Monthly Archives: December, 2018

Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

Credit Raphael Stock Photo

First Reading
Numbers 6:22-27
God gives a blessing for the Israelites.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 67:2-3,5,6,8
All the people sing praises to God.

Second Reading
Galatians 4:4-7
God sent his Son to make us children of God.

Gospel Reading
Luke 2:16-21
The shepherds find Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s reading is a continuation from the Gospel proclaimed at the Christmas Mass at midnight. In it the shepherds act upon the message they receive from the angel and go to find Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem. In their visit to the manger, the shepherds find things just as the angel had said. The shepherds’ visit, therefore, is a moment of fulfillment, manifestation, and the beginning of the salvation we receive through Christ.

In the context of today’s Solemnity, this reading also helps us focus on Mary as the Mother of God. The reading tells us at least three things about Mary as a mother. First, Mary is described as a reflective person, keeping the reports of the shepherds in her heart. Second, we are reminded of how obedient Mary was to God when she named the baby Jesus as the angel Gabriel had directed. Third, this reading shows Mary and Joseph faithfully observing their Jewish tradition by having Jesus circumcised.

Mary’s faithfulness to God is evident in all three of these things. Her reflection upon the events in her life indicates that she was a person of prayer. This prayer made possible her obedience to God and God’s will, even if the outcome was not clear. Finally, her faithfulness to a community of faith grounded her relationship with God and enabled her to participate in God’s plan of salvation.

Because of Mary’s faithfulness to God, she was able to receive the gift of God’s Son and accept her role in God’s plan for salvation. By doing so, she models for us the path of discipleship and is also called Mother of the Church.

Our call to discipleship also includes these three aspects. First, discipleship means prayer and reflection on the events of our lives that we might see God’s presence and work in our lives. Second, discipleship means obedience to God and God’s will. Third, discipleship includes fidelity to a community of faith. – loyolapress.com


WISHING ALL OUR VISITORS & READERS A GRACE-FILLED NEW YEAR 2019!


 

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Cycle C

First Reading
1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28 (The first reading from Cycle A may also be chosen, Sirach 3:2-6,12-14.)
Hannah dedicates her son, Samuel, to the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 84:2-3,5-6,9-10 (The psalm from Cycle A may also be chosen, Psalm 128:1-5.)
Those who dwell in the Lord’s house are happy.

Second Reading
1 John 3:1-2,21-24 (The second reading from Cycle A may also be chosen, Colossians 3:12-21)
We are God’s children now.

Gospel Reading
Luke 2:41-52
The boy Jesus is found in the Temple.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. This feast is part of the Christmas season, and we should place today’s Gospel in the context of what Luke’s Gospel tells us about the birth of Jesus. Luke has been answering the question “Who is Jesus?” through his stories of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus. Today’s Gospel reading continues this theme. It has no parallel in the other Gospels and is the conclusion of Luke’s Infancy Narrative.

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are presented in this Gospel as a faithful Jewish family. They are participating in the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, an event shared each year with family and friends. When Jesus is found, Luke describes him as seated in the Temple in the midst of the Jewish teachers. Although he is young, Jesus seems not to need teaching about his Jewish tradition. In his dialogue with these learned teachers, Jesus astounds them with his insight and understanding. Jesus is a child of Israel. His Father is God.

The dialogue between Mary and Jesus contains many references to family relationships. In fact, in this Gospel reading Mary and Joseph are never identified by name. Instead they are referred to by their relationship to Jesus. Ultimately, this emphasizes Luke’s point about the identity of Jesus. When Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the Temple, they question Jesus and express their anxiety. Jesus replies in words that many have thought to be disrespectful. Jesus says that he was never lost; he was at home. Jesus is God’s Son, and he is in his Father’s house. Luke will continue to suggest that faith in Jesus establishes new family relationships as he describes Jesus’ public ministry.

In Luke’s Gospel, Mary’s importance is even greater than her role as Jesus’ mother. Mary is the first disciple and will be present with Jesus’ disciples after his Resurrection at Pentecost.- loyolapress.com

Archbishop John Wong’s Christmas Message 2018

THEREFORE the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Emmanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)  How humbling it is for us each time when we contemplate on the mystery of Emmanuel – God is with us, and on the reality of how God chose to reach out to us by becoming one of us!

If we just take a moment to look at how fallen our world is, we will realize that we are living in a culture that has lost touch of what faith and the meaning of love truly mean; a culture that flows with the current of secularism and relativism. God’s design for every human person to be dignified is slowly being washed away by this current. We see a trend where every individual is now allowed to determine what they want to believe. The truth is no longer objective, but subjective to one’s right in deciding what is truth for themselves.

