Reflection on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)


First Reading
Isaiah 8:23-9:3
The people in darkness have seen a great light.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 27:1,4,13-14
The Lord is our refuge, our light, our salvation.

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17
Paul urges the community at Corinth to be united as people baptised in Christ’s name.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 4:12-23
Jesus begins to preach in Galilee and calls his first disciples. (shorter form Matthew 4:12-17)

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel describes the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (called the Synoptic Gospels), Jesus’ public ministry begins after his baptism by John the Baptist and after his retreat to the desert where he was tempted by the devil. When Jesus returns from the desert, he hears that John has been arrested.

The first part of today’s Gospel places Jesus’ ministry in the context of the writings of the prophet, Isaiah. Matthew wants to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies given to the people of Israel, and he refers to Isaiah to do so. Isaiah says that the Messiah will begin his ministry in Galilee, the land of the Gentiles. When Jesus begins to preach in Galilee, Matthew points to his ministry as a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, proof that Jesus is the Messiah.

When Jesus called his first disciples, the Gospel tells us that the fishermen (Peter and Andrew, James and John) dropped everything to follow Jesus immediately. Yet this Gospel tells us little about the prior experience that the fishermen had of Jesus. Did they know him? Had they heard him preach? What kind of person must Jesus have been to invoke such a response? We can imagine that Jesus was a powerful presence to elicit a response as immediate and complete as these first disciples gave.

The Gospel concludes with a description of the ministry that Jesus begins in Galilee. Jesus inaugurates the Kingdom of God with his work. He teaches in the synagogue and preaches the kingdom. His ability to cure people’s diseases and illness is a sign of the kingdom. In Jesus’ ministry, we already begin to see the Kingdom of God among

Pope Francis’ 2017 Intentions

January 2017

Christian Unity

That all Christians may be faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: January 17-25

180 Malaysian delegates attend 4th WACOM Manila

Father Nicholas Stephen (2nd from R) poses with some of the Malaysian delegates, WACOM-4 Manila, 16-20 Jan 2017.

KOTA KINABALU – Among the 753 foreign delegates attending the 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM) on 16-20 Jan 2017 in Manila Philippines were 180 Malaysians.

Among the Malaysian delegates were Father Nicholas Stephen of Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese and Father Stanley Matakim of Sandakan Diocese.

The congress themed Communion in Mercy, Mission for Mercy attracted over 4,000 local and foreign devotees including 300 priests, 40 arch/bishops and two cardinals.

The participants assembled Jan 16 at the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral.  They were joined by church dignitaries headed by Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto, papal nuncio;  Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen and president of the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines; Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa; Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga and WACOM-Asia Episcopal Coordinator; Bishop Jose Oliveros of Malolos and WACOM National Episcopal Coordinator; Rev Patrice Chocholski, WACOM Secretary General; and Rev Prospero Tenorio, WACOM-Asia Secretary General.

The enthronement of the images of the Divine Mercy, Our Lady of Mercy, Saints Faustina, John Paul II, Padre Pio and Mother Teresa with morning prayers at the Royal and Pontifical University of Sto Tomas in Manila took place Jan 17.

On Jan 18, the participants went to the National Shrine and Parish of Padre Pio in Sto Tomas, Batangas.

They visited the designated 15 “Places of Mercy” in Bulacan province on Jan 19 like the Ephesus House Guiguinto, Nazareth Home for Street Children Bustos, Emmaus House of Apostolate Malolos City, Bethlehem House of Bread Baliwag, Bahay Kalinga Sta Maria, Hospicio San Juan de Dios for Men Bocaue and Galilee Home Dona Remedios Trinidad.

The pilgrimage culminated on Jan 20 at the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Balanga, Bataan.

WACOM was introduced by the Vatican on 2-6 April 2008 in Rome Italy.

The first WACOM coincided with the third death anniversary of St John Paul II.  Since then mercy congresses have been organised on a regular basis:  each world congress is followed by a continental congress, and each continental congress by a national congress. –



Keningau hosts annual Sabah clergy fellowship

The Sabah clergy pose for the camera in front of the Tatal Retreat Centre Chapel in remembrance of their 16-18 Jan 2017 gathering. Credit: Fr Thomas Madanan

KOTA KINABALU – Keningau hosted the annual Sabah clergy fellowship at the Tatal Retreat Centre on 16-18 January 2017.

