Monday, October 2, 2017

If I Must Give One and Only One Reason Why I Support Fountain of Love and Life



“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord…so that you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia” (1 Thes 1:6-7).

Which is easier? Admitting that we are sinners or setting good examples for others to follow? I would submit to you that the latter is a hundred times more difficult to do.

If a bridge is built to fall, it can be constructed easily since its collapse is expected and its demolition all but inevitable. But if it’s meant to be used to carry heavy traffic safely, then it must be engineered properly, built carefully, and tested rigorously before it can be licensed for public use. Setting good examples for others is like building a good bridge. To be worthy of people’s trust and even imitation, we must make sure “that no fault may be found with our ministry”, lest our flaws, however minuscule, become the reason for those looking up to us to stumble (2 Cor 6:3). Paul is pleased with the Thessalonian church because their good efforts have made them worthy of being “a model” for the believers of the neighboring communities. Expecting no less from himself and the church leaders, he also invites the Thessalonians to become “imitators of us and of the Lord” (1 Thes 1:6).

In all these years of volunteering for the Fountain of Love and Life (FLL), the blessings that the good Lord has granted me are more than I can count. But if I must pick the most important one, I would say it’s the opportunity to work and associate closely with a good number of true followers of Christ whose determination to live out the Catholic faith in a radical way is unshakable. For them, St. Paul’s conviction about life - “life is Christ, and death is gain” - is more than just a motto; it’s their only way to live (Phil 1:21).

If my Christian values and my way of life as a serious follower of Christ are causing me to feel increasingly marginalized and isolated in a world that is getting more and more secularized, relativized (no right or wrong), and is in danger of drifting further and further away from God, here in the community of FLL I find support and fellowship that make me feel perfectly at home. It’s a community of good Catholics who come together not for their own sake but for the sake of helping others; a community that bonds as one not because they feel the need to recoil, but because they want to reach out.

It’s also a community that is not afraid to profess to be “the aroma of Christ” (2 Cor 2:15). Like St. Paul, they do not retreat and hide; they stand up and make public their ambition: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). True to Jesus’ teaching, they aspire to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world; they invite people to their home base to “come and see” (Jn 1:39). By exercising their special calling to evangelize, their desire is to offer up their bodies – their whole lives! – “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Rom 12:1). Their wish is to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into a pleasing fragrance that brings life, a sweet smell that elicits hope, a comforting breath that speaks the language of love. The sensation is unmistakable; the charisma irresistible. In them I sense holiness, and holiness attracts.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Please Sponsor Me to Walk for Fountain of Love and Life!

Over the last 20 years, many things about me have changed: age, outlook, work, way of living, you name it. But one thing that remains unchanged is my passion to spread the Good News of Christ - a passion driven by joy, enlightened by His Word, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. While some of my programs have been invaluable in enabling me to carry out my lay apostolate of evangelization, their effectiveness in reaching out to a larger and wider audience certainly would have been quite limited without the powerful media platforms of Fountain of Love and Life.

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, I will join the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Challenge to fund raise for Fountain of Love and Life. Many of you share my passion to spread the Gospel and are strong supporters of my programs. I know I will be able to count on your generous support for this very meaningful fundraising initiative. Please click on the following link to my personal fundraising page to make a donation:

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Walkathon - Edmond Lo's Personal Fundraising Page

Thus I do not run aimlessly...No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:26-27). I know I will not run(walk) aimlessly with your generous support either in money or in prayer or both! God bless you for your generosity!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Justification Is Never a Legalistic Endeavor



Ezekiel’s teaching in today’s first reading remains somewhat theoretical until it is understood in the context of Jesus’ parable of the two sons (Mt 21:28-32).

Ezekiel’s “wicked man” who “has turned away from all the sins which he committed” (Ez 18:27-28) is the first son in Jesus’ parable, whose disobedience turned into an act of love (working in the vineyard for his father and family members) after he “changed his mind” (Mt 21:30). He is compared to tax collectors and prostitutes – considered sinners in Jesus’ time – whose repentance, as shown in their willingness to follow John the Baptist, brings them the grace of “entering the kingdom of God before [the chief priests and elders]” (Mt. 21:31).

