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

Liturgical Colour : White

Baruch 3 : 9-15, 32 – Baruch 4 : 4

Listen, Israel, to the commands of life, give ear so as to learn prudence. Why, Israel! Why are you in the land of your foes? Why are you growing old in a foreign country, contaminated by pagans, counted among those who go to the pit?

You have abandoned the source of Wisdom. If you had walked in the way of God, peace would be your dwelling place forever. Learn where is Wisdom, where is Strength and Understanding, that you may know, at the same time, where are length of days and life, light of the eyes and Peace.

Who will find Wisdom’s dwelling? Who will enter her storage rooms? But He who knows everything recognises her. He has found her in His own intellect. He who created the earth, for all time, and has filled it with four-footed beings.

He who sends the light, and it goes, who recalls it, and trembling it obeys. The stars shine, full of joy, to keep their night watches. He calls them and they answer, “Here we are.” They shine with joy for their Creator.

It is He who is our God, no other can be compared with Him. He has found the way of understanding and has given her to Jacob His servant and to Israel His well-beloved.

Then Wisdom was seen on earth and lived among humans. She herself is the book of the commands of God, the law which endures forever. All who hold fast to her will have life, but those who abandon her will die.

Come back, Jacob, and embrace her, walk towards brightness under her light. Do not give up what is your glory or sell your privileges to any strange nation. We are fortunate, o Israel, for we know what pleases the Lord!

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 1 : 1 – Genesis 2 : 2

In the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth had no form and was void; darkness was over the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.

God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘Day; and the darkness ‘Night’. There was evening and there was morning : the first day.

God said, “Let there be a firm ceiling between the waters and let it separate waters from waters.” So God made the ceiling and separated the waters below it from the waters above it. And so it was. God called the firm ceiling ‘Sky’. There was evening and there was morning : the second day.

God said, “Let the waters below the sky be gathered together in one place and let dry land appear.” And so it was. God called the dry land ‘Earth’ , and the waters gathered together He called ‘Seas’. God saw that it was good.

God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation, seed-bearing plants, fruittrees bearing fruit with seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And so it was. The earth produced vegetation : plants bearing seed according to their kind and trees producing fruit which has seed, according to their kind. God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning : the third day.

God said, “Let there be lights in the ceiling of the sky to separate day from night and to serve as signs for the seasons, days, and years; and let these lights in the sky shine above the earth.” And so it was. God therefore made two great lights, the greater light to govern the day and the smaller light to govern the night; and God made the stars as well. God placed them in the ceiling of the sky to give light on the earth and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning : the fourth day.

God said, “Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth under the ceiling of the sky.” God created the great monsters of the sea and all living animals, those that teem in the waters, according to their kind, and every winged bird, according to its kind. God saw that it was good. God blessed them saying, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the waters of the sea, and let the birds increase on the earth.” There was evening and there was morning : the fifth day.

God said, “Let the earth produce living animals according to their kind : cattle, creatures that move along the ground, wild animals according to their kind.” So it was. God created the wild animals according to their kind, and everything that creeps along the ground according to its kind. God saw that it was good.

God said, “Let us make man in Our image, to Our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over the wild animals, and over all creeping things that crawl along the ground.” So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

God said, “I have given you every seed-bearing plant which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be for your food. To every wild animal, to every bird of the sky, to everything that creeps along the ground, to everything that has the breath of life, I give every green plant for food.” So it was.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. There was evening and there was morning : the sixth day.

That was the way the sky and earth were created and all their vast array. By the seventh day the work God had done was completed, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done.

Monday, 20 January 2014 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Memorial of Pope St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr, and St. Sebastian, Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green and Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 49 : 8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23

Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me. I need no bull from your stalls, nor he-goat from your pens.

What right have you to mouth My laws, or to talk about My covenant? You hate My commands and cast My words behind you.

Because I was silent while you did these things, you thought I was like you. But now I rebuke you and make this charge against you. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.

Friday, 29 November 2013 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Daniel 3 : 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81

Mountains and hills, praise and exalt Him forever.

Everything that sprouts on the earth, praise and exalt Him forever.

Springs of water, praise and exalt Him forever.

Seas and rivers, praise and exalt Him forever.

Whales and fishes, praise and exalt Him forever.

All the birds of heaven, praise and exalt Him forever.

Animals wild and tame, praise and exalt Him forever.

Friday, 4 October 2013 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the greatest saints of the Church and one of the most well-known saints that we have. He was the founder of the Franciscan religious order, distinguished by their brown habits and simple lifestyle dedicated to the Lord, and his was also the name taken through inspiration, by our current Pope and Vicar of Christ on earth, Pope Francis.

St. Francis of Assisi is well known for his love and devotion to God, and through his numerous good works and contributions for the sake of the Church of God and His people. He was known to be a miracle worker as well, healing many through his ministry, both physically and spiritually. He was honoured with the presence of the stigmata, or the wounds of Christ, on his hands and his feet.

St. Francis of Assisi was born of a rich silk and textile merchant, and lived a life of privilege in wealth and complete sufficiency, with no reason to be worried about his life in this world, having all his needs fulfilled. His father wanted him to continue his business as his heir, but the Lord had a different plan for St. Francis.

One day, when St. Francis was praying in a somewhat dilapidated Church, the Lord appeared to him and said, “Rebuild My Church”. St. Francis misunderstood this as rebuilding the dilapidated church building he was praying in, with leaking roofs and dilapidated walls. Therefore, he went and sold some of his father’s expensive silk clothes and fabrics, and used the money to rebuild that church where God had spoken to him.

