Monthly Archives: September, 2019

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Amos 6:1,4-7
God will judge the complacency of the people and their leaders.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 146:7-10
Happy are those who find solace in God, the help of the poor.

Second Reading
1 Timothy 6:11-16
Paul exhorts Timothy to stay faithful to God in all things.

Gospel Reading
Luke 16:19-31
Jesus tells the parable of the reversal of fortunes between the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus.

Background on the Gospel Reading

A major theme in the Gospel of Luke is the importance of the care of the poor in the life of discipleship. In the parable found in today’s Gospel, Jesus contrasts the life of a rich man and the poor man, Lazarus, who lives in the shadow of the rich man and his wealth. Both die. Lazarus finds himself in heaven; the rich man in the netherworld. The rich man asks for assistance from Lazarus in his torment. But Abraham reminds the rich man of the good things he had in his life and describes the current situation as a reversal of fortunes. The rich man then asks that Lazarus be sent to warn his family, but this is denied with the reminder that Moses and the prophets have warned of judgment for those who neglect the care of the poor.

In the context of Luke’s Gospel, this parable, delivered in the presence of a crowd of listeners, is part of Jesus’ response to some Pharisees. These Pharisees are described in Luke’s Gospel as “loving money.” (Note: The Pharisees were followers of a sect of Judaism active before, during, and after Jesus’ lifetime. They taught an oral interpretation of the Law of Moses as the basis for popular Jewish piety. They put less emphasis on Temple worship and more on applying the law to everyday life. Though they are often portrayed negatively in the Gospels, they shared many of Jesus’ and the early Church’s concerns about the law.) Jesus observed that the actions of some Pharisees betrayed misplaced priorities: they spoke one way, but acted in another. The story of the rich man and Lazarus demonstrates the importance of the care of the poor and is a reminder to those who would follow Jesus of the unimportance of wealth in the eyes of

‘New hope for the media to enjoy press freedom,’ SOCCOM head

KOTA KINABALU: There is new hope for the media in Malaysia to enjoy a higher level of press freedom.

Leong (left) giving his talk on role of the press and press freedom at seminar organised by the Institute for Development Studies (Sabah), in Kota Kinabalu on Sept 12, 2019.

This was the opinion of Joseph Leong, head of the Social Communications Commission (SOCCOM) of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, who spoke on the role of the press and on press freedom at a recent seminar here.

He noted that since the 14th general elections (GE14) top national and state leaders had pledged that the government would uphold the principle of freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

“This is well and good. As for the media, we hope that these good intentions shall be reflected by the way members of the press are being treated,” he said.

According to him, the government has to be seen to take positive actions that allow openess and free access to information.

Datuk Jaujan Sambakong, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of of Local Government and Housing, represented the Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, as guest of honour at the opening ceremony.

Leong said that there had been times in the past when Malaysia was seen as a fine example of a nation where peoples of diverse beliefs and cultural background could live in peace and harmony.

However, from time to time racial and religious polarisation rise to alarming heights.

“Instead of being actively engaged in seeking common ground and creating harmony despite the many ethnic walls that separate the peoples, there are those who seem determined to fortify such walls.”

He said the press have been there, faithfully reporting and recounting these good, bad and ugly deeds and events in Malaysia.

Joe Leong said that since he was invited to give the talk in the name of the Catholic Church, he recalled the so-called “Allah” issue that raged through the nation for months in 2013-14.

He viewed it as “a sad episode” in Malaysia’s history. He had written on the matter then saying that it was totally improper and unwise to try and give a name to God.

“When the creator of heaven and earth spoke to Moses at the burning bush, he had clearly said that it is pointless for man to ask him for a name, declaring that ‘I am, who I am‘.”

Touching on freedom of the press and freedom of expression, Leong highlighted some of the existing laws seen to be stiffling press freedom in the country.

He said one of the key Malaysian legislations often cited as curtailing freedom of expression is the Printing Press and Publications Act.

