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Daily Scripture reflections
by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing

Rev. Anthony Man-Son-Hing is a priest of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. Born in Georgetown, Guyana on 23 November 1965, Anthony moved to Canada along with his family in 1974.

He attended elementary and secondary schools in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and received a Bachelor of Arts at Wilfrid Laurier University (1988), He pursued Theology studies at Saint Augustine's Seminary in Toronto (1988-1993) and was ordained to the priesthood on May 14, 1993 for the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. Fr. Anthony is currently serving as Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima and Ste-Marie parishes in Elliot Lake, Ontario as well as Pastor of Ste-Famille parish in Blind River, Ontario.

— The following content is reproduced with permission of Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing

His Word Today: Stories

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
22 September 2018, 7:28 am
Good morning everyone,

Do you remember a time during your childhood when you were introduced to the magical world of Walt Disney films, or when you allowed your imagination to run away on the adventures proposed by the best of children's authors?  Those stories entertained us for hours.  It was only many years later, after we had grown up, that we realized the wisdom that such masterpieces contained: not only were they captivating the spirits and hearts of children, they were also imparting wisdom that was preparing us for adulthood.

The same can be said for the stories that Jesus told, like the one that appears in today's gospel passage.  It starts out innocently enough: all - or at least most - of those who were listening would instantly have identified with a sower going out into his field to sow seeds (cf Lk 8:5), but before they realized it, Jesus was using this image to teach a very valuable lesson about how his words find their way into some people's hearts but are resisted or even rejected by others' (cf Lk 8:5-8).

It seems as though the world around us is constantly urging us to blame others for our misfortune, but Jesus is reminding us to turn things back around: this good news story - the fact that Jesus suffered, died and rose again to new life - is our destiny too.  Instead of blaming everyone else for our misfortunes, we should rejoice in the fact that such a promise has been made to us, and look forward to the joy of eternal life.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Matthew

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
21 September 2018, 7:23 am
Saint Matthew and the Angel
by Guido Reni
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Matthew, the Apostle.  Matthew was a first-century Galilean, the son of Alpheus, who is referred to as Levi the tax collector in some parts of the gospels.  He would have been literate in Aramaic and in Greek, but his fellow Jews would have despised him because tax collectors were understood to be collaborating with the Roman occupiers.

Jesus encountered Matthew, as he also encounters each one of us.  The scriptures say that as Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post, and he said to him: 'Follow me' (Mt 9:9).  When the word saw is used in the gospels, we must understand that Jesus not only saw him with his eyes, but that he saw all the hidden parts of Matthew, all of his potential, all that he had been hiding - from himself or from others - and that Jesus loved all that he saw.  He invited Matthew to follow him, and this invitation changed the tax collector's life.

In response to Jesus' invitation, Matthew issued his own invitation for Jesus to come to dinner at his house.  This act of generosity is an expected outcome of those who come to recognize the generosity of God when we too are seen, loved and called.  Are you aware of the moment when Jesus saw you in this way, when he called you and invited you to follow him?  Can you recall the reaction of overwhelming generosity in answer to such an invitation?  An authentic call that comes from God will always be the result of such an encounter, and the result of our yes will always be an exceeding awareness of joy.  Give thanks today for the gift of having been called, and for having had the courage to accept the invitation to follow Jesus.

Have a great day.

His Word Today; Saint Andrew Kim Taegon

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
20 September 2018, 8:14 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of Saint Andrew Kim Taegon (21 August 1821 - 16 September 1846), who was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and the patron saint of that country.

In the early part of the nineteenth century, Roman Catholicism began to slowly take root in Korea, introduced by scholars who visited China and brought back Western books translated into Chinese. In 1836 the first consecrated missionaries (members of the Paris Foreign Missions Society) arrived, only to find out that the people there were already practicing Korean Catholics.

Saint Andrew's parents were converts and his father was subsequently martyred for practising Christianity, a prohibited activity in heavily Confucian Korea. After being baptized at age 15, Andrew studied at a seminary in the Portuguese colony of Macau. He also spent time in study at Lolomboy, Bocaue, Bulacan, Philippines, where today he is also venerated. He was ordained a priest in Shanghai after nine years (1844) and then returned to Korea to preach and evangelize.  Like Saint Paul, Saint Andrew handed on to his contemporaries as of first importance what he also had received (1 Cor 15:3): faith and belief in Jesus.

