering

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
1 January 2020, 6:59 pm
Today's gospel passage begins with a description of the encounter that took place between the shepherds and the child Jesus.  When they found the child, the shepherds made known what they had been told about him, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them (Lk 2:17).  Then, the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen (Lk 2:20), but Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart (Lk 2:19).

The act of pondering - prayerfully experiencing these moments and considering each of them as another occasion to comprehend the great mystery that was unfolding - was Mary's way of continually marvelling at the gift she had been given.  The encounter with the shepherds was yet another opportunity for her to relive her yes: the word she had spoken in answer to the angel's invitation, and there were other such moments too: moments at which she pondered, experiences she did not fully comprehend, but moments at which she recalled her yes, and said yes once again.

Mary gave birth to the one we call the Prince of Peace in the midst of a world where there was much conflict and suffering.  Amidst her pondering, she must have wondered how this mystery would unfold.  How could this needy infant cradled in her arms, born in a dark and lowly manger, be the Son of the Most High, the King of Kings who would sit upon the throne of David?  Could it be possible that such a fragile being could be the author of all blessings (cf Num 6:22-27)?

Despite these contradictions, Mary's pondering remained faithful.  She constantly returned to her total acceptance, her yes to love and to serve God.  Her peaceful and trusting spirit bowed freely to the will of God.  As the first disciple, ready to serve the Light of the world, even in the midst of apparent darkness, Mary shows us all how, even in uncertain times, we can anchor our faith and hope in the living God.

Today, we honour Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and we celebrate the World Day of Peace.  Brothers and sisters, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son ... in order to redeem those who were subject to the law (Gal 4:4-5).  May God's peace be ours today.  Together, let us ponder and treasure the peace that Christ brings into our lives through the love and compassion of others.  Like Mary, may we be disciples of peace, faithful to Christ's yes offered to us, and to our yes, offered to God.

His Word Today: Speak

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
30 December 2019, 8:57 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the gospel presents the figure of Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher (Lk 2:36).  By the time we encounter her here, she has lived most of her earthly lifetime: having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage and then as a widow until the age of eighty four (Lk 2:36-37).  All through these years, she had waited for this moment, and finally it had arrived.  Did she know that she would meet such important visitors that day?

... coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem (Lk 2:38).  The encounter Anna had that day with the child Jesus and with his parents filled her with joy.  This is the same joy that we experience when we encounter the living God, and this is the same joy that excites and motivates us to give thanks to God.  Filled with the joy of having encountered Jesus in prayer, we are equally filled with an overwhelming desire to speak about Him to all those we meet.

Today, Anna shows us a wonderful example of evangelization.  Let us ask her to pray with us today, together, let us ask the Lord to allow us the great privilege of encountering Him, of being filled once again with the great joy of knowing that He is near ... and let us also ask the Lord to plant within our hearts a desire to speak about Him with those we meet today.

Have a great day.

Take care of each other

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
29 December 2019, 8:18 am
Any of us who have children can perhaps remember a time when they were very young, a time when you would put them to bed, and then before you yourself went to bed, you would tiptoe into your children's rooms - even hours after they had already been sleeping - just to be sure that they were there.  You might have been home all evening.  Logically, you knew that they were asleep in their beds.  You knew that they were there, but until you could see for yourselves that they were safe - just one more time - you yourself would not be able to sleep.  This is the protective instinct of all parents.

Can you imagine what must have gone through Saint Joseph's mind when, after Jesus had been born, another angel appeared to him late in the night and confirmed his worst fear: that his child was in mortal danger, and that he would have to take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt (Mt 2:13).  This was not merely a case of hiding his family, but of uprooting them, abandoning his work, their friends ... and fleeing to a foreign land so that his child would be safe.  Like any parent, Joseph got up instantly, took the child and his mother in the middle of the night and went away (cf Mt 2:14).

In order to protect his child, Joseph chose to give up everything and to become a refugee in a strange land.  All parents want what Saint Joseph wanted: to provide a safe home for their children.  Sometimes they are forced to flee great dangers and even to become refugees in order to do so.  Others are more fortunate: they can stay in their homes and protect their children by ensuring access to clean air, pure water, nourishing food, a good education and a future that is filled with hope.

Later in life, adults sometimes look back upon their own childhoods with gratitude for the ways in which their parents cared for them.  As our parents increase in age, the words of today's first reading take on a deeper meaning: My child, says Sirach, help your father in his old age ... even if his mind fails, be patient with him (Sir 3:12-13).

The wisdom of the scriptures reminds us that not only should parents care for their children, but children should also honour their fathers and respect their mothers (cf Sir 3:3-4).  With the example of Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary to help us, we are all called to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience (Col 3:12) so that we can care for one another out of love at all stages of life.

A living Gospel

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
25 December 2019, 8:18 am
The gospel passage that we have heard concludes with the words spoken by the shepherds: Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us (Lk 2:15).  Like them, we too have come to gather around the manger.  Gazing upon the images that we find here helps us to contemplate the great miracle that took place so many years ago.  Our Holy Father has referred to the manger scene as a living gospel rising up from the pages of sacred Scripture (Apostolic Letter, Admirabile signum, 1).

These figurines stand still, and yet they recall the truth of a moment in time when our ancestors in faith, who walked in darkness had seen a great light (Is 9:2) and we have been walking in the light of faith ever since.  It is good for us to recall the story, to remember the details of that night, for even today, we are still living out its fulfillment.

At the centre of the manger scene, we find the figures of Mary and Joseph.  The decree issued by Caesar Augustus had compelled them to travel from their home in Nazareth to the city of David (cf Lk 2:4), a journey that would have taken them at least three days.  Worn out from the journey, Mary gave birth to her firstborn son (Lk 2:7).  If we look closely at the figure of Mary, we will find a mother who contemplates her child and shows him to every visitor (AS, 7).  We can almost hear the words of her response to the angel's invitation: Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; be it done ... according to your word (Lk 1:38).  Mary shows us all how to abandon ourselves in faith to God's will.

At Mary's side, we find the figure of Joseph.  The figurine in our manger scene portrays him holding a hat.  As he gazes upon the child, it is as though he is also hearing the words that were spoken to him by the angel: She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins (Mt 1:21).  Joseph is usually thought of as the guardian who tirelessly protected the Holy Family, but at that particular moment, I wonder whether he himself was perplexed, wondering how he was going to fulfill the role that God was calling him to play.  There are many young fathers and mothers who know that feeling of worry only too well.  Young parents are often filled with joy at the birth of their children, but at the same time, they can be overcome with concern and worry for the future in which their children will live.  We can all look to Saint Joseph and ask him to help us to look to the future with hope.

Once the statuette of the infant Jesus is placed in the manger, the entire scene comes alive.  God appears to us in the form of a child.  Hidden in weakness and frailty, he conceals his great power of his love, a love that he reveals by smiling and by opening his arms to all of us (cf AS, 8).  In this newborn infant, the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all of us (Titus 2:11).  The manger scene is a snapshot of our lives too.  In these images, we dare to seek and to find reasons for hope and for joy.  These are the eternal gifts that are offered by our God.  Let us celebrate and give thanks.

Wesołych Świąt
Feliz Natal
Giáng sinh vui vẻ
Feliz Navidad
Fröhliche Weihnachten
Nadolig Llawen
Buon Natale
Joyeux Noël
Merry Christmas

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