S+L logo

Daily Scripture reflections
by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing

Rev. Anthony Man-Son-Hing is a priest of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. Born in Georgetown, Guyana on 23 November 1965, Anthony moved to Canada along with his family in 1974.

He attended elementary and secondary schools in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and received a Bachelor of Arts at Wilfrid Laurier University (1988), He pursued Theology studies at Saint Augustine's Seminary in Toronto (1988-1993) and was ordained to the priesthood on May 14, 1993 for the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. Fr. Anthony is currently serving as Pastor of Saint Bernadette parish in Elliot Lake, Ontario.

— The following content is reproduced with permission of Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing

The earth rejoices

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
15 December 2019, 8:14 am
From time to time, people will ask me for advice about how they should pray.  If I am speaking with children, I might suggest that they learn the Lord's Prayer, or the Hail Mary, but if I am speaking with an adult - one who has already learned the rote prayers that are part of the Church's traditions - I might explain prayer as a discipline of spending time with God.  Sometimes we use words, but at other times, we can simply be with God.  Spiritual masters refer to this wordless presence as meditation.

The third Sunday of Advent is known as the day of great rejoicing, or Gaudete Sunday.  The words of the scriptures provide us with an abundance of images upon which we can meditate in these coming days.  In anticipation of the coming of the Lord, the prophet Isaiah says: The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom (Is 35:1).  Anyone who has visited Israel will know that some parts of that country are a vast desert where there is less than 100mm of rain every year.  In recent years, there have been severe droughts.  As a result much of the land is dry, yet Isaiah's prophecy foretells a time when even the dry land will rejoice and blossom.  At the time when these words were written, human beings did not possess the technology needed to make this happen.  Even today, while our understandings of the science of irrigation have advanced greatly, we still can marvel at the way God continues to work in people's hearts, helping us to identify the need for sharing our knowledge with others in order to make it possible for miracles to happen.

Today's gospel passage presents yet another image for our meditation.  From his prison cell, John the Baptist heard about the deeds that Jesus was accomplishing and sent some of his followers to inquire about whether Jesus was the one they were waiting for (cf Mt 11:2-3).  Jesus did not answer clearly; instead he pointed to the things that he was doing as proof: Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them (Mt 11:4-5).  Who else, except for God, could make such miracles come true?  Even today, if we were able to see the world through the eyes of faith, we would also find these things to be taking place in our midst, but in order for this to happen, we need to cultivate hearts that are able to step away from the frantic pace of always needing to get things done so that we can begin to appreciate such miraculous happenings.

Perhaps in the coming week, we can begin by asking God to grant us the grace to recognize the miracles that are taking place all around us, but first we need to rely on yet another of his gifts.  The letter of James, from which we read today, suggests that we should be patient ... until the coming of the Lord (Jas 5:7).  Patience is also a gift from God.  Without it, none of our efforts will amount to anything, but with it, we too will be able to accomplish amazing things.

His Word Today: Saint Lucy

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
13 December 2019, 7:16 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saint Lucia of Syracusa (Syracuse, Sicily).  Born of noble parents around the year 283 AD, her father was a Roman who died when Lucy was only five years old, leaving her mother to raise her without any paternal influence.  Like many of the early martyrs, Lucy had consecrated her virginity to God, but unaware of her vow, her mother wanted to arrange her dowry so that she could marry someone influential.  However Lucy countered her argument, saying: ...whatever you give away at death ... you give because you cannot take it with you. Give now to the true Saviour, while you are healthy, whatever you intended to give away at your death.  These words portray the heart of one who has spent much time in prayer.  Lucy continued in her conviction until the day she died as part of the Diocletian persecution of the early Church.  Her executioner thrust his sword through her throat.