During the Joseon Dynasty, Christianity was suppressed and many Christians were persecuted and executed. Catholics had to covertly practise their faith. Andrew was one of several thousand Christians who were executed during this time. In 1846, at the age of 25, he was tortured and beheaded near Seoul on the Han River. His last words were:

This is my last hour of life, listen to me attentively: if I have held communication with foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him.

On 6 May 1984, Pope John Paul II canonized Saint Andrew Kim along with 102 other Korean Martyrs, including Paul Chong Hasang, during his trip to Korea.  Let us ask these brave pioneers in the faith to pray for us, that we in our turn may find the words and the courage to live lives that will inspire others to follow in Jesus' footsteps.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Clarity

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
19 September 2018, 8:00 am
Good morning everyone,

No matter who we are, if we want to find answers, we have to be able to hear the questions, and our ability to hear the questions that are asked can be obscured by the noise that sometimes surrounds us.  Some questions - the most important ones - can only be answered once we have managed to filter out the noise.  Without such a filter, we can easily become confused about the aim of our search.

Aware of the distractions that were keeping the people of his generation from finding their way, Jesus used the images of John the Baptist who came neither eating food nor drinking wine and the Son of Man who came eating and drinking (Jn 7:33-34) - opposite extremes, to illustrate the fact that the people of his generation seemed not to know what they really wanted.

We all need to ask the Lord to grant us the wisdom not to get lost in the noise that surrounds us.  Rather, he can show us the way to truly listen with clarity for the guidance that he wants to offer us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Compassion

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
18 September 2018, 8:31 am
Good morning everyone,

One of the precious gifts that we learn from Jesus is the ability to be close to others at times in their lives when they are happy, but even more importantly, when they are sad, distraught and grieving.  If we have ever been in a situation where we have tried to console someone who has lost a loved one, we will know how strange it can be to want for words.

It might help to look to Jesus for some guidance with this challenge as well.  When he came upon a woman who was being escorted outside the walls of her hometown so that she could bury her only son, he was not afraid to draw close to her, to enter into the drama that was unfolding and to be present to her in the midst of her grief (cf Lk 7:11-13).

The woman was not capable of absorbing any spoken condolence, but Jesus' actions spoke louder than words.  The same can be true for us.  At times when we cannot absorb the wisdom of the spoken word, the actions of those around us can speak volumes.  Today, let us ask for the grace to recognize those who are in need, even those who are incapable of recognizing their own need, and the courage to act out of love and compassion for them.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Faith

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
17 September 2018, 7:30 am
Good morning everyone,

How many times have you found yourself praying for some favour or another, or perhaps praying for someone who is sick or in need?  Maybe someone has asked you to pray for him or her, and so you do, but do we always take it for granted that our prayers have been heard?  Praying with confidence is entirely different.  When we pray with confidence, we develop confidence that the Lord is listening to us.

In case we should think that such confidence in prayer is not possible, we need only look at today's gospel passage.  A centurion in Capernaum had a slave who was ill and about to die and he sent word to Jesus ... asking him to come and save the life of his slave (Lk 7:2-3), yet while Jesus was still on the way to meet the centurion, he sent word: Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof ... simply say the word and let my servant be healed (Lk 7:6-7).

What faith!  And yet, we too can have this level of trust.  It comes from building a relationship day by day with others - human beings and even God.  Perhaps today, we can ask the Lord to grant us all this level of faith and trust so that we can know with certainty that our prayers are heard and that what we ask for will be granted.

Have a great day.

A journey worth taking

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
16 September 2018, 8:17 am
Why is it that we still tell the story of a certain man who grew up in a remote village in Israel?  Two thousand years have come and gone since he was born, and still people talk about him.  The words he spoke and the things he did still cause us to question our own words and actions.  The research that has been done about him and the books that have been written about him can fill entire libraries.  Still, for those who believe in him and who strive to follow his teachings, intellectual knowledge about him is never enough.  There is always another question that tugs at our hearts, and that question is voiced in the gospel we have just heard: Who do you say that I am? (Mk 8:29).

In order to answer this question, we can do our research: we can seek answers from other people and from other sources (cf Mk 8:27), but ultimately, each one of us must answer Jesus’ question for ourselves.

