Thursday, 31 May 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.

Thursday, 31 May 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.

Thursday, 31 May 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.

Thursday, 31 May 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.

Thursday, 31 May 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.”

Thursday, 31 May 2018 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth, in the mountainous region of Judea, a few months after the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her with the Good News that she would become the mother of the Saviour of the world and the Son of God, hence becoming the great Mother of God.

And today, we celebrate that moment when Mary visited Elizabeth and in that meeting, she recognised her as the Mother of God, as her own son, St. John the Baptist in her womb, leapt and kicked with great joy when Mary came to her house. Through this event, we see the very first time when the coming of the Lord was revealed to the people, as prior to this, only Mary herself was told this truth by the Archangel.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we are called to remember the great joy of Mary, who sang the famous hymn ‘Magnificat’, praising God for all the good things that He has done for His people, especially to Mary, whom God had chosen to be His vessel and His instrument for the salvation of the world. Through Mary, God has made Himself incarnate into the flesh, and became Man.

Through Mary, we have seen the great work of God, and the culmination of the long promised salvation that He has promised to all of us. Mary has also herself showed the example of how we ought to be, as a model Christian. She showed us all how to be obedient to God, and how we should walk in the way of the Lord. She entrusted herself completely to the Lord and gave herself completely to God’s will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we are called to follow in the example of Mary, the mother of Our Lord. Mary showed all of us the way forward in our lives, and she showed us the importance of prayer and of listening to God. In the Magnificat, the hymn that Mary sang, was contained in essence a prayer to God, praising and thanking Him, and remembering all that He had done.

How about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we led a good and prayerful life? Have we walked faithfully in God’s ways? Have we devoted our time, effort and attention to the Lord and put Him as the focus and the centre of our lives? If we have not done all these, then perhaps we should really spend some time to reflect and reevaluate our actions and lives.

Shall we turn ourselves towards God, and shall we learn to focus more on Him? Shall we spend more time in prayer, contemplation and focus on the Lord, that we, in the midst of our busy schedules and activities, will not lose our focus and our way? All of us are called to a holier and more prayerful life. All of us need to be holy just as the Lord is holy, in everything we say and do in our lives.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He empower us all to live worthily and filled with faith, every single days of our life. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 31 May 2018 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 39-56

Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb.

Elizabeth was filled with Holy Spirit, and giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb! How is it that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”

And Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God my Saviour! He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness, and people forever will call me blessed.”

“The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name! From age to age His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.”

“He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned home.