Wednesday, 19 April 2017 : Wednesday within Easter Octave, Twelfth Anniversary of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff and Leader of the Universal Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded again of the frailties of our humanity, how the man who was crippled since his birth begged at the Temple for people to give him some money and allowances to allow him to come by his daily expenses. We heard about how he approached the two Apostles, St. Peter and St. John as they made their way into the Temple, hoping that they would be able to provide him with some money or food.

In the Gospel today, we heard another account, of how Jesus our Lord appeared just right after His resurrection from the dead to two of His disciples who were walking to the village of Emmaus outside of Jerusalem. The two disciples were busy discussing of all the events that had just happened in the previous week, and how Jesus was arrested, condemned to death, and died on the cross, while Jesus Himself walked alongside them, without them realising Who He was.

What we all saw here are two disabilities, one of the body and the other of the spirit and the mind. But each one of them were afflicted in one way or another, and the Lord showed mercy on them, bringing healing upon them. Through His Apostles, He brought healing upon the man who was unable to walk, and make him to overcome his physical limitations.

And to the two disciples who had been unable to recognise Jesus was inflamed in their hearts by the words and the teachings which Jesus placed in their hearts and minds. He awakened hope in their hearts, as they were initially doubtful and lacking faith in the resurrection of the Lord, despite having heard from the Apostles that Jesus had risen from the dead.

This is what the Lord had done for us, that by bringing His light and hope into the world, He had brought about healing and joy to all those who have lived for long in the darkness, to all those who despair and were without hope, to those who were afflicted, be it in their physical body and flesh, or in their minds, hearts and souls. God brought with Him this Easter joy, which all of us ought not only to rejoice together and enjoy, but also to emulate and to apply to our own lives.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that all of us ought to be courageous in our faith, and in all that we do, in all of our words and actions. We must follow in the example of the Apostles, who in their deeds proclaimed the glory of Christ and revealed to all His truth. In our actions, we must be gentle and be loving towards our brethren, showing mercy and compassion to our enemies, to all those who are sorrowful and unloved as the Apostles had done on the man paralysed from birth.

And in our words, we must also bring about hope and enlightenment to our brethren, especially to all those who have not known of the love of God. We must be like Jesus our Lord Who placed hope and encouragement in the hearts of the two disciples who were walking to Emmaus. We must therefore not slander against others, tell gossip or lies to one another, and we must not hurt others by our words, as well as our actions.

Otherwise, if we are not doing what the Lord had told us to do, and did what is opposite of what He wants us to do, we scandalise our faith, and in fact not just our faith, but the Lord Himself. And that is indeed a great sin for us to make, before God and before our fellow men. Not only that we have failed to do as expected from us, but we even drive people away from the salvation in God, because our actions deter them from coming closer to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on this as we continue to progress through the Easter season. Let us all be inspired by the examples of our predecessors in faith, and devote ourselves anew with zeal and commitment, to love and serve the Lord our God, through our loving commitment and service to our brethren around us, especially all those who are in need of our love and attention. May God bless us all and our endeavours. Amen.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017 : Wednesday within Easter Octave, Twelfth Anniversary of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff and Leader of the Universal Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Luke 24 : 13-35

At that time, on the same day Jesus rose from the dead, two followers of Jesus were going to Emmaus, a village seven miles from Jerusalem, and they talked about what had happened. While they were talking and arguing about what had happened, Jesus came up and walked with them. But their eyes were not able to recognise Him.

He asked, “What is it you are talking about?” The two stood still, looking sad. Then the one named Cleophas answered, “Why, it seems You are the only traveller to Jerusalem who does not know what haw happened there these past few days.” And He asked, “What is it?”

They replied, “It is about Jesus of Nazareth. He was a Prophet, You know, mighty in word and deed before God and the people. But the chief priests and our rulers sentenced Him to death. They handed Him over to be crucified. We had hoped that He would redeem Israel. It is now the third day since all this took place.”

“It is also true that some women of our group have disturbed us. When they went to the tomb at dawn, they did not find His Body; and they came and told us that they had had a vision of Angels, who said that Jesus was alive. Some of our people went to the tomb and found everything just as the women had said, but they did not find a Body in the tomb.”

He said to them, “How dull you are, how slow of understanding! Is the message of the prophets too difficult for you to understand? Is it not written that the Christ should suffer all this, and then enter His glory?” Then starting with Moses, and going through the prophets, He explained to them everything in the Scriptures concerning Himself.

