MASS SCHEDULES

Monday to Friday
9:00am to 11:30am
12:30pm – 5:00pm

Saturday
10:30am to 1:00pm

Sunday & Public Holidays
Closed.

As of 15th June 2021

To visit the Chapel, you must be registered with the Church of the Holy Trinity on Mycatholic.sg

Monday to Friday (except Wednesday)
9:00am to 11:30am
12:30pm to 5:00pm

Wednesday
10:30am to 11:30am
12:30pm to 5:00pm

Saturday
10:30am to 1:00pm
(3rd Sat of the month closed)

Sunday & Public Holidays
Closed.

As of 15th June 2021

Monday to Friday
9.00 am to 6.00 pm

Saturday & Sundays
9.00 am to 1.00 pm

Public Holidays
Closed

Masses are capped at 50 attendees for Masses.
Kindly book your Mass online at myCatholic.sg.
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Monday to Friday:

  • 6.30 am
  • 6.00 pm

Saturday:

  • 6.30 am
  • 5.30 pm

Sunday:

  • 6.45 am
  • 9.00 am
  • 11.00 am
  • 1.00pm (Mandarin)
  • 5.30 pm

Public Holiday:

  • 9.00 am only
  • Sunday Mass – 10:00am
  • Weekday Mass – 12:00 noon

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25 June, 2021, Friday, 12th Week, Ordinary Time

June 25, 2021

BAPTISM THE SIGN OF MEMBERSHIP IN THE NEW COVENANT

In the gospel, we have the story of the healing of the leper.   He was desperate because he knew that leprosy could not be cured unless a miracle took place.  Leprosy, of course, was not just a terminal illness but a very slow and horrifying form of death when a person’s body rots away part by part.  But most of all, a leper, because of his infectious disease, is cut off from society, especially from his loved ones.  He could only live outside the city and not allowed to approach people, and if people come near he must give them warning that a leper was nearby by shouting, “Unclean, unclean.”

So it must have taken great courage for the leper to approach Jesus in the first place, something forbidden by the Law as he was not allowed to come nearer than six feet from a healthy person.  Secondly, he came with humility by bowing low in front of Him.   He could sense that Jesus was the visitation of God in person.  Thirdly, he came with a request, not a demand, because he understood the sovereignty of God.  “‘Sir,’ he said, ‘if you want to, you can cure me.’”  He left it to the Lord to decide whether to heal him or otherwise.  He came with faith in humility, but he knew that his cure would depend on the grace of God.

What has the healing of the leper to do with the Covenant that God established with Abraham in today’s first reading?  It reminds us of the true meaning of the Covenant that God established with us, whether with the People of the Old Covenant or with the Christians in the New Covenant.  In the first place, it was God who took the initiative to make the Covenant with us. God is sovereign and free to choose whom He wants to establish the Covenant with.  In this case, He had chosen Abram and called him to Canaan where God wanted to give him the land and posterity, and a kingdom.   It was not his right but a free gift of God, as in the case of the leper who asked to be healed.  All that Abram needed was to respond in faith and gratitude.  It was faith that made him righteous and not because of any good works that he did.  It was purely the gift of God given without the Law, since the Law did not exist.

So, too, for us Christians.  Baptism is a gift from God.  In our sinful situation, like the leper, we can do nothing to redeem ourselves.  We are helpless in overcoming our sin and death.  Only Christ can take away our sins and restore us to fullness of life.   Jesus did this by carrying our sins and infirmities in His body.  “This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.’” (Mt 8:17) St Peter also wrote, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”  (1 Pt 2:24)

This truth about Jesus taking our sins upon Himself is illustrated in today’s healing of the leper.  In touching the leper, He Himself was contaminated by his leprosy and that made Him unclean.  But the man was cleansed because Jesus was sinless.  His touch took away his sins, his brokenness, years of rejection and isolation.  It brought him healing, restoration and integration. In Mark’s gospel, it is even more dramatically presented because we read that the healed leper “went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.”  (Mk 1:45) Jesus literally took His place and became unclean and so had to stay out of the city in a symbolic manner.   This is once again brought out at His death when He was crucified outside Jerusalem on Mount Calvary as His death was seen as a curse from God by the people.  He carried out sins upon His own body so that we can find true healing of body and soul.  Hence, at the Last Supper, He declared, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  (Mt 26:28)

In the Old Covenant, we are told that the sign was circumcision.  “The Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am El Shaddai.  Bear yourself blameless in my presence.’ ‘You on your part shall maintain my Covenant, yourself and your descendants after you, generation after generation.  Now this is my Covenant which you are to maintain between myself and you, and your descendants after you:  all your males must be circumcised.’”  Circumcision was not actually new to Abram.  In his days, some people in Mesopotamia also practiced circumcision, more for hygiene, since people did not shower so often in a desert country where water was scarce.   But it was also used as a rite for puberty as well.  That was why only adults were circumcised.  However, in the case of Abram, circumcision was performed on all males, young and old, that were associated with him.  Belonging to Abram’s family would require all males be circumcised as a sense of identity and belonging.  

