Reflection on the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

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First Reading
Isaiah 49:14–15
Can a mother forget her infant? Even should she forget, I will never forget you

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 62:2–3,6–9
Only in God be at rest, my soul.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 4:1–5
The Lord will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the intentions of the heart.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 6:24–34
Enough, then, of worrying about tomorrow. Let tomorrow take care of itself.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel reading is from part three of the Sermon on the Mount’s three-part instruction by Jesus on the way of life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Part three deals with trusting God and performing deeds of loving service to our neighbour.

The Aramaic word mammon does not have a negative connotation. It means “property” or “money.” What Matthew is pointing out is that since human beings are not self-sufficient, we are dependent on something outside ourselves. It should be God, not the material goods we own. This is not to say that we don’t need material goods. But the reading goes on to remind us not to be anxious. Look at the beauty of nature. The birds do not sow or reap. The flowers do not work or spin cloth. Yet they are provided for by God. Human beings are worth much more than these. How could God not provide for us as well? If what we place first in our lives is God’s kingdom and his justice, we will have what we need.

Matthew concludes by reminding us to address each day’s problems as they come, confident that we are in God’s loving care. He is a loving father who holds the whole world in his hands. He will certainly care for us. – loyolapress.com

Pope Francis’ 2017 Intentions

February 2017

Comfort for the Afflicted

Pope Francis kisses and blesses Michael Keating (10), who has cerebral palsy, at Philadelphia airport. Photograph: Joseph Gidjunis/World Meeting of Families via AP

 

That all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalised, may find welcome and comfort in our communities.

Feb 11: Our Lady of Lourdes / World Day of Prayer for the Sick

 

 

KK cathedral celebrates vigil Mass for Malaysia

A section of the faithful attending the vigil Mass at SHC, 23 Feb 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – Sacred Heart Cathedral here celebrated a vigil Mass in response to the call of the Malaysian bishops for a day of prayer for Malaysia.

Over 300 people attended the liturgical celebration presided by Archbishop John Wong on 23 Feb 2017 beginning with vespers, the Eucharistic celebration, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a time of silent prayer and listening to the Word.  The special readings,  composed prayers and the prayer of the faithful focused on the situation of the country and its people.

The pastoral letter of the bishops Stand Up For Your Faith was read out to the congregation, with a summary in Mandarin and BM.

Other parishes in the archdiocese observed the day of prayer on the day itself Feb 24.

The day of prayer was called forth by the bishops to coincide with the opening of the 5th session of the 13th Parliament on March 6 to Apr 6.

In this time of economic downturn and crisis, Malaysians are struggling with a high level of personal debt, reduction in public investment in various sectors and our currency, the ringgit, is sliding rapidly. Malaysia’s economy is growing more slowly and will continue to remain unstable. The top political leaders are the cause of this loss of confidence in Malaysia’s economy. The political scene has been equally unsettled and many are worried about which direction the country is heading.

Corruption and violence have become a major issue in the country. Now Malaysia is among the top ten in the list of corruption. At one time Malaysia was considered one of the safest countries in South East Asia but now it has become one of the most dangerous countries in this region especially Kuala Lumpur City, which has become a centre for criminal activities.

Schools and education systems hardly serve as channels for the development of peaceful societies. The poor quality of the school education system also causes the economic, political and social skills to weaken. Why is the Malaysian education system failing its students? Is it because of bad parents, bad teachers or bad administration? It is time to solve the problems within the education system to enable the students to succeed in the future and to bring the nation to success.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hindusim, Sikhism and Taosim (MCCBCHST),  being gravely concerned with Hadi’s Private Members Bill which will be coming up for debate soon in the Federal Parliament,  has issued an open letter dated 14 Oct 2016 to Members of Parliament to do their duty as required by their oath of office to protect the Federal Consitution.

 

Papar-Limbahau prepares for journalism workshop

Ann Marie presents her topic to the members at the final meeting in Papar, 20 Feb 2017.

PAPAR – Members of SOCCOM Papar-Limbahau had their final meeting at St Joseph here on 20 Feb 2017 in preparation for the basic journalism workshop to be held on Feb 25-26.

It would be the first project of the social communications committee since its inception on 15 Dec 2016, itself a fruit of attending the Journalism Training Workshop for Catholic Writers organised by the Archdiocesan Social Communications Commission on 10-11 Dec 2016.

A new member of the committee is Benjamin Dantoi of St Kenneth Kelatuan, a former air traffic controller with Malaysian Airlines.

The workshop, to be held at Holy Rosary Limbahau, has attracted 35 potential participants from both parishes.

The two-day workshop will be facilitated by the members themselves, based on what they had learnt from the workshop in Tanjung Aru: news writing, sources of news, photography, doing interviews, Catholic Sabah, Archdiocesan Website, and dealing with non-Catholic news.

The objective of the workshop is to create awareness of SOCCOM functions in churches and chapels and to liaise with SOCCOM at parish and archdiocesan level. – William Charles Mindus / SOCCOM Papar- Limbahau

72 receive Sacrament of Confirmation

TANJUNG ARU – Seventy-two confirmands received the sacrament of confirmation at the BM Mass in Stella Maris Parish here on 22 Jan 2017.

