Reflection for Second Sunday of Lent B

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First Reading
Genesis 22:1-2,9a,10-13,15-18
Abraham obeyed God and prepared to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 116:10,15,16-17,18-19
A prayer of faithfulness to God

Second Reading
Romans 8:31b-34
God’s faithfulness is shown in his offering of his own Son for our salvation.

Gospel Reading
Mark 9:2-10
Jesus is transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John.

Background on the Gospel Reading

On the second Sunday of Lent in each Lectionary cycle, the Gospel reading proclaims the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration. This event is reported in each of the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This year, in Lectionary Cycle B, we hear Mark’s report of this event.

The context for Mark’s Transfiguration story is similar to that found in both Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospel. The Transfiguration occurs after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ prediction about his passion. After this, in each of these Gospels, there is also a discussion of the cost of discipleship.

In each case, Jesus takes three of his disciples—Peter, James, and John—to a high mountain. While they are there, Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus. In Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospel, there is reference to a conversation among Jesus, Elijah, and Moses, but only Luke’s Gospel includes the detail that this conversation is about what Jesus will accomplish in Jerusalem.

Elijah and Moses are significant figures in the history of Israel. Moses led the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and received from Yahweh the Ten Commandments. In appearing with Jesus at his Transfiguration, Moses represents the Law that guides the lives of the Jewish people. Elijah is remembered as one of the most important prophets of Israel who helped the Israelites stay faithful to Yahweh. Some Jews believed that Elijah’s return would signal the coming of the Messiah for the Jewish people. This belief is evidenced in the question posed by Jesus’ disciples after they have witnessed the Transfiguration. The appearance of these two important figures from Israel’s history with Jesus signifies Jesus’ continuity with the Law and with the prophets and that Jesus is the fulfillment of all that was promised to the people of Israel.

On seeing Jesus with Elijah and Moses and having witnessed his Transfiguration, Peter offers to construct three tents for them. Mark reports that the disciples are terrified by what they have witnessed and that Peter’s offer is made out of confusion. We also notice that Peter has reverted from his earlier confession that Jesus is the Messiah, calling Jesus rabbi instead. As if in reply to Peter’s confusion, a voice from heaven speaks, affirming Jesus as God’s Son and commanding the disciples to obey him. This voice from heaven recalls the voice that was heard at Jesus’ baptism.

In his Transfiguration, we see an anticipation of the glory of Jesus’ Resurrection. In each of the reports of the Transfiguration, Jesus instructs the disciples to keep secret what they have seen until after the Son of Man has risen from the dead. The disciples’ confusion continues as they wonder what Jesus means by rising from the dead. The disciples cannot possibly understand Jesus’ Transfiguration until they also witness his passion and death. We hear the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration early in Lent, but we have the benefit of hindsight. In our hearing of it, we anticipate Jesus’ Resurrection, even as we prepare to remember Jesus’ passion and death.  –loyolapress.com

 

 

 

 

Pope Francis’ 2018 Intentions

February 2018

Universal: Say “No” to Corruption

That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.

 

Liturgical Feasts / Anniversaries /Observances

(Legend: Ap=Apostle  Bp=Bishop  Ch=Children  Dr=Doctor  Ma=Married  Mt=Martyr  Pr=Priest   Re=Religious  Vg=Virgin)

Feb 02: Presentation of the Lord / World Day for Consecrated Life (1996)

Feb 03: St Blaise (Bp, Mt) / St Ansgar (Bp)

Feb 04: 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time B / Bishops’ Ad Limina Visit to Holy See Feb 4-9

Feb 05: St Agatha (Vg, Mt)

Feb 06: St Paul Miki & Companions (Mts)

Feb 07: St Juliana of Bologna (Ma) / Erection of Prefecture Apostolic of North Borneo (1927) 

Feb 08:  St Josephine Bakhita (Vg) / World Day Against Trafficking

Feb 10: St Scholastica (Vg)

Feb 11: 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time B / World Day of Prayer for the Sick (1992)

Feb 14: Ash Wednesday (Fast & Abstinence) / Erection of Apostolic Vicar of Jesselton (1952)