A friendly football match between the clergy and Keningau parishioners kicked off the gathering.  The match, held at SMK Gunsanad, was won by the clergy with the score of 10-2.

The fellowship dinner was held at the new Nuluh Sosopon Centre on top of a hill overlooking Keningau town.  The participants took the opportunity to catch up with each other, shared their pastoral experiences, and reminisced their seminary years.

The next day the participants started their day with Lauds and Holy Hour.  The KK clergy had their group sharing while the Keningau clergy had their meeting.  The Sandakan clergy returned to their diocese as they had their meeting prior to the fellowship.

Archbishop John Wong presided over the concelebrated evening Mass with Fr Cosmas as the homilist.

In his homily, Fr Cosmas, quoting the psalm of the day, shared on God’s faithfulness towards him in his 40 years of priestly life.  He then encouraged the younger priests to strengthen their faith in the One who has called them to become fishers of men.  As the Lord has been merciful to them, he said, they, in turn, must try their best to be merciful to others.

On the last day, the KK clergy continued with their meeting while the Keningau clergy returned to their respective parishes.  The meeting ended with Mass followed by lunch at noon.

The next gathering for the Sabah clergy will be for their annual retreat in September. –Fr Rhobby Mojolou

Almost 200 attend annual vocation seminar for diocesan priesthood

Participants listen intently to the sharing of one of the presenters.

BUNDU TUHAN – Almost 200 young men attended the annual vocation seminar for diocesan priesthood at the Bundu Tuhan Retreat Centre here on 13-15 Jan 2017.

One hundred eighty-seven participants came from the three dioceses: 120 from Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese, 44 from Keningau Diocese and 23 from Sandakan Diocese.

Joining them were 46 seminarians including three from Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese (doing their pastoral here), aspirants and seven priests including two Mill Hill Missionaries, Father Terry Burke and Father John McAuley.

Archbishop John Wong presided over the concelebrated opening Mass.  In his homily, he challenged the participants to reflect why they were there and who has drawn them to the seminar.

After dinner, Father Rayner Bisius welcomed the participants and briefed them on the programme before Seminarian Wilfred introduced them to the priestly vocation.

Sessions included sharings from Fr Michael Modoit (My Journey to Diocesan Priesthood) and Father Sunny Chung (My Ministry as a Diocesan Priest).  Time was given for personal reflection after each session.

Participants were also given time in the afternoon to speak individually to any of the priests present.  At the same time, the two Mill Hill priests were given the opportunity to share their missionary vocation.  A videoclip on vocation was screened.  Some seminarians also shared their stories.

Taize prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with Benediction were two forms of prayer used to facilitate the participants’  encounter with  the Lord.

A forum with Q&A session was held on the last day.  It was a lively session as the participants took part actively by raising up questions and doubts.

Father Simon Kontou presided over the closing Mass.  At the end of Mass, Fr Rayner announced the names of the 16 candidates who will join the aspirancy programme at the Catholic Archdiocesan Centre Penampang on February 3.

The names of the candidates are:
KK Archdiocese: Evisdateh Paul (Kiulu), Heldy Amin (kiulu), Ronald Aloysius (Limbahau), Xavier M John (Limbabau), Walter Pukin (Ranau), Welter Manjamin (Ranau), Desmond Kong (Terawi), Brandon Martin (Terawi), Roster L Solaiman (Bundu Tuhan), Adrian L Lojikip (Penampang).
Keningau Diocese: Simleton Pius (Keningau), Timothy Ivan Galisin (Keningau), Albady Marcus (Sook), Brywinedren Godon (Beaufort).
Sandakan Diocese: Adderly Benjamin (Sandakan), Jonathan Seah (Sandakan).

Following are what  some of the participants said about the seminar:

Carlos Alfero, 20, Penampang: The seminar was syok! [colloquial expression for something enjoyable].  I have learnt so many things and experiences about life in the seminary which I have never known before.

Philip Stanislaus, 18, Toboh Laut: I feel very happy because I know better now about the calling to the priesthood.  I have met many new friends and I feel glad that so many people are thinking about the priesthood like me. I am not alone in this journey.

