Reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Lent (A)


First Reading
1 Samuel 16:1b,6-7,10-13a
Samuel is sent to anoint David as king.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord is our shepherd.

Second Reading
Ephesians 5:8-14
The Ephesians are told to live as children of light.

Gospel Reading
John 9:1-41 (shorter form: John 9:1,6-9,13-17,34-38)
Jesus heals the man born blind and reveals himself to him as the Son of Man.

Background on the Gospel Reading

As we did last week, we are reading today from the Gospel of John. In today’s Gospel, the healing of the man born blind invites us to focus on the physical and spiritual aspects of sight and light. In the first part of today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus’ response to a prevalent belief of his time: that misfortune and disability were the results of sin. That belief is why Jesus is asked the question of whose sin caused the man’s blindness—his own or his parents’. Jesus does not answer directly but instead gives the question an entirely different dimension—through this man’s disability, God’s power will be made manifest. Jesus then heals the man.

The healing is controversial because Jesus heals on the Sabbath. The Pharisees, the religious authorities of Jesus’ time, understood that the law of Moses forbade work (including healing) on the Sabbath. They also have trouble believing that Jesus performed a miracle. To determine whether the man was really born blind, the Pharisees question him and his parents. The man challenges the leaders of the synagogue about their assessment of the good that Jesus has done. In turn, they expel the man for questioning their judgment.

The final revelation and moment of enlightenment come when the man born blind encounters Jesus again. Having heard the news of his expulsion, Jesus seeks out the man born blind and reveals himself to him as the Son of Man. In this moment, the man born blind shows himself to be a man of faith and worships Jesus. Jesus replies by identifying the irony of the experience of many who encounter Jesus: Those who are blind will now see, and those who think they now see will be found to be blind.

As in last week’s Gospel about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, today’s reading has many allusions to Baptism. The washing of the man in the pool of Siloam is a prototype for Christian Baptism. Through the man’s encounter with Jesus, the man born blind is healed, his sight is restored, and his conversion to discipleship begins. The man born blind gradually comes to a greater understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to be his disciple, while the Pharisees (those who should see) are the ones who remain blind. –

Pope Francis’ 2017 Intentions

March 2017

Support for Persecuted Christians


That persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church.

March 1: Ash Wednesday (Fast & Abstinence)

March 20: St Joseph Spouse of Virgin Mary

March 24: Blessed Oscar Romero, Bishop and Martyr

March 25: Annunciation of the Lord




Dublin prepares for 2018 World Meeting of Families

DUBLIN, Ireland – Just a little more than a year away, the Archdiocese of Dublin released a video on 22 Mar 2017 inviting families from around the world to come together in Ireland for the World Meeting of Families in August 2018.

“I’m very pleased to have been asked to host this meeting, and to invite you to join with us in preparing for this event, and hopefully also to come to Dublin, to celebrate with families from all around the world,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin says in the video.

The next World Meeting of Families will be held on 22-26 Aug 2018. As the promo video  says, it will include – “God-willing – having Pope Francis join us for the Festival of Families and the final Mass.”

Pope Francis’ visit to Dublin in 2018 would be a significant moment for Ireland, since it has been almost 40 years since the last papal visit, Ireland’s ambassador to the Holy See, Emma Madigan, told CNA in January.

The Archdiocese of Dublin is currently using the website to provide information about the event in English, as they work on launching a more comprehensive, multi-lingual site soon, which will also include ticket and registration information.

The theme of the 9th World Meeting of Families is “The Gospel of family, joy for the world.” As the video says, “The joy of love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church. Our Catholic Church is a family of families.”

“Our Holy Father Pope Francis is encouraging families from all across the world to come to Ireland in 2018 to celebrate family life. And to reflect on the importance of family in our lives,” Cardinal Kevin Farrell says in the video.

Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, as well as a Dublin native, Cardinal Farrell is one of the persons responsible for organising the event.

The last World Meeting of Families, which took place in Philadelphia in 2015, was attended by around 18,000 people for the congress and somewhere around 800,000-900,000 for the final Mass with Pope Francis.

“Every society, every person, understands a universal bond, a bond that connects us: family,” the promotional video states. “We look forward to welcoming people from every corner of the world to our shores for the 2018 World Meeting of Families.” – CNA/EWTN News

AYD representatives hold preliminary meetings during ‘days of the diocese’

MUNTILAN, Central Java – Preliminary meetings have been held in preparation of the 7th Asian Youth Day (AYD), scheduled for 30 July-6 August 2017 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Representatives from 16 countries met on 20-24 March during the ‘Days of the Diocese’ at the Sanjaya Pastoral Centre in Muntilan, a place known as the ‘Bethlehem of Java’ in Central Java. The meeting was the fifth organised in preparation for the upcoming continental event.