In the New Covenant, the sign was baptism because it is a symbol of cleansing and dying to death; and rising to a new life.  Jesus gave the baptism of John the Baptist a new meaning that goes beyond a symbolic washing of sins through repentance but new life through being born again in the Holy Spirit.  It is also a symbol of dying with Christ to our sins and rising with Him anew in a new life.  This is why we are also given a new name at our baptism to signify that we have put on a new way of life and our being have been transformed, that we are born again to a life of Christ.  When Abram and Sarai were given a mission, they too were given a new name, from Abram, “Exalted Father” to “Father of multitude” and from Sarai “a princess” to Sarah, “the princess” from which children that were given birth by her would belong to the royal family which was realized in the Davidic dynasty and the Messiah who came from the line of King David.  She, like Abraham, would become the ancestors of generations to come and kings and queens as well.

Just like the Old Covenant, baptism is given to all who are family members.  Although the Covenant was made with Abram, it had implications for all those who were members of his family.  All the male descendants of Abram and those that belonged to him had to be circumcised.  This is because God’s covenant with Abram was intended for his people as well.  This, too, is the basis for infant baptism in the Church.  Although some Christians and even Catholics feel that because baptism is an act of faith, we should not impose our faith on our children.  Logically, it seems to be the best way since a child might not be able to make a sincere confession of faith in Christ.  But this is a fallacy.  Very few can claim to have absolute faith in God when they were baptized.  Faith is a growing reality.  It is not something we possess once and for all, or something that cannot grow further.

In truth, faith is not something taught but caught.  Faith is a relationship.  It takes time to grow a relationship, to purify it and to strengthen it.  This is why faith develops in an ambience of faith.  The family is the most important ambience in leading a person to faith.   Whilst faith requires a personal response on our part, faith is also a gift from God.  “No one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”  Of course, man must do his part to search for God, for truth and for life.  When a child is raised up in a family of faith, the child’s faith is assured.  If infant baptism has proven to be a failure in the fact that many of our young children have lost their faith by the time they reach adulthood, the real problem lies with the faith of our parents, their elders, their teachers and their guardians.  Because they themselves are not models of faith, we cannot expect the children to imitate the faith of their guardians or be inspired by their life and example.  So it is not that infant baptism is not effective, rather because we do not supply the conditions for the faith to grow.  This is why we also read in the gospel and in the Acts that the entire household was converted because of a miracle of healing, or when they saw an act of God, as in the case of the jailer who was converted with his entire household when the Lord broke the chains of Paul and Silas.   (cf Acts 16:16-34)

At any rate, we must be careful not to over-emphasize faith on the part of the efforts of man as if we make faith happen.   Faith remains a free gift from God.  He can work in us in ways beyond our imagination.  Faith is a gift and also a task.  God is the one who takes the initiative to reach out to us and we respond accordingly in faith.  “Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to!  Be cured!’  And his leprosy was cured at once.”  Faith requires us to grow with the community of faith.  That was why after being healed, the Lord said to him, “Go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering prescribed by Moses, as evidence for them” so that he could return and be re-integrated with the family of God, the Chosen People.   So let us therefore cherish our faith, give it the right conditions for growth and nurturing so that we will remain truly members of the New Covenant.


Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved. The contents of this page may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission from the Archbishop’s Office. This includes extracts, quotations, and summaries.


Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.

24 June, 2021, Thursday, The Nativity of John the Baptist

June 23, 2021

THE INEXORABLE PLAN OF GOD FOR HUMANITY

What is becoming of the world, we wonder!  For those of us who were born in the Baby Boomer generation or earlier still, or even those from Generation X, who hold traditional and conservative values, where technology and mass communication was not so advanced, we often find ourselves bewildered and frightened at the way society has developed.  From a traditional understanding of marriage and family life to one that is radically redefined, moral values are put in question by moral relativists.  Today, we live in a very secularized society where there are no values, no objectivity in truth, a society that lives only for itself and for today. In an age of technology, artificial intelligence, without ethics to guide its use, humanity will destroy not just the planet, which we call mother earth, and itself.

Yet, before we think that God’s plan for humanity has been derailed and destroyed, the scripture readings on the Birthday of John the Baptist assure us that the divine plan of God would remain in place.  Man may delay its coming but no man can stop the plan of God from unfolding.  Humanity will be saved and be restored. This was how the Israelites felt in the first reading.  When all hopes were lost, God promised His people that they would be restored.  He will send His servant “to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel” and make them “the light of the nations” so that His “salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

Who is this servant?  It could refer to Isaiah himself, or to the Messiah that was to come.  It could also refer to Israel as a nation.  Regardless, all of us are in the plan of God; not only great people, whether it was the prophets, the Kings, the Messiah or John the Baptist. The prophet said, “The Lord called me before I was born, from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name.  He made my mouth a sharp sword, and hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me into a sharpened arrow, and concealed me in his quiver.”  Indeed, in our mother’s womb, God has already destined the role we are to play in the history of salvation.  Like Jesus who was called to be the light of the nations, as Simeon prophesied, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel”  (Lk 2:32), John the Baptist was called to be the forerunner for the Messiah,  “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.”  (Lk 1:76ff) We too, each in our own way are called to fulfill the place and role that God has assigned to us in His plan of salvation.

