Friday, 21 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was still talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is for Me brother, sister or mother.”


Homily and Reflection :

Monday, 28 July 2014 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear yet again how Christ taught the people and His disciples using parables, or stories with meaning hidden in the story. Jesus did this with a purpose, namely to make it easy for them to understand the concepts about God, His kingdom and His plans by using the stories related to their daily life experiences.

In the first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah from the Old Testament, God also showed Jeremiah His intentions using a similar method, using the linen belt and use it, as well as burying it until it is destroyed, in order to bring about His intentions for His people. This, together with the parables which Christ told His people today, all have the same central idea and lesson, that is, we have good in us, and all of us have the power to make a difference in both our own lives and in the lives of others. But if we remain dormant, then we are useless and will be cast away.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters? Surely some will think that God is kind of harsh, is He not? But if we truly understand His intentions, we will know that He meant good for us. He wants us to be awakened from our deep slumber and from our inaction, as well as from any wickedness that we have committed in this life which separated us from our loving God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have to realise that if a mustard seed is not planted on the ground, or if no concrete effort and hard work are done on it when we plant it, then the mustard seed will forever remain as a seed, and it will die instead of sprouting and growing to be such a large tree as Jesus had mentioned. The same is also for yeast and bread, for if the yeast is kept separate from the bread, or if the yeast and bread mixture is not given the optimum condition, then the bread that is hard and not delicious will just remain as that.

We all know that when we make bread, in order to make the bread fluffy and having a nice texture, as well as being delicious, we need to add yeast into it, and not just that, but we have to seal the bread to allow the yeast to work. If we do everything correctly, and give the correct conditions for the bread, then it will rise and a delicious bread will come out as a result. Similarly, if we give the correct and best conditions for the mustard seed, it will grow big and healthy as a large and bountiful mustard tree.

What we can learn from these parables that Christ told us is that, if we put in our best effort in order to make the seeds of faith, hope and love that are in us to be able to grow, then they will grow optimally and they will produce wonderful and plentiful fruits of faith, of hope and of love. Then our Lord who sees that we bear much fruits and products, will love us and be gracious to us, and He will care for us for ever and ever.

If we have not done so, and if we have not bore any fruits or products, or having no good or concrete outcome from our lives, then we need to realise that we still have a chance. God is a loving and merciful God, and He likes to give us another chance every time whenever we sin and whenever we go against His will and follow Satan instead. But this is not without limit, and in the end, if we persist in our rebelliousness, we will be cast away to suffer for eternity with Satan and his angels in the endless sea of fire.

What God told Jeremiah using the example of the linen belt is no different, for a belt has its purpose, to keep our shirt and garments tied carefully to our bodies, but if it is kept in places unfavourable, then it will be destroyed and be of no use to anyone, and therefore it will be kept away and cast into the fire. It is important therefore to realise that we have been given much abilities and gifts in our respective lives from God, but we have often not realised this or even use them for the sake of evil, or for hurting and for the disadvantage of others.

We have much potential, brothers and sisters in Christ, both for good and for evil. Ultimately, it is up to us, whether we choose good over evil, or vice versa. Let us all not be those who choose evil over good, choosing to fulfill our own selfish desires and keep all the goods and seeds that God had planted in us and allow them to wither and perish. Instead, let us go forth and give the best possible condition for those seeds to grow, that all who look at us will know, that we come from God and that we belong to Him because we walk in His path.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all work together, that we may grow stronger in our faith, and turn our dormant lives into one that is filled with the graces and love of God, and in our actions, may we all be courageous to bring love and happiness to one another, that we may truly be called children of our loving God, and be saved at the end of all things. Amen.

Monday, 23 June 2014 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 7 : 1-5

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and the measure you use for others will be used for you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, and not see the plank in your own eye?

How can you say to your brother, “Come, let me take the speck from your eye,” as long as that plank is in your own? Hypocrite, take first the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly enough to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014 : Tuesday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 2 : 36-41

Peter said, “Let Israel then know for sure that God has made Lord and Christ this Jesus whom you crucified.”

