2019/10/5-6 MCC Retreat: Finding Peace in the midst of Unrest 在困擾中尋平安

Theme: Finding Peace in the midst of Unrest 在困擾中尋平安
Spiritual Director: Fr. Francis Ching
Date: Oct 5-6, 2019

(audios in Cantonese)

To download audios: Click the title below, and click “Save as…”

Homilies

Talk1

Talk2

Talk3

Talk4

 

 

2019 ANNIVERSARY DAY TRIP

Thank you all for your support and encouragement for this day trip. All the seats have been taken and registration is now closed.

“This is my body”

“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” (Mt 26:26-28, RSV)

 

Similar sayings are in Luke and Mark, but not in the Gospel according to John – where his Last Supper scene describes the washing of the Apostles’ feet. The discourse on Holy Communion in John, however, is found in Chapter Six, starting at verse 35 and intensifying from verse 48 onwards.

“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51, NJB).

“In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6:53, NJB).

“For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink” (Jn 6:55, NJB).

The above three verses are parts of Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. Below are the reactions from some of his listeners. “After hearing it, many of his followers said, ‘This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?’… After this, many of his disciples went away and accompanied him no more” (Jn 6:60, 66, NJB).

Various Christian communities like to interpret Jesus’ sayings literally. The disciples described above certainly did. But, unlike some of those Christian communities, it was not the reason why the disciples stayed with him. It was the reason why they left him!

 

While they were walking off, a most astounding thing happened. Jesus did not shout out after them in panic: “Wait. Stop. Please don’t go. I used the wrong words. I was only speaking in symbols. I don’t mean what you think I was saying. You don’t eat me – you eat bread and drink wine.” No! He let them go! He was speaking most literally!!! He meant every word he said. This was the sacrament of his limitless love, the food that would lead to life everlasting, and one tangible way he chose to keep his promise: “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Mt 28:20, NJB).

He asserted, “Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day” (Jn 6:54, NJB).

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person” (Jn 6:56, NJB).

“As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me” (Jn 6:57, NJB).

 

************

Jesus sometimes identifies himself (or someone else like John the Baptist or St. Paul identifies him) as an entity like the lamb of God, or the good shepherd, or light, love, peace, the resurrection, etc. An example is seen in the gospel according to John where Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6, NIV). This is different from saying, “I show the way, I proclaim the truth, I give life.” Jesus is telling us that to find the way we have to walk along him; to know the truth we need to know him; to have life we must live in him.

So, when he says, “I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:35, NIV), what do you think he wants you to do?

 

Acknowledgments

In this work, the initials RSV indicate that the Scripture quotations are from the REVISED STANDARD VERSION BIBLE, Second Catholic Edition, copyright © 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Any passage designated NJB is an excerpt from THE NEW JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright © 1998 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted by permission.

Texts followed by the letters NIV are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

In this work, Scripture texts marked NAB are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970, by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Be a Shepherd

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Mt 9:36–38, RSV)

 

The prayer for labourers has risen up to the Lord countless number of times over the centuries. Have you ever considered yourself an answer to the prayer?

 

Who is a shepherd?

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” (Jn 21:15–17, NIV)

 

The person who truly loves Jesus is the one who may be called upon to feed his lambs and tend his sheep. If you love Jesus, you may be asked to shepherd for him.

The flock he gives you may not be large. It may be no more than a few relatives or friends. It may be just one member in your family or among your coworkers and acquaintances. It may even be a stranger that you meet by chance.

Knowledge and discretion

Of course, you have to be thoroughly educated in the ways of the Lord. You have to be well informed. You must study; you must become qualified. You must not make up your own theology from your limited understanding. You must learn procedures of discernment from experienced spiritual directors. You have to choose the right words at the right moment. You have to be tactful, discreet, wise and loving.

You have to keep his commandments, and pray for guidance and help from the Holy Spirit. Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.” (Jn 14:15–17, NIV)

 

What are some things you might do?

 

1. Genuine caring

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.  (Mk 6:34, NIV)

 

As in the quotation at the beginning of this chapter, we are told that the crowds were “like sheep without a shepherd.” In the first passage, Jesus asks for more labourers. Here he reveals how a shepherd feels and acts. “He had compassion on them.” His heart went out to them. He was moved with pity. He did not despise the people or hide from them, or make excuses to be rid of them. Even though he was very tired, he “began teaching them,” and he taught them “many things.”

We, too, can spend time with people who are lost for lack of direction. By kindness and understanding we can extend the comforting hand of Jesus to them. By showing our concern, we can spread his love and his good news.

 

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”  (Mk 6:35–37, NIV)

Don’t send the people away. Do something for them yourself. Without sinning or falling into temptation, do whatever you can, however little. In the above incident, when the disciples came forward with two fish and five loaves, Jesus built on their initiative and fed over five thousand people. You begin; Jesus will finish.

Youth prayer groups have been formed in many parishes throughout the world. The first steps towards organizing these were often taken by parents who saw the need for such spiritual gatherings for their sons and daughters. They did this voluntarily and without being ordered to do so. Now their young ones have a chance to know the joy of walking with the Lord. Now they have a trustworthy companion in Jesus. Now they do not spend their Saturday nights in undesirable places or with disreputable friends. These parents are examples of concerned shepherds.

Here is another illustration of shepherding. Many men and women, boys and girls, pray the Rosary, and fast on bread and water, for the conversion of unbelievers and sinners. These are noble and unselfish ways of helping to save countless numbers of human beings from unnecessary and prolonged darkness and pain. This is caring. This is love. This is compassion.

The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.”  (Jn 10:11–13, RSV)

 

Be like Jesus. Do not run from the problem. Stay and help. Lay down your life for God’s people. The Holy Spirit is in you by virtue of the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Use his power and the courage which he has placed in you.

 

2. Speaking out

Picture the scene at the first Christmas.

 

In the countryside close by there were shepherds out in the fields keeping guard over their sheep during the watches of the night. An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, “Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”  (Lk 2:8–11, NJB)

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. (Lk 2:15–18, RSV)

 

As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Lk 2:19, NJB)

 

The shepherds were simple peasants. Why would anyone believe that they saw angels in the middle of the night? Why would anybody believe that they carried “good news” from these “angels”? Why would even one person take them seriously about the baby in the manger being the Christ for whom all of Israel was waiting? Yet, courageously, they spoke out. “They made known” the message. It made the Mother of God ponder in her heart. She “treasured” their words.

To bear witness for Jesus, you simply speak out. The angel’s announcement to the shepherds was, “Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people.” Do not fear. What you say about Jesus is joyful news. It is good news. It should be shared by all.

The Gospel

Moreover, do not just speak about Jesus. Tell them to carry out what he taught. He said,

 

“… and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.”                                       (Mt 28:20, NJB)

 

Not everyone will agree with what Jesus says. Not everyone will do all that he asks. But his words may make them wonder and think. Some may be influenced without your being aware of it.

Foul language

In Medjugorje, many homes used to display a poster which said, “U ovoj kući se ne psuje.” It means, “In this house do not swear.” This demonstrates a silent way of speaking out.

The elimination of foul language helps to control bad temper and anger, and diminishes one’s false sense of self-importance; it can promote gentleness and peace among fellow-workers and family members. It can help bring a Christian atmosphere to places where people come together.

In the Western world, it is not fashionable to place such signs in homes and offices. But if you will begin by not using vulgar expletives yourself, it might cause others to follow your example. Let peace begin with you. To live a certain way is to speak out for that way.

Don’t be shy

Never feel embarrassed by your loyalty to Jesus.

 

“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

(Mk 8:38, RSV)

 

Make decisions in accordance with his teaching. Go off to pray even if others should ridicule you for it. Some days attend noon Mass instead of having lunch with your colleagues; take some friends with you. Acknowledge Jesus by hanging his portrait and crucifix in your home.

 

“He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them.”           (Jn 10:2–4, RSV)

By Baptism and Confirmation, by your love of Jesus and obedience to his commands, by your grounding in, and fidelity to, the teaching of the Church, you have entered through the gate that shepherds go through. You have the potential to be one of them. Develop that potential. A shepherd “leads them out” and “goes before them.” He is a guide, one who shows the way, one who walks in front. He starts things going where there is a need.