But this calls for faith and obedience because God’s plan would be unfolded in ways beyond our imagination. Jesus taught us that the Kingdom of God “is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”  (Mk 4:30-32) It took Zechariah some time to know that the plan of God does not fit into the plan of man or his finite mind.  He could not believe that a child could be born to him and Elizabeth at such an advanced age.  He was proven wrong and so the Lord silenced him.  He was made not just deaf but mute as well, as signified by the fact that when the child was born, they had to make “signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called.”   Zechariah was struck dumb and deaf so that he could spend nine months in silence, contemplating on the Word of God.  He had been a righteous and law-abiding Jew but lacked openness to the surprising ways by which God works His salvation.

Hence, when John the Baptist was born, both Elizabeth and Zechariah were under pressure to follow the norm. “They were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called.  The father asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished.”  Indeed, both of them went against social custom and their pressure.  But this was because both had understood the plan of God better and indeed, John the Baptist did not belong to them but to God and His people.  To name the child, John, which means the Gift of God or that God is gracious, implied that God had a great plan for John the Baptist.  The people could of course only wonder. “All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ And indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.”

The surprising way God works in our lives and in the way He unfolds His divine plan is beyond man’s conception and logical calculation.  The parallel to the birth of John the Baptist of course is the virginal conception of Mary.  Their birth was quite similar in that it was announced by an angel.  Both were miraculous, especially in the case of Mary’s conception of Jesus; it was ridiculously impossible.  Both births gave great joy. In the case of Jesus, even the angels rejoiced.  In the mind of the evangelist Luke, John the Baptist’s birth was exceptional, but Christ’s birth was even greater.  Elizabeth learnt her lesson as well.   Rephrasing the words of the angel when he told Mary, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Lk 1:37) Elizabeth said, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”  (Lk 1:45)

We, too, are called to believe and submit in obedience to God’s plan in our lives.  This was what the Lord did.  St Paul in the second reading outlined the fulfillment of God’s plan in Jesus as announced by John the Baptist.  “To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel.”  Jesus was the One prepared by God for the salvation of humanity.  But it was John the Baptist who in God’s plan was to prepare the way.   He was to be the New Elijah that would come again before the Messiah came.  (Mt 11:7-14Mal 4:5f) Of course, he was not Elijah reincarnated, but he took the role of Elijah, for at his birth, after the last prophet Malachi, prophecy was silenced for 400 years.  So when Zechariah spoke at John the Baptist’s birth, it signaled the beginning of the New Era or the New Testament.

John was to prepare the people to receive the Lord.  He was contented with that role.  He was not seeking for power and glory but simply to do what God had planned for him.  When asked by the Jewish leaders, “Who are you?” He denied that he was the Messiah or Elijah or the prophet. He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.”  His task was just like that of the prophets, to call the people out of exile.  In the wilderness, a symbol of prayer and repentance, John prepared the people to welcome the Lord.  John the Baptist in no uncertain terms said, “‘I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.’  You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but I have been sent ahead of him.’  He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason, my joy has been fulfilled.  He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn 3:28-30)

Consequently, instead of worrying about the outcome of salvation, we are called simply to do our part.  Sometimes, things seem hopeless and futile.  This is where the Lord assures us as He did for the Suffering Servant.  “He said to me, ‘You are my servant (Israel) in whom I shall be glorified; while I was thinking, I have toiled in vain, I have exhausted myself for nothing; and all the while my cause was with the Lord, my reward with my God. I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord, my God was my strength.’”  Indeed, the Lord knows everything.  “O Lord, you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my rising, you discern my purpose from afar.  You mark when I walk or lie down, all my ways lie open to you.”  So like Zechariah, Elizabeth and John the Baptist, we entrust our lives to Him and simply cooperate with His inexorable plan for our salvation.


Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved. The contents of this page may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission from the Archbishop’s Office. This includes extracts, quotations, and summaries.


Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.

23 June, 2021, Wednesday, 12th Week, Ordinary Time

June 23, 2021

THE SHIELD OF FAITH AND LOVE

Why did the Lord say to Abram in a vision, “Have no fear, Abram, I am your shield; your reward will be very great”?  This was because Abram began to doubt whether God’s promises could be fulfilled.  He had just escaped the clutches of Pharaoh and also had to fight against the tribal kings who attacked Lot, his nephew, who was living in Sodom, taking him away and all his possessions.  So he had to mount an attack against the five kings to rescue Lot and take back his possessions.   Indeed, the journey was rather risky because of the uncertainties facing him and his family each day.  It is within this context, realizing how Abram was feeling, that the Lord in His compassion sought to strengthen his faith.  God assured Abram that He would be His shield and his reward would be great.