Feb 16: St Onesimus / Lunar New Year – Dispensation from abstinence (MSB Bishops Conference)

Feb 17: Seven Servite Founders (Re)

Feb 18: First Sunday of Lent / RCIA Rite of Election

Feb 20: Sts Francisco & Jacinta Marto (Ch)

Feb 21: St Peter Damian (Bp, Dr)

Feb 22: Chair of St Peter (Ap)

Feb 23: St Polycarp (Bp, Mtyr)

Feb 25: Second Sunday of Lent

Sandakan parish has new soccom team for 2018-2021

Standing L-R: Lovink Prinze James, John Tan, Dalius L Lobinjang, Romeo Francis, Marshall Owen, Veronica Amzah, Gin Wulen Marcus, Euthalia J, Airene AG Seated L-R: Francis Tan, Fr Garaman, Leonard Christopher Sabinus

SANDAKAN – St Mary’s Cathedral here held a fellowship night for the new team of the parish social communications committee (SOCCOM) on 13 Feb 2018 for the term 2018-2021.

Father David Garaman (parish priest/spiritual adviser) welcomed the new members and thanked them for responding to the call to serve in the parish committee. He urged them to be creative in their mission of evangelisation through the media.

After the meal, the incoming and outgoing members had a ice-breaker session: introducing themselves and their fields of expertise – writing, photography, videography, making banner, etc.

Leonard Christopher Sabinus (coordinator) presented the history of communications in the parish while Francis Tan (adviser) shared his experience in the ministry and urged all to work together as a team.- Airene AG/Rogena

Pope tells the young to face their fears and the importance of discernment

Pope Francis blesses pilgrims from Panama at the general audience in St Peter’s Square on 8 Nov 2017. (L’Osservatore Romano/CNA photo)

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis’ message for the 33rd World Youth Day, which will be celebrated at diocesan level on Palm Sunday, 25 March 2018, focuses on helping young people to overcome their fears and discern their true vocation

In the message, published by the Vatican on Thursday, 22 Feb 2018, the Pope notes that the forthcoming celebration marks another step in preparation for the international World Youth Day which is due to take place in Panama in January 2019. It also precedes the Synod of Bishops on the theme of youth which is scheduled for October this year, highlighting the importance of young people in the life of the whole Church.

Name your fears
Reflecting on the words of the Angel Gabriel, “Do not be afraid!”, spoken to Mary in St Luke’s Gospel, Pope Francis asks young people to name their own fears. Today, he says, there are many youngsters who continuously photo-shop their images or hide behind false identities, in an attempt to adapt to artificial and unattainable standards. The uncertainty of the jobs market, a sense of inadequacy and a lack of emotional security are other fears which afflict young people, he says.

Importance of discernment
In moments when doubts and fears flood our hearts, the Pope continues, discernment is vital so that we don’t waste energy being gripped by empty and faceless ghosts. The Bible doesn’t ignore the human experience of fear, he says, noting how Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Peter, the apostles and even Jesus himself experienced fear and anguish. The phrase “Do not be afraid” is repeated 365 times in the Bible, the Pope says, “as if to tell us that the Lord wants us to be free from fear, every day of the year.”

Don’t hide behind screens
Pope Francis says discernment should not just be an individual effort at introspection, but also means opening ourselves up to God and to others who can guide us through their own experience. Authentic Christians, he insists, are not afraid to open themselves to others and he urges young people not to close themselves up in a dark room “in which the only window to the outside world is a computer and smartphone.”

Do you accept the challenge?
Just as the Angel calls Mary by name, the Pope continues, so each one of us is called personally by God. Through God’s grace, we can take courage, despite all the doubts, difficulties and temptations that crop up along our way. If we allow ourselves to be touched by Mary’s example, he says, we too can learn to love God and to dedicate ourselves to the weakest and poorest among us. Dear young people, the Pope concludes, as WYD in Panama draws closer, I invite you to prepare yourselves with joy and enthusiasm. “WYD is for the courageous!” “Do you accept the challenge?” – Philippa Hitchen, Vatican News

Cardinal Dolan pays tribute to Billy Graham

circa 1955: US evangelist Billy Graham addressing a meeting. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan has paid tribute to preacher Billy Graham, who has died at the age of 99 [21 Feb 2018], the Catholic Herald posted on 21 Feb 2018.