Ronald Japar, 19, Nabawan: I know better about the priesthood now and the process of becoming a priest.  I learn many new things.

Duncan Benjamin, 17, Ranau: I feel really great and hope I will have the opportunity to participate again next year.  The activities, especially the ice-breakers – were really awesome.  I just can’t describe how happy I was to be there for the first time.  I have learnt a lot.  For example, to socialise with others, to gain more knowledge about the MHM, etc.  I would say it was one of the best seminars I have joined so far. – Seminarian Sylvester Wong

Christmas comes early to Kg Siba and Kg Sokid in Bundu Tuhan

Robyn (with white scarf) and Barb pose with the children holding their balloons, 18 Dec 2016.

BUNDU TUHAN – Christmas came early to the children of Kg Siba and Kg Sokid here on 18 Dec 2016.

Most of these children had never been to a Christmas party.  Seventy-seven were registered but almost a hundred turned up.

Donations included toys and backpacks of educational aids including dictionaries, pens and crayons.

Among the organisers were Robyn Mahoney and Barb Pye (a nurse) from Australia.  They brought along those presents and toys from their Australian friends and work colleagues.

Barb helped the children make Santa faces with paper plates, cotton wool and funny eyes while Robyn helped them make paper Christmas trees and decorated them.  They also made angels out of toilet rolls centres and dollies.

A game was organised for all, followed by a sing-along.  The highlight was the reception of the gifts of toys and backpacks with a balloon on a stick. – Barb Pye


Boys Brigade Sabah receives RM2,000 from charity drive

KOTA KINABALU – The Boys Brigade of Sabah received RM2,000 from the charity drive held during the 12th Kota Kinabalu Christmas Celebration on 16 Dec 2016.

Eighteen senior members of 11th Kota Kinabalu Company (Stella Maris Church) were assigned to be on duty for the Charity Donation Drive at Padang Merdeka during the ecumenical event, Dec 13-16. Officer Joachim Chia and Jeremy Chin were there to assist the members’ movement during the four-day event.

The 11th KK Coy worked together with other Boys Brigades of KK Division consisting of 2nd KK Coy (Basel) and 3rd KK Coy (Anglican) and managed to collect RM7720.05 on those nights.

A total of 10 NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) were selected to receive this donation from the Sabah Council of Churches through DBKK (Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu). The Boys Brigade in Malaysia, Sabah State Council was one of those who received RM2,000 that night. Jeremy Chin  


PYA organises party for 300 children

TAWAU – Three hundred children gathered at Holy Trinity Parish Hall here for the Christmas Children’s Party organised by the Parish Youth Apostolate (PYA) headed by James Joseph on 11 Dec 2016.

The annual event aims to encourage participation from lapsed Catholic families, to strengthen relationships between parents and children, to develop a sense of belonging in the Catholic families, and to inculcate a Catholic identity among the growing children. It provides an opportunity for the youngsters to experience and to learn to live in harmony through friendship and togetherness regardless of race and culture.

The children, 5-12 years old, registered two weeks prior to the event.  Those below 5 were accompanied by their parents.  They came from various ethnic backgrounds.

Among the activities were a fellowship meal, a short address by Joseph, a story-telling session on the Christmas story and games.

Msgr Nicholas Ong, Sr Liza Jamat fsic, PPC chairman and others were present to show their support. – Julita Kantod

800 turn up for the opening of the Paitan Mission Pastoral Centre

Bishop Gitom (R), assisted by Fr Makajil, cuts the ribbon to open the pastoral centre, 18 Dec 2016.

SANDAKAN – Around 800 faithful turned up for the opening of the Paitan Mission Pastoral Centre on 18 Dec 2016.

The 1200 sq ft concrete single storey building, costing RM100,000, provides the mission with an office, a meeting room, two guest rooms and a pantry.

Since a resident priest was installed in February 2015, the administrative and coordination centre of the Mission, which cares for 14 chapels, is run in a little cramped wooden priest’s house. The new centre is connected to the priest’s residence by a parking space which has also become a multi-functional compound.

Bishop Julius Gitom presided over the Mass, concelebrated with Father Thomas Makajil.  Deacon Christopher Ireneus assisted at the altar.

