S+L logo

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 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.

Preparing through work and play

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
11 August 2019, 8:14 am
These days of warmth and sunshine permit us to change our routines a little bit.  Adults take time for some rest and relaxation, we learn to re-create and we may even take time to play.  No matter what age we are, it is always good to allow ourselves a bit of time for unstructured play: it allows children to act out their favorite stories and to recreate the adventures of their heroines and heroes.  Such unstructured activities have a purpose: they provide us with the opportunity to prepare ourselves for our future.

From one Sunday to the next, we are invited to reflect on what the future will hold.  We do this through stories, parables and lessons that we hear in this place.  The Book of Wisdom, from which we read today, tells us of a people who were enslaved in Egypt, yet were preparing for a new life that was to come.  These people trusted in the promises of God for the deliverance of the righteous and the destruction of their enemies.  Even before their release from bondage, already they were singing the praises of the ancestors (Wis 18:6-9).  How often do we give thanks for the holy people who have preceded us, shared the gift of faith with us and helped us to grow in our own faith?

The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us of the lives of great women and men of the Old Testament.  It shows us how their faith sustained them no matter what challenges they faced.  Abraham continued to believe, even when he was asked to sacrifice his only son (cf Heb 11:8-10).  Have we developed such wholehearted trust in God?

Luke's parables about the alert slaves and the faithful manager (cf Lk 12:35-40) call us to be ready for whatever may come.  Where is our treasure?  Where is our heart?  These weekly passages and our daily actions, whether at play or at work, continually help us to live God's word.

His Word Today: Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
9 August 2019, 7:46 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (born Edith Stein).  On the day when he beatified her, Saint John Paul II said of her that she was an outstanding daughter of Israel and at the same time a daughter of the Carmelite Order.  In her rich life, she united a rich synthesis of the past century: a synthesis filled with deep wounds ... and the full truth about mankind (Homily for the Beatification of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, 1 May 1987).

Edith Stein was born in Breslau (Germany) on 12 October 1891, the youngest of 11 children.  Her birth coincided with Yom Kippur, the most important Jewish festival, the Feast of Atonement.  Edith's father, who ran a timber business, died when she was only two years old.  Her mother, who was a very devout, hard-working, strong-willed and truly wonderful woman, then had to fend for herself, look after the children and the business.  She succeeded in this, but not in keeping up a living faith in her children.  As a result, Edith lost her faith in God.

She (Edith) was very bright.  At the age of 20, she passed her school exams with flying colours and enrolled at the University of Breslau where she studied German and history.  Her true passion though was in Philosophy, which she pursued two years later at Góttingen University.  She eventually passed her doctorate with the utmost distinction in 1917.  In a time when most women would not have had the opportunity to pursue such advanced studies, Edith distinguished herself as a scholastic, but this was not the end of her journey.

After much searching and having witnessed the faith of many others, she converted to Catholicism.  She was baptized on 1 January 1922 and immediately, she wanted to join the Carmelite Order, but this desire was not fulfilled until 14 October 1933.  She lived at the Carmel in Cologne for five years.  However, on New Year's Eve 1938, she was smuggled across the border to Echt (Netherlands) for safety, because she was being pursued by the Nazi regime.  She lived there, continuing her scholastic work until 2 August 1942, when she was arrested by the Gestapo.  She was transported to a transit camp located at Amersfoort and then to another at Westerbork.  Early in the morning of 7 August 1942, she was transported to Auschwitz as part of a group of 987 Jews.  It was probably on 9 August 1942 that Sister Teresa, her sister Rosa (who was also a Carmelite nun) and many other people were gassed.

May Saint Teresa Benedicta intercede for us today, that we who are called to live our faith may have the courage to stay awake ... for we know neither the day or the hour (Mt 25:13) when the Lord is coming.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Dominic

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

Today, we celebrate the liturgical Memorial of Saint Dominic, a Spanish-born priest who lived during the 12th and 13th centuries (1170-1221).  He is the founder of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), an Order of Priests who are dedicated to learning and to preaching.