My dearest brothers and sisters, we truly have fallen behind; and the world needs a saviour! God is relentless when it comes to reaching out in love to His people. God had each of us in His mind when He planned to send His Son, Jesus Christ. God planned, God prepared, God brought to fulfillment, and God became. That is what Christmas is all about. God’s love is manifested because He chose to become one of us; taking upon himself every aspect that a human being can ever possibly experience or go through.

No matter what our circumstance may be at this present time – be it a personal struggle, a family problem, a financial burden, a work issue, or dealing with the loss of a loved and dear one, or just the pain of feeling and suffering alone, may we all find comfort and joy, knowing that this Christmas, He is coming to us and He is with us. He is not just with us, in a vague and general sense, but He comes to meet each of us exactly where we are at in our individual lives. In our joy, in our pain, in our suffering, in our incapability of making sense of what is going on in our own lives, in our brokenness, in every possible circumstance we are going through – God is right here, with us, and He truly understands.

Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Saviour; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state? (Catechism of the Catholic Church 457).

No one can put it more beautifully than what is stated in our Catechism. God is moved when He sees His children suffering, and He draws near to them at once, and at all costs, even if it meant descending to human nature. This is TRUE LOVE.  This Christmas, True Love comes down once again and wants to dwell in our hearts.

But are we prepared to welcome this Love into our hearts at this Christmas? Will Love find any room in our hearts when He comes this Christmas? How can I prepare my heart for Christmas? It is too easy to get carried away with the hustle, bustle and busyness as we draw nearer to Christmas, especially in our world today, where Christmas is extremely secularized and commercialized. While there is nothing wrong to celebrate Christmas in festivity and merriment, let us take a moment this Christmas to truly reflect on the true meaning of what we are celebrating, which is found in Christ, the “Word made flesh” in the most vulnerable form – a baby, born in a stable, on a still night.

Therefore, we may say that making room for Love to enter our hearts, means taking time to be silent in our hearts. Let us not miss the sound of the Baby Jesus’ cry when He arrives. May He find room in each of our hearts when He comes.

The great Venerable Fulton Sheen once said, “How to find Christmas peace in a world of unrest? You cannot find peace on the outside, but you can find peace on the inside, by letting God do to your soul what Mary let Him do to her body, namely, let Christ be formed in you.”

Let us not be afraid to respond to the mystery of God’s great love this Christmas. Let us be unafraid to come as we are and surrender to Him our sins, our brokenness, our weaknesses, our lacking, and all our struggles. Let us not be afraid to let Christ form our being! In the words of one of the greatest saints, St Therese of the Child Jesus, “A God who became so small could only be mercy and love.” God chose to come as a helpless infant to us. May we too, come to Him in our most vulnerable state and surrender to His love this Christmas.

I would like to end with the words of St Teresa of Calcutta as an invitation to all of us: “At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark this season of Christmas by loving and serving others with God’s love and concern.”

Wishing you a very Blessed Christmas!

Archbishop John Wong, Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu 


  

Reflections for Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

The Nativity of the Lord Christmas Eve

First Reading
Isaiah 9:1-6
To those in darkness, a child will be born who will have dominion over the earth.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 96:1-2,2-3,11-12,13
Sing a new song to the Lord.

Second Reading
Titus 2:11-14
God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.

Gospel Reading
Luke 2:1-14
Jesus is born in a manger in Bethlehem as the angel appears to the shepherds.

Background on the Gospel Reading

During the Christmas season, our liturgy invites us to consider the birth of the Lord from many vantage points. As we begin this season, it is useful to remember that the stories of Jesus’ birth and childhood are found in only two of our Gospels, Matthew and Luke. Throughout this season, we will hear stories from both Gospels. Those Gospels tell different but complementary stories about Jesus’ birth, highlighting items of theological importance about the Incarnation and the salvation that Jesus brings.

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Fourth Sunday of Advent, Cycle C    

First Reading
Micah 5:1-4
The ruler of Israel is promised to come from Bethlehem.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 80:2-3,15-16,18-19
A prayer for God’s salvation

Second Reading
Hebrews 10:5-10
Through his obedience to God’s will, Christ consecrated all.

Gospel Reading
Luke 1:39-45
Mary visits Elizabeth, who sings praise to Mary and her child.

Background on the Gospel Reading

On this the last Sunday before Christmas, our Gospel reading prepares us to witness Christ’s birth by showing us how Jesus was recognized as Israel’s long-awaited Messiah even before his birth. The Gospel turns our attention from the ministry of John the Baptist to the events that preceded John the Baptist’s birth. The story of John the Baptist and his parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, are reported only in Luke’s Gospel. Luke pairs the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus, establishing John’s early connection to the Messiah.

