Monday, 29 April 2013 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters, let us not dwell in the false gods and idols, and remain true in our faith in God our Lord. Let us not be like the pagans at the time who failed to see the truth in God, and instead dwell in their imaginaries deities and gods, made out of earthly materials of stone, wood, silver, or gold. For these are merely empty vessels, vessels of deception by the devil to lure the faithful away from the true faith in God.

For today, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, even though we no longer see and worship idols made out of gold and silver, in the form of pagan and heathen false gods, the likes of Zeus, Hercules, and countless other gods, today in our world, a new kind of idols are rising, and not in the form of merely false gods in craven false imageries, but in the form of money and wealth itself.

For wealth and material possessions had been alluring to mankind for long ages past, and today, with God becoming ever more distant in the hearts of many, because of the rising secularisation and detachment of God from the world, due to the evil forces of relativism and scientific development, which marginalised God from the once central role He had in our daily lives, had become the new gods, which attempt to replace the One, True God in our hearts.

But they will not succeed, for God our Lord is mighty, and His love is everlasting, and despite all the attempts by the evil one to turn mankind away from God, God always stays ahead of Satan’s attempts, and send the helper and the advocate through the Holy Spirit, that inflames the hearts of many of the faithful to love God ever more, and strengthen our faith in Him.

Many of us had become myopic in our obsession with the material and the temporal possessions in this world, and so obsessed that we failed to look beyond our desires and obsession, in order to find the truth that is in the Lord and in His love, which He made manifest through Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary. Let us not limit ourselves to only viewing our desires and our needs, but let us always take a step back, and take some time to reflect, that our vision will not be then limited just to our desires, but our eyes will then be opened to see the plight of our fellow men, who are still suffering.

Today, we commemorate the feast day of a great saint and Doctor of the Church, that is St. Catherine of Siena. St. Catherine of Siena is a great saint and teacher of the faith through her numerous laters and literary works, which became inspiration for many Christians of her era and even today. She zealously defended the faith in God and zealously love Him in her actions and her life. She was also important in the bringing back of the Papacy from its self-imposed ‘exile’ from Avignon in France to return to Rome, where the centre of the Church is. Therefore, she played a great role in the reestablishment and rejuvenation of the Church as we know it today.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today renew our commitment to serve and love our Lord, and to grow ever stronger in our faith in Him, that we will be transformed by His love, into beings of light and love, that in our every actions, words, and thoughts, we reflect the nature of God, and everyone can see that God is in us, and He is working through us. Let us pray for ourselves, for our brethren, and for our world, that it will be filled with God’s love and presence forever more. St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us. Amen.

Monday, 29 April 2013 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor (Gospel Reading)

John 14 : 21-26

“Whoever keeps My commandments is the one who loves Me. If he loves Me, He will also be loved by My Father; I too shall love Him and show Myself clearly to Him.”

Judas – not Judas Iscariot – asked Jesus, “Lord, how can it be that You will show Yourself clearly to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word and My Father will love him; and we will come to him and make a room in his home.”

“But if anyone does not love Me; he will not keep My words; and these words that you hear are not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. I told you all this while I was still with you. From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.”

Monday, 29 April 2013 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor (Psalm)

Psalm 113B : 1-2, 3-4, 15-16

Not to us, o Lord, not to us, but to Your Name be the glory, for the sake of Your love and faithfulness. Why should the pagans say, “Where is their God?”

There in heaven is our God; whatever He wishes, He does. Not so the hand-made idols, crafted in silver and gold.

May you be blessed by the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. Heaven belongs to the Lord, but the earth He has given to humans.

Monday, 29 April 2013 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor (First Reading)

Acts 14 : 5-18

A move was made by pagans and Jews, together with their leaders, to harm the apostles and to stone them. But Paul and Barnabas learnt of this and fled to the Lycaonian towns of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding countryside, where they continued preaching the Good News.

Paul and Barnabas spent a fairly long time at Lystra. There was a crippled man in Lystra who had never been able to stand or walk. One day, as he was listening to the preaching, Paul looked intently at him and saw that he had the faith to be saved.

So, he spoke to him in a loud voice, “In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command you to stand up on your feet!” And the man stood up and began to walk around.

