(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 26 March 2016 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Seventh Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 36 : 16-17a, 18-28

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, when Israel occupied her own land and defiled it by her way of life and her actions. I poured out My fury on them because of the blood they shed in the land and because they defiled it with their filthy idols.”

“Then I scattered them among the nations  and dispersed them in other lands. I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. But when they were brought to other nations, My Holy Name was profane because others said of them : ‘The people of YHVH had to be exiled from His land!'”

“Then I was concerned for My Holy Name, profaned by Israel among the nations where she had been dispersed. Now you shall say to the people of Israel : ‘It is not for your sake that I am about to act, but because of My Holy Name that you have profaned in the places where you have gone.'”

“‘I will make known the holiness of My great Name, profaned among the nations because of you, and they will know that I am YHVH when I show them My holiness among you. For I will gather you from all the nations and bring you back to your own land.'”

“‘Then I shall pour pure water over you and you shall be made clean – cleansed from the defilement of all your idols. I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I shall remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.'”

“‘I shall put  My spirit within you and move you to follow My decrees and keep My laws. You will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be My people and I will be Your God.'”

Tuesday, 6 May 2014 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 30-35

Then they said, “Show us miraculous signs, that we may see and believe You. What sign do You perform? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert; as Scripture says : They were given bread from heaven to eat.”

Jesus them said to them, “Truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. The bread God gives is the One who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.” And they said to Him, “Give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me shall never be thirsty.”

Thursday, 27 March 2014 : 3rd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 94 : 1-2, 6-7, 8-9

Come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful sound to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him giving thanks, with music and songs of praise.

Come and worship; let us bow down, kneel before the Lord, our Maker. He is our God, and we His people; the flock He leads and pastures. Would that today you heard His voice!

Do not be stubborn, as at Meribah, in the desert, on that day at Massah, when your ancestors challenged Me, and they put Me to the test.

 

Sunday, 23 March 2014 : 3rd Sunday of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 94 : 1-2, 6-7, 8-9

Come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful sound to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him giving thanks, with music and songs of praise.

Come and worship; let us bow down, kneel before the Lord, our Maker. He is our God, and we His people; the flock He leads and pastures. Would that today you heard His voice!

Do not be stubborn, as at Meribah, in the desert, on that day at Massah, when your ancestors challenged Me, and they put Me to the test.

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.

Saturday, 15 February 2014 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 105 : 6-7a, 19-20, 21-22

We have sinned like our ancestors; we have done wrong and acted wickedly. When they were in Egypt, our ancestors had no regard for Your wondrous deeds.

They made a calf at Horeb and worshipped the molten image. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of a bull that eats grass.

They forgot their Saviour God, who had done great things in Egypt, wonderful works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Sea of Reeds.

 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Our Lord and God is merciful and loving, He is gentle and tender with love. Although He hates sin and despises those who committed sin before Him, with. His love, He is willing to forgive all trespasses, providing that we ourselves commit ourselves to repentance and changing our ways to follow the Lord with all of our hearts and with all of our strengths.

God listens to the prayer of mankind, when they asked Him with sincerity and true devotion, and will not abandon His beloved ones to doom or damnation. Yes, it will be the same as just when He heard the prayer of Hannah, who conceived with the grace of God after remained barren for so long. Not only that, but Hannah even gained many children after she presented her firstborn, Samuel, to the service of God.

Mankind had been long enthralled by the power of evil and sin, ever since sin entered into us through the disobedience of our ancestors, who turned away from the Lord and instead listened to the tempting words and lies of the evil spirits, the greatest of which was none other than Satan himself. Evil spirits entered the hearts of men and possessed those who were weak against them. They twisted mankind and made them to go further in their disobedience against their Creator.

But they have no authority or power against the One whom the Lord had sent into this world in order to bring mankind and all creations out of the dominion of the evil one, and back into the dominion of the Lord. That is why the evil spirits fear Jesus, whom they certainly know to be the One sent by God to liberate God’s people from their dominion and tyranny.

The evil spirits were once rebel angels who followed the great enemy, Lucifer, into his rebellion against the Lord, the one who claimed power beyond the Most High. They were defeated and cast down together with him, and just as he became Satan, the great enemy, they became the evil spirits who were against the people of God.

They know of the ultimate fate that awaits them at the end of time, and the punishment that they deserve. They are all to suffer with Satan for eternity at the lake of fire, forever sundered from the grace of God just as all mankind who never repented or loved the Lord. That is why they feared the Lord and always tried to dissuade Him from torturing them with His power and authority.

