Sunday, 12 February 2017 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Matthew 5 : 17-37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “Do not think that I have come to annul the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to annul them but to fulfil them. I tell you this : as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or dot in the Law will change until all is fulfilled.”

“So then, whoever breaks the least important of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be the least in the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys them, and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the kingdom of heaven.”

“I tell you then, if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial. But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial.”

“Whoever insults a brother or sister deserves to be brought before the council. Whoever calls a brother or a sister, ‘Fool!’ deserves to be thrown into the fire of hell. So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with him, and then come back and offer your gift to God.”

“Do not forget this : be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There you will stay, until you have paid the last penny.”

“You have heard that it was said : Do not commit adultery. But I tell you this : anyone who looks at a woman too lustfully has in fact already committed adultery with her in his heart. So, if your right eye causes you to sin, pull it out and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell.”

“It was also said : Anyone who divorces his wife, must give her a written notice of divorce. But what I tell you is this : if a man divorces his wife, except in the case of unlawful union, he causes her to commit adultery. And the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

“You have also heard that people were told in the past : Do not break your oath; an oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this : do not take oaths. Do not swear by the heavens, for they are God’s throne, nor by the earth, because it is His footstool, nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. Say yes when you mean yes, and say no when you mean no. Anything else you say comes from the devil.”

Alternative reading (shorter version)
Matthew 5 : 20-22a, 27-28, 33-34a, 37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “I tell you then, if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial. But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial.”

“You have heard that it was said : Do not commit adultery. But I tell you this : anyone who looks at a woman too lustfully has in fact already committed adultery with her in his heart. You have also heard that people were told in the past : Do not break your oath; an oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this : do not take oaths. Say yes when you mean yes, and say no when you mean no. Anything else you say comes from the devil.”

Friday, 20 May 2016 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Mark 10 : 1-12

At that time, Jesus then left Capernaum and went to the province of Judea, beyond the Jordan River. Once more crowds gathered around Him and once more He taught them, as He always did. Some (Pharisees came and) put Him to the test with this question, “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?”

He replied, “What law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined.”

When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked Him about this, and He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery.”

Friday, 6 February 2015 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 6 : 14-29

At that time, king Herod also heard about Jesus, because His Name had become well-known. Some people said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in Him.” Others thought, “He is Elijah,” and others, “He is a Prophet like the prophets of times past.”

When Herod was told of this, he thought, “I had John beheaded, yet he has risen from the dead!” For this is what had happened : Herod had ordered John to be arrested, and had had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her, and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.”

So Herodias held a grudge against John; and wanted to kill him, but she could not, because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man, and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him, although he became very disturbed, whenever he heard him.

Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs, and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you.”

And he went so far as to say with many oaths, “I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” The mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried to the king and made her request, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl have it to her mother.

When John’s disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.

Final document of the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family

(Update : The official final Synod document is still in processing and will be released soon. Below document is the summary by the Synod Fathers)

The 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family had been concluded, and we give thanks to God for helping His Church to defend the true Faith, and that He did not allow those who wished to see our Faith compromised and destroyed to have their way. May the Lord continue to watch over His Church as we await the second part of the Synod of the Family in 2015.

The Church is the guardian of the Tradition of the Faith and the Deposit of the Faith, and no one may alter the teachings of the Church which came down to us from the Apostles and thus from Jesus Christ our Lord. We can help sinners to return to the Faith but not to offer false mercy. The sanctity of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is inviolable, and marriage is between one man and one woman, made one by the Lord and no man should divide. Remember that Jesus had said that those who divorce and remarry commit adultery and thus live in a state of grave sin.

The same state of sin also apply to all others in unnatural order outside of Christian marriage, and until they repent from their sins and make their penance, they should indeed abstain from receiving the Most Precious Body and Blood of Christ, lest they sin against the Holy Spirit. Let us help them by welcoming them back and guiding them to repentance, that one day they may once again receive the Lord with full faith.

I also recommend all of you to read the Papal Encyclical Humanae Vitae by Blessed Pope Paul VI and the Theology of the Body by Pope St. John Paul II, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The text of the final summary document of the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family can be found below.

http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/10/18/0768/03043.html

 

III EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY

OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS

 

MESSAGE

            We, Synod Fathers, gathered in Rome together with Pope Francis in the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, greet all families of the different continents and in particular all who follow Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We admire and are grateful for the daily witness which you offer us and the world with your fidelity, faith, hope, and love.

Each of us, pastors of the Church, grew up in a family, and we come from a great variety of backgrounds and experiences. As priests and bishops we have lived alongside families who have spoken to us and shown us the saga of their joys and their difficulties.

The preparation for this synod assembly, beginning with the questionnaire sent to the Churches around the world, has given us the opportunity to listen to the experience of many families. Our dialogue during the Synod has been mutually enriching, helping us to look at the complex situations which face families today.

We offer you the words of Christ: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). On his journeys along the roads of the Holy Land, Jesus would enter village houses. He continues to pass even today along the streets of our cities. In your homes there are light and shadow. Challenges often present themselves and at times even great trials. The darkness can grow deep to the point of becoming a dense shadow when evil and sin work into the heart of the family.

We recognize the great challenge to remain faithful in conjugal love. Enfeebled faith and indifference to true values, individualism, impoverishment of relationships, and stress that excludes reflection leave their mark on family life. There are often crises in marriage, often confronted in haste and without the courage to have patience and reflect, to make sacrifices and to forgive one another. Failures give rise to new relationships, new couples, new civil unions, and new marriages, creating family situations which are complex and problematic, where the Christian choice is not obvious.

We think also of the burden imposed by life in the suffering that can arise with a child with special needs, with grave illness, in deterioration of old age, or in the death of a loved one. We admire the fidelity of so many families who endure these trials with courage, faith, and love. They see them not as a burden inflicted on them, but as something in which they themselves give, seeing the suffering Christ in the weakness of the flesh.

We recall the difficulties caused by economic systems, by the “the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose” (Evangelii gaudium 55) which weakens the dignity of people. We remember unemployed parents who are powerless to provide basic needs for their families, and youth who see before them days of empty expectation, who are prey to drugs and crime.

We think of so many poor families, of those who cling to boats in order to reach a shore of survival, of refugees wandering without hope in the desert, of those persecuted because of their faith and the human and spiritual values which they hold. These are stricken by the brutality of war and oppression. We remember the women who suffer violence and exploitation, victims of human trafficking, children abused by those who ought to have protected them and fostered their development, and the members of so many families who have been degraded and burdened with difficulties. “The culture of prosperity deadens us…. all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us” (Evangelii gaudium 54). We call on governments and international organizations to promote the rights of the family for the common good.

Christ wanted his Church to be a house with doors always open to welcome everyone. We warmly thank our pastors, lay faithful, and communities who accompany couples and families and care for their wounds.

***

There is also the evening light behind the windowpanes in the houses of the cities, in modest residences of suburbs and villages, and even in mere shacks, which shines out brightly, warming bodies and souls. This light—the light of a wedding story—shines from the encounter between spouses: it is a gift, a grace expressed, as the Book of Genesis says (2:18), when the two are “face to face” as equal and mutual helpers. The love of man and woman teaches us that each needs the other in order to be truly self. Each remains different from the other that opens self and is revealed in the reciprocal gift. It is this that the bride of the Song of Songs sings in her canticle: “My beloved is mine and I am his… I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 2:16; 6:3).

 

This authentic encounter begins with courtship, a time of waiting and preparation. It is realized in the sacrament where God sets his seal, his presence, and grace. This path also includes sexual relationship, tenderness, intimacy, and beauty capable of lasting longer than the vigor and freshness of youth. Such love, of its nature, strives to be forever to the point of laying down one’s life for the beloved (cf Jn 15:13). In this light conjugal love, which is unique and indissoluble, endures despite many difficulties. It is one of the most beautiful of all miracles and the most common.

This love spreads through fertility and generativity, which involves not only the procreation of children but also the gift of divine life in baptism, their catechesis, and their education. It includes the capacity to offer life, affection, and values—an experience possible even for those who have not been able to bear children. Families who live this light-filled adventure become a sign for all, especially for young people.

This journey is sometimes a mountainous trek with hardships and falls. God is always there to accompany us. The family experiences his presence in affection and dialogue between husband and wife, parents and children, sisters and brothers. They embrace him in family prayer and listening to the Word of God—a small, daily oasis of the spirit. They discover him every day as they educate their children in the faith and in the beauty of a life lived according to the Gospel, a life of holiness. Grandparents also share in this task with great affection and dedication. The family is thus an authentic domestic Church that expands to become the family of families which is the ecclesial community. Christian spouses are called to become teachers of faith and of love for young couples as well.

Another expression of fraternal communion is charity, giving, nearness to those who are last, marginalized, poor, lonely, sick, strangers, and families in crisis, aware of the Lord’s word, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). It is a gift of goods, of fellowship, of love and mercy, and also a witness to the truth, to light, and to the meaning of life.

The high point which sums up all the threads of communion with God and neighbor is the Sunday Eucharist when the family and the whole Church sits at table with the Lord. He gives himself to all of us, pilgrims through history towards the goal of the final encounter when “Christ is all and in all” (Col 3:11). In the first stage of our Synod itinerary, therefore, we have reflected on how to accompany those who have been divorced and remarried and on their participation in the sacraments.

We Synod Fathers ask you walk with us towards the next Synod. The presence of the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in their modest home hovers over you. United to the Family of Nazareth, we raise to the Father of all our petition for the families of the world:

            Father, grant to all families the presence of strong and wise spouses who may be the source of a free and united family.

            Father, grant that parents may have a home in which to live in peace with their families.

            Father, grant that children may be a sign of trust and hope and that young people may have the courage to forge life-long, faithful commitments.

            Father, grant to all that they may be able to earn bread with their hands, that they may enjoy serenity of spirit and that they may keep aflame the torch of faith even in periods of darkness.

            Father, grant that we may all see flourish a Church that is ever more faithful and credible, a just and humane city, a world that loves truth, justice and mercy.

Sunday, 7 September 2014 : 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 13 : 8-10

Do not be in debt to anyone. Let this be the only debt of one to another : Love. The one who loves his or her neighbour fulfilled the Law.

For the commandments : Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not covet and whatever else are summarised in this one : You will love your neighbour as yourself.

Love cannot do the neighbour any harm; so love fulfills the whole Law.

Friday, 29 August 2014 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the memorial feast of St. John the Baptist and his passion, that is when he faced his sufferings and last moments on this world, enduring imprisonment and incarceration by Herod, the king of Galilee, son of Herod the Great, the king who once tried to kill Jesus in His infancy. St. John the Baptist was imprisoned as he spoke bluntly and harshly against the king’s adulterous behaviour with the wife of his deceased brother.

In the Jewish society and according to the laws of Moses, the wife of one’s brother is the same as one’s own sister, and this is related to how in marriage, the man and the woman are no longer separate peoples, but had been joined together by God to be one, and that what God had made one, let no one separate, as Jesus had said it. And even when the brother of king Herod died, that does not mean that the bonds of marriage and unity blessed by God had been broken. This is why the action of Herod in making her brother’s wife as queen is considered adultery.

But one may then ask, is not according to the laws of Moses that the brother of a deceased man ought to take care of and marry the deceased man’s wife, taking her as his own? This is what happens when people did not understand the purpose of the Law, as it is clear that Herodias and Philip, the brother of king Herod had a daughter, the one whom the king was pleased with in the festival and celebrations we heard in the Gospel today.

The Law stated that the allowance for this practice is such that the deceased man may have a child that will continue his name and inheritance even after he died, and that child will be his brother’s child biologically, but legally considered as the deceased man’s child. But this was created in fact to cater and accommodate to the obstinate and hard-headed behaviours of the people of Israel, who constantly and continuously complained against the Lord during their forty years journey in the desert.

Jesus came to perfect the Law of God and to reveal the fullness of truth about them, that the Law truly was meant for the good of mankind, and to guide them in the ways of the Lord, that they would not steer away from it, and thus fall into the corruption of sin and the flesh. And through this, it was why the actions of Herod and Herodias were truly abominable before the Lord, as not only that Herod and Herodias committed an inappropriate relationship before the Lord, but also that they committed many other sinful deeds on their own persons.

Today we are reminded that courage which was shown by St. John the Baptist in defending the truth of the Lord, by speaking up not just against the corrupt Pharisees and elders of Israel, but even against a king and his queen, who was engaged in adultery. St. John the Baptist did not flinch or be afraid to do and say what is right, and speak out against what is wrong.

It is exactly what the Lord had said to the prophet Jeremiah in the first reading today, where we heard how God called him out of the people of Judah, to be his spokesperson and representative, to be the one who spoke His words and judgments to the people of the kingdom of Judah. The kingdom of Judah was then a shadow of its former glory, and the people of God had not been faithful, often they worshipped pagan gods and did not remain true to the commandments and laws of God.

Hence, Jeremiah was called and sent to speak to this rebellious and unfaithful people, so that they hopefully might listen to the Lord speaking through Jeremiah and repent from their sinfulness. Jeremiah suffered and was persecuted, opposed and imprisoned for his works and devotions to God and His people. The people to whom Jeremiah had been sent to, continued to rebel and disobeyed the Lord ever more, which eventually led to their destruction at the hands of the Babylonians.

The same too had happened to St. John the Baptist, who was sent to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, who was none other than Jesus, the Son of God Himself. St. John the Baptist was sent to make straight the path for the coming of Christ, and He did his duties responsibly and filled with zeal and faith to God. He too was rejected and doubted by the Pharisees and the elders, and these people refused to listen to the word of God and repent, just as they would later refuse to listen to Jesus.

Yet, what we can learn from this is that, while those to whom these saints were sent to did not listen and persecute these holy servants of God, God did not leave these holy servants of His alone. He gave them strength and encouragement to continue to persevere through the difficulties and oppressions they had to go through in life. And in that, they become an example for us to follow.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all reflect on our lives, on whether we have been righteous and faithful in our actions, or whether we have erred and walked away from the path of the Lord. We should avoid the actions of king Herod who gave in to his desires and human weaknesses, submitting to the power of the temptation of the flesh. Instead we should strengthen our faith and solidify within us the faith that God had placed in our hearts, like what Jeremiah and St. John the Baptist had done.

May Almighty God bless us and keep us, that in all things we may be ever faithful, that we may be ever ready to defend our faith, this faith, devotion and love we have for God, that the Lord will find us worthy at the last day when the Lord will judge us for our actions and deeds, and bring us into the everlasting glory He promised for us. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 29 August 2014 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 6 : 17-29

For this is what had happened : Herod had ordered John to be arrested, and had had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her, and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.”

So Herodias held a grudge against John; and wanted to kill him, but she could not, because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man, and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him, although he became very disturbed, whenever he heard him.

Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs, and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion the daughter of Herodias came in, and danced, and she delighted Herod and his guests.

The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you.” And he went so far as to say with many oaths, “I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.”

She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” The mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried to the king and made her request, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother.

When John’s disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.