(Usus Antiquior) Feast of our Lord Jesus Christ the King, Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost (Double I Classis) – Sunday, 26 October 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a great feast day of the Church as we come together to celebrate the kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is indeed King, and King not just any other king, but the One True King, King over all of creation, and King over all of the universe. He is the King of kings, and the fount of true power and authority, from whom all the kings and rulers of this world eventually received their authority from.

Yes, for Jesus Christ our Lord is the Lord and God, and He is the Son of God, one of the Most Holy Trinity, One True God with Three distinct Aspects. And Jesus came into the world, taking up the form of a humble Man, a simple and poor Man, the son of a carpenter, born in a manger in a dirty and poor stable, even though He is a King, and the King above every other kings and rulers of the earth.

This is to show us all, and to show the world, that the kingdom of Jesus is the kingdom of God, which encompasses everything, and yet it is not of this world. It is not the same in nature as the kingdoms of this world, as the realms and countries of this world, and His kingship is also of a different nature, unlike that of the kings and rulers of the earth. Why is this so?

This is because, as Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, during the time when He was scourged before He went on to be crucified during His Passion, He is a King and His kingdom is the kingdom of truth, that is the truth of God, with true joy and true happiness that only God can give to mankind, who are His people, and whose King, the One True King is Christ Himself.

The kings and rulers of this world lives as the world has lived, and they lived in the way that the world had expected of them on how to live their lives and on how they ought to act. Many of these kings and rulers had power of the world and their dominion is in the world. And many of them become corrupted by the power and the authority they wielded, becoming tyrants and autocrats that oppressed the people for their own benefits.

Yes, many kings and rulers have plenty of wealth and riches of the world, and they have regular sumptuous banquets and meals with his subjects, especially the powerful and rich ones of the world who could afford to dine with the kings and the rulers. They often spend their money in various lavish things and used their possessions often without restraint. The rulers of the world indeed had been corrupted by the temptations which the world had provided.

Of course it does not mean that all of them were wicked, as there were also righteous and just rulers who used their power and authority, entrusted by God responsibly and with justice. But those who lived in the world and acted in accordance with the ways of the world are eventually bound to the rules and the ways of the world, and more likely than not, they committed things wicked in the sight of God.

Jesus reminded the world that His kingdom is not of the world, and thus unlike the rulers of the world, His power and authority does not depend on how much wealth and possessions that He possessed, and neither does He answer to the world and to its ways on all the things He has done. Whatever He has done, was done in the name of truth and the faith, in bringing about the kingdom of God.

Jesus always liked to say that the kingdom of God is near, and called the people to repentance to prepare themselves for the coming of that kingdom. And this call was also echoed by the prophets who came before Him, especially St. John the Baptist, who cleared the path for Him and straightened the way for the King. That is because the kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of truth, one that is to replace all falsehoods of the world, and to replace all the authorities and powers which the Lord had delegated to mankind.

Men had been entrusted to be the stewards of creation, that is to take care of the other things and creatures which God had created in this world. However, as time would tell, many of them fell short, and many misused their power to fulfill their own ego and desires. The lies of Satan and the temptations of the world overwhelmed them and made them to persecute those who have been trusted under them. And that is why we have so much sorrow in this world.

Kings fight with kings, rulers fight with kings and other rulers for various reasons, for the people, for wealth, for possessions, for women, for pleasures of the world, and for their own personal ambitions and ego. And often that the people suffered for their injustice and their ambitions, which they put above the welfare of the people entrusted under them.

How about Jesus? First we have already known that His kingship is not based on wealth or any properties of the world, but based on the truth of God solely, and that while the kings of the earth bicker over authority and over other things, Jesus the King was solely and completely obedient to the task which He came into the world for, that is the salvation of His people, the beloved ones of God.