Brothers and sisters in Christ! How lamentable it is indeed, that even evil spirits acknowledge the power and authority of Jesus Christ as Lord and God, while many of us continue to ignore and reject Him from our lives. It is lamentable indeed that we do not remain faithful to Him, but instead follow in the rebellion of Satan, the evil one. We easily fall into temptation and succumb to the power of the devil in the world.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on our own actions, words and deeds. Have they all been for or against the Lord? Have we acted in a way that is rebellious against the will of God as the fallen angels and Satan did? Let us all use this opportunity to think and remember, that the actions against the will of God will only lead to death and ultimate destruction, the fate that the evil spirits feared very, very much when Jesus came to them.

If they fear such fate, then all the more, all of us as the children of God should avoid such fate with the best of our abilities. We all should resolve to be ever more obedient to the Lord and follow His will, that we too will not share the fate that these spirits will face as their judgment. Let us always remain true to the Lord and walk always in His path. God be with us all. Amen.

Monday, 6 January 2014 : Monday after the Epiphany (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Only those spirits who acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and God, that truly belong to the Lord. Not all spirits and apparitions belong to the Lord, for some does belong to the devil and the falsehoods that he brings to us. Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important for us to take note of this fact, so that we will not fall into deception and disobey the Lord and His will, even without us knowing it.

Prophets, seers, and visionaries appeared throughout the ages, even up to today, my brethren. We have those who received visions and apparitions of various origins, some of which are truly genuine and have been approved by the Church, but some others of more dubious origins and may even be an attention-seeking or popularity movement, if not immediately devil-inspired.

My dear friends, indeed we have much to gain from good visions and apparitions, through which the Lord continues to speak to us, either directly or through the intermediary of His saints, particularly that of His mother Mary. Through these the Lord had made His will known, and that particularly and often includes the call for mankind to return to Him and repent from their sins.

Remember brethren, that we ought to adhere strongly to the teachings of the faith through the Church, what the Church had taught us in our faith, which is the result of millennia of refinement and richness of God’s revelations made through the ages via His innumerable saints. Quite a few of the saints recognised by the Church were known to be mystics and visionaries, who often received messages from the divine. And our faith can only get richer because of them.

But we have to be careful lest we fall into the lies and falsehoods of Satan. Remember that our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, was deceived by Satan wearing the then noble form of the animal snake, posing to them as the good and benevolent being with good intent, but in fact having malice and evil deep inside. The devil, the prince and father of lies, deceit, and trickery certainly have no problem to deceive us by posing as a holy angel of God or the apparition of saints.

Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is absolutely important for all of us to be properly educated on the faith we have in Christ, that we all will all have a solid foundation of faith, that not even the devil will be able to disturb. And the catechesis of our faith must be complete, that we leave no loophole which the evil one will be able to exploit to his advantage.

Thus, it is important for all of us to seek to always understand more about our faith, by putting our trust in reliable sources especially in the teaching authority of the Church, and trusting only in visions and apparitions approved and proven to be true by the authority of the Church. For the Church had been the great deposit of faith, defending the true and orthodox faith ever since the days of the Apostles until today.

Popular apparition or vision, or popular and influential individuals do not make up our faith brothers and sisters in Christ. If what they revealed to us is not in line or even contrary to our faith and the teachings of the faith in the Church, we can be almost certain that those visions, apparitions, and individuals did not come from God, but rather from men, or worse still, from the evil one.

The popular alleged apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Medjugorje in Serbia for example, had not been approved as a legitimate apparition of the faith and yet it remained very popular, drawing many pilgrims and believers. In the Medjugorje ‘apparition’, the Blessed Virgin apparently appeared daily and gave her messages in daily manner, almost as if she is responding to the prayers of the pilgrims, and as a result, drawing even more people to come and believe in the alleged apparition.

This is what we have to exactly be on guard for, to avoid putting too much emphasis on unverified visions of the spirits, so that we will not easily fall prey to the attempts of the evil one to deceive us, just as he had once deceived Eve, and many other people who had passed away before us. Be always on guard, and strengthen our faith. Read the Scriptures with understanding and deepen our knowledge of the faith through understanding the teachings of the Church.

May our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen our faith, and grant us the strength and courage to say no to the deceptions of evil, and that we may seek the Lord and. Him only, following what He truly desires of us. God be with us all. Amen.

Friday, 3 January 2014 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Today we glory in Jesus Christ, and we praise Him with the greatest exaltation we can give. Indeed, we ought to do that every single day of our lives without ceasing, with every single breath that we take. For it is through Christ that we have life, and it is also through Christ that we have hope for a new and everlasting life in joy and happiness.

Why is Jesus so special? And why is He so important to all of us? That is because as we all know, He is God Himself, and yet He is not a distant and unloving God who lords Himself over us as gods typically do, in our understanding of the term divine. Instead, Jesus is the Word, who is God and who is with God since the very beginning of all, begotten of the Father not created, and who emptied Himself of His glorious divinity, so that He might be born into this world, as one of us, a lowly human.