The virtuous man who “turns away from virtue to commit iniquity” in Ezekiel’s exhortation (Ez 18:26), on the other hand, is the second son in Jesus’ parable, who is originally obedient to the father but eventually chooses not to do good work (Mt. 21:30). He represents the chief priests and elders, who heard John the Baptist’s call for repentance but “did not later change [their] minds and believe him” (Mt. 21:32). The punishment for such hardness of heart is severe: death according to Ezekiel (Ez. 18:26) and deemed worse than the tax collectors and prostitutes in Jesus’ parable (Mt. 21:31).

It’s hard to miss the common thread connecting Ezekiel’s message and Jesus’ parable - repentance. What is needed is a change of heart – a “turning from the wickedness” in Ezekiel’s word (Ez 18:27), or the first son’s change of mind to rescind his previous decision to disobey his father in Jesus’ parable (Mt 21:29). It’s a complete backtracking just as one is about to fall off the cliff; the result of a beautiful conversion, made possible not by human efforts but by God’s mercies, achieved not because one works hard but because his heart is touched and transformed by the Holy Spirit.

“Remember your mercies, O Lord.” Together we chant in the Responsorial Psalm to drive home this very important message.

The beauty of the Christian faith is that justification is never a legalistic endeavor: it’s not about relying on our own effort to “right a wrong”, even if it’s important to do so; it’s not about “an eye for an eye”, even though it seems fair. The flip side of this legalistic mindset is a misguided self-sufficiency, or arrogance, even narcissism: I fix my own mistake; I do good work and I deserve the recognition; I…I…I... Justification is not from the internal “I”, it’s from the external “He”; justification is not about ability, it’s about humility; justification is not a human pursuit, it’s divine mercy.

Remember your mercies, O Lord. Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, and teaches the humble his way (Psalm 25:6, 8-9).

Monday, August 28, 2017

Jesus, the Master Story-Teller

Of all the parables of Jesus, I find the parable of the laborers in the vineyard particularly intriguing and thought-provoking. The story never fails to elicit strong reactions from its listeners that include disbelief, protest, or even outright anger. But once properly understood, its reward for those who care to really listen is the consolation of a big “Aha” moment and the priceless satisfaction of seeing the truth more clearly.

A skillful story-teller that Jesus is, he knows just what to say to break the apathy of the human mind so that it’s back into focus and ready for wisdom. To do so sometimes he may say something that seems to defy all logic and generally accepted norms, as is the case in this Sunday’s gospel. How can it be fair for the landowner to pay all laborers in the vineyard the same usual daily wage regardless of how many hours they have worked? People wonder aloud. When they realize that the landowner in the parable refers to God, it triggers in them even more discomfort and resentment: Isn’t God just and righteous? Why does He act like a tyrant who does whatever He pleases? The progression from bewilderment to resentment and then to strong protest can come in quick successions.

The key to understanding this parable is to see the “usual daily wage” not as a monetary compensation for work done, but as God’s grace freely given to save first the people of Israel and later the Gentiles. The fact that God’s saving grace is extended equally to both Israel, who took part in God’s plan of salvation first, and the late-coming Gentiles suggests not unfairness on God’s part, but His generosity and mercy. (Ref: Ignatius Catholic Study Bible commentary on this parable.)

The concept that proves so difficult to grasp for so many people is that God’s grace, i.e. the “usual daily wage” in the parable, is something that cannot be earned. Contrary to human understanding, which is often blinded by our earthly way of life, the kingdom of heaven - the subject matter of this parable - is not a “market place”. Unlike this world, which, due to human limitations, is dominated by consumerism and the principle of buying and selling, the kingdom of heaven is powered by God’s grace alone, which, shocking as it may sound, is not for sale. Neither is grace something that can be bought or earned by mere human efforts (cf. Fr. Richard Rohr, Things Hidden – Scripture as Spirituality, 2008, p. 160).