 

Acknowledgments

In this work, the initials RSV indicate that the Scripture quotations are from the REVISED STANDARD VERSION BIBLE, Second Catholic Edition, copyright © 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Any passage designated NJB is an excerpt from THE NEW JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright © 1998 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted by permission.

Texts followed by the letters NIV are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

In this work, Scripture texts marked NAB are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970, by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

A Message to Parents

In today’s world, bringing up adolescents can be a harrowing experience for parents. There are so many evils to beware of: alcoholism, pornography, immorality, drugs, gun violence… At the same time, temptations to sin come from many directions: television, magazines, friends, movies, social media…

To help their children, parents need to teach and guide them, especially by their own non-hypocritical examples. They must love them, spend time with them, and pray with them. They should correct and discipline them, but also allow their children some privacy and opportunities for self-expression and maturation, remembering that their offspring do not necessarily become exactly what parents hope and plan.

In this chapter three important considerations are emphasized: parents must pray for their children, they must have faith in God, they must not live in fear.

 

 

  1. PRAY FOR YOUR CHILDREN

A mother’s prayer

The prayer of a parent is very powerful. The passage below illustrates how a persistent mother hung on to Jesus and moved him to perform a miracle for her daughter.

 

Jesus left that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And suddenly out came a Canaanite woman from that district and started shouting, “Lord, Son of David, take pity on me. My daughter is tormented by a devil.” But he said not a word in answer to her. And his disciples went and pleaded with him, saying, “Give her what she wants, because she keeps shouting after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” But the woman had come up and was bowing low before him. “Lord,” she said, “help me.” He replied, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to little dogs.” She retorted, “Ah yes, Lord; but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, you have great faith. Let your desire be granted.” And from that moment her daughter was well again. (Mt 15:21–28, NJB)

 

A father’s prayer

The father in the next passage had asked the disciples to help. But when they could not, he persevered by going to Jesus.

As they were rejoining the crowd a man came up to him and went down on his knees before him. “Lord,” he said, “take pity on my son: he is demented and in a wretched state; he is always falling into fire and into water. I took him to your disciples and they were unable to cure him.” In reply, Jesus said, “Faithless and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And when Jesus rebuked it the devil came out of the boy, who was cured from that moment. (Mt 17:14–18, NJB)

Pray

What troubles your children? Whatever it is, pray for them. What troubles you concerning your children? Examine yourself truthfully, and pray for yourself.

If there is anything you can do, do it with wisdom and affection, and pray. If there is nothing you or anyone else can do, pray.

In Mark’s version of the above healing story, when asked by the disciples why they themselves could not cast out the demon from the boy, Jesus answered: “This is the kind that can be driven out only by prayer.” (Mk 9:29, NJB)

 

  1. HAVE FAITH

When you pray, do so with faith. Jesus said to the Canaanite mother: “Woman, you have great faith! Let your desire be granted.” (Mt 15:28, NJB)

He said to the demented boy’s father in the Gospel according to Mark: “Everything is possible for one who has faith.” (Mk 9:23, NJB)

To the disciples who could not heal the demented boy, he gave the reason: “Because you have so little faith. In truth I tell you, if your faith is the size of a mustard seed you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt 17:20, NJB)

 

By believing in Jesus, the father in the next story obtained what he asked for.

And at Caper’na-um there was an official whose son was ill. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living. So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live”; and he himself believed, and all his household. (Jn 4:46–53, RSV)

The dying

The concern you have for your sons and daughters may not be physical. Read the above texts again as though they are about your own children, but replace the mentioned illness by the maladies threatening the young ones in your home.

Read the next story as if it is about your child whom you imagine to be on the road to eternal damnation.