We may want to answer right away, like the apostle Peter did.  His quick response is a simple profession of faith that we would all like to make our own: You are the Christ! ... but what did Peter understand when he called Jesus the Messiah?  Like his friends, Peter had heard that a saviour would appear, one who had been long awaited, one who would be powerful, one who would restore the glory of Israel and put an end to Roman occupation.  Peter’s vision of the Messiah was defined according to human expectations, but Jesus had a different image of salvation, one that was much wider than the scope of Peter’s vision.

The salvation that Jesus was preparing for would ultimately lead him to Jerusalem and the events that would take place there would impact not only the lives of his faithful disciples, but people all over the world, for centuries to come ... but as Jesus spoke to the disciples about this plan, they could not understand his meaning.  Instead of glory, he spoke about suffering; instead of acceptance, he spoke about rejection; instead of celebration, he spoke of a violent death that was to come (cf Mk 8:31).  Their human intellects could not comprehend the true scope of Jesus’ plan: that his suffering, rejection and death would ultimately lead to the resurrection and to new life.

Two thousand years later, we still have difficulty understanding the true meaning of sacrifice.  It’s not enough for us to merely speak about Jesus, or to base our relationship simply on words that we have learned, words that we have memorized and repeat without thinking about them.  Saint Paul cautions that it is not enough to say that we have faith if we do not also have works by which our words can be brought to life (cf Jas 2:14).

Only those who have encountered Jesus personally, those who take the time to walk with him can learn who he truly is, and following Jesus will always lead us to the cross, for this is the only road that leads to the resurrection and to eternal life where there will be no more suffering, no more death, only endless joy in His presence.

His Word Today: Our Lady of Sorrows

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
15 September 2018, 7:26 am
Seven swords pierce the Sorrowful Heart
of Mary, inside the church of the Holy Cross,
Salamanca, Spain
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.  Devotion to the sorrow of the Virgin Mary traces its history to the thirteenth century.  In 1233, seven youths in Tuscany founded the Servite Order (also known as the Servite Friars, or the Order of the Servants of Mary). Five years later, they adopted the sorrows of Mary, standing under the Cross, as the principal devotion of their Order.

The Seven Sorrows, which should not be confused with the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, are events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary which have become the focus of popular devotion.  They include: The Prophecy of Simeon (Lk 2:34-35); The Flight into Egypt (Mt 2:13); The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem (Lk 2:43-45); The Meeting of Mary and Jesus on the Via Dolorosa; The Crucifixion of Jesus on the Mount of Calvary (Jn 19:25); The piercing of Jesus' side with a spear and His Descent from the Cross (Mt 27:57-59); and The Burial of Jesus (Jn 19:40-42).

Because she endured such sorrow, we believe that Mary is close to all those who suffer.  Let us pray today for all in our world who are in need - whether that need be physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual - and let us ask Mary to help us find the source of our hope in her son Jesus.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: The Triumph of the Cross

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
14 September 2018, 7:29 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, also known as the Exaltation of the Holy Cross or the Elevation of the Cross.  To understand what this Feast is all about, we must back up in time to the third century AD.  The Roman Emperor Constantine's mother - Saint Helena (who was a convert to Christianity) - went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in search of the locations where the important moments in the life of Jesus took place, and in order to preserve the relics of the Christian faith.  One of her goals was to locate the cross on which Jesus died and the place where he had been crucified.

She interviewed many of the locals and enlisted the help of the Bishop of Jerusalem, Saint Macarius.  Eventually, she located the spot and found the true cross which had previously been hidden.  According to the historian Rufinus, the identity of the true cross was confirmed by a miraculous healing which took place on 3 May 326.  Saint Helena had a church built on the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection.  Her son Constantine dedicated it and named it the Church of the Holy Sepulcre on 14 September 335.

The true cross was considered the most valuable of the Church's treasures and became a highly venerated object.  The Feast honouring the Triumph of the Cross has continuously been celebrated - on 3 May in the old Roman calendar (the date of its discovery) and on 14 September in Jerusalem and on the new Roman calendar (the date when the church was dedicated).

Today, let us remember the words of Jesus, spoken to Nicodemus: the son of man has been lifted up so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life (Jn 3:14).