As they drew near the village they were heading for, Jesus made as if to go farther. But they prevailed upon Him, “Stay with us, for night comes quickly. The day is now almost over.” So He went in to stay with them. When they were at table, He took the bread, said a blessing, broke it, and gave each a piece.

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised Him; but He vanished out of their sight. And they said to one another, “Were not our hearts filled with ardent yearning when He was talking to us on the road and explaining the Scriptures?” They immediately set out and returned to Jerusalem.

There they found the Eleven and their companions gathered together. They were greeted by these words : “Yes, it is true, the Lord is risen! He has appeared to Simon!” Then the two told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made Himself known, when He broke bread with them.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017 : Wednesday within Easter Octave, Twelfth Anniversary of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff and Leader of the Universal Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 104 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name; make known His works among the nations. Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.

Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017 : Wednesday within Easter Octave, Twelfth Anniversary of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff and Leader of the Universal Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 3 : 1-10

Once when Peter and John were going up to the Temple at three in the afternoon, the hour for prayer, a man crippled from birth was being carried in. Every day they would bring him and put him at the Temple gate called “Beautiful”; there he begged from those who entered the Temple.

When he saw Peter and John on their way into the Temple, he asked for alms. Then Peter with John at his side looked straight at him and said, “Look at us.” So he looked at them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have I give you : In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, walk!”

Then he took the beggar by his right hand and helped him up. At once his feet and ankles became firm, and jumping up he stood on his feet and began to walk. And he went with them into the Temple walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God; they recognised him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, and they were all astonished and amazed at what had happened to him.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a very great feast day of the Church, commemorating nine months before the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the moment when our Lord Jesus was conceived, and when the Divine Word and Son of God was incarnate into flesh, and assumed the form of Man through the intermediary of His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who played a key role in today’s celebrations.

On this day, we commemorate also that day when the Archangel Gabriel came to the small, poor and humble village of Nazareth in Galilee, to break the news regarding the end of the long wait for the coming of the Lord’s Promised Messiah, the Good News announced to the world through Mary. And thus, the Feast is called the Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord, because on that day, His arrival and entry into the world was first announced.

And today, the theme of our Scripture readings is obedience, and obedience that entails true and genuine desire to obey the will of God and to listen to what the Lord wants from us. In the past, people used to observe the Law and obey all of its commandments in great detail, even to the details of what kind of animals should be sacrificed for a certain purpose, and that by doing so, the people thought that they were devout and pious in the eyes of the Lord.

Unfortunately, such devotions, while necessary and good, but if they are not based upon good and strong foundations, as well as upon good understanding of the will of God, then it is very easy for us to be misled and to lose the meaning of what we are doing for our faith. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law did exactly that, as were so many people even in the Church for many years.

They were focused on the wrong thing, and they thought that by doing all of the complicated and various rituals, they had fulfilled what God had wanted. They thought that by imposing strict discipline on the faith and by enforcing the punishment which the laws of Moses stated as should be done to certain kinds of sinners, they had brought joy the Lord. But the fact is, that they were sorely mistaken.

How does all these relate to the event of the Annunciation of our Lord? This is because we have been wayward and lost our way so many times that our Lord Himself had willingly decided to come down Himself in order to save us from destruction. He has promised this salvation ever since the beginning of time, at the time when our first ancestors fell into sin.

If we take note of what took place then, we would realise that God had promised mankind that He will make the Woman crush the head of the snake, even while the snake bites on the heels of the child. All these represent what has happened to us all mankind, and what God had done about that. The snake is the devil and all of his devices, sin and wickedness, all of which are threatening to destroy the children of God that is all of us.

But the Lord did not let Satan to have his way with us freely as he wanted it. He gave us all a hope, since that time, and which He constantly renewed through the prophets and His messengers, the hope for salvation which was to come. He never abandoned those whom He loved so dearly. It is often we are the ones who abandoned Him first. He is ever faithful and ever loving.

Thus after a long wait, today we heard about how made that promise to come to the perfect fulfillment through Jesus, who came into the world in order to save it. It is what the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord is all about, that is the announcing of the great Good News of our Lord’s salvation in Jesus to the whole world through the Archangel Gabriel, who revealed it to the world through Mary, the Mother of our Lord. She is the Woman through whom the Salvation of this world would come and thus crush the dominion of Satan.

Therefore, on this day, as we reflect on the nature of this feast day and celebration, let us all come to realise how great is the love which our Lord had shown us all, the mercy He wants to give us so that we will not suffer from our rebelliousness. Let us all realise that all that He wants from us is our love and devotion, that we give all our hearts to Him in sincere devotion.

