Wednesday, 30 October 2013 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today it is revealed to us, how it is that it is not easy for us or anyone to enter into the Kingdom of God, and what the Lord has done to help us, that we can indeed enter His Kingdom. Many of us though, remain ignorant on the love of God, and what He has done for us, and many of us too, remained in our debauched way of life.

Yet, many of us at the same time also remain unaware that in our actions, we do not do things that will ensure our salvation in God. We remain idle, and even worse, we did things abhorring and abominable in the eyes of the Lord and even in the eyes of mankind. We like to deal with the things of the flesh, temptations of this world, and the offerings of the evil one rather than obeying the Lord and doing what is pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.

This is because it is not easy to follow the Lord and do as He commanded us. His desire for us is to love one another, and care for one another, just as we ought to love Him, with all our heart, with all our attention, and with all our dedication. We have to give Him the full attention and the complete dedication of our hearts. We cannot be half-hearted in this, as the Lord Himself said, that we cannot serve two Masters.

We cannot serve both the Lord, as well as Satan. Satan, the deceiver and the great enemy, has dominion and power over this world, ever since sin and evil entered into us. Ever since we have sinned against the Lord and disobeyed Him, we have entered into the dominion and fall under the power of the evil one. He is what is to many of us, our true master, because the things at we do reflect not the actions of the children of the one, true God, but instead as the actions of the children of Satan.

Brethren, why is the Lord so critical of those people who asked Him about the nature of salvation? Whether there are few or many that will be saved? That is because, they knew that the path is not going to be easy, and yet they did nothing about it, and continued on their daily life schedules. Often they neglected to do what the Lord had asked them to do, because they were too busy going about their routines.

Yes, as we all now know, that to sin is not just for us to do evil things or things that are considered evil. That is sin all right, but sin is also about failing to do what is right, what is good, and what is expected of us, to the point that we fail to appreciate the nature of goodness and love itself. We tend to become self-absorbed in our lives, and prefer to stay in our own comfort zones. We tend to detest going the extra mile to do what is good.

This is what the Lord wants to change from us, that we no longer give in to our pride and our human vanity, and instead open ourselves and our hearts in particular, ever more to the love and compassion of the Lord our God. In opening of ourselves, we do not only rid ourselves of the sense of self-preservation and vanity, as well as getting rid of the pride within us, but we also open ourselves at the same time, to loving our brethren, our brothers and sisters in the same Lord.

Let us therefore, brothers and sisters, step outside our comfort zone. Be daring to open up ourselves, and cast away the veil of pride and sin that had enclosed our hearts for long enough. We shall not allow them to interfere in our lives any longer. Let us also decisively reject Satan, casting him out of our lives, and rejecting all of his lies and false offers. Reject the father of lies and accept the Father of truth. Reject the father of hatred and accept the Father of love.

Hence, brethren, from now on, let us break free from our slavery under Satan, casting away his yoke, and rebuke the pleasures of this world that he offered all of us. No doubt that he will not be pleased, and will use all the powers in his possession to return us to himself. This is why our journey will not be easy, as oppositions will be rampant, and this world itself, as the dominion of the fallen one, shall be against us, the children of God.

Be not afraid though, because the Lord our God will surely send His help upon us. He will not abandon His children to be the slaves of His rebel angel. What is important then, is for us, to keep strong our defenses, namely our spiritual defenses, through constant and devout dedication to the Lord our God in prayer. When we pray, make sure our prayers are meaningful and dedicated to the Lord our God.

Do not let selfishness and pride come between us and the Lord. Indeed, let us be meek and humble before God, asking Him for forgiveness for our sins, and give ourselves in complete surrender before Him, that He will take us away from the dominion of Satan, into eternal life of glory with Him in heaven. God be with us all, forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 13 : 22-30

Jesus went through towns and villages teaching, and making His way to Jerusalem. Someone asked Him, “Lord, is it true that few people will be saved?”

And Jesus answered, “Do your best to enter by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has gone inside and locked the door, you will stand outside. Then you will knock at the door, calling, ‘Lord, open to us!’ But He will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.'”

“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with You, and You taught in out streets!’ But He will reply, ‘I do not know where you come from. Away from Me, all you workers of evil.'”

“You will weep and grind your teeth, when you see Abraham and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves left outside. Others will sit at table in the kingdom of God, people coming from east and west, from north and south. Some who are among the last, will be first; and some who are among the first, will be last!'”

