Sunday, 3 June 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi. On this day, we celebrate the very important aspect of our Christian faith, and especially the faith as preserved in our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, as we believe that the Lord Jesus, Our God and Saviour, has given us His own Body and His own Blood, for the sake of our salvation.

The roots of this exist in the Old Testament, from the time of the Exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt, when the Lord had mercy on His people, stranded and suffering in Egypt under the tyranny of the Pharaoh and the Egyptians who enslaved them and attempted to exterminate them at occasions. At that time, God sent them Moses, to be their deliverer, through whom He performed ten great plagues that struck at the Egyptians.

The last of the ten plagues was the greatest of all of them. The Lord decreed that all firstborn child of the Egyptians shall be destroyed, because of their Pharaoh’s stubbornness and his refusal to let the people of Israel go free. The Lord sent His Angels of death to scour the whole land of Egypt, and many of the children of the Egyptians, right down to their animals perished on that night.

However, the children of the Israelites were saved and spared from death, as the Lord instructed Moses to tell them to prepare an unblemished lamb for each household, and slaughter it, to prepare and celebrate a Passover worthy of Him, the very first Passover celebrated by the people of God. The lamb’s blood was applied on the doorposts and the lintels of the doors, marking the household as those belonging to God’s people.

Seeing the blood of the lamb splashed across the doorposts, the Angels of death bypassed over their houses, and spared them from death. Ever since, the offering and sacrifice of blood of animals became associated with the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God. In fact, since the very beginning, from the time of Cain and Abel, and from the time of Abraham, the people of God have offered animal sacrifices to God. But it was then in the Book of Leviticus that God prescribed the rules regarding sacrifices, that the priests belonging to the tribe of Levi would offer regular sacrifices for the people of God.

Moses slaughtered and offered the blood of animals when he sealed the Covenant which God made with His people, and the blood was sprinkled onto the Israelites, as a sign of the Covenant sealed by the blood of the lamb and the animals. But that Covenant was broken many times by the people, who were unfaithful, and did not remain true to the Covenant which God had made with them. Instead, they worshipped pagan gods and idols, such as the golden calf, and committed what were wicked in God’s eyes.

Thus, they should have deserved death and destruction, as the punishment for sin is death. Ever since the beginning, when mankind first sinned against God, we should have deserved to be annihilated, for Adam and Eve, our ancestors, have disobeyed God and refused to listen to Him. Instead, they chose to follow and listen to the words of Satan, tempting them to sin. However, the truth is that God loves each and every one of us so much that He was willing to give us a second chance.

That is why, He had mercy on the Israelites when they sinned and disobeyed Him. If we read through the Book of Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, as well as the subsequent history of the Israelites in the Book of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings and the Prophets, we can see just how frequent that the people of God disobeyed Him and rebelled against Him. Yet, God Who punished them also showed them mercy and forgiveness.

The priests of the Lord offered daily and regular sacrifices for the sake of the people, with the animal sacrifices and the blood as prescribed in the Book of the Leviticus, and the same laws and regulations, the practices and the sacrifices were passed down for many years and centuries throughout the history of Israel, right down to the time of the New Testament, that is the time when the Lord Jesus, the Saviour of the world, finally came into the world.

And St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews, our second reading today, mentioned how the Lord Jesus is the new and the true High Priest, Who came into the world as the perfect fulfilment of God’s long promised salvation, as the Messiah of the whole race of man. And why did St. Paul refer to the Lord Jesus as the one and true High Priest? That is because the Lord did just exactly as what the priests of old had done, offering sacrifices to God for our sake.

But the Lord Jesus did not just act like any other priests, offering the blood of lambs and other animals. Instead, He offered Himself, as the perfect sacrifice, as the One, the only One through Whom the whole race of man could be saved. He alone is worthy, and His Blood alone is good enough to redeem all of us mankind, something that no blood of animals or lambs could have done.

Unfortunately, there are many of those among us who have doubted the Lord, and they doubted that the Lord gave us His Body to eat and His Blood to drink. There are those among us, who think and argue that the Lord was merely giving us a representation or a symbol of His Body and Blood, instead of the Real and true Body and the true Blood. But Jesus Himself had made it clear in the Gospel of St. John, that unless someone eats of the Body and drinks the Blood of the Son of Man, that is Jesus, they would not have eternal life.

And again, He added that, His Body is real food, and His Blood is real drink. This means that, in the Eucharist, the central focus of our faith, is found the Real Presence of Our Lord Himself, in the bread and wine, transformed in essence and reality into the essence and reality of the Most Precious and Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, respectively. They are not just mere symbols or representations. This is the Lamb of God Himself, the One through Whom God had saved the world.