And suddenly there came a man named Jairus, who was president of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and pleaded with him to come to his house, because he had an only daughter about twelve years old, who was dying…

While he was still speaking, someone arrived from the house of the president of the synagogue to say, “Your daughter has died. Do not trouble the Master any further.” But Jesus heard this, and he spoke to the man, “Do not be afraid, only have faith and she will be saved.”… They were all crying and mourning for her, but Jesus said, “Stop crying; she is not dead, but asleep.” But they ridiculed him, knowing she was dead. But taking her by the hand himself he spoke to her, “Child, get up.” And her spirit returned and she got up at that very moment. Then he told them to give her something to eat. (Lk 8:41–42, 49–50, 52–55, NJB)

No matter how hopeless the situation appears, entrust your children to Jesus. Entrust yourself to him. Learn from his example. He took the child by the hand with kindness; he spoke with her; he asked her parents to give her something to eat, to nourish her, to care for her, to be attentive and loving towards her, to cherish her

Trust Jesus’ mission

He said:

“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.”  (Jn 6:37–39, NIV)

 

“The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from my hand. The Father, for what he has given me, is greater than anyone, and no one can steal anything from the Father’s hand.” (Jn 10:27–29, NJB)

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Mt 18:10–14, RSV)

 

  1. DO NOT BE AFRAID

In the account of Jairus’ daughter, Jesus said to the father of the little girl: “Do not be afraid, only have faith and she will be saved… She is not dead, but asleep.” (Lk 8:50, 52, NJB)

 

In another passage of the gospel, he assures everyone:

 

“Can you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? And yet not one is forgotten in God’s sight. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. There is no need to be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Lk 12:6–7, NJB)

 

You are very precious in God’s eyes. So are your children. God has not forgotten them. He looks after them – just as he has looked after you from your youth, and will continue doing so because you still need him just as much as your children do.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God; trust also in me.”  (Jn 14:1, NJB)

 

When you have done all that you can, place everything else in God’s hands. Let his power be displayed in the healing of your children and you.

 

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.” (Jn 9:1–3, RSV)

Young people have their hardships. They are passing through a difficult stage in life. The devil will try to make you treat them like enemies. Do not be misled by him. Scripture says:

 

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Pet 5:8-9, NIV)

 

Jesus’ command is to love one another, not hate. Your children are your flesh and blood. If you don’t love them, who will?

By love, the Canaanite mother was able to enlist Jesus’ help in casting out the devil from her daughter. (Mt 15:21–28, in the first story above.)

Next time the devil attacks by creating a storm in your heart, do not fall for his tricks or react irrationally. Turn to Jesus immediately and ask him to come into the situation.

Go in peace

It takes a long time for young adults to grow and mature. It takes a long time for parents to grow and mature. Parents have lived more years; they should not use their greater age to browbeat their children, or to create more discord and conflict, but to bring affection and peace to their homes. They should not wait to be grandparents for this to happen. Let them begin now.

“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mk 9:50, RSV)

There may be occasional troubles and pain, but with God’s help all will be well in the end. Through overcoming your trials and difficulties, you will ripen into understanding and loving Christians.

Do whatever is in your power for your children. Go to the parish library or a trustworthy Catholic bookstore to find a suitable book on parenting. Ask those who might be able to lend a hand, for example, an experienced priest. But above all, pray for your children, have faith in God, do not live in fear.

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Lk 7:50, NIV) Faith will save your family. Faith will bring peace.

A word to all youths

The work of bringing up the young is not easy. Parents do not always possess enough knowledge or presence of mind to take the best course of action in every situation. You, sons and daughters, can help by your co-operation and love.

Jesus said: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12, RSV)

He also said: “Honour your father and your mother.” (Mt 19:19, NJB)

You give them the most honour, love, and peace of mind, by leading lives of great goodness.

 

 Act of Consecration to Jesus

Jesus, when you were twelve years old, you gave your parents quite a scare by secretly remaining in Jerusalem while they were on the road back to Nazareth. They searched anxiously for you and did not find you till the third day. Your mother has since learned how to care for the young in peace. Today, she has millions of children to look after throughout the world. Many of them are worrisome, yet she is able to stay calm and serene.

From this day forward, I consecrate to your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Peace, myself and my family members. Direct us towards holiness. Help us to pray, to have strong faith and not to be afraid. Help us to live in peace with ourselves and with our families, and be reconciled with one another, loving each other according to the commands you gave in the gospel.

 

Acknowledgments

In this work, the initials RSV indicate that the Scripture quotations are from the REVISED STANDARD VERSION BIBLE, Second Catholic Edition, copyright © 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Any passage designated NJB is an excerpt from THE NEW JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright © 1998 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted by permission.

Texts followed by the letters NIV are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

In this work, Scripture texts marked NAB are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970, by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.