Our Gospel reading recalls Mary’s actions after the announcement of Jesus’ birth by the angel Gabriel. Mary goes to visit Elizabeth, her cousin, who is also with child. Elizabeth greets Mary with full recognition of the roles that they and their unborn children will play in God’s plan for salvation. If we were to continue to read the verses that follow in Luke’s Gospel, we would hear Mary respond to Elizabeth’s greeting with her song of praise, the Magnificat. Both women recall and echo God’s history of showing favor upon the people of Israel.

In Luke’s Gospel the Holy Spirit helps reveal Jesus’ identity as God to those who believe. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and sings Mary’s praise because she bears the Lord. We sing these words of praise to Mary in the Hail Mary. Even John the Baptist, the unborn child in Elizabeth’s womb, is said to recognize the presence of the Lord and leaps for joy.

It is appropriate in this season of Advent that we consider the role of Mary in God’s plan of salvation. Elizabeth describes Mary as the first disciple, as the one who believed that God’s word to her would be fulfilled. Mary’s faith enabled her to recognize the work of God in her people’s history and in her own life. Her openness to God allowed God to work through her so that salvation might come to everyone. Because of this, Mary is a model and symbol of the Church. May we be like Mary, open and cooperative in God’s plan for salvation.-loyolapress.com

SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Today we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast celebrates God’s choice of Mary to be the mother of Jesus. God preserved Mary from the stain of original sin from the moment of her conception. Thus, Mary was the first to receive the benefit of the redemption that her Son would merit for all.

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Photojournalism workshop

Members of SOCCOM Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, with the Photojournalism speakers and workshop participants – Photo credit William Charles Mindus

Kota Kinabalu – A one-day Photojournalism workshop, from 8:30AM till 4:30PM, was held at Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish Hall on Saturday 15 December 2018 organized by the Social Communication Commission (SOCCOM) of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu. The speakers of the workshop, Eddie Angat and Ruben Sario, both have extensive knowledge, gleaned from more than twenty years working experience as photographers and journalists formerly attached to New Sabah Times and The Star respectively.  This workshop had 18 participants coming from SOCCOM members from various parishes in the Archdiocese. They were taught the right skills on how to take photographs using smart phones as well as editing and putting captions to the pictures taken.

One of the participants trying to practice some of the tips given during the workshop – Photo credit Rayner Giun

One of the groups having discussion while selecting photos for evaluation during the workshop – Photo credit Esmeralda Lydia Johnny

The speakers, Eddie Angat and Ruben Sario, sharing some tips to the participants on the right way to capture photos – Photo credit srbbfsp

 

Most of them are regular contributors of articles and news for Catholic Sabah, the only newspaper intended for the Catholic populations of Sabah. – kkdiocese.net

First Holy Communion

SACRED Heart Cathedral – English Sunday Faith Formation First Holy Communion…It was a hectic but happy and a memorable event when 117 candidates were prepared and received their First Holy Communion including seven from Datuk Simon Fung and five from special ministry (right photo), Oct 20, 2018. The occasion was celebrated by Fr Paul Lo and assisted by Deacon Russell Lawrine. Later, a fellowship dinner, certificates and gifts presentation were held to mark the occasion. Congratulations and welcome to the table of the Lord. May the Holy Spirit be their guide and may they continue to deepen their faith. Susan Graham

Retreat in preparation for First Holy Communion

FIRST HOLY COMMUNION is the third of the seven sacraments received and is an important rite of passage in a young Catholic’s life. 112 candidates ranging from 10 to 15 years, participated in the two days retreat at Pace Bene, Purak, Papar, which is situated about 42 km from Sacred Heart Cathedral, on 20-21 August 2018. The main aim of this retreat is to prepare the candidates on the importance of receiving the Eucharist and also understanding the sacrament of penance or confession. Apart from knowing the proceedings of the Holy Mass, candidates also learnt how to recognise and use the Catholic Bible. The programme was organised by Sunday School Faith Formation English language class, Anne Charles with Neil Mah as the retreat master. The candidates are to receive their First Holy Communion on Oct 20, 2018. – Susan Graham

The Eucharist Project for young people

KOTA KINABALU – The Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian Life” (CCC 1324).

In collaboration with the Catechetical Ministry of the Sacred Heart Cathedral, the Parish Youth Pastoral Team (PYPT) planned a three-week program, called “The Eucharist Project”. The aim is to help our young people to understand and appreciate the beauty of the Eucharistic celebration.