Under that Act, the Minister of Home Affairs reserves the right to impose a list of conditions in the licence and/or permits of publications. He reserves the right “to revoke or suspend such licence for any period he considers desireable”.

Such conditions of publications, Leong pointed out, apply not only to daily newspapers, but to other publictions, like the Catholic Sabah, a fornightly tabloid.

From time to time, the editor of this official publication of the Catholic Church in the state would receive notices from officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs questioning why they had printed certain prohibited words.

In his half-hour presentation at the seminar organised by the Institute for Development Studies (Sabah), Leong spoke on how the press and freedom of the press could enhance the check and balance of democracy in Malaysia.

“Indeed, the press is playing an active role in enhancing check and balance to ensure that the human rights and democratic rights of the peoples in Malaysia are sustained.”

He said nation building is a long and hard journey and saying that the Federation of Malaysia has only entered into her 56th year of existence.

“Looking at recent events across the country, the road ahead shall not be an easy one,” he added.

A panel of nine speakers presented papers and spoke on how to strengthen and restructure the critical and core institutions of democary in Malaysia from the Sabah perspective.

Group photo of speakers and participants of the IDS seminar with: Jaujan Sambakong (6th from left, front row), Simon Sipaun on his left and Leong (2nd from right) shortly after the opening of the seminar on Sept 12, 2019.

In his opening remarks, Leong paid tribute to Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, chairman of IDS (Sabah) as “one of the post powerful advocates of human rights and democratic rights in Malaysia”.

SOCCOM is grateful to Juliana Ringgingon, a Senior Research Associate of IDS and the organising chaiman of the seminar, for making it possible for the Commission to give its views on the role of the press in Malaysia.

Among Catholic officials who present were: Dominic Lim, Executive Secretary at the office of the Archdiocese; and Patricia Regis, a long-serving member of SOCCOM. –

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading
Exodus 32:7-11,13-14
Moses stands up to God, recalling all of God’s great promises.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,17,19
Once we are forgiven, we can hope for a new heart and a fresh start.

Second Reading
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Paul proves it’s never too late to repent and serve God.

Gospel Reading
Luke 15:1-32
Jesus responds to those who criticize him for keeping company with the unworthy.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells three parables about losing, finding, and rejoicing. The outcasts of society, the taxpayers, and the sinners approach Jesus eager to hear what he has to say. In Luke’s Gospel, hearing is a sign of conversion. The Pharisees and scribes, still suspicious of Jesus, complain about him associating with sinners. So he tells them these three parables.

In the first story, the parable of The Lost Sheep, the shepherd leaves behind the 99 sheep to search for the 1 lost sheep. When he finds it, the shepherd rejoices not alone as in Matthew’s version, but with friends and neighbors. In the same way, God rejoices more over 1 sinner who repents—like the outcasts who have come to hear Jesus—than over the 99 righteous like the Pharisees and scribes.

The second story, about a poor woman who will not stop searching until she finds her lost coin, makes the same point. Why are the Pharisees complaining? They should rejoice when the lost are found.

Finally we come to what is probably the most memorable parable in the Gospels, the story we know as The Prodigal Son. Just as in The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin, this story (found only in Luke) is really about the seeker. The loving father is at the center of this parable. Even though his son runs off with his father’s inheritance and squanders the money, the father waits for him, hoping for his return. Upon his son’s return, the father, “full of compassion,” runs out to embrace and forgive him before the son can utter one word of repentance. At this point the rejoicing begins.

The parable does not end there. Rather, it makes one more point about the older son’s reaction. This son who never left, just like the Pharisees and scribes who feel they are righteous, refuses to enter his father’s house to join in the rejoicing. He has served his father. He has obeyed him. Perhaps it was not out of love. The father’s response teaches us that God’s care and compassion extend to the righteous and sinner alike. When we are lost, God doesn’t wait for our return. He actively seeks us out. And when the lost are found, how could we not celebrate and rejoice?

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