Indeed, all of us face struggles in life.   We have enemies within and without.  Many things in life are not as clear as we think they are.  Life is very complicated.  As Jesus said in the gospel, “Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves.”  Indeed, we do not know who are the real shepherds and who are the wolves waiting to devour us.   This is because whether they are real shepherds or wolves, they wear sheep’s clothing.  There are many people who appear to be serving the community, when in fact they are serving themselves.  Just because they are conferred certain status in society, such as priest or religious, hold leadership positions, etc, it does not mean that they are genuine shepherds.

Indeed, naïve and undiscerning people often cannot distinguish the true shepherd from the wolves.  Not only them, even those of us who are supposedly educated and well-informed can easily be impressed by the wisdom of the world.  They present their case so logically and convincingly that many are misled.  They advocate abortion in the name of compassion for the mother and the child so that their future would not be compromised and the fear that they might have to suffer more when the child is born.  Again, in the name of compassion, the world promotes euthanasia so that when life is no longer worth living, we should not prolong it, not just the physical suffering of the person but more importantly, his or her emotional pain.  In the name of love, the world advocates same-sex union because everyone deserves a partner in life.  In the name of freedom and truth, everyone is entitled to articulate his views even when others get hurt or insulted in the process.  In the name of relativism, everything is reduced to mere personal preferences.

So how do we discern whether something is from God, as in the case of Abram, or the false shepherds, as Jesus warned us in the gospel?  Jesus had just told His disciples not to judge.  “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.  For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” (Mt 7:1f) But in today’s gospel, Jesus asked us to discern.  Is there a contradiction?  Discernment is objective, not subjective.  In other words, we cannot judge the motives of people but we can judge the works of people.  Hence, the Lord said, “You will be able to tell them by their fruits.”  So, we need to carefully discern the person based on the fruits that we see.

But this is not an easy task because there is a lot of ambiguity.  Having said that, we judge a person by the fruits, but even then, often these fruits are not so clear as well.  When Jesus said, “Can people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?” He was also warning us of a superficial judgment.  The truth is that there is more than meets the eye.  In Israel, there was a certain buckthorn that bear black berries that look like grapes.  And there was a certain thistle that had flowers resembling figs from a distance.  Hence, the call to discernment is certainly not an easy process.

Nevertheless, we know the truth by the fruits of love.  As the Lord said, “In the same way, a sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad fruit. A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit.”  We can judge a person’s authenticity or the truth and wisdom of a policy by the fruits they produce.   Of course, such fruits must be lasting and bear the qualities of the Spirit.  As St Paul taught us, “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.”  (Gal 5:19-23)

So the shield of love of the Holy Spirit will protect us from falling into the traps of the wolves around us.  The shield of authentic love is at the same time the shield of truth.  Because truth ultimately is love.  Hence, in whatever we do and, in all discernment, we must always look for the lasting fruits of the Spirit.  When what we do brings about the works of the flesh, then we must shield ourselves from being trapped into carrying out activities that bring division.  The Lord made it clear, “Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire. I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits.”

But the shield of love must be supplemented by the shield of faith.  Without faith, we would not be able to persevere when love demands self-sacrifice and generosity.  Unless we have faith that God will shield us and protect us from death, we will not be able to give ourselves selflessly in the works of charity.  We are naturally self-defensive.  Abram needed to understand and be assured that his faith in God was not in vain.  So he asked the Lord. “My Lord, what do you intend to give me? I go childless… See, you have given me no descendants; some man of my household will be my heir.”  God knew he needed assurance.

Indeed, even when we have faith in someone, we will still need signs to assure us that our faith is not wrongly placed.  This is true in relationship, in work and in marriage as well.  It is not enough to hear words of love from our loved ones or our bosses.  We need to see the actions of love, forgiveness, understanding and compassion from them.  When we take each other for granted, when we are no longer loving in our words and actions towards each other, when we are no long kind and patient and forgiving, then of course faith, which is trust, will be weakened gradually.  We begin to wonder whether the love is sincere.  If many relationships have turned sour it is because the couple takes each other for granted, and fail to assure each other of their love for each other and see the works of love.