Like the person described in today's gospel passage who met Jesus and his disciples as they continued on their journey, Saint Dominic sought to call out to the Lord: I will follow you wherever you may go (Lk 9:57).  Throughout the centuries, all those who have uttered these words - often with ferver - discover that there is a price attached to such a commitment.  This price can sometimes cause potential followers to pause in their willingness to commit to the journey of discipleship, but once we decide to set out, the Lord rewards our ferver with his gifts of peace and joy.

Even today, the Dominicans seek day after day to share this good news with all those they meet.  Spread throughout the world, they continue their dedication in the fields of education and preaching, always ready to show others that it is possible to follow Jesus wherever he may need us to be.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Mercy

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

Today's gospel passage presents one of the moments at which Jesus was invited to enter into ecumenical dialogue: a conversation with people other than those to whom he had been sent.  The passage in question places him in foreign territory - in the region of Tyre and Sidon - where a woman of that region approaches him and asks for help: Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!  My daughter is tormented by a demon (Mt 15:22).

According to the customs and practices of the day, Jesus had every right to ignore the woman's plea, yet he recognized her great faith (cf Mt 15:28) and granted the request for healing on behalf of her daughter.

During his pontificate, our current Holy Father has continued to seek out opportunities to demonstrate the power of mercy: calling for a Year of Mercy, establishing ambassadors of mercy, even scheduling surprise visits to various locations throughout his diocese in an effort to be close to his people, all the while demonstrating the merciful face of God.  In each case, His Holiness is teaching us that it is possible to see beyond the confines of our own comfort, and if we dare to go beyond for the sake of mercy, we will discover Jesus even there.

Are we prepared to go beyond in order to discover Jesus in the wounds of our brothers and sisters?  Are we prepared to be surprised by the graces that are given when we surrender to his call?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Transfiguration

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

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.  Saint Luke tells us that Jesus took Peter, James and John and went up a mountain to pray (Lk 9:28).  There, the disciples were granted the special gift of witnessing Jesus in his glorified body.  This took place before he suffered his passion.  Some scholars believe that the three disciples were granted this vision in order to strengthen their own hearts so that later on, they in turn would be capable of strengthening the hearts of the other disciples.

Jesus is still inviting disciples - like you and me - to climb the mountain with him.  We have truly been granted the privilege of being able to come away with him.  He shows us his glorified body in the Eucharist at Mass and in the faces of our brothers and sisters, yet it takes a trained eye - the eye of faith - for us to truly recognize this gift in all its fullness.

On this day, as we commemorate such a significant event in the lives of these three disciples, let us also be attentive to the invitation that the Lord issues to us: come away with me to a deserted place, to the mountaintop, to the place where we can be together.  In that place, we give thanks for all God's goodness to us and we ask him to bestow upon us the grace of believing that what he has taught us will come to pass.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Despite

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

At the beginning of today's gospel passage, Jesus demonstrates a very human reaction.  When (he) heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew ... to a deserted place by himself (Mt 14:13).  Jesus loved John, so we can understand why he would have wanted some time alone to mourn, but the crowds followed him.  Perhaps they searched for him: they didn't give up.

It is interesting to note that when Jesus saw the crowd, he did not react with anger; rather, his heart was moved with pity for them (Mt 14:14).  Jesus was fully human and fully divine.  While he may have wanted to withdraw, he recognized the needs of those who came to him, and he responded to those needs: he cured the sick and even recognizing their hunger and providing for them (cf Mt 14:15-21).

Whenever our hearts have been wounded, we too feel the desire to withdraw from the world around us.  For awhile, we may give in to this reaction, but even if we are grieving, we cannot ignore the needs that are around us: the sick and the hungry who need our help.  Jesus had compassion for their needs, even in spite of his own need.  Let us ask him today to help us to always be aware of the needs of others, and to generously respond even in spite of our own needs.

Have a great day.

Look beyond

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
4 August 2019, 12:35 pm
The scripture readings we have heard today all remind us that if we want to discover true success, we need to look beyond the present moment.  The Book of Ecclesiastes says that no matter how much toil and strain we may exert, all is vanity (Ecc 1:2).  In other words, no amount of earthly success will ever be able to fully respond to our quest for acceptance, self worth and happiness.