Through the giving of Himself, Christ has given us all a new hope, one that nothing else in this world can give to us. By dying on the cross and by the outpouring of His Blood, spilled at His crucifixion, He has marked for Himself a people, those who have been called and set aside for God’s purpose, all those who believe in Him and are therefore called as Christians. We believe in Christ Who died on the cross for us, offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice to reconcile us to God, on the Altar of Calvary.

Then, if we look deeper into it, this is why all of us believe that when the priests celebrate the Holy Mass, they are in fact reenacting the same sacrifice performed by Our Lord Jesus Christ. The same sacrifice happens on the Altar, that is exactly the very same sacrifice on the cross of Christ at Calvary. It is not a repeat, or a mere memorial, or merely a celebration, but in fact, by the authority and power that Christ gave to His priests, through their consecrated hands, He has made them ‘Alter Christus’, that is representation of Christ Himself.

At the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass therefore, the same singular event of the crucifixion, when the Lamb of God was slaughtered and offered for the sake of our salvation, happened, at every single celebrations of the Mass, and through that, the Body and Blood of the Lord are given to us, a new Covenant which He made with us and sealed with His Blood, and a new Hope that He has granted to us.

Thus, what we see at the Holy Mass, is that the bread and the wine which are brought up and offered by the priests, are transformed, just as the Lord at the Last Supper spoke to His disciples as He passed the bread and wine to them, “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood”. The Body and the Blood of Christ has come unto us, and we receive Christ into ourselves, by the reception of the Most Holy Eucharist, that is Christ’s Body and Blood.

However, let us all now ask ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us ask ourselves, just how much we truly believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. How many of us lack the proper respect and honour due to the Eucharist, knowing that God Himself is truly present? How many of us receive the Eucharist unworthily while in the state of sin, or receiving Him in the way that we are merely going through the motion?

There are accounts of how people who did not believe in the Real Presence, said that they refused or failed to believe simply because, they saw many of us Christians, who did not believe in the Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. Our words may show that we believe, but our actions show otherwise. How can we then expect others to believe when we ourselves do not truly believe and genuinely believe in the Lord’s Real Presence, in His Most Holy Body and Blood?

What do I mean by all these? Many of us casually went up to receive the Eucharist, without proper honour for the Lord, Who has made Himself so small so as to be present in the bread transformed into His Body. By that action, God wanted us to be saved, through the worthy reception of the Eucharist. However, many of us receive the Lord in a state of sin and as unrepentant sinners.

And thus, there are also many of us who blatantly do not believe that God can be present in the bread and wine transformed into His Body and Blood. Our ignorance and apathy is no different from those who did not believe in the Real Presence. Liturgical abuses and the many abuses of the reception of the Most Holy Eucharist happened, and it scandalised our faith and our belief.

Many of those whose account I mentioned earlier refused to believe in the Real Presence, because they said that if that is truly the Lord present in the bread and wine, they would have prostrated themselves and trembled in fear before the Lord’s presence. That is why our apathy and lack of faith caused many others to lose faith too. And what then, can be done in order to resolve this matter?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi, let us all make a new resolution and commit ourselves to a much greater reverence to the Lord truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist. Let us endeavour to lead a holier and more worthy life, worthy of God, by turning ourselves from sin and embracing what God has shown us and taught us.

Let us all be exemplary in our actions, that by our faith and our belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who has given us His own Body and Blood, for the sake of our salvation, we may be saved from certain destruction, because of our sins. Let us all draw closer to the Lord, and remember that, because we have receive the Lord Himself, physically and really present in the bread and wine, transformed into the substance and reality of His Body and Blood, we have become the Temple of God’s Holy Presence.

And ultimately, each and every one of us as Christians are part of the Church of God, which He Himself has said to be His Body. The Church is the Body of Christ, made from all of us, who are in Communion with one another. The meaning of Holy Communion itself, therefore stemmed from the fact that all of us who worthily receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, are in Communion with each other and are part of the one Body of Christ.

May God therefore be with us all, and may He give us the strength to live worthily of Him, that we may always keep in mind that we have the Lord Himself dwelling in us, in our bodies, in our whole being. May all of us be ever more faithful, day after day, and indeed, united together as one people, in God’s one Church, become one Body, one Spirit in Christ. Amen.

Sunday, 3 June 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 14 : 12-16, 22-26

At that time, on the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day when the Passover Lamb was killed, the disciples asked Him, “Where would You have us go to prepare the Passover meal for You?”

So Jesus sent two of His disciples with these instructions, “Go into the city, and there, a man will come to you carrying a jar of water. Follow him to the house he enters and say to the owner, ‘The Master says, Where is the room where I may eat the Passover meal with My disciples?’ Then he will show you a large room upstairs, already arranged and furnished. There, you will prepare for us.”

The disciples went off. When they reached the city, they found everything just as Jesus had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them. And He said, “Take this. It is My Body.” Then He took a cup; and after He had given thanks, He passed it to them and they all drank from it.