On the Sundays of Oct 14 and 21, 2018, PYPT gathered the secondary section of the Sunday School, according to their language groups (Chinese, English and Bahasa Malaysia), at the Parish Hall and Room F7 for pre-sessions.

The topics shared during these pre-sessions were “What a Friend we have in Jesus” and “Healing in Mass”. They were conducted within an hour, with action songs, input on the topics, and group sharing.

On the afternoon of Oct 28, all three language groups gathered at the Cathedral for the main session by Fr Paul Lo on “the Technicality and Meaning of Mass”. The encouraging attendance of 400  included the students, their parents, the teachers and the Parish Youth. The 3-week program ended with an Eucharistic Celebration at 4pm on the same afternoon.

This was the first collaboration between the Sunday School and the Parish Youth Pastoral Team.

Witnessing the passion for evangelization from the youth and the teachers and going beyond the language differences to make this project possible, has given the organizers much love and encouragement.

Besides the participation of the students and the presence of their parents walking the journey together in knowing Christ presented a positive outlook.

As Fr Paul concluded in the Eucharistic celebration, he hopes that the initiative is not a one-and-only program, but an annual initiative for the growth of our young people. Serena Wong

Karnival Belia gathers 192 youth from 17 parishes

KLANG – Karnival Belia 2018 gathered 192 youths from 17 different parishes under the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur including those of the Diocese of Penang on 28-30 Sept 2018 at the Holy Redeemer Church.

The carnival which was its second edition carried the theme of this year’s World Youth Day “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God” from Luke 1:30.

Karnival Belia was organised by the Archdiocesan Bahasa Malaysia Apostolate (ABMA) led by Charles Eric with another 18 youths from different parishes in the Archdiocese as committee members and six invited youths from Kuching Archdiocese to serve as the music ministry.

Fr Albet Arockiasamy, ABMA Ecclesiastical Assistant opened the event with a Eucharistic celebration, concelebrated by Fr Rudolf Joannes of Keningau Diocese, who was the main speaker for the carnival.

In his first session “Proud to be a Catholic”, Fr Rudolf asked the youths two questions – “What is Catholic?” and “Why are they proud to be a Catholic?” Some gave very interesting answers; to the first question, most of them answered that Catholic is universal. Meanwhile for the second question, most youths said it’s because the Catholic Church has seven unique Sacraments.

In his second session entitled “You and Me”, Fr Rudolf explained the same-sex attraction and what we should do as a Catholic to understand this situation. Fr Rudolf also discussed the four human personalities.

Third session was given by Mabel and Meldrick from Kuching Archdiocese. They shared how music can help us get closer to God. They taught the participants on types of praises and worships. Both also demonstrated on how to praise and worship, which requires one to be immersed deeply during the session and praise God from their deepest heart.

Four church leaders became panellists for the dialogue session on the theme “Hearing the Voice of the Lord”; Brother Raj Manikam SG, Fr Clement Lim, Fr Alberto Irenus SJ and Sr Roseling Siaw Chen FSP with Allesandra Andrew as moderator.

The panellists shared on their journey of faith and their vocation to serve the Lord. They were asked whether they ever regretted answering this call, and all panellists said they have no regrets except peace and joy in serving.

Other activities carried out were Team Building and U-Nite through Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Adoration. Fr Rudolf gave his reflection and explanation on the purpose and the history of the Sacred Blessing of the Sacrament. The night continued with Sacrament of Reconciliation and counselling handled by the priests and religious. Sharings by participants concluded the U-NITE session.

A talk “Emerging Adults” given by Dr Walton Wider, covered topics such as “Marriage of Adults”, “Instability”, “A Sense of Possibilities” and “Feeling in Between”.

In his final session “Becoming a Witness of Christ”, Fr Rudolf expounded on the importance of knowing Jesus Christ and our responsibility to the society.

Last session for Karnival Belia is another dialogue session holding the theme “Do not be afraid to seek the Kingdom of God first”, taken from Luke 1:30 and Matthew 6:33. The panellists, Dr Walton Wider, Mabel and Meldrick shared their experiences throughout their lifetime as a Christian from University years until now. Meldrick said that youths are encouraged to do what they love responsibly, while giving praises to God.

Karnival Belia 2018 ended with the youths commissioned out by Archbishop Julian Leow in the Eucharistic celebration, concelebrated by Fr Albet Arockiasamy.

The Archbishop reminded the youths to not be afraid to be a witness and ambassador of Christ in their daily life, and therefore commissioned the youths out.  Stefan & Mary

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