When the shield of love is complemented by the shield of faith, love and faith will grow in tandem.  The more love we give, the stronger the faith.  The greater the faith, the more we love.  In the case of Abram, when he was assured of God’s promises even though he had not yet seen it, he was able to surrender in faith and trust.  When the Lord took him outside and said, “‘Look up to heaven and count the stars if you can. Such will be your descendants’ he told him”, we read that “Abram put his faith in the Lord, who counted this as making him justified.”  This was followed by the Lord making a Covenant with him, giving him another sign that He would not just be blessed with descendants but land as well.   Abram who was worshipping the Moon God, upon seeing the stars knew for certain who the true God really was.   It must be remembered that the promises were gradually fulfilled, not in his life time but hundreds of years later.  But more than just earthly promises, the author of Hebrew said, “All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. (cf Heb 11:13-16) This, too, is our ultimate hope in life, that at the end of our sojourn on earth, we will arrive at the heavenly city of Jerusalem, where we will be united with God and with all our departed loved ones.   So in faith, in love, we must journey each day in hope knowing that in God’s time, His divine plan will be fulfilled in our lives with our cooperation.


Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved. The contents of this page may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission from the Archbishop’s Office. This includes extracts, quotations, and summaries.


Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.

22 June, 2021, Tuesday, 12th Week, Ordinary Time

June 21, 2021

THE JOURNEY OF FAITH

When God calls and we respond in faith, it does not mean that we will always have complete trust in God and surrender ourselves to His divine providence.  On the contrary, faith is never stagnant; it either grows or it deteriorates.  Faith is not a possession which we can claim for ourselves, as in a fixed asset like gold or land.  This explains why those who have been baptized but do nothing to grow their faith will lose it.  To speak of a stagnant faith is a deception, as if a relationship can be stagnant.  In any relationship, whether with God or with our fellowmen, it either grows or it weakens.

Abraham’s faith too had to mature.  He was given an early test of faith in which he failed miserably, but that changed his attitude towards God.  After leaving Haran, Abram and Lot left for the land of Canaan.  But because there was a famine in the land, they had to go down to Egypt to reside there.  Fearing the danger of losing his life, he presented Sarai as his beautiful sister to Pharaoh who took her as his wife.  When the plagues struck Pharaoh’s house, he realized that it was because he took Abram’s wife.   And so he dismissed them with all that he had and all the flocks that Pharaoh had given to him on account of having Sarai.  (Gn 12:10-20) Abram by lying showed his lack of trust in God’s providence and also set a bad example of greed for his nephew, Lot.

Following this incident, we see how Abram’s faith grew.  He must have recognized his mistake and made a radical commitment to trust in God rather than in wealth and property.   In today’s first reading, we read how Abram and Lot went on separate ways out of necessity and for the good of everyone.  “Abram was a very rich man, with livestock, silver and gold.  Lot, who was travelling with Abram, had flocks and cattle of his own, and tents too. The land was not sufficient to accommodate them both at once, for they had too many possessions to be able to live together.  Dispute broke out between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and those of Lot’s.”  Understandably, even if the fight was not between Abram and Lot but their children and servants, it would ultimately have affected their relationship as well because they needed to protect those under their charge.

We see the magnanimity of Abram, so different from the previous chapter when we saw how scheming, manipulative and greedy he was when he was in Egypt.  Now a changed man, he told his nephew, Lot, “Let there be no dispute between me and you, nor between my herdsmen and yours, for we are brothers.  Is not the whole land open before you?  Part company with me: if you take the left, I will go right; if you take the right, I will go left.”  As an elder and uncle, he had a right to choose which land he wanted and leave to Lot whatever he did not want.  But he was detached from his wealth.  All he wanted was to protect their good relationship above everything else.  For Abram, he valued relationship over things, unlike many of us who put things over relationship.  How often do we see siblings squabbling over their parents’ property!  Many beautiful relationships have been marred because of greed and envy over material wealth.

This was because Abram had learnt what it meant to have faith in God’s promises and to just hang on to them.  That gave him the courage to let go and let God take control.  He allowed Lot to choose the most favored part of the territory.  Lot chose the fertile Jordan plain which was good for agriculture and left Canaan to his uncle.  Without squabbling or argument, Abram took what his nephew did not want.  By so doing, Abram lived out what the Lord taught us in today’s gospel, “So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.”

In contrast, Lot did not have faith like Abram.  The reason was simply because he did not receive the Lord’s call and promise.  It was Abram who did. He followed Abram only because he was his uncle and he had confidence in him.  This is an important lesson, that followers who themselves have not encountered God would not make great disciples.  We have many of these in our Catholic communities.  We call them grandchildren of God rather than children of God.  The reason why they are involved in Church activities is because they like the priest, the retreat master, their friends or they enjoy a particular form of service.  They are not there primarily because of Jesus but because their friends and heroes are there.  Their commitment is not to the Lord but to a human being.  This was the case of Lot.

Hence Lot, following the bad example set by Abram earlier on, became materialistic and worldly.  Instead of walking in faith, Lot walked by sight.  “Looking around, Lot saw all the Jordan plain, irrigated everywhere like the garden of the Lord or the land of Egypt, as far as Zoar.  So Lot chose all the Jordan plain for himself and moved off eastwards.”  In his worldly judgment, he was attracted, so to speak, by the bright light of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The people were wealthy but they were living a sinful life.  Instead of avoiding the temptations, we are told that “Lot settled among the towns of the plain, pitching his tents on the outskirts of Sodom.  Now the people of Sodom were vicious men, great sinners against the Lord.”  He was unwittingly leading his family and his people into sin simply because he thought that was where he could make more money.

