Reflection for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)


First Reading
Wisdom 12:13,16-19
God has shown himself to be a God of justice and mercy.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 86:5-6,9-10,15-16
A prayer to God for mercy.

Second Reading
Romans 8:26-27
The Spirit intercedes for us with God.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 13:24-43 (shorter form: Matthew 13:24-30)
Jesus offers parables about the Kingdom of Heaven and explains them to his disciples.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers three parables to describe the Kingdom of Heaven. He also explains why he speaks to the crowds in parables and interprets the parable of the sower for the disciples. This reading is a continuation of Jesus’ discourse that we began reading last Sunday.

All three parables use commonplace experiences to describe aspects of the Kingdom of Heaven. The first parable is longer and more detailed than the next two, and it alerts us to the two-fold reality of the Kingdom of Heaven. The beginnings of the Kingdom of Heaven can be found in this world. The fruition of the Kingdom of Heaven, however, will not be realised until the final judgment. In the meantime, as Jesus’ explanation to the disciples cautions, any effort to judge the progress of the Kingdom of Heaven is premature. Only God, in the final judgment, will distinguish the fruit of the Kingdom of Heaven and offer its reward.

The second and third parables call to our attention to the abundance that will result from the small beginnings of the Kingdom of Heaven. Just as a mustard seed—the smallest of all seeds—will become a large bush, so too God will bring his Kingdom to full bloom. As a small amount of yeast will leaven the entire batch of bread, so too God will bring about the expansion of his Kingdom. In each case, the image is of the superabundance that God brings out of even the smallest of signs of the Kingdom.

Contained within these parables are words of caution as well as words of consolation. In the parable of the sower, we are warned against judging others. To judge and uproot the “weeds” prematurely will harm the wheat; final judgment rests with God. In the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast, we are consoled by the message that God can work wonders and produce abundance from even the smallest beginnings of the Kingdom of Heaven.  –


Pope Francis’ 2017 Intentions

July 2017

Lapsed Christians

That our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith, through our prayer and witness to the Gospel, may rediscover the merciful closeness of the Lord and the beauty of the Christian life.

Liturgical Feasts

July 02: 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 03: St Thomas

July 04: St Elizabeth of Portugal

July 05: St Anthony Zaccaria

July 06: St Maria Goretti

July 09: 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Bible Sunday

July 11: St Benedict

July 13: St Henry

July 14: St Camillus de Lellis

July 15: St Bonaventure

July 16: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time / Erection of Sandakan Diocese (2007)

July 20: St Apollinaris

July 21: St Lawrence of Brindisi

July 22: St Mary Magdalene

July 23: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 24: St Sharbel Makhluf

July 25: St James

July 26: Sts Joachim and Anne (parents of Mary)

July 29: St Martha

July 30: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 31: St Ignatius of Loyola

SHC-CMI pastoral leaders hold inaugural special meeting on tackling pastoral concerns

Among those who are present at the meeting is Pauline Sister Laura Anggie (L). She replaces Sister Magdalene Chong at the CMI-PPC, 20 July 2017, SHPC.

KOTA KINABALU – Twenty-seven pastoral leaders of Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish here and its subparish of Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang held an inaugural special meeting to tackle pastoral concerns on 20 July 2017 at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre.

In attendance were Archbishop John Wong and his three assistants, Fathers Max Hontor, Mitchelly Kiun and Joshua Liew.

Chaired by Bernard Liew, the meeting was the outcome of the mini-PAX held last year on June 25 wherein below 50 percent of the total number of 65 committees, groups, and ministries presented their reports.

Although it has been on the agenda of several meetings of the respective pastoral councils, the critical concerns discerned at the 2015 PAX Assembly – Islamisation, secularisation and apathy – were not given their due weight.

It was pointed out some groups have done something individually but it was never a consolidated effort at the parish level.

Earlier this year, the parish has organised a seminar on understanding Islam in three languages and has created a special column on understanding the Catholic Faith in its parish bulletin.