His coming had been prophesied by the prophets and the messengers of God for many millennia, and His coming had been expected and awaited by the people of God. God was known as the God named I am who I am, or YHVH in short. His Name is holy, and as one of the Ten Commandments stated, that the people of God must treat this Holy Name with the greatest respect.

We who are the most beloved ones of the Lord’s entire creation, had sinned against Him and rebelled against His will and commands, preferring to trust in Satan rather than in the power of the One and only True God. Yet, God is Love, and in us, He saw that there were good in us, just as all of creation was once perfect in goodness.

Everything was good then, until rebellion, pride and jealousy entered into the heart of Satan, who rebelled against Him and boasted that he would sit at the throne of God, only to be cast down, away from heaven. From there, Satan tricked and lied to our ancestors, that they were deceived and sin entered into the hearts of mankind. Ever since then we had been made dirty by the presence of sin in us, and yet in each one of us good is still present.

That is why God decided to come down upon this world in order to save us all from our fate that is death. He came to us, through the intermediary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, who bore Him as He remained in her womb for nine months after He, by the power of His own Spirit, entered into the world of mankind

And just like all of us, He has a Name, and a Name was given Him, that is Jesus, which in the original Aramaic is Yehosuah in approximation, containing the Name of YHVH, that is the Lord. Yes, that is in conjunction with the other name that Jesus is known, that is Emmanuel, or God-is-with-us. Yes, the very Name of Jesus is Holy and great, for it is the Name of God Himself, and not just any gods, but the One and only True God who dwells with us, by being born into the world, in order to be our Saviour.

He came into this world and began His ministry, of healing, of teaching, of feeding the people of God. He gave a great revelation on the nature of God and His love. Indeed, as we all know, that God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, so that all who believe in Him will not perish in death, but gain eternal life, which was promised to us by the Lord Himself.

Jesus came into this world with power and authority, and not just any kind of authority or power, but the true authority, out of whom all authorities came about. There can be no power or authority that does not have its source in Jesus. Even the devil, Satan, who had reigned mercilessly upon us as our jailor in the slavery by sin, and who had exercised power and control over us, was powerless and is powerless, and will ever be powerless before Jesus.

The evil spirits feared Him, and said His Holy Name aloud to the people to hear, that is Jesus, the Holy One of God, the Christ Himself. They trembled with fear upon hearing His Name, knowing the fate that they will suffer at the hand of God’s justice. They were once beautiful angels in heaven, but they followed the devil, once Lucifer, the brightest and greatest angel into his rebellion as I mentioned earlier. Ever since then, they were doomed, and destined to suffer for eternity by God’s justice.

The Lord’s authority is over everything, every single matter that exists in our universe and beyond. He is the Lord of all things visible and invisible. That is why even at the utterance of His Name, every knee and every beings shall bow down, genuflect, even flat to the floor! Yes, every beings, everything created by God, be it angels, mankind, animals, plants, or even the demons, the evil spirits, and Satan the great enemy of all himself.

Yet, brethren, sadly, many of us these days seem to take lightly upon this Most holy Name of all names. They made fun of His Name and disrespected His glorious Name. They did not respect the Name of the Lord, through whose sacrifice on the cross, we have been made whole once again, and gained the hop e of life eternal in Him. We instead prefer to deal with the devil, just as our ancestors had done, and glorify him instead of glorifying the Lord in Jesus.

This must not be the way we live our lives, brethren in Christ! We have to seek a total and complete change of our wayward ways, and seek to rectify the impropriety we had done upon the Lord. Keep the Lord’s Name sacred and glorified, just as He had commanded us in the Ten Commandments He gave to Moses. We cannot mock or disdain the Holy Name of Jesus.

Remember, brethren, the power of the Holy Name is powerful. If we are faced with a great power of evil, and we recite this great Name with faith, that is with true faith, and if we are upright in our lives, then no power, no matter how great or how evil it may be, can assail us. God Himself will come to protect us, and those who are against us will flee in fear, because they know that God is with us, Emmanuel! Jesus indeed! The One whose Name is exalted above every other names!

Yes, let us all give glory to our Lord Jesus, and glorify His Name from now on if we have not done so. Come Lord Jesus, be with Your people, and with Your children, and deliver us from the evil one, with the might of Your hands and with the glory of Your Name!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013 : 3rd Week of Advent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we approach closer and closer to Christmas. It is just another week before we once again celebrate the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was born in the city of David, in Bethlehem over two millenia ago. The coming of the Lord as the Messiah, or the Saviour of all had been foretold long before His birth, through the revelations made through the prophets and the numerous messengers sent by God to His people, to tell them of the great joy of that Good News.

