Reflection for Second Sunday of Lent B

praying-over-bible-300x225

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

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.

Pope Francis: Paul VI will be a saint this year

Blessed Paul VI (Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY – “Paul VI will be a saint this year.”

Pope Francis seemed to confirm the imminent canonisation of his predecessor, Paul VI, in a dialogue with Rome’s parish priests earlier this week at the Lateran Basilica.

“There are two Bishops of Rome who are already saints,” he said, referring to the two most recent Popes to be canonised: St John XXIII, and St John Paul II. Over 80 popes are

Over 80 popes are recognised as saints by the Catholic Church. Several others have active “causes” including Pius IX – who, like Paul VI, has already been beatified – and Pius XII, whose “heroic virtues” have been recognised, making him “Venerable.” In his remarks on 15 Feb 2018, Pope Francis mentioned the cause of John Paul I, who is also Venerable, and whose cause is ongoing.

“And [Pope emeritus] Benedict [XVI] and I are on the waiting list,” Pope Francis said, jokingly. “Pray for us!”

In his homily for the closing Mass for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, during which he had beatified Paul VI, Pope Francis referred to his predecessor as a “great Pope,” and a “tireless Apostle,” courageous in his “humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his Church!”

Paul, he said, “before the advent of a secularised and hostile society, he could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom – and at times alone – to the helm of the barque of Peter, while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord.”

Paul VI, he concluded, “truly ‘rendered to God what is God’s’ by devoting his whole life to the ‘sacred, solemn and grave task of continuing in history and extending on earth the mission of Christ,’ loving the Church and leading her so that she might be ‘a loving Mother of the whole human family and at the same time the minister of its salvation’.” – Christopher Wells, Vatican News

Singapore prelate recounts experience and witness of Church in the city-state

VATICAN CITY – In this third installment of the interview, Archbishop William Goh of Singapore recounts the experience and the witness of the Catholic Church in the city-state. He was with the Malaysian and Brunei bishops in their ad limina visit to the Holy See on 4-9 Feb 2018. This interview took place on Feb 9.

A large part of the Singaporean population identifies with a religious faith. Buddhists are about 40% and Christianity is the second largest group. Thanks also to Western influence, the number of Christians in the country (local and permanent residents) are growing and the approximately 383 thousand Catholics make up 11% of the population, while Protestants are 14%. Next in line is Islam at 18% and Taoism at 14%.

According to Abp Goh: However, and this is a concern for us, there is an increasing number of people who claim not to belong to any confession. This is an important group that we must try to approach as a possibility of evangelisation.

The archbishop of Singapore believes social outreach is “the main missionary front for the local Church.”

We have many organisations that assist people in need, such as Caritas Singapore, which leads other 25 associations. In Singapore, the funds and donations collected by our initiatives cannot by law be allocated to foreign projects, unless this is specified before to interested donors. For humanitarian initiatives outside the national borders (Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar), the Archdiocese has established the Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives (Charis). The faithful are very involved and offer great support, witnessing their faith among those most in need.”

Another focus area for the Singapore Church is interreligious dialogue and the promotion of harmony among the various confessions.

We organise many initiatives to share our experiences of faith without proselytising. We bear witness to what Jesus did in our lives, how he changed them and made the difference.

The archdiocese pays particular attention to the education of young people. In this regard, Abp Goh states:

In each of the over 35 Catholic schools we form the heart of the boys, even before their intellect. We do not want leaders who live for themselves, but people who care about their neighbour. The Christian schools, Catholic and Protestant, have worked hard on this and it is a precious legacy that they leave to the ruling class of the country.

If Singapore is a successful nation today, it is also because most of our rulers have attended missionary schools, even though many of them are not Christians. It is also thanks to the teaching of the values of the Gospel that Singapore pays special attention to policies in favour of life and the family, resisting the pressure of the West for the implementation of laws such as those on homosexual unions. Honesty and integrity are virtues that are very close to the Singaporeans.