The parable of the rich fool, which we heard in today's gospel (cf Lk 12:16-20) also reinforces the importance of judging our successes on a larger scale than we might sometimes be used to considering.  When all is said and done, it really doesn't matter how many physical possessions we accumulate.  The true measure of our success will always be determined by whether we have been able to see Jesus in our brothers and sisters and the extent to which we have used the gifts God has given us to respond to the needs of others.

So how is it that we can store up treasure for ourselves in heaven (cf Lk 12:21)?  Saint Paul tells us that we should set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Col 3:2).  This is not easy to do because the lure of earthly possessions is very difficult to resist, however it is possible for us to abstain from habits that are based on earthly desires and to clothe ourselves with the new self which is being renewed ... according to the image of its creator (Col 3:10).  Many others have led exemplary and inspiring lives by striving each day to look beyond.  We can too.

His Word Today: Who

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

The scripture passage for today's Mass poses a bit of a paradox: those who are gathered around Jesus are eager to listen for his words, and yet their hearts are left questioning the source of his wisdom ... Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? (Mt 13:54) ... or are their words more an expression of their own amazement at who he has become?

Those who were gathered together that day had known Jesus as a child.  They had most certainly known his parents and the members of his extended family.  In a town of that size, they would have been well informed about every stage of his growth and development.  Knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  When we are familiar with some people and some situations, we find it more difficult to believe that such innocent people could have such wisdom, that such little children could have grown up to be so intelligent, and yet this is exactly the case.

Just as those people stood in wonder and awe in the presence of Jesus, let us dare to stand in wonder and awe before our God today.  Even if we have been praying for many years, we can still ask the Lord to refresh us with the gentle dew of his grace.  He knows how to instruct our hearts in a way that will always keep us focused because his wisdom is far above any human wisdom.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Alphonsus Liguori

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
1 August 2019, 8:23 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787).  He had many gifts and talents: he was a spiritual writer, a musician, a composer, an artist, a poet, a lawyer, a philosopher, a theologian, a Catholic priest and a bishop.  In 1732, he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, otherwise known as the Redemptorists, an Order of priests and brothers who are particularly respected for preaching retreats and as confessors.

The gospel passage that is particular to this Memorial contains the words of Jesus who compares his disciples to salt for the earth and light for the world (Mt 5:13-14).  In these words, the Lord encourages all of us to be aware of the talents and gifts we have been given, and to pay particular attention to the ways in which we use these talents to change the world around us.  This change often comes about in small ways, sometimes even unrecognized ways, but we must trust that by changing little things, we can also bring the special light of the gospel to life.

Today, let us ask Saint Alphonsus Liguori to pray with us, that like him, we too might grow increasingly aware of the ways in which each of our brothers and sisters shares the light of their faith with us, and the subtle and not so subtle ways in which the light of faith that is proclaimed and shared can and does change the world around us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Ignatius of Loyola

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

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, born circa 23 October 1491 in the Basque region of present-day Spain.  After spending some time at court and as a soldier, he experienced a call to follow Jesus.  Having been injured in battle, he was convalescing when he asked for books of fiction and tales of knight-errantry, however none were to be found.  Instead, he was presented with a book describing the life of Christ and another containing the lives of the saints.  As he read these over and over, he began to be attracted to the stories and reflected on them.  Eventually, the practice of reading these texts, combined with that of reading about worldly things led him to ponder all of them.  While he considered worldly things, he would often be excited, but this excitement would pass, while his fascination with the life of Christ and with that of the Saints continued to fill him with joy.  This discipline eventually developed into a refined method of discernment that is still known as the Discernment of Spirits.

The gospel passage chosen for this liturgical Memorial places us with Jesus and the crowds that were following him.  At a certain point, he said to them: If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple (Lk 14:26).  This translation is somewhat challenging, for Jesus never wished us to hate anyone.  However, in the light of the experience encountered by Saint Ignatius, we might consider the relationships we currently have with our fathers and mothers, our wives and children, our brothers and sisters, and even ourselves.  Are we truly happy with these, or is there something that we need to change in order to make them better?