The Mass was presided by Archbishop John Wong who was making his pastoral visit to the parish.  He was assisted by Msgr Primus Jouil and Father Tony Mojiwat.

In his address to his confirmands at the fellowship lunch in the parish hall, he challenged them to change the world as the 12 Apostles did after Pentecost.

He urged them to seriously consider changing themselves according to the Catholic faith.  He also exhorted them to see whether they are called to the priestly or consecrated life.

Then he addressed the parents and expressed his hope that they and their children would be present at Sunday Mass to build up the parish together.

To the godparents/sponsors, he reminded them to guide their godchildren in facing challenges.

The prelate then encouraged all confirmands to sign up for Bible Class which begins Feb 5 at St Peter Room as a follow-up in faith development.

Two Bible class graduates, Jillian Simon (2014) and Dana Dumpangol (2016) shared their experiences with the confirmands and encouraged them to join the class.

That day was also Catechetical Sunday with the theme Christ our Joy.

Sister Dominic Thien fsic, Sunday School Coordinator, gave a speech at the fellowship.

She said the Catechetical Sunday celebration is a time of grace for all catechists and she thanked all catechists who have journeyed with the 72 confirmands throughout the whole year of 2016.  Linda Edward

 

Five participate in third PDF programme

KOTA KINABALU – The third Parish Discipleship Formation (PDF) attracted five participants.

The participants were four school leavers and a college graduate.

The programme ran from 6-25 Jan 2017 at the Annex, Montfort Training Centre Kinarut and  Sacred Heart Parish Centre (SHPC) here.

The three-week programme, organised by the Mission Awareness Team and facilitated jointly by members of LiFE community (Companions of ICPE Mission) of Sacred Heart Cathedral (SHC) and previous PDF participants, includes a formation phase in a live-in community setting, the outreach preparation and outreach phase as well as the closure with a retreat and planning for the future

The participants are being challenged to look at their faith as an important part of their lives which may help them in their future decisions and choices in life. The PDF allows open discussion about faith, relationship with God, self and others as well as the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Here, they learn to apply scriptures, church teachings and documents in their daily life. Spending time to reflect on the daily readings and praying the liturgy of the hours together, have encouraged the desire to want to know more about God. The healthy environment of community living with the aspect of honouring and respecting each other created the sense of belonging and friendship that allow them  to share their lives without the fear of judgment.

The formation is focused on discipleship through the accompaniment of a sharing partner journeying with each individual. Here, the teachings are put into action and applied in their daily lives with a close guidance, with constant affirmation and challenge on attitude, response and knowledge.  Joannes Jomitol Jr & Yvonne Teo, Coordinators of PDF2017

SOS message brings relief to flood victims in northern region

 

Relief goods brought to one of the villages in Kota Marudu and Pitas.

KOTA MARUDU – An SOS message brought relief to flood victims in Kota Marudu and Pitas region recently.

Dr Velus Junius, chairman of St Theresa Parish Pastoral Council, sent the SOS message to a friend to help those affected by the flood caused by the overflowing banks of Sungai Bondon and Sungai Pandau on 17 Jan 2017.

The SOS went viral in social media, bringing many to counter-check with Dr Velus the situation.  People responded and sent into the account provided by him, collecting over RM7,000.  The responses came from as far as Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Labuan, Kota Kinabalu and elsewhere.

Velus, assisted by the PPC and others, distributed the food rations (10kg bag of rice, cooking oil, biscuits, sugar and coffee) to 96 families in Pitas and 201 families in Kota Marudu.

Father Jalius Sading and Father Jack Sigam of St Peter Church Kudat were able to visit the devastated areas in Kota Marudu and Pitas.   The flood relief of St Theresa Kota Marudu was organised with their permission.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish in Kota Kinabalu also opened a collection centre for relief goods for the flood victims under its human development ministry.

Sandakan parish leaders organise planning workshop on pastoral road map

One of the groups in session during the planning workshop, 23-24 Jan 2017, St Mary Sandakan.

SANDAKAN -The Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) of St Mary Cathedral here organised a two-day planning workshop to identify key pastoral areas and to prioritise pastoral activities towards achieving vision and mission’ on 23-24 Jan  2017 at the parish hall.

One hundred and fifty lay leaders, priests and religious representing the various parish ministries, communities and groups attended the workshop.

Pilis Malim, organising cum PPC Chairman, explained that the objective of the workshop was to assist the PPC in formulating the pastoral plan for the parish.

For comprehensiveness, the PPC proposed the participation of all ministries, communities and groups in order that their ideas, feedbacks and opinions could help to shape a workable framework for the pastoral plan. One such effective approach is an interactive workshop where lay leaders, priests and religious are fully involved.

In his keynote address, Bishop Julius Gitom said, “Without a vision, the people perished” (Proverbs 29:18). He said that the parishioners’ attendance in the workshop reflected their love for the church, and their longing for a vibrant parish,  He saw their presence as being inspired by the Holy Spirit.