Abram walked by faith, not by sight.  Because he trusted in God, he was rewarded with a preview in faith of what God wanted to give to him and his descendants.  “Look all round from where you are towards the north and the south, towards the east and the west.  All the land within sight I will give to you and your descendants for ever.  I will make your descendants like the dust on the ground: when men succeed in counting the specks of dust on the ground, then they will be able to count your descendants! Come, travel through the length and breadth of the land, for I mean to give it to you.”   The author of Hebrews concluded, “All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.”  (Heb 11:13f)

In the gospel the Lord asks us to choose what is truly good for us.  The Lord wants us to be discerning, unlike Lot who was not.  Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls in front of pigs, or they may trample them and then turn on you and tear you to pieces.”  Indeed, we must seek God’s way and find happiness following the way of the Lord.  The responsorial psalm says, “Lord, who shall dwell on your holy mountain? He who walks without fault; he who acts with justice and speaks the truth from his heart; he who does not slander with his tongue. He who does no wrong to his brother, who casts no slur on his neighbour, who holds the godless in disdain, but honours those who fear the Lord.  The just will live in the presence of the Lord.” 

This is why we must enter through the narrow gate as the Lord warns us.  “Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to perdition is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  To enter via the narrow gate is to enter through Jesus who is the Gate and the door.  “I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  (Jn 10:7-10)   This is the gate that Abram entered as well, by walking in faith and living the life of a just man.  It is this gate that will help us to walk the path that leads to fullness of life.  So we must not enter the wrong gate just as Lot did and that gate led to perdition eventually.   Jesus who is the Way and the Truth will lead us to life.


Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved. The contents of this page may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission from the Archbishop’s Office. This includes extracts, quotations, and summaries.


Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.

21 June, 2021, Monday, 12th Week, Ordinary Time

June 21, 2021

JUDGING ACTIONS

When Abram was called to leave his country, his family and his father’s house to a land which the Lord would show him, “Abram went as the Lord told him, and Lot went with him.”  We can be sure that for him to leave everything behind and most of all his family and community to go to a land that was still uncertain, save for the promise of great blessings to come, was a very serious decision that Abram had to take.   Even for us today, the decision to migrate is many times more difficult than deciding on one’s career or buying a house.  Uprooting oneself from one’s culture and familiar environment to go to a foreign land where the culture, religion, language and practices are different is indeed not something to be taken lightly without having weighed all the costs and possibilities.

Furthermore, in the case of Abram, we can be sure that his loved ones and his friends would have discouraged him from such a move.  It was against logic.  As it was, Abram was seventy-five years.  It would not have been easy for a man of his age to travel so far to an unknown destination.  Abram was not really a nomad as he was already quite established, living in cities from young, at Ur in the land of the Chaldeans and then moving to Haran.  At most they were on the outskirts of the cities looking after their flocks.  They were comfortably settled where they were.  So why would such a man at this age be taking risks and looking for more when he was already wealthy enough.  Moreover, he had no children to inherit his property.  It would be passed on to some other relatives.  In all counts, it was simply not a wise move.  Hence, when he decided to resettle his family, most likely he was criticized for being too irrational.

Logically, perhaps those who criticized his decision were right.  This is because they did not hear the call as Abram did.   It was the Lord who said to him, “Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you.  I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name so famous that it will be used as a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you: I will curse those who slight you. All the tribes of the earth shall bless themselves by you.”  How could he explain this call or the voice that he heard?  The truth is that a God-experience, a personal encounter with the Lord, whether through a vision, a voice or some mystical encounter, cannot be adequately described.  At most, the visionary can give some similar illustrations that others can understand but we cannot describe the feelings and the event itself.  Hence, often visionaries are misunderstood, suspected to be hallucinating, irrational and perhaps carried away by their emotions.

What is said of Abram is true for all callings in life, especially priestly and religious calling.  Often, when a man or a woman decides to give up a lucrative and prestigious career to join the priestly or religious life, most people, and often their loved ones, would think that it is a foolish decision.  Their advice would always be to continue working and have a family and with whatever time they have left, they can still serve the Church.  This is equally true for those who are already doing well in their career or in their business.  They are already very well established and things are stable.  Then we realize that the person has had an encounter with the Lord. They retire early to give themselves wholehearted to the service of God and their fellowmen.   Some even give up their wealth and leave just what is enough for themselves.  Again, such decisions are never easy.  For the world, it is foolish to give up a comfortable life for a life of voluntary service to the Church and the poor.