When they heard this, they were deeply troubled. And they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What shall we do, brothers?”

Peter answered : “Each of you must repent and be baptised in the Name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise of God was made to you and your children, and to all those from afar whom our God may call.”

With many other words Peter gave the message and appealed to them saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who accepted his word were baptised; some three thousand persons were added to their number that day.

Thursday, 20 March 2014 : 2nd Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are introduced today to an important catechesis of the faith, that is on the fate of our soul, when we go to the afterlife after our life in this world ends. And it was made clear to us by the story of Lazarus and the rich man, to show the contrast between the two fates that are possible for all of us.

Nevertheless, I would like to warn all of you first to be very careful in reading and understanding this part of the Gospels, as it is easy to be misunderstood and misrepresented, as if Jesus is advocating a sort of class war or conflict between the poor and the rich. And neither should we equate poverty with salvation and riches with damnation. Not all poor will end up in eternal joy, and many rich ones will also be saved.

In order to truly understand the meaning behind the passage, we have to understand the context behind Jesus’ teaching of the parables to His students. At the time of Jesus, and as it is similar in our world today, the divide and gap in the society in terms of wealth and affluence was very pronounced, and the rich ones were very rich with great excess, while the poor was very poor, having almost nothing on themselves.

Thus, it is easier for Jesus to teach the people, if He said them in a manner which can be easily understandable to the people, and hence His choice of characters and the story, to highlight the disparity between the two. Lazarus the poor man had nothing, and sat down in front of the rich man’s mansion hoping that the rich man would spare him some food from his table.

The rich man spared him nothing, and continued to live in splendour and great excess, partying day after day without any concern for those who were less fortunate than him. So that is why, after he died, the Lord gave him his due that is hopelessness, and eternal suffering in hell, to suffer with the devil and his fellow fallen angels.

Meanwhile Lazarus was welcomed into heaven, to enjoy forever the fruits of God’s love, to enjoy the food of everlasting life and he will no longer experience hunger, unlike what he had to go through in life. This is certainly what we all want as well. After all, who will choose hell over heaven? Nobody wants suffering, because we all want happiness.

This certainly should have taught us a good lesson, that if we forget to do what is expected from us by God, then we will be judged and deemed unworthy of heaven. Remember, brethren, that the wealth and possessions that we have is a gift for us, and it is not evil. There is nothing wrong in fact with people having more wealth than others.

However, wealth itself is neutral, but it can be used for either good or bad purposes. Like the rich man, who ignored the plight of Lazarus, he failed to utilise his abundance for a good purpose, and thus he was judged against. He failed to love another mankind, and therefore this ignorance spoke out against him when he is judged by the Judge of all life.

What is of concern to us is regarding the culture of waste and excess that often permeates in our society, and we often do not think about those who do not even have enough. We often consume more than what we need, even to the point of gluttony. We forget that the excesses can be given to those who have little and none that they may have enough.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the story of Lazarus and the rich man, that we may from now on consider our own lifestyle, whether we have been charitable to those who have little or none, giving up our excesses to them, so they too can enjoy together with us. Being rich is fine, brothers and sisters, but just make sure that we keep our less fortunate brethren in mind! God bless. Amen.

Sunday, 23 February 2014 : 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus taught us the truth about God’s laws, as revealed first through Moses, which the people had often misinterpreted and took it at the face value and keep it just at that. Many failed to see the true intention of God’s laws and ordinances, and their true purpose. God did not intend for His laws to punish or pressure His people with burden, because He intended His laws for love.

That was why Jesus showed God’s people, that His laws should not be interpreted in a way that exclude love out of the equation. The ancient laws and customs of the Jewish people included the concept of vengeance and revenge, named accurately, ‘do ut des’, which means that one receives what one has given, or the concept of reciprocity.

That when translated into how the people carried out the laws of God means that a particularly harsh way of dealing with crimes and how to punish these lawbreakers. They had those who had committed a crime to pay back exactly what they had committed, and that is why the term, an eye for an eye and so on and so forth.

