MASS SCHEDULES

Monday to Friday
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2:00pm – 5:00pm

Saturday
10:30am to 1:00pm

Sunday & Public Holidays
Closed.

As of 15th August 2021

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

Monday to Friday
9:00am to 11:30am
2:00pm to 5:00pm

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

Sunday & Public Holidays
Closed.

As of 1st September 2021

Monday to Friday
9.00 am to 6.00 pm

Saturday & Sundays
9.00 am to 1.00 pm

Public Holidays
Closed

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Monday to Friday:

  • 6.30 am (420pax PET/ Vaccinated only)
  • 6.00 pm (420pax PET/ Vaccinated only)

Saturday:

  • 6.30 am (420pax PET/ Vaccinated only)
  • 5.30 pm (420pax PET/ Vaccinated only)

Sunday:

  • 6.45 am (420pax PET/ Vaccinated only)
  • 9.00 am (420pax PET/ Vaccinated only)
  • 11.00 am (420pax PET/ Vaccinated only)
  • 1.00pm (Mandarin)(420pax PET/ Vaccinated only)
  • 5.30 pm (50pax unvaccinated)

Public Holiday:

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

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17 September, 2021, Friday, 24th Week, Ordinary Time

September 17, 2021

CONTENTMENT THE KEY TO LASTING HAPPINESS

Many of us find life rather tiring because of constant feuds, quarrels and division in our family, office and in our community.  Happiness seems to be out of our reach, even for those of us who are actively involved in Church and in ministry.  If we who are supposed to be godly people cannot find happiness and peace, what more can we say for those in the world.  So what is the cause of much of our unhappiness if not for the fact that we lack the spirit of contentment?  The answer to happiness is not to fulfil man’s ambition for power, fame, wealth and luxury, but to take away his desires.  St James warns us, “For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.”  (Jms 3:16)

The truth is that the craving to have more of everything does not belong to just those who are worldly but even those who are in religion.  Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis have always reminded us of spiritual worldliness.  This is what St Paul warned the young Bishop Timothy as well.  There were divisions in the Christian community because some teachers were spewing novelties in their teaching and misleading others in their faith. St Paul wrote, all these come from those who are “full of self-conceit – with a craze for questioning everything and arguing about words.  All that can come of this is jealousy, contention, abuse and wicked mistrust of one another; and unending disputes by people who are neither rational nor informed and imagine that religion is a way of making a profit.”

Some ministers and ministry members are more concerned about fame, popularity, numbers and the money they bring into the organization or themselves than about changing lives and uplifting the misery of people.  It is not about the conversion of lives but making use of people’s vulnerability to enrich themselves.  Indeed, we must be wary of those preachers that make use of religion to boost their self-image or to give false hope to those who are desperate by cheating them of their money, promising them prosperity if they give some “seed-money” to God.  Ministers of religion, clergy and lay, must be mindful that what they do must benefit the community rather than themselves.

This is why the Church has the evangelical counsel of poverty.  This does not mean that the Church is preaching poverty as a virtue.  The Church is not asking us to live like beggars.  Being poor is not what the evangelical spirit of poverty is all about.  It is to live a life of simplicity.  It is a life of contentment, being satisfied with what we have, especially material things.  It is to live a life of detachment, learning to enjoy the blessings of God that are given to us in many ways.  The best gift of life is nature itself, which does not cost us money to enjoy.  Contentment does not mean complacency either.  It does not mean that we do not seek to excel in what we do in life, to do better in our studies, projects or mission work.  No, it means we are called to do our best and be contented with our best.  In other words, we do what we do with a sense of mission, responsibility and zeal, not because of a personal ambition to prove oneself.  

St Paul made it clear, “religion, of course, does bring large profits, but only those who are content with what they have.  We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it; but as long as we have food and clothing, let us be content with that.” Contentment is true riches.  A person who is contented is always full.  The difference between a rich and a poor man is not how much he possesses but how much he needs to be happy.  If a man needs $5 million to be happy and another only $5,000, the man who needs less is much richer than the one who needs more.   St Paul exhorts us that if we have the basic needs, food and clothing, and I add accommodation, we have already the basic ingredients for happiness.  But to be truly happy, we need more than physical and material fulfilment; we need to build lasting relationships with God and with our fellowmen.