And He said, “This is My Blood, the Blood of the Covenant, poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not taste the fruit of the vine again, until that day when I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.”

After singing psalms of praise, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Sunday, 3 June 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 9 : 11-15

But, now, Christ has appeared, as the High Priest, with regard to the good things of these new times. He passed through a Sanctuary more noble and perfect, not made by hands, that is not created. He did not take with Himself the blood of goats and bulls, but His own Blood, when He entered, once, and for all, into this Sanctuary, after obtaining definitive redemption.

If the sprinkling of people, defiled by sin, with the blood of goats and bulls, or with the ashes of a heifer, provides them with exterior cleanness and holiness, how much more will it be, with the Blood of Christ? He, moved by the eternal Spirit, offered Himself, as an unblemished Victim, to God, and His Blood cleanses us from dead works, so that we may serve the living God.

So, Christ is the Mediator of a new Covenant, or testament. His death made atonement for the sins committed under the old testament, and the promise is handed over, to all who are called to the everlasting inheritance.

Sunday, 3 June 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 115 : 12-13, 15 and 16bc, 17-18

How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to Me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of the Lord.

It is painful to the Lord to see the death of His faithful. Truly Your servant, Your handmaid’s Son. You have freed Me from My bonds.

I will offer You a thanksgiving sacrifice; I will call on the Name of the Lord. I will carry out My vows to the Lord in the presence of His people.

Sunday, 3 June 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 24 : 3-8

Moses came and told the people all the words of YHVH and all His laws. The people replied with one voice : “Everything that YHVH has said, we shall do.”

Moses wrote down all the words of YHVH, then rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve raised stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. He then sent young men from among the sons of Israel to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice bullocks as peace offerings to YHVH.

And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins; and with the other half of the blood he sprinkled the altar. He then took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. They said, “All that YHVH said we shall do and obey.”

Moses then took the blood and sprinkled it on the people saying, “Here is the blood of the Covenant that YHVH has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Saturday, 2 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the readings from the Scripture speaking to us about the forgiveness and mercy that came from God, and which has indeed appeared in our midst as the Lord Jesus, Saviour of the world, Who have come to deliver us from our certain death and destruction because of our sins.

However, many of us do not truly believe in what the Lord has done for us, and we have doubted the Lord’s good works and intentions. This is just as how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law doubted the Lord, by questioning Him on Whose authority He has delivered all the teachings He gave to the people, and they in fact, even doubted the works and teachings of St. John the Baptist, who came before the Lord to prepare His way.

However, they could not answer Him when He asked them whether the works of St. John the Baptist came from God or from merely human invention. That is because in fact, they knew, deep in their hearts and minds, that the works of St. John the Baptist, as well as the works of the Lord Jesus were in fact divine in origin, and is the truth surpassing any human knowledge.

But why were they unable to admit that openly before the people, that what the Lord Jesus said is true? That is because they were unable to resist the temptation of their ego and pride, their arrogance and ambition. They were those who were entrusted with the guardianship of the laws and the customs of the people, but they ended up being overly possessive and jealous of any threats or challenges to their authority and power.

They were swayed by the temptations of power, by the allure of fame and glory, and therefore, they ended up falling into sin. They do not truly have faith in them, because they were so full of themselves that they did not leave a place for God in their hearts and minds. That is why God’s words and truth had no effect on them. Yet, God forgave them all that they had done, at the very end in Calvary, when He forgave all those who rejected and persecuted Him from the cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let this be a reminder for each and every one of us, that as Christians, our lives must be centred on God, and we must always keep in mind, everything that God has done for our sake. As long as we put the Lord at the centre of our lives, then our actions, words and everything we do will be filled with faith, and we will draw closer to Him, and we will be able to find our way to His salvation.

On this day, we celebrate the feast of the two saints, St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, who were holy martyrs of the faith. They were martyred at the time of the great persecution under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, when many of the faithful people of God were arrested, tortured, and forced to choose between abandoning their faith in God and live, or to remain faithful and die.

Yet, despite the attempts and persuasions given to them, of riches, wealth, fame, security and well-being under guarantee from the Emperor and the state, St. Marcellinus, St. Peter and many of the other martyrs and saints of their time refused to abandon and betray the Lord to serve their own selfish desires and purposes. They rather chose death in faith than to live in sin and darkness.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us? Are we also going to follow the examples of the holy saints of God? Are we able to give the same commitment to the Lord as they had done before us? Or do we rather choose the path of the Pharisees, all those who place themselves and their selfish desires, ego and pride before the Lord? The choice is in our hands, and we need to make the choice.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek to be ever more faithful to God, and turn towards Him wholeheartedly. Let us all be ever more committed through our actions, and show just how much we love the Lord, by obeying Him and doing what He has commanded us to do, that is to love Him with all of our hearts and with all of our strength. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 2 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Mark 11 : 27-33

At that time, Jesus and His disciples were once again in Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking in the Temple, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the elders came to Him, and asked, “What authority do You have to act like this? Who gave You authority to do the things You do.”