That is more important for Him than all other forms of devotions. That does not mean that we do not need prayer or neglect our devotions in the Mass and others. On the other hand, these are truly very necessary. But if we do not comprehend their significance and how these can help us to be closer to our Lord, and if we do not have the love for God in our hearts in the first place, then all of those are meaningless.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all renew our devotion and commitment to the Lord today. Let us all show sincerity in our faith towards Him, and do not just pay lip service any longer to Him. Instead, let us all truly mean our faith, and practice it in our lives, in our every actions. Let us all make whatever remaining time we have in this season of Lent to be a meaningful one. May God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name of Mary.

The angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus.”

“He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the angel left her.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 10 : 4-10

And never will the blood of bulls and goats take away these sins. This is why on entering the world, Christ says : ‘You did not desire sacrifice and offering; You were not pleased with burnt offerings and sin offerings.’ Then I said : ‘Here I am. It was written of me in the scroll. I will do Your will, o God.’

First He says : ‘Sacrifice, offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings You did not desire nor were You pleased with them’ – although they were required by the Law. Then He says : ‘Here I am to do Your will.’

This is enough to nullify the first will and establish the new. Now, by this will of God, we are sanctified once and for all by the sacrifice of the body of Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 39 : 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

As the scroll says of me, to do Your will is my delight, o God, for Your Law is within my heart.

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o Lord, I did not seal – You know that very well.

I have not locked up in my heart Your saving help, but have spoken about it – Your deliverance and Your faithfulness; I have made no secret of Your truth and Your kindness in the great assembly.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 7 : 10-14 and Isaiah 8 : 10

Once again YHVH addressed Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from YHVH your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.”

But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask, I will not put YHVH to the test.” Then Isaiah said, “Now listen, descendants of David. Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign : The Virgin is with Child and bears a Son and calls His Name Immanuel.”

“Devise a plan and it will be thwarted, make a resolve and it will not stand, for God-is-with-us.”

Tuesday, 24 March 2015 : 5th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, while yesterday we spoke of God’s mercy and justice, the forgiveness of sinners, then today we continue in the same theme, that while God is not happy and angry with our sins, but as long as we are willing to repent and change our sinful ways, then the Lord will forgive us and bring us back to His embrace and love.

And there are also strong parallels between the readings today from the Old and the New Testament each. The first reading today is about the punishment which God accorded to Israel when they disobeyed Him and grumbled excessively against Him while they were journeying through the desert. God sent fiery serpents to strike at all the unbelievers and many of them died.

And when they had repented their rebellion and begged God for forgiveness through Moses, God sent a new hope to the people in trouble and despair, by the crafting of the bronze serpent standard, which Moses then lifted up high for all the people to see. Then, as a result, all those who had been bitten and saw the bronze serpent would not die but live on.

In the same way therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ had been raised up high, for all mankind to see, including at all times whenever we see Him on the cross. And all of us who look at Him, know Him and believe in Him and in all the things that He had done for us, shall be saved and granted the eternal blessings and graces of God. He has given us all this salvation freely, and He suffered for our sake because of His love, knowing that by doing so, He had given us all a second chance.

That is why, He is so particular about our conversion, from our worldly and sinful ways into the path of the Lord towards our salvation. We cannot pretend to ignore all of these, for the time shall come in the end, when the Lord will judge all of us according to our deeds. If we are found to be filled with sin, then at that time, no amount of begging or atonement will be able to help our fate of eternal suffering.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be reminded that our Lord Jesus Christ had given His all in order to save us from our fate of death, by the sacrifice which He took upon on the cross. As we draw closer to the beginning of the Holy Week, which begins this coming Sunday, let us all understand more of the sins which we have committed, and even more importantly, how to change our ways that we may sin no more and be saved.

As mentioned earlier, God does not hate the sinner but the sins that the sinners committed. Therefore, we have to be sincere in our repentance and conversion. We cannot profess to be believers and followers of our Lord and yet we still continue to commit sins and wickedness in our daily lives. If we do so, then we are hypocrites who do not act as what we have preached and believed.

 May Almighty God help us to find our way to Him, and also by awakening in us the strong desire for repentance, for forgiveness and for the purification of our wicked and sinful selves, that after this time is over, our Lord may congratulate us for we have triumphed and are worthy to receive the gifts of eternal life and eternal joy with God in heaven. God bless us all. Amen.