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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: A change of heart

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
19 June 2018, 7:49 am
Good morning everyone,

The scriptures are filled with the adventures and mis-adventures of God's people.  This week, we have read the story of Ahab whose wife Jezebel even went so far as to falsely condemn someone to death so that her husband could gain physical possessions.  Today, the scriptures continue, and we see that when Ahab realizes the error of his way, he repents: He tore his garments (as a sign of his shame) and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh as a mark of repentance for his sin (1 Kings 21:27).

Even in our day, many people may be tempted to think that they don't have to answer for their actions and words, but the truth is that we are all part of one family: God's family.  If only we could realize how precious this reality truly is, perhaps we would look at life differently.  Living in relationship with Jesus, and with our brothers and sisters, we come to realize that each person who we meet has something to offer us - a smile, a pleasant word, some kind of encouragement or help - and that we too have it within our power to make other people's journeys through life a little bit better.

Even if we have not always realized this truth, it is not too late to ask our loving God to reveal it to us, beginning today.  Ask for that grace and prepared to be pleasantly surprised.  Prepare also to have your heart filled with an overwhelming desire to be generous with your talents and gifts: this is the natural response to the awareness of goodness in our midst.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Rooted

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

We live in a society that preaches a very interesting message: all will be well if you can be rich, if you can look good ... but there is an important factor that is missing in this message ... that we need to always understand ourselves in light of our ancestors: what they have done for us, how much they have sacrificed, the true value of the treasure they have bequeathed to us.

In ancient Israel, this sense of rootedness was made evident in the land that was passed down from one generation to another.  The same plot of land often remained in the same family, being farmed by some and providing pasture for livestock belonging to others.  In this context, we see the drama unfold between Naboth and Ahab in today's first reading (1 Kings 21:1-16).  Ahab is rich and thinks that his money should be able to buy him more land, so he approaches Naboth and begs him: Give me your vineyard for my vegetable garden (1 Kings 21:2).  By asking such a question, Ahab demonstrates plainly that he has no regard for the sacredness of the land that had belonged to Naboth and his family.  By comparison, Naboth is very well connected to the land that is his birthright.  He denies Ahab's request quite plainly: The Lord forbid that I should give you my ancestral heritage (1 Kings 21:4).  In fact, Naboth lost his life for his land.

Jesus took Naboth's commitment to yet another level when he encouraged his disciples to offer no resistance to one who is evil (Mt 5:39) ... in fact, Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles (Mt 5:41).  Only someone who is well connected to his or her roots, someone who knows where he or she has come from, can be free enough to give so freely.

Have a great day.

Sowing seeds

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
17 June 2018, 8:23 am
We received word this week of the sudden death of Monsignor David Cresswell, a priest of our diocese.  Monsignor Cresswell has served various parishes throughout our diocese since his Ordination in 1963, including Our Lady of Fatima in Elliot Lake and Saint James the Greater in Blind River.  For the last sixteen (16) years, he has been living in Coniston and exercising his priestly ministry among the parishioners at Saint Paul the Apostle parish.

The work of a priest is to live among the people of God, doing as Jesus did: scattering seeds on the land (Mk 4:26).  In various parishes throughout the diocese and during the time he spent in Gualan, Guatemala (from June 1965 until March 1971), Monsignor Cresswell scattered the seeds of faith.  Like the farmer in the gospel, he never knew whether those seeds would take root, but he continued to share the gift of his own faith with those he met, always encouraging them to discover the love of God in their own lives.

This is how it is for all of us.  Our task is to sow seeds.  We sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed sprouts and grows, we know not how (Mk 4:27).  It is God who inspires within our hearts the desire to know him and it is He who continues, night and day, the process of helping the seeds that we have planted to grow.  Like good gardeners, we are called to care for the seeds of faith that are sown in the hearts of those we encounter: to water them regularly with our prayer and to help them to grow through the example of our faith.

Saint Paul tells us that we must always be courageous in this task (cf 2 Cor 5:6).  It takes courage to speak about God to those around us, and it takes even more courage to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), yet this is what we strive to do every day.  We must never allow the lights of this world to blind us to the truths that we have discovered, otherwise, we will run the risk of losing our way.  Instead, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, knowing that heaven is our ultimate goal, our true homeland.