Although it was not the first, the gathering in Muntilan was used to rehearse the 7th AYD. Several important officials from the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) were present, coming from continent’s four regions: East Asia (South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau), South-East Asia One (Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia), Asia South-East Two (Indonesia, East Timor, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Philippines) and South Asia (India and Bangladesh). Representatives of Catholic Organisations for Youth in Asia (COYA) were also present.

Father Dwiharsanto, head of the Steering Committee and former Executive Secretary of the Commission of Youth of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, said that Filipino Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi, head of the Office of Laity and Family of the FABC, and Bishop Cornelius Sim of the Vicariate of Brunei also attended the meeting along with representatives from Indonesia’s 11 dioceses. Foreign participants to the five-day ‘Days in the Diocese’ were hosted by religious congregations. The event enabled participants to live with “new families” and experience Indonesia’s multicultural, multiethnic and multi-religious society.

Bishop Sim told AsiaNews that “after this meeting in Muntilan, young Brunei Catholics will be better motivated by the spirit to participate in this international event. Young Indonesians and volunteers are enthusiastic and we are delighted to be part of the next World Day. ” According to Bishop Baylon, young people taking part in the 7th AYD in Indonesia “are spiritually and morally motivated to understand the real situation of the countries in which they live and in which they participate in the Church’s life.” Hence, “We encourage them to reflect upon their real life with other people from different cultures, languages, traditions, and values.” – Vatican Radio/AsiaNews

Fatima seers cleared for canonisation

The two Fatima seers, Bls Francisco, 10, and Jacinta Marto, 9, were the youngest non-martyrs to be beatified in the history of the Church.

VATICAN CITY – The Congregation for the Causes of Saints has approved a miracle through the intercession of Francisco and Jacinta Marto—two of the three children who witnessed the apparition of the Virgin Mary at Fatima.

The decree from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, released on 23 March 2017 with the approval of Pope Francis, fulfills the requirements for the canonisation of the two Portuguese siblings. Both died in their youth, shortly after the Fatima miracles. They were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000.

The March 23 decree creates the possibility that Pope Francis could preside at the canonisation of Bl Francisco and Jacinto Marto in May, when the Holy Father will visit the Portuguese shrine to mark the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions.

The third Fatima seer, Lucia Santos, became a Carmelite nun, and lived until 2005. In 2008, a separate cause of beatification was opened for Sister Lucia. Pope Benedict XVI waived the usual five-year waiting period after a candidate’s death for the opening of her cause. – CWN

Over 200 Chinese Legionaries attend annual Acies

KOTA KINABALU – Over 200 Chinese-speaking Legionaries attended the 27th Acies on 26 Mar 2017 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here.

The event began with a procession by the officials and members (active and auxiliary) of the 13 senior and four junior praesidia under the Kota Kinabalu Chinese Curia from the grotto to the cathedral building.

The curia covers Sacred Heart Cathedral KK, Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang, Good Shepherd Manggatal and Holy Family Telipok.

After all had entered the cathedral, the rosary was recited followed by a word of exhortation by Father Paul Lo, the spiritual director for lay movements in the archdiocese.

The highlight was the renewal of commitment to Mary for another year by all those present – priest, religious and lay with the oldest member at 83 years old and the youngest at nine.

After the individual renewal, all recited the consecratory prayer led by Fr Lo.

The event ended with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.

The Acies is a yearly event that falls on a Sunday nearest to March 25, Solemnity of the Annunciation.

Earlier on Mar 18, the  KK Comitium organised the Acies for the English- and BM-speaking members at CMI presided by Father Alex Sipanul, its spiritual director.

Franciscan Alumni donates RM50k to school building project

The newly elected office bearers pose with Mary Gomez (holding the cheque) and Leena Toyoi (on Mary’s right) after the presentation at the AGM, 25 Mar 2017, KK.

KOTA KINABALU – The Alumni of St Francis Convent School presented a cheque amounting to RM50,ooo to the new school building committee on 25 Mar 2017.

The donation was received by Mary Gomez, head of the building committee, at the alumni’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) at a local hotel here.

Since the commencement of the RM12m building project, the alumni has donated a total amount of RM177,000 (including this donation) towards the building fund.

Former teacher Mdm Agnes Hiew also contributed RM50,000 towards the building project.

Leena Toyoi of the school building fundraising committee presented a short update on the progress of the project.  She said that it urgently needs another RM2.5m to complete the project by September 2017 at its earliest or June 2018 at the latest.  RM1 million in pledges has yet to be received by the committee.

The AGM also saw the return of the incumbent office bearers for a new term 2017-2019: Datuk Aminah Ambrose (president), Mazni Manjaji (vice president), Patricia Pain (secretary), Georgina Jinawat (asst secretary), Felicity Jinu (treasurer), Dymphna Ubing (asst treasurer), with three new committee members: Aloysia Sang, Suzanne Stidi, and Maximiliana Seet.