One of the areas to be looked into would be to have a full-time catechist overseeing the formation and training of voluntary faith formators/catechists.

Another area would be the training for taman coordinators or leaders.

Since the strength of the parish lies in its numerous groups, this should be maximised in reaching out at the grass-root level (the 70 percent uninvolved).

In his remarks, Abp Wong said he was happy with the attendance of the councillors of both churches and their contributions to ways of tackling the pressing concerns.  He said he was consoled that the councillors are beginning to see the larger picture at parish-level.

The prelate ended his remarks urging all to bring the concerns and their solutions to the Lord in prayer.  He also encouraged them not to give up and to work as a team.

The participants agreed to the suggestion to alternate their respective monthly meetings (reports) with the joint tackling of the issues.  However, the joint meeting should be preceded by a period of reflection so that they could seek the Lord’s mind first before coming together for discussion.

Sandakan cathedral parish holds inaugural parish pastoral assembly

Section of the Sandakan Cathedral parish pastoral assembly, 8 July 2017, St Mary Parish Hall.

SANDAKAN – St Mary’s Cathedral parish here held its inaugural pastoral assembly at its parish centre on 8 July 2017.

The soon-to-be-launched Diocesan Vision and Mission in October prompted the steering committee – parish pastoral council, finance committee, property and development committee – to organise the event.

Around 180 leaders from the various ministries, groups and communities of the parish attended the assembly, themed ‘The Lord Calls Us to be One’ (John 17:20).  Also in attendance were the clergy, religious and observers from the Parish of Our Lady of Fatima Beluran and Paitan Mission.

The assembly began with Praise and Worship followed by Enthronement of the Bible, Proclamation of the Gospel and reflection by Father Christopher Ireneus.

In his keynote address, Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom touched on the purpose of the half-day assembly aimed at giving updated information on matters related to pastoral, finance and property of the parish.

The bishop pointed out that lack of information and communication will result in misunderstanding and unnecessary speculations among members in the parish.

He said the session was important and timely as a way forward towards a better, united and strong community of faith.

The bishop highlighted the fact that the assembly would be a starting point to inculcate the spirit of the soon-to-be launched Diocesan Vision: ‘Christ-centred community serving one another with love’ that can build a strong communion of communities of faith in the parish through;

  1. The spirit of service, that all the different communities collaborate in bringing the Gospel values to all.
  2. Having a missionary spirit whereby the different communities would actively cooperate in carrying out the mission of the church within the parish by promoting ongoing faith formation in every community and pastoral group in the parish.
  3. Effective collaboration and cooperation among the communities, to remain in constant communication and openness within the parish community.

Father Thomas Makajil facilitated the session on being church and shared responsibility.  Citing Christifideles Laici, he said the lay faithful are made sharers in the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ through Baptism, and have their own mission to carry out in the world.

The participants were divided into nine groups for discussion on the realities that hinder them from being church and what they can contribute to making being church a reality.  Three groups presented their findings and proposals.

In the second part, the assembly was briefed on the development and status of the pastoral, property and finance committees by their respective representatives.

John Liaw, diocesan finance adviser, presented the importance of internal control and good governance within the church.  He urged the people to be wise and prudent in spending and be ready to face the tax law ruling by the government should it be imposed.

The assembly concluded with an open forum.  Thirty-four questions were fielded but 70 percent of the questions touched on pastoral issues reflecting faith development in the parish.  Participants were given the opportunity to propose suggestions and recommendations for further discernment and reconsideration.

In his closing remarks, the bishop thanked the participants, organisers, and speakers for their participation.  He asked them to share the outcome of the assembly with members of their communities.

The assembly ended with a closing prayer by Father Stanley Matakim and lunch at the parish canteen. –






25 uni students receive training on evangelisation

Group photo taken at one of the faith discoveries nights hosted by LifeLine, SHPC, June 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – Twenty-five university students received training on evangelisation from a group of Canadians here on 28 June – 5 July 2017.

It came about because  Stefanus Able of Keningau met this group of 15 Canadians at the last World Youth Day in Krakow Poland and invited them to Sabah.