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 12 : 4-5, 6

Look upon me and answer, o Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, “I have routed him,” lest my foes rejoice of my fall.

But I put my trust in your unfailing love, my heart will rejoice on seeing Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 8 : 26-30

We are weak, but the Spirit comes to help us. How to ask? And what shall we ask for? We do not know, but the Spirit intercedes for us without words, as if with groans. And He who sees inner secrets knows the desires of the Spirit, for He asks for the holy ones what is pleasing to God.

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him, whom He has called according to His plan. Those whom He knew beforehand, He has also predestined to be like His Son, similar to Him, so that He may be the Firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

And so, those whom God predestined He called, and those whom He called He makes righteous, and to those whom He makes righteous He will give His Glory.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today to all of us, the Lord revealed the nature of the kingdom of God, as well as the hidden nature of our eternal reward in God. The Lord warned us that His way will not be easy to follow, and there will be plenty of obstacles ahead of us, but the reward He promised us is great.

He likened the kingdom of God to a mustard seed, because a mustard plant when it was still a seed, is a very small and insignificant seed, that people tend to overlook and ignore. Yet when it grows to its full height, it is glorious, tall, and majestic, with long and extensive branches. No one would have expected that such a small seed would grow to be such a large and majestic tree. It is the nature of God’s kingdom and His salvation.

The Lord also likened it to yeast that leaven three measures of flour, until the flour becomes leavened bread. How is it like the kingdom of God and His salvation? It is because indeed, once again, the glory of God and the heavenly rewards that He offers us in salvation is hidden from us. It is only through perseverance and hard work, that we gain the rewards, that is the big, fluffy, and delicious leavened bread.

That is the aim of our life, the target that we all strive to reach, the eternal reward that God promised all of us. Yet, it is hidden behind the struggles that we all have to go through in this life. Therefore, if we look at it directly, it may seem that this path is particularly difficult and unappealing, and that is why many of us tend to choose the other way and look away from the path towards salvation in God.

Yet, what is the other option? The other option is apparently easier for us, and it seems that the path is less troublesome and more appealing, but that is the path to damnation, that is the path of the devil. It is an easy way, since the things that go against the Lord is truly much easier to do, than to follow the Lord and His precepts and laws. It is much easier to sin rather than to repent and do good. It is indeed a choice between an easier and more enjoyable life now on earth, and eternal suffering later on; or persecution and suffering on earth now, and eternal joy and happiness later on.

The Lord Jesus had come upon us and become one of us, to share with us and reveal to us the nature of God’s kingdom, which we will share in, if we remain faithful and committed to the cause of the Lord, and do not stray away from the path of righteousness. He revealed to us the love of God, and the promised salvation, the rewards that is ours if we remain faithful. Although the rewards are indeed good and wonderful, but the path to reach them is perilous.

What are we to do then, brothers and sisters in Christ? We ought to work hard to reach out to the Lord, and to follow Him and His laws. It will definitely not be easy, but if we do not make the effort, we will never be able to reach that desired end. Instead, if we remain idle and do not make the effort, the path to salvation will be further and further away from us, and we will be closer to the path of doom and eternal damnation, out of which, we will never escape.

Therefore, what can be do? Pray, and pray hard, and keep the Lord ever close to our hearts. If the Lord is in us and He is ever close to us, we will be less likely to stray away from His path. Open ourselves to His love, and humbly seek His mercy. The kingdom of God awaits those who are loving, merciful, humble, and faithful. There is nothing impossible for God, and certainly, the same too applies for us, if we keep the Lord as our anchor and the centre of our lives.

May the Lord our God who promised us the reward of eternal life and His eternal kingdom, continue to bless us, embrace us, and shower us with His love and graces. May we too remain faithful to Him and keep faithfully on His path, always, till the end of our days. Amen.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 13 : 18-21

Jesus continued speaking, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? Imagine a person who has taken a mustard seed, and planted it in his garden. The seed has grown, and become like a small tree, so that the birds of the air shelter in its branches.”

And Jesus said again, “What is the kingdom of God like? Imagine a woman who has taken yeast, and hidden it in three measures of flour, until it is all leavened.”

Tuesday, 29 October 2013 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 125 : 1-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

When the Lord brought the exiles back to Zion, we were like those moving in a dream. Then our mouths were filled with laughter, and our tongues with songs of joy.

Among the nations it was said, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord had done great things for us, and we were glad indeed.

Bring back our exiles, o Lord, like fresh streams in the desert. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs and shouts of joy.

They went forth weeping, bearing the seeds for sowing, they will come home with joyful shouts, bringing their harvested sheaves.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 8 : 18-25

I consider that the suffering of our present life cannot be compared with the Glory that will be revealed and given to us. All creation is eagerly expecting the birth in glory of the children of God.

For it now the created world was unable to attain its purpose, this did not come from itself, but from the one who subjected it. But it is not without hope; for even the created world will be freed from this fate of death and share the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pangs of birth. Not creation alone, but even ourselves, although the Spirit was given to us as a foretaste of what we are to receive, we groan in our innermost being, eagerly awaiting the day when God will give us full rights and rescue our bodies as well.

In hope we already have salvation. But if we saw what we hoped for, there would no longer be hope : how can you hope for what is already seen? So we hope for what we do not see and we will receive it through patient hope.

Monday, 28 October 2013 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Today, brothers and sisters in Christ, we celebrate the feast of two of the Twelve Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, namely St. Simon, well known once as the Zealot, because he belonged to the faction of the Jews called the Zealots who were bitterly opposed to the Roman Empire dominance over Judea and the people of Israel. The other one is St. Jude, son of James, also often better known as St. Jude Thaddeus, to distinguish them from the traitor, Judas Iscariot.

They were among those who had given their all for the cause of Christ after they had witnessed Jesus and His ministry in this world, even unto giving up their own life in sacred martyrdom as they spread the Good News of salvation to the far ends of the world. St. Simon the Zealot went far and travelled to the ends of the known world at the time, spreading the word of God to people of many nations.

He was martyred in his mission, and met his death defending the faith he had in God, after a life of full dedication to the Lord, and after having saved many souls of nations and bring them back to God. St. Jude Thaddeus, whom we all know as a patron saint for hopeless and difficult cases, also went far and travelled around the regions, preaching the Gospel and salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.

He converted many to the cause of the Lord, and bring the faith to faraway lands, including Armenia, Libya, and present day Iraq. He was martyred in area now known as Lebanon, together with St. Simon the Zealot I had mentioned earlier, and were beheaded together in the defense of their faith. Their deaths on the same occasion, is the reason why we celebrate their feasts together on the same day, that is this day.

The Apostles were called from among the many disciples of Christ, to be the closest confidants and followers of Christ, and to be the witnesses of the Lord’s grand plan for salvation, witnessing the rebirth of mankind from the darkness which had engulfed them for so long, into the light of God.

These were witnessed by the Apostles, as well as some of the disciples, in its entirety, save for Judas Iscariot, who faltered along the way and betrayed the Lord to His death. He is no longer counted among the Apostles, and indeed, perhaps even among those who are saved in Christ. The other Apostles too faced difficulties, and they too faltered especially when Christ was taken away from them by the chief priests and the Roman authorities.

Yet, the Holy Spirit came upon them and dwell deep in their hearts, and they were empowered and encouraged, to stand up and defend the faith they have received from God, and went on to be on the front lines, working, preaching, and spreading to all nations the Good News of salvation. Their mission, given to them by God is not an easy one, but they persevered and feared not any persecution nor opposition.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today, therefore, follow in the example of the Holy Apostles, especially that of St. Simon the Zealot and St. Jude Thaddeus, whose feasts we are celebrating today, proclaiming God’s glory and power to all the nations, without fear and with complete faith in the Lord our God. Let us strive for the Lord’s sake and for the sake of His people, our brethren, especially those who still live in the darkness of sin.

May the Lord strengthen us and our faith, empowering us with His love. God’s love be with us all. Amen.

Monday, 28 October 2013 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 6 : 12-19

At this time Jesus went out into the hills to pray, spending the whole night in prayer with God. When day came, He called His disciples to Him, and chose twelve of them, whom He called ‘Apostles’ : Simon, whom He named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James son of Alpheus and Simon called the Zealot; Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot who would be the traitor.

Coming down the hill with them, Jesus stood in an open plain. Many of His disciples were there and a large crowd of people, who had come from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem, and from the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon.

They gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And people troubled by unclean spirits were cured. The entire crowd tried to touch Him, because of the power that went out from Him and healed them all.