In her address, the re-elected president expressed the hope that generous benefactors, past and present students and teachers, and well-wishers will come forward to support the upcoming 3rd Franciscan Night in aid of the school building project on Apr 22 at the Hakka Hall Likas.

Church leaders to organise prayer vigil for peace and harmony

KOTA KINABALU – The Sabah Council of Churches (SCC) and Commission on Sabah Affairs (COSA) will be organising a prayer vigil for peace and harmony on 31 March 2017 at the Padang Merdeka Kota Kinabalu.

It will begin at 7:30 pm.  No printed materials will be provided.  All necessary information and song lyrics will be shared via whatsapp and through screen.

Pastors/Leaders are to organise their members to stay and pray together in small groups as the programme flows.  More time might be accorded to certain prayer areas where it is needed.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own candles, umbrellas in case of rain and mats to sit on the grass.

They are also urged to keep the event “zero litter.”

Herald Malaysia loses its first stringer

MALACCA –  Percy D’Cruz, HERALD’s first stringer and a long-serving stringer of The Star’s Malacca bureau, passed away on 9 March 2017.  Percy, 69, is believed to have been electrocuted at his home at Banda Hilir on Thursday evening.

Theresa Tan, 62, discovered her dead husband when she returned home at about 6:30 pm.

A Malacca police forensics team went to the house on Thursday night to conduct checks.

“We are waiting for the post-mortem report,” said a family friend.

The wake was held at the Chapel of the Assumption at Praya Lane.

The funeral Mass was held at the Church of St Peter at 10 am on Monday, March 13, followed by cremation at the Jelutong Memorial Park.

Percy had been covering church events in Melaka for the HERALD since its inception in 1994. He also assisted those who needed help in putting memorial ads and advertisements in the HERALD.

Hours before he was found dead, he had sent an e-mail to The Star’s Malacca office to complain about damage caused to his home by a flood mitigation project.

Percy was a man with a sense of humour. He was also very accommodating, dedicated to his craft and professional in his coverage.

He will be missed. – Herald Malaysia

CAC staff attend Lenten recollection at the church-by-the-river

MADSIANG, Inobong – Over 30 staff of Catholic Archdiocesan Centre Penampang attended a Lenten recollection at the church-by-the-river here on 24 Mar 2017.

Father Charles Chiew of Keningau Diocese facilitated the recollection at the Catholic Church of Madsiang.

Session 1 dealt with Matthew 19 wherein the 38 staff – married, single, religious – reflected on the origins of their call to service at the archdiocesan level while Session 2 touched on Matthew 5-8 focusing on the call to walk “the extra mile” (Mt 5:41-48) in their service.

After lunch, the recollectionists participated in the Mass integrated with the Stations of the Cross.

Before the event ended, five participants shared their insights and experiences.

This was the second recollection the staff organised under the new administration. The first was held at Sacred Heart Cathedral in 2015.

Pope grants plenary indulgence for Fatima centenary

– For the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, Pope Francis has decided to grant a plenary indulgence opportunity throughout the entire anniversary year, which began on 27 Nov 2016, and will end on 26 Nov  2017.

The Executive Secretary of the Rectory of the Fatima Shrine in Portugal, André Pereira, explained to CNA on 1 Dec 2016, that the plenary indulgence can be obtained during the entire Jubilee Year. There are three ways of obtaining the indulgence, detailed in a statement on the shrine’s website.

To obtain the plenary indulgence, the faithful must also fulfill the ordinary conditions: go to Confession and Communion, be interiorly detached from sin, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

1. Make a pilgrimage to the shrine

The first way is for “the faithful to make a pilgrimage to the Fatima Shrine in Portugal and participate in a celebration or prayer dedicated to the Virgin.”

In addition, the faithful must pray the Our Father, recite the Creed, and invoke the Mother of God.

2. Pray before any statue of Our Lady of Fatima

The second way applies to “the pious faithful who visit with devotion a statue of Our Lady of Fatima solemnly exposed for public veneration in any church, oratory or proper place during the days of the anniversary of the apparitions, the 13th of each month from May to October 2017, and there devoutly participate in some celebration or prayer in honour of the Virgin Mary.”

Regarding this second way, the rector of the Fatima Shrine told CNA that the visit to the statue of the Virgin, “does not necessarily have to be only at Fatima or exclusively in Portugal,” but can be done anywhere in the world.

Those seeking an indulgence must also pray an Our Father, recite the Creed and invoke Our Lady of Fatima.

3. The elderly and infirm

The third way to obtain a plenary indulgence applies to people who, because of age, illness or other serious cause, are unable to get around.

These individuals can pray in front of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima and must spiritually unite themselves to the jubilee celebrations on the days of the apparitions, the 13th of each month, between May and October 2017.

They also must “offer to merciful God with confidence, through Mary, their prayers and sufferings or the sacrifices they make in their own lives.” – CNA/EWTN News

In Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese, the Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang will celebrate the event on May 13 with a Marian procession before the 6 pm Mandarin Mass.

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