In the final analysis, we must be honest and ask ourselves, who are the happiest people in this world?  Surely not the rich, the famous, or the powerful!  Otherwise, those who have reached the top of the world’s ladder of success, would have been the happiest and most secure people in the world.  But they are not!  The most affluent nations in the world do not have the happiest people on earth.  This is why riches, wealth, fame and power are illusions.  Many of us think money and power can bring us security, peace and happiness.  This is an illusion.

They cannot bring us happiness or give us real security.  The more wealth and power we have, the more anxious we become.  The greater is our wealth, power and fame, the greater is the fear of losing what we have.  That is why, the more we have, the more insecure we are, and the more problems we have, as people are always after our wealth and property.  There will be division, quarrels and jealousy among our loved ones, friends and colleagues.  Money and power cannot secure our health; in fact, often it is because of money, living a luxurious life and the desire to be at the top that invites competition and enemies.  Our health will be destroyed.  At any rate, money cannot buy health.  Least of all, money and power and fame cannot buy true love.  

Hence, St Paul warns us not just of the illusions of wealth and power but also of temptations.  “People who long to be rich are a prey to temptation; they get trapped into all sorts of foolish and dangerous ambitions which eventually plunge them into ruin and destruction.  ‘The love of money is the root of all evils’ and there are some who, pursuing it, have wandered away from the faith, and so given their souls any number of fatal wounds.”  The desire for money and power is insatiable.  It is like drinking sea-water.  The more we drink the thirstier we become.  Those who love money, power and fame, will never know the word “enough”.  They will not know how to stop pursuing such things for the sake of them.

How sad that there are some who spend their entire life chasing after money and fame but forget how to live.  They have no time for God and for their loved ones and friends.  They have no time to enjoy the gifts of God’s creation and the blessings He has bestowed on them.  Their whole life is spent on procuring more and more wealth, fighting with people over positions and power, manipulating one another, feeling envious and insecure.  They forget that the happiest moments in a person’s life is the friendships we have established and the time we spent with each other, and the fun we had together. True friends cannot be bought at any price.  Meaningful relationships are what matters at the end of the day.

Such relationships must extend beyond our friends and loved ones.  It must be extended to those in need, those who are suffering and those who are hungry.  Often, rich people find out too late, that reaching out to those who are poor and in need, making a difference in their life, lighting up their faces, giving them hope and meaning, bring us greater joy and happiness than all the money we can make.  Truly, only the fruits of our work, namely, love, peace, joy can be brought over into the next life.

Most of all, what truly matters is our relationship with God.  If God is a stranger to us on earth, we will feel so fearful at our deathbed because we do not know where we are going and who will be with us.  But if God is our friend on this earth, we will rest secure in the knowledge that we are in safe hands and in great company. Jesus will accompany us to our heavenly Father where we will enjoy eternal love, peace and joy.  This is the secret of the holy women who accompanied Jesus and the apostles in today’s gospel.  They did not seek the limelight, to be in the forefront.  They were happy to be able to assist Jesus in His mission in the background without having to compete with anyone.  Each in their own ways was quietly helping Jesus according to whatever resources they had.  They must have been the happiest people in the gospel because they were the richest, in love, in service, in humility and most of all, knowing that they too were serving God by serving the Lord.


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.

15 September, 2021, Wednesday, Our Lady of Sorrows

September 15, 2021

ACCOMPANIMENT IN SORROWS

Yesterday, we celebrated the triumph of the Holy Cross. Today we celebrate Mary, our Lady of Sorrows to accompany us so that our sufferings will also result in triumph over sin and death.  The key to sharing in the triumph of the Holy Cross is humble submission to our sufferings, just as our Lord and our Blessed mother did, “During his life on earth, he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard.”  We too must carry our cross after our Lord.  Just because we pray does not mean that God will take away our crosses.  God did not spare Jesus from His passion and crucifixion.   So too, He does not always take away our pain but He gives us the strength to endure it.

