“Doubting Thomas”

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name ” – John 20-19-31

This was the gospel reading on April 8th. Whenever we talk about Thomas the apostle, many names come to mind, such as, doubting Thomas, ye of little faith.

However, the priest that celebrated mass on that faithful day, gave a refreshing insight on how Thomas was not in doubt, but was being pragmatic in living out the teaching of Christ, our Lord.

It starts of with the verse as seen in John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” But you may ask, how does Jesus’ revelation of Himself show Thomas’ pragmatic approach to living the gospel?

It can be seen in the previous verses in John 14:1-5, “Jesus said to him, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” The priest offered an interesting point of view, in which it puts us in the shoes of the apostles, when Jesus said that He has prepares a place for us, and will come again to take us there personally, we can assume many of the apostles would not understand what he meant by taking us there personally. A simple act of bravery by Thomas that is often overlooked, is that he spoke up and ask specifically what is the way to the place where the Lord has prepared for us. and this leads to probably the most famous verse in all of the bible. To which Jesus never hesitated to tell us the Way, which through Himself.

Another point that shows that Thomas had shown such outward belief in the gospel, not just being able to put his finger into the side of the Lord, but when the Risen Christ did appear his apostles again, he went to Thomas straight, and he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” – John 20:28. The only apostle then to not just see Jesus as his master, but also his God.

Talking about this, Thomas did not seem so doubting afterall!

God Bless,

Jon

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Divine Mercy Sunday: Easter Joy & Faith

The things we left behind. As the situation worsens, I have been desperately clinging onto faith as I know that I cannot do this on my own.  It can be hard to keep my spirits up and pretend that I will be alright. Spending the weekend away during Easter week was probably the best decision that I had made, it gave me a glimmer of spark, but upon returning, I am left with the same empty feeling that on the horizon-darker days are looming ahead.

The gospel opens by saying, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name (John 20-19-31).”

We have probably known that the disciple Thomas doubted very much of Jesus being resurrected and struggled with the reality of belief and unbelief. Faith is the same as we are deeply rooted in trusting God, both in good and bad times. It is a gift during our baptism that we are given faith so that we may believe.

It can be difficult to keep the faith especially when things do not go right, and we are on the receiving end of bad news after bad news, and we wonder when we might see that glimmer of good or joy again.

I have been praying and also trying to take one day at a time, and just take one moment at a time. It is delving into the unknown that scares people and me also, but I know by trusting in Jesus, I will make my way out with him.  

Let us pray for the faith and joy to take up the challenges in life, that anything through Jesus is possible and that he conquered death and is risen! Through him, we can come back stronger and better persons in his time. God Bless!

Happy Easter! May we bring the joy to others and to keep touching the lives of others in our own way.

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you.

 

Acts 3:6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

It struck me that as a dying person, all he has left, is his prayers. And what he has left, is most precious to him.  When Richard says: “What’s your name? I will pray for you.” I knew then, it was his way of thanking me, and he has just offered me what’s most precious to him.

You see, Richard is dying. I signed up as a volunteer with HCA Hospice, and my first assignment, is to bring this couple who requested for someone to send them to Novena Church!

Little do I know, that by giving (and I never meant to let anyone know), our God our Lord is so gracious and merciful that He gave me these gifts:

  • the chance to visit Novena Church as I always wanted to go since it reopened, but never really brought myself to do so
  • receive the precious gift of prayer from a dying person
  • witness for the first time how the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is done, and
  • realized that this is actually a spiritual work of mercy before Easter!

I didn’t do much. I just helped to ferry them from their home to Novena Church, stayed for the Anointing of the Sick by a priest, and ferried them back home.

But I realized that I received so much more in return, and I want to mark this down to bring all Honour & Glory to God for what He has done for me.

Richard probably don’t have much and that is the reason why he asked for the ferry service. But what he has, his prayers, is so much more precious than any silver or gold.

I pray that Richard will see our Lord our God soon, and that his soul, will have eternal peace.

Amen.

 

Palm Sunday & Good Friday: From Kidron to Gabbatha & Golgatha

 

Breathing Underwater. Things have a knack for not turning out the way that I envision it and it has made me cross from bad to worse in terms of situations. Humans are complex people and that is the sad reality of life. I trust in faith that I will struggle to survive and through all these, I will be able to complete the tasks at hand, in spite of know how hard it will probably affect me.

I have always seen the palm tree as a hardy and sturdy plant with its waxy sharp leaves and deep green color. However, even though the palm may seem like a resilient plant species, it is prone to insect attacks especially when the young leaves start to grow out.

Similarly, I feel like the palm tree, I may seem determined and everything else to overcome all odds, but actually deep down, I am trying to just live through the moments of daily life, trying my utmost best to get myself down. Only with Jesus do I know I can cross the bridges of life together. Preserve me , O Lord.