During the Mass 58 boys and girls received their First Holy Communion.

The rite of blessing and opening of the pastoral centre took place after the Mass.  Then all adjourned to the open hall of St Francis of Assisi Chapel for the reception.

The organisers took the opportunity to commemorate the 38th priestly ordination of Fr Makajil.

Organising chairman Welly Pius expressed the people’s hope that the bishop would extend their pastor’s contract in Paitan Mission.  But the bishop replied that it would depend much on the pastor himself and the people themselves.  The mission was opened in 1982 and had been extended three times.

The event concluded with performances from various groups, the highlight of which was the giving of 400 gifts and goodies to the children.  The gifts were donated by the parishioners of St Mary’s Cathedral for a second consecutive year. – Dalius LL

Over 2000 turn up for 3rd Inanam Christmas Street Festival

Cilvil and church leaders pose at the opening of the Inanam Christmas Street Festival, 11 Dec 2016.

INANAM – Over 2000 parishioners from the churches around, from the public, and members of other faiths turned up for the 3rd Inanam Christmas Street Festival, which was held at the Inanam township open space on  11 Dec 2016.

The Christmas Street Festival kicked off at 7:00 pm and ended up around 11:15 pm.  It was participated by 22 choir groups from the various Christian denominations within Inanam, Manggatal and Telipok areas, made up of Roman Catholic, BCCM, SDA, PCS, SIB, Methodist, Anglican, and Calvary churches.

Each group presented two numbers, such as choir, dance, scripts or live drama.

Despite a slight rainfall for at least 30 minutes at 7:40 pm, the crowds stayed on until the end of the presentations.

Among the guests who attended the festival were Datuk Johanes Solidau, Director General of KK City Hall, Dr Roland Chia, PKR representative for Inanam, Rev Melter Jiki Jais, Bishop of the Anglican Diosese of Sabah, Father Paul Lo of St Catherine Inanam, Datuk Johnny Goh,  former PBS DUN Inanam and Fredoline Totem, PBS Inanam divisional head.

Solidau praised the organisers for their initiative despite the lack of proper venue as Inanam does not have a proper hall to organise such events.

He assured that DBKK is in the process of planning to construct a multi-purpose hall in Inanam, which will become a reality when they have enough budget in the near future. – Michael Guntili

Stay alert always and lead a life worthy of God, says KK prelate

It is another new year as Spring returns, may the Lord fill you with His abundant grace.

Economists around the globe are projecting an economy downturn in 2017.  In recent years, the Malaysian government has increased its tax loadings. In addition, the impact of the global economy and a variety of other factors leading to inflation, people are faced with various difficulties and pressure in life.

“Gong Xi Fa Cai” is the usual greeting we share when we encounter each other during Chinese New Year, with the hope that we would gain a fortune in the new year. Since last year,  many businessmen and people of all professions are stricken by the economy downturn. With that, for one who wishes to gain a fortune in the new year, one will need to be conscientious and practical in their financial planning.

As a Chinese saying goes: “Happy are those who find contentment in poverty.” This saying conforms to the Beatitudes that Jesus has taught us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” It means that we are to depend whole-heartedly on God, lead a life of simplicity and follow the path of God. The Chinese have understood this way of life as early as thousands of years ago.

Regardless of the effects of the economic downturn, life still goes on. Let us implore for the wisdom of God to be good stewards of money, leaving behind a spendthrift life, to help us face the days ahead with courage.

There are two kinds of wealth: one is the earthly wealth, while the other is the wealth in heaven. Jesus has said to us: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6: 19-20). Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us build up our treasures in heaven.

As the saying goes: “Happy are those who find contentment.” Do not feel depressed because we are earning less this year, or that we have lost a great deal in investment. The wealth on earth is transitory. This wealth does not guarantee true peace and joy. Only when we are content with what we possess, knowing that God is always with us, will we find true peace and joy. Especially in this time of difficulties, let us put our trust wholly in Him.

In this year of the Rooster, I pray that we all be showered with peace, health and joy, and that we may grow strong in the virtues of faith, hope and love. May the crow of the rooster remind us to stay alert always and lead a life worthy of the Almighty God.

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