At some level, we all know this to be true, but we still face the temptation to doubt when we look around us and see that there are less and less people choosing to associate themselves with organized religion.  When we are tempted to doubt, it might help to take a step back and to remember that this is God’s church, that he is always at work, planting and transplanting the tender shoots (cf Ez 17:22) of faith he has planted within our hearts so that others can also come to know and love Him.

The funeral Mass for Monsignor David Cressell will be celebrated at Saint Paul the Apostle parish in Coniston on Wednesday morning, June 20 beginning at 10:00am.  May the Lord who called him to serve as a priest in this Diocese now welcome him home and grant him the gift of eternal life in His presence, and may the members of his family and those who are saddened by his sudden departure be comforted in the knowledge that the day he has longed for has finally come to pass.

His Word Today: Seek guidance

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
15 June 2018, 7:48 am
Good morning everyone,

It seems that at all moments of life, we need to seek guidance from time to time.  When we are children, we look to parents and other adults who are significant to us.   As we grow, we look to peers, colleagues ... all along, people of faith learn that it is possible to look to our faith to gain the wisdom that we need.

Evidence of this truth is found in a passage taken from the first Book of Kings (1 Kings 19:11-16).  Elijah came to the mountain of God ... to a cave where he took shelter (1 Kings 19:9).  There, he encountered the Lord and said: I have been most zealous for the Lord ... but the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant ... I alone am left, and they seek to take my life (1 Kings 19:14).  If Elijah had expected the Lord to change his mind and send him off to another destination, he may have been disappointed because the answer to his prayer was: Go back, take the road back to the desert near Damascus ...  (1 Kings 19:15).

Like Elijah, we too must always remember to go in search of the Lord when we are in need of guidance.  Even if he does not answer our prayer right away, we can remain persistent in our expectations, for he will never turn his back on us.  Instead, he will always listen to our prayers and will offer guidance.  Then it is up to us to follow his advice.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Trust

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
14 June 2018, 6:49 am
Good morning everyone,

Today's scripture reading, taken from the first Book of Kings (18:41-46) reminds us of the importance of trust in any relationship, but most especially in our relationship with God.  Elijah had already provided proof of the presence and power of God when he had called down fire upon his offering in the sight of all those who had refused to change their ways and worship God (1 Kings 18:22-39), but he had to go further in order to convince the skeptical crowd.

There had been a severe drought in all the land, yet Elijah urged King Ahab, saying: there is the sound of heavy rain (1 Kings 18:41).  There was not a cloud in the sky, but Elijah did not let this stop him from believing.  Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, crouched down and put his head between his knees (1 Kings 18:42), praying, hoping and trusting that what the Lord had said through him would come to pass … and it did!

Our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Our God is the God to whom Elijah prayed, in whom he trusted.  Our God has never turned His back on His people.  Our God has always loved us and has always been willing to provide for us.  Do we call out to Him when there are droughts in our lives: when we find it hard to believe, to trust, to love?  Do we sit and wait for Him to answer, all the while trusting that He is there?  He will never turn his back on us because he loves us and wants only the best for us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Anthony of Padua

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
13 June 2018, 7:48 am
Today, the Church celebrates one of the most beloved of the Saints.  He is beloved because he always managed to find a way to stay close to the people he served.  His heart was always open and he was constantly looking for ways to help simple ordinary people understand a very simple truth: God loves us!

Fernando Martins started out in life just like all the rest of us.  He had a mother and a father who loved him, and because they were relatively wealthy, he could have had anything he desired.  Yet, at the age of fifteen years, he asked to be sent to the Abbey of Santa Cruz in Coimbra (which was the capital of Portugal at the time).  There he studied theology and Latin with the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross of Coimbra, an Order of priests who followed the Rule of Saint Augustine.

Fernando was eventually Ordained a priest as one of the Canons Regular and served as guest master for some time until he was introduced to Franciscan friars who settled in a small hermitage outside Coimbra.  His ongoing conversations with the Franciscans allowed him to draw close to them and eventually he felt a calling to leave the Canons Regular and to become a Franciscan, taking the religious name of Anthony, after Saint Anthony of Egypt, a third-century religious hermit.