It was held in KK as most of the students studying in Sarawak, Penang, Johor and Melaka were back for their holidays around that time.

The course took place at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing as well as at the Cana Cafe along Jalan Penampang.

One of the modules presented was the training on using e-tools to introduce Christ.  They also learnt the basics of practical community service.

Aside from the main training programme, there were three nights of faith discoveries hosted by LifeLine Ministry at the parish centre.

PFM calls on Sandakan prelate for Walk for Jesus 2017

Bishop Gitom (L) and the three PFM members pose for a shot, 25 May 2017, Sandakan.

SANDAKAN – Three members of Prison Fellowship Malaysia (PFM) Sandakan Chapter paid a courtesy call on Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom at his office here on 25 May 2017.

Rev Amos Eng, Cecilia Kimin and Joseph Lee dropped by St Mary’s Cathedral Sandakan to officially invite the prelate to be a guest of honour at PFM’s ‘Walk For Jesus (WFJ) 2017’ event on Aug 27.

Besides presenting the invitation letter and WFJ t-shirt, the trio also sat down to talk about ongoing issues related to the city, state and country that concerned the Christian community as a whole.

The bishop shared his thoughts concerning those issues and agreed that the Christian community should now, more than ever, come together to pray in unity.

Although the bishop is unable to attend the WFJ due to other prior commitments, he is fully supportive of the event and PFM’s fundraising efforts through the sale of WFJ t-shirts as well as the circulation of donation cards among the members of the Catholic Church. –

Carmelite monastery celebrates patronal feast day

Abp Wong, Fr Tan, and OCDS members pose for the cake-cutting after Mass, 16 July 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – The Carmelite Monastery here celebrated its patronal feast day – Our Lady of Mount Carmel – on 16 July 2017.

Archbishop John Wong took time off to celebrate the solemnity with the Carmelite Family – the nuns and the Secular Carmelites (OCDS).  Joining him at the altar was Jesuit Father Larry Tan  of Kuching.

In his homily, the prelate explained to the Sunday crowd about the solemnity, its history, its significance (seeing Mary as mother [who nurtures and guides us to Jesus] and sister [who walks with us]) and the meaning of wearing the brown scapular (sign of one’s relationship with Mary).

He concluded his homily by inviting the people to inculcate a more contemplative lifestyle through four steps: stop (pause from a busy life), listen (to the heart), look (at what God is doing), and gaze (at the wonder of the Lord).

After the Mass, the people were invited to join in the breakfast organised by the OCDS.

Established in Europe in the 14th century, the local monastery was set up in North Borneo (Sabah) in  December 1930 by seven Carmelite nuns from Spain at the invitation of Msgr August Wachter.

ASSISS Sabah all set to have its inaugural mobile clinic mission

Father Kiun blesses the ASSISS Sabah office, SHPC, 15 July 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – Assunta Integrated Social Services (ASSISS) Sabah is all set to have its inaugural mobile clinic mission come July 23 at a village in Penampang.

This was disclosed after the blessing of its office at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre Basement here on 15 July 2017.

Father Mitchelly Kiun officiated the rite of blessing in the presence of some 20 organisers and volunteers.

ASSISS, established under the Assunta Foundation, a hospital founded in 1954 by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM), was formed to help those in need.  It depends on public support and donations to maintain, promote and grow in services.

For ASSISS the poor are patients (regardless of race and religion) with a combined family income of less han RM1,500 per month.

Basic healthcare or end of life care is given through free consultation and treatment, medical monitoring, health promotion – advocacy, and education awareness.  Compassionate emotional, psychological and spiritual care and services are provided to patients, relatives and hospital staff.

With the permission of Archbishop John Wong, ASSISS Sabah has set up its office at SHPC Basement.  Dymphna Ubing will man the office.

The mobile clinic will begin its mission at Kg Timpangoh Penampang on July 23 and thereafter visit the place every third Sunday of the month.

Located in a valley not too far from Sugud in Penampang, Kg Timpangoh can be accessed by car through a hilly journey of roughly 30 minutes from Penampang.