The result was clear, the community of the people of God, that is Israel, became a society governed with fear, prejudice and hatred, that is very far from what God intended for them, that is to build upon a community of love and inclusiveness. The people became boxed in into their obedience to the law, and the fear of God and His wrath should they disobey the law.

Yet, in doing so, under the guidance of the Pharisees in particular, the laws had been lost in its true meaning, often covered by false obedience and empty observations of the law. Jesus showed them that there is a need for the understanding of the purpose of the Law. The Law is about love, and in obeying the law, the people of God have to observe love in all their actions and deeds.

And this love is in fact not the same kind of love that we are often accustomed to in this world. The love that we know about in this world is often a very selfish love. Just as Jesus had said, we often love only those who love us back, and we do not love our enemies and those who hate us. We hate them back and even curse at them as best as we can.

And in our understanding of love, we even have it at an even more flawed level, one that is mingled with lust, greed and human desire. Our form of love is corrupted by desire and wickedness. We lust and desire for worldly pleasures, and that results in us failing further to understand what God truly intends for us.

We are often prejudiced and choosy in our love, and we give no love to those whom we do not love, and those who hate us. But the Lord shows us that when we love we cannot be prejudiced, and we have to be selfless in giving our love. Love should be given to all around us, and even to those who hate and persecute us. If we love only those who already love us, then what we do to them are not quite as meaningful as if we love those who hate us.

The Lord shows us that He knows about what it means to value-add our faith, and the love that is in this world. Loving our enemies and those who hate us will in itself help them to understand love, and hopefully that they will be awakened from their slumber in darkness and in the seas of hate. It falls upon us then, for us to show love to them. If we show them hate instead of love, then we are likely to end up dooming them to hate, and we will be held responsible for that too.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, in line with what Jesus had taught and shown us, we have to change our perspectives of those around us, our brothers and sisters. We must not be judgmental or be filled with prejudice. We have to show love to all, even when the other side does not want our love. Show them that to be children of God means to love. And when we love, we have to do so unconditionally.

Let us all deepen our faith in God and deepen our understanding of His will. Let us understand further the love He has for us, and let us hope that we mankind may learn to love more, and to devote ourselves truly to God, seeking God in all the things we do, and follow in His ways in all of our actions. May God walk with us and guide us, teach us how to understand His will and show us how to love each other and to love Him. Amen.

Monday, 3 February 2014 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Ansgar, Bishop (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Bishops)

Today we witnessed the exorcism conducted by Jesus our Lord on the possessed man of Gerasenes, and how even the evil spirits obeyed the Lord and feared His authority. In today’s readings, we listen about the concept of authority and power, and how mankind had interacted with these across time, with the story of the rebellion of Absalom, the son of David, and how Jesus cast out the demons from the man.

The authority of Jesus was clear. He was the Son of Most High God as the demons themselves proclaimed. He was the Word of God made flesh, incarnate into Man in Jesus through Mary His mother. The evil spirits, the Legion feared Him because they knew who He was, even if mankind could not recognise who He was.

The evil spirits feared Jesus as Lord not because He has wealth, influence, or power that denote greatness in our human eyes. The greatness of the Lord is not measured in terms of human power and glory. What is power and glory to us mankind have no meaning and are nothing before the Lord our God. Jesus Himself showed us all this through His own actions.

Jesus was great not just because He was already the Lord and Almighty God, but because in His actions He showed the perfection of God’s love and mercy to us all. He was great because even though He has power, majesty, and authority, He chose to come down and be our servant, that through His works, we may have new hope in Him, and as our Shepherd, He guided us through the narrow gates towards salvation.

As Jesus mentioned in His Last Supper with the disciples, that the true meaning of leadership is service. A leader must be the servant of the people whom he or she leads, and the power and authority that the leader has been given must not be misused. True authority does not equal oppressing others or destroying those whose ideas or views not necessarily in line with our own views and opinions.

The Lordship and authority of Jesus is one of humility and service, and He did not boast of His miracles and achievements, while mankind like us must have been tempted to glorify ourselves or seek praise and glory from others for what we have done, gaining credits for our works. The irony is that, it is always the devil and the evil spirits in league with him that clamoured to proclaim Him! Yes, such as the evil spirits that inhabited that man of Gerasenes.