Saint Anthony’s constant curiosity inspires us to be like Elijah.  In the first reading for today’s Mass, the Lord tells him: Go out and stand on the mountain (1 Kings 19:11).  Standing there, Elijah made himself vulnerable, but he had to do that in order to experience the gift that God had prepared for him.  We too are standing and making ourselves vulnerable.  We have come to celebrate the Eucharist.  In this place, we hope to meet the Lord and to discover the gifts that he has prepared for us today.  It was his ability to make himself vulnerable that allowed Saint Anthony to constantly go out and to follow the path that the Lord was pointing out.

Inspired by the zeal of his Franciscan brothers, he travelled with them to Morocco where he began to spread God’s word.  However, he became extremely ill and was sent back to Portugal.  As Providence would have it, his ship was blown off course and he ended up in Sicily instead of in Portugal, and from there, he travelled to Tuscany.  He continued to pray and to study as he recovered there from his illness.

Anthony earned a reputation as a beloved preacher because he was very learned, but he also had a gift for explaining the mysteries of God with language that could be understood by everyone.  If he were here with us today, I wonder what he would say about the gospel passage that we have heard (Mt 5:27-32)?

The sin of adultery is one that few people will admit to, but we live in a society that has become extremely promiscuous, so I am sure that if he were here, Saint Anthony would not shy away from the subject.  Perhaps he would use this occasion to say to us that sometimes people need to be shocked into realizing the great treasure that has been entrusted to us: the treasure of our faith.  Many people, perhaps even some who you and I know personally, seem to find all kinds of excuses to deny the fact that they need God in their lives, or they prefer to speak with Him one on one rather than participating in the life of a local parish.

The problem with this individualistic way of thinking is that we become increasingly concerned with our own interests and content ourselves with that which is pleasing to us.  In the meanwhile, we run the risk of cutting ourselves off from other people and we become deaf to their cries for help.  It is at such times that we need to be shocked into realizing that we need one another in order to make it through this life.

Jesus used some very graphic images to make his point.  He spoke about tearing out an eye (Mt 5:29), and cutting off a hand (Mt 5:30) if they should cause us to sin.  Perhaps we don’t need such drastic measures, but maybe we need to ask Saint Anthony to pray with us today, to help us understand with our minds and our hearts how much our God loves us.

If we can begin to experience God’s love in our lives, if we can begin to experience the tender and loving way that our God listens to us when we speak with him, if we can begin to experience the way that our God is always present to us, inviting us to come close to him and always ready to help us ... maybe we in turn will also be inspired to listen compassionately to others.  Perhaps we will want to tell others how important it is that we spend time together, sitting around a table and enjoying good food, talking with one another about the everyday joys and worries of life.  If we can learn to trust one another with our stories, we can also learn to trust in God.

Let us ask Saint Anthony to pray for us today, so that the Lord will soften our hearts and make it possible for us to learn how to trust in Him, how to trust in others, and most of all to believe with all our hearts that God loves us.

His Word Today: Give always

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
12 June 2018, 8:07 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the scriptures focus our attention on a widow in a small town called Zarephath.  She would never have been known to us except for the fact that she was courageous enough to extend hospitality to him.  Her husband had died and she was living alone with her son.  This would have been a difficult situation, but she was doing what she could - gathering sticks in order to prepare a small meal with the last of her provisions.

What worries were going through her head as she gathered those sticks?  Was she worried, scared or resigned to the fact that she had only a handful of flour left in her jar and a little oil left in her jug (1 Kings 17:12)?  With all these thoughts rolling around in her head, a stranger arrived on the scene and asked: please, bring me a small cupful of water to drink (1 Kings 17:10).  What was he asking?  Did he not know that there was a drought, that her water jar was running low?  Yet, he went further: Please, bring along a bit of bread (1 Kings 17:11).

The man who was asking questions was a stranger to her, yet the code of conduct of the time demanded that she extend hospitality to him.  To do that, she had to really stretch her heart so that she could give away the little that she had.  Sometimes we feel the same way - our bodies and souls are thirsty for refreshment and rest, yet at that particular point, someone else calls out to us for help.  We need to dig deep in order to find the strength to give out of our own emptiness, yet if we do, we are often rewarded beyond our dreams: we find that there is always enough flour in our jars and enough oil in our jugs.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Barnabas

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
11 June 2018, 10:17 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Barnabas, one of the earliest Christian disciples who was well known in Jerusalem.  Barnabas was actually born in Cyprus and of Jewish origin.  The Acts of the Apostles tells us that news about the early Christians reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch (Acts 11:22).

