Thursday, 16 March 2017 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Jeremiah 17 : 5-10

This is what YHVH says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings and depends on a mortal for his life, while his heart is drawn away from YHVH! He is like a bunch of thistles in dry land, in parched desert places, in a salt land where no one lives and who never finds happiness.”

“Blessed is the man who puts his trust in YHVH and whose confidence is in Him! He is like a tree planted by the water, sending out its roots towards the stream. He has no fear when the heat comes, his leaves are always green; the year of drought is no problem and he can always bear fruit.”

“Most deceitful is the heart. What is there within man, who can understand him? I, YHVH, search the heart and penetrate the mind. I reward each one according to his ways and the fruit of his deeds.”

Tuesday, 14 March 2017 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Matthew 23 : 1-12

At that time, then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples, “The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees have sat down on the chair of Moses. So you shall do and observe all they say, but do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say. They tie up heavy burdens and load them on the shoulders of the people, but they do not even raise a finger to move them.”

“They do everything in order to be seen by people : they wear very wide bands of the Law around their foreheads, and robes with large tassels. They enjoy the first places at feasts and reserved seats in the synagogues, and they like being greeted in the marketplace, and being called ‘Master’ by the people.”

“But you, do not let yourselves be called Master, because you have only one Master, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Neither should you call anyone on earth Father because you have only one Father, He Who is in heaven. Nor should you be called Leader, because Christ is the only Leader for you.”

“Let the greatest among you be the servant of all. For whoever makes himself great shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be made great.”

Friday, 17 February 2017 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Genesis 11 : 1-9

The whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved from east, they found a plain in the country of Shinar where they settled. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them in fire.” They used brick for stone and bitumen for mortar. They said also, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top reaching heaven; so that we may become a great people and not be scattered over the face of the earth!”

YHVH came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of man were building, and YHVH said, “They are one people and they have one language. If they carry this through, nothing they decide to do from now on will be impossible. Come! Let Us go down and confuse their language so that they will no longer understand each other.”

So YHVH scattered them over all the earth and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because there YHVH confused the language of the whole earth and from there YHVH scattered them over the whole face of the earth.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Neri, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 10 : 28-31

At that time, Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “We have given up everything to follow You.”

Jesus answered, “Truly, there is no one who has left house, or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward. I say to you : even in the midst of persecution, he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time, and in the world to come eternal life.”

“Do pay attention : many who now are the first will be last, and the last, first.”

(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.

Friday, 24 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called to examine our own lives and the actions which we have taken in this life, and to ignore no longer our sinfulness and disobedience against the way and the will of the Lord. Our Lord Jesus Christ had made it very clear in the Gospel that we heard today, on how mankind can see things around them and made accurate prediction of things, but they failed to see what is in their own hearts.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is often indeed that we look at the outside and the exterior, seeing things around us and make a judgment, and we are indeed quick to judge and to come into a conclusion, but we fail to see what is inside us, the phenomena that is inside us, which is sin. And they also failed to see what the Lord had done, and when He came in the form of flesh in Jesus, they failed to recognise Him even though they were so apt and good in recognising everything else.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the major weakness of mankind, as we often fail to recognise our own frailty and weaknesses, just as Jesus said, how we often like to point out the weakness in others and the sins of others, and yet we fail to see our own weakness, and this weakness is our sin and our iniquities. We are quick to point finger to blame others, but whenever we do so, we have to realise that while one finger is pointed at others, the other four fingers are pointed at us.

Sin is dangerous, brothers and sisters in Christ, for sin corrupts many things and sin prevents us from recognising the good that is around us. It covered our hearts in jealousy, pride, arrogance, hatred, desire, doubt and many other negative influences and aspects that prevent us from seeing good in others, seeing the bad in ourselves, seeing the good in ourselves, and ultimately, failing to see God who is ever present with us, and who guide us to the right path.

Do you wonder why the people of God failed to recognise Jesus when He came into the world, even though it was so obvious from what He had done during His life and ministry that He was the promised One, the Holy Anointed One of God whom the prophets had talked about throughout their many ministries among the people of God. The Scriptures and the Law themselves had also spoken about the Messiah who was about to come, and yet the people blinded by their sinfulness failed to realise this.

They persecuted the prophets and servants of God in their refusal to listen to the truth, because the truth was often painful for them, pointing out their shortcomings and inability to look into themselves and realise their sins. Thus in the same way, they too rejected Jesus the Messiah when He came among the people to do the same yet again.