And He who is King over all of us is also a caring and loving King, unlike some kings and rulers who loved themselves more, and who loved their money and possessions, and their titles and palaces more than they loved their people. They were the bad and evil shepherds who did not care for their sheep, entrusted to them by the Chief Shepherd, that is Jesus, King over all kings.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who truly knows His sheep, all and every one by name. He knows them and He guides them into the right paths, that is into His truth. And He did not even spare His own life to protect them and to ensure them the salvation which He had promised them. He is indeed the true King, the servant King, who served His people and devoted His entire being to help them and to love them tenderly and graciously.

Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we celebrate this great Feast of Jesus Christ the King, we do not just come to celebrate His great glory as the King of kings, but we also celebrate the love and dedication which He showed as King to all of His people, and all the works He had done with blood and sweat, suffering even death to purchase for us an eternal salvation with Him. Let us all also embrace the truth which He had brought into the world, for if we do not fully embrace that truth, that is our Faith in all of its fullness, then we cannot take part in the kingdom of Christ which is to come.

Thus, may Almighty God, our King of kings, the Master of all creations and of all the world be with us, and give us His awesome strength and power, that we may remain faithful to Him, our Good Shepherd, that we will not be led astray by the falsehoods of this world, which have brought down kings and rulers, betrayed by their own greed and ambition, and that all of us who have been entrusted with power and authority will emulate the example of the true Lord and King, Jesus Christ in all things.

Jesus our King and Lord, love us always and make us to be more like You, that the mightier one is, the humbler and the more dedicated one should become. Do not cast us away from Your kingdom, but help us when we fall, that we may be reunited with You in Your eternal kingdom and glory. Amen.

Saturday, 2 August 2014 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Priests or Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the story of the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, the herald and messenger of God, the one who came and went before our Lord to straighten His path in this world. St. John the Baptist preached God’s mercy and love, urging the people to repent before it was too late, while the gate to salvation and forgiveness is still wide open.

However, it did not mean that he had an easy task or life. He met with many oppositions and challenges, just as the prophet Jeremiah encountered in the reading from the Old Testament we heard today as well. The prophet Jeremiah had a different mission, but of the same nature, urging the people to repent and turn away from their path of sin, and return into the light of God. And he rightly met the same kind of opposition by those who did not want to listen to the word of God.

The same opposition had been encountered by many other prophets who spoke the truth about the decadence and wickedness of men, when mankind had forgotten their true purpose in life, which is to serve God and to show that we truly are the children of God. That means we should not be defiant in our actions and follow wickedness of Satan over the love of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of two saints, namely St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard. Both of them were truly holy men who followed the will of God and walked righteously in God’s path. They lived in a very different time period, with St. Eusebius living at the time of the Roman Empire during the early days of the Church, when the Church was assailed by heresies and divisions, while St. Peter Julian Eymard lived at the dawn of the modern era, in the nineteenth century.

Nevertheless, both of them were equally devoted and dedicated in their lives of service to God, and they worked hard in their respective lives to enlighten many of those who had fallen to the trap and darkness of the evil one. St. Eusebius of Vercelli fought hard against the great heresy of Arianism, which was widespread during his time at the fourth century after the birth of Christ. This heresy denied the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and claimed that He was just a mere man and creation of God.

St. Eusebius painstakingly and patiently worked to bring back many of those who had been seduced by the lies of evil into the true faith. These people were misguided by many things, and some of which include their own human frailties and weaknesses, such as pride, ego, desire and many other similar evils. These were no different from what had afflicted the people who rejected Jesus, and which had afflicted Herod.

Herod was seduced by the temptation of the flesh, in the beauty of his own stepdaughter, to the point that he made a vow without good consideration that eventually led him to a great sin, that is the murder of the prophet and messenger of God, St. John the Baptist. This is what St. Eusebius, as well as St. Peter Julian Eymard tried their best to eradicate from mankind.

St. Peter Julian Eymard had a strong desire to join the religious life since his youth, and despite the opposition from his father and others, he eventually made it to the desire of his life, to serve God. And St. Peter Julian Eymard did many good works for the Lord among the people, and he established two and more religious orders dedicated to the prayerful life to God, and in particular a strong and close devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist.