Every year, the Church of Singapore welcomes about 3,000 new baptised, but conversions are not the sole purpose of the initiatives of the Catholic community.

Our goal is to build a Church that is vibrant, evangelical and missionary. This is also the decree of the archdiocese. My commitment is to make Catholics more aware, not only in Singapore but also abroad. To this end, we created the Catholic Theological Institute of Singapore (CTIS), to prepare students for the new evangelisation among the many cultures and religions of our continent, since the formation of the laity is fundamental to mission. The faith of the Catholic community in Singapore is truly surprising, for example the lunchtime mass we organise for workers. The cathedral is always crowded and the participation is remarkable in all the 33 parishes of the archdiocese, where every day there are about 300-400 faithful. They seek peace, comfort in a everyday life in Singapore, which can be quite stressful.

Having a high level of education, the Singaporean Catholics are quite demanding. So our priests have to give good homilies. The faithful crave the Word of God and feel the need to find a link between faith and their lives, which is why they know how to be critical of pastors whose sermons are lacking. Fortunately, we have good priests, who through the Word are able to touch hearts.

The decline in priestly vocations is a great concern for Abp Goh, who says increased lay participation in pastoral works a way to counteract the negative effects of the phenomenon.

It is more important than ever to involve the laity in the life of the Church, because in the end it is to them that it belongs. Our schools are directed above all by non-consecrated persons, since the average age of the clergy is always higher. In parishes serving about 6 thousand faithful, we consider a 40-year-old priest to be ‘young.’

In every community there is always a lot of work to do and the time we dedicate to young people is always too little. Added to this is the great difference in age between the young people and the pastors, which affects dialogue between them.  The risk is that there is no one to respond to the numerous and increasingly demanding questions of adolescents. To find a solution to the problem and provide for the pastoral care of young people, we have set up the Office for Young People (YOP). This initiative assists the youngsters in the search for Jesus and the answers they need. – Paolo Fossati, AsiaNews

Pope Francis warns against ‘fake fasting’ during Lent

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Casa Santa Marta (Vatican Media).

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis’ words of warning against what he called “fake fasting” came during the homily at the morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on 16 Feb 2018.

When fasting, Pope Francis said, a true Christian must be consistent, not putting himself on show, never despising others or engaging in quarrels or disagreements.

Warning against behavior that is inconsistent with the Lenten spirit, the Pope invited those present to ask themselves how they interact with others.

He reflected on the First Reading of the day that highlights how the fasting that is acceptable to the Lord aims to “release those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke.”

Pope Francis reminded believers that fasting is one of the tasks of Lent, and said that even “if you cannot commit to a total fast, the kind that makes you feels hunger in your bones” you can still fast humbly and consistently.

Isaiah, he said, highlights so many inconsistencies in the practice of virtue, like “carrying out your own pursuits, driving all your laborers, and yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting.”

Fasting, the Pope said, is a little like “stripping oneself” of pride. He said that to thank the Lord and at the same time despise your labourers that are forced to fast because they do not have enough to eat is inconsistent and unchristian.

Inviting those present to perform penance in peace, he said, “you cannot talk to God on the one hand and to the devil on the other.”

He also warned against the temptation of ‘showing off’ by fasting: “by making a fuss of it and letting people know that we are practising Catholics and we do penance, so that people think ‘what a good person.’  “This is a trick,” he said, “It’s pretending to be virtuous.”

“We must pretend,” Francis continued, “but with a smile. That is not showing others that we are performing acts of penance.”

He invited the faithful to fast in order “to help others. But always with a smile.”

Fasting, he said, also involves lowering oneself by reflecting on one’s sins and asking forgiveness from the Lord.

How ashamed would I be, he continued, if my sin was to become common knowledge through the press? And referring again to the Scripture Reading of the day he invited Christians to “release unjust bounds.”