It takes great courage to make changes, but sometimes these are necessary so that we can work at strengthening the relationships we have with others, and with God.  If we want to follow Him, if we want to learn from him, we need to ask for the grace to discern the truth of the situations we are facing.  Only then will we be able to make wise and prudent decisions.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Peter Chrysologus

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
30 July 2019, 7:40 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Peter Chrysologus (circa 380 to circa 450 AD).  The name Chrysologus means golden worded.  Saint Peter was the Bishop of Ravenna (Italy) from about the year 433 until his death.  He is known as the Doctor of Homilies because of the concise but theologically rich reflections he delivered during his time as Shepherd of Ravenna.

An example of his teachings appears in the Office of Readings (part of the Liturgy of the Hours) for this day.  Speaking about the incarnation of Christ, he says:

A virgin conceived, bore a son, and yet remained a virgin.  This is no common occurrence, but a sign; there is no reason here, but rather God's power, for he is the cause, and not nature.  It is a special event, not shared by others; it is divine, not human.  Christ's birth was not necessity, but an expression of omnipotence, a sacrament of piety for the redemption of men.  He who made man without generation from pure clay made man again and was born from a pure body.  The hand that assumed clay to make our flesh deigned to assume a body for our salvation ... (Sermon 148, PL 52, 596-598).

These rich images provide food for our thought and prayer.  May Saint Peter continue to inspire those who seek to share the Word of God, so that this living Word may always awaken a desire within us to know God more closely.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Martha

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
29 July 2019, 7:36 am

Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Martha.  Martha is described in the gospels of Luke and John as the sister of Mary and Lazarus.  Saint Luke says that when Jesus entered the village ... a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him (Lk 10:38).  Based on this description of hospitality, Saint Martha has been associated with the images of maturity, strength, common sense and concern for others.

Inspired by the example of Saint Martha, Jesus disciples have striven through the centuries to be people of service, ready to welcome strangers and to extend hospitality to them as though they were Christ himself.  As we do, we must also constantly fuel our eagerness to extend exuberant welcome with a willingness to sit at the Master's feet (cf Lk 10:39).  If we do, he will constantly guide our words and actions, making us aware of those who are in need, and allowing us the privilege of welcoming guests and caring for them.

Today, let us ask the Lord to inspire a thirst in our hearts to extend hospitality to those we meet.  We may never know the ways that Jesus will show his face to us, and the opportunities he will afford us to serve him, even with the most simple of gestures.  Yet, even the most insignificant effort on our part might bring immense relief to another person's soul.

Have a great day.

Ask

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
28 July 2019, 7:57 am
Who among us has not been strolling through the aisles in the grocery store only to come upon a young mother pushing a child in her grocery cart and witnessed the child asking insistently for one item or another?  Perhaps we have seen this scene in a restaurant where parents seem to be doing all they can not to appear frazzled while the children seated around them constantly cry out about one concern or another.  Do you feel sorry for the parents or for the children?  Do you remember a time when you too experienced such moments with your own children or grandchildren?

When a child is still young and innocent, requests of this sort are simple; they can be persistent and are not always timely, but they are made with complete earnestness and trust: they ask for love, they ask for drinks, they ask for food, they ask for protection, they even ask for play.  And they ask over and over again.

The first reading for this Mass presents Abraham who stands before the Lord and asks the same question over and over again (cf Gn 18:23-32), as though he might be a child asking his parent for a treat.  If Abraham could pray with such insistence, why is it that we somehow think that we cannot or should not ask in this way for the things we need?

Sometimes, we need to be reminded that we are also children, God's children.  We have a loving and generous Father who is waiting for us to ask, and he welcomes our persistence too.  Like parents who dream of the day when their children will grow up, our God looks forward to the day when we will come to him with our questions, our doubts and fears, our joys and our successes.  In the gospel passage today, Jesus taught his disciples to pray with simple words (cf Lk 11:1-4).  Let us never be afraid to speak these words in our own prayer, over and over again.  Our God loves us and wants to provide for us.  He has made us alive together with him (Col 2:13).  He wants us to be happy, he wants us to ask persistently, he wants us to live forever with him in heaven.