Formed on 10 May 2017, ASSISS Sabah is headed by Patricia Ubing.  Volunteers, especially those in the medical line, are welcome to join the organisation.

Q-and-A on the Vatican’s recent instruction on bread, wine for Communion

A ciborium containing hosts and a flagon of wine are seen during Mass on 23 April 2017 at St Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk, NY. Bishops should look at ways to help verify and guarantee the validity and worthiness of the bread and wine used for the celebration of the Eucharist, the Vatican said in a recent document. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

WASHINGTON  – The Vatican recently published a circular letter, “On the bread and wine for the Eucharist,” sent to diocesan bishops at the request of Pope Francis. Dated 15 June 2017 — the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ — the letter was made public by the Vatican July 8.

Because bread and wine for the Eucharist are no longer supplied just by religious communities, but “are also sold in supermarkets and other stores and even over the internet,” bishops should set up guidelines, an oversight body and/or even a form of certification to help “remove any doubt about the validity of the matter for the Eucharist,” the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments said.

In response to the Vatican statement, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Divine Worship has answered some of these frequently asked questions.

Q: Why is the Vatican worried about what makes up a Communion host? Doesn’t it have more important things to focus on?

A: To say that the Eucharist is important to Catholics is an understatement; the bishops at the Second Vatican Council referred to it as the “source of and summit of the Christian life.” On the night before he died, Jesus considered it important enough to spend time with his apostles at the Last Supper, telling them to continue to celebrate the Eucharist, instructing them to “do this in memory of me.” So the Vatican is naturally interested in making sure that this instruction is carried out properly, and this requires not only a priest who says the correct words, but also the use of the correct material. Therefore, the Catholic Church has strict requirements for the bread and wine used at Mass.

Q: Has the validity of the materials used for the Eucharist been a problem in the United States?

A: The circular letter is addressed to the entire church, to bishops all over the world. Circumstances are very different in various places around the globe, so it’s difficult to know whether the Holy See’s letter is a response to particular problems in certain places. It’s important to note that the letter does not introduce any new teachings or regulations — it simply reminds bishops of their important duty to ensure that the correct materials are used in the celebration of the Mass. We’re fortunate in our country, insofar as it’s not difficult to find bread and wine that are clearly suitable for the Mass.

Q: Concerning low-gluten hosts, how much gluten is in them? Are they safe for someone with celiac disease?

A: The gluten content in low-gluten hosts can vary by producer, but they typically contain less than 0.32 percent gluten. Foods with less than 20 parts per million gluten can be marketed as “gluten-free,” and some low-gluten hosts — while containing enough gluten to satisfy the church’s requirements for Mass — would even fall into that category. The amount of gluten present in low-gluten hosts is considered safe for the vast majority of people with gluten-related health difficulties.

Q: For someone who does not want any exposure to gluten, the church says that Communion may be received under the species of wine alone. What happens if a diocese does not offer Communion under both species?

A: Parishes are more than willing to make special arrangements to assist people who need to receive the Precious Blood instead of the host for medical reasons, even if the parish doesn’t normally offer Communion under both kinds. It can take a little advanced planning to organise the procedures, but pastors are happy to do this. If for some reason a person in this situation runs into difficulties at the parish level, he or she should contact the bishop’s office for assistance.

Q: What about someone, especially a priest, who has alcoholism? Is grape juice allowed?

A: Grape juice is not allowed for the Catholic Mass, but the use of “mustum” can be permitted. Mustum is a kind of wine that has an extremely low alcohol content. It’s made by beginning the fermentation process in grape juice, but then suspending the process such that the alcohol content generally remains below 1 percent, far lower than the levels found in most table wines.

Q: I understand other faiths have gluten-free substitutes. With the church’s insistence on the presence of wheat in the Communion wafer, has this caused any problems in ecumenical dialogue?

A: No, this has not been an issue in ecumenical dialogue.

Q: Who do I talk with if these issues are a concern of mine? Must my pastor accommodate my needs?