Barnabas was overjoyed to find faith in the early Christians at Antioch.  He rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart (Acts 11:23).  From Antioch, he travelled to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch where the Christian community was already established.

Barnabas and Paul established a wonderful friendship and encouraged many by their own example to follow in the footsteps of the Lord.  Give thanks today for the people in your life who are examples of faith for you, and ask the Lord to strengthen this gift in your heart so that you in turn can share it with others.

Have a great day.

Look Forward in Faith

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 June 2018, 8:46 am
Week after week, this community gathers to celebrate the Eucharist.  Every time we do, the Lord is present in our midst: gently and lovingly caring for our needs and feeding us with special food.  It’s important that we never lose sight of the history that is behind this special food.  That’s the reason why we read a part of our faith history at every Mass.

Today’s first reading places us at the moment when Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden ... and they hid themselves (Gen 3:8).  What follows is a reflection of the reaction that every one of us encounters when we know that we’ve done something wrong.  Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit of the tree that they were not supposed to touch and so they hid themselves from God’s presence.  What’s interesting is that God comes looking for them.  The Lord God called to the man and said to him: Where are you? (Gen 3:9).  Our God always comes looking for us.  Even when we may be ashamed of our actions and prefer to hide, He will always come looking for us, because he loves us.

The conversation that takes place between God, Adam, Eve and the serpent is very revealing.  Have you ever noticed that when we have done something wrong, we are always quick to blame someone else for our own mistakes?  Why does it always seem so much easier for us to point blame at others rather than owning up to our mistakes?  Adam blamed Eve for giving him fruit from the tree (cf Gen 3:12) and Eve blamed the serpent for tricking her into eating the fruit (cf Gen 3:13).  The devil is always at work, trying to deceive us, but that’s not the end of the story.

In the gospel, we find a moment when Jesus had returned home (cf Mk 3:20).  Home is supposed to be a place where we can relax, enjoy a meal and refresh ourselves before continuing on the journey of life. Even in that place though, the crowd came together ... so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat.  Did his human emotions get the better of him?  Maybe he was grumbling – wouldn’t we? – so the people were saying that He has gone out of his mind (Mk 3:21).

Almost immediately though, it seems that Jesus regained his composure, and we see the real lesson of today’s scripture passage.  Jesus invites us to gather around his table, to share a meal with him.  In this place, we are nourished and refreshed and the food that he gives us helps us to continue doing his work: the work of recognizing God’s loving and merciful presence in our world.  God has always wanted to live with us, to walk with us in the garden (cf Gen 3:8) and to help us to live in peace and harmony with one another.

The devil is always present, trying to deceive us and to take away the gifts of peace and harmony, replacing them with discord (cf Mk 3:24-26).  Thankfully, God us much smarter than the devil: he knows all his tricks and catches him at his own game, every time.

Jesus has invited us to gather in this place.  He reminds us today that even though the devil is always at work, He is there to protect us.  We have come to believe this because we know that the one who raised Jesus will raise us also with Him and will bring us into his presence (2 Cor 4:14).  Let us give thanks for this great gift.

His Word Today: the Immaculate Heart of Mary

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
9 June 2018, 8:53 am
Good morning everyone,

Saint Paul's words to Timothy sound as though they were written just yesterday: For the time will come, he says, when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth ... (2 Tim 4:3).

Even if this appears to be the case, we must always proclaim the word ... be persistent in doing so (2 Tim 4:2), and we must constantly seek out the occasions when we encounter hearts that are receptive to the Word.  We cannot do this alone.  Instead, we must call on the assistance of those who have gone before us, and who better to help us than our heavenly mother?

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Like yesterday's celebration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, today's commemoration reminds us that Mary has an immaculate and maternal heart that is always ready and willing to welcome us, to listen to our pleas and she will always find a way to help us carry out her Son's desire.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: the Sacred Heart

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
8 June 2018, 7:57 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  This devotion focuses on the constant outpouring of love and compassion from the heart of Jesus upon all his beloved children.  This devotion was introduced by a French nun by the name of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque who received a series of apparitions of Jesus between 1673 and 1675.

It is also the World Day of Prayer for Priests.  Saint John Paul II introduced this Day of Prayer in 2002.  All Catholics are invited to pray today for the sanctification of priests: to remember them in prayer and thanksgiving, and to ask God for the grace that they may continually rediscover the gift of their own ordination and experience the joy of the mission entrusted to them.