The gospel passage for today's Mass depicts a moment when Jesus must have been frustrated with those who were gathering around him.  Saint Matthew places the following words on his tongue: To what shall I compare this generation?  It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another: 'We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn (Mt 11:17).  These words paint a picture of people who are searching for meaning in their lives, but for whom the search has thus far been fruitless.  This is not unlike many who lived in the time of Saint Lucy ... and perhaps there are many in our time too for whom these words would be apropos.

Modelled on the example of this holy woman from Sicily, let us set out today to live with purpose and conviction.  Our God has defined our purpose in life - to know him, to love him, and to love others with the deep love that he himself lavishes upon us, until the day that he calls us home to live with him for all eternity.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Our Lady of Guadaloupe

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
12 December 2019, 7:29 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates Our Lady of Guadaloupe.  The Virgin Mary appeared once daily for four consecutive days beginning on 9 December 1531: three of those were to the young Juan Diego on the hill known as Tepeyac, in a suburb of Mexico City and the fourth was to his uncle.  The woman spoke to Juan Diego in his native language known as Nahuatl (the language of the Aztec Empire) and identified herself as the Virgin Mary, the mother of the very true deity.

Juan Diego sought out the local Bishop and reported what he had seen, but the Bishop was skeptical.  Eventually, even after days of repeated testimonies, the Bishop still insisted on needing a sign, so on 12 December 1531, having been assured by the Virgin that a sign would be given, but concerned about his ailing uncle, Juan chose another route when he set out in search of a doctor.  The Virgin intercepted him and inquired about where he was going.  He explained that he was in search of help for his ailing uncle, and she replied: ¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre? (Am I not here, I who am your mother?).  At that moment, Juan's uncle was cured.

The Virgin instructed Juan to gather roses from the top of the Tepeyac hill, which was normally barren, especially in mid-December.  He followed her instruction and found Castillian roses - not native to Mexico - blooming there.  Having gathered the roses in his tilma (a cloak-like apron), he went to see the Bishop.  When he opened his tilma, the roses fell out and the Bishop saw an image of the Virgin imprinted on the tilma.

The first chapel was built on the hilltop shortly afterwards and to this day, the minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadaloupe is one of the most-frequently visited Marian shrines in the world.  Like this more modern example of miraculous happenings, the moment of the Virgin Mary's visit with her kinswoman Elizabeth was another example of simple humble people responding joyfully to the call of the Lord (cf Lk 1:39-47).

Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for us as well, to embolden us so that we too may respond joyfully to the call of the Lord today.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Parched

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
11 December 2019, 7:11 am
Good morning everyone,

The liturgical season of Advent is a privileged time for us to prepare our hearts, minds and spirits for the coming of Christmas.  In the midst of all the physical preparations for these coming celebrations, I have always longed for the time when I will be able to use this time of waiting to truly deepen my appreciation for the gift of waiting ... but then the haste of these weeks catches up with me and I find that the time has flown by.

In the midst of such a hectic pace, how appropriate the words of today's gospel passage sound as they resound in our hearts: Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest (Mt 11:28).  No amount of human effort ever seems to be enough for us to achieve the rest that we all need - especially at times when we are surrounded with multiple demands and frenetic paces, but the Lord promises us the gift of his rest, rest for our souls that hold the promise of refreshment for our weary souls.

Come then dear friends.  Let us draw near to the Lord; let us seek in him the gift of rest for our souls and refreshment for our hearts.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Precious

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
10 December 2019, 7:48 am
Good morning everyone,

I love you! - These are simple words; when they are repeated often, they have a wonderful effect on people.  Eventually, those who hear them begin to believe these words to be true.  The same is true whether these words are spoken by human beings or by God.  Even if we have heard these words again and again, we need to hear them ever afresh.

In addition, we need proof of the fact that our God is eternally faithful ... and that proof is what we hear of in the gospel passage chosen for today.  Using the image of a shepherd and his sheep, Jesus tells us that our God loves us so much that he is willing to leave everyone else in the wilderness - even to risk having them wander away - so that he can come in search of us when we are lost (cf Mt 18:12).