Now that we know better what grace is, we would appreciate more what the prophet Isaiah said when he proclaimed the magnificent gifts that God would lavish on His people: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!” (Is. 55:1)

Shocking, isn’t it? Don’t know about you, but to me the parable is more like a shock therapy for resuscitating our hearts which are totally numb, or a powerful stimulant for rejuvenating our brains which are all but dead. No, I’m not talking about drugs. I’m talking about Jesus, the master story-teller, who knows exactly what to say to revive us from apparent death.

Friday, August 11, 2017

2017-18聖經研討會接受報名

2017-18年度聖經研討會將查考《希伯來人書》。主耶穌的祭獻與耶路撒冷聖殿內的祭獻有何不同?這聖祭和彌撒聖祭有何關係?為甚麽忠實奉行因洗禮而領受了的司祭職是人生命的滿全?歡迎參加聖經研討會,和我們一起在聖言內成長。詳情如下:

聚會日期: 由今年九月廿二日起至下年六月九日止
聚會時間: 每月第四個星期五晚上7:45至10:00
聚會地點: 中華殉道聖人堂土庫。用粵語進行。
領航員: Edmond Lo, 神學碩士、慕道班導師、講者
講義費: 每位$10
報名: 請往堂區詢問處登記。
網上報名: cmccbsp.org
聯絡人: Louisa Lam louisalam2002@gmail.com

Sunday, August 6, 2017

ANNOUNCEMENT: Fountain of Love and Life Spiritual Formation Program 2017-2018

Hope everyone is enjoying the nice summery weather while it is here! With the temperatures trending down and the green foliage of summer shedding its luster ever so slightly, summer is quietly slipping out the back door like a guest too embarrassed to announce his departure. This means a new school year for our children is about to begin. Here at Fountain of Love and Life (FLL), it’s also time for us to gear up for a new year of spiritual formation.

The FLL Spiritual Formation Program (FLL SFP) meets on the second Monday of every month from September to June. Our meeting takes place in the FLL studio from 8:00 to 10 p.m.. Hosted by Edmond Lo (MTS, speaker and RCIA catechist), the program’s objective is to provide the FLL volunteers, staff members, and supporters with an opportunity for spiritual enrichment and fellowship. Using DVDs produced by renowned Catholic speakers and scholars, it helps the participants to acquire a better understanding of the Catholic faith and appreciate more the riches of the tradition of the Catholic Church.

After taking a brief, 2-month summer break, the program is scheduled to resume on Monday, September 11, 2017. For 2017-2018, the focus of our attention will shift from Symbolon – the DVD series that we studied in the last two years - to Bishop Robert Barron’s exciting and brand-new DVD series – The Pivotal Players. Four pivotal players of the Church have been selected for our study this year, namely, Blessed John Henry Newman (The Convert), St. Catherine of Siena (The Mystic), Michelangelo (The Artist), and St. Thomas Aquinas (The Theologian). In addition, two of the Symbolon episodes that remain unviewed, namely, “Building a Civilization of Love”, and “Protecting the Dignity of the Human Person”, have also been included in this year’s program.

Please take a moment to read the time schedule of the 2017-2018 program copied below this announcement. We invite you to mark the meeting dates in your calendar and do your best to join us. If you cannot commit to attending every month, you are welcome to attend only the topics that are of interest to you. As usual, we will send you a reminder before every meeting.

We would also like to welcome back our beloved brothers and sisters of the Vancouver Chapter who joined us through tele-conferencing last year. Kindly pass along the information to those who may not be on our list.

“The presence of Christ is embodied in the lives of real people” (Bishop R. Barron, The Pivotal Players Study Guide). Together with Bishop Barron, let’s meet these distinguished men and women of the Church who have not only shaped the life of the Church but changed the course of civilization. Let’s pray that their lives, which truly exemplify the meaning of holiness, will inspire us to accept the universal call to holiness.