They were too engrossed in themselves and in their own world, just as exemplified by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were adamantly against Jesus and His teachings. This is ironic considering that they were the ones who should know the most about the teachings of Moses, of the prophets and their prophecies, and of course of the Law. Thus, they should be the ones who proclaimed His coming and recognised Him through what He had done.

The sin in their hearts, which they allowed to grow accompanying their human desires and greed prevented them from doing so, and in the same manner, they incited the people of God to avoid following and trusting Jesus, by spreading lies about Him, all because of their jealousy, the jealousy of their hearts and the fear of losing their influence and power, as well as prestige and fame among the people. They feared losing these and put their own human ego ahead of their duty and responsibility of proclaiming the coming of God to His people.

It is indeed easy for us to point our own fingers at them, but are we too totally blameless? That is why it is nigh time for us to start examining our own lives and actions. How many times we actually refused to listen to the Lord speaking in our hearts and instead decide to follow our own desires and greed? How many times is it that in our live we have caused hurt and even harm to others because of our own selfishness?

Thus, if we look at ourselves, we are no better than the people of Jesus’ time and the Pharisees. Although we profess our faith in God, but our actions often said otherwise. Hence, brethren, this is the best time for us to begin to reinspect and reform our lives for the better according to what God had taught us. If we follow His ways, we will surely change and be transformed to better people.

And I would like to share with all of you the life of a saint whose feast we celebrate today, and whose life can also be an inspiration for us in walking in the path of the Lord. He is St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the religious order famously known as the Claretians after their founder. St. Anthony Mary Claret was a bishop who lived in Spain about two centuries ago, who was renowned for his zeal and faith in God, and in the numerous works which he had done as a missionary and later as an Archbishop, establishing many good charitable acts and works for the sake of the least and the lost ones of the society.

St. Anthony Mary Claret served in many functions as a servant of God and His Church, zealously spreading the word of God to many people, especially to those who have yet to listen to the word and the Good News. He established many works and institutions of charity to help the poor and the marginalised in the society, and through his preaching, calling many of them to embrace the love and faith in God.

St. Anthony Mary Claret also wrote extensively on many aspects of the faith, and which writings become inspiration for many of the faithful in the years to come, including up to our generation, where his works and dedications for the people of God is truly a model for us all to follow. He reminded us indeed that in order for us to be true disciples of Christ, we cannot allow our personal and human vulnerabilities to come in the way of our faith.

That means we have to restrain ourselves, our human desire and emotions, and make the effort not to be controlled by these, as the people of the past and the Pharisees had done. We have to break free from the slavery and tyranny of sin, and thus we should really understand our own sinfulness, and seek ways to handle what had made us sin in the first place. Therefore, the key lies in humility and willingness to listen to the Lord and to walk in His ways, as well as our persistence and perseverance to resist the temptations that will always come our way.

Therefore, as St. Paul mentioned in the letter he wrote to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, let us all be true servants of God and give ourselves completely and wholly to the Holy Spirit of God, which unites us in one Body of the Church of God, and in that unity, may we together find our way towards the Lord, avoiding all forms of fornications and corruptions.

May Almighty God strengthen our faith and help us to grow in our love and devotion towards Him, and with the inspiration by St. Anthony Mary Claret and the other holy saints, may we be able to find our way to the Lord, by doing what is right and just in the eyes of God, and by being able to look deep within ourselves, seeking the Lord’s mercy with humility for all the iniquities and sins we have committed. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 5 October 2014 : 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the message of the Holy Scriptures and the Gospel today is very, very clear indeed. The Lord exhorted all of us not to follow the path of those who refused to listen to Him and those who kept evil in their hearts, for example the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, all of whom who kept in their hearts jealousy and desire, that is desire for power, authority and human praise, even above their responsibility and duty to obey the Lord and follow Him.

That was very clearly demonstrated in the first reading we have heard today from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, who wrote about how God referred to Himself being a vineyard owner and master, who laboured and worked hard on a vineyard, that is the vineyard of His people. And yet, no matter what the Lord had done for them, all the love and commitment He had given to them, they produced sour fruits and were unproductive.

St. Paul in his letter to the faithful in the Roman Greek city of Philippi exhorted the people to follow the Lord faithfully, casting out any doubts and impurities that they had in their hearts, so that they might avoid any form of jealousy, hatred, and any other negativities from infecting their hearts, which is the root of all the disobedience against the Lord.