However, we do not carry it alone.  That is why prayer is so necessary to find strength in the Lord.  We need to depend on God just as Christ did on the cross.  “Christ offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death.”  Christ sought strength from His Father so that He could find the courage to do His will.  In fact, throughout His ministry, He would withdraw from His disciples to pray because He knew that His strength and power to complete His mission depended on His Father.  But prayer is not enough because we need the support of our brothers and sisters.  Even the Lord in His agony at the Garden said to His apostles, ‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’  When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’”  (Lk 22:4045f)

Indeed, we must never allow people to suffer alone. We are reminded to carry it with others.  This was what the Lord said about being His disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”  (Mt 16:24) We carry our cross with Jesus and with Mary as well.  This is why at the cross, we see mother and son supporting each other.  When Jesus was suffering tremendously alone on the cross, Mary was there with Jesus in His last moments.  She was carrying the pain of our Lord and His forgiveness towards His enemies in her heart.  She never abandoned the Lord in bad times.  Her presence would have consoled our Lord because even His closest apostles abandoned Him when He was in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

As Christians we too are called to support each other in our suffering.  At the cross, St John wrote, “Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing hear her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.’ Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother.’ And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.”  The act of calling Mary, “Woman”, and the unnamed disciple, is John’s way of allowing Mary to be the Mother of the Church, symbolized by the unnamed disciple, the one that Jesus loved.  At the same time, the unnamed disciple represents all Christians whom the Lord loves.   In other words, by giving the Church to Mary, and Mary to the Church, it is a reminder that the new community of Christians, which is no longer defined in biological terms but in our common relationship with the Lord, must now care for each other as their own.  Indeed, we must always support each other in times of suffering, illness, grief and bereavement.

But in order for us to support each other effectively, we must not look at suffering as if it is outside of us.  The letter of Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.”  (Heb 4:15) Christ became man so that He could suffer with us and not just for us.  Suffering brings about solidarity with our fellowmen.  When we begin to feel what others are going through, we learn compassion and forgiveness.  This is why we can turn to Jesus who is “the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  (Heb 4:16)

Just as we turn to the Lord, the Church also invites us to turn to Mary because no one other than Mary would have suffered so much in seeing her only Son humiliated, scourged and crucified in the most shameful manner.  Although she did not suffer physically, she was a martyr in spirit, and she would have united her suffering with that of our Lord.  This is the reason why the Church has traditionally addressed Mary as the Co-redemptrix.  Mary had accompanied Jesus in the work of redemption even until the cross, sharing with Him His suffering and death for the salvation of the world.  Of course, this is not to say that salvation is wrought through Mary equally with our Lord.  Only our Lord could save us from sin by His death on the cross.  The term co-redemptrix is used analogously to that of Jesus as our redeemer, but this does not discount her role in the work of redemption.

In this context, when we celebrate the Memorial of our Lady of Sorrows, traditionally, the Church invites us to reflect on the seven sorrows of Mary so that we feel accompanied in our pain and grief, and we are not alone in our suffering.  In the first place, we recall the prophecy of Simeon when our Lady presented Jesus at the Temple, offering Him to God.  His prophecy foreshadowed both the suffering of her son and herself. “You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.”   Mary as the co-redemptrix suffered with her Son in His life from the time He was born right until the cross.  His birth in a manger was followed by the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt when they faced persecution at home and had to take refuge in a foreign land hostile towards the Jews.  After returning to Nazareth where Jesus grew up, at the age of Twelve, He was lost at the Temple for three days, anticipating the paschal mystery, His passion, death and resurrection.  Just as Mary “treasured all these things in her heart” (Lk 2:19), she too remained in continuous contemplation at her Son’s passion, death and resurrection.

