Friday, 2 December 2016 : 1st Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Matthew 9 : 27-31

At that time, as Jesus moved on from the place where He resurrected the daughter of the official, two blind men followed Him, shouting, “Son of David, help us!” When He was about to enter the house, the blind men caught up with Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do what you want?” They answered, “Yes, Sir!”

Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, “As you have believed, so let it be.” And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus gave them a stern warning, “Be careful that no one knows about this.” But as soon as they went away, they spread the news about Him through the whole area.

Friday, 2 December 2016 : 1st Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 13-14

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His sanctuary.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!

Friday, 2 December 2016 : 1st Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Isaiah 29 : 17-24

In a very short time, Lebanon will become a fruitful field and the fruitful field will be as a forest. On that day the deaf will hear the words of the book, and out of the dark and obscurity the eyes of the blind will see. The meek will find joy and the poor among men will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

For the tyrant will be no more and the scoffers gone forever, and all who plan to do evil will be cut down – those who by a word make you guilty, those who for a bribe can lay a snare and send home the just empty-handed.

Therefore YHVH, Abraham’s Redeemer, speaks concerning the people of Jacob : No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will his face grow pale. When he sees the work of My hands, his children again in his midst, they will sanctify My Name, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and stand in awe of the God of Israel. Those who err in spirit will understand; those who murmur will learn.

Thursday, 1 December 2016 : 1st Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard a reminder from God through His parable of the wise man who built his house on solid rock foundation and the foolish man who built his house on the shaky foundation of sand. It is a reminder for us on how we should live out our faith, not just by words or empty promises alone but also through real dedication, action and commitment.

Brethren, we are in the midst of the season of Advent, a time of preparation for us to prepare for the coming of the season of Christmas, when we will commemorate the anniversary of the Nativity, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ into this world. The season of Advent is a time of discernment, of spiritual preparation and also of anticipation, because we are preparing for Christ, not just in the memory of His first coming, but also of His future and promised Second Coming at the end of time.

When someone builds a house, there are a lot of considerations to be made. If we want that house to be long lasting and strong, then many things must be carefully considered, calculated and prepared beforehand. We cannot just put brick upon brick, or wood upon wood and hope that all those will make up into a strong house that will stand and last again rain and wind.

Architects and designers need to be brought into the picture, especially if the building is larger in scale. Even so, no building can last and remain strong, no matter what material it was made from, if the foundation is weak and unstable. Even if the building is made from the strongest marble, or the hardest wood, or even from solid metal, but the foundation is weak, the whole building will eventually collapse.

What our Lord Jesus spoke about in the parable is actually about our faith. Our faith is the foundation of our life, for if we have no faith, then we have no foundation at all in this life. God is the foundation of our lives, for He created us and gave us life out of His love for us. Without God, we are nothing, and without God, we cannot survive.

And yet, if we look at our world today, we may realise that it is indeed sad to notice how many people are distracted away from their focus on the Lord, and instead, they put their trust in various worldly distractions instead. They put their trust in money, in fame, in human and worldly glory, and in all sorts of other things they made to be the foundations of their life.

And that is why, even many of the faithful were not able to survive and persevere when times of difficulty and when tribulations came to them. When they were challenged to be true to their faith, they gave up and made excuses, because their faith in God was not firm. They put rather their trust in other things and not in God, in Whom they should have depended.

Thus, on this day, let us ask ourselves, how have we lived our lives so far? Have we practiced what we believed in our own daily lives, in how we interacted with each other thus far, and in how we look upon our less fortunate brethren around us? Have we shown love, mercy and compassion to those who need them? Have we done anything to bring happiness and joy to each other? Or have we instead acted in our own self-interest and bring about sadness and division?

In this time of Advent, we have to prepare ourselves for the eventual coming of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Thus, we should spend more time in prayer and in quiet conversation with our God. Be with Him, and devote ourselves to Him. We should spend more time to talk with Him and do more good in order to help those who are in need of our help and attention.

May God bless us all in our works and may He empower us to be better disciples and better Christians, that in all the things we do, we always do it for the sake of the Lord and for His people. Amen.

Thursday, 1 December 2016 : 1st Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Matthew 7 : 21, 24-27

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My heavenly Father.”

“So then, anyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts accordingly, is like a wise man, who built his house on rock. The rain poured, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house, but it did not collapse because it was built on rock.”

“But anyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act accordingly, is like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain poured, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house; it collapsed, and what a terrible fall that was!”

Thursday, 1 December 2016 : 1st Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Psalm 117 : 1 and 8-9, 19-21, 25-27a

Alleluia! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His loving kindness endures forever. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in the help of humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in the might of princes.

Open to me the gates of the Just, and let me enter to give thanks. “This is the Lord’s gate, through which the upright enter.” I thank You for having answered me, for having rescued me.

Save us, o Lord, deliver us, o Lord! Blessed is He Who comes in the Lord’s Name! We bless You from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God; may His light shine upon us.

Thursday, 1 December 2016 : 1st Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Isaiah 26 : 1-6

On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah : We have a strong city, He Himself has set up walls and fortifications to protect us. Open the gates! Let the righteous nation enter, she who is firm in faithfulness. You keep in perfect peace the one of steadfast mind, the one who trusts in You.