Fountain of Love and Life
Spiritual Formation Program
2017-2018 Schedule

Mon, Sept 11, 2017 - Pivotal Players - Blessed John Henry Newman (The Convert), Part I: Anglican and Catholic Times
Mon, Oct 16, 2017 - Pivotal Players - Blessed John Henry Newman (The Convert), Part II: Major Works
Mon, Nov 13, 2017 - Symbolon - Catholic Social Teaching: Building a Civilization of Love
Mon, Dec 11, 2017 - Pivotal Players – St. Catherine of Siena (The Mystic), Part I: Her Life
Mon, Jan 8, 2018 - Pivotal Players – St. Catherine of Siena (The Mystic), Part II: Her Theology, Visions and Ecstasies
Mon, Feb 12, 2018 - Symbolon – Catholic Social Teaching: Protecting the Dignity of the Human Person
Mon, Mar 12, 2018 - Pivotal Players – Michelangelo (The Artist), Part I: Life and Times
Mon, Apr 9, 2018 - Pivotal Players – Michelangelo (The Artist), Part II: The Sistine Chapel
Mon, May 7, 2018 - Pivotal Players – St. Thomas Aquinas (The Theologian), Part I: Life and Times
Mon, Jun 11, 2018 - Pivotal Players – St. Thomas Aquinas (The Theologian), Part II: His Theology

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Why Is Jesus "the Son of Man"?

Last year the CMCC Bible Study Program celebrated 15 years of studying the Bible and growing together in the word of God. The book we studied to commemorate this special year was Daniel. As usual, the program ended in June, but it will begin anew in September together with my other programs and activities. The two summer months in between provide me with a cushion not only to take a break but also to rejuvenate, study, plan, and get ready for next year.

With the fascinating and sometimes frightening images of the Book of Daniel still fresh in my head – the statue of four metals being smashed by a pulverizing stone, three young men worshipping God safely in a burning fiery furnace, Daniel being protected by God’s angel in the den of lions, the visions of the four beasts, etc. – I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Church would use one of the most well-known Danielic images – the enthronement in heaven of “the Son of man” – as a key theme that connects all three readings of the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

The influence that the Book of Daniel has on Christianity is profound and indisputable. The New Testament books, particularly some of the Pauline epistles and the Book of Revelation, often take symbols, images, and phrases straight out of Daniel to demonstrate that the Danielic prophecies have come to fulfillment in Jesus. Jesus himself also refers to Daniel on numerous occasions, including calling himself the “Son of man” and linking his own eschatological glory to Daniel’s vision of the Son of man riding on the clouds of heaven (Mt. 24:30, 26:64).

The Church Fathers are quick to recognize the theological significance of the “Son of man” in Daniel’s vision. Ancient Jewish tradition identified this title with a heavenly Messiah (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, comment on Daniel 7:13, p.32). In addition to its messianic implication, the Church Fathers see in this unusual title the mystery of God taking on human nature, and in doing so perfecting and elevating it to a lofty height inconceivable to the human mind and unreachable by mere human efforts. This gives us a more profound understanding of why our “hope in the Lord” will enable us to “soar as with eagles’ wings” (Isaiah 40:31). St. Athanasius explains this overpowering mystery of the divinization of humanity in the most succinct way possible: “The Son of God became the Son of man so that the sons of men could become the sons of God” (CCC 460).

Of all the experiences that Peter encounters on Mount Tabor (generally believed to be the holy site of Transfiguration), he remembers one in particular: the Father’s confirmation of Jesus as “my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (2 Pt 1:17). For Peter, the confirmation is a powerful assurance that enables him to believe “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” cannot be one of those “cleverly devised myths” (2 Pt 1:16).

Finally, we can’t blame Peter for appearing a little overwhelmed, if not downright disoriented, when he proposes to make three tents on the Mount of Transfiguration: “one for [Jesus], one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Mt. 17:4). After all, revealed for the eyes of Peter, James and John to behold at the Transfiguration is “a sublime expression of God’s glory and, in a certain sense, a glimpse of heaven on earth” that have proven too much even for Elijah and Moses to see (BXVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, n.35; 1 Kgs 19:13; Ex 33:20-23).