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint John Chrysostom

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
13 September 2018, 7:11 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, a fourth century Doctor of the Church.  John was born in Antioch around the year 347 AD.  He received extensive education before embracing a life of asceticism.  Ordained a priest, he distinguished himself by means of his preaching.  The title of Chrysostom refers to his golden mouth: a reputation that was born of his eloquence. 

By the example of his life and the brilliance of his speech, he was able to challenge his hearers to love their enemies ... do good for those who exhibited hatred ... to bless instead of cursing, and to pray for those who would mistreat them (Lk 6:27-28).

He was elected Bishop of Constantinople - the capital city of the Roman-Byzantine Empire - in 397 and proved himself a very capable pastor.  Twice, he was forced into exile by the hatred of the Imperial court and as a result of the envy of his enemies.  He died on 14 September 407 at Comana in Pontus.

Even today, each one of us, disciples of Jesus, can make a difference in our world by surprising those who witness us loving our enemies, doing good for those who hate us, blessing those who would curse us and praying for those who would prefer to mistreat us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Blessed are you

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
12 September 2018, 7:24 am
Good morning everyone,

If we are honest with ourselves, we will recognize that no matter how successful we are in life, there is always a part of us that remains doubtful about whether we are truly accepted by others.  When we stand before Jesus in prayer, there is always a part of us that might be hesitant to make ourselves vulnerable, yet it is at the moments that we are willing to open our hearts that we truly are able to realize the extent of God's love.

If we were sitting on the hillside when Jesus was speaking the words of the beatitudes, I wonder whether we might have reacted with surprise.  Blessed are you who are poor ... hungry ... weeping ... when other people hate you and denounce you (Lk 6:20-22) - what?  How can someone who is poor, hungry, crying ... be blessed?

In truth, when we recognize our own poverty, our own hunger, our own discomfort with the way life is playing out, our own hunger for justice ... this allows us to understand the pain and struggles that others have to face.  Our blessedness comes from the fact that we are able to identify with those who are suffering, those who feel that they are far from loveable ... and out of our own sense of vulnerability, God shows us that we are able to remind others that He is always close to us, always loving us and asking us to love others in return.

Have a great day. 

His Word Today: Apostles

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
11 September 2018, 7:22 am
Good morning everyone,

Do you remember where you were 17 years ago today - when the first reports of what seemed to be a dream was unfolding in New York City, in Washington, DC and in rural Pennsylvania?  We may not have recognized it at the time, but that was a new beginning for all of us.  In so many ways, our world has changed since that day that we might find it difficult if not impossible to remember a time when the memory of 9-11 wasn't present in our minds.

A new beginning is described in today's gospel passage.  Saint Luke tells us that Jesus withdrew to the mountain and spent the night in prayer.  When day came, he called his disciples to himself and chose twelve of them whom he named Apostles (Lk 6:12-13).  For those twelve, that moment was significant because they were changed.  Once they were disciples - followers of Jesus who learned from him - but now they were Apostles - a word that translates as the ones who were sent.

Each one of us who has been baptized is a disciple of Jesus.  Each day of our lives here on earth is another opportunity for us to remember that we are disciples - followers of Jesus who learn from him - but as the gift of faith is awakened in our hearts, we become increasingly aware of God's presence, and aware of the fact that we too are apostles, sent out to share the good news of our faith with others.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Find a way

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 September 2018, 7:18 am
Good morning everyone,

Today's gospel account recounts one of the many encounters Jesus had with the Pharisees - those who were responsible for upholding the Jewish laws.  It was a sabbath day and Jesus was in the synagogue (cf Lk 6:6) and there was also a man there who had a withered hand.  The Pharisees and scribes knew that Jesus had performed miracles, so they were watching him to see whether he would break the Jewish law that calls for rest on the sabbath.

Herein lies the problem: the Pharisees were so hung up on keeping the law that there was no room in their hearts for compassion.  Whether we want to admit it or not, there are times when we too are like the Pharisees.  It's just easier sometimes to hide behind the law rather than going out to the people who need to encounter compassion, acceptance and love.

Be attentive today to the situations that God unfolds.  Try to ask yourself: Am I trying to hide ... or is there a way that I can be compassionate toward the person that is standing before me?  How is God challenging me to go out to his people today?

Have a great day.

The great and the small

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
9 September 2018, 8:08 am
Have you been paying attention to the drama that is playing out in the political world during these past months?  Two weeks ago, the President of the United States announced that there will soon be a new agreement for international trade between his country and Mexico, and over the past week, negotiations are progressing toward the inclusion of Canada in that agreement, or possibly the formulation of a separate agreement altogether.