Graham was a Southern Baptist evangelical preacher, but his preaching was much-admired by Catholics.

“As anyone growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s can tell you, it was hard not to notice and be impressed by the Reverend Billy Graham,” Cardinal Dolan said.

“There was no question that the Dolans were a Catholic family, firm in our faith, but in our household there was always respect and admiration for Billy Graham and the work he was doing to bring people to God.

“Whether it was one of his famous Crusades, radio programmes, television specials, or meeting and counseling the presidents, Billy Graham seemed to be everywhere, always with the same message: Jesus is your Saviour, and wants you to be happy with Him forever.

“As an historian, my admiration for him only grew as I studied our nation’s religious past, and came to appreciate even more the tremendous role he played in the American evangelical movement.

“May the Lord that Billy Graham loved so passionately now grant him eternal rest.”

Pope John Paul II was especially warm towards Graham, reportedly exclaiming in one meeting: “Listen, Graham, we are brothers!” Graham, in turn, described Pope John Paul II as the “moral leader of the world.”

Movie Review: Samson, the new biblical epic

“Samson, my good man, I have one word for you: celibacy.”

That was the first thought that came to mind when watching the movie Samson, an adaptation from the Old Testament Book of Judges.

The quality of Christian movies has improved leaps and bounds in recent years. Samson, produced by Pure Flix and Boomtown, directed by Bruce Macdonald and Gabriel Sabloff, claims to go “epic” and fulfills its promise. This story of a man of supernatural strength remains faithful to the original story, while skillfully filling in the gaps.

Samson was chosen while in his mother’s womb to lead the Hebrews who had once again incurred God’s wrath because of their evil ways. They were delivered into the hands of the Philistines for 40 years. Samson was to take the three Nazarite oaths: no shaving of hair, no drinking of wine, and no touching of the dead. As long as he kept his oaths, Samson is promised extraordinary strength — and that is exactly what he gets.

He grows up to be a strong and handsome man who is also aware of the allure of his physical appearance and fame, finding himself often in the company of beautiful young women. The movie portrays him as a flighty youth who does not concern himself with serious matters like the Philistines’ oppression of the Hebrews. At least, he is not concerned enough to claim the judgeship that was foretold before his birth.

When he falls in love with a Philistine, despite his parents’ objections, he decides to take Taren as his wife. The Philistine Prince, an ambitious, blood and power thirsty man, agrees to the marriage in order to gain political grounding, but when the hubris of Prince Rallah and Samson clash, this time, Samson loses all in a game of riddles. That is only the beginning of his troubles as he breaks the oaths he made to God.

Finally, he accepts to be anointed as the judge, but still is not willing to fight to free the Hebrews from starvation and oppression. But Prince Rallah does not forget the man whose strength had slew a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass. The prince sends his beautiful wife Delilah to seduce him. It is not shock to the viewer that she succeeds and leads Samson to his downfall. In the Bible, his surrender is recounted. “When she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death.”

The movie exceeded my expectations in regard to acting, special effects and costumes. Taylor James gives a convincing performance as Samson, even though his flirtatious looks with the ladies require a little more work. Besides James, Billy Zane as King Balek and Lindsay Wagner as Samson’s mother stood out as superb actors. Caitlin Leahy as Delilah also delivered a commendable performance. The special effects, little that they are, were well done without going overboard. Attention to detail and accuracy in costumes also made the story come alive.

A faithful adaptation from the Scriptures is arduous, since the creators and directors need to take a short four-chapter story and stretch into an enjoyable experience where the authenticity of the biblical account is preserved. This movie accomplishes the task of ripping the suffering of the Israelites and the failures of Samson from the pages to create a relatable character and a believable story. It is rated PG-13 with scenes of violence, but the writers managed to avoid the more suggestive parts of Samson’s exploits.

As far as movie-viewing experience goes, Samson is on par with The Case for Christ. In order to encourage such efforts, I believe, we need to support these movies. But the other —and more important— reason for anyone to see this movie is that Samson is an archetype for the Church.

