(Easter Sunday) Sunday, 27 March 2016 : Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Week, Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-9

Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken our Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have laid Him.”

Peter then set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter.

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too saw the linen cloths lying flat. The napkin, which had been around His head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place.

Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed. Scripture clearly said that He must rise from the dead, but they had not yet understood that.

 

Alternative reading

Luke 24 : 1-12

On the Sabbath the women rested according to the commandment, but the first day of the week, at dawn, they went to the tomb with the perfumes and ointments they had prepared. Seeing the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb, they entered, and were amazed to find that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there.

As they stood there wondering about this, two men in dazzling garments suddenly appeared beside them. In fright the women bowed to the ground. But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You won’t find Him here. He is risen. Remember what He told you in Galilee, that the Son of Man had to be given into the hands of sinners, to be crucified, and to rise on the third day.” And they remembered Jesus’ words.

Returning from the tomb, they told the Eleven and all the others about these things. Among the women, who brought the news, were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. But however much they insisted, those who heard did not believe the seemingly nonsensical story.

Then Peter got up and ran to the tomb. All he saw, when he bent down and looked into the tomb, were the linen cloths, laid by themselves. He went home wondering.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 1-12

On the Sabbath the women rested according to the commandment, but the first day of the week, at dawn, they went to the tomb with the perfumes and ointments they had prepared. Seeing the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb, they entered, and were amazed to find that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there.

As they stood there wondering about this, two men in dazzling garments suddenly appeared beside them. In fright the women bowed to the ground. But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You won’t find Him here. He is risen. Remember what He told you in Galilee, that the Son of Man had to be given into the hands of sinners, to be crucified, and to rise on the third day.” And they remembered Jesus’ words.

Returning from the tomb, they told the Eleven and all the others about these things. Among the women, who brought the news, were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. But however much they insisted, those who heard did not believe the seemingly nonsensical story.

Then Peter got up and ran to the tomb. All he saw, when he bent down and looked into the tomb, were the linen cloths, laid by themselves. He went home wondering.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 27-31a

Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, “I am going away, but I am coming to you.” If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. It is very little what I may still tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in Me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father.

Saturday, 10 May 2014 : 3rd Week of Easter (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hope in God always, and never falter! For God will always stand by us and protect us, and He will never give up on us no matter what. It may often be difficult to remain faithful and keep the truth that He has revealed to us, because of various reasons.

The people failed to understand Christ and His teachings, because they were unable to comprehend Christ’s hard message, that is real and hard on them, because their minds think not in heavenly terms, but in terms of this world. They based their judgments and beliefs in the logic of this world, and the understanding in their minds.

They put themselves in the completely wrong focus, contending that because to them, Jesus is mere man, like them, it is definitely very gross for Him to say something such as, giving them His own flesh and blood for them to eat. Sadly, this was precisely the same sentiment espoused by so many people who claimed that they belong to the same Christian faith, and yet failed to accept the truth in the Lord, that God gave us His own flesh and blood, which He gave to us through the Eucharist.

Mankind like to think that they are the best, and that their opinions and wisdom are better than everything else, even including divine wisdom and revelations from the Lord. Thus, mankind stumble into the trap of human pride and greed, refusing to believe in the truth. What is this truth? That the Lord is present in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, the bread and wine changed in form and substance to that of the Body and the Blood of Christ, real and present.

Many failed to understand this, particularly those who literally read the Scriptures and failed to comprehend the fullness of the mysteries of God, and end up with having false and inaccurate deductions on the faith and the nature of the Lord itself. Many deduced that the Eucharist and the celebration of the Mass is merely a symbolism rather than real giving of the Lord’s Body and Blood. This erroneous view of the real truth was catastrophic and even until today, this condemns countless souls to perdition and eternal damnation.

The celebration of the Mass, the memorial reenactment of the Lord’s Supper every time we celebrate the Mass is not just a mere memorial, or a mere symbolic gesture or representation. Instead, every Mass is the same sacrifice that Jesus had made at Calvary, when He was crucified between the heaven and the earth, surrendering Himself to the will of the Father and opened Himself to us. He gave us generously His own Body and His Blood, which He offered for our sake, as the perfect sacrifice for the oblation of our sins.