This is where we need to take a cue from our Lord about judging.  He said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; because the judgements you will give are the judgements that you will get, and the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given.”  In saying this, Jesus is not saying that we cannot judge at all.  We cannot live each day without making some form of judgment of situations and with regard to people’s actions and behavior.  When we read the news, especially those that come from social media, we must be prudent in making judgement as to whether the information is verified, true and accurate.

In other words, judgment on the merits of an action or information or a decision is not what the Lord is forbidding.  He Himself made judgment on what was right and what was wrong.  Indeed, it is our duty to make judgement on values and on policies.  The Church is called to condemn evil, expose the hypocrisy of the world and correct falsehood.  We cannot be silent on what is right and allow evil to permeate and mislead the world.  If the world is what it is today, and the secular, individualistic and self-centered lifestyles are being promoted and accepted by the world, it is because such unhealthy trends were left unchecked by the larger majority.  As a result, our silence has been seen to be a tacit endorsement of what is promoted by the minority in the world.

Hence, it is not only not wrong to make judgment on the actions of a person, but we need to exercise fraternal correction.  When someone does something that is not proper, we need to help the person realize the mistake that he or she has made so that the person can improve himself or herself.  Fraternal correction is not punitive or destructive but constructive and meant to help the person.  This kind of fraternal correction is welcomed and usually is carried out with sensitivity, gentleness and with charity.

As in the case of discernment in a calling, it is necessary for us to help a person to discern his or her call based on the external forum.  The discernment process begins with an objective analysis of the situation, the person’s capacity, temperament, skills, talents, character, the challenges and the demands of the calling.  The external forum however remains external.  But it is the internal forum that would help a person to decide whether such a calling is indeed from God and not from himself or his own imagination and wants.  This is where the difficulty lies.  External forum and criteria can be met by someone but unfortunately, at best it only indicates but not prove the true motive of the person.

However, we will never know the inner motive for sure, even the person who is discerning.  There are many factors involved in determining the inner motive of the person.  There are genetic and social pressures conditioning or determining the response.  Some are not aware that they are responding to their insecurity, their desire to be known, to be famous and given attention.  Some, because of their poverty and rejection by society, want to prove themselves to be worthy of acceptance.  Some had been hurt badly, abused by their guardians or sexually molested and as a consequence react negatively to their traumas, either falling into uncontrollable anger or addictions in all its forms.

This explains why the Lord cautions us against judging the motives of others because we simply do not know all the conditions leading to the action.  Only God knows the person’s character, his past upbringing, his fears and his hurts.  We can at best only say the action was objectively right or wrong.  Subjectively the person is being emotionally and psychologically driven by genetic, social and historical factors.  We have no right to judge a person’s motive as the Lord said, “Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own?  Hypocrite!  Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.”  Indeed, to make matters worse, our judgment is often made from the lens of our own subjective preferences and prejudices.  Hence, we must be reserved in making judgment on the intentions and motives of people.  This is reserved for God alone.


Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved. The contents of this page may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission from the Archbishop’s Office. This includes extracts, quotations, and summaries.


Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.

20 June, 2021, Sunday, 12th Week, Ordinary Time

June 20, 2021

DYNAMIC TENSION BETWEEN FAITH AND FEAR IS RESOLVED BY LOVE

We are all like Job when faced with innocent and unjust suffering in life.  Whilst some can accept suffering due to our foolish decisions and actions, and even suffering caused by the sins and negligence of others, we find it extremely difficult to accept suffering when there is no apparent reason.  This was the case of Job when he was struck with tragedy after tragedy, affecting not just his property and flock but even afflicting his own family members and himself bodily.  All these happened without any good reason because he was known to have lived a righteous life, an upright life before God and was generous with his fellowmen.  Hence, he felt that God was not fair to allow him to suffer innocently.  He did not do anything wrong to suffer the loss of his fortune, his loved ones and his health.

Indeed, like the disciples when they were in the boat, there was a storm and the waves were breaking into the boat.  Even though there were at least four fishermen among the Twelve in the boat, they were terrified by the storm because the boat was sinking.  What was ironical was that Jesus “was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down!’”  Isn’t this what we say to the Lord?  Even if we are not resentful like Job who quarreled with God over His injustice, we feel the Lord is not listening to our prayers for help.  We do not feel His presence and we feel all alone, struggling against the storms of life.

This is not surprising even though we might be good Catholics and active in the Church.  The disciples more than us had seen the works of Jesus, His miracles and exorcisms.  They saw how He commanded the evil spirits to leave those who were possessed.  They saw how He healed even the most feared of all illnesses – leprosy.  They heard how He outsmarted the religious leaders who tried to put Him down and stirred up opposition against Him.  And yet, they still lacked faith in Him. After rebuking the wind Jesus reprimanded them, “Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?”