St. Peter Julian Eymard and St. Eusebius of Vercelli were both great role models for us all. Therefore, all that we need to do now is indeed to look at our own lives and reflect, whether we have been rejecting our Lord as the people had done so many times throughout the ages. And as we all have sinned and walked away from the Lord, let us use this opportunity to renew our devotion to God and strengthen our spiritual life, that we may always be close to God and His ways.

May Almighty God bless us all this day, and keep us in His love, that we may reflect in all of our words, deeds and actions, a true discipleship and proof of all of us being the children of our loving Father and God. Amen.

Sunday, 20 July 2014 : 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Bible Sunday (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today this Sunday just as last Sunday, we celebrate Bible or Scripture Sunday, when we truly come together to appreciate and honour this writing and collections of books which together make up the entire revelation of God and His words, which He spoke through the prophets and through His many servants throughout the ages.

In order to be able to fully appreciate and understand the importance of the Bible or the Holy Scriptures, then first we must know it and take the word of God in it into our hearts and minds. And it is important to know that without a sufficient knowledge of the word of God in the Scriptures, we cannot be truly faithful and devoted to God, for we are bound to be affected and corrupted by the falsehoods of Satan, the evil one, who spread his lies all the time to trap those whose faith are not strong.

But that does not mean we can just memorise and remember the Holy Scriptures and the word of God without understanding it and the true meaning of the literary works of the prophets and the writers of the Holy Scriptures. Do you all remember what Satan did when he tempted Jesus our Lord in the desert just after His baptism? Yes, precisely, Satan quoted the passages of the Holy Scriptures, and then twisting their meaning to serve his own wicked purposes.

Such will be the dangerous and powerful weapon that Satan will employ against those who knows the Scriptures, but refuse or disregard the need to understand the word of God and its meaning as written in the Holy Scriptures. Therefore, we cannot study or understand the Scriptures on our own, or claim that our understanding of them to be sufficient for our salvation, a view and idea which is called sola scriptura and which has quite a following among those who thought that they know it better than the early Church fathers in the matters of the faith.

Remember brothers and sisters, that the authority to teach the meaning of the Holy Scriptures has been bestowed by God to none other than Jesus Christ, His own Son, who came into the world. In Jesus lay the full completeness and perfection of all the messages and the prophecies of the prophets of the past and all the words of God revealed through the servants of God. All these are in what we know today as the Old Testament, that is the testaments and the works of the servant of God before the coming of Christ.

Jesus taught His disciples and many other people through the means of parables, or stories that are related to many different life experiences and scenarios, often not talking directly about God in those parables. For the laypersons and all those who did not understand the meaning of those parables, what Jesus told them in the parables might not make sense to them, but they might have truly understood what the stories were about.

The parables of Jesus were constructed around many real examples that if one is to take a closer inspection, would reveal that Jesus often talked about the professions that were truly ubiquitous and renowned, as well as common during the time when He was in the world. These include shepherds, which we know in the case when Jesus talked about shepherds and Himself as the Good Shepherd; fishermen, which Jesus often referred to in His teachings to the disciples in their future role as the fishers of men.

Jesus talked about farmers and sowing of seeds most often, because farming truly was the most prevalent job in the society at the time. By using these analogies, or parables, He taught the meaning of the Word of God in the Holy Scriptures with perfect clarity and true authority of teaching. With those examples and references, He could relate with the life experiences of the people, who then might understand the word better.

However, as we all know, that Jesus did not stay in the world for long. He accomplished the long-planned salvation for mankind by going through the punishments meant for our sins, bearing them on the cross towards Calvary, and gave us a new hope in life. Jesus rose up from the dead and showed us hope in His resurrection and then departed from this world to return to His throne in heaven to prepare a place for all of us.