Trust in YHVH forever, for YHVH is an everlasting Rock. He brought down those who dwell on high, He laid low the lofty city, He razed it to the ground, levelled it to the dust. Now it is trampled, the poor and the lowly tread upon it.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle of Jesus Christ and the brother of St. Peter the Apostle, who were among the first ones that Jesus our Lord called, and in fact St. Andrew was also known as St. Andrew the First-Called as he was first to be called by Jesus, and then he called St. Peter to the service of God.

St. Andrew and his brother St. Peter were fishermen at the lake of Galilee, together with St. James and St. John. When you think of what fisherman does and what is their standing in the society, certainly you would not have thought immediately that these people would later on become great and called the Apostles of our Lord. But that is precisely how God works, for He calls simple and ordinary people, and transforms them by the power of His grace and love.

St. Andrew was among those whom the Lord had chosen to be the principal servants of His, to be the bearers of His Good News and His teachings, His words of salvation and liberation from sin for all mankind to hear, to see and to witness, that through what the Apostles had witnessed from the Lord, and which they shared to others, they might bring all these people away from the darkness and from the brink of death into a new life blessed by God in His grace.

And certainly, their work would not be an easy one, for many challenges were facing them at that time. First of all, the Jewish authorities were against them, in how the Pharisees, the elders, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and even secular authorities like the Sadducees and Herod’s supporters were against them. Many of these people had viewed Jesus and His ways and teachings as threats to their own authority, and just as they had persecuted Jesus and condemned Him to death, the same they had done for His followers as well.

Indeed, given such an opposition, especially from a stubborn and hard-hearted people, it would be easy to just throw in the towel and give up everything. We may be thinking that it is not worth the effort to suffer, to toil and even to die for the sake of our Faith, and for the sake of the Lord, but let me tell you, the Apostles would have thought completely otherwise.

The Apostles brought the Good News of God to all mankind, going to faraway places and converting the people into the light of God. What is at stake there was none other than the fate of many, countless souls, all those who had not heard of the words of the Lord and His ways, and thus lived in sin and darkness. Had the Apostles not be brave, courageous and had they not gone out of their way to preach the Good News, many, millions and more souls would have been lost, including that of ours.

Why is that so? That is because if they had not preached the Good News to others, then the Good News would only remain with them, and others would not have heard of it. And if these others would not have heard of it, then the knowledge of God and His salvation would have ended there and then, and no one would be there to instruct people throughout the many years following Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension in the Faith, and therefore, neither would we have heard God’s salvation.

It was thanks to the hard work of the Apostles and their fellow disciples of the Lord, who have labourer hard, toiled hard, and persevered earnestly for their faith in God, for the evangelisation of the peoples, as what we have heard in the first reading today from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome. Through the works of the Apostles, many have heard of the Lord, and many have been turned from their sinful ways.

Divisions have been healed, and no longer were there distinction between Jews or Greeks, free or enslaved, for all have been freed and made equal in God. At that time, the Jews viewed themselves as superior to all the pagan peoples, the Gentiles, or non-Jews. They thought that because they were the direct descendants and heirs of Abraham, they deserved to receive God’s promise and not the other people.

But God made it clear through His teachings and through what the Apostles then disseminate among the people, Jews and Gentiles alike, that everyone are beloved by God and all who believe sincerely in Him will be saved. What matters is their love for God, their sincere devotion and their faith. And this was what the Apostles had laboured for, working tirelessly, suffering for persecution for our sake.

St. Andrew himself travelled to many places, including what is now Turkey and Greece. It was told that he helped to establish the See of Constantinople, the second in preeminence among all the dioceses in the world. It was there that he became the first bishop of the community of the faithful there, and spread the word of God to many people, and in the end, was martyred through crucifixion on an X-shaped cross, bringing glory to God.

Today, as we rejoice in the memory of the glorious Apostle St. Andrew, let us remember that as Christians, we still have that very same mission which our Lord has entrusted to His Apostles and disciples all those years ago. There are still yet many who have not heard of the word of God, His ways and His promised salvation. There are indeed many souls to be saved and many opportunities for evangelisation.

We are called to be the disciples of Christ, to be like His Apostle in our world today. We are called to serve Him through sincere faith and through zeal, that by our good works and by our courageous witness of the Lord and His teachings to others, we may be the source of eternal life and salvation for many others, that the salvation God has promised will not be ours alone, but also will belong to many, countless other souls.

Let us all ponder on this, and discern on what we can do, as Christians, as those who believe in Jesus our Lord, and of course, as those whom He had called to be the bearers of His Good News to the nations. As it had happened to the Apostles before, persecutions, challenges and difficulties will be part of our lives, but we should never fear, brethren, for God will always be with us, as He had been with His Apostles and all the martyrs and saints who have laboured and even gave up their lives for His sake.

May the Lord awaken in us the spirit and the strength to carry out His will and good works in our respective communities, that by the examples of St. Andrew and the other Holy Apostles, we may be inspired to serve Him with ever greater zeal and commit ourselves to works of redemption, calling all sinners to repentance in God, and thus make ourselves worthy of Him. May God bless all of our endeavours. Amen.