So why did they lack faith in spite of having seen and known the power of the Lord?  This lack of faith did not come so much from doubt that Jesus would be able to calm the storm or to help them.  That was why they cried out to Him for help.  Indeed, doubt is not always the opposite of faith.  In Mark’s account, it was not a question of doubt in Jesus’ authority.  In fact, in Mark’s miracle stories in chapters 4 and 5, it was always a question of fear.  The opposite of faith is fear.  It was fear that drove the apostles to cry out to the Lord.  It was fear that drove the inhabitants of Gerasa to ask Jesus to leave after He cast out the evil spirits from the demoniac.  It was fear that made the woman with hemorrhage touch the cloak of Jesus secretly.  This explains why even though they lacked faith, Jesus went on to rescue the apostles from the storm and heal the woman suffering from a blood disorder.

So often, it is not that people lack faith in God but it is fear that drives them.    When we are driven by fear, faith is kept at abeyance.  We cannot think or act rationally.  Fear is what causes us to react, especially when in grave danger.  Fear would drive a man to kill someone who threatens to expose him for his crimes, or to cheat and engage in fraud or traffic in drugs to pay his debts.   Fear would drive a woman to abort an unwanted pregnancy, especially if the girl is young and does not want her parents to find out.  Fear would drive Catholics to seek mediums, bomohs and fortune-tellers and practice all kinds of superstition.  So they lack faith not because they doubt the Lord completely but because they are driven by fear.  How, then, can we overcome fear? 

Fear can only be overcome by coming to realize who the Lord truly is, namely, love and mercy in person.  They were judgmental of Jesus because the danger ahead of them gave them cause to believe that Jesus was unconcerned about them, in spite of the fact that they had seen His power at work in the many miracles He had performed.  This is because they had yet to come to realize the true identity of our Lord.  Of course, it would be unrealistic to expect them to confess in the divinity of the Lord.  The authority that Christ had given to them to perform miracles and cast out evil spirits had yet to be fully tested.

Jesus once again demonstrated His authority over the demonic powers not just in people but over the demonic and chaotic nature.  In rebuking the wind, it showed the power of Jesus over nature and the evil spirits which were believed to be lurking in the seas.  Significantly and paradoxically, when the outer storms were calmed, the inner storms of the disciples began.   Instead of feeling at ease and at peace, the story of the calming of the storm ended in fear.  They were terrified and even more afraid after Jesus commanded the wind to be quiet and calm.  “They were filled with awe and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’”

Today, the Lord invites us to come to terms with our fears.  Unlike the previous miracle, today’s miracle ends with an invitation to reflect and understand the deeper meaning of God’s plan for us by grasping more and more who Jesus is to us.  The miracles of Jesus are more than mere direct expositions of the Kingdom of God. They reveal the true identity of our Lord.  They are parables in action inviting us to consider deeply who Jesus is and what it means to believe.   If Jesus could calm the storm, then who is He?  This was the same question God asked Job to ponder as well when, like the apostles, he accused the Lord of being indifferent to his suffering.  “From the heart of the tempest, the Lord gave Job his answer.”  He asked him who had power over nature, the seas and the weather.

St Paul too came to full recognition of Jesus’ identity only after encountering Him in the resurrection.  Before that, he was judging Jesus by external criteria, just like how we assess a person by his status, his background, his neighborhood, the car he drives, the clothes he wears, etc.  He judged “by the standards of the flesh.”  He was simply measuring Jesus as a man, a deviant and a rebel against the Mosaic Law.  But after the Lord appeared to him and revealed His true identity, he was radically changed.  Hence, he wrote, “Even if we did once know Christ in the flesh, that is not how we know him now. And for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here.”  Knowing the resurrected Christ is even more important than knowing Jesus in the flesh.  With that knowledge that he was persecuting the Lord (Acts 9:5), his life took a radical turn.  He came to understand how Jesus was identified with every man in his suffering and when persecuted.  In the final analysis, the perfect love of God casts out fear.  (1 Jn 4:18)

Hence, before we question God about our suffering and His wisdom, we must first remove our fears through a personal knowledge of Him so that we can encounter the depth of His love and mercy for us.  Like Job and Paul, we will be able to accept Him in faith and entrust our life to Him as the apostles eventually did after His resurrection when they saw the meaning of His passion and death.  Until then, we must keep on searching and deepening our questions about Jesus until we arrive at a personal conviction of His identity.  Unless, we come to this stage, we will not be ready to follow Jesus to Jerusalem, to the cross.  The consequence of knowing our Lord is a change of life, as Paul wrote, “The love of Christ overwhelms us when we reflect that if one man has died for all, then all men should be dead; and the reason he died for all was so that living men should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life for them.”  Hence, before we rule out a person’s faith, let us all be clear that on earth, we live a dynamic tension between fear and faith, more than doubt and faith.   With prayer, we can overcome fear because when we enjoy intimacy with the Lord, we will know His love and that love drives out fear.


Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved. The contents of this page may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission from the Archbishop’s Office. This includes extracts, quotations, and summaries.


Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.

Bible

If you love, you will keep my commandments.