Most of all, Mary’s suffering climaxed at the passion of her Son.  She followed Jesus carrying His cross upon His bruised shoulders to Mount Calvary.  He was humiliated and treated mercilessly by the soldiers.  At Mount Calvary, she saw how they nailed her Son to the cross and the unspeakable suffering that He went through in pain and in thirst.  Upon His death, Mary took Him down from the cross to clean up His wounds and later entombed Him.  It must have been such a sorry sight to hold the body of her crucified Son to her bosom as she did when Jesus was a child.

Indeed, when we reflect on the seven sorrows of Mary, we wonder where she got the strength to carry all these pains in her heart.  The answer lies in love.  She carried her pain with the love of God in her heart.  When there is love for God and for her fellowmen, including her enemies, she could accept the innocent and unjust suffering of her Son.  She knew that the suffering she carried with her Son would not be carried in vain but for the greater good of humanity.   So too, when we suffer, we should not suffer for ourselves but for others and for the salvation of souls.   We can embrace suffering and the will of God, knowing that our suffering can bring hope to humanity and point them to the love of God.

Love leads to obedience.  The letter of Hebrews says, “Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.”  Because Jesus “submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard”, not in the sense that He was delivered from physical suffering but God gave Him the strength to obey His divine will.  It was His obedience that saved us all.  If we want to accept our crosses and submit humbly, we too must pray earnestly like our Lord, growing in intimacy with Him, feeling His love and presence in our lives.  Only then can we find the strength like our Blessed Mother to surrender ourselves to the will of God.  Like Mary, in His will is our peace.


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.

14 September, 2021, Tuesday, The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

September 14, 2021

THE DOUBLE ASPECTS OF THE HOLY CROSS

Is the feast of the Holy Cross a duplication of the celebration of Good Friday when we commemorate the crucifixion and death of our Lord?  Yes, it is if we are simply commemorating the suffering of our Lord.   But today’s feast is not so much focused on the suffering and death of our Lord but the victory that the cross has gained for humanity.  On Good Friday, we focus on the passion of our Lord so that we are conscious of what are sins have done to Him.  Our sins have caused our brothers and sisters to suffer, including ourselves.  But if we just focus on our sins and our sufferings, we can end up feeling hopeless.

Some of us like to dwell on our past mistakes, our sufferings and our pain.  We keep remembering the pains that we have caused to others, and those that they have caused us.  We remember the humiliation, the agony, the struggles and the sufferings we went through because of them.  We cannot forgive or let go of things that happened in the past.  And then there are some of us who cannot let go of the death of our loved ones.   Some of us even keep things exactly as they were when our child or our loved ones passed away tragically.  We want those things to remain so that we can dwell on the nostalgic past. We live in perpetual bereavement, mourning what we had lost instead of moving on in life.   Such remembrance of the past will do us greater harm than good.  It makes us live in the past.

Celebrating the Exaltation of the Cross is to celebrate what the cross has achieved for us, if we understand the role of the cross in our lives rightly.  The world is most afraid of suffering and death.  It seeks pleasure and freedom from all pain.  This is why more and more people are advocating euthanasia for those who find life meaningless.  This is a less painful way of committing suicide than taking poison, overdose on drugs or even jumping from a height.   The cross is a taboo for most people, a shame and something to resist.  There is no religion that has a symbol of something apparently negative to express their faith.  Even some Christians fight shy of the cross by focusing on the prosperity gospel, miracles and healings.  It is not wrong to speak about the victory that Christ has brought to the world, but we must never forget that this victory is possible only through the cross.  To underscore the victory of the cross without the suffering is misleading. 

This is why it is important to focus on the two aspects of the cross.  The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross provides the perspective in meditating on the passion and death of our Lord on Good Friday.  These two aspects of the cross are presented in Christian tradition, firstly as a crucifix with the corpus of the crucified Lord, dramatically presented as one who had been tortured, stripped, His face and body in anguish and blood oozing out from His wounds. The other aspect of Christian tradition is to present the Cross without the corpus of Christ, which most non-Catholic Christians do.  This is to emphasize the triumph of the Holy Cross, His resurrection and victory over sin and death.  

