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

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 36 : 16-17a, 18-28

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, when Israel occupied her own land and defiled it by her way of life and her actions. I poured out My fury on them because of the blood they shed in the land and because they defiled it with their filthy idols.”

“Then I scattered them among the nations  and dispersed them in other lands. I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. But when they were brought to other nations, My Holy Name was profane because others said of them : ‘The people of YHVH had to be exiled from His land!'”

“Then I was concerned for My Holy Name, profaned by Israel among the nations where she had been dispersed. Now you shall say to the people of Israel : ‘It is not for your sake that I am about to act, but because of My Holy Name that you have profaned in the places where you have gone.'”

“‘I will make known the holiness of My great Name, profaned among the nations because of you, and they will know that I am YHVH when I show them My holiness among you. For I will gather you from all the nations and bring you back to your own land.'”

“‘Then I shall pour pure water over you and you shall be made clean – cleansed from the defilement of all your idols. I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I shall remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.'”

“‘I shall put  My spirit within you and move you to follow My decrees and keep My laws. You will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be My people and I will be Your God.'”

Friday, 19 July 2013 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Exodus 11 : 10 – Exodus 12 : 14

Moses and Aaron had worked all these marvels in the presence of Pharaoh, but YHVH had made Pharaoh obstinate and he would not let the people of Israel leave his country.

YHVH spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt and said, “This month is to be the beginning of all months, the first month of your year. Speak to the community of Israel and say to them : On the tenth day of this month let each family take a lamb, a lamb for each house. If the family is too small for a lamb, they must join with a neighbour, the nearest to the house, according to the number of persons and to what each one can eat.”

“You will select a perfect lamb without blemish, a male born during the present year, taken from the sheep or goats. Then you will keep it until the fourteenth day of the month. On that evening all the people will slaughter their lambs and take some of the blood to put on the doorposts and on top of the doorframes of the houses where you eat.”

“That night you will eat the flesh roasted at the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat the meat lightly cooked or boiled in water but roasted entirely over the fire – the head, the legs, and the inner parts. Do not leave any of it until the morning. If any is left till morning, burn it in the fire.”

“And this is how you will eat : with a belt round your waist, sandals on your feet and a staff in your hand. You shall eat hastily for it is a passover in honour of YHVH. On that night I shall go through Egypt and strike every firstborn in Egypt, men and animals; and I will even bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt, I, YHVH!”

“The blood on your houses will be the sign that you are there. I will see the blood and pass over you; and you will escape the mortal plague when I strike Egypt. This is a day you are to remember and celebrate in honour of YHVH. It is to be kept as a festival day for all generations forever.”

Wednesday, 10 July 2013 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Genesis 41 : 55-57 and Genesis 42 : 5-7a, 17-24a

When the land of Egypt began to suffer from the famine, the people came to Pharaoh for bread. But Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do as he tells you.”

When the famine had spread throughout the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians for the famine was indeed severe over the land. As the famine had worsened throughout the whole world, people came from other countries to buy grain from Joseph.

So the sons of Israel were among those going to buy grain, for there was famine in Canaan. It was Joseph, as governor of the land, who sold the grain to all the people. When his brothers arrived they bowed before him, with their faces to the ground. Joseph recognised his brothers but did not make himself known. And so he put them all in prison for three days.

On the third day Joseph said to them, “I will help you to save yourselves, for I am a man who fears God. If you are sincere, let one of your brothers remain prisoner in the house of the guard where you now are, and the rest of you take the grain to save your families from famine. Then you will bring back your youngest brother; so the truth of what you say will be proved and your lives spared.”

They did as they were ordered and said among themselves, “Alas! We are guilty because of the way we treated our brother when he pleaded with us for mercy, but we did not listen. That is why this trouble has come upon us.”

Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen and now we are brought to account for his blood.” Now they did not know that Joseph understood them as there was an interpreter between them. As for Joseph, he withdrew and wept.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013 : 7th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 20 : 28-38

Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock the Holy Spirit has placed into your care. Shepherd the Church of the Lord that He has won at the price of His own blood. I know that after I leave, ruthless wolves will come among you and not spare the flock. And from among you, some will arise corrupting the truth and inducting the disciples to follow them.