Thus, in the Gospel today, we heard how Jesus made it clear to the people, linking clearly to the message of God as prophesied by Isaiah the prophet, and as His Apostle Paul elaborated later on. Jesus mentioned in His parable when He taught the people, of the parable of the vineyard and the evil tenants. He recounted about how the vineyard owner entrusted the works of the vineyard to the tenants who repaid his kindness with vile acts and vile desire in their hearts.

Not only that they had reneged on their promise and vow, and their part of the work contract to provide the portion which had been due to the vineyard owner, but they refused to obey and budge, even to the point of torturing and refusing to listen to those whom the owner had sent to persuade them and get them to pay their due. And in the end, when the owner sent his own son, the vile tenants plotted to destroy him with the wicked aim to gain the vineyard for their own.

The parable was exceedingly clear in their meaning to us, who now know about the Lord’s revelation through the prophets and Jesus Himself, His Son, even though the people who heard it directly from Jesus at the time might not have gotten the idea through or understood the message of the parable. The parable was a clear rebuke against the actions of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as well as a significant portion among the people of God who had adamantly refused to believe and listen in Christ the Lord.

The vineyard owner represented the Lord our God, the Father and Creator of all the universe. And thus, the vineyard itself represented the creation, the universe, our world. Meanwhile, the vineyard tenants referred to mankind, who had been entrusted with the care and stewardship of the world. Remember what God had said to our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, when He blessed them and granted them the authority and stewardship over all the earth and all that God had created.

But mankind sinned and rebelled against the will of God, and they refused to listen to Him and they also refused to follow and obey His will. The ones whom the owner had sent to remind the tenants and to get them to obey their part of the work contract were none other than the prophets, the messengers and the numerous servants which the Lord had sent to His people, including Isaiah, Elijah and many others, to lead them and to guide them into the path of righteousness.

However, as the parable told us, that the tenants refused to budge, and even persecuted and killed the servants sent by the master of the vineyard, the same had happened to the many prophets which God had sent to His people. In their continued rebelliousness and disobedience, they chose to ignore the words of God, and then they also tortured and killed many of the prophets and servants sent by God to lead them to righteousness.

Then, obviously, the son of the owner sent to the tenant referred to none other than Jesus Himself, and He was indeed speaking of what would eventually happen to Him, that is to be betrayed by His own people to whom He was sent to, punished and condemned for sins and problems that He did not commit, and were made to die a most shameful and painful death on the cross, just as the tenants plotted against the son to gain the ownership of the vineyard.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were the epitome of the actions of the evil tenants, perfectly representing what they had done as they rose up against Jesus and all that He did. They tried to disrupt His activities wherever He was, and they doubted Him in whatever He had done and said, and in all occasions, they tried to discredit Him by various methods and ways, only to be humiliated by the Lord who turned their devices against them.

They refused to listen to the Lord and follow Him because of the evil in their hearts, the pride that cover the breadth of their wisdom and discerning ability, and the desire for fame and worldly glory that they were blinded and deafened against the truth revealed by God through Jesus. Therefore, they sinned and sinned very greatly against God, and therefore deserved hellfire, for they did not just condemn themselves, but they also misled countless others into damnation with them.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the readings of the Holy Scripture and the Gospel today, let us all do a self-introspect on our own lives, on our every deeds and actions, and in our lives as a whole, whether we have been like the evil tenants in our actions, succumbing to our own personal desire and human weaknesses, succumbing to the temptations of sin and Satan instead of listening to God as we should have.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all throw far, far away the negative parts of our heart, kill off the pride within us, and humbly allow the Lord to come into our lives and begin to transform our lives for the better. Let us all also come to realise how important it is for us all to work together as fellow children of God, to help one another that we may grow stronger in faith, hope and love.

May Almighty God, the sower of all the good in the world, help us to grow stronger in faith, in our hope, and most importantly, in our way of loving God and one another. May He grant us strength and perseverance, to lead a righteous life freed from our iniquities and unworthiness. God bless us all, always, now and forever. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Feast of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr (II Classis) – Sunday, 28 September 2014 : Holy Gospel

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke

Luke 14 : 1-11

In illo tempore : Cum intraret Jesus in domum cujusdam principis pharisaeorum sabbato manducare panem, et ipsi observabant eum. Et ecce, homo quidam hydropicus erat ante illum. Et respondens Jesus dixit ad legisperitos et pharisaeos, dicens : Si licet sabbato curare?