“I think of so many maids who work for their bread and they are humiliated and despised … I have never been able to forget the time I went to a friend’s house as a child and I witnessed the mother slapping the 81-year-old maid…”

Reiterating that he has never forgotten that shameful episode, Pope Francis urged the faithful to ask themselves whether they treat their domestic workers with fairness, whether they treat them “as people or as slaves,” whether they are paid a just salary and have the right to holidays and are recognised in their human dignity.

Pope Francis went on to tell another story stemming from personal experience. He said that once, when speaking to a very cultured gentleman who was known to exploit his domestic workers, he explained to him that this is a serious sin because we are all created in the image of God.

And referring again to the First Reading that tells us “to share our bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked when we see them, not turn our back on our own,” the Pope noted that currently there is much discussion around whether or not to give shelter to those who ask for it.

He exhorted Christians to “do penance,” to “feel a little hunger,” to “pray more during Lent,” and to ask themselves how they behave towards the other.

“Does my fast help others? If it does not it’s fake, it’s inconsistent and it takes you on the path to a double life, pretending to be a just Christian – like the Pharisees or the Sadducees,” he said.

“Let us ask for the grace of consistency,” he said,  “if I am unable to do something, I will not do it. I will do only what I can with the consistency of a true Christian.” – Linda Bordoni, Vatican News

Parishioners turn up for combined opening Way of the Cross despite being first day of the Chinese New Year

Abp Wong animates the parishioners at the combined way of the cross outside Sacred Heart Cathedral, 16 Feb 2018.

KOTA KINABALU – Sacred Heart Cathedral (SHC) and Church of Mary Immaculate (CMI) parishioners of the three language groups turned up for the combined opening of the weekly Way of the Cross at its outdoor Centenary Way of the Cross Monuments here on 16 Feb 2018 despite being the first day of the Chinese New Year.

The Way of the Cross is a traditional devotional practice during Lent worldwide.

Archbishop John Wong animated those present before the 14 stations were read out alternately in English, Bahasa Malaysia, and Mandarin.

After the opening event, SHC will hold it every Friday in the cathedral during Lent at 6 pm (English), 7 pm (BM) and 8 pm (Mandarin).  CMI will have it at 7:30 pm in English and Mandarin.

There will be a combined closing Way of the Cross at the monuments on Good Friday Mar 30 at 7 am with Passion Play.

Young people participate in synodal process

2015 synod of bishops

VATICAN CITY – Three hundred young people from around the world have been chosen to come to Rome in preparation for the 15th Synod of Bishops to take place in October 2018.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, General Secretary of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops explained at a press conference on 16 Feb 2018 that for the first time in the history of the Synod of Bishops, a pre-synodal meeting is planned for the 19-24 of March.

The young people attending this meeting were chosen by Conferences of Bishops, religious congregations, and other Vatican dicasteries. They represent young people from various ethnic, and religious backgrounds, walks of life, and lived experience—including some who have experienced human trafficking.

This meeting is being held to assure that the voice of the very audience the Synod is addressing will be heard first-hand. The input from this meeting will be presented to Pope Francis on 25 March. It will also be included in the Instrumentum laboris which will be used by the Synod Fathers as they focus this theme.

Social media is the primary way that the Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops wishes to hear from young people. Over 221,000 responses to the online questionnaire have already been received. It is now possible to participate in Facebook Groups in various languages by signing up using the link found on the Synod’s website.

Also present at Friday’s press conference were two young people participating in a group organised by the Secretariat preparing for the Synod.

Filippo Passantino underlined the use of social media in order to involve young people in the Synod. Referring to the Synod’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, he said that “with our advice and our intuition we offered a younger perspective in order to speak to other young people. The objective of the online presence is to create interactions with our peers throughout the world and to facilitate their participation.”

And Stella Marillene Nishimwe, speaking in French, said, “I would (…) like to invite all the young people of the world to participate in this precious moment that the Church offers us to make our voice reach as far as possible.” –Bernadette Mary Reis fsp, Vatican News

Copyright © 2018. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.