Imagine the pain and betrayal Jesus must have felt when on Palm Sunday, everyone was welcoming him, but during Good Friday, the good people turned against him and had him crucified. Yet, Jesus still turned lovingly to them out of sadness and disappointment, but he still forgave them because he knew that the hearts of men were imperfect due to sin and self-interests.

Do we have to turn and look at Jesus to seek his way and will? I have learned to cry out in the depths of my heart in telling him all the things that have happened, for sometimes, relying on people can be difficult.

Let us continue to journey with Jesus by looking at the cross of our identity and faith as Christians to always remember how Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley to Gabbatha and Golgatha where he faithfully carried out the will of the Father despite all the circumstances against him. He prayed and we have to rely on prayers and also on our faith that we will see these through. Jesus is our saviour and answer to all the things in life. God Bless as we continue to remember the joy of welcoming Jesus in our lives on Palm Sunday and also the Passion of our Lord on Good Friday that we are never fully alone in our joys and pains.

Take me home into your embrace, Jesus. Amen.

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Carry The Weight Between the Mountains & the Sea

 

If there is a light, it will find you. Next week, there is going to be a major event for me and I hope that it will go smoothly because of the amount of effort that have been put in. I know that by placing it in God’s hands and surrendering all to him, his will can be done.

The gospel opens by saying, “Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”

Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.

“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”
He said this indicating the kind of death he would die (John 12: 20-33).”

Dying to self is a concept that has been repeated throughout Lent and it is also the most difficult to do so because we do not strive to do the Father’s will. Gaining the Father’s honour means turning away from sin and cleansing ourselves spiritually.

Only then can we follow Jesus and become witnesses of service to him. Producing fruit starts from within where we make the conscious choice everyday to do so. In doing so, we can do more, but not to seek anything in return. Therefore, whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. May we always seek to follow Jesus and when he calls us, may we respond with an affirmative, “Yes, let your will be done and not my will.” Together we can carry the cross that has been marked on our foreheads since baptism and carry it in knowing that whether we can climb the highest mountains or raging seas, Jesus will always carry the cross with us, and beside us.

God Bless as we continue to keep this aspect in our prayers so that we can be of service and to follow Jesus, always.

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Third Sunday of Lent: Come Clean, Come Close

 

Weariness. These last few weeks, I have been putting my writing on hold because there are just too many things to do. Everytime I complete a task, another keeps coming up, and red flags , a sense of urgency captures my attention and I am thrown into the never-ending cycle of finishing that infinite to-do-list.

The gospel begins by saying, “Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there.

He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”

His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?”But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.He himself understood it well (John 2: 13-25).”

Often, the secular world tells us to maintain our physical appearance and to be drawn into the materialistic world of owning many of the latest items. We would gladly oblige, but this has also affected our spiritual lives.

The Father’s house becomes a mess and we all have the temple of God in us because we were created in his likeness and image. Sin and temptation has made us choose less than ideal actions and indulge in a reckless lifestyle. Jesus reminds us to get our things in order to better prepare for Lent and to make the best of our Lenten experience.

Jesus also reminds us about his impending passion and resurrection that by seeking reconciliation, we are able to find resurrection to new life. He calls us each to seek forgiveness and also to forgive others because life is short and as life is already full of worries and obstacles, we all could do with one less headache.

We all struggle in one way or another, but coming clean and being closer to Jesus should be that top of the priority list because it is not about the amount of zeroes in the bank account, or the number of material possessions that you own, and what matters is the relationship and spirituality in our hearts that will draw us to Jesus, because that is no greater joy and peace that the world can offer.

Let us keep those that have asked us to pray for them, those that are praying for us and those that have nobody to pray with in prayers because together we can come close and come clean to Jesus to make this Lent a truly meaningful one. God Bless!

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong

 

Fourth Sunday of Lent: When Darkness Turns to Light

 

The long break. Things have not been making headway recently as I struggle to make it through each day. I begin to have doubts in my ability and often I am left thinking if I am really truly living, or merely existing because I have forced myself to do so. When the new week comes, I am left feeling anxious and worried, and I cannot help myself. I wish I can rekindle that spark to ignite my interests again, but the flame keeps flickering, and it never holds still. One day, I will be back to my original self.

The gospel opens by saying,“Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,  so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God (John 3:4-21).” 

The verse of “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life (John 3:16).” This beautiful verse is the promise that God gives us, that he gave us his only son and that Jesus died for us to redeem us from sin and to show that death does not mark the end.

It is also a testament of Jesus’ love and mercy for us to show that he is willing to sacrifice so much for us, and we should do the same to give up our old ways to experience the newness that comes with letting the grudges and emotional baggage that we carry go.

God dispelled the darkness of the void when he created earth and he created the beautiful creation we see everyday and then man is created in his likeness. Through his love, we are saved as long as we believe and keep the faith in doing the Father’s will.

So, we all should come forward to the light for it is pure, and to dispel the darkness for when there is no more darkness, we can be children of the light. Let us keep in mind that our actions will show people the light and to bring them out from the darkness. God Bless.

Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong