Posts Tagged ‘Holy Week’

Warning From Israel: Explosive, Sensitive Situation Developing, Especially Among Palestinians

March 28, 2018


There’s a growing risk of an escalation this year, Gadi Eisenkot tells Haaretz, predicting Israel will ‘face very great challenges around the 70th anniversary celebrations’


A masked Palestinian protester walks by burning tires during clashes with Israeli troops at the entrance to Ramallah on March 12, 2018.

A masked Palestinian protester walks by burning tires during clashes with Israeli troops at the entrance to Ramallah on March 12, 2018. Nasser Nasser/AP

There’s a growing risk of a security escalation sometime this year due to developments on many fronts, but especially the Palestinian one, according to the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff.

In an interview with Haaretz, Gadi Eisenkot said that in the near term, he is most worried by what is currently happening in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israel hasn’t detected any signs that any of its enemies plans to start a war, but localized developments could lead to an unplanned escalation, he said.


Gadi Eisenkot in Knesset, August 16, 2016.

Gadi Eisenkot in Knesset, August 16, 2016.  Olivier Fitoussi

The Palestinian situation over the next few months will be “especially complex,” he continued, due to a series of events: the annual Land Day commemorations, which recall the killing of six Israeli Arabs during a 1976 protest against Israel’s confiscation of Arab lands; Nakba Day, when Palestinians commemorate the “nakba,” or “catastrophe” of their defeat in 1948; Israeli Independence Day, marking the country’s 70th anniversary; the transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem; the approaching end of Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership; the failed reconciliation between Abbas’ Fatah party and its main rival, Hamas; and the economic crisis that grips Hamas-run Gaza.

 “An explosive, sensitive situation is developing in the entire Middle East, but especially among the Palestinians,” Eisenkot said. “We will face very great challenges around the 70th [anniversary] celebrations.”

While the Palestinians’ economic situation is very bad, he continued, it hasn’t yet deteriorated to the level of a humanitarian crisis. 

The full interview will be published in Haaretz’s weekend edition on Friday.


Philippines: Cardinal Tagle hits ‘violent, cocky kings’

March 26, 2018


Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle blessing the palm fronds during a mass at the Manila Cathedral. Edd Gumban

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) – March 26, 2018 – 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — As Christians celebrated Palm Sunday, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle slammed leaders who set bad examples to their followers.

Without naming names, the head of the country’s Catholic hierarchy scored what he branded as modern-day “kings” who are boastful and violent, in a mass he celebrated at the Manila Cathedral.

“In our world today, kings, who are full of cockiness and devoid of humility, are lording over,” Tagle lamented in his homily yesterday.


“Today, many follow the kings  who use violence, arms and intimidation but are without any understanding and oneness with the weak,” Tagle stressed.

He urged these leaders to instead emulate the example of humility in leadership set by Jesus Christ.

“Our king does not rely on violence, in arms, in swords, in bullets and guns. Our king trusts in God alone,” Tagle stressed.

“The serene dignity and silence of the person, who trusts in God and who is in full solidarity with sinful humanity, that is true authority. That is our true king. That is the king that will save the world,” Tagle explained.

He said Jesus Christ could have chosen not to be crucified and to escape the penalty imposed by Pontius Pilate, but opted not to use his power.

“In truth, Pilate has no chance against Christ. But our king need not to defend himself. His personality shows he has full trust in God and love for us. That is the true king. That is dignity. That is power,” he added.

Tagle led the celebration of Palm Sunday to kick off the final week of the Lenten season.

Apart from his message of humility, Tagle also called on the Catholic faithful to take this Holy Week as an opportunity to do charity and help people in need.

He specifically urged Catholics to support the Church’s annual fundraising program, Alay Kapwa Telethon 2018 of the Caritas Manila and Radio Veritas set today.

“I call on our brothers and sisters in Christ to participate in Alay Kapwa 2018 and to be generous in sharing their blessings this season of Lent,” he appealed.

He stressed that charity is essential in today’s Catholic life, especially after the numerous calamities happening throughout the year.

“With the increasing number and magnitude of disasters and calamities being responded by Caritas Damayan, our Alay Kapwa funds immediately get depleted,” he added.

Donors may call 925-7931 to 39, 563-9311 or 562-0020 to 25 during the telethon to be held from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

It will be open throughout the live broadcast over Radio Veritas 846 and also via live streaming at

Last year, Alay Kapwa Telethon proceeds were used in extending Caritas relief operations for the victims of the Surigao earthquake, Typhoons Urduja and Vinta, Marawi’s rehabilitation and recovery, and various natural and man-made disasters.

Tagle made the appeal as he led the celebration of Palm Sunday, which marks the entry of Jesus to Jerusalem aboard a donkey while he was being welcomed by people waving palm fronds.

Thousands attended the masses at the Manila Cathedral carrying palm branches to have them blessed by the priests.

The Lenten season ends next Sunday with the Easter celebration, which also marks the conclusion of Holy Week.

Leni: Reflect on values

For her part, Vice President Leni Robredo urged Filipinos to slow down and reflect on deeply rooted values.

“Lent is the time to slow down and reflect what is really of value to us,” said Robredo after the launching of the Albay Provincial Library Gender and Development Section at the Albay Provincial Library and Information Center last Friday.

“Sometimes due to the frenzy of our daily work, we forget the most important things,” she said.

Robredo added that Lent is not just a holiday but a time to take stock of things, and a time to ask for forgiveness and renewal.

“Even for non-Catholics, it is a time to go back and return to those things that really matter,” she said.

Meanwhile, parish priest Ramon Navarro at Santiago, Isabela, echoed Tagle and Robredo, saying Lent is a “celebration of the great mystery of salvation.”

“It is the central feast of the Church and that is the foundation, actually, of our faith. All other beliefs or other feasts find their meaning and efficacy in this mystery,” Navarro added.

The priest also reminded the Catholic faithful that they have sinned and that Jesus Christ redeemed the world through his suffering and resurrection.

Navarro asked for intense prayer and conversion, encouraging Catholics to do acts of charity. – With Celso Amo, Kurt Adrian dela Peña



Dr. Jordan Peterson Talks Up The ’12 Rules For Life’

March 26, 2018

Peterson believes that the catastrophe of our times is a loss of sense of meaning in life. We need to seek deep engagement and meaning from life, he believes. He says this will not come from instant gratification but from seeking and taking responsibility and meaning. Our sense of meaning and purpose is what allows us to get through the hard times in life and the suffering. He says we are not teaching this to young people which is a mystery and a catastrophe. He tells us to live out the truth — much as Christianity teaches…

Interesting that this discussion was held just before the Christian Holy Week….


Image may contain: text

For more on Peterson’s thinking:


  (Pope Francis says we must choose who we stand with. Are we with those that yell “Crucify Him” or are we with those that cheer “

Image may contain: 1 person

We just recently became interested on Aristotle’s “Metaphysics” after a professor we know said, “His is the inconvenient truth. Three hundred years before Christ, Aristotle believed he proved the existence of God using logic from his teacher Plato. College students today don’t want to think — even though they cast out religion. Therefore, Aristotle is usually overlooked these days….”

Can’t make truth, ideas or monuments go away by refusing to accept them!



Love Jesus in all who suffer, pope says on Palm Sunday

March 25, 2018

(This is from last year)

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

4.9.2017 8:14 AM ET

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jesus does not ask that people only contemplate his image, but that they also recognize and love him concretely in all people who suffer like he did, Pope Francis said.

Jesus is “present in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own — they suffer from slave labor, from family tragedies, from diseases. They suffer from wars and terrorism, from interests that are armed and ready to strike,” the pope said April 9 as he celebrated the Palm Sunday Mass of the Lord’s Passion.

In his noon Angelus address, the pope also decried recent terrorist attacks in Sweden and Egypt, calling on “those who sow terror, violence and death,” including arms’ manufacturers and dealers, to change their ways.

In his prayers for those affected by the attacks, the pope also expressed his deepest condolences to “my dear brother, His Holiness Pope Tawadros, the Coptic church and the entire beloved Egyptian nation,” which the pope was scheduled to visit April 28-29.

At least 15 people were killed and dozens more injured April 9 in an Orthodox church north of Cairo as Coptic Christians gathered for Palm Sunday Mass; the attack in Sweden occurred two days earlier when a truck ran through a crowd outside a busy department store in central Stockholm, killing four and injuring 15 others.

The pope also prayed for all people affected by war, which he called, a “disgrace of humanity.”

Tens of thousands of people carrying palms and olive branches joined the pope during a solemn procession in St. Peter’s Square under a bright, warm sun for the beginning of Holy Week.

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

The Good Samaritan by Walter Rane

The pope, cardinal and bishops were dressed in red vestments, the color of the Passion, and carried large “palmurelli,” bleached and intricately woven and braided palm branches. Hundreds of young people led the procession into St. Peter’s Square and later, youths from Poland handed the World Youth Day cross to young representatives from Panama, where the next international gathering will be held in January in 2019.

In his homily, the pope said that the day’s celebration was “bittersweet.”

“It is joyful and sorrowful at the same time” because the Mass celebrates the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem as the people and disciples acclaim him as king, and yet, the Gospel gives the account of his passion and death on the cross.

Jesus accepts the hosannas coming from of the crowd, but he “knows full well that they will soon be followed by the cry, ‘Crucify him!'” the pope said.

Jesus “does not ask us to contemplate him only in pictures and photographs or in the videos that circulate on the internet,” but to recognize that he is present in those who suffer today, including “women and men who are cheated, violated in their dignity, discarded.”

“Jesus is in them, in each of them, and, with marred features and broken voice, he asks to be looked in the eye, to be acknowledged, to be loved,” the pope said.

We have no other Lord but him: Jesus, the humble King of justice, mercy and peace.

Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem as the true Messiah, who is a servant of God and humanity, the pope said. He is not a dreamer peddling illusions, a “new age” prophet or con man; he takes on the sins and sufferings of humanity with his passion.

Jesus never promised honor and success would come to those who follow him, rather, the path to final victory requires picking up the cross and carrying it every day, Pope Francis said.

“Let us ask for the grace to follow Jesus faithfully, not in words but in deeds. Let us also ask for the patience to carry our own cross, not to refuse it or set it aside, but rather, in looking to him, to take it up and to carry it daily,” he said.

Philippines — Editorial: Sayyaf in the Visayas

April 12, 2017

 5  41 googleplus0  0

As of last night, five Abu Sayyaf bandits, three soldiers and a policeman had died in heavy fighting in Bohol. Central Visayas is a long way from the terrorist group’s lairs in Sulu and Basilan, raising concern that the bandits are expanding their areas of operation. The clashes occurred as the United States and Australia, with the United Kingdom joining them yesterday, warned their citizens about the threat of being kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf.

The group is still holding foreign hostages after beheading a German captive in February and two Canadians last year for failure to pay ransom. The threat of kidnapping more foreigners is already inflicting damage on the economy of Bohol.

As described by foreign media reports yesterday, Bohol is a known travel destination, and Holy Week is peak season for tourism. The province has unique attractions – the endangered tarsier and the Chocolate Hills, among others – but local and foreign travelers alike will readily skip the sights if there’s a threat of being kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf.

This threat cannot be contained by the military alone; the local government must take the lead and mobilize community action to confront troublemakers. Palawan, whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism, suffered heavily from Abu Sayyaf raids and kidnapping of tourists. Residents of the province later banded together to help protect their communities and improve responses to terrorist threats.

The situation is different in certain conflict zones in Mindanao, where local authorities themselves are suspected of coddling the Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups for personal gain. Other provinces must not allow a similar situation to develop. Lives, property, jobs and livelihoods are at stake, and the military and police perform their tasks best with public support.




Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP): Bohol ‘safest place on earth’ after foiled terror threat

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said that Bohol is “now the safest place on earth.” File photo

MANILA, Philippines — After a clash with the Abu Sayyaf in a village there, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that Bohol is “now the safest place on earth.”

“As of now because of this incident I could say that Bohol is the safest place on earth…Whatever na plans nila dito, it was disrupted and degraded,” AFP Central Command Commander Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao said in a televised press briefing.

On Tuesday, militant group Abu Sayyaf and Philippine security forces clashed in Inabanga town, Bohol , where six militants and four government troops died. The number of militants killed include its leader, Muammar Askali, also known as Abu Rami.

Due to this, the AFP considered its operation against the bandits a “very successful” one and praised the cooperation and leadership of the Philippine National Police, local government unit of Bohol and its communities.

Lactao assured the public that there is no imminent attack since that was already thwarted but he said the security sector will remain vigilant for threats. The AFP said it is still going after remnants of the group that arrived in Bohol on pump boats Tuesday morning.

The general encouraged the public to live normally and warned that terrorism does not happen only in the Philippines and so the citizens must learn to live with it.

For Lactao, the antidote to terrorism is not showing  panic and living normally to avoid giving terrorists the benefit of victory without firing a single shot.

“It’s (terrorism) there but our country and government is resilient,” Lactao said.

“Talo na nga sila dito, sila namatayan dito, ‘di nila nagawa dapat nilang gawin, back to normal tayo,” he said.

‘Safe to travel to Bohol’

For his part, Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto assured the public and potential tourists that everything is back to normal in Inabanga town. He said the rest of the province was not affected by the clash.

“We want international community to be aware that situation was contained Inabanga and did not affect the rest of Bohol or rest of the country,” Chatto said in a separate televised interview.

Chatto also urged those who are planning to cancel their bookings not to worry. “Wag nila i-cancel mamimiss nila ang Bohol,” he concluded.

The governor said that Bohol only had heightened security because of the Lenten season and the ASEAN 2017, where there is expected influx of tourists and guests in the province but their vigilance paid off.


Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Rami killed in Bohol

Abu Rami, the leader of the group of Abu Sayyaf terrorists the figured in a gun fight with Philippine security forces in Bohol, has been killed. Twitter/Freeman

MANILA, Philippines — The leader of the group of Abu Sayyaf bandits that figured in a gun fight with Philippine security forces Tuesday has been killed, pushing the number of militants killed to six, according to the Philippine National Police and the governor of the province of Bohol.

The death of Muammar Askali, who is also known as Abu Rami, the leader of the group of terrorists who engaged the military and the police in Inabanga town, was confirmed by Police Regional Office (PRO)-7 Director Noli Taliño, The Freeman reported.

LATEST: Abu Sayyaf’s Muamar Askali alias Abu Rami dead in Bohol clash, PRO-7 Director Noli Taliño confirms | via @clydylavilaTF

A separate confirmation of Abu Rami’s death was also made by Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto in a radio interview with DZRH.

Abu Rami’s death put the number of terrorists killed to six while four soldiers perished in the group’s foray into the Visayas region, far from their traditional strongholds in Jolo and Basilan in Mindanao.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Chatto said in the radio interview that the group had already been neutralized and individuals and establishments were slowly returning to normalcy. The governor added that intensified security measures would be put in place especially this Holy Week.

Palace: Be calm but alert

Malacañang meanwhile assured the public that there was no cause for alarm as the situation was already contained by security forces.

“The public should have no cause for alarm as the situation is contained and our security forces are in control. The government is exerting all efforts to maintain peace and order,” Ernesto Abella, the presidential spokesperson, said in a statement.

The Palace also called on the public to be calm but alert and vigilant and to report to authorities information on possible threats to public safety.

Abella also paid tribute to the members of the security force who were killed in Bohol as he assured their families that the government would extend all the necessary assistance to them.

“One officer, two soldiers, and a policeman paid the ultimate sacrifice in the performance of their duty to serve and protect our people. They are true heroes,” Abella said. “We salute their gallantry as we also assure their families that they will be provided all the necessary assistance from the government.”

Malacañang also commended the security forces and the local communities for their timely action and cooperation.

Abella said that the response of the police and military thwarted the “evil plans of some armed lawless elements to sow fear and terror” in Bohol.

“We also laud the vigilance and cooperation of local communities that led to the rapid deployment of security forces against these bandits,” he said.

Prayer and Meditation for Monday, April 10, 2017 — “The coastlands will wait for his teaching.”

April 9, 2017

Image may contain: cloud, sky, ocean, mountain, outdoor, nature and water

Serenity by Natt Mus


Monday of Holy Week
Lectionary: 257

Reading 1  IS 42:1-7

Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
Upon whom I have put my Spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
Not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
Until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spreads out the earth with its crops,
Who gives breath to its people
and spirit to those who walk on it:
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Responsorial Psalm PS 27:1, 2, 3, 13-14

R. (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
When evildoers come at me
to devour my flesh,
My foes and my enemies
themselves stumble and fall.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me,
even then will I trust.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Verse Before The Gospel

Hail to you, our King;
you alone are compassionate with our faults.

Gospel JN 12:1-11

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany,
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
made from genuine aromatic nard
and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples,
and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages
and given to the poor?”
He said this not because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came,
not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.
And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
because many of the Jews were turning away
and believing in Jesus because of him.

Image result for she washed his feet and dried them with her hair , art


Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ IS 42:1-7; JN 12:1-11]

Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor?”  That seems to be a reasonable and logical criticism of what Mary did when she “brought in a pound of very costly ointment, pure nard, and with it anointed the feet of Jesus.”  How many of us would agree with Judas that it was a waste of money?  Furthermore, when you think of the many poor and suffering people in the world, it would seem that Mary had committed a great sin of wastefulness.  If we go by this reasoning, then perhaps, all the Churches’ treasures should be sold and given to the poor.  All the expensive and fine vestments, sacred vessels, including the chalice, should be made of wood or metal.  Then all churches should be built with the basic practical needs, without any frills or concern for aesthetics.  Then again, if the Lord were to dwell in such a temple, so too, all our homes must be stripped of all unnecessary items.  And we should save the money spent on expensive wedding gowns, which are used once only and then set aside, and not hold any grand dinners too because most of the time, much food is thrown away, especially at buffets! Such reasoning can go on and on.  We will have divided opinions and never come to any consensus.

What was the response of Jesus?  “Leave her alone; she had to keep this scent for the day of my burial. You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.”  Indeed, we are all obliged to help the poor and the suffering.  But we need to see things in perspective.  Some things cannot be measured by money and time. Actions of love cannot be quantified or calculated like a mathematical problem.  True love does not count the cost because it is not logical.  Daily life examples should convince us. There are many mothers who are professionals and busy career women. Yet they would wake up early in the morning to prepare breakfast for their children rather than let the domestic helper do it.  Why?  Because they love their children and want them to have a proper breakfast and also to pack for them a healthy and sumptuous lunch.  For the same reason, they would rush home from work to pick up their children or chauffeur them to school and for their activities.  Some of them are old enough to take public transport on their own.  Yet they do it because they love their children and cannot bear to see them suffer the inconvenience.  Logically, it is also economical for them to go home on their own than to waste the precious time of their parents.  Furthermore, it is good for discipline and formation as well, lest they become too demanding and take their comforts for granted.

The truth is that when we love, we do not act rationally but we allow the heart to express itself spontaneously.  We do not really think of the trouble and inconvenience when we reach out to someone we love.  The immediate and spontaneous response is to make our beloved feel loved and comfortable.  We do not count the cost because the heart only knows that love is all that matters.  We are always lavish and generous with people we love.  We cannot say ‘No’ to our loved ones even though we know at times that it is not good to pamper them.  But love is such.

Conversely, if we act and think like Judas, it is because we are not sincere in love.  Judas had no real love for Jesus.  He was more concerned about his interest than that of Jesus’, and lesser still for the poor. The evangelist commented, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he was in charge of the common fund and used to help himself to the contributions.” Clearly, such objections do not hold water for those who harbor selfish motives.  We must therefore ask ourselves when speaking against such extravagance; whether it is because our pockets are hurt. Of course, not all are motivated by selfishness when they speak out against such apparent extravagance.

When we take a logical and financial stance, it is more likely because we are detached from the person concerned.  In other words, when we have no personal relationship, that person becomes just a case, and we use pure objectivity in assessing our response to the needs of the person.  In public decisions affecting the interests of everyone, as in an organization or society, we need to be transparent, objective and impartial in making decisions, without fear or favor.  This is to ensure that justice and fair play prevail.  We cannot allow our emotional ties or vested interests to influence us in the way we make decisions.  When we are not emotionally related to a person, we can of course think and act logically.

But when we are speaking about love and relationship, it is a different ball game.  Does a judge in the court behave like a judge at home, analyzing the needs of the family according to pure logic alone?  Does not a judge also have compassion for his or her son even if he commits a crime?  Surely, he or she will get the best lawyer to defend him.  This is not to say that he or she will hide the guilt, but he or she will find the best defence so that the son would not be punished too harshly. So often, we have those in authority protecting their loved ones by covering up for their mistakes.

So with our loved ones, we use the heart rather than the head.  This is inevitable!  Isn’t that the way God acts?  Because He loves us, His way of rendering justice to sinners and evil people is to forgive us and to save us; not to punish us!   As our loving Father, He has no heart to punish us because it grieves Him as much to see us suffer.  When God saw the world in sin, during the time of Noah, He grieved.  “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”  (Gn 6:5f)

So like God, we love and care for our loved ones in this manner.  Whether your darling is your spouse, friend or even a dog or cat, you act in the same manner.  When your dog is old and sickly, why do you spend so much money bringing it to the vet?  Isn’t it better to let the dog die and get a new one, which is much cheaper?  But you cannot buy emotional ties and happy memories.   You cannot buy love and affection.  There is no price for that!  This explains why animal lovers would do anything for stray animals, cats, dogs, birds, etc.  They would tend to them especially when they are sick or wounded and feed them when they are hungry.  They feel for and with the hurting and hungry animals.  When we see them scavanging for food, we feel sorry for them.

So the reality is that we do not feel for what we do not see.  If we do not see something with our own eyes, we are not emotionally moved.  When we do not see them hungry and without shelter, we think such stray animals are a nuisance.  St Teresa of Calcutta started to reach out to the poorest of the poor only because she came into contact with the suffering in India.  To see them suffering grieved her heart like God who grieves for us.  When you see someone on the road, thin to the bones, won’t you be moved by the sufferings of your fellowman?  Unless you have hardened your heart like Judas, you will stretch out to help.  The priests had no compassion for Lazarus and even wanted to kill him because “it was on his account that many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus.” What if Lazarus was one of their children, or their loved one? Would they see Jesus differently?  Of course!  They would be grateful to Jesus.  But because of selfish interests, they saw Jesus and even Lazarus as a threat to their status quo and greed.

Jesus is our exemplar in love.  He is the model of the suffering servant, giving without reservation, as expressed in the first reading. He was endowed with the Spirit of God to bring justice, hope, healing, enlightenment and freedom to the poor, the discouraged, the sick, the prisoners and those who live in darkness.  We too must follow Jesus in the way of love.  Let us use our heart to love and not our head so that we can feel the heart of God.

In the final analysis, to love the way Jesus loved, and how God loves us, we need His Spirit to “bring true justice to the nations.”  The strength and capacity of His love came from His Father.  He was full of compassion even towards His enemies.  His sense of justice and passion for His mission came from the Father’s love in Him.  He lived and died for His Father. Even when persecuted, condemned and crucified, He never failed to cling to His Father; “The Lord is my light and my help; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; before whom shall I shrink? I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.  Hope in the Lord!”  Both Father and Son, because of their deep love for us, emptied themselves of each other for the sake of us all so that we will never doubt their unconditional and total love for us.


Written by The Most Rev William Goh

Bible; Jesus Christ; Revealing Himself; Resurrection; Mary Magdalene Painting - Jesus Revealing Himself To Mary Magdalene by William Brassey Hole

Commentary on John 12:1-11 from Living Space

Today’s Gospel serves as a lovely prelude to the Passion of Jesus.

Jesus is back in the house of his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, recently brought back from the dead. Perhaps these are his last moments of companionship before the horrors that are to come. True to character, Martha is the active hostess. Mary, the contemplative, brings in a jar of an expensive perfumed unguent and pours it all over the feet of Jesus, filling the house with its fragrance. It is a sign of great love and echoes what the “sinful” woman in Luke’s gospel also did.

.This account is probably the same as that described in Mark 14:3-9 and Matthew 26:6-13 but is distinct from the story of the woman in Luke 7:36-50.

While the “Beloved Disciple” is a nameless character in John’s gospel, he can be matched by this beloved disciple.

Judas, the spiritually blind materialist, only sees what he regards as terrible waste. Hypocritically he suggests the money would have been better spent helping the poor. John suggests Judas was more interested in getting the money for himself than sharing it with those in need.

Jesus sees an altogether different meaning in Mary’s action. He sees the tremendous love behind the action and interprets it as a symbolical anointing for his burial. Dying as a common criminal, Jesus would normally not have been anointed. (And, in fact, he was not anointed after his burial; when the women went to do the act on Sunday morning, Jesus was already risen.)

“You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.” This is not to be understood any cynical way. The poor cannot be truly loved except in God and in Jesus.

“As often as you do it to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you do it to me.” Only those who truly love God (whatever name they call him) are able truly to love the poor and all those in need. And vice versa. Also, in Jewish tradition there was disagreement as to whether giving alms to the poor or burying the dead (which would include anointing) was the greater act of mercy. Those in favour of burial thought it an essential condition for sharing in the final resurrection.

Finally, we are told Lazarus’ own life is in danger as well as Jesus’. Lazarus is seen as the living sign of Jesus’ divine power and so they both must be wiped out. Many of the Church’s martyrs died for the same reason. The word ‘martyr’ means ‘witness’, witnessing to the truth, love and power of Christ.

Am I willing to be a martyr-witness for Christ, to stand beside him on the cross as he is mocked and insulted? This is the week for me to find the answer to that question.





Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue to proceed into the Holy Week, and in a few days’ time we shall be commemorating the three days of Easter Triduum, the heart of our faith, when we commemorate the time when our Lord instituted the Eucharist, and giving up His Body and Blood, He suffered and died for us, so that by His resurrection from the dead, He gave us a new life and a new hope that sin and death can be overcome.

Today we heard the hypocrisy of Judas, who criticised Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who had poured a whole jar of very expensive perfume made of pure spikenard on the feet of Jesus and wiped it dry with her hair. In another account, the woman who anointed Jesus with perfume also anointed His head with the same perfume, and she was criticised all the same.

As mentioned, Judas did not do so because he cared for the poor in any way, and he did it because he was a thief and a cheater, who stole the money from the common fund of the Apostles, which was meant for the poor and the needy. Thus, he spoke a lie and brought about calumny and injustice to another. His inability to resist the temptation of money, desire and the impurities in his heart led him to do what he had done, that is to betray his own Lord and Master, for a mere thirty pieces of silver.

Just for your knowledge, that when Joseph, the son of Jacob was sold by his brothers out of jealousy into slavery, he was priced at about the same price. And at that price, they were valued at even lower than animals. A good quality animal would have fetched far higher prices than those which Judas received for betraying his Lord and which the brothers sold Joseph with.

Thus we value so low the Lord who had loved us all completely and sincerely with all of His heart, we looked down on He who was tortured, mocked and rejected for our sake, who died for us on the cross, so that we might be saved. We did not appreciate the things which He had done for us, and all the hard works which He had undertaken for our own good.

We are often tempted and our minds and hearts clouded with worldly things such as greed, pride, pleasures of the flesh and many others. The Pharisees, the elders and the chief priests were all infected with the disease of greed and jealousy, as well as fear and insecurity. They were all concerned only with preserving themselves and their own livelihoods. This is why, even though they were supposed to be the ones with wisdom and knowledge of the Scriptures, they refused to believe in Jesus and instead trying to undermine His works by plotting against Lazarus whom Jesus had resurrected from the dead.