Once the eye-rolling about Samson’s romantic pursuits stopped, I realized that the arrogant and sinful man who refused God’s calling time and again still triumphed over his enemies. Because the Lord keeps His promises, unlike Samson, and very often unlike us. We may wander off, stray away and even outright disobey, but Christ had promised that His Church will stand. After all, how can one explain that the Catholic Church is still standing despite heresies, invasions, or less than ideal leadership? Because Christ keeps his promises.

Of course, in Samson’s arrogance and sin, I also saw myself. My eyes still covet, my tongue is still unruly and my heart is still disobedient. But when I call upon the Lord in the confessional or before the Holy Eucharist, He always forgives. Again and again.

Read chapters 13 to 16 of the Book of Judges to find out how this superhero judge of the Israelites is immortalised within the pages of the Bible, and go see the movie to once again know that “there is nothing new under the sun” and the King of the Universe is forever faithful. – Derya Little, Catholic Herald

Sandakan Diocese organises two-day pastoral plan study on diocesan vision and mission

Participants attending the study day on the Diocesan Pastoral Vision and Mission Statement pose for remembrance, 11-12 Feb 2018, Sandakan.

SANDAKAN – Sandakan Diocese organised a two-day pastoral plan study on its diocesan vision and mission on 11-12 Feb 2018.

Seventy participants comprising clergy, religious sisters, seminarians and lay leaders from St Mary Cathedral Sandakan, Holy Trinity Tawau, St Dominic Lahad Datu, St Martin Telupid, Our Lady of Fatima Beluran, and Paitan Mission attended the event at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre here.

In his welcoming address, Bishop Julius Gitom remarked that the attendance showed the commitment of the participants to realise the diocesan vision and mission.  He expressed his hope that what they have learnt in the two days will be disseminated to all the group leaders in their respective parishes.

The bishop also informed the gathering that the diocesan vision and mission statement was presented to Pope Francis during the ad limina visit on Feb 8.

He said the pope was pleased with it and hoped it will be put into practice.

In fact, the pope had said, “When we pray and act upon it, we are actually revealing the face of Jesus.”

The Sandakan Diocese has adopted their vision as a “Christ-centered community, serving one another with love” to be realised through the following six mission goals:

1. to nurture active church participantion
2. to foster a spirit of unity
3. to intensify faith formation
4. to enhance living the gospel values
5. to promote vocations
6. to foster family values.

The objective of the Study Day is to understand that the Diocesan Pastoral Plan is a tool to help parishes focus on its priorities.

Five sessions were held covering the background and history of the vision/mission statement (Francis Tan), formulation process (Pilis Malim), Way Forward (Sr Maria Dipal rgs), organisational structure, roles and functions (Anna Amandus), pre-implementation and leading role matrix (Fr David Garaman), and documentation of programme implementation, stewardship role, monitoring and evaluation (Eva Siruno).

Each session was followed by parish group discussion based on the questionnaire given which was later presented to the floor.

Mass was celebrated before the final session.

In his closing remarks, the bishop said he was pleased with the active participation of the members. He exhorted them not to worry unduly over its implementation but to rely on the strength of God.

“What is important is that we must first be transformed in our mind, heart, and soul in our spiritual journey. We might not see the fruit of our vision and mission but we have at least planted the spiritual seed and prepared the foundation for others to build on,” the bishop said.

Liturgical camp attracts 25 children

TAWAU : Some 25 children, aged  5 -12 years participated in a two-day Liturgical Camp, organised by St Stephen Tass Catechetical team led by Elsie Gabriel and assisted by a few Sunday school facilitators on 3 4 Feb 2018.

The organising team took the initiative to bring together the Sunday school children to stay overnight at the church to focus and experience a night of being ‘missing’ from their parents and learn to stay with their peers as a small community.

In the ice-breaker, the children were divided into six groups, to learn teamwork and to nurture the spirit of kindness and trust.

Mario Domingo and Julita Kantod of Tawau Family Life Ministry gave the inputs on the Mass, stressing on its importance in the life of the Church.

The children were attentive and participated actively in the 90-minute talk. They asked questions and the answers provided, reinforced their knowledge and understanding of what they have heard and learned.

A session on the necessity of Sunday School was also presented.