Both aspects of the cross are present in the scriptures.  In the gospel, Jesus said to Nicodemus: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of Man who is in heaven; and the Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”  This lifting up of the Son of Man must be understood from the perspective of Jesus being lifted up on the cross for all to see.  The second aspect of being lifted up is His glorification when He was raised from the dead and then lifted up into heaven at the Ascension where He shares the glory and the authority of the Father, for that is the symbol of being seated at His right hand. Indeed, there cannot be an exaltation without first going through the passion.

This double aspect of the cross is also brought out in St Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  Once again, we see the descent of our Lord, being stripped of His divinity and sharing our humanity, even under death on the cross, a death in the most shameful, humiliating and painful manner.  But the lower He sank, the higher He rose.  “God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” 

It is therefore beneficial to us to begin by contemplating on the passion of Christ on the cross.  Meditating on the wounds and sufferings of our Lord can help us to cope with our pain and suffering because we know that we are not suffering alone.  But how consoling to know that God understands our suffering and the struggles of humanity.  As the letter of Hebrews says, “Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  (Heb 4:14-16) Knowing that God in Christ has gone through all we have gone through, the pain, loneliness, rejection, ridicule, humiliation, we are confident that God will help us to overcome our struggles.

Secondly, by meditating on the cross of our Lord, we come to know the triumph of God’s love for us.  As Jesus said, “Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.” Believing in God’s love in our sorrows and helplessness will give us hope in our struggles.  That God chose to share in our humanity and pain by emptying Himself, shows His solidarity with us.  But more than solidarity, He wants to reveal to us the depth of His love for us sinners.  He wants to show us His mercy and compassion for us in our sins so that, inspired by His utter love for us, we will live no longer for ourselves but for Him who died and was raised for us.  (cf 2 Cor 5:15) Assured of His love, we can endure everything.  When there is love, there is no sacrifice we cannot do, not just for God but for our loved ones.

Thirdly, the triumph of the cross is seen in repentance, forgiveness of sins and a new life that begins here and now, and eternal life with God.  Through the cross of our Lord, many are brought to repentance after having encountered His love and mercy for them.  Liberated from the chains of their past, their addictions, and inability to forgive themselves, they find themselves a new creation.  No longer are they afraid of suffering and death because they see them as the means to come to realization of the consequences of their sins and a means of purification in love as they die to themselves.  But most of all, meditating on the victory of the cross over sin and death, we know that victory is at hand for us as well.    

Indeed, Christ comes to show us the way to suffer for love and how to overcome death in this life and in the world to come.  The cross is the symbol of victory of love over suffering, life over death.   It is the way of love and humble service, the way of self-emptying.  It is the way to live in such a way that we who believe in Him, even though we die, will live and we who live and believe in Him will never die.  (Jn 11:25) St Paul makes it clear, “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.  If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.  For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”  (Rom 14:7-9) With the crucifix and the cross in our minds, we can cope with all the suffering, inconvenience and tragedies of life.  So instead of complaining like the Israelites about their dissatisfaction with life, we see the good of it.  We know that we suffer not in vain but for a greater good, for humanity and ourselves.  We are confident that God will not test us beyond our strength but that He will help us to gain victory in the end.


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.

13 September, 2021, Monday, 24th Week, Ordinary Time

September 13, 2021

CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD

Being Church today is very different from those who lived before the 18th Century, where people were homogenous and were religions as well.  But in the world of the 20th century, with advancement in science, technology and communication, globalization and migration, the world has become a village.  People are so connected and whatever is said or done will be known in a matter of minutes.  Society has become more cosmopolitan, made up of diverse races, cultures and religions and those without religions.  At the same time, society has become more secular in the name of neutrality towards all religions.  But it has indirectly also promoted the absence of the sacred in public space leading to a vacuum in the religious life of people.