As if this is not enough, we are in the midst of the liturgical season of Advent. We are preparing for the celebration of Christmas, the moment in history when God sent his son Jesus into the world.  This too was an act of love.  What more do we need in order to convince us that we are precious in the eyes of God, that we are truly loved.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Immaculate Conception

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
9 December 2019, 7:49 am
Good morning everyone,

Usually, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, but since that date was a Sunday, the observance of this Solemnity has been transferred to today.  This Solemnity takes place during the annual observance of the liturgical season of Advent, a time of waiting for the approaching celebrations of Christmas.

To help us understand the meaning of this celebration, we can look at the words that the Holy Father, Pope Francis spoke yesterday in his weekly Angelus address.  Speaking about the meaning of the Immaculate Conception, he said: we are told that something has already been accomplished, in the person and in the life of the Virgin Mary. Today we consider the beginning of this fulfillment, which took place before the birth of the Mother of the Lord. In fact, her immaculate conception leads us to the precise moment when Mary's life began to palpitate in her mother's womb: already the sanctifying love of God was present, preserving her from the contagion of evil that is a common heritage of the human family (Pope Francis, Angelus greetings, 8 December 2019).

Today, we celebrate the Church's long-held belief in the fact that the Virgin Mary was herself conceived without sin, in order to prepare her for her sacred role as the bearer of the Son of God.  Like the Angel Gabriel, we too can speak the words that convey our love for her: Hail full of grace!  The Lord is with you (Lk 1:28).

Have a great day.

To wear, to see and to speak

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
8 December 2019, 2:21 pm
In the gospel passage for this weekend, we find three verbs that can help us to prepare our hearts for the coming celebrations of Christmas.  During the coming week we can focus our attention and our prayers on what we wear, what we see and the words we speak.

In the gospel passage, Saint Matthew introduces us to the person of John the Baptist.  The writer of the gospel tells us that John wore clothing of camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist (Mt 3:4).  He was not a king, he did not wear fine clothing.  Rather, he dressed in the clothing of a poor man, someone who could easily have blended into crowds, one who could even have been ignored by passers by.  If he were alive today, he would probably dress just like you and me, or maybe his clothes would be tattered and torn.  Perhaps we would pass him by on the street, not paying much attention to him at all, but this is the very point that we must focus on today.  This ordinary-looking man was the one who was chosen by God to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus.  Have you ever considered the possibility that God may be calling you and me to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus?  We can do this by living our faith in concrete ways: by trying our best to model compassion by the way that we interact with others.  We can also pray for our family members, for our friends and even those who sometimes make life difficult for us.

The second thing that we can focus our attention on this week is what we see.  Saint Matthew says that when John saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism (Mt 3:7), he challenged them to live lives that are consistent with their desire to change their ways.  In other words, he was calling them to be honest with themselves.  As Christmas draws closer, we focus our attention more and more on the gift of love that God gave to us when he sent his Son into the world.  When we recognize the presence of divine love in our lives, we are also made more and more aware of our own sinfulness, and so it is customary during the season of Advent that we take some time to celebrate the wonderful Sacrament of Reconciliation.  On Wednesday evening, 11 December, there will be a Penitential Service held here in the church, beginning at 6:30pm.  Let us all take advantage of this moment of grace to be at peace with ourselves and with God and to prepare for the coming of Christmas.

A third aspect upon which we can focus our thoughts and prayers this week concerns the words that we speak.  When people asked John the Baptist who he was, his reply was very humble: I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me (Mt 3:11).  In the coming weeks, we will hear more and more parts of the Christmas story.  Let us pray for the grace to listen attentively and to receive the graces that the Lord wants to share with us at this time.  Perhaps there will be tangible gifts, but more importantly, God's gifts should be accepted in a spirit of humility.  This is not an easy task because we are human beings, constantly being tempted to focus only on our own desires and not on the needs of others, yet our God is constantly calling to us, offering us another chance to look outwards and to recognize his presence in those around us.  Let us pray for the grace not to ignore this invitation.