When the people saw what Paul had done, they cried out in the language of Lycaonia, “The gods have come to us in human likeness!” They named Barnabas Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, since he was the chief speaker.

Even the priest of the Temple of Zeus, which stood outside the town, brought oxen and garlands to the gate; together with the people, He wanted to offer sacrifice to them.

When Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their garments to show their indignation and rushed into the crowd, shouting, “Friends, why are you doing this? We are human beings with the same weaknesses you have and we are now telling you to turn away from these useless things to the living God who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and all that is in them.”

“In past generations He allowed each nation to go its own way, though He never stopped making Himself known; for He is continually doing good, giving your rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, providing you with food and filling your hearts with gladness.”

Even these words could hardly keep the crowd from offering sacrifice to them.

Sunday, 28 April 2013 : 5th Sunday of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

God is love, this is the fundamental and the most basic nature of our Lord and God, my dear brothers and sisters. For love is the centre of being of our God, for His love is infinite, and in His infinite and boundless love, He willingly sacrificed Himself that all of us, unworthy and sinful mankind, may be saved from the eternal separation from Himself.

It may not be easy to see God in our daily lives today, since God is no longer walking among us, just as He did at the time of the disciples, to whom He appeared often after His resurrection. But do we then abandon God in the search of something more tangible, for something more real? That is why many of the faithful in Christ had lapsed in their faith in God, simply because they had been allured by the evil one and his myriad tools that he used to lure mankind away from God.

There are many means that the devil had used in his attempts to corrupt mankind, by offering many seemingly better alternatives to God, whom he tried to portray to many as being boring and inexistent. Instead, men loves his creations, that of worldly goods, wealth, affluence, and other false idols, solely aimed at the separation of men from God, and the ruination of Christ’ salvific mission in this world.

But Satan will never succeed, for God will ultimately triumph, and despite all the plots and the devices that Satan had used in his attempts to deceive mankind, God’s love and faith in us will be a key weapon in the fight against the devil and his fallen angels, who ceaselessly tried to divert us from the true path towards the Lord.

There are indeed many false gods and idols that our world offer us all today, my brothers and sisters, most obvious of which is money and material possessions, which many of us desire to the point of worshipping them instead of God, to whom only all honour and glory should go. Many of us are so embroiled and involved in our pursuit for success and wealth, that we forgot that the Lord is always with us. We enjoy the company of money and material goods more than we do for the Lord.

How many of us find it a great chore to just go and attend the Sunday Mass to worship our Lord? and how many of us then spend so much time in our career and our work, and in the attempt to secure more pay and more money? And even worse are those who employ underhanded and illegal means to secure these wealth and possessions, that is through corruption and nepotism, which had marred many of our high ranking politicians, businessmen, and many other people, and do not be mistaken that this happens only on the top, since corruption and all these vices also exist in the bottom rung of the society, with many of us seduced by the allure of money, and became obsessed in attaining more of it, that we forget the Lord and His love.

The Lord Himself had said, that we should not worry about our lives and what we are to have in our daily lives, since God Himself will provide all that we need, just like how He provided for the animals and other beings that He had created. For mankind, especially, there had been a blurring of distinctions between what we want, and what we truly need for our lives. Too often we seek something that we do not actually need, but out of our insatiable desire for things that we want to have.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us take a step back from our mindless pursuits of wealth, affluence, fame, and material possessions. Seek not what can bring us glory in this world, but seek for the true glory in heaven instead. How to do so? By loving one another as the Lord has loved us, just as He had commanded the apostles to do so. Love is the core tenet of our faith, since our very salvation is anchored on the great and infinite love that God has for us, that He wanted to endure death for our sake, that we may live.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us strive to love one another ever greater, and put love manifested in all our words, our thoughts, and our actions, that whenever we do something, or say something, or think of something, love will always form the core of our speech, our decisions, and our actions. Remember that God is love, and by doing so, we have already obeyed God’s will and commandments, allowing even others to see our actions and believe in the Lord, saving more people for Christ who died for them.

Let us pray, that we can be ever more loving and more compassionate in our society, helping those who are weakest and the least there, and reaching out to all in need, both physically and spiritually, that God’s love will be made manifest in this world, through us, and through our actions. May God bless all of us. Amen.