They were manipulated by the wickedness and malice that Satan had planted in their hearts, which also exist in all of us. They were afraid of losing their position of honour and the respect which they have been accorded with by the society. They did not want to take a risk with the Romans, whom they were afraid that they would destroy all of their livelihood. And similarly with Judas, Satan manipulated his greed and desire for money, and in the end they destroyed and condemned only themselves.

It is a lesson for all of us that we cannot be hypocrites in our faith. Instead, we truly have to live out our faith, through our own actions. And we cannot be divided in our faith, just as we cannot have two masters. We cannot both serve God and worldly things, and as Jesus mentioned, that we will either despise one and love the other or we will not be sincere in our faith as a whole.

Therefore, let us all reflect on this occasion, and take steps to change our lives for the better. We can make a difference by committing ourselves more and more to the cause of the Lord. Now the choice is in our hands to make that difference. Let us therefore emerge from this Lenten observation, a better, more dedicated and more faithful servant of God. God bless us all. Amen.


Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
• We have entered into Holy Week, the week of the Passover of Jesus, of his passing from this world to the Father (Jn 13, 1). Liturgy today places before us the beginning of chapter 12 of the Gospel of John, which serves as a link between the Book of the Signs (cc 1-11) and the Book of the Glorification (cc 13-21). At the end of the “Book of Signs” there appears, very clearly the tension between Jesus and the religious authority of the time (Jn 10, 19-21.39) and the danger which Jesus was facing. Several times they had tried to kill him (Jn 10, 31; 11, 8. 53; 12, 10).
So much it was like this that Jesus was obliged to lead a clandestine life, because he could be arrested at any moment (Jn 10, 40; 11, 54).
• John 12, 1-2: Jesus persecuted by the Jews, goes to Bethany. Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany to the house of his friends Martha and Mary and of Lazarus. Bethany means, House of Poverty. The police was looking for him (Jn 11, 57). They wanted to kill him (Jn 11, 50). But even now that the police was looking for Jesus, Mary, Martha and Lazarus received him in their house and offered him something to eat. Because love overcomes fear.
• John 12, 3: Mary anoints Jesus. During the meal, Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with a pound of perfume of pure spikenard (cf. Lk 7, 36-50). It was a very costly perfume, so very expensive that it cost three hundred denarii. Then she dried his feet with her hair. The whole house was filled with the scent of the ointment. Mary does not speak during this whole episode. She only acts. The gesture filled with symbolism speaks for itself. In washing the feet, Mary becomes a servant. Jesus will repeat the gesture at the Last Supper (Jn 13, 5).
• John 12, 4-6: Reaction of Judas. Judas criticizes the gesture of Mary. He thinks that it is a waste. In fact, three hundred denarii were the wages of three hundred days! The wages of almost a whole year spent in one time alone! Judas thinks that the money should have been given to the poor. The Evangelist comments and says that Judas had no concern at all for the poor, but that he was a thief. They had a common fund and he stole the money. A strong judgment which condemns Judas.
It does not condemn the concern for the poor, but the hypocrisy which uses the poor for self promotion and to enrich oneself. Judas, in his own egoistic interests, thought only about money. This is why he was not aware of what Mary kept in her heart. Jesus reads in the heart and defends Mary.
• John 12, 7-8: Jesus defends the woman, Judas thinks only of the waste and criticizes the woman. Jesus thinks of the gesture and defends the woman: “Leave her alone; so that she can keep it for the day of my burial!” And immediately Jesus says: “You have the poor with you always; you will not always have me!” Which of the two lived closer to Jesus: Judas or Mary? Judas, the disciple, lived together with Jesus for almost three years, twenty-four hours a day. He was part of the group.
Mary saw him once or twice a year, on the occasion of some feast, when Jesus went to Jerusalem and visited her in her house. But to live together with, not having any love does not help us to know others. Rather it blinds people. Judas was blind. Many people live together with Jesus and praise him even with many hymns, but do not truly know him and do not reveal him (cf. Mt 7, 21). Two affirmations of Jesus merit a more detailed comment: (a) “You have the poor with you always” and (b) let her keep it for the day of my burial”.
(a) “You have the poor with you always “. Is it perhaps that Jesus wants to say that we should not be concerned about the poor, given the fact that there will always be poor? Or does he want to say that poverty is the destiny imposed by God? How is this phrase to be understood? At that time, persons knew the Old Testament by heart. It sufficed for Jesus to begin quoting a phrase of the Old Testament and persons already knew the rest.
The beginning of the phrase said: “There will never cease to be poor people in the country” (Dt 15, 11ª). The rest of the phrase which people already knew and which Jesus wants to remind is the following: “And this is why I am giving you this command: always be open handed with your brother, and with anyone in your country who is in need and is poor!” (Dt 15, 11b).
According to this Law, the community should accept the poor and share its goods with them. But, Judas instead of “opening his hand to help the poor” and to share his goods with them, wanted to do charity with the money of others! He wanted to sell the perfume of Mary for three hundred denarii and use it to help the poor. Jesus quotes the Law of God which taught the contrary. Anyone who, like Judas, carries out a campaign with the money of the sale of the goods of other does not disturb or trouble. But, the one who, like Jesus, insists on the obligation to accept the poor and to share with them one’s own goods, this one disturbs, troubles and runs the risk of being condemned.
(b) John 12, 9-11: The crowds and the authority. To be the friend of Jesus could be dangerous. Lazarus is in danger of death because of the new life received from Jesus. The Jews had decided to kill him. Lazarus alive was a living proof that Jesus was the Messiah. This is why the crowd was looking for him, because people wanted to experience closely the living proof of the power of Jesus. A living community runs the risk of its life because it is the living proof of the Good News of God!
Personal questions
• Mary was misinterpreted by Judas. Have you been misinterpreted sometimes?
• What does this text of Mary teach us? What does the reaction of Judas say to us?
Concluding Prayer
Yahweh is my light and my salvation,
whom should I fear?
Yahweh is the fortress of my life,
whom should I dread? (Ps 27,1)
Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
21 MARCH 2016, Monday of Holy Week
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ IS 42:1-7; JN 12:1-11 ]