If we focus on these three words of advice in the coming week, we will be well on the way to preparing our hearts for the coming celebrations of Christmas.

His Word Today: Saint Nicholas

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
6 December 2019, 7:05 am
Good morning everyone,

Saint Nicholas of Myra (traditionally 15 March 270 – 6 December 343) was also known as Nicholas of Bari.  He was an early Christian bishop of the ancient Greek maritime city of Myra in Asia Minor (modern-day Demre, Turkey) during the time of the Roman Empire. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, prostitutes, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe. His reputation evolved among the faithful and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus.

The gospel passage proposed for today recounts a moment when Jesus encountered two blind men who were calling out for help.  He truly wanted to help them - as he always wishes to help us too - but needed to test their sincerity so he asked them: Do you believe that I can do this? (Mt 9:28)  When they responded affirmatively, Jesus granted their request.

Like Saint Nicholas, we too are sometimes called upon to do good for others even at times in secret, yet we do good not for the sake of gaining any personal reward, but rather because at some point, we ourselves have heard the Lord ask us: Do you believe? ... and in return we have received good gifts that far outmeasure our own sense of entitlement.  Having received such goodness, we ourselves should always seek out others so that we can pay the blessings forward.  May Saint Nicholas help us to do this with great joy.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Foundation

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
5 December 2019, 7:26 am
Good morning everyone,

Sometimes it is possible to say lots of things with only a few words.  We see an example of this in today's gospel passage.  Jesus says to his disciples: Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven ... but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven (Mt 7:21).

What is Jesus saying?  It's not enough to call out to Jesus - or even to God - and to use the words Lord, Lord in doing so ... but this is already something of great importance.  The use of the word Lord is an admission of our recognition of the supremacy of our God, but even this is not enough for us to enter into heaven.  Jesus says that we must go further: we must strive to do the will of our Father in heaven.  And how do we do that?

Jesus says that we must not only listen to his words, but also, we must act on them.  In other words, it's not enough to hear the advice that Jesus offers us ... and then to let his advice get lost in the noise of all the noise that surrounds us.  Instead, we should work at listening attentively to the word of God so that we can discern the will of our Father.

Let us pray today for the grace to listen closely to the words that our heavenly Father offers to us, so that we will not forget the wisdom that he has to share with us, but rather that these words might begin to take root within our hearts.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Special

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
4 December 2019, 7:47 am
Good morning everyone,

Yesterday was the World Day of Persons with Disabilities.  To mark the occasion, Pope Francis issued a special Message in which he reminds us all to renew our gaze of faith, which sees in each brother and sister the presence of Christ Himself, Who considers every gesture of love towards one of His least brothers to have been made to Himself (cf Gospel of Matthew 25:40).

Have you ever considered the fact that great crowds came to Jesus, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others (Mt 15:30).  They had great faith in his abilities.  They trusted that he could and would look lovingly upon these brothers and sisters of theirs, who knew the pain and tribulations of being looked upon by others with judgement and help them to recognize their true value - not judged by any measure of physical beauty or usefulness, but rather on the mere fact that they are loved.

And what about us?  Do we always look at others with love and acceptance.  If not, perhaps we can pray today for the grace to gaze with faith upon those who cross our paths so that we can recognize all people our brothers and sisters and the reflections of Christ himself.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Francis Xavier

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
3 December 2019, 7:58 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saint Francis Xavier (7 April 1506 - 3 December 1552), a Spanish missionary who co-founded the Society of Jesus, along with Saint Ignatius Loyola.  Saint Francis Xavier led an extensive mission which took him to modern-day India, Goa, Japan, Borneo and the Maluku Islands.  He was preparing to extend his missionary efforts into China when he died on Shangshuan Island.