Jesus said to them, “I will ask you a question, only one, and if you give me an answer, then I will tell you what authority I have to act like this. Was John’s preaching and baptism a work of God, or was it merely something human? Answer Me.”

And they kept arguing among themselves, “If we answer that it was a work of God, He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’” But neither could they answer before the people that the baptism of John was merely something human, for everyone regarded John as a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you what authority I have to act as I do.”

Saturday, 2 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 62 : 2abc, 2d-4, 5-6, 8-9

O God, You are my God, it is You I seek; for You my body longs and my soul thirsts.

As a dry and weary land without water. Thus have I gazed upon You in the Sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.

I will praise You as long as I live, lift up my hands and call on Your Name. As with the richest food, my soul will feast; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.

For You have been my help; I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Saturday, 2 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Jude 17, 20b-25

But, most beloved, remember what the Apostles of Christ Jesus, Our Lord, announced to you. Build your life on the foundation of your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. Remain firm, in the love of God, welcoming the mercy of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, which leads to eternal life.

Try to convince those who doubt; others you will save, snatching them from condemnation. Treat the others with compassion, but also with prudence, shunning even the clothes that touched their body. To the one God, Who is able to keep you from all sin, and bring you, happy and without blemish before His own glory, to the one God, Who saves us, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, to Him be glory, honour, might and power, from past ages, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 1 June 2018 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us that as Christians, all of us are called to love one another, and all of us must have a living faith that bears fruit, the fruits of our faith and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise our faith is empty, dead and meaningless. We have to then look at the Gospel passage today in order to understand this better.

In the Gospel, we heard of how the Lord Jesus and His disciples travelled and encountered a fig tree, that was found to be without any fruits at all. The Lord cursed the barren and fruitless tree, and went on His way. Eventually, when they all returned to the same place a few days later and saw the fig tree, it had withered and died, the entire tree, showing us what will happen to us should we be found empty and fruitless in our faith.

What does it mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that if our faith is limited to just a formality or merely a religious certificate, and even if we attend the Sunday Masses but merely to fulfil the Sunday obligations without appreciating, understanding and embracing the importance of the Holy Mass, then I am afraid that our faith is still mostly empty, meaningless and dead.

St. James said in his Epistle that faith without good works is dead. This is exactly what I meant by saying that we should not have an empty, fruitless and meaningless faith. Faith that exists just by itself, and not made alive and real through concrete actions and devotions, especially love, is useless and empty. And this is an important matter that all of us as Christians must realise, or otherwise, we will end up leading an empty and fruitless Christian life.

Perhaps, we should follow the examples of St. Justin the Martyr, whose memory we commemorate today. St. Justin the Martyr was a shining example of Christian discipleship and he showed all of us what it truly means to be fruitful in our faith. He was a brilliant man who lived in the era of the pagan Roman Empire, and was a renowned and intellectual pagan philosopher, who was searching for the true meaning of life and wisdom.

However, it ended up that no matter how much knowledge and wisdom he gained, he was unable to satisfy his desire and the emptiness he felt in his mind and heart. Instead, that led him to encounter the Lord through the Christian faith, and after having discussed and debated about the faith, he ended up being persuaded of the truth and the wisdom of the Christian faith, found only in the Lord’s teachings, and became a convert.

Henceforth, St. Justin ministered to many of the faithful, through his great intellect, wisdom and knowledge, spreading the faith to many parts of the Empire. Many souls were saved because of his works and teachings, and he tirelessly spent his effort trying to bring the truth to more and more people. However, he encountered many challenges and difficulties, to the point of being arrested after one of the pagan philosophers who debated with him reported him to the authorities because of his Christian faith.

Despite all efforts spent on trying to make him to abandon his faith in the Lord, and even when his intellect impressed many of his torturers and jailers, including even the Roman Emperor, St. Justin remained strongly and firmly attached to his faith, and remained dedicated fully to the Lord, choosing martyrdom over abandoning his Lord and Master. This, brothers and sisters in Christ, is the kind of faith and dedication that each and every one of us must have, a fruitful and living faith.

Let us all therefore, devote ourselves anew to the Lord, not just through exterior observances of the faith, but also through our love and care for one another, showing true Christian charity, even to those who are suffering around us. It is through this that all of us lead a genuine Christian life, and by loving one another we also love the Lord our God. He Himself showed us a vision of the Last Judgment and said, that whatever we have done to the least of our brethren, we are doing it for the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore turn to the Lord with all of our hearts, and focus our attention on Him from now on. Let us all make the Lord as the centre and heart of our lives. May the Lord be with us all in this journey of life, and may He continue to empower us to live faithfully day after day. Amen.