At illi tacuerunt. Ipse vero apprehensum sanavit eum ac dimisit. Et respondens ad illos, dixit : Cujus vestrum asinus aut bos in puteum cadet, et non continuo extrahet illum die sabbati? Et non poterant ad haec respondere illi.

Dicebat autem et ad invitatos parabolam, intendens, quomodo primos accubitus eligerent, dicens ad illos : Cum invitatus fueris ad nuptias, non discumbas in primo loco, ne forte honoratior te sit invitatus ab illo, et veniens is, qui te et illum vocavit, dicat tibi : Da huic locum : et tunc incipiad cum rubore novissimum locum tenere.

Sed cum vocatus fueris, vade, recumbe in novissimo loco : ut, cum venerit, qui te invitavit, dicat tibi : Amice, ascende superius. Tunc erit tibi gloria coram simul discumbentibus : quia omnis, qui se exaltat, humiliabitur : et qui se humiliat, exaltabitur.

English translation

At that time, when Jesus went into the house of one of the chief of the Pharisees on the sabbath day to eat bread, they watched Him. And behold, there was a certain man before Him that had the dropsy, and Jesus answering, spoke to the lawyers and the Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?”

But they held their peace, and He taking him, healed him, and sent him away. And answering them, He said, “Which of you shall have a donkey or an ox fall into a pit, and will not immediately draw him out on the sabbath day?” And they could not answer Him these things.

And He spoke a parable also to them who were invited, marking how they chose the first seats at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited to a wedding, do not sit down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honourable than you be invited by him, and that he invited you and him, and come to say to you, ‘Give this man place’, and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place.”

“But when you are invited, go, sit down in the lowest place, that when he who invited you came to you, he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher’, and then you shall have glory before them who sit at table with you. Because every one who exalted himself shall be humbled, and he who humbled himself shall be exalted.”

Sunday, 21 September 2014 : 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle, Catechetical Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Matthew the Apostle and the Evangelist, one of the Four Evangelists who wrote the Four Holy Gospels, together with St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John. Consequently, today we also celebrate the occasion of Catechetical Sunday, which if we notice from the name, it refers to catechesis, which is the teaching of the Christian faith, of which no better source is present other than the Four Holy Gospels, one of which was written by St. Matthew.

In these occasions of celebration, we hear the words of the Holy Scriptures, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in our first reading, where the Lord God exhorted His people through Isaiah to seek for Him and not to wait until it is too late, and in it was also an admonition for the pride and desire of mankind, who often thought of themselves as great and mighty, but they are really no more than the servants and creations of God, who should therefore obey His will and not their own selfish desires.

Then we hear the Psalms which exalted the Lord and all His goodness, and how His love and mercy will embrace all things, as well as all of us, if only that we resolve to seek Him and find Him in our lives, and as the Psalm mentioned, that the Lord’s mercy and love are upon those who call on Him. This is why mankind should stop delaying and being slothful, and begin to walk on the path of repentance to seek for God’s infinite mercy.

In the second reading, taken from the letter of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Philippi, he reminded the people of God, of the importance of labour and work, and the benefits one may gain if they do their labour for the sake of Christ, and for the sake of His beloved people, our own brothers and sisters in the Lord. It was also highlighted of the importance of the teaching of the Gospels and the faith to the people of God.

Then finally in the Gospel, as written by St. Matthew, we heard how Jesus taught His followers and the disciples using parables, and in today’s Gospel, the parable of the vineyard owner and the workers. In this parable, the vineyard owner employed many people who were unemployed and idle, and he brought them to work in his vineyard. And when the time comes for them to receive their pay, all of them, regardless of their working hours, they all received the same amount of pay, that is one silver coin each.

But the ones who worked for long hours complained before the owner, and they complained to the owner for unjust treatment compared to those who worked very little hours. They argued for the fact that they have been given the same pay although they worked for much longer. The owner then admonished them for their grumbling, and mentioned that they should have been thankful that they have been given the opportunity to work and receive the reward as everyone else had, regardless of the amount.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we look at it more closely and reflect more intently on the meaning of the words of the Scripture which we have heard today, it should be obvious that God wants us to know about the nature of salvation, and how we can play a part in that work of salvation, and therefore having a part in the salvation of one another, ensuring the security of all of us together in Christ.