In the gospel passage for today's Mass, Saint Luke presents Jesus as he is rejoicing in the Holy Spirit: I give you praise Father, Lord of heaven and earth (Lk 10:21).  Like all missionaries, Saint Francis continued his devoted work so that he could give praise to God the Father.

Since 1927, Saint Francis Xavier has been recognized as a co-patron of foreign missions, along with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.  Let us ask Saint Francis to pray with us today, to awaken and to strengthen within us the desire to evangelize: to give praise to God our Father by sharing the good news of the gospel with others, wherever they are.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Faith

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
2 December 2019, 9:57 am
Good morning everyone,

As we begin the season of Advent, the scriptures provide us with an example of living faith today.  The gospel account speaks of a moment when Jesus entered Capernaum, a place that was very familiar to him.   A centurion approached and appealed to him, saying: 'Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully' (Mt 8:6).  The question is implicit: Please do something to help!

What is even more surprising is the fact that a centurion - one of the Roman guards - would come to him and ask for help.  The fact that this man approached shows that he (the centurion) had heard Jesus speak before.  Perhaps he had witnessed such miracles.  Perhaps beneath the rough exterior that most of the men of his rank were expected to portray, a seed of faith had begun to germinate in response to God's workings in his own heart.

Advent is a special time when God invites us to awaken the faith that lives within our own hearts.  Perhaps this gift has laid dormant.  Perhaps it is there but remains hidden.  Whatever the circumstances, the invitation is there to water our faith with evidence of God's goodness that is all around us.  Let us begin this journey together ... a journey that will lead us to celebrate the birthday of Jesus at Christmas.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Blossoms

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
29 November 2019, 7:58 am
Good morning everyone,

In the gospel passage for today's Mass, Jesus uses the image of blossoms to explain how we should open our eyes to see the coming of the kingdom.  He says: Consider the fig tree and all the other trees.  When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near (Lk 21:29-30).

How often do we consider the fact that we must train ourselves to look for similar signs that the kingdom of heaven is at hand?  Children who need our help to develop habits that will help them to develop to their full potential, teenagers who need our help to find their way in an often confusing world, young adults who need our help to remember the values of family and faith even though society insists on testing these basic building blocks, the sick and the elderly who need our help to give them a voice in situations where they might otherwise go un-noticed ... all of these and more are signs of the blossoms of God's kingdom - possibilities for us to be of service to others so that they in turn will understand that they are loved.

Be on the lookout today for the blossoms that foretell the coming of the kingdom.  None of them appear by mere happenstance; each of them is an invitation for us to rejoice because the kingdom of God is near at hand.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Near

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
28 November 2019, 4:58 am
Good morning everyone,

All though these final days of the liturgical year, the gospel passages paint stark images of the end times.  In today's passage, Jesus explains:There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Lk 21:25-26).

Yet, against these vibrant images, Jesus says that when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand (Lk 21:28).  While others may be scared about such images, we are called to remain calm and to trust that the Lord will never abandon us.  In fact, our heavenly Father is always close to us, loving us and instilling us with an idea of the depth to which he loves us.

If we dare to stand erect and to raise our heads because we are convinced about the fact that our redemption is close at hand, people will see in us the light of faith that is the gift of our heavenly Father to all his beloved children.  Let us choose today to believe that our God is near.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Persecuted

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
27 November 2019, 7:11 am
Good morning everyone,

Someone recently reminded me of the fact that missionaries - those who are sent to various places with a specific mission or task - are always persecuted.  This was true in the time of Jesus, when he took such great pain and effort to convince the first disciples of the love that our God has for each of us, and today as we are called and sent to continue sharing the good news of God's love with people of our time.

Jesus warned his disciples that this task would not be easy: They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name (Lk 21:12), but he also reassured them that they would never be alone: I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking (Lk 21:15).