It is fitting that the prophet Hosea speaks of God's love for his people with the words: When Israel was a child I loved him ... I took him in my arms ... and loved him (Hos 11:3-4).  Today, we should pray for the grace to be aware of this grace in our lives.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: No chains

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

All mothers know that if their children are in danger, they will do anything in their power to bring them back to safety.  To varying degrees, this willingness to put ourselves on the line is also true for everyone: depending on the degree to which we love the person who is in danger.

Saint Paul wrote to his beloved disciple Timothy speaking about Jesus in this way.  Beloved, he says, remember Jesus Christ ... such is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of chains, like a criminal (2 Tim 2:8-9).  Paul's conversion was dramatic, but he had come to understand that Jesus is willing to go to any length in order to save his beloved children.  Paul came to understand this truth because his love for and commitment to Jesus had been nurtured through the example he found in the apostles and in other disciples of Jesus, to the point where he could endure even prison because he knew that the word of God is not chained; it is free, active, at work in the hearts of all believers and even in the hearts of those who doubt it's power.

Have you known people who are so committed to their faith that they would willingly suffer rather than deny it?  What about you?  Has your faith been strengthened through the example of others?  Do you take time to listen for the still small voice of Jesus who is always ready to instruct your heart?  Have you discovered the wisdom that comes from His words ... they are not chained, they are free and they continually invite us to discover the joy of being his disciples.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Accentuate the positive

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

A wise person once told me that the most effective way to help others to improve is to accentuate the positive.  This principle works for teachers - of all disciplines - who choose to focus on what their students do well and it works in all cases where mentors and pupils walk side by side.

The same was the case when Saint Paul wrote to his apostle Timothy, pointing out to him at the very beginning of his letter that he was grateful to God ... as I remember you constantly in my prayer, night and day (2 Tim 1:3).  From this point of departure, Paul shared some practical advice about how Timothy and his companions could set about living their faith.  This is what we all must do.

Be aware today (if you can) of the people who look to you for guidance and wisdom.  Be attentive to the ways in which you encourage them to recognize within themselves the successes they have achieved.  In light of those successes, it seems as though even their most challenging situations tend to improve, and the world around us is that much of a better place.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Boniface

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
5 June 2018, 7:58 am
Good morning everyone,

Saint Peter reminds us today that we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).  This is the hope that we strive to proclaim through our words and actions every day.

Today, the Church celebrates one example of a holy man who did just that: Saint Boniface, lived in the 7th and the early part of the 8th century.  It is believed that from an early age, Boniface, who was given the Christian name of Winfrid (or Winifred) when he was born, was educated in a monastery somewhere near to present-day Exeter (England) and was later instructed by the Benedictines at another monastery not far from Winchester.

Winfrid became a priest at the age of 30 and later wrote a Latin grammar (known as the Ars grammatica).  Following the death of Wynburth of Nursling - around the year 716 - Winfrid was invited to succeed him but he declined the invitation and soon afterward set out on a missionary expedition to Frisia (along the border of present day Netherlands and north-western Germany).

Winfrid's first efforts at evangelization around Utrecht were frustrated by a war that was being fought so he returned to his monastery in Nursling but returned to the continent the following year and went directly to Rome where Pope Gregory II gave him the name Boniface and appointed him as a missionary Bishop for Germania.  He was therefore appointed as Bishop for a territory that - at the time - had no Church organization.  In fact, it was he who first determined the structures of dioceses within the territory of that land.

In 754, Boniface returned to Frisia along with a group of others.  There he baptized a great number of people and summoned a general meeting for the purposes of celebrating Confirmation which was to take place at Dokkum.  Those who came to meet him though, were not his converts but rather a group of armed robbers who killed the aged Archbishop - he was 79 years old.

Today, let us ask Saint Boniface to intercede for us, to help us to be zealous ambassadors for Christ, never shrinking from opportunities to share the joy of our faith with those we meet.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Precious faith

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

When we love someone, we want immediately to give them gifts, the most precious of gifts.  The same is true of our God.  We are so beloved by Him that He has given us the most precious gift he can give; we call this gift grace.  Grace is more precious in His eyes than any tangible treasure.  By means of this grace, we have also received everything that makes for life and devotion so that we may come to share in His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).