The Gospel refers to how the Lord is truly willing to seek out those who are lost from Him, and the owner of the vineyard is Himself the Lord. The unemployed men and the idle ones represent mankind who still live in the darkness of the world and sundered from the Lord their God. The reward that the men received symbolised the promise of salvation and eternal life which God had revealed and vowed to us through Jesus.

And the time of which the men were called refers to none other than the opportunities in life for us, which are plenty, from the beginning and early days of our lives, until even the eleventh hour, and the time near the end. God is actively seeking for us, just as the vineyard owner was actively seeking for employees as he went around the city to look for the unemployed, that is those who are still lost among mankind.

And just as all mankind are equal in the sight of God, regardless of their status, wealth, influence, fame, power and all other things often attached to us, we are all the same before God without any embellishments. And this is perfectly shown in the Gospel, as the owner paid the workers equally without any consideration for the amount of work or for any virtues, and all were paid a silver coin each, just as all of us have equal part in our divine inheritance that is life eternal.

Brethren, it is in our nature to always want more and seek more, and we always think that all of our efforts are definitely ought to be paid, and the world itself had supported this, by enhancing in our minds the thought such that when we do more and put more effort, we are conditioned to demand for more and feel that it is justified for us to demand for more, in accordance to what we did.

Does this seem familiar somehow? Yes, precisely because it exists in our world, and it is indeed the force behind the economical progress and how the economy works in our world. Yes, it is the same as capitalism, in the system where supply and demand controls everything. And that is why we always desire and seek more, because in this system, when it is unbridled and uncontrolled, can lead to excessive materialism and desire for things of the world.

And these are what precisely made it so difficult for many of us to be saved, that is many among mankind, because we are so easily tempted by the goods and the wonders that are in the world, that Satan made that very good opportunity to steer us away from salvation in God. We end up doing things to satisfy our desire and greed for more goodness and pleasures of the world, as shown by the grumbling of those workers who came early to work in the owner’s vineyard. We have much to learn in terms of sharing with one another God’s love and blessing, and not to just be concerned about our own benefits.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this we should learn that our Lord loves us all without exception, even the greatest of sinners. There is always hope in the conversion of sinners, and even the greatest sinner can eventually be turned to the way of the Lord to become the greatest of the saints. Indeed, many great saints were themselves once great sinners. What matters is that they repent from their sinful ways and embrace the ways of the Lord.

St. Matthew himself was once a hated tax collector, a profession which was reviled in the society, and they were seen by their Jewish society as traitors and evil, as those who seemingly collaborated with the Roman, the masters of the world at the time, in oppressing the people with the taxes imposed on them. Yet, St. Matthew, despite the good promises of the job, and the security in life it provided him, he left everything and followed Jesus, and eventually became one of the four great Evangelists who recorded the life and works of Jesus our Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we commemorate the occasions I mentioned earlier for today, we have to always be reminded that we have our roles to play in this world today, that is to embrace, seek out and welcome those who hunger for the truth and the Good News of Christ in the Holy Gospels, and that is why we even celebrate today as the Catechetical Sunday, where we together as the Church, seek to spread the words of salvation of our Lord to all the ends of the earth.

Let us not be proud of our achievements or be greedy for more acclamations for what we had accomplished in life and in our faith. Instead, let us look with love upon those who have less or none, and especially those who have less or none of the faith. Let us not be jealous of them when the Lord offers them the same salvation He had also offered us. Let us rather help each other and together as brothers and sisters in the same Lord, equal in the eyes of God, enter the kingdom of heaven as one people, to praise and worship Him forever more.

Do not wait until the last minute to seek the Lord, too, for we do not know when the time is up for us. If we are late, then there is no more opportunity for us, and we will suffer for eternity together with Satan and his fellow fallen angels. Let us pray that this will not be our fate, and thus let none be lost in the darkness. Amen.

Thursday, 11 September 2014 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are presented with the readings from the Scriptures and the Holy Gospel, on the importance of love in our lives in this world. Without love, that is genuine love, we cannot survive in this world, and we will have no part in the inheritance of our Lord and God, who is Love. Love is the key to solve many problems in this world, as without love, hatred and violence reign free and supreme.

The essence of what we heard today is the nature of love, and how our love should be. Our love must be genuine and true, and it must be wholesome. It cannot be love that brings joy to some and yet causes pain to others. To us mankind, it is the latter kind of love that we often encounter, and we ought to know that this is no love.