Against this backdrop, I find it curious that the scriptures ask us today to ponder: do you, do I ... really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? (Jas 2:1).  If we do, are we really willing to follow him?  His portrayal of power is not based on any trade agreement other than a willingness on our part to look beyond the gold rings and fine clothes (cf Jas 2:2) that some people are privileged to possess and to focus our attention on the person instead of the clothing.  God has chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised (Jas 2:5).

These are powerful words, but they speak a truth that challenges us to look beyond the physical world that we are used to perceiving.  These words challenge us to look inwardly, to ask ourselves what we truly consider to be important in life.  These words give us a glimpse into the heart of Jesus who was always more concerned for the person who stood before him than he was for the possessions that person may have clung to.

Today’s gospel passage places us with Jesus at a moment when they brought to him a man who was deaf and who had an impediment in his speech (Mk 7:32).  Saint Mark says that Jesus took him aside in private, away from the crowd (Mk 7:33).  What a wonderful moment that must have been for this man.  Until that moment, he had been ignored by most of the people around him.  His deafness had cut him off from countless conversations that had taken place.  How frustrating it must have been for him!  Yet, Jesus took him aside, paid attention to him as though he was the only person who really mattered.

Jesus knew the frustrations this man had lived with, and Jesus knew how much he wanted to hear again.  That’s why he cured him (cf Mk 7:33-35), and Jesus also knows each one of us as well.  He knows that each one of us has grown deaf to the cries of our brothers and sisters, even if we have not yet realized that we have grown hard of hearing.  Jesus knows that we have developed speech impediments: that our tongues have been silenced or that we have forgotten how to use our tongues to speak out for those in our world who cannot speak for themselves, and he wants to heal us of our infirmity.

Can we be courageous enough to come to Jesus and to ask him to restore the gift of hearing so that we can once again hear the cries of those who need our help?  If he were to free our tongues, would we be brave enough to say to those who are fearful of heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear’ (Is 35:4), come to the Lord and rediscover the power of his love.

His Word Today: Mary's birthday

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
8 September 2018, 7:21 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the birthday of the Virgin Mary.  We refer to it as the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin.

The scriptures introduce us to Mary at the time when she has already been betrothed to Joseph  (cf Mt 1:18), but what can we know about her earlier life?  In the Jewish city of Nazareth, not far from the Basilica of the Annunciation, is the International Centre of Mary of Nazareth.  Ingeniously using multi-media presentations and visual arts, this Centre explains who Mary was, how God had chosen her from the very beginning as part of his eternal plan to play a key role in the history of salvation.

As we celebrate the birthday of the Virgin Mary today, let us take some time to ponder the question: If God has sent me to live at this time in history, what part am I meant to play in His eternal plan?  When we have an answer to this question, we come to understand that each one of us is infinitely small but infinitely loved, each one of us is connected with those around us - and perhaps with those we have not yet encountered, and each one of us is part of God's eternal plan.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Appearances

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
7 September 2018, 7:44 am
Good morning everyone,

There are some people in our lives who we admire.  Usually the people we look up to are the ones who model for us the kind of person we all want to be like.  Usually, the ones we look up to are the ones who not only appear to possess the traits we admire, but the ones who somehow have managed to prove their level of sincerity.  This is the gift that Jesus gave to his disciples, the gift he challenged everyone else to seek.  To those who were content with external appearances, but whose behaviour demonstrated a lack of sincerity, his words always challenged. 

When the scribes and Pharisees asked him about the fact that his disciples ate and drank while the disciples of John the Baptist fasted often and offered prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees did the same (Lk 5:33) he challenged them to see holiness in a different light.

Holiness is a matter of maintaining a relationship with God on a regular basis.  Like other relationships we cultivate with friends and relatives, our relationship with God will be evident to those who witness the way we act and speak.  The discipline of fasting is meant to make us more aware of the need for prayer: to make us more aware of our need to be in relationship with God, not simply to make us look pious.

How are things between me and God?  Do I seek to fast from anything that will hinder my relationship with Jesus, or do I act piously in order to attract the attention of others?