It seems beyond our comprehension even to try to grasp all that our God has given us.  How can we ever repay Him for such generosity?  Saint Peter tells us that we can begin by doing our very best to make every effort to supplement our faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love (2 Peter 1:5-7).

All this sounds like a very tall order indeed.  Luckily for us, God is not only the giver of these gifts; He will also help us to bring them to fulfillment.

Have a great day.

Food for the journey

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
3 June 2018, 7:07 am
During these first two weeks that follow the celebration of Pentecost, we celebrate two truths that are central to our faith.  Last weekend, we focused on the Trinity and this weekend we turn our attention to the most precious gift that our God has given us: his own Body and Blood.

Today’s first reading, taken from the Book of Exodus, reminds us that God has made covenants with his beloved people since the time of Abraham and Moses.  The Israelite people, our ancestors in faith, were instructed in the ways of God (cf Ex 24:3), just as we are instructed from week to week so that we can grow in his wisdom.  It was the custom of the time to offer burnt offerings and sacrifices to God as a sign of our worship (cf Ex 24:5) and the blood taken from the animals who were sacrificed would permanently mark the altars and the people as a pledge of their willingness to be faithful to the established covenants (cf Ex 24:6, 8).

Remembering this chapter in our history, we still refer to the elements of the sacrifice we witness upon this altar as the Body and Blood of Christ.  We believe that through the invocation of the Spirit and the words of consecration, simple gifts of bread and wine are transformed permanently into divine gifts of Christ’s Body and Blood.  Every time that we gather to celebrate this sacred meal, we are participating in the meal that he shared with the apostles in the Upper Room, when he took a loaf of bread ... blessed it, broke it and gave it to them, saying to them: take, this is my Body (Mk 14:22).  The Blood of the sacrifice that Moses spoke of is also present, but now it is present in the form of wine that is transformed when the priest repeats the words Jesus spoke to his disciples: This is my Blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many (Mk 14:24).

Once bread and wine are consecrated in this way, we believe that they are no longer mere earthly elements, but rather the gifts of our God given to nourish the hearts and souls of his beloved children.  We do not need to gorge ourselves on this special food, as we might at a Christmas or Thanksgiving banquet.  Instead, just a little taste is enough to fill us with the divine food that we require for our journey in faith.  In an age when so many are obsessed with eating healthily, receiving this special food is one way that we can eat for the sake of spiritual health.

Having been strengthened by this nourishment, and with the assurance that we are never alone, but rather that Christ who offered himself without blemish (Heb 9:14) is present with us at every step of this journey, we are sent out into the world week after week so that we can put our faith into action.  Each day, Jesus uses our hands to reach out and to touch the hearts of those who are in need.  He uses our feet to walk in this world alongside those who are lonely, disheartened and in need of encouragement.  Our ears he uses to listen attentively to the pleas of those who have no one else to listen as they share the adventures and challenges they face.  Nourished with his Body and Blood, Christ looks compassionately through our eyes upon those who are distanced and alone, and he uses our hearts to communicate his deep abiding love.

His Word Today: About prayer

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

Even for the most disciplined among us, spending time in prayer can sometimes be a challenge. There are constant temptations and our minds (which thirst for peace and quiet, yet at the same time seem to battle against idleness) appear not to allow us to enter into the stillness that we seek.

Saint Jude offers a few words of advice:  Beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit.  Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life (Jude 20-21).

If we seek daily even to merely be aware of the love God has for us, and if we set our minds and hearts on waiting expectantly for an awareness of the Lord's mercy, we will soon find our experience of prayer is infinitely enriched.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Justin

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
1 June 2018, 7:35 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the first letter of Peter reminds us: do not be surprised that a trial of fire is occurring among you (1 Peter 4:12).  Trials by fire have been the test faced by many who have come before us, including many of the Saints.

One example can be found in the life of Saint Justin, whose liturgical Memorial is observed today.  Justin was born around the year 100 A.D into a pagan family. Justin himself stated that his initial studies left him unsatisfied due to their failure to provide a belief system that would provide enough inspiration for him.  Some time later, he chanced upon an older man who engaged him in a dialogue about God and spoke about the testimony of the prophets as being more reliable than the reasoning of philosophers.