Love is when we are able to free ourselves from deceit and evil within our hearts, and be able to look beyond the veil of darkness that surround us, which include the feeling of fear, hatred, jealousy and prejudice which prevent us from truly loving as we should have loved. Love is when we can love and care for everyone, no matter whether they return our love or whether they have loved us first.

Love must be unconditional, in that when we love we should not expect the love we give to be returned. And therefore, it is not right if we demand that the love we have given ought to be repaid with similar kind of love. This kind of love is not a perfect love as Jesus had taught us, but rather it is love with benefits, that is we are likely to continue to love as long as it benefits us, but we are then likely to stop that love and care once the condition becomes unfavourable for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, there is much violence and hatred in this world, and these are not easy to be overcome. There is much effort required if we are to overcome these sinister forces threatening to split mankind apart and pit brethren against their own brothers and their own sisters. Why is this so? This is because there are many temptations in the world, the idols of mankind.

If St. Paul in the first reading today, in his letter to the faithful in Corinth said that the faithful should not consume food that had been offered to the pagan idols, said such in a very devoted attempt to ensure that those whose sensitivities were affected by such action be not allowed to fall again into sin, then we too in our own behaviours in this world should avoid all the fornications of our body and soul to sin.

How so? It may seem that in today’s world, in most of the world the old pagan worship of idols with offerings of food and other forms of sacrifices are no longer prevalent, and thus this can be deceiving to many of us. We often do not realise that in the absence of those idols, other, new idols had risen up to take their place in corrupting mankind and bringing them further and further away from salvation in God.

Money, power, influence and others in this world are all these new idols. They are what many in the world toil for, work for, and in many instances even to fight with one another, even with those dear to them, so that they can be closer to these new ‘idols’ and get more of them in the world. And we all should know that they are the main cause of wars, conflicts, and violence prevalent throughout the world.

If mankind continue to worship these idols of money, power, influence and others out there in the world, then there will be no end to suffering for mankind, and the world will slide ever further into chaos and darkness. That is why we have so much anger and violence in the world, so much suffering and people in difficulties, and why so many people have their rights violated against by those with power.

And if we recall today, that this day we remembered thirteen years ago was a great tragedy that befell a nation, that is the United States of America when two large jets were hijacked by extremists and then flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. The resulting destruction caused thousands of deaths and many more injured and not just that, for the families of those who were lost, they still grieved even until today.

In this regrettable and horrible event, we can see clearly that above all the bickering and all the conspiracy theories, above all the disputes and the attacks which one side attack the other with, and above all of that, it is the innocent ones who suffer, both in the site of the event itself, where thousands lay dead, and in the aftermath, in the wars that followed which caused even more death on both sides in the conflict.

Mankind are often fighting over what they want, and they seek more and more in this life. We are by nature difficult to satisfy, and if we do not leash our desire, we risk having the attitude of doing anything in order to get at our goal. And hence, that is why we committed violence, show hatred to others, and not easily satisfied even though we have been given plenty.

This is because in many of us, if not most, we lack love in our hearts. This is not the love as the world knows it. Love as the world knows it is exactly the kind of love that care only for the benefit of the self, a selfish love, which when it had served its purpose, then it turns into hatred, evil and destruction. What we urgently need to have with us, is the kind of love that Jesus had taught us and shown us, an unconditional and true love.

This love is such that it is not a selfish one, but a genuine love for others. Love that asks for no returns or reciprocation, as Jesus mentioned. And this love also overcomes hate and prejudice. Jesus taught us that we should forgive one another, no matter what kind of pain we have received from another. This is a crucial key on how to break that continuous and self-sustaining cycle of violence and evil.

If we repay violence, anger and hatred with equal violence, anger and hatred, then we are merely perpetuating the cycle, and in fact we add even more negativity by committing evil on others ourselves. Rather, Jesus taught us to love, and therefore, through that love, instead of evil, the love that is pure and unconditional may begin to heal the broken souls and hearts of mankind filled with hatred and darkness.

Therefore, as we remember those who perished on this day thirteen years ago, let us all learn to love and forgive, and to pray for all those who are still committing acts of violence, anger and hatred throughout the world, that they too may learn of the love of Christ, be converted to His life and gain salvation in Him. God bless us all, and may He give us His love, that we too may love each other and Him with all of our hearts and with all of our strengths. Amen.