Sunday, 10 February 2013 : 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Chinese New Year) (Psalm)

Psalm 137 : 1-2a, 2bc-3, 4-5, 7c-8

I thank You, o Lord, with all my heart, for You have heard the word of my lips. I sing Your praise in the presence of the gods. I bow down towards Your holy Temple and give thanks to Your Name.

For Your love and faithfulness, for Your word which exceeds everything. You answered me when I called; You restored my soul and made me strong.

O Lord, all kings on earth will give You praise, when they have heard Your words. They will celebrate the ways of the Lord, “Great is the glory of the Lord!”

With Your right hand You deliver me. How the Lord cares for me! Your kindness, o Lord, endures forever. Forsake not the work of Your hands.

A great article from the weekly bulletin of Church of St. Francis Xavier, Archdiocese of Singapore on Chinese New Year and Its Significance to Chinese Christians

This article was excellently written, especially when trying to harmonise and find the common ground between the Chinese culture and the Christian faith, which although they have their fundamental differences, there are similarities that we should not ignore.

It is fitting indeed that Chinese New Year celebration this year falls on Sunday, 10 February 2013, which is also the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, whose readings have parallels with the core of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Please spend some time to read this article, and especially for Chinese Christians out there, to make the Chinese New Year celebrations we have, into a truly Christian celebration. Not just of partying and feasting, but also to show and spread love and joy, and sharing them with one another, giving thanks to Christ who made all things possible.

Pope Benedict XVI to canonise 813 Martyrs of Otranto, and religious Mother Laura and Mother Lupita in October 2013

Pope Benedict XVI will canonise the blessed Martyrs of Otranto, 813 of them in total, whose skulls can still be seen in the Cathedral of Otranto behind the main altar. These martyrs lost their lives defending their faith during the Ottoman invasion and raid on southern Italy in 1480, 27 years after the fall of Constantinople.

These 813 brave martyrs chose death rather than turning their back on the Lord, and were massacred by the Ottomans by beheading on the hill after refusing conversion to Islam.

Mother Laura and Mother Lupita are Latin American saints-to-be, with Mother Laura being the very first Colombian saint, and Mother Lupita as the second Mexican saint. Mother Laura and Mother Lupita were noted for founding religious congregations, namely Missionaries of St. Mary Immaculate and St. Catherine of Siena, and Handmaids of Saint Margaret Mary and of the Poor respectively.

(Pope Benedict XVI has canonised 45 Saints to date, and with these new 815 Saints, in October 2013, Pope Benedict XVI will have canonised 860 new Saints of the Church. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II canonised 483 Saints during his Pontificate.)

Let us ask the intercession of these holy peoples, that as they are being recognised finally as saints, due to their merits in life, in defending the Faith, all of us too, can follow in their footsteps, in nurturing our faith and love of God. Amen.

(Update : Since Pope Benedict XVI will retire effective at the end of February 2013, we are waiting for the election and confirmation of the next Bishop of Rome to preside over this canonisation ceremony)

Sunday, 10 February 2013 : 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Chinese New Year) (First Reading)

Isaiah 6 : 1-2a, 3-8

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted; the train of His robe filled the Temple. Above Him were seraphs, each with six wings.

They were calling to one another : “Holy, holy, holy is YHVH Sabaoth. All the earth is filled with His Glory!”

At the sound of their voices, the foundations of the threshold shook and the Temple was filled with smoke. I said, “Poor me! I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips, and yet I have seen the King, YHVH Sabaoth.”

Then one of the seraphs flew to me; in his hands was a live coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

Then, I heard the voice of the Lord, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” I answered, “Here I am. Send me!”

Saturday, 9 February 2013 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

God, is our shepherd, and He is the good shepherd who gave none other but Himself for the sake of His sheep, all of us here in this world, past, present, and the future. We do not entrust ourselves on simply any being, but the very Son of God Himself, whose Precious Blood redeemed us from our sins. Jesus as the good shepherd laid down His life for His sheep, and it is through His obedience of the Father’s will to die on the cross, that all of us today have hope of everlasting life. Without Christ and His Sacrifice, we cannot be so sure of our victory over sin and over evil. Christ, as our shepherd, bought us with nothing else other than His Blood, precious and priceless as it is.

The duties of a shepherd are many, and these include having to feed the flock, the sheep, and to guide them to avoid predators and seek good sources of water and food, for the multitudes of sheep in the flock. Therefore, Christ too, during His ministry in this world, was overcome with the great love He has for us, since above all, He as our shepherd truly loves His sheep, and not like those who are paid to take care of the sheep, Christ, as the good shepherd stood ready to give His life up for us, that all of us will have hope, that is of eternal life in God.

In our world today, there are many forms of temptations and easily, if we do not anchor ourselves strongly in faith in God, and in God’s divine love, we can be led astray by these temptations and succumb to worldly desires, rather than following the path the Lord wants for us. In that state, we are indeed likened to sheep wandering around without a shepherd, running around randomly, just following the current and the flow of the modern society, wherever it brings us to. No, we should strive to take up a stand, in order to stand up to our faith, and give testimonies of our faith in our good shepherd, that we, the sheep, love the Lord too, just as He loves us.

God is so selfless in giving Himself up to pay for our own rebellion against Him. We, who deserved death and eternal separation from Him, were not only given another chance, but were given also the very chance to be the part of creation into which the Lord was incarnated into, as Jesus, as a part of the great effort God has undertaken for the salvation of all mankind.

Despite our rebellious nature, just like the people of Israel, whom, if we read the Old Testament, were very difficult to satisfy and always caused troubles to our Lord by their worship of foreign gods and idols, the Lord was ever-ready to welcome them back if His beloved children are truly repentant, and willing to embrace Him again in love, and this, was sealed as a new Covenant, by the Sacrifice Christ made on the Cross, that justify all of us who believed in Him.

In our own lives, all of us can become shepherds too, to one another. There are many of our dear brothers and sisters, who are still lost and did not know their way, in the darkness of the world. They have yet to receive the light of the Lord, which will illuminate their path. Let us therefore, imitate the example of Christ as the good shepherd, who brought His sheep into good and fertile places, and ensured that they all have ample to eat.

Let us share with one another, the Word of God, our spiritual food, which when shared, we too share in the Lord’s ministry as a shepherd to our fellow brethren in Christ. Support one another in faith, and in love, and do not leave anybody behind in sorrow and hopelessness. Rather, help one another in our way towards Christ, that eventually, all of us, will be reunited with God, who is our Brother, our Good Shepherd, and our loving Father at the same time.

May God bless us all in our daily lives, and give us the courage to live according to our faith, and to share God’s love with all mankind. Amen.

Porta Fidei, the Door of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio – Apostolic Letter released in conjunction with the Year of Faith

For those who have yet to see this magnificent letter from the Pope with regards to the Year of Faith and what it is about, and what we should do to immerse ourselves in this rare chance to greatly deepen our faith, you may read the article in English in the link provided above.

This Year of Faith began last year on 11 October 2012, on the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, and will last until the Feast of Christ the King this year on 24 November 2013.

During this year, we will also celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the passing of Blessed Pope John XXIII (3 June 1963) and the 50th Anniversary of the election of the Venerable Pope Paul VI (21 June 1963). Under these two great popes, the crucial Second Vatican Council was begun and proceeded to reform the Church, of which reform still occur even until today, through the ‘reform of the reform’.

Let us take action to make this Year of Faith meaningful if we have not done so. The 2013 World Youth Day will also be held this July in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil(23-28 July 2013), and for those who are planning to go, this is a great chance to rediscover and renew your faith in God.

Let us take the concrete step to pass through the ‘Door of Faith/Porta Fidei’ and reach out to God, who loves us all.

Saturday, 9 February 2013 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Mark 6 : 30-34

The apostles returned and reported to Jesus all they had done and taught. Then He said to them, “Go off by yourselves to a remote place and have some rest.” For there were so many people coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a secluded area by themselves.

But people saw them leaving, and many could guess where they were going. So, from all the towns, they hurried there on foot, arriving ahead of them.

As Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He had compassion on them for they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began a long teaching session with them.