How, then, does the Church relate with the modern world?  How do we continue to hold on to our belief in Christ? St Paul says, “there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all.”  Not all believe in one God as there are many who are polytheists, who worship spirits and deities.   Many more are atheists, agnostics or humanists, believing that there is nothing beyond this earth.  All power lies in the hands of humanity and there is nothing we cannot do.  Lesser still would believe that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man.  The Christian belief that Jesus is the Saviour of the world or the Way, the Truth and the Life in the view of non-believers, smacks of a superiority complex.

Indeed, we are living in a very precarious and fragile world, where any unintended words or actions could cause negative reactions, violence and even killing.  Racial and religious differences, if not properly handled, can cause immense sufferings to everyone and destroy the peace and harmony of society.  This is why the Church, in spite of her faith in Christ as the One mediator between God and man, the Saviour of the World because of His death and resurrection, must be sensitive and humble in our approach to those who differ from us.  We cannot practise our faith or evangelize using the same methods of our forefathers in the early Church or the medieval period.  Then, society was different as everything was self-contained.  Then, people were uneducated and unsophisticated.  Family life was basic and simple.  The father went out to work and brought back the food, the mother looked after the children.  Life was centred around the family, the village and the community.   All had the same culture and the same faith.  So it was easier to promote unity and community living.

The starting point for us in regarding non-Christians is that they are all loved by God.  St Paul said, “To do this is right, and will please God our saviour: he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth.”  No one is excluded from salvation, even those who do not know Him explicitly.  In the gospel, Jesus showed His care not just for His fellow Jews but even for the Gentiles.  The Good News excludes no one, and is offered to all.  Regardless of our position in life, high or low status, our race, language or religion, saint or sinner, the gospel is directed at us all.  For those who do not know God explicitly, the Church believes that by following their conscience, which is an implicit acknowledgement of Christ as the Word of God, they could be saved.  (Lumen Gentium 16)   At any rate, the Church “rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ (Jn 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.”  (Nostra Aetate, 2)

The scripture readings today provide us good guidelines in living out our faith in today’s world.  Firstly, St Paul tells us “there should be prayers offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving.”  Before, we even talk about evangelization, we must pray.   We do not pray for ourselves but for all of humanity.  As Christians, we could bring our petitions directly to God our Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.  But we must also intercede for those who do not know Him.  Intercession for those who do not know how to pray is very important as it helps us to be focused as a community on those with whom we are in solidarity.  And finally, we should always thank God for the good things that are happening in our community, regardless of who contributes and makes it happen.  Giving thanks to God is a sign of gratitude and also hope for greater things to come.  Not everything is perfect but our minds must be positive to whichever church, organization, community or nation we belong to.  Unless we are positive and hopeful that things will get better, we will be negative towards whatever we see, and the people we engage with.  When we are positive towards people, we will also gain their support and receptivity.  This was the case of the Centurion in the gospel in his attitude towards the Jews.  He was friendly and supportive towards their needs.

Secondly, we must be in good relationship with political and civil authorities.  St Paul urges the community to pray “especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet.”  Indeed, religions should not be at odds with political and civil authority.  The legitimate government of the day must be respected and accorded obedience.  They are responsible for law and order, and the common good of everyone.  This is why religions must pray for those holding political and civil authority.  It is immaterial whether they are believers or not.  What is important is that they are doing what is good for everyone.  We must pray that they will be blessed with wisdom, foresight, fortitude and knowledge to govern the people wisely, promoting peace and unity, building a gracious society.  Even when some governments oppress the Church and religions, all the more we must pray for them.  We must remember that when St Paul was exhorting the Christians to pray for those in political authority, he was referring to the Roman Emperor and his officers. However, as a Catholic community, we do not practise partisan politics.  We remain neutral and our task as Church is to cooperate with the government in their efforts to promote what is good for the country.  As individuals, Catholics should be involved in politics for the good of the people.  They should articulate their opinions and help the government to find the right policies that are good for our people and fair to all, irrespective of race, culture and religions.