Hence, Jesus passed down the authority to teach the Holy Scriptures in its complete and true meaning to the Apostles and the disciples whom He had chosen from among the people. He sent them the Holy Spirit, the Advocate and the Helper, who enlightened them with zeal and faith, and through the Spirit sent by God to them, they passed down the same truth and teachings of the Lord to their successors, to pass them down in the Church of God, on which God had invested the authority over all of the faithful.

There is no other wisdom and truth beyond that of the Lord’s wisdom and power, and hence there can be no truth in the Scriptures and the Word of God beyond the teachings of the Church. There were those who thought that they have the intellect and knowledge better than the Church and the early Church fathers who had received the teachings and the directly from the Lord Himself.

Luther, Henry VIII, Calvin, Zwingli, and many other countless heretics who rebelled against God and His Church were the very examples of how people have misinterpreted, twisted and misused the words of the Lord in the Holy Scriptures for their own selfish purposes. They were attached to the promises of Satan in the glories and pleasures of the world, and so deeply attached they were to their own human frailty and weakness, that they failed to see what the Lord truly meant in His words and instead caused great divisions in the body of the faithful, that is the Church.

Therefore, it is important that as we celebrate this occasion of the Bible or Scripture Sunday, that we read the Scriptures with understanding, and do our best to obey and listen to the teachings of the Church as espoused and held firm by its members and through the successors of the Apostles, namely our Pope, the Cardinals, bishops and priests of the Church of God.

Nevertheless, it is also important for us to take note that, we do not have to worry about our faith if we hold true to the teachings of the Church. What is important is that we have faith in God and keep it true at all times. God has told us through Jesus, that the faith in us is like the mustard seed. Mustard seed from the mustard plant is a very small seed, only barely a small speck to our eyes. However, when the mustard plant is fully grown, the plant is truly large, at least four to five metres tall.

What Jesus meant was that, if we allow our faith to develop and grow in us, then no matter how small that faith is, it will grow and flourish, and affecting not just ourselves, but also those around us and inspiring them to come closer to the Lord as well. But if we choose not to allow this faith to grow in us, then we will wither and perish, just as a mustard seed will remain just that, a seed if it does not sprout and grow.

How do we let it grow healthily then? It is by listening to the word of God, and not just by our ears or by our eyes that we witness these words of the Lord, but also to carry them deep into our hearts. Follow faithfully the teachings of the Lord that we gained through the Church, and we will do fine. Let us all work together, that all of us may grow stronger together in faith, hope and love in God. May He bless us always, now and forever. Amen.

Saturday, 29 March 2014 : 3rd Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

The love and mercy of God know no bounds, and there is no limit to His grace for us. He determined that He wants to see us saved and blessed, freed from the chains of sin that had bound us since the time of Adam and Eve, our ancestors. That was why He sent so much help towards our way, that we may find a way to return to His blessing, love and mercy.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important to remember that God loves us, and despite our transgressions, He is willing to overlook them and welcome us back to His embrace, so that we will not perish in the destruction destined for us because of our sins. But, there is a limit to God’s patience and mercy, and we should not test Him by continuously defying Him.

Yet, sadly many of us are blinded by our own sense of pride and human arrogance that we refuse to listen to God and to His call for us to repent from our sins. We assume that we are able to take charge of our own lives and our destiny, that we disregard His love and reject His care. We immerse ourselves in our stubbornness and carry on with our life, no matter how debauched it is.

Even among us the faithful, we often forget that we ought to be humble before God, for we have sinned. Instead we boasted about our achievements and what we did in the favour of the Lord. We even become judgmental and condemning those whom we deem as less worthy than us for grace and salvation. That was exactly what the Pharisees had done.

Jesus reminded us that the prayer of the proud and haughty worth less than the prayer made by the humble in genuine humility. The humble seeks the Lord with all of their heart and strength, because they know of their fragility and weaknesses, seeking God to help them rectify that issue and reunite them with Him. Brethren, again it is important for us not to judge others and be haughty over others just because of our achievements.

Instead we should assist one another, giving a helping hand to those in need. Particularly those who are lost in sin and darkness are of the greatest priority for us to help with. We cannot ignore or pretend to not see or hear their plight, for this kind of ignorance show the lack of true love and faith within us.

Do not be judgmental and do not think of anyone less than ourselves, just because we think that we are better or more righteous than they are. Let us not praise our own achievements, less still use them to put down others like what the Pharisee had done. We have to be more like the tax collector, understanding the sins we have and committing ourselves to change our own ways.

Never think that we are always worthy of salvation, but we have to continue to work hard and not be complacent. We have to continue to be vigilant and avoid being consumed by our own human insecurities and emotions. Seek the Lord who will definitely help us, and ask Him for His help and protection, that we will always be strong as we walk in His ways.

Let us never be separated from Him, and let us be able to see our own sinfulness, understanding the limitations and fragilities of our own selves, and humbly asking God for forgiveness for all our trespasses, and that we may always remain in God’s grace. God bless us all. Amen.

 

Monday, 10 March 2014 : 1st Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Today’s readings are a premonition of what is to come, and which will come to all of us without exception. Yes, all of us will be judged, and there is only one judge who will decide our fate, which will last for eternity. That judge is our Lord and God Himself, Jesus Christ, who proclaimed the very role that He will take up in the future. He will judge all mankind and separate the good from the bad, the faithful and the rebellious ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is this judgment that determines our fate for all eternity, and once the decision is settled, and the hammer is down, our fate is sealed. It is either that we walk the path of righteousness and doing God’s will which will earn us a place among the sheep, on the right hand side of our Judge and therefore receive the gift of everlasting blessing and grace, to live forever in joy and perfect love.

Or we can choose to side with the devil, and walk the path of wickedness, either by committing acts that are wicked and deplorable in the eyes of the Lord, or by ignoring His laws and commandments, and by remaining idle when we are in full capacity and capability to do something in accordance with the will of God.

Yes, if we do these, then we will be on the left hand side, the goats, that is those who are rejected by the Lord, and those whom are judged unworthy by God to share the eternal blessing and grace He had allocated to those who remain faithful to Him. This leads to eternal damnation and suffering, that is total separation from the love of God, and in that state of nothingness and without hope, we suffer grievously.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, there are two kinds of sins that we have to really pay attention to. The first is what is often called the sin of action, the kind of sin that we are most familiar with. Essentially these are the sins which in our first reading from the Book of Leviticus tried to address, as also stated in the Ten Commandments that we all certainly know very well by now.

Basically these are sins by our direct and conscious actions, with examples such as murder, stealing, lying, jealousy, and many others, which brought negative consequences to either ourselves, and more often than not, our brothers and sisters, our neighbours and our fellow man, or to God Himself. These are the sins most obvious to us, because indeed, our world today are full of it. Mankind nowadays are often embroiled in violence and hatred towards one another.

This we have to avoid, yes, and we have to make the effort to avoid at all cost from committing these sins, by fortifying ourselves that we may not be easily tempted to commit these acts for whatever reasons, some of which bring certain advantages to us. But we must not forget that there is another kind of sin that we should not forget.

That kind of sin is the sin of omission, that is failure to do what is expected from us, the failure to do good deeds according to the Lord and His will. This is what Jesus mentioned as the Judge telling off those on His left, that they had ignored and cared not for the plight of those less fortunate in their life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to avoid committing these two kinds of sins. How best to do so? By strengthening our faith and defense against evil through a good and healthy prayer life that we may always be strong in our faith and not easily fall to the temptation to commit the sins of action. And whenever we have the opportunity to do good deeds, do not squander them. Be aware of the plight of others in need for our love. Give them our attention and be not afraid in doing so, even if others disapprove of our actions.