Moved by the man's argument, Justin renounced both his former religious faith and his philosophical background, and chose instead to re-dedicate his life to the service of the Divine.  His newfound convictions were only bolstered by the ascetic lives of the early Christians and the heroic examples of the martyrs whose piety convinced him of the moral and spiritual superiority of the Christian doctrine.  As a result, he decided to travel throughout the land spreading his knowledge of Christianity as the true philosophy.  

His travels took him to Rome where he started his own school in philosophy.  During the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Justin was denounced to the authorities, tried along with six of his companions and beheaded.  Though the precise year of his death is uncertain, it can be reasonably dated between 162 and 168 A.D.

The experience of Christian martyrs, including Justin shows us that many have endured trials for the sake of their faith, so why should it be any different for us?  Choosing to be a disciple of Jesus, we must be prepared to accept not only the joy that is his promise but also the ridicule and judgement of those who may not comprehend the reasons for our faith.

Have a great day, and pray for the intercession of Saint Justin today.

His Word Today: Visiting

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
31 May 2018, 7:25 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Mary enjoys a place of particular importance in the Church because she teaches us how to be faithful disciples.  Today's feast is focused on the fact that she was so quick to go out in service of others: something that we should all strive to do.

The angel Gabriel had told her that Elizabeth was with child and Mary knew that Elizabeth was advanced in age, therefore she immediately understood that the elder woman would need help and so the younger woman immediately set out.

The moment of their meeting is described in Saint Luke's gospel: When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leapt in her womb (Lk 1:41).  Even without setting eyes on the Saviour, the child was already announcing the presence of someone of great importance.  Imagine for a moment what that kind of excitement was like.

We know the first words that were exchanged between these two women, but we can wonder about and perhaps even contemplate the conversations they may have shared while Mary stayed with Elizabeth and Zechariah.  Did they speak of excitement?  Did they share common concerns?  There was a particular relationship of trust forged between these two women; perhaps they can teach us a thing or two about developing such relationships with others, and about going outside of our own interests in order to be of service to others.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Precious

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
30 May 2018, 7:26 am
Good morning everyone,

Have you ever truly had the experience of knowing what it's like to have someone save your life? It sounds like the makings of a good story, but everyone of us has experienced this very truth.  Saint Peter says in today's first reading: you were ransomed from your futile conduct ... not with perishable things ... but with the precious blood of Christ (1Pet 1:18-19).

If we truly understood the meaning of these few words, we would stop in utter amazement. Have you ever taken the time to even begin to ponder this truth? Jesus gave his life for you and for me  in order to pay a precious price not with any tangible riches but with something much more valuable: his own life.

Jesus paid this price freely, totally out of love for you and for me. All he asks in return is that we give of ourselves for the good of others, totally out of love for them as well. Pay attention today to the ways Jesus is inviting you to love others. No matter how much we do for others, we can never outdo Him in generosity ... but it might be interesting to try.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Pass it on

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

When we were children, our parents and our grandparents taught us many things about life, including introducing us to the person of Jesus Christ.  As we have grown, some of us have had the joy of experiencing the birth of our own children, and all of us have reached a particular moment in our lives when we realized that we in turn needed to begin teaching others about Jesus.

Luckily for us, we have the sacred scriptures to remind us about who God is, who Jesus is and who the Holy Spirit is ... and we have the wisdom that has been passed on to us by the living witness of the prophets and others who have come before us.  Concerning the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:10), the prophets remind us that this is the special gift that Jesus promises to all of us.

Now it's up to us, who have heard the good news to share this joy with those we meet.  It's up to us to teach our children and to create the circumstances that will help them to establish a loving relationship with our God.  In this way we who have learned from our ancestors will pass on this good news to generations that will follow us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Rejoice

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

One of the essential characteristics of Christians has always been an underlying sense of joy in everything that we do. This joy pervades our words and our actions and can be perceived by those who observe us even though they may not understand it. Joy allows us to look at life with a freshness that never seems to grow tired, a freshness that allows us to look at others with love, even when it might be most difficult to do so.

Saint Peter understood the joy that lives in the hearts of Christians and the freshness that this joy gives to all of our words and actions. In the first letter that he wrote,  he spoke with great conviction about the fact that Jesus lives in each one of us. He says:  although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet you believe in him (1 Peter 1:8).