Thirdly, political and civil authorities should support those in religions without practicing discrimination and favouritism towards any particular group.  The mistake of some secular governments is that in their endeavour to remain impartial, they over-react to some religious fanatics by being hostile towards religions in general.  Whilst a secular government might be good to ensure harmony among religions when it becomes hostile to religions, it becomes an enemy instead.  We must take a page from the centurion.  Although, he was a gentile and a government official, most likely of King Herod, he was favourable towards the Jews and even went to the extent of using his position, wealth and influence to help them build the synagogue.  He was friendly to the people and won them over as their friend.  He might not be a Jew but it did not matter.  He gave them his support in whatever ways he could.  So much so, when the Centurion’s servant was ill and dying, he asked the help of the Jewish elders to implore Jesus to come and heal his servant.  “When they came to Jesus they pleaded earnestly with him.  ‘He deserves this of you.”

Finally, he was culturally and religiously sensitive.  He knew that he was a gentile and it was not right for a gentile to interact with Jews, especially a holy man.  So instead of coming to Jesus personally, he sent the Jewish elders to make a request to Jesus out of respect for Him.  Again, when he heard that Jesus was near his house, he quickly sent word to Jesus through his friends, “Sir do not put yourself to trouble; because I am not worthy to have you under my roof; and for this same reason I did not presume to come to you myself; but give the word and let my servant be cured.”  He was aware that a Jew could not enter the house of a gentile without being made ritually unclean.  It is this cultural and religious sensitivity that we need to exercise in our relationship with people of other faiths or cultures.  We should learn to respect others’ beliefs and sensitivities.  To do so shows our sincere love for them and also our humility as well.  In this way, we promote inter-religious dialogue and harmony, hoping that all will come to the fulness of truth in Christ Jesus.


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.

12 September, 2021, Sunday, 24th Week, Ordinary Time

September 12, 2021

THE GOAL OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION

Today, the Archdiocese celebrates Catholic Education Sunday.  Whenever we celebrate Catholic Education Sunday, we tend to focus narrowly on our Catholic Schools as the means by which we provide a Catholic Education to our Catholics studying in our Catholic Schools, and to all students irrespective of religions.  In the context of Catholic education, the objective is more than just imparting faith, but to ensure that Catholic Faith is the underlying foundation in the way our students are formed in their secular knowledge and skills, values and ethos.  It seeks to provide a Catholic ambience and a welcoming and all-embracing community.  The vision of Catholic Education is to form our young people to contribute to society and Church.  Catholic Education therefore seeks an integral development of our students, which means intellectual, affective, emotional, physical and spiritual.

In the second reading, St James’ message is clear, that faith cannot be separated from life.  He said, “Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.”  When we speak of Catholic education, it is more than just imparting Catholic doctrines or teaching our young people about the scriptures.   It is not just an intellectual faith but a faith that touches the heart and expresses itself in charity.   As St James warns us in the same chapter, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren?”  (Jam 2:19f) Evangelization is not proselytization or spreading an ideology.  It is about helping people to live a good life.

Confession of faith in Christ is more than just an intellectual affirmation of the identity of Jesus.  St Peter, in spite of the fact that he got the right answer to the identity of Jesus, failed to grasp the content of his declaration.  He did not fully understand what it meant for Jesus to be the Christ.  He and the others were still thinking of Jesus as a political liberator against the Romans, restorer of the Kingdom of David to its golden age, and to achieve this end in a triumphalist manner.  To prevent the apostles from imparting the wrong vision of Him, Jesus “gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.”  The truth is that they did not know the full implication of their confession of faith in Christ and the content of that confession.  Hence, when Jesus spoke of His imminent death, “taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way, but man’s.’”  Peter was indeed the instrument of Satan tempting Jesus the same way the Devil sought to tempt Him at the very beginning of His ministry.  Then, the Devil had challenged Jesus to show off His power by jumping from the pinnacle of the Temple, to change stone to bread to satisfy His hunger, and to pursue the wealth, glory and kingdom of this earth.  (Mt 4:1-11)

Faith calls for commitment to the Lord who is the Son of the Living God, and fidelity to the Church, since Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom.   Hence St Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Christ is followed up by Jesus prophesying His imminent passion and death. “He began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again.”  He concluded by declaring, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”  Indeed, the disciple of Christ must be ready to give up his life like Christ, for the sake of the gospel and to take up his cross of suffering, persecution, rejection and humiliation.