Many of our fellow disciples have suffered in this way; many of them still suffer.  Let us remember and pray for all those who experience such persecution, and let us pray today for the grace we need so that we may always choose to follow Jesus and to find our joy in knowing him.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Portents

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
26 November 2019, 3:17 am
Good morning everyone,

In the gospel passage for today's Mass, Jesus paints a picture in rather detailed fashion.  In a time when there were few people who could read and write, he used images to convey his message.  Attempting to portray the end times - which no human being has ever encountered - he tells his disciples that nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be powerful earthquakes, famines and plagues ... and mighty signs will come from the sky (Lk 21:10-11).

There are some who would say that such a vision is being fulfilled in our times, however it is important to also hear another phrase that Jesus uses while he is describing this scene.  He reassures the disciples, saying: Do not be terrified (Lk 21:9) and he goes even further, saying: Do not be deceived (Lk 21:8).

Throughout the centuries that have come and gone, these words continue to echo in our ears and in our hearts.  They are addressed to us today.  Jesus knows that there are all kinds of signs and warnings that can and do create uncertainty and fear in human hearts, but he also knows that our God is forever faithful and will never forsake us.

Let us pray today for renewed trust and a new resolve to believe these words for ourselves.  When we are faced with difficult moments, let us look to Jesus and ask him to help us so that we are not deceived, discouraged or terrified but rather that we are made more deeply aware of his abiding presence as we continue the journey.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Catherine of Alexandria

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
25 November 2019, 3:11 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, the Church celebrates and prays with Saint Catherine of Alexandria, who lived in the latter part of the third century and the first part of the fourth century A.D.  At a time when Christianity was not yet a recognized religion, she is reported to have received a vision of Mary and the baby Jesus which persuaded her to become a Christian.

When the persecutions began under Maxentius, being herself of noble birth, she went to the emperor and rebuked him for his cruelty. The emperor summoned 50 of the best pagan philosophers and orators to dispute with her, hoping that they would refute her pro-Christian arguments, but Catherine won the debate. Several of her adversaries, conquered by her eloquence, declared themselves Christians and were at once put to death.

She was then cruelly tortured and imprisoned, yet people continued to visit her.  As a result of her testimony, many of them converted to Christianity even though to do so meant their certain death.  Infuriated by her obstinacy, the Emperor ordered her to be put to death.  When he ordered her to be beheaded, she herself called for the execution to begin.

Saint Luke's gospel speaks today of the witness given by a widow who placed two small coins in the temple treasury (Lk 21:1-4).  Jesus saw her gesture and understood immediately that this poor widow has put in more than all the rest of the people who were passing by.  Let us ask Saint Catherine to pray for us today, that we too will put all that we are at the service of our God.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Saint Cecilia

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
22 November 2019, 11:37 am
Good afternoon everyone,

Today, the Church prays and celebrates with Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians.  In one of his discourses on the psalms, Saint Augustine says: Praise the Lord with the lyre and make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!  Sing to him an new song.  Rid yourself of what is old and worn out, for you know a new song (Psalm 32, Sermon 1).

Every day, the Lord continues to sing his song of love in our hearts.  He who makes the most beautiful music shares this gift with us.  He invites us to sing a song with our lives, by living as his disciples and by learning day after day how to be the best examples of faith that we can.  It is reassuring to know that He is constantly present to us, loving us and encouraging us to believe in ourselves.

Through the intercession of Saint Cecilia, may the Lord's song of love continue to resound in our hearts.  Day after day, may our words and deeds help to harmonize with the music that He is already making within us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
21 November 2019, 7:13 am
Good morning everyone,

Today, we celebrate the liturgical Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is known in the Eastern Churches as the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos (Mother of God) into the Temple.  This feast is not associated with any events recounted in the gospels but rather with another text known as the Protoevangelium of James.

According to the text, Mary's parents were childless but received a message from heaven announcing the coming of their child.  In thanksgiving for the birth of their daughter, while she was still very young, they brought her to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God.

The Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians says this: ... as long as a designated heir is not of age, his condition is no different from that of a slave, even though in name he is master of all his possessions; for he is under the supervision of guardians and administrators until the time set by his father.  In the same way, while we were not yet of age, we were like slaves subordinated to the elements of the world; but when the designated time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman ... to deliver from the law those who were subjected to it, so that we might receive our status as adopted sons (Gal 4:1-5).

As we celebrate Mary's feast today, let us ask her to intercede for us so that we may be re-awakened to the truth of our spiritual childhood.  We are heirs to a blessed promise that is yet to be fulfilled.

Have a great day.
Fr. Tony

His Word Today: Care

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
20 November 2019, 10:44 am
Good morning everyone,

In his encyclical entitled Laudato Si' (Blessed Be, 2015), the Holy Father, Pope Francis challenges all of us to be aware of our responsibility to care for creation.  Three years prior to this, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I had already spoken of the importance of caring for the environment.

These are not the first to have challenged us to be conscious of the blessing that has been afforded us.  In fact, Jesus himself spoke of this reality using the parable of the talents, which is recounted in today's gospel passage (Lk 19:11-28). 

Like them, we too have been entrusted with the riches bequeathed to us by our heavenly Father.  The parable of the talents encourages us to consider how we care for these gifts, and how we in turn will pass them on to those who come after us.

Have a great day.


His Word Today: Sight

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
18 November 2019, 7:57 am
Good morning everyone,

In today's gospel passage (Lk 18:35-43), Saint Luke tells the story of one of the people that Jesus met as he was approaching the city of Jericho.  A blind man was sitting by the roadside begging (Lk 18:35).  We are not told whether this man had been blind from birth or whether he had met with some catastrophic incident, because the important point was the meeting that this man had with Jesus.  Still, I cannot help wondering whether he had known life as a sighted person beforehand.  If so, as the modern-day saying goes, perhaps he knew what he was missing, being deprived of his sight.

Surely, his life would have carried its own challenges, and he needed help in order to rise above those obstacles, not unlike the poor who still struggle in our day.  Yesterday was the World Day of Prayer for the Poor.  In his homily for the occasion, Pope Francis spoke about the reasons why the Lord allows our human certitudes to collapse, even at times when we seem to have fewer and fewer of them.  The answer in short is so that we can learn to look to him, just as the blind man was made aware of Jesus who was passing by through the witness of others who were present along the path with him.

The words of the blind man's prayer are our words too: Lord, please let me see.  In so many different circumstances, we give life to this plea every day ... if we are struggling to find answers, if we are faced with complicated conundra, or at times when the day-to-day realities we deal with seem to be overwhelming.  Like the blind man, we too can be courageous in such moments; we too can raise our voices in prayer and supplication ... our God will always stop, look at us and respond to our prayer.

Have a great day.

True beauty

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
17 November 2019, 9:07 pm
The gospel passage we have heard today is set within the walls of the Temple in Jerusalem.  Jesus was there and heard some of the people who were there speaking about the physical beauty of the building: how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings (Lk 21:5).  The construction of the Temple had taken more than 25 years and was still not complete.  It had been built as a monument to the presence of God.  Seeing it's grandeur, people would admire its beautiful walls, it's magnificent lights, its décor ... not unlike the way that we might admire an imposing Basilica or Cathedral today.

As a kind of commentary about the remarks he was hearing, Jesus said to those around him: All that you see here - the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down (Lk 21:6).  Using the physical surroundings as a metaphor for his wisdom, Jesus wanted to caution his listeners against putting too much trust in visible and tangible objects of beauty.  He was not admonishing them for admiring the Temple's beauty, but rather trying to teach them that we should not allow such physical beauty to blind us to the presence of God who is the creator of all things, including the beautiful ones.