An excursion nearby was one of the activities organised at the camp.- Mario Domingo

SYCC organises fellowship dinner for single adults

The participants greet one another with a sign of peace, 10 Feb 2018.

SANDAKAN –  The Star of Yahweh Covenant Community (SYCC) organised its first fellowship dinner for single adults on 10 February 2018 at St Mary’s Cathedral parish hall here.

The objective of this monthly fellowship is to reach out to those who are working and not involve in any group in St Mary’s Cathedral parish. It is also in line with the diocesan vision and mission to become a “Christ-centered community, serving one another with love.”

According to Philip Mosinoh, one of SYCC leaders,  this activity was encouraged by Father David Garaman, rector of the cathedral parish.

Organising chairman Gregory Quadra said in his opening remarks that the fellowship would be the platform for the single adults to serve the church as their potential talents would enable them to contribute to the church and they can attend such gatherings whenever they are free.

Dr Francis Paul, Director of the Sandakan Duchess of Kent Hospital, shared that the activity is to bring people together through fellowship among the Catholics in the parish while Michael Raj, a final year student in the Polytechnic and currently doing his practical at Sabah Port, said that he attended the fellowship to build up his faith and to continue going to church.

Single adults are welcome to attend the monthly fellowship.  For further information please contact Gregory Quadra 017-8974931 or Dr Agnes Foo 012-3615973.

Pope begins weeklong retreat with Curia officials

Ariccia, Spiritual Exercices 5 Mar 2017 / © PHOTO.VA – OSSERVATORE ROMANO

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis left for his annual retreat at Casa Gesu Divin Maestro (the Divine Master House) in the town of Ariccia near Rome in the afternoon of 18 Feb 2018.

For a week, the Holy Father will remain there praying with members of the Roman Curia.

During his Sunday Angelus address, the Pope asked the faithful to pray for him and those who would be with him participating in the weeklong retreat. At 4 pm, he and the Curia members left on a bus and arrived at the place by 6 pm.

Meditations this year have been entrusted by the Pope to Portuguese priest and Biblical theologian, Father José Tolentino de Mendonça, vice-rector of the Portuguese Catholic University in Lisbon, who will lead the meditations on the theme: “Praise of Thirst.”

The priest, who is also an award winning poet and consultant of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will give nine reflections in total and they generally will be held twice a day, in the morning and afternoon, except on Friday, the last day.

The activities of the Pope and members of the Curia will include morning and evening prayer, and Eucharistic adoration.

The retreat will conclude on the morning of Friday, Feb 23. Until then, all of the Pope’s activities, including the weekly General Audience, Feb 21, are suspended.

Originally, the Spiritual Exercises took place in the Vatican, but Pope Francis moved them to the retreat house, 16 miles outside of Rome.

The retreat house is run by the Society of St Paul. – zenit.org

Over 1000 catechumens enrolled in the Book of the Elect

A section of the RCIA coordinators posing with the concelebrants after the Rite of Election, 18 Feb 2018, Sacred Heart Cathedral Karamunsing.

KOTA KINABALU – Over 1000 catechumens have their names enrolled in the Book of the Elect at the Rite of Election or Enrollment of Names on 18 Feb 2018, first Sunday of Lent, at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here.

Archbishop John Wong officiated the trilingual Rite of Election.  The 1,013 catechumens, their 865 sponsors/godparents, 151 facilitators and 17 parish pastors, gathered at the cathedral for the rite.  The catechumens publicly expressed their desire for baptism.  Their names were recorded in their respective parish books which were duly presented to the prelate by the coordinators for his signature.  They are now called the Elect.

The days of Lent are the final Period of Purification and Enlightenment leading up to the Easter Vigil. Lent is a period of preparation marked by prayer, study, and spiritual direction for the Elect, and prayers for them by the parish communities. The Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation takes place during the Easter Vigil Liturgy on Holy Saturday, Mar 31, and on Easter Sunday, Apr 1, when the Elect receives the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.

The Elect came from the 18 parishes and two sub-parishes in the archdiocese with Ranau having the largest contingent of 140.  Labuan has its own Rite of Election (47 Elect) due to its geographical location.

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