Yes, the Mass is a sacrifice, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, just as Christ offered Himself as the worthy sacrifice, the worthy Lamb of God to be the settlement for our numerous and innumerable sins and faults. His is the only blood worthy to cleanse our sins, something that the old rituals of animal sacrifices at the time of the Temple, could not do.

Again even here, those who refused to believe in the truth were led astray by their own wisdom and arrogance, thinking that they know it all about God. They thought it to be impossible and unthinkable that Christ should be sacrificed again and again at the Mass, every time the bread and wine were transformed into the Real Presence of our Lord. They thought it blasphemous to think that the bread and wine in the Eucharist is the Real Presence, but the truth is that in fact it is blasphemous to think that the bread and wine are not real Body and real Blood of our Saviour.

The Mass is a mystery in itself, that when the priest, endowed with power given to him through the unbroken succession from the Apostles and hence from the Lord Himself, turned the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, this process is mystically linked to the same, one and only sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ almost two thousand years ago on the cross. It is not a reenactment, nor it is just symbolic, but in fact it is truly the real thing, and we all experience the saving power of God’s sacrifice and love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, hence, it is imperative that we all be true disciples of Christ and be courageous proclaimers of His truth. Do not be afraid to tell the truth to others, particularly to those who believe in the lies of the world and those who prefer to depend only on themselves in faith. Let us be courageous and faithful disciples, spreading the Good News wherever we go. God guide our way and may He bless us always in all our endeavours. Amen.

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.”

Saturday, 1 February 2014 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

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

There is nothing to fear, brothers and sisters in Christ, if we have our anchor in the Lord. There is nothing to fear, if we put our trust in God and have Him as our support. That was what Jesus told His disciples, that if they had had faith in Him, a complete faith that is, then they would have no need to fear at all, for God is with them, and protecting them.

We fear because we do not put ourselves completely at the side of the Lord, and the worries and the concerns of this world still occupy part of our hearts and minds. And indeed, as what happened to King David of Israel in the first reading, in continuation to what we heard yesterday, is because of this lack of faith. Not lack of faith in the sense that there is no faith, but because that faith is not complete.

We have faith in God and profess it to Him, but we too are still peoples of this world, and therefore are prone to the corrupting influences of the devil through various means he utilises in this world. Lust, greed, anger, jealousy, hatred, pride, and many others as you can name it, these are the evil influences that remain in our hearts, and these may possess threat to us and our state of grace if we do not have strong and solid faith in God.

They are like those storm and gale winds that blow across the lake, when the disciples of Christ with the Lord were in the boat, shaking them and threatening to sink them. Those storm and gales brought fear in the hearts of men, and if they have no concrete and strong faith in God, they will be swept away. This is much like those who indulge themselves in the pleasures of the world, and failed to resist their corrupting influences.

That was what happened to David, the king of Israel. He was one of the most faithful servants of the Lord and dutifully followed the laws and commandments of God, but this did not mean that he was invulnerable to the same corruptions that threaten us. If anything, the example of David and what he did to Uriah and Bathsheba can be a good lesson for us, that power, influence, lust, greed, and many other worldly things can corrupt, even those who are faithful if we let our guard down, as David did.

From what David had done, we can learn that we all have been made God’s stewards in this world, and to each one of us had been entrusted a certain responsibility, with the power and authority we have been entrusted with. To David, who had been made king, great responsibilities had been placed upon him, and God know the faith that was in David, that he would be able to shoulder them.

But that did not make David to be immune from the same ailment that affects everyone who had been entrusted with power. With power often comes desire and greed, because power does corrupt our hearts and minds. We are also vulnerable to the same afflictions. Power and authority if not based on solid faith in God will open us to the influences of evil spirit, and we will fall into sin.

Nevertheless, as you know, after we fall, we should not continue to lie down in defeat on the ground. Instead, we should rise up again, and walk again in the way of the Lord. If we continue to linger in our fallen state and do not try to rise up again, and if we even prefer to linger in that darkness, then we are truly doomed. David made his mistakes and he erred before the Lord, but he made a conscious effort to repent from his sins and asked the Lord for His forgiveness.