Our world would be so much different if everyone could see in this way, but that's just the point: we have the ability to see as Jesus sees. Look around you today and try to see as Jesus sees.  Try to love as Jesus loves. Try to believe, and let others see the effects of your beliefs in the words you speak and the ways that you live.

Have a great day.

Listening to the heartbeat

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
27 May 2018, 7:01 am
A few days ago, I returned from a wonderful pilgrimage.   During this month, which the Church dedicates every year to our Mother, Mary, my companions and I traveled through Portugal, Spain, France and Italy, all the while listening for the heartbeat of our heavenly Mother and asking her to show us the way to the heart of her son Jesus.

In Portugal, we visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.  We celebrated Mass in that holy place and participated in the candle-light procession.  In Spain, we prayed at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar: the site of the very first Marian apparition that took place along the banks of the Ebro river.  In France, we visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes and in Rome, we celebrated Mass in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.

Throughout these travels, I placed all of you at the feet of Our Lady and asked her to help all of us to come closer to her son Jesus.  Perhaps it is fitting that today, the Church is celebrating Trinity Sunday.  It was God our Father who created each one of us and who (still today) gives us everything we need to live.  The Book of Deuteronomy reminds us that Moses heard the voice of God speaking out of a fire (Deut 4:33) and that God made Himself known to us by showing us many signs and wonders (Deut 4:34).

Our God has always wanted to share a relationship of love and trust with us.  In the fullness of time, he made himself known to us in the person of Jesus, who we refer to as the second person of the Trinity.  After Jesus had returned to heaven, God sent us the third person of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit still lives among us, constantly urging and encouraging us to grow in our faith and to trust in the love that God has for each of us.

The gospel passage reminds us that the eleven disciples went to Galilee (Mt 28:16) after Jesus had risen from the dead, and when they saw him there, they worshipped him, but some of them still doubted (Mt 28:17).  If even the disciples still doubted, is it any wonder that we find it difficult at times to believe?  Yet, God is still at work among us.  The Holy Spirit constantly encourages our hearts and helps us to believe that we are not alone in this world; that our God is very close to us.

Saint Paul explained to the Christians in Rome that they were all children of God (Rom 8:16), and this is also true for us.  We are all God’s children.  He loves each one of us.  We have the great privilege of having known Him as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and we have a loving Mother: Mary, who is constantly at work, interceding for us and helping us to understand in the depths of our hearts that we are all heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). 

It would be worth our while during the coming week to contemplate this truth.  Ask Mary to help all of us to discover the joy of this truth in our lives.

His Word Today: No complaints

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
25 May 2018, 7:52 am
Good morning everyone,

I returned from Rome last night, bringing with me some wonderful people who I have had the privilege of travelling with, getting to know and sharing some profound moments with for the past two weeks.  Travelling with a group of people, most of whom were unknown to each other at the beginning of our pilgrimage, is not an easy task, but throughout our time together, I was reminded again and again of the fact that beyond the momentary frustrations that can so often happen in life, there was a constant and abiding peace among this group, a joy that we shared because this time together was spent in the company of Jesus and our mother Mary.

Saint James reminds us today that there can often be moments in life that test us, but that we should always remember that we are all on a pilgrimage that will not end until we are home in heaven.  In the meanwhile, he encourages us: Do not complain ... about one another (James 5:9).  Instead strive to be always aware of the peace and joy that the Lord offers us so that we can spend each day in the company of our fellow pilgrims.

Let the light of your faith shine today so that others will see in you the gifts that God has to offer.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: A little while

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 May 2018, 7:35 am
Good morning everyone,

Jesus uses a very curious phrase in today's gospel passage: A little while (Jn 16:16-20).  In just five verses, Jesus repeats this phrase five times.  Have you ever wondered what God considers to be a little while?

Time is a concept that many human beings understand well.  In this context, the phrase a little while can mean a few minutes or a restricted length of time, but when God uses this phrase, we have to widen our scope in order to grasp his meaning.  After all, God doesn't think in terms of minutes, hours, days or even weeks.  God thinks in terms of lifetimes, centuries and even eons.

With a wider understanding of the concept of time, a little while takes on a new meaning.  God pushes the boundaries of our understanding every day, always gently but constantly, so that bit by bit, our hearts too can grow, our abilities to live and love can increase, our appreciation for the gift of joy can expand.

Have a great day.

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