A: Someone who suffers in this way should talk to his or her pastor. Naturally, if someone arrives with this kind of request at the last second before Mass is set to begin, the pastor might not be able to accommodate his or her needs. But if someone reaches out in a reasonable manner, pastors are happy to help. Again, if someone runs into difficulties in this regard, he or she should contact the bishop’s office for assistance. One of the greatest duties and privileges of bishops and priests is making the Eucharist available to the Catholic faithful, and they do their best to make this possible. – CNS

Catholic teachers encouraged to be bold for change

A section of the group photo taken after Mass, St Peter Claver Ranau, 8 July 2017.

RANAU – Over 300 Catholic teachers were encouraged to be bold for change in line with the theme of the annual Archdiocesan Teachers Day: Christian Teachers Be Bold for Change on 8 July 2017.

The event was held at St Peter Claver Ranau.

Archbishop John Wong presided at the Mass.  Joining him at the altar were Fathers Jalius Sading, Ambrose Atang, Nicholas Stephen, Florian Marcus and Mattheus Luta.

The participants – school heads, principals, teachers – represented 43 primary and secondary mission schools, and 25 mission kindergartens across 10 zones in the archdiocese.

In her speech after the Mass, Franciscan Sister Rita Chew, head of the Education Commission, said the change is for the better in oneself, in the areas which need it, and in others.  She also encouraged the teachers to join the teachers’ ministry, to make friends with one’s pastor and to leave their prints in the hearts of their students.

Both Fr Stephen (pastor of Ranau) and Abp Wong admitted in their respective speeches the challenge of teaching other people’s children but emphasised that teaching is a vocation, not just a career.

The prelate, however, concluded his address with his signature 12 Words: (1) Read the Word (2) Receive the Sacraments (3) Obey the Commandments and (4) Proclaim the Gospel.

At the fellowship meal held at St Benedict Hall after the Mass, 15 retired teachers from Ranau, Bundu Tuhan and Kota Belud Zones received certificates of appreciation for their services including Petrus Gungkat Atin, the father of Rev Wilfred Atin, and Franciscan Sister Caroline Duli.

The participants were entertained by song and traditional dance performances by some student groups.

OFS delegates gather for inaugural elective national chapter

The new office-bearers take their pledge before the delegates at Mass, St Pius X Bundu Tuhan, 11 June 2017.

PURAK, Papar – Seventy-one delegates of the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS), and their Spiritual Assistants (four FSICs) gathered at Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre for their first Elective National Chapter on 9-11 June 2017.

The delegates came from Sabah and West Malaysia for this historic event, which was graced by the General Minister, Tibor Kauser, ofs and the General Spiritual Assistant, Friar Alfred, ofm Conventual from Rome.

Father Paul Lo, Spiritual Adviser for Lay Apostolate Movements for KK Archdiocese, presided the opening Eucharistic Celebration Jun 10.

Besides the inputs by the General Minister and the General Spiritual Assistant, the highlight of the event was the Election of the National Council presided by the General Minister.

The result of the election was: 1) National Minister – Marina Anjuman, ofs, 2) Vice National Minister – Devasagayam Arokiasamy, ofs, 3) Formator – Petronella Munting, ofs, 4) Secretary – Harry Lawrence Bangguan, ofs, and 5) Treasurer – Bibiana Cecil Pakang, ofs.

This council will be effective for a term of three years.

This was the first National Elective Chapter as it is now formed as an Emerging National Fraternity, dividing the former Emerging National Fraternity of Malaysia- Singapore into two.

The newly formed emerging National Fraternity creates the possibility of an appropriate communication with the CIOFS (Conference of International Order of Franciscan Seculars) and the Presidency of the International Council of the Secular Franciscan Order.

In Sabah there are nine canonically established Fraternities and in West Malaysia, six. The members are looking forward to the canonical establishment of three upcoming Emerging Fraternities.

For now, the top priority of the National Council is to edit the proper National Statutes responding to the needs of the OFS reality. – Marina Anjuman, ofs

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