Sunday, 28 April 2013 : 5th Sunday of Easter (Gospel Reading)

John 13 : 31-33a, 34-35

When Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. God will glorify Him, and He will glorify Him very soon.”

“My children, I am with you for only a little while. Now I give you a new commandment : ‘Love one another! Just as I have loved you, you also must love one another.’ By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”


Sunday, 28 April 2013 : 5th Sunday of Easter (Second Reading)

Revelation 21 : 1-5a

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away and no longer was there any sea. I saw the new Jerusalem, the holy city coming down from God, out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband. A loud voice came from the throne, “Here is the dwelling of God among mortals : ‘He will pitch His tent among them and they will be His people,’ He will be God-with-them.”

“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.’ There shall be no more death or mourning, crying out or pain, for the world that was has passed away.” The One seated on the throne said, “See, I make all things new.”

Sunday, 28 April 2013 : 5th Sunday of Easter (Psalm)

Psalm 144 : 8-9, 10-11, 12-13ab

Compassionate and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in love. The Lord is good to everyone; His mercy embraces all His creation.

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age.

Sunday, 28 April 2013 : 5th Sunday of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 14 : 21b-27

The apostles returned to Lystra and Iconium, and on to Antioch. They were strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain firm in the faith, for they said, “We must go through many trials to enter the Kingdom of God.”

In each church they appointed elders and, after praying and fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had placed their faith. Then they travelled through Pisidia, and came to Pamphylia. They preached the Word in Perga and went down to Attalia. From there, they sailed back to Antioch, where they had first been commended to God’s grace for the task they had now completed.

On their arrival they gathered the Church together and told them all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the non-Jews.

Saturday, 27 April 2013 : 4th Week of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all the children of one God, the Lord our Father who came down to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. We are all His children, and because of that, all of us should indeed be like Him, both in appearance, because He created us in His own image, and most importantly in our behaviour and in all the things that we do.

But sadly, indeed, that many of us no longer do things which reflect that we are all the children of our loving God, and instead, many of the things that we had done, are representative of the fact that we are children of the evil one, Satan, the tricker and deceiver. He deceived us and our ancestors to do things in his own preferences, and in doing so, we are following Satan’s bidding.

Do we then serve the Lord or Satan, His enemy? It is indeed easy to say that we want to serve the Lord, but yet, serving the Lord our God is never easy, because this world itself is filled with the powers and agents of Satan, which will do his best to keep us away from true salvation and faith in God. He did not want us to be saved, because of his hatred against the Lord, he wants only that His children, the mankind, suffer for that.

God chose us, and He justifies us, and if we remain faithful in Him, we will indeed receive abundant blessings in Him, and we will gain the promised eternal life and eternal bliss in union with our God. He chose us, and not we choose Him, for not all the people will be saved, and many remained in rebellion against God’s love and compassion, which He offered to all mankind for free, by dying on the cross.

That was what happened to the Jews in the Gentile lands, that despite the disciples attempting to spread the Good News to them first, being the first chosen people of our Lord, they have failed to see through the shadow placed by the evil one on their eyes and the ‘eyes’ of their hearts, and because they did not have true faith in God, they were easily taken over by the evil one, and reject the salvation offered freely by our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

And today, we listened to the story of the evangelisations done by the apostles, by St. Paul and Barnabas, who were at the forefront of the attempts to bring the Word of God to all the nations, to the pagans and Gentiles, whom we often see that they embrace the faith in God openly, because God becomes a living spring in them, and He fills the emptiness that was once within their souls and their hearts.

Again, God justifies anybody who believes in Him, remain in His love, and obey His commandments, and actually do His will rather than just mere lip-service in their faith in God. He did not let Himself be biased, even against Israel, His people, whom He had chosen through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their forefathers. For there were many whom did not belong to the Jews, but actually having greater faith and love for God than the Jews ever were.

Therefore, the same also applies to us today, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, that if all of us remain strongly in God’s love and favour, and that if we ensure that we do His will and commandments, and strive to be men of justice, love, and truth, we will be granted His graces and blessings, and truly becoming His beloved children, who are worthy of His kingdom and the eternal life. Let us go forth and make our actions and our words to reflect the love of God, and proclaim to all mankind that God is love, and God is life, and through Him we had been ransomed from death that is our fate. God bless us all. Amen.