His Word Today: Saints Joachim and Anne

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
26 July 2019, 8:00 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Virgin Mary.  They are not mentioned in the gospels but our knowledge of them comes from the oral tradition of the early Church.  They are mentioned in a writing known as the Gospel of James: a transcript which is from the second century A.D. which was never included among the writings of the New Testament.  According to this writing, Mary was promised to Joachim and Anne by an angel.  As a child, she was consecrated to God and remained a virgin all her life.

Veneration of the parents of Mary has a special prominence in the Eastern Church - both Orthodox and Catholic.  They are especially seen as patron saints of holy marriages and holy families and grandparents.  Joachim and Anne serve as role models for husbands and wives, mothers and fathers and even grandparents.  We can strive to emulate them in their devotion to God and to Our Lady, Mary, the mother of our Lord, Jesus.

In the gospel chosen for the memorial of these holy grandparents, Jesus says to his disciples: Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear ... many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see ... and to hear what you hear (Mt 13:16-17).  Let us ask Saint Joachim and Anne to be close to us today.  May they who had the privilege of saying yes to God's word help us to do the same so that we too can see and hear with faith today and joyfully give thanks to God for all that we have received.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint James the Greater

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

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint James the Apostle, the patron saint of Spain.  His mortal remains are housed in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella, in the region of Galacia.

The gospel passage for today's Eucharistic celebration shows us the heart of Jesus' understanding of authority.  The mother of James and John misunderstood his interpretation of this teaching.  Like many of her time, she perceived leadership as a majestic reward, rather than Jesus' new-found concept of authority that is born out of service.  In fact, he explained to the apostles: whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant (Mt 20:26).

This image might seem simple at first, but the more we strive to implement it, the more we will discover how challenging it truly is.  It is not impossible though; it begins with a simple prayer whispered in hope: Dear God, where do you need me to be today and what do you need me to do?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Seeking

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
24 July 2019, 8:02 am
Good morning everyone,

Today's gospel passage begins by describing the scene: Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea (Mt 13:1).  We are not told at what time of the day this happened.  It could have been early in the morning, just as the sun was rising, or it could have been in the evening hours.  Regardless of the time of day, the important thing is that Jesus went to the seashore.  The constant roar of the waves was - and is - a wonderful place for meditation.  Like an undulating heartbeat, it soon lulls the listener into a trance of sorts, one that somehow helps us to rest in prayer.

We cannot be sure that this was Jesus' intent, but on other occasions, the scripture writer tells us that Jesus had a routine of pausing in prayer, therefore it would not have been unusual for him to seek out such a place for meditation that day.  As was the case on many other occasions, he crowds came in search of him, seeking knowledge and teachings, and as he did on most occasions, Jesus responded to their request with no apparent concern for his own need (cf Mt 13:3-9).

The days of summer can provide us with an opportunity to ask ourselves how often we take time to sit in the presence of the Lord.  Do we seek out such occasions on a regular basis, pausing in prayer so that we can remain connected to the One who loves us and wants to be with us?  If we do, our God will most certainly fill us with the gifts we need in order to respond joyfully to the needs of his people.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Discipleship

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

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was first and foremost a disciple.  In fact, we refer to her as the first of the disciples since she was the first to hear the angel's description of who her divine son was, and she was the first to say yes to following his will.

The gospel passage for today also proposes another of the lessons in discipleship that this remarkable woman was invited to learn.  In turn, we too must open our hearts to the lesson contained here.  Jesus was speaking to the crowds on a particular day, presumably teaching them about the kingdom, when his mother and brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him (Mt 12:46).  It is interesting to note that this passage begins with Mary and others wanting to speak with Jesus.  They had a prayer to offer, much as we might approach our prayer, but in this case, it was not human prayer that was most important, but rather the divine word: Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister and mother (Mt 12:50).

How often do we come to Jesus intent on presenting our prayer?  In the beginning, we are the ones who want to speak with God, but as prayer becomes more and more a part of our daily routine, we will discover that the words we hear in the silence of prayer are far more important than any word that we ourselves might utter.  Words heard in the depth of the heart continually offer lessons: they teach us how to discover the will of our heavenly Father, and they invite us to say yes to following his will.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Mary Magdalene

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

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast day of Saint Mary Magdalene, one of the greatest saints spoken of in the bible and a legendary example of God's mercy and grace.