How, then, can we move from an intellectual faith in Christ to a living faith in Christian life?  Often, we wonder how it is that our children who have been formed in faith, attended catechism classes for 10 years, or even our adults who have gone through RCIA, some of whom even attended advanced courses, seminars and institutes and earning diplomas and degrees in theology and scriptures, live anything but a Catholic way of life.  They live worldly lives, adopt the values and moral judgment of the world, and think like worldly people.  Many of them are selective in what they choose to believe, some have stopped going to church or dropped out of the faith entirely.  They think the Church is outdated and the teachings of scripture are not helpful in today’s world because the rest of the world is more pragmatic in approach, and individualistic in making decisions. It seeks immediate gratification, and freedom in everything, whether in sex, in love, or in speech. Without faith, it is understandable why the teachings of the Church cannot be accepted by the world, because many moral principles are not just based on natural laws but on doctrinal positions of how we see man and creation from the perspective of faith.  

To move from mere intellectual faith of our Lord to a personal faith in Christ, which is all important, the Lord asked His disciples, “Who do people say I am? But you, he asked, ‘who do you say I am?’”  Jesus was not impressed with what others were saying about Him.  In the final analysis, it is not what we know about Jesus but how well we know Him personally.  If we have faith in Him as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, then we would surrender our entire life to Him because we trust He knows best as He is the Wisdom of God, and the perfect man.  And even if we do not understand or agree with what He taught us, we submit in faith simply because Jesus is God.  As God, He is omniscient and omnipotent.  So it is not just a matter of being able to articulate our faith in Him in words but whether what we declare is really what we believe in our hearts.  Unless it is a personal faith in Him, such intellectual faith will not change our lives or affect the way we live.

This is what Catholic Education must do for everyone and this includes us all.  Catholic education is not just for students, it is meant for all. The danger is that many adult Catholics think they no longer have to be formed in their faith.  Many of us hardly grow in knowledge and understanding of our faith.  We read widely almost about everything under the sun except our Faith.  We do not take seriously the importance of growing in our faith in Christ.  Most of all, many do not belong to a small Catholic community that could provide them a lived Christianity, where there is mutual support, love and understanding.  In other words, they do not have a Catholic ambience at home or in church.  This explains why in many of our Catholic homes, faith is dichotomized from life.  Our young people have stopped going to church because they do not experience the love of Christ in their lives or a Catholic atmosphere, whether of a prayerful community or the presence of Catholic symbols and Catholic practices.

Unless, our faith is grounded in our personal conviction of our Lord, we will always have unsettled questions, making us doubt our faith in Christ.  The folly of Catholics is that they doubt the faith when they should be doubting their doubts.  If Christ is the Son of God, then He will ensure that the Church is protected as He promised Peter after His declaration.  Only with that personal faith in Christ, can we truly help our students to grow up to have strong values rooted in the gospel, and spurred to do good not just out of humanitarian reasons but for the love of God, and most of all, for the salvation of their souls beyond this life.  Without such a personal faith in God, like Jeremiah, it will be difficult to stand up for our values because we will face many oppositions.  Only with that personal faith in God, can we say, “The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults.  So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.”  When we have faith in God, all our questions will disappear, not because they have been answered but because in faith we believe that Jesus knows best.  In the final analysis, faith is the answer, intellectual questioning can help us to understand the faith.  Theology is faith seeking for understanding.  Trying to understand Faith without faith is a futile task.  It is the heart that understands when reason does not know.


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.