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Make room

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
6 September 2018, 7:31 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, we see an example of how Jesus always made room in order to share good news.  He was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret (otherwise known as the Sea of Galilee) and the crowd was pressing in on him ... listening to the word of God (Lk 5:1).  Jesus always wanted to make more room for others, and so, when he saw two boats there, alongside the lake ... he got into ... the one belonging to Simon ... and asked him to put out a short distance from the shore (Lk 5:2-3).

Sound travels very well over water, so putting out into the water would have allowed Jesus' words to reach more people.  In addition, making room on the beach (by moving out onto the water) he would also have made more room for people to gather.  This is a wonderful gift that we can all learn from Jesus' example: always make room for others.

Let us try today to be especially aware of the ways we make room for others in our lives, and let us also be aware of those who help us to find room for others.  In the case of Jesus, he recognized Simon's generosity and rewarded him (cf Lk 5:4) for his willingness to give selflessly of himself.  Recognizing the gifts of others and encouraging them to share those gifts with others is also a blessing that we have received from our God.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Mother Teresa

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
5 September 2018, 7:34 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of Saint Teresa of Calcutta.  Born Anjesë (Agnes) Bojaxhiu in the city of Skopje (the present-day capital of Macedonia), she was 18 years old when she joined the Loretto Sisters and moved to Ireland in order to learn English.  She was then sent to India to teach in the Sisters' schools, and it was in the city of Calcutta that she experienced what she referred to as a call within a call, and founded the Missionaries of Charity.

Today, there are more than 4,500 Sisters who are Missionaries of Charity.  They are present in more than 133 countries and all of them are serving the poorest of the poor, striving every day to respond to the call of Jesus from the cross: I thirst (Jn 19:28).

Every day of her life, Mother Teresa sought out the suffering Jesus in the people around her.  She took dying people in her arms only so that they could know that someone loved them; she accepted children whose mothers were too poor to care for them; she created a leper colony where those who suffer from that virulent disease could re-discover their self-worth ... and now the priests and nuns who follow her example continue to serve those who have been rejected by society by helping them - one at a time - to rediscover their dignity in the eyes of God.

May this holy woman help us to courageously draw close to all those who are neglected so that we can recognize in them the suffering Christ, and so that we can help them to remember that they are precious children of our loving God.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Speak

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
4 September 2018, 7:32 am
Good morning everyone,

For any of us who has little people in our lives, today is a big day because they are starting a new school year.  Whether we are teachers, part of the support staff, involved in administration or proud parents and grandparents, we look into the eyes of our children today and see great possibilities.

In the coming days, weeks and months, they will learn many things, including the fact that there are some moments in life when they should speak up - for themselves or for someone else - and there are some moments when they should keep silence.  Knowing how to determine the right time for speech and the right time for silence is a matter of wisdom: something that comes with lots of practice and guidance.  In this matter - as with many others - they (and we) can learn from the example of Jesus.

When Jesus arrived in Capharnaum, he went to the synagogue and taught many things.  Jesus had a knack for sizing up situations.  He knew almost immediately which people needed to be challenged and which people needed help, and he was always willing to come to their aid.  Today's gospel gives us an example of his compassion, describing the way he rebuked evil spirits and compelled them to be quiet, come out (Lk 4:35).

Today, let us ask Jesus to accompany us.  Some of us are marking new beginnings, some of us are taking great strides and all of us need His help so that we can wisely determine the right time for speech and the time for keeping quiet.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Gregory the Great

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
3 September 2018, 9:49 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great.  Pope Saint Gregory was born approximately in the year 540 AD, the son of a Roman senator and therefore a child who was offered much privilege.  He was already a Prefect of Rome at the age of 30.  For a brief while, he entered a monastery, but soon returned to politics.  In time, he was advanced to the highest levels of the Church.  He was named Pope on 3 September 590 and during his 14 years in that office sent a large-scale mission to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity.

He was a talented administrator who managed to bring many groups of peoples - previously at war with one another - together in professing their allegiance to Rome.  We can almost hear Gregory echoing the words that Saint Paul spoke almost six centuries previous to the early Christian community at Corinth: When I came to you, brothers and sisters ... I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom, for I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified (1 Cor 2:1-2).

May this revered saint, famous for creating the calendar that we still use today (known as the Gregorian calendar) and for revising the liturgy of his day, creating the style of music known as Gregorian chant and contributing to the development of the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts which is still in use in the Byzantine Rite, intercede for us and help us to seek the wisdom of knowing Jesus Christ who's disciples we all are.