Be on the watch, therefore, remembering that for three years, night and day, I did not cease to warn everyone even with tears. Now I commend you to God and to His grace-filled word, which is able to make you grow and gain the inheritance that you shall share with all the saints.

I have not looked for anyone’s silver, gold, or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have provided for both my needs and the needs of those who were with me. In every way I have shown you that by working hard one must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus Himself said, “Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving.”

After this discourse, Paul knelt down with them and prayed. Then they all began to weep and threw their arms around him and kissed him. They were deeply distressed because he had said that they would never see him again. And they went with him even to the ship.

Thursday, 9 May 2013 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today is Ascension day, a very important day in our faith, because today we celebrate a central tenet of our faith. That is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is resurrected on the third day after dying on the cross for the salvation of all  mankind, but that today, most importantly, we celebrate the glorification of God, in which Christ, who had descended to this world as a humble man, returns to His glory in heaven as the divine God.

For Christ, our Messiah and our Lord, is both fully man and fully divine at the same time, with both of His human and divine nature united indivisibly in a mysterious and holy link that is beyond our best understanding. In Christ, who had been made incarnate to be a lowly human like us through His birth in Mary, His mother, lies our salvation, and our only hope.

Because, Christ, who is the Lamb of God, gave up Himself to be the sacrifice for the sake of our sins, just as God instructed the people of Israel to sacrifice unblemished lambs to erase their sins and their unworthiness before God. Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God is not merely unblemished, but also perfect, and as the only perfect and worthy sacrifice to take away all the sins of the world, once and for all, through the sacrifice He made on Calvary.

We celebrate this every time we celebrate the Mass, in which the bread and the wine that we offer are truly turned into the Precious Body and the Precious Blood of the Lamb, which He Himself had offered to His disciples at His last supper, so that He will continue to live in them, and therefore remain within us, that He will be within us, and therefore belong to Him and the Father. We have all been mark as His own, and we will not be lost, as long as we keep Him ever in our hearts, and invoke Him in all our actions.

He may be no longer with us in physical form, because He was indeed taken up to heaven with His glorious Ascension, when He parted ways from His disciples and left physically this world, but He actually remains with us, within all of us, that we are empowered with His presence. He granted us the Holy Spirit, the Helper, which came to the Apostles at Pentecost, and from them, the Holy Spirit is passed down to us, with the Sacrament of Baptism and strengthened at Confirmation, the fire of the spirit is burning with us, the living symbol of Christ’s presence within each one of us.

This Spirit that we have within each of us will stay dormant if we do not do anything to make use of the gifts that the Spirit had granted within each of us. Yes, all of us have the power and ability to make the difference, in our own lives, and in the lives of many of those who are around us. The Spirit has planted within us the seeds of faith and love, and these seeds will not sprout unless we provide them with ever greater faith and love, that can only be provided through solid and true actions made in the name of the Lord, and reflecting that we truly are God’s children.

If we allow the Holy Spirit to grow within us and use our beings to bring about love and peace in both ourselves and those around us, it will allow us to grow and bear much fruit, fruits of love and blessings, the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Christ who was taken up on Ascension will come again as He promised all of us, in His Second Coming, which is coming soon. When He comes again, He will see if we, the plants that He, the seed spreader, had grown to the results that He wants.

If we do not bear any fruit, like that of the barren tree, He would destroy us and curse us, because we have not bear any fruit, despite having been planted with seeds of faith. Just like those who had been given money by the master to be invested, but wasted the money in idleness, and did not invest it to let the value of the money to grow for profits. In this, the love that God had given us had become useless, because love cannot just remain within ourselves, because love is between us and another party, and remember that the Lord Himself had commanded us to love both Himself, and our fellow brethren.

The Lord Himself has told us that to love the least and weakest of our brethren, we have loved Him. That is why to just love the Lord alone, is in fact not sufficient, because this love that we have is not perfect, and can only be made perfect by us also loving our fellow brethren, particularly those who lacks, and those who are weakest and persecuted. Therefore, only in living our faith, and using the gifts that the Holy Spirit has placed in us that we can truly bear fruit and be found worthy when Christ once again comes into this world to judge it.

He will welcome and congratulate us, if we had done what we can to fulfill His wishes and His commandments. He will say to us, “Well done, My faithful servants. Come and take your rightful place at My Kingdom.” But if we do not make use of the chance we have now, and waste it on idleness, or worse, that is to spurn God’s love and Spirit, and indulge instead in the worldly temptations and pleasures and the world of hatred, we would be banished by the Lord from His presence, because we will be found unworthy of Him.

The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ therefore, serves also as a reminder. Indeed, we rejoice in His glorification and ascension in heaven, to take up His rightful place at the right hand of the Father, but as the angels had said to the disciples on that day, that Christ will come again and that time when He comes again, He will judge the world and gather His faithful ones to Himself while banishing those who strayed from His way, together with Satan and his fallen angels, into the eternal damnation that awaits them.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us not be complacent, and let us strive to be always ready for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, which indeed will come soon, and will come at a time when many are at their most unprepared moments. Do not be caught unprepared, and let us make sure that all of us, from now on, put Christ at the very centre of our lives, and reflect Christ in all our thoughts, our words, and our actions, that we show that we belong to Christ and to Him alone.

Love one another and love God with all our hearts, our minds, and our beings. Put our trust completely in Him, and let Him transform us with His Holy Spirit, and bear much fruit in us, the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Remember that Christ ascended to heaven, is always within all of us, with all of us serving as the Holy Temples of His Divine Presence. May God be with all of us, always, till the end of time. Amen.

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

Acts 15 : 1-2, 22-29

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 4 May 2013 : 5th Week of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we who believe in Christ, and put our trust in His words, and place ourselves in His great love, do not belong to this world, which is owned by the evil one, with the sole intention of steering all of us away from the true path, that is the way of Christ. This they have done together by tempting the faithful ones in Christ, God’s sheep with the false promise of earthly pleasures and false joy and happiness.

Do not fear though, my brethren in faith, for Christ, our Lord Himself had also suffered such temptations and yet He won, because of His obedience to God His Father, and His unshakeable faith. We too ought to have that kind of faith and love for God, that we can deny the evil one, a passage into our hearts. Do not let the devil dwell inside us, but rather, let us put God at the centre of our very being, making our own body into a Holy Temple of His Presence.

God has made all of us His own, and gave Himself freely for our sake, giving His own flesh and blood that we can live eternally with Him in eternal joy and bliss. Not the temporary and false joy and happiness that this world can offer, but the lasting happiness of heaven. True happiness, and true joy, that the world cannot give, for there is only true joy when we are together and united with Christ our Lord and God, never again to be separated from Him.

The world hates the Lord, because it belongs to the devil, and therefore it will hate all of us too, who keep the faith in God strong. But if we remain faithful to the Lord, the devil and this world will have no power over us. We must keep our faith in God strong, and how to do this? By constant and healthy prayer life, to anchor ourselves in God, by being in constant direct line to God, we can keep ourselves from the power of evil. We also should receive the Lord regularly in deep devotion during the Mass, by attending Mass frequently, and devoutly receiving the Lord in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist, that is our Lord’s Precious Body and Blood will transform us into a Holy Temple of His divine Presence, as He enters our own unworthy bodies, and from the inside, He would transform us and made us worthy of Him, but only if our minds, our hearts, and our soul are open to Him and willing to accept Him.

Let us put our trust in God, who is our divine Master and Lord, who had triumphed over death, and who had won for us the fight against evil, and banish evil forever into the ultimate fate that awaits him, that is the lake of fire. Let us not fear evil and the world anymore, but continue to put our trust in God and love both Him and our fellow men. Keep our guard up, that the evil one will not ‘steal’ us from under God’s watch, but we need not fear if we stay in our faith in Him. God bless us all. Amen.