As we enter into Holy Week, the Church invites us to contemplate more deeply on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For this reason, Holy Week begins with the celebration of Palm Sunday, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to face His death.  At the same time, the reading of the passion prepares us for what is ahead for Christ.  It therefore calls for a deeper reflection of His passion for us.   How can this be done?

Firstly, we must deepen our understanding of His passion through knowledge.  In the first reading, we are told that Jesus, who is the suffering servant, brings justice to the nations by gently inviting us to reflect on our own lives.  As the light of the nations, “he does not cry out or shout aloud, or make his voice heard in the streets. He does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame.”

But more importantly, the understanding of His passion cannot stop at mere intellectual appreciation.   We must feel with Jesus in our hearts, for that is what common passion is all about.  Instead of words alone, Jesus acted decisively through deeds of love and works of wonders, for as God said, “I have appointed you as covenant of the people and light of the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.”  Indeed, Jesus was able to show that God is our light and our salvation not only through His words, but also by His actions and miracles.  And as the psalmist wonderfully declared, “The Lord is my light and my salvation. When evildoers come at me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies themselves stumble and fall. Though an army encamps against me, my heart will not fear; though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust.”

This is what Mary in the gospel teaches us as well.  She loved Jesus so passionately that she even anointed His feet with expensive ointment and wiped them with her hair shamelessly.  Mary understood the true meaning of hospitality and making space for God in prayer.  In the earlier episode when Jesus visited her, she gave full attention to Jesus by listening to Him instead of being distracted by doing things for Him.  On this occasion she knew, unlike her elder sister, that faith and love in action was also necessary.  She anointed the body of Jesus for burial, and most of all, worshipped Him as the Christ by washing His feet and wiping them with her hair.  Not only did she love Jesus, but she also recognized Him and worshipped Him.

Of course, Judas could not understand because his love for Jesus was not from the heart but from the head.  Indeed, without love, we tend to think and reason only from the head.  Logically, what Judas said about saving the money for the poor was not wrong.  Yet, love goes beyond mere logic alone.   Jesus understood this truth when He said, “’Leave her alone; she had to keep this scent for the day of my burial. You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.’”   So too the Jewish leaders as well!  They were too full of hatred and jealousy to see the good works that Jesus did.  Ironically, the evangelist says that “the chief priests decided to kill Lazarus as well, since it was on his account that many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus.”

When we love someone we do not think in terms of logic, and definitely not in terms of money.  Love does not count the cost.  That is why parents would do anything for their children, even if they have to sell their assets or borrow money for their sake.   When we love, we will do anything and everything within our capacity for our loved ones.  When love is lacking, then we tend to act on the rational level and become calculative.  True love is never calculative.

Today, let us follow  Mary and Martha in preparing for the passion of Christ.  Let us wait on Jesus as Martha did, in serving Him through good works and sacrifices.  But more importantly, let us follow the path of Mary who shared the passion of Jesus by being one with Him in His moment of anxiety and aloneness in His sufferings.  Through our common passion with Jesus in prayer and in love, we will be able to appreciate His love for us even more.


Written by The Most Rev William Goh

Islamic State claims bombings on 2 Egypt Coptic churches that killed 36, wounded dozens — “There was blood all over the floor and body parts scattered” — “Civilized people don’t act this way.” — “Coptic Christians face regular attacks by Muslim neighbours”

April 9, 2017
Reuters and AFP
Sunday, April 9, 2017

Egypt: Alexandria Christian church bombing death toll rises to 11 — Coptic Pope Tawadros II had been attending a Palm Sunday Mass

April 9, 2017



CAIRO (AFP) – At least 11 people were killed in an Alexandria church bombing on Sunday, hours after a blast killed 25 worshippers in another church in Egypt, the health ministry said.Thirty-five people were wounded in the Alexandria blast at Saint Mark’s church where Coptic Pope Tawadros II had been attending a Palm Sunday Mass.

A Coptic Church official said that Tawadros had left the church before the blast.

An earlier blast at a church in Tanta, north of Cairo, killed 25 people and wounded dozens, the health ministry said, in an apparent attack on Coptic worshippers.

Copts, who make up about one tenth of Egypt’s population of more than 92 million and who celebrate Easter next weekend, have been targeted by several attacks in recent months.

Pope Francis is due to visit Cairo on April 28-29 to show solidarity with Egypt’s Christian community.



11 killed, 40 injured by ISIS suicide bomb attack at Coptic church in Alexandria

11 killed, 40 injured by ISIS suicide bomb attack at Coptic church in Alexandria
Up to 11 people have been killed and 40 injured following a suicide bomb attack at a Coptic Christian Cathedral in Alexandria, according to Egypt’s Health Ministry as cited by state media.

This follows another suicide bomb attack in Tanta, Egypt earlier Sunday morning. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) have claimed responsibility for both bomb attacks in Egypt.


Islamic State claims Egypt church bombings in Alexandria and Tanta per Amaq

Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria, had finished celebrating Palm Sunday mass at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral and had left the scene when the explosion took place. He is reported unhurt.