Have a great day.

Re-orientation

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
2 September 2018, 7:50 am
This past week, I was on retreat along with the other English-speaking priests of our diocese.  In the light of the allegations that were leveled against so many priests in the United States in recent weeks, this time apart with the Lord and with our brothers was a welcome gift.

On the very first evening of our time together, our own Bishop encouraged us to give voice to the thoughts and emotions that were being raised within each one of us in the light of these most recent accusations, and for the remainder of the week, our retreat master, His Excellency, Christian Riesbeck, who is currently serving as the Auxiliary Bishop of Ottawa, helped us to focus once again on listening for the voice of Jesus who is the shepherd of our souls.

Each one of us whose souls have been disquieted by recent events needs to find some time to listen for the voice of Jesus.  In today’s gospel passage, he challenged the Pharisees and some of the scribes to recognize that while they were so fixed on following external laws, they had in fact abandoned the commandment of God and focused rather on human traditions (Mk 7:8).  If he were speaking in the language of our times, Jesus would have urged even the Pharisees to confess their sins and to change their ways.

This is exactly what Jesus encourages all of us to do.  We must constantly listen for his voice, calling his disciples and urging us to return to Him.  The Lord has already given us all that we need; all he asks in return is that we heed the statutes and ordinances that he has taught us ... so that we may enter and the land that the Lord, our God, has given us (Deut 4:1-2).

It seems that time and time again, the frailty and the humanity of Jesus’ disciples come to light, and when they do, they cause us all to stop.  These are the times when some difficult questions have to be asked, and some may even be tempted to turn away - that was the subject of last weekend’s gospel – but such moments can also be occasions of grace.

Saint James reminds us today that every generous act of giving ... is from above, from the Father.  Therefore, we should welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save our souls, and we should be doers of the word (Jas 1:17, 21-22).

And how do we continue to put the word of God into action?  Saint James says that we should care for orphans and widows in their time of distress, and that we should keep ourselves unstained by the world (Jas 1:27).  These words apply to all of us.  We must all strive to keep our eyes focused on Jesus.  He is the one who will point out to us the situations where our efforts are needed in order for is word to be proclaimed.  He is the one who will bring to our minds and hearts all those who are in need: widows, orphans, the sick and the suffering.  If we strive every day to listen for his word and to do whatever he tells us, we will also be able to resist the constant temptation to give in to the lure of earthly enticements.

A difficult moment

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
26 August 2018, 8:08 am
Today’s gospel begins with words which Jesus spoke to the crowds: ... unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you (Jn 6:53).  Many of those who heard these words found them difficult to understand, and because they could not understand his words, many of them turned back and no longer went along with him (Jn 6:66).  This was a kind of litmus test for them, a breaking point.  Like them,  we must always ask ourselves: how far am I willing to go to follow in the footsteps of Jesus?  It is always easy to follow him when things are going well, but the true level of our commitment only comes to light when there are challenges, when we are tested.

This summer has been a very trying time for many in the Church.  At the end of July, a retired Cardinal who once shepherded the Archdiocese of Washington, DC resigned his position as an advisor to the Holy Father as a result of accusations of inappropriate behaviour and cover-ups regarding abuses committed by clergy under his care while he was in active ministry.  Last week, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury released a report that accuses more than 300 priests in dioceses throughout that state of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children over a 70-year period.

Reports like this always remind me that although God is perfect, none of us is.  The weakness of those who serve in the Church is understandably a cause for concern, because we are called to lead first and foremost by example ... and because the victims in this case are the innocent: those who should be protected most of all.

Those who are guilty must always answer for their actions, but such situations should also make all of us aware of our own weaknesses, and each of us must ask ourselves the question: how far am I willing to go to follow in the footsteps of Jesus?

In the first reading for today’s liturgy, Joshua challenged the elders, the heads, the judges and the officers of Israel ... to choose who they would serve (Joshua 24:15).  In the midst of confusion and chaos, his words rang out and reverberated in their hearts, and they recognized a call to affirm their willingness to serve the Lord.

Even today, when we are faced with situations of confusion and chaos, we must always stop and listen deeply for the voice of God that is always whispering wisdom in the depths of our souls.  This voice will always help us to return to the basics.  It will always help us to find our way, even when we are faced with the most disturbing news.

