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

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 55 : 1-11

Come here, all you who are thirsty, come to the water! All who have no money, come! Yes, without money and at no cost, buy and drink wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not food and labour for what does not satisfy? Listen to Me, and you will eat well; you will enjoy the richest of fare.

Incline your ear and come to Me; listen, that your soul may life. I will make with you an everlasting covenant. I will fulfill in you My promises to David.

See, I have given him for a witness to the nations, a leader and commander of the people. Likewise you will summon a nation unknown to you, and nations that do not know you will come hurrying to you for the sake of YHVH your God, the Holy One of Israel, for He has promoted you.

Seek YHVH while He may be found; call to Him while He is near. Let the wicked abandon his way, let him forsake his thoughts, let him turn to YHVH for He will have mercy, for our God is generous in forgiving.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, My ways are not your ways, says YHVH. For as the heavens are above the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is My word that goes forth out of My mouth : it will not return to Me idle, but it shall accomplish My will, the purpose for which it has been sent.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 103 : 1-2, 5-6, 10, 12-14, 24 and 35

Bless the Lord, my soul! Clothed in majesty and splendour; O Lord, my God, how great You are! You are wrapped in light as with a garment; You stretch out the heavens like a tent.

You set the earth on its foundations, and never will it be shaken. You covered it with the ocean like a garment, and waters spread over the mountains.

You make springs gush forth in valleys winding among mountains and hills.

Birds build their nests close by and sing among the branches of trees. You water the mountains from Your abode and fill the earth with the fruit of Your work. You make grass grow for cattle and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth.

How varied o Lord, are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all – the earth full of Your creatures. May sinners vanish from the earth, and may the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, my soul!

 

Alternative Psalm

Psalm 32 : 4-7, 12-13, 20, 22

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

The heavens were created by His word, the breath of His mouth formed their starry host. He gathered the waters of the sea into a heap, and stored the deep in cellars.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

In hope we wait for the Lord, for He is our help and our shield.

O Lord, let Your love rest upon us, even as our hope rests in You.

(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.

Sunday, 20 March 2016 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Holy Week (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Isaiah 50 : 4-7

The Lord YHVH has taught me so I speak as His disciple, and I know how to sustain the weary. Morning after morning He wakes me up to hear, to listen like a disciple.

The Lord YHVH has opened my ear. I have not rebelled, nor have I withdrawn. I offered my back to those who strike me, my cheeks to those who pulled my beard; neither did I shield my face from blows, spittle, and disgrace.

I have not despaired, for the Lord YHVH comes to my help. So, like a flint I set my face, knowing that I will not be disgraced.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are presented with this clear message from the Scriptures, on whether we are ready to stand up for our faith and show a genuine, living faith to God, where it is founded on love and true devotion to God and not just mere lip service. And it was also highlighted the importance for us to be ever ready and be prepared, so that we may not lapse in the observation of our faith.

We know and we believe that our Lord Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time, at the time of His choosing, to judge all the living and the dead, in short to judge over all creations, whether they deserve eternal life and salvation, or whether they should be cast away into hell and eternal suffering. He has warned us of His coming, which will be completely unexpected for us, like a thief breaking into a house, and like a master of the house returning to the house without the knowledge of the stewards.

We have been given this world under trust from God, so that all of us are indeed stewards of creations and stewards of this world. We have been entrusted with the care of the living things and also things of the world around us, so that we may guard with care and love all the precious creations of God, and as we often forget, that we too have been appointed stewards and guardians of each one of us, our own brothers and sisters.

Yes, this means that we have to show love to one another, care for one another, and avoid all forms of vices or any acts that cause harm or disadvantage on others. We who have accepted Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and have been accepted into His Church by baptism, has indeed been made stewards, to take charge over this world and all its inhabitants, not by power but through love and through zealous conversion of those who still live in darkness.

The truth has been revealed to us through Christ, and therefore, just like the Apostles and disciples of Christ, we ought to become living witnesses of Christ to the world, and not just by showing an empty and superficial kind of faith, but faith that is lived through our loving actions, when we practice the faith taught to us from Jesus, and how we should carry ourselves in life, so that all who see us will immediately and instantly know that we belong to God.

And so that all who see our actions may also follow in our footsteps and examples, thus walking down together with us on the same path towards salvation. Do take note that our actions have great impact on others who are watching our behaviours and actions, as who will follow the Lord if the world is to see the wayward actions of those who professed to believe in Him?

That was also why Jesus was so critical on the actions and deeds of the Pharisees, scribes and the teachers of the Law, the supposedly educated and pious ones, the so-called leaders and teachers of the faithful in the matters of the faith, but they did not practice what they preached. They had empty faith and superficial faith, the kind which I have warned against just now, which is empty and meaningless, and does not bring about salvation, not just for ourselves but also for others around us.

The Pharisees imposed heavy and burdensome sets of laws upon the people of God, but the observations of such laws became merely ritualistic and empty, devoid of the original meaning of the laws, and in their actions, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law contradicted their own teachings and faith. They preferred human praise and fame, as well as maintaining their own earthly authority and power over the maintenance of the love of God. Indeed, the purpose of the Law is love.

Now, what we need to do is to ask ourselves sincerely, and look deep into our hearts and minds. Have our actions and deeds represent the actions of a faithful and devoted servant and steward of the Lord’s creations? Are we acting in a way that we are serving God and His people with fullness of faith and love? Or do we instead serve ourselves and succumb to our own human desires and greed, such as what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done?

Remember always, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we must always be ready for the Lord when He comes again. As I have mentioned, the time of His coming is known to Him alone, and no one will expect it when He suddenly comes again in His glory. Do we want to be counted among the unfaithful and the condemned just because we are not prepared, or that because we always like to postpone and delay things till the end, thinking that we still have time?

Of course we do not want such fate to happen to us, and therefore, brethren, if we have done what is just and righteous in the sight of God, then we should continue it faithfully and try to do even more, becoming even inspiration where possible, to inspire and lead others to also believe in the Lord and act as what we have done, that all may eventually be justified by their living faith.

If we have not begun to do what the Lord had asked from us to do, then there is no better time to start than now. Now is the time to begin, and do not wait! For the time is not infinite, and our time may be counted by days even now, by the Lord who is Lord over life and death. Never hesitate to begin now and change our lives for the better, for I can assure you that regret will indeed come too late to save us from our fate of destruction and damnation, if we do not change.

Let us ask our Father and loving God, the Almighty God to bless us and empower us, and to awaken within our hearts the love we ought to offer Him with all of our hearts, souls, minds and indeed with our entire beings. Let us prepare ourselves entirely, heart, mind and soul, to offer ourselves completely to the Lord, that He who sees our devotion may justify us in Himself and bring us into eternal salvation and life. Amen.

Friday, 3 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 10 : 13-16

At that time, Jesus said, “Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! So many miracles have been worked in you! If the same miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would already be sitting in ashes and wearing the sackcloth of repentance. Surely for Tyre and Sidon it will be better on the Day of Judgment than for you.”

“And what of you, city of Capernaum? Will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead.”

“Whoever listens to you listens to Me, and whoever rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me, rejects the One who sent Me.”

Monday, 16 June 2014 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what Jesus mentioned in today’s Scripture readings is the concept of do ut des, which is a Latin expression for the concept of vengeance for evil done by one to another. The examples are as what Jesus had shown, and which can also be found in the first books of the Old Testament.

This law is a very harsh law, which was established through Moses, to punish misbehaviours and evils in the society of the people of God, by punishment equivalent to the evil that had been done earlier. The afflicted party or the relatives of the afflicted may pursue the perpetrator and claim damage in equivalent term as what the perpetrator had damaged in the victim.

If someone caused another to be injured in a way, then the victim is entitled and indeed encouraged to do the exact revenge and commit the same injury to the former. And if that someone caused someone to lose his or her life, then the relatives of the victim is entitled to, and indeed was encouraged to pursue the perpetrator to death, to cry out for his blood, as a vengeance for the victim’s blood.

However, this law in its interpretation, and indeed, in its true purpose, had been misunderstood and misused, so often that it had misguided the people in their approach to the Lord, and instead of helping the people to seek God, often it made them corrupted and losing the focus of their faith instead. This was clear example how divine law is made flawed through feeble human interpretations.

God does not find pleasure in the destruction of the people, even the wicked ones, and He desires that all of us are brought back to Himself. It is mankind themselves who desire the destruction of their own kind, through their sinfulness, our sinfulness and wickedness, indeed, which brought about such sad and unfortunate incidents as what had happened in the first reading today.

The murder of Naboth the vineyard owner by King Ahab who desired his good vineyard was the clear example of human wickedness in their greed and desire for material goods and for possessions. It is this greed which pushes us to commit things that are not according to the Lord’s laws and commandments, causing us to do things that hurt others or even cause loss of life, as what had happened to Naboth’s case.

King Ahab misused his authority and power, and pushed along by his infamous wife, Queen Jezebel, who encouraged him to set false witnesses to accuse Naboth and acquire his lands for himself. Mankind often try many different methods and ways, and often ways that are not morally upright, in order to get what they want. This is one of the great vices of mankind, which King Ahab demonstrated perfectly.

We may then ask, why did the Lord then, come out with such a vile law in the first place? Was He not the One behind everything by placing such strict and manipulable law in place? The reason is because of the people of Israel was so rebellious in their ways and they continuously refused to listen to the Lord’s words and His will, so much that He truly had no other choice but to impose such law and set of rules in order to ensure that His people obeyed and behaved themselves.

Why, brethren? Why is this so? There is only one answer, and that answer is love, the love that God has for all of us. His love was so great that, He imposed such a law to make sure that as few people as possible went against the way of righteousness and thus fell into sin and damnation. And that was also why, the Lord did not intend for such a law to remain forever. When Jesus, the Messiah came into the world, He revealed through Him, that the true purpose and intention of the Lord, was truly, Love.

Mankind should not have sought the destruction of one another through revenge and hatred. Instead, they must love one another as Christ had taught them through His disciples. Revenge and hatred in do ut des will merely beget more and more hatred and vengeance in an endless cycle of destruction. We have to break this cycle, and stop the chain of vengeance and hatred. And how to do so? Again, through love, and also through forgiveness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us reflect on our own lives and our actions. Have we been truly faithful children of God and listen to the will of our Father who loves us? Or have we instead been more like the Israelites and the Jews of the past, who disobeyed the Lord despite having seen His power, and preferred the corrupting nature of our world?

Let us all therefore from now on, commit ourselves to love the Lord our Father, that we may grow stronger in our faith, and in our dedication to His ways. Let us cast away far, far away, any sinful acts or corruptions that tend to keep us away from the loving grace of our God. May the Lord be with us this day, and every single day of our lives. May He bless us and empower us to live more faithfully to Him with each passing day. God bless us all. Amen.