He shared that the recent Sandakan Diocesan Delegate Assembly on  Jan 4-5 has unveiled the Diocesan Vision and Mission Statement (V & M) after a long and tedious process undertaken by the then four parishes in the diocese.

However, the V & M statement would only be launched officially during the Diocesan 10th anniversary in October this year in Tawau.

The prelate was pleased to note that St Mary’s Parish, being the mother Church of the diocese, took the initiative to hold a workshop to explore and understand the V & M and to align its pastoral planning to that of the diocese.

The session on “Understanding and Ownership of the Vision and Mission Statement” was facilitated by Francis Tan, former executive secretary of the Diocese of Sandakan. He briefed those present on the chronology of the process of V & M which took seven years to be formulated based on ideas and experiences at the grassroots.

Working on the V & M statement, the participants were divided into six groups and presented their views and ideas to the assembly.  The participants’ views and concerns would be documented and become the basis of the parish PPC pastoral planning. – DOSPO

Tawau Chinese faithful gather for Lunar New Year Mass

Msgr Ong distributes the oranges after Mass, 28 Jan 2017, HTC.

TAWAU – The Chinese faithful gathered for a thanksgiving Mass on the first day of the Lunar New Year to thank God for His blessings for the past year, and to acknowledge that He is also the source of blessings to come for the new year on 28 Jan 2017 at Holy Trinity Church here.

The Mass presided by Fr Charles Chiew was concelebrated with Msgr Nicholas Ong and Father Phillip Muji.

In his homily, Fr Chiew reminded the parishioners of God who provides and who is faithful to His promises, from Mt 6:31-33 “Therefore, do not worry saying ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we wear?’  For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

At the Presentation of Gifts, five groups representing LOM, Bible Sharing Group, Children’s Liturgy, Sunday Faith Formation and Prayer Group brought the gifts to the altar.

After Mass, mandarin oranges were blessed and distributed to the parishioners by the priests.

The Lion Dance performance after Mass lent a festive air to the celebration. – Edward Koh

Social media can revolutionise the church, but only if we use it correctly

I have come to think that social media is not an optional extra, but rather a central part of the church’s mission now.

Can social media help us communicate beyond the church or beyond the “network bubble” in which we may be caught? I think so, though I am not altogether sure. Certainly, we have to find ways of speaking to those outside our community of agreement—not just through new media but in new ways. At times we pour old wine into new wineskins, but we need new wine in new wineskins. That means, I think, that as we enter social media we need to be (at the very least) demotic, surprising and positive.

Social media is not monolithic. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter incorporate a variety of subcultures that have to be understood, and this presumes a new kind of dialogue. Social media can be a Wild West where anything goes, a world where people like bishops are simply one among many voices. This world reconfigures teaching authority; it is a world where everything is fluid, where boundaries are blurred and roles are not what they were. The adjustment this requires is part of being missionary today.

At times we can fall into churchy stereotypes, speaking in ways that may seem wondrous to us but which don’t speak to most people. On social media we need to move beyond the stereotypes that have clerics saying predictably edifying things in predictable ways. We have to offer fresh angles not only on issues usually associated with the church but more especially on the call of the Gospel today. We need to be surprising.

Social media can specialise in negativity, but to serve the Gospel will mean being optimistic. That doesn’t mean a Pollyannish approach, nor does it in any way exclude the prophetic. Being positive creates a special place for humour—by which I mean turning an ironic eye on the world in a way that is typical of the Bible. Real humour is the servant of real hope. Positivity will also mean saying no to ideological warfare and knowing when silence is better than speech.

Pope Francis has struck a chord with many people outside of the Catholic Church because he knows how to be colloquial, surprising and positive—not just on social media but in his pastoral style. The pope is markedly present on social media not because he is technologically adept, but because others share his words and deeds for him. This is because he is a pastor and missionary attuned to the very personal encounters that social media can make possible. Pope Francis is showing something of what it means to put new wine in new wineskins. I am still trying. – Mark Cooleridge @ America

Father Atin to transfer to Penampang Parish

File photo: Fr Atin (in white) poses with the aspirants and religious at their journey of mercy in 2016.

KOTA KINABALU – Father Wilfred Atin will transfer to St Michael Penampang effective 1 March 2017.

This was announced by Archbishop John Wong at a dinner held in honour of his 18th years of priestly ministry together with the third priestly ordination anniversaries of classmates Father Mitchelly Kiun and Father Rhobby Mojolou on 20 Feb 2017 at a local restaurant in Kota Kinabalu.

Since his ordination in December 2005, Fr Atin has served as assistant pastor at the Sacred Heart Cathedral except for a two-year licentiate course in Rome (2008-2010).

He continued to serve at the cathedral after his studies and after being appointed as director of the aspirants in 2011.  In 2014 he was appointed auditor at the Kota Kinabalu Branch of the Peninsular Marriage Ecclesiastical Tribunal.

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