The report issued by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury has sent shock waves throughout the Church in the United States and these shock waves have reverberated here in Canada and as far away as Rome.  These difficult questions require answers, and the answers will be forthcoming, but in the meanwhile, each of us can and must pray for our brothers and sisters: those who have committed such unspeakable acts and those who have been victimized.  Let us all strive to be kind to one another, tender-hearted and forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven us (Eph 4:32).

His Word Today: Emmanuel

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
25 August 2018, 8:17 am
Good morning everyone,

Anyone who is familiar with the traditional carols that are sung at Christmas will know the word Emmanuel.  During the Advent period, we sing: O come, O come Emmanuel! but many people may not know that the word Emmanuel means God-with-us.

The prophet Ezekiel had a vision of the holy city.  In chapter 43 of his Book, he describes a moment when he stood in the inner court of the temple and heard someone speaking to him.  The voice said: Son of man, this is where my throne shall be, this is where I will set the souls of my feet, here I will dwell among the children of Israel forever (Ez 43:7).  This vision was fulfilled when God sent Jesus to live among us.  After the Ascension, God sent the Holy Spirit - the third person of the Trinity - to dwell among us.  This means that the prophecy of Ezekiel has been fulfilled: Emmanuel - God is with us!

God is dwelling in our midst.  If we have even the slightest doubt, all we need to do is open our eyes and look around us.  God is present in the life of a newborn, God is present in the exuberance of a child, God is present in the curiosity of a student, God is present in the moments of worry and concern faced by every parent, God is present to all those who are sick and suffering, God is present to all those who are growing weak and feeble, God is present to those who are preparing to meet Him.  God is with us.  Look for Him today, and if you find Him, say hello.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Bartholomew

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
24 August 2018, 7:42 am
Statue of Saint Bartholomew
by Marco D'Agrate, 1562
inside the Duomo of Milan
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Bartholomew, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus.  Bartholomew is named as one of the apostles in each of the three Synoptic gospels (Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18 and Lk 6:14).  There is no mention of Bartholomew in the gospel of John.  Instead, the writer refers to a figure by the name of Nathanael (Jn 1:45), which some scholars believe to be the apostle Bartholomew.

After the Ascension of Jesus (Lk 24:50-53), it is believed that Bartholomew went on a missionary tour to India where he visited the region of Bombay where he described his own interpretation of the holy city of Jerusalem (cf Rev 21:9-14) and left behind a copy of the gospel of Matthew. Other traditions hold that he served as a missionary in Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Parthia and Lyaconia, as well as Greater Armenia.

Bartholomew is believed to have been martyred while in India.  At the age of 50 years, it is believed that his skin was removed from his body while he was still alive and that he was beheaded by order of the king.  His relics made their way back toward Italy, where they are currently housed in the Basilica of San Bartolomeo in Benevento.  Some relics have also been moved to Rome (where they are housed in the Basilica of San Bartolomeo sul'Isola), the Frankfurt Cathedral (officially known as the Imperial Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew, located in Frankfurt, Germany) and the Canterbury Cathedral located in Canterbury, Kent, England.

May the zeal of this holy apostle inspire us today to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Jesus.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Laundry

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
23 August 2018, 7:34 am
Good morning everyone,

Some people quite enjoy the chores we all have to accomplish, even the most mundane ones ... like doing the laundry, but not everyone.  Sorting the dirty laundry, loading the washing machine, choosing the water temperature and the cycle, drying the delicates, folding everything and putting it away ... not to mention the ironing.  It can all be rather cumbersome, but doing the laundry - something that we hide from public eyes - is an essential part of life.

The principle of doing the laundry also pertains to our spiritual lives.  The prophet Ezekiel speaks today of this necessity, reassuring us that the Lord will sprinkle clean water upon us (Ez 36:25) to cleanse us from all the dirt that we have accumulated.  Like the laundry, we often choose to keep the dirt and grime of sin hidden from others, but God wants to cleanse us from all our impurities ... to give us a new heart and to place a new spirit within us (Ez 36:26).

What spiritual laundry have we been trying to hide - from ourselves, from God or from others?  We can always trust that God will wash away all the dirt that we have accumulated, and replace our tired spirits with fresh, clean laundry.

Have a great day.

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