Such warnings were not new, even in the time of Jesus.  Many years prior, the prophet Malachai had warned: the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble (Mal 3:19).  In today's language, he was warning his listeners not to rely on things that they could see and touch, because all physical things can be destroyed, and no amount of physical possessions can ever truly respond to the desires of the human heart.

This wisdom that has been repeated by both the prophet and Jesus has continued to echo throughout the centuries.  It is just as valid today as it was then, yet we can still find ourselves falling victim to the temptations to become mesmerized by physical beauty, even to the point where we are blinded to the true beauty of love.

Saint Paul offers the example of his own life as a way that we can work at modelling our lives after the true beauty that God has to offer.  He says: in toil and drudgery, we worked, so as not to burden any of you ... so that we could present ourselves as a model for you (2 Thes 3:8-9).  Like Paul, we should endeavour to work constantly at building the temple of God's people, a temple that defines its beauty not in stones, mortar and jewels but rather in identifying the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of our age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, so that we can in turn make these same joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties our own (cf Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes, 1).  By drawing close to God's people, we in turn will discover more profoundly the true beauty of being called his disciples.

His Word Today: Be Attentive

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
15 November 2019, 7:16 am
Good morning everyone,

Sometimes we can get so accustomed to our daily routines that we are unaware of things that are happening right under our noses.  Jesus warns against this danger in today's gospel passage.  He uses the example of some of the figures from our past to make his point.

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating an drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all (Lk 17:26-27).  This happened because many people refused to pay any heed to the warnings that Noah had heard.  The call for repentance fell on deaf ears.

These words are a gentle reminder to us today that we should always be attentive.  Our God wants nothing but our good, and He is always willing to help us simply because he loves us so deeply.  All He asks is that we listen to Him.  It's not difficult to spend a few moments each day in prayer, but we must be intentional about setting aside time to be present to God.  That's all He asks.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Look

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
14 November 2019, 7:38 am
Good morning everyone,

As a toddler, and even as a child, each one of us had to learn how to get along in the world.  We had to learn how to recognize signs of welcome, signs of danger, how to react to anxious situations and how to know when we could relax and just have fun.  For most of us, by the time we get to adulthood, these learned behaviours are second nature.  We act and react without any thought being expended.

When Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come (cf Lk 17:20), he took the opportunity to teach them how to read the signs.  It was as though he was teaching them to look beyond the visible world and to learn a new way of inter-relating: The kingdom of God is already among you (Lk 17:21).

Today, let us ask the Lord to teach us how to look at life through the eyes of faith so that we can learn to see in a different way, so that we can begin to look for the signs of God's presence all around us.

Have a great day.

His Word Today: Transformed

by Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing
13 November 2019, 9:05 am
Good morning everyone,

The episode that is recounted in today's gospel passage reminds us of the transforming experience that always awaits when we encounter Jesus.  While travelling through Samaria and Galilee on his way to Jerusalem, ten lepers met him on the outskirts of one of the villages (cf Lk 17:11-12).  Did these lepers know that Jesus was going to pass by?  Saint Luke makes it seem as though this encounter was unplanned.  Like them, we also encounter Jesus at moments and in circumstances that we cannot predict or plan.

When they met him, the lepers called out for help: Jesus!  Master!  Have pity on us! (Lk 17:13).  The lepers were not afraid to call out for help, and they were specific about their request.  At the time, not only was leprosy a disease that would physically destroy the human body, it also meant that the one who had been diagnosed would be ostracized.  Do we bring our troubles and worries to the Lord in such a plain and vulnerable way?  Do we trust that he is capable of helping us?

One of the lepers, realizing that he had been healed, returned glorifying God with a loud voice (Lk 17:15-16).  It is only natural that we would be overjoyed if we were in the place of the leper.  Are we aware of the gift of God's joy in our own lives?  Are we ready to share this joy with others and to trust that God will always welcome our attempts at promoting joy and mutual respect?

Have a great day.

→ Previous posts from Fr. Anthony Man-Son-Hing