The scriptures speak of her as one of a number of women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases who accompanied Jesus as he travelled from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God (Lk 8:1-2).  She was one of the women who stood near the cross of Jesus and witnessed his crucifixion, along with his mother, his mother's sister, and Mary the wife of Clopas (Jn 19:25) and she is perhaps most fondly remembered as the first to go to the empty tomb, early in the morning on the first day of the week.  In fear and disbelief, she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple ... and said: 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!' (Jn 20:1-2).  For this reason, Mary Magdalene is known as the disciple (the one who was sent) to the apostles.

The writer of the gospel of John also speaks of another moment at which she received a vision of angels who helped her to strengthen her faith.  Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.  As she wept, she bent over and looked into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there ... where the body of Jesus had been.  They said to her: 'Why are you weeping ... who are you looking for?' (Jn 20:10-15).  Any of us who have experienced the death of a loved one can understand Mary's grief.  Like her, there is a part of us that sits and weeps over the memory of the one who is no longer visible to us, but this was not the end of the story for Mary Magdalene, and it is not the end of the story for us either.  Like her, we too must bend over and look again.  When we do, the Lord will make his angels known to us, the ones who are sent to help us.  They will gently invite us to tell our own story, and then they will help us to realize the truth that like the risen Jesus, our loved ones are no longer here.  Instead, they are at peace, restored to wholeness in a glorified state, reunited with our God.

May Mary Magdalene intercede for all those who are seeking answers, especially those who have experienced the grief of being parted from someone they love through physical death.  May she help us also to look to Jesus and to open our hearts so that we too can be assured that the risen Lord is present in our midst, and that our loved ones are at peace.

Have a great day.

Lessons in hospitality

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
21 July 2019, 7:47 am
When I have the chance, I like to cook a meal, welcome friends and spend time sitting around a table exchanging stories.  Over the years that have come and gone since my Ordination, I have actually managed to assemble a few sets of dishes.  I still like to take the time to set the table - whenever I can - and to make a fuss about creating the right atmosphere for such stories to be told.  In fact, such special occasions are always treasured but I find that as time has gone on, such stories get told no matter whether we are sitting down to an elaborate meal served on expensive dishes or to a simple picnic served on paper plates.

The tradition of welcoming strangers and friends around a dinner table is deeply engrained in the history of humanity, and this is a very good thing.  In the first reading for today's liturgy, we see Abraham involving his entire household in hurried preparations in order to serve unexpected guests (cf Gn 18:1-10).  In the gospel, we find Martha rushing around, and her sister Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus.  When Martha asks Jesus to insist that Mary should help her with the preparations for the meal, his response is a surprise to her: not at all what she had hoped for (cf Lk 10:39-42).

Saint Luke does not tell us how Martha responded to Jesus' words.  We can choose to hear them spoken not as a rebuke, but rather as a tender invitation to come closer, to live life more deeply and to love more richly.  Each of us can make a conscious choice to focus on Jesus Christ.  If we do, we will experience the world around us in light of that choice, and tomorrow, we can choose once again to make Him the central focus of all that we do, and soon enough we will find that we in turn are sharing the word of God with those we encounter (cf Col 1:25).

His Word Today: Our Lady of Mount Carmel

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
16 July 2019, 7:03 am
Good morning everyone,

Do you stop every once in a while simply to recognize how blessed you are?  Do you ever simply marvel at the grace that has been shared with you?  Recognizing the goodness that has been shown us will always help us to look at life differently.

As Jesus was travelling from town to town, he spoke harshly about the ways in which those he encountered turned a blind eye, or a hard heart to the goodness that was in their very midst.  To hear him say it: Woe to you ... for if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done elsewhere, they would long ago have relented (Mt 11:21).

As we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel today, let us ask our heavenly mother to help us be particularly aware of the goodness that we have received, in the form of blessings of so many kinds ... and let us ask her also to help us to recognize and appreciate the beauty of our faith, the treasure with which we have been entrusted.

Have a great day.

→ Previous posts from Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing