Wednesday, 16 November 2016 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Virgins)
Luke 19 : 11-28

At that time, Jesus was then near Jerusalem, and the people with Him thought that God’s reign was about to appear. So as they were listening to Him, Jesus went on to tell them a parable. He said, “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to assume regal authority, after which he planned to return home.”

“Before he left, he summoned ten od his servants and gave them ten pounds of silver. He said, ‘Put this money to work until I get back.’ But his compatriots, who disliked him, sent a delegation after him with this message, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.'”

“He returned, however, appointed as king. At once he sent for the servants, to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made. The first came in, and reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver has earned ten more pounds of silver.’ The master replied, ‘Well done, my good servant! Since you have proved yourself faithful in a small matter, I can trust you to take charge of ten cities.'”

“The second reported, ‘Sir, your pound of silver earned five more pounds of silver.’ The master replied, ‘And you, take charge of five cities!’ The third came in, and said, ‘Sir, here is your money, which I hid for safekeeping. I was afraid of you, for you are an exacting person : you take up what you did not lay down, and you reap what you did not sow.'”

“The master replied, ‘You worthless servant, I will judge you by your own words! So you knew I was an exacting person, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow? Why, then, did you not put my money on loan, so that, when I got back, I could have collected it with interest?'”

“Then the master said to those standing by, ‘Take from him that pound, and give it to the one with ten pounds.’ But they objected, ‘Sir, he already has ten pounds!’ The master replied, ‘I tell you, everyone who has will be given more; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for my enemies who dis not want me to be their king, bring them in, and execute them right here in front me.'”

So Jesus spoke, and then He passed on ahead of them, on His way to Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Virgins)
Psalm 150 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the vault of heaven. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him for His own greatness.

Praise Him with trumpet blast; praise Him with lyre and harp. Praise Him with dance and tambourines; praise Him with pipe and strings.
Praise Him with clashing cymbals; praise Him with clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praise to the Lord. Alleluia!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Virgins)
Revelations 4 : 1-11

After this, I looked up to the wall of the sky and saw an open door. The voice which I had first speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here and I will show you what will come in the future.”

Immediately I was seized by the Spirit. There, in heaven, was a throne and One sitting on it. He Who sat there looked like jasper and carnelian and round the throne was a rainbow resembling an emerald. In a circle around the throne are twenty-four thrones and seated on these are twenty-four elders, dressed in white clothes, with golden crowns on their heads.

Flashes of lightning come forth from the throne, with voices and thunderclaps. Seven flaming torches burn before the throne; these are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there is a platform, transparent like crystal. Around and beside the throne stand four living creatures, full of eyes, both in front and behind.

The first living creature is like a lion, the second like a bull, the third has the face of a man and the fourth looks like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures has six wings full of eyes, all around as well as within; day and night they sing without ceasing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, Master of the universe, Who was, and is and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to the One on the throne, He Who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him and worship the One Who lives forever and ever. They lay their crowns in front of the throne and say, “Our Lord and God, worthy are You to receive glory, honour and power! For You have created all things; by Your will they came to be and were made.”

Tuesday, 15 November 2016 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters, as we listened to the words of the Scriptures today, we are given several reminders on what we as Christians are supposed to do in our daily lives, so that we will truly live out our lives as faithful and living Christians, and not just as Christians on paper only or as nominal Christians. We are all called to be good and devoted servants of our God, and as we reflect on the word of God we have just heard, let us think about all these.

First of all, in the Book of the Revelations of St. John the Apostle, we heard the Lord calling His people to repentance and to change their ways. We are all sinners, brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of us have committed more sins than others and some have committed less, but regardless, we have made mistakes and imperfections on our paths towards God. But this is what the reality of our lives is. And we need to change this direction of our lives.

If we do not spend time to think about this, and reflect on what direction our lives are taking us, then just like a ship with a captain who does not carefully decide the navigation path beforehand, then the ship will end up having a high chance of hitting rocks and obstacles on its journey that will cause it to run aground, capsize and sink. And the same applies to our own lives.

In this journey of life, it is important for us to always spend time to think about our actions and deeds, words and all things we have committed in this life. Have we been faithful to the Lord? Have our actions represent us as those who are worthy of being the children and followers of the Lord? Or have our actions instead bring about contradiction and divisions, scandal for our Lord, for our faith, for our Church and for our fellow brethren? If our answer for these are the latter ones, then we really need to change.

And this then comes to the second point brought up in the Scriptures today. In the same passage from the Book of Revelations, God spoke to us about not being lukewarm in our faith, as if we are neither hot or cold, it is disgusting to Him and He will reject us. What this means is that we cannot be a Christian and profess to be one, and yet doing nothing in order to fulfil that life as a Christian.

A thorough conversion and change of our lives require us to also take an active role in living our lives with faith, through real and genuine actions based on our faith, on what we believe in God. This is real and living faith, the faith of those who are not lukewarm in our faith. We cannot and indeed must not think that faith in God alone can save us, for what is faith without true and genuine devotion? A lukewarm faith is no faith at all, as it is dead.

And in this, we should follow therefore the example of Zaccheus, the tax collector who in the Gospel today, which many of us should be familiar with, where he tried his best, climbing up a tree just so that he could see Jesus due to his short height. He made that conscious effort to seek the Lord, and he found Him. And God, recognising his faith, his genuine effort and devotion, called him, welcomed him, forgave him and made him to be one of His children.

Contrast this to the attitude of the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the chief priests, most of whom rejected Jesus and refused to believe in Him and His teachings. Instead, they even made life and work difficult for Jesus and His disciples, hounding and disrupting them in almost all known opportunities available to them.

All of us are sinners, but if we harden our hearts as the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the chief priests had done, then there will be no way forward for us, as our stubbornness and our refusal to recognise our sins and our wickedness become our undoing. It was Zaccheus, whom in his sincere desire to be forgiven, in his effort to seek the Lord, was forgiven and reconciled with God.

Let us all take these into our minds and spend time to reflect on this, and let us also reflect on the examples of St. Albert the Great, the holy saint whose feast we celebrate today. St. Albert the Great was a renowned Dominican preacher and bishop, whose actions and works still inspire many people up to this day. He was a humble person, devoting his whole life to the Lord, and he often acted as mediator between conflicting parties, bringing peace and harmony where there were conflicts and divisions.

He always showed with good example, of how a Christian should live his or her faith life, carrying out his responsibilities dutifully as the bishop of his diocese, caring for his flock with gentle and tender love, and with the strong desire to seek their salvation through proper education and instruction in the faith, and by his examples, many followed in his footsteps and were set on the path towards God’s salvation.

Looking at the examples of this holy and devoted saint, we should also follow in his footsteps in living a genuine life filled with strong and living faith. We should spend time with one another, caring for those who have not been cared, forgiving one another our trespasses and faults to each other. We should be role models for one another, living to the best of our abilities to be faithful in all the things we say, do and act.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us renew our commitment to the Lord our God, and be true in our faith and be genuine in our actions. May the Lord help us and guide us on our way to Him, that we may be able to reach out to Him, and by the intercession of St. Albert the Great, may we follow in his footsteps and may God have mercy on us, as He had mercy on that blind man. Amen.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Luke 19 : 1-10

At that time, when Jesus entered Jericho and passed through the city, a man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see Him because of the crowd.

So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, Who was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” So Zaccheus climbed down and received Him joyfully.

All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.” But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”

Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

Tuesday, 15 November 2016 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Psalm 14 : 2-3ab, 3cd-4ab, 5

Those who walk blamelessly and do what is right, who speak truth from their heart and control their words.

Those who do no harm to their neighbours and cast no discredit on their companions, who look down on evildoers but highly esteem God’s servants.

Those who do not lend money at interest and refuse a bribe against the innocent. Do this, and you will soon be shaken.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Revelations 3 : 1-6, 14-22

Write this to the Angel of the Church in Sardis, “Thus says He Who holds the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars : ‘I know your worth : you think you live but you are dead. Wake up and strengthen that which is not already dead. For I have found your works to be imperfect in the sight of My God.”

“‘Remember what you were taught; keep it and change your ways. If you do not repent I will come upon you like a thief at an hour you least expect. Yet, there are some left in Sardis who have not soiled their robes; these will come with Me, dressed in white, since they deserve it. The victor will be dressed in white and I will never erase his name from the book of life; instead, I will acknowledge it before My Father and His Angels.'”

“‘Let anyone who has ears listen to what the Spirit says to the Churches.'”

Write this to the Angel of the Church in Laodicea, “Thus says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of God’s creation : ‘I know your works : you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! You are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold so I will spit you out of My mouth.'”

“‘You think you are rich and have piled up so much that you need nothing, but you do not realise that you are wretched and to be pitied, poor, blind and naked. I advise you to buy from Me gold that has been tested by fire, so that you may be rich, and white clothes to wear so that your nakedness may not shame you, and ointment for your eyes that you may see. I reprimand and correct all those I love. Be earnest and change your ways.'”

“‘Look, I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My call and open the door, I will come in to you and have supper with you, and you with Me. I will let the victor sit with Me on My throne just as I was victorious and took My place with My Father on His throne. Let anyone who has ears listen to what the Spirit says to the Churches.'”

Monday, 14 November 2016 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings, taken from the Book of Revelations and the Gospel according to St. Luke have very simple and yet clear message to all of us Christians, that we all ought to be faithful, to be true to the ways of our Lord, to be righteous and good, and amidst difficulties and challenges, remain firm and devoted to the Lord, seek Him and find Him, and then we shall not be disappointed.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, St. John saw a vision of the Lord Who sent His Angels to the Churches in the region, reminding each and every one of them with the same message, that while they have persevered in their faith, and remained true to the Lord and His ways, but they had fallen away from the true path and is in need of repentance and change.

The Lord reminded His people that in order to find their way to Him, they need to have that profound change in their heart, mind and soul, that they should open these to Him, allowing Him to enter into them and transforming them entirely, that they will be transformed from the people of darkness and of worldliness, into people of the light and as those who truly belong to the Lord as His children and His followers.

And many times, we do not realise that in order to do these, we have to have that strong desire in each of us to change ourselves, to challenge ourselves from the status quo of our lives, especially if we are often spending little time to reflect about what we have done, and about what we have not done. And this is perfectly represented in the Gospel passage we heard today, when we heard about how Jesus our Lord healed and opened the eyes of the blind man.

The blind man heard that Jesus was coming to the place, and he shouted to Him, asking and begging Him to heal him and make him able to see once again. But the people ridiculed him and asked him to stop screaming. Yet, the blind man continued to shout even louder to get Jesus’ attention, and the Lord came to him, seeing his faith, He healed him and thus once again, he could see and he followed the Lord henceforth.

The story of the blind man is a parallel to our own lives, in each of their unique situations and circumstances. When we sin, and when we commit things that are mistaken and wrong in the sight of God and men alike, we are like the blind man, as sin acts like a veil that prevent us from seeing the truth. Sin corrupts us, not just the body, but also the mind, heart and soul. The more we sin, the more we are desensitised to it, and after a while, it becomes even our second nature. We no longer feel when we sin.

And yes, we are sinners, and we sin from day to day, from time to time. And no one is perfect. We always make mistakes in our respective lives. But what matters is, whether we are willing to make a difference and a concrete change with our lives, that while we once were sinners, we are willing to let all of these go and take a bold new step forward, committing ourselves to a renewed life filled with repentance and the desire to love the Lord with faith.

This was what the blind man had done. He used whatever courage and strength he had to scream out loud to get the attention of the Lord, and he was determined in doing so. Are we that determined to change our lives? Are we willing to go the distance in order to find our way to the salvation in God? These are the questions that we really need to ask ourselves today as we reflect on the Scripture readings we have just heard.

Then are we also making it difficult for our fellow brothers and sisters, especially those who are in need of God’s help and mercy? Are we acting like those who are trying to discourage the blind man from seeking the Lord’s help? This is what we need to reflect on as well, as we need to move away from these actions, and instead, learn to help one another on our journey towards the Lord.

Let us be merciful, be forgiving and be loving in all of our actions and interactions with each other. Let us not harden our hearts, but welcome the Lord in them, and allow Him to transform us and make us people of the light, worthy of His salvation. May God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 14 November 2016 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Luke 18 : 35-43

At that time, when Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road, begging. As he heard the crowd passing by, he inquired what was happening, and they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was going by.

Then he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The people in front of him scolded him. “Be quiet!” they said, but he cried out all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped, and ordered the blind man to be brought to Him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the man said, “Lord, that I may see!” Jesus said, “Receive your sight, your faith has saved you.”

At once the blind man was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving praise to God. And all the people who were there also praised God.

Monday, 14 November 2016 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the one who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the law of the Lord and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.