May we all not be found among those whom the Lord will reject on the Day of Judgment, and that all of us may strive to be always righteous and worthy of our Lord. May the Lord be with us always and bless us, that we may go through this life filled with goodness and be proactive in our faith. Amen.

Friday, 28 February 2014 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the law of God which He first revealed through Moses had been adapted, changed, and suited to the uses and means of the people of God, that is the Israelites, which they had often misunderstood in its true purpose, that is to serve God’s purpose rather than the purpose of men. Yet, in reality, the laws had been made subservient to the will of men.

And no other time was this more evident, than at the time of Jesus, when the abuse was at its relative maximum. The Pharisees, the scribes and the teachers of the law, who were the leaders of the people in the matter of faith, misused their teaching authority and gave the people of God a much improvised version of the true law of God.

The strictness of the law of God which was revealed through Moses, was indeed due to the thick-headedness of the Israelites, who constantly grumbled and disobeyed the Lord on their way through the desert to the Promised Land. They ignored the precepts and way of the Lord, preferring instead to submit to their own emotions and human desires, rather than obeying the Lord their God.

But was the intention of the Lord truly to punish and burden them with such laws? No! These laws were there because God loved and cared for them, and He dreaded the most if any of His beloved were to fall into the hands of Satan and evil, and be separated from Him by the eternal agony of hell. God loved mankind and all of His children, and that is why He bothered to give them His laws to help them.

But what the people had done by the time of Jesus was that of blind obedience, which can be as bad as thick-headedness and plain disobedience of their ancestors. That is because if their ancestors refused to believe in the Lord and His ways, the people at the time of Jesus believed only at the surface, through the various observations of the complicated rules and regulations as established by the Pharisees.

And the result is that they were as wayward as their ancestors were, and first of all would be the Pharisees and the leaders of the people themselves, who led the people in their obstinate state, refusing to listen even to the Holy One of God, the promised Messiah. When God came down upon us to explain the truth about what He desired in mankind, they refused to believe in Him and preferred to trust in their own human wisdom and judgment.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, these people saw the Lord, and yet they did not realise, as the first reading today mentioned, that the judge is already at the door, ready to mete judgment against them. But He still gave them chance for repentance, and some did repent, accepting His mercy and love.

The same too applies to us, brethren. Do we recognise the Lord and His Presence? Do we recognise Him in our faith, and do we truly believe in what we believe? Are we like those who only prefer to believe what they want to believe and discard the rest, the so-called cafetaria Christians? If we do so then we are no better than the Pharisees who chose to believe in their own human wisdom rather than in the Lord.

Are we genuine in our love and devotion for the Lord? Our devotion and faith cannot be just merely mean going for Mass every Sunday and that is it. It cannot also mean just saying our prayers without real action, and neither can it be just plain works and good deeds, without prayer and proper devotion to the Lord. If we are to dedicate ourselves to God, then we must be genuine in our faith, and we cannot be half-hearted in it.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us resolve from now on to deepen our faith in God ever further, that our faith may grow ever stronger in the Lord, and that we no longer be hampered by our own human pride, arrogance, ambitions and stubbornness, that we may listen to the Lord and know what He truly wants from us.

May we all become good and faithful children of God, resolving not to disobey the Lord by following our own path, as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done. Let us dull the edge of our pride and sharpen the edge of our humility, and open wide the doors of our heart, and put up our ears, that we may listen to God as He speaks to us, and follow His ways, always and till the end of our lives. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 24 February 2014 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

James 3 : 13-18

If you consider yourself wise and learnt, show it by your good life and let your actions, in all humility, be an example for others. But if your heart is full of bitter jealousy and ambition, do not try to show off; that would be covering up the truth; this kind of wisdom does not come from above but from the world and it is earthly and devilish.

Wherever there is jealousy and ambition, you will also find discord and all that is evil. Instead, the wisdom that comes from above is pure and peace-loving. Persons with this wisdom show understanding and listen to advice; they are full of compassion and good works; they are impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow peace reap a harvest of justice.