His father knew about the incident and he was angry at St. Francis for his actions. St. Francis sought the local bishop for protection and counsel, and when his father complained to the bishop regarding St. Francis’ behaviour, St. Francis chose to leave everything he had ever received from his father, including his clothings. He removed all that and were naked before everyone, and before his father and the bishop. St. Francis gave the clothings and the other of his former possessions to his father.

The bishop, visibly touched by what he saw, covered St. Francis’ naked body with his vestment, and since that day onward, St. Francis abandoned all the former privileges he had in his former lifestyle as the son of a rich silk merchant, and become truly a servant of God and a disciple of Christ. One day, when he prayed, he received a vision of Christ crucified, and miraculously, he received the holy wounds of Jesus on himself, as the first known stigmatist.

As we all know, St. Francis went on to be the founder of the Franciscan order, whose members vow themselves to live in complete simplicity and humility, donning brown robes and sandals to show their commitment both to the Lord and to the poor. St. Francis was well-known for his dedication and service to the least in the society, the poor and the ostracised, the sick and the unloved, following the example of Christ Himself who gave Himself to these people whom many in the society looked upon in disgust and rejection.

St. Francis also championed evangelisation of the Gospel of Christ, and worked hard on his own part, to bring the Gospel to those who have yet to hear it or those who still lived in the darkness. He laboured hard for the sake of God and His people. St. Francis was also well known for his ability to speak to animals, and such is his love for God’s creations, that he also preached to those animals.

In today’s readings, we are urged to realise and know the love that God has for us, and the need for us to be proactive in love, both in loving God and in loving our fellow brothers and sisters. And the need for faith and obedience in God. We cannot be creatures of apathy and evil, but we must be full of love, sympathy, compassion, and faith, both in God, and in one another. That is what the Lord wants from us, and that is what He hopes that we will do, that we, as His children, truly are beings of love, as St. Francis of Assisi himself had done, in his love to all, men, animals, and all creations of God alike.

Therefore, brethren, let us reflect on our own lives, on our own actions and dealings with others, on every word that came out from our mouths and uttered by our tongues, whether they are filled with love, care, and compassion, or whether filled with darkness, viciousness, hatred, apathy, and evil. We are often at unawares that our actions do not reflect love, for either God or for our fellow brethren. We often indulge ourselves with our own selves and immerse ourselves in the depth of our pride and even arrogance, that we neglect others and the Lord, to fulfill our own selfish desires.

We need to open our hearts to love, and following the example of St. Francis of Assisi, to throw aside our sense of vanity and selfishness, to be loving servants of the Lord, to show love in everything we say, in everything we do, and in all our dealings with others and in our dedication to God our Father. Let us take this opportunity to make living the faith we have in God, that we do not end up being just empty in our faith and dedication, but instead having a living and dynamic faith, one that is anchored and strengthened by love.

May the Lord who is love and compassion inspire us to be loving and compassionate as St. Francis of Assisi has done himself, that is to love all men unconditionally, especially those who are poor, rejected, and reviled by the society. We ought to follow his examples and listen to the Lord who heeds us to love, and to follow his commandments, that itself is love. May we remain faithful and loving despite all the oppositions in this world, and despite all the evils and temptations presented to us, to be selfish and to be unloving. God be with us all, always, and may St. Francis of Assisi continue to intercede for us sinners’ sake. Amen.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Genesis 15 : 1-12, 17-18

After this the word of YHVH was spoken to Abram in a vision : “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward will be very great!”

Abram said, “My Lord YHVH, where are Your promises? I am still childless and all I have will go to Eliezer of Damascus. You have given me no children, so a slave of mine will be my heir.”

Then the word of YHVH was spoken to him again, “Eliezer will not be your heir, but a child born of you, your own flesh and blood, will be your heir.” Then YHVH brought him outside and said to him, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that.”

Abram believed YHVH who, because of this, held him to be an upright man. And He said, “I am YHVH who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.” Then Abram asked, “My Lord, how am I to know that it shall be mine?” YHVH replied, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtle dove, and a young pigeon.”

Abram brought all these animals, cut them in two, and laid each half facing its other half, but he did not cut the birds in half. The birds of prey came down upon them, but Abram drove them away. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep came over Abram, and a dreadful darkness took hold of him.

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot and a flaming torch passed between the halves of the victims. On that day YHVH made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this country from the river of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates.”

Sunday, 5 May 2013 : 6th Sunday of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 15 : 1-2, 22-29

Some persons who had come from Judea to Antioch were teaching the brothers in this way, “Unless you are circumcised according to the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Because of this there was trouble, and Paul and Barnabas had fierce arguments with them. For Paul told the people to remain as they were when they became believers.

Finally those who had come from Jerusalem suggested that Paul and Barnabas and some others go up to Jerusalem to discuss the matter with the apostles and elders. Then the apostles and elders, together with the whole Church decided to choose representatives from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.

These were Judas, known as Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers. They took with them the following letter : ‘Greetings from the apostles and elders, your brothers, to the believers of non-Jewish birth in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. We have heard that some persons from among us have worried you with their discussions and troubled your peace of mind. They were not appointed by us.”

“But now, it has seemed right to us in an assembly, to choose representatives and to send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. We send you then Judas and Silas who themselves will give you these instructions by word of mouth.”

“We, with the Holy Spirit, have decided not to put any other burden on you except what is necessary : You are to abstain from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from prohibited marriages. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”