The Egypt Independent reported a heightened security presence and that authorities had been placed on alert in anticipation of such attacks on Palm Sunday.

At least 11 killed, 66 injured in explosion at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria: 

The attack earlier this morning at St. George’s Coptic church in Tanta, approximately 130 km (80 miles) southeast of Alexandria killed at least 21 people and injured a further 38.

READ MORE: At least 21 dead after church bombing in Egyptian city 90km from Cairo

An image uploaded to Twitter corroborated by RT shows the scene at Al Akbat, a street adjacent to the Cathedral, following the blast.

الشارع اللى فيه الكنسيه اللى انفجرت فيها القنبله ف اسكندرية

No group has claimed responsibility for either blast so far and no relation between the two has been established but these appear to be coordinated attacks, local media have reported.

The US Embassy in Cairo has expressed its condolences while condemning the blasts as “heinous, reprehensible terrorist attacks”on Twitter.

The U.S. Embassy condemns the heinous, reprehensible terrorist attack…(1/5)

No group has claimed responsibility for either blast so far and no relation between the two has been established.

Violence against Coptic christians has risen in recent years following the military coup in 2013. A bomb attack outside a Coptic cathedral in Cairo killed 25 and wounded 49 people in December of last year.

Crowds can be seen gathered at Al Akbat Church street in video corroborated by RT uploaded to YouTube following the blast.

Palm Sunday in Egypt: 27 killed in blasts in, near Coptic churches

April 9, 2017

Pope Francis Prepares The Faithful for Palm Sunday, Holy Week — God tells Abraham that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens and as the sand on the seashore — Today we are able to say, “I am one of those stars. I am a grain of sand.”

April 9, 2017

2017-04-06 Vatican Radio

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ GN 17:3-9; PS 104:4-9; JN 8:51-59]

(Vatican Radio) God is always faithful to His Covenant: He kept faith with Abraham and He is faithful to the salvation promised in His Son. That was the message of Pope Francis during the morning Mass on Thursday at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope called on those present to pause during the day to reflect on their own life story, in order to discover the beauty of the love of God, even in the midst of difficulties, which afflict everyone in this life.

Pope Francis’ homily revolved around the figure of Abraham, who is at the centre of the day’s liturgy. The first Reading narrates the story of the Covenant God made with Abraham; while in the Gospel, both Jesus and the Pharisees refer to “Father” Abraham, because he is the father of “this people that today is the Church.” Abraham trusted and obeyed when he was called to go to a new land that he would receive as an inheritance.

Abraham, a man of faith, knew by experience that God had not deceived him

A man of faith and of hope, Abraham believed when he was told that he would have a child although he was 100 years old, and his wife was sterile – “he believed against every hope.” “If anyone wanted to give a description of the life of Abraham, he could say, ‘This guy is a dreamer,’” the Pope said. He explained that Abraham had something of the dreamer in him, but it was “that dream of hope”; he wasn’t crazy:

“Put to the test, after having had a child, a boy, a young child, he was asked to offer him in sacrifice: he obeyed, and went forward against all hope. And this is our father Abraham, who goes forward, forward, forward; and when Jesus says Abraham saw his day, saw Jesus, he was full of joy. He saw Him in promise, he saw that joy of seeing the fullness of the promise of the covenant, the joy of seeing that God had not deceived him, that God – as we prayed in the responsorial psalm – is always faithful to His covenant.”

The psalm also invites us to call to mind the wonders God performs. For us, the descendants of Abraham, it’s like thinking of our father who has passed away, and yet we remember the good things about him and we think: “He was a great father!”

Abraham obeys and believes against all hope

The Covenant, on Abraham’s part, consists in having always obeyed, the Pope said. On God’s part, He has promised to make Abraham “the father of a multitude of nations.” “No longer shall you be called Abram, but Abraham,” the Lord says. And Abraham believed. Then, in another dialogue, God tells him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens and as the sand on the seashore. And today we are able to say, “I am one of those stars. I am a grain of sand.”

Looking to history: we are a people

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky and outdoor

Between Abraham and us, there is another Story, the Pope said, the story of the heavenly Father and of Jesus. This is why Jesus told the Pharisees that Abraham exulted in the hope of seeing “my day” – “he saw it, and was glad.” This is the great message; and the Church today invites us to pause and to look to “our roots,” “our father,” who “has made us a people, a heaven full of stars, a beach full of grains of sand”:

“Looking to history: I am not alone, I am a people. We go together. The Church is a people. But a people dreamed of by God, a people He has given a father on Earth who obeyed; and we have a Brother who has given His life for us, to make us a people. And so we are able to look upon the Father, to give thanks; to look upon Jesus, to give thanks; to look upon Abraham and ourselves, who are part of the journey.”

God is faithful: we should pause in order to discover, even amid the difficulties of this life, the beauty of the love of God

The Holy Father then invited us to make today “a day of memory,” pointing out that “in this great Story, in the framework of God and Jesus, there is the little story of each one of us”:

“I invite you today to take five minutes, ten minutes, to sit down – without the radio, without the television – to sit down and reflect on your own story: the blessings and the troubles, everything. The graces and the sins, everything. And to see there the faithfulness of that God who remained faithful to His Covenant, remained faithful to the promise He made to Abraham, remained faithful to the salvation He promised in His Son, Jesus. I’m certain that in the midst of all of the perhaps ugly things – because we all have them, so many ugly things in this life – if we do this today, we will discover the beauty of the love of God, the beauty of His mercy, the beauty of hope. And I am sure that we will all be full of joy.”

(from Vatican Radio)