We too should follow David’s example in seeking the Lord with all of his heart, be it in times of happiness, or sorrow, or in regret, as he had done after realising the depth of his sins of adultery and murder before God. And we should do so with genuine faith, and one that is strongly anchored in the Lord our God.

Trust in God and put our faith in Him, and we will certainly be safe. We will meet challenges and tribulations, like the disciples meeting the great storm and gale winds, but as long as the Lord was with them, they would not sink. The same therefore also apply to us, as if we put our complete faith in God, and anchor our lives in Him, then we should not worry, because we will be ever solid and strong against the forces of evil assailing us from all sides.

May the Lord continue to be with us and guide us, bless us with His presence, and affirm within us our faith. May He stand by us as we are being battered by the storm of our lives, that we may remain faithful in Him, and therefore receive in the end the reward for our faith. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 25 January 2014 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 15-18

Then He told them, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned. Signs like these will accompany those who have believed :

“In My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

Saturday, 18 January 2014 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

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

Today brethren, we heard about how God had chosen Saul, from the tribe of Benjamin, to be the king over His people Israel, and how He instructed Samuel, His prophet and servant, to deliver His will to Saul and later on, to let it be known to the people.

He anointed Saul through His servant Samuel, that Saul be filled with His own Spirit bearing power and authority, that He be granted wisdom and power, which came from God, to lead the people of God through righteous life and obedience to the Lord, and make sure that the people of God faithfully keep the laws and commandments of God without turning from them or abandoning them.

But sadly, Saul, and many other kings of Israel did not remain faithful to God, and followed their own ways and desires, in ruling the people, misusing the power given to them and the authority entrusted to them. They became tyrants and abusers of power, serving their own needs and desires instead of serving the people of God.

The people of Israel were eventually lost and were scattered all over the world, after their kingdoms of Israel and Judah were destroyed by their enemies. They went into exile, and only a portion would eventually return to their Promised Land, and began anew, trying to once again obey the will of God and not walk the path of sinfulness as their ancestors had under the rule of the corrupt kings.

God resolved to show His infinite love for His people and for all mankind, the most beloved of all His creations, by sending to us His ultimate form of love, that is, Jesus Christ, His own Son, the Logos, the Word of God, who was made man, by the power of God, and born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus, as Lord, is the true King of all, for God is the true King over all creations, the Lord and King over all the universe. From God all authority and power comes.

But Jesus showed all of us, that true kingship is not one based on the abuse of power or tyranny. Even though He was Lord of all and King of all kings, and have all the power and authority He needed, He never showed them off or used them to push things to His advantage. The kingship of Jesus is one of true service for His people, to care and love them very, very much, so much that He even was willing to lay down His own life for them.

He also came to seek the lost and the ones without hope. He came to bring light to those who live in the darkness, especially those who were deeper and even deeper in darkness. That was why, when He came, He sought those who were sinful and considered the troubles of the society, the hated enemies of the people. Yes, people such as tax collectors, prostitutes, and those possessed by illnesses and the evil spirits.

Jesus came to bring them to the comfort of the light of God, and to show that they too deserve redemption, even more so because they were so deep in the risk of damnation. He also made the point that these people were truly capable of great deeds and great piety, even more than those who outwardly showed brilliant faith, but inside were not as brilliant as they seemed to be.

That was why, He as the King who has authority over us, and who is like a father to all of us, came to correct things as well as perceptions of the society, that we should not judge others based on their appearance or their deeds in the past. Yes, the likes of Saul, who was very tall and handsome, who seemed like the perfect choice for a regal king, and yet failed miserably, and the likes of the Pharisees, who outwardly showed faith in God but in their hearts there were no love for God, but only for themselves.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called by our King, our Lord Jesus Christ, to be the beacons of light shining the way for those who have been lost in the darkness of this world. Let us imitate Jesus and seek out those who have been condemned and villified by the society, those ostracised and hated. Let us not hate or be prejudiced against them, but instead embracing them, that we show to them the love of God, that they too may believe and therefore be saved together with us.

May the Lord put in our hearts, the courage to embrace the least of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are looked down upon by the society, and those who are unloved and rejected. May God be with all of us, that together, we may help one another to find a way to seek the light, our King, the One and only True King, Jesus Christ our Lord and God! Amen.

Friday, 6 December 2013 : 1st Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Nicholas, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Bishops)

Matthew 9 : 27-31

As Jesus moved on from there, two blind men followed Him, shouting, “Son of David, help us!” When He was about to enter the house, the blind men caught up with Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do what you want?” They answered, “Yes, Sir!”

Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, “As you have believed, so let it be.” And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus gave them a stern warning, “Be careful that no one knows about this.” But as soon as they went away, they spread the news about Him through the whole area.

Monday, 2 December 2013 : 1st Week of Advent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we begin the first of the weekdays of Advent, and appropriately, as we prepare for the coming of Christ, we are reminded on our humanity, and our frailty, one which needs help from the Lord. We heard this from the story from the Gospel, where Jesus healed the servant of the army captain, and the humility and faith of the captain, which he showed in all sincerity before Jesus.

We are all definitely too familiar with the words that the army captain had said, “I am not worthy that You, the Lord, should enter under my roof.” That is the statement that we always recite and repeat all over and over again every time we celebrate the Mass, just after the Agnus Dei, or the Lamb of God hymn. The other statement, “But only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” is certainly also a very familiar phrase to all of us, as this phrase is also used at the same time with the previous phrase.

These phrases were the words that the captain had said to Jesus, after he asked Him to heal his ailing servant, and he turned to no other help but Jesus the Lord. To some, the initial reaction of hearing these words would be that of detesting the captain’s arrogance. Some may even say, ‘How dare this captain say these things to the Lord when He had agreed to come and heal the ailing servant of the captain?’

This is our natural response, but we have to look beyond the surface into the true meaning of those words the captain had uttered. The captain in fact had so much faith in the Lord Jesus, that he knew even if Jesus did not come physically into his home, He, as the Lord of all and Almighty God has the power to heal his servant at that moment even there, where the two of them were far away from the captain’s home. Such was the faith of the captain, that he believed completely in Jesus without question.

But that is not all that there is in the faith and devotion of the captain. The captain’s response to the Lord also showed the quality and the truth about his faith and devotion. Not only that he is devoted to the Lord and placed his full trust in Jesus, but that he showed great humility and understanding of his own unworthiness as he sought the Lord for help with his servant.

All of us are sinners, brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all sinners ever since our ancestors first disobey the instructions and the will of the Lord, but we are not lost. Our Father and Lord loves us still, and He proved that to us by sending Jesus His own Son to us. Yet, many of us still deny our sinfulness and turn our back to the salvation which Christ has offered us freely.

That is how Christ praised the faith of the army captain. He may be an army captain, and to many people of his time, he may not be seen as someone who will do good deeds or have faith in God. Worse still, the army captain, as it was during the dominion of the Roman Empire, may well be a Roman centurion. And the people of Israel looked at them with disdain, treating them as pagans and unworthy of salvation.

Yet, you knew what happened. Jesus praised the faith of the army captain, not just because of his total dedication, but also because of his humility, a great humility indeed, to realise his sinfulness and unworthiness, to the point of saying it publicly that he was not worthy to have the Lord at his home. And compare this to the faith of the Pharisees, as you all notice that they are the ones considered holy and pious by the people. Yet, they were arrogant and proud, disdaining the sinful while not realising that they themselves were sinful too.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, now we all know the meaning of the words we always say at the Mass. From now on, every time we say those words the captain had once said, let us remember the faith of the captain, and also try to emulate the faith he had. We have to be aware of our own sins and unworthiness, while at the same time, trying our best to dedicate ourselves to the Lord without being taken in by the temptations of the evil one.

May the Lord who rewarded those faithful to Him, also reward us in the same way, and that we may realise the depth and gravity of our sinfulness, and therefore strive to draw ever closer to the Lord our God, seeking His generous mercy and love, that we may strive to be more like Him, and aspire to reach the heavenly glory that He had promised us. Amen.