God is faithful to His promises and sought their fulfillment in the coming of the Messiah, born of the family of David, as a fulfillment of His promise to Israel, to those who had remained faithful to Him. He promised David, that his descendant will rule forever in a kingdom that is without end, and the same He had promised to Abraham, that his descendants would be innumerable and great. And not least of all, God promised even our first ancestors, from the very beginning, that He would not abandon them to the works of the evil one.

Mankind had indeed erred ever since the beginning, when they first tasted the fruits of sin, in contempt of the love of God for them, trusting more in the sweet but poisonous words of Satan rather than the loving words of God. Adam and Eve were lured into the trap of the devil, who promised them knowledge, greatness, and glory, by disobeying God. Indeed, the Lord loved them and gave them all the blessings He had intended for them, but He also set specific rules for them, to keep them away from sinfulness and thus, destruction.

Mankind were created pure, without knowing even an ounce of sin and evil. Evil was unknown to them, and all creations were created good and perfect. Yet, you may indeed ask then, why did God even plant such a dangerous tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so that our ancestors might eat from them? Would it not be better for that tree to be not present at all?

Well, brethren, indeed, although all creations were created good and perfect, it was the devil himself who first ruined the order of the universe, through his own pride, jealousy, and vanity, desiring none other than the throne of God and to supersede God in his pride. Evil therefore was made to exist in the world, and that was why, God contained that evil and prevented our ancestors from knowing them, that they would not be corrupted as the devil had been.

After mankind fell to the temptations of the evil one, God could easily have obliterated them and destroyed them, for they have followed in the path of rebellion of Satan. Yet, He did not do so, and although He punished them for their disobedience, banishing them from the bliss and joy of Eden, to labour and work hard on barren earth, but deep inside, the Lord loved us still, and loved us deeply He did.

We have known good and evil, and therefore, we have the capacity for good or for evil. And that was exactly what mankind had done all these while. We had done much good, but also much evil. And evil and sin are the thongs that prevented us from reuniting ourselves with God, for God is good and perfect, and sin has no place before Him. As long as we remained sinful and rebellious, we cannot be with God.

That was why, for a long while, ever since the beginning, God had prepared a comprehensive plan of salvation. One that He first told our ancestors and the devil himself, as a premonition of what will happen. He chose those who were righteous and just, who disdained sin and rejected the sinful temptations of the devil, beginning with Noah, whom He called and rescued from among all mankind and their wickedness in the Ark, and then to Abraham and his descendants, the chosen ones of God.

And He chose David, a faithful servant, through whom the long planned salvation plan would continue, and although both his ancestors and descendants did not remain faithful to Him, sometimes even committing things very evil in the eyes of God, the Lord continued on, as He certainly knew what will eventually happen. And He revealed part by part His plan to the numerous prophets and messengers He had sent to His people, to call them to repent from their sinfulness.

And while some did heed His call, many continued to defy Him and turned deaf ears against His words delivered through the prophets. In fact, they persecuted and rejected these prophets and messengers, and even slaughtering them. Even John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the coming of Christ, they rejected, ridiculed, and eventually brought to death.

After a long while, in Jesus, the salvation itself finally arrived. God Himself incarnate into man, to be one of us. He did this for no other reason than that first He might reveal to His beloved children, of what He had intended for them, in all its fullness, and most importantly, to be a sacrificial victim, a worthy sin offering to take away from us, all the taints of sin that separated us from God. He became the way, and the only way between us and God our Father.

After hearing what the Lord had done and what He had planned, and what He had done through Jesus, as we all know from the Holy Scriptures, now it is our time to think, and to reflect on our own actions, and on the reality of our own sinfulness.

Yes, brethren, we have received the word of God and His revelations, as part of our faith, and we have indeed accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. But have we truly lived in the way that Christ had taught us? Have we all remained faithful to His laws and commandments of love? Just as it was in the past, our world and our surroundings presented to us many tempting challenges and offers, those that many of us and those before us had taken up.

We professed our faith in God, and yet many of our actions still did not reflect this faith we have in Him. We are no better than those Pharisees and the chief priests who outwardly professed their faith and yet had no love for the Lord in them.

As we approach ever closer to the celebration of Christmas, let us all renew and strengthen our love for God, that we will be able to commit fully to the Lord and walk faithfully in His path. Let us all renew our faith in Him and profess it through not just our words, but also our actions. Let us all be courageous to proclaim our faith in God, that we truly believe in our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the long awaited Messiah.

May this Advent season be a fruitful one for all of us, that we make best use of the time to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christ’s coming into this world. Let us all prepare ourselves, that we rid ourselves of sin and wickedness, that we all be pure and ready to welcome our Saviour, that when He comes again, we will be found worthy for the eternal joy and rewards He had promised us. God bless us all. Amen.