The authority of Jesus in casting out the numerous demons, the Legion, from that man showed His power and sovereignty over all things, be it angel, man, or demons, and is a testimony clear enough for all of us today to hear. We are fortunate to be able to witness this testimony through the Holy Gospels written by the Holy Apostles, who witnessed what happened first hand on that day.

If we trust in the Lord and in His power, then we will have no need to worry, for our Lord will be with us and He will take care of us well, and He shows us how to live a good and faithful life. The contrast we can see in the first reading today, which is centred on the civil war in Israel, between king David, the faithful servant of God and his own son, Absalom.

Absalom as the oldest son of king David was driven by his youth and ambitions, and he aspired to be the king of Israel, even though his father was still the reigning king and the chosen one of the Lord. Absalom succumbed to the taste of power and human glory, and that doomed him, causing him to rise up in rebellion against his own father.

As the story would go, Absalom was defeated in that war, and he lost his life in the process. The example of Absalom and David in today’s reading showed the frail nature of human power and glory. Power and glory in human terms are just temporary. We cannot hope to depend on our human power, as if we depend on them as Absalom had done, then we shall fail.

In a way even king David also had a part of blame on himself in this matter. David as a king as was common among the kings of his time, had many wives and children. Having more wives and children was associated with power and glory, and the more wives and children one had, the more powerful and prestigious was one seen by their people and their neighbouring countries.

Trusting in human power and authority was what had made David, the faithful servant of God, to err in some occasions. First of which was his plot to kill Uriah after committing adultery with the latter’s wife, Bathsheba, despite Uriah’s great loyalty to him, and then David’s sin of wanting to count the number of the people of Israel and Judah, as if he revelled in the great glory God had given him and was immersed in a moment of self-glorification and self-praise.

And David met his troubles because of what he had done, be it the rebellions of his sons and their mischievous behaviours, or the disease and pestilence that swept across the land and killed many, as the sign of God’s displeasure. This is proof that trusting in human and worldly power does not bring us good. Rather than be proud of our own power, ability, and achievement, we should rather trust in the Lord and walk in His ways.

Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of two saints of the Church, that is of St. Blaise and St. Ansgar. St. Blaise was the well known patron for throat based diseases, which feast day usually saw the traditional blessing of the throats with two crossed candles. St. Blaise was a renowned physician who went around many places to heal peoples, often with miraculous results, and people flocked to him seeking the consolation of the flesh as well as the soul.

St. Blaise was a faithful follower of the Lord, and practiced his faith truthfully in the works that he had done, but when Christians were persecuted by the last persecution of Christians by Emperor Licinius of the Eastern Roman Empire, he was arrested by the governor of his province and subsequently was tortured and martyred for his faith in the Lord.

Meanwhile St. Ansgar was an Archbishop who lived in northern part of Germany during the late Dark Ages, and was renowned as the Apostle of the North, for his works of evangelisation, bringing the Good News of the Lord to many peoples in the northern Europe, where paganism still dominated most of the people. St. Ansgar tirelessly worked for the cause of the Lord and gained many converts, even baptising lords and kings of the pagans.

Despite his position in the Church, St. Ansgar did not have an easy work ahead of him. Often times many of his supporters withdrew their support from him, and St. Ansgar had to proceed with his missions with great difficulties. Yet, St. Ansgar persevered and he never complained. And the Lord gave him the help he needed through various sources, and he prevailed in his missions.

The examples of St. Blaise and St. Ansgar show that if we walk upright in the path of the Lord and if we remain faithful to Him and trust always in Him, then we have no need to fear at all about the work we are to do, our about our lives. God will care for us and He will protect us. He has all the power and authority, and no evil shall dare to approach us, for they know who they will be dealing with if they mess with us.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today therefore put our trust in God, and keep our faith in Him strong, especially avoiding the bad influences of this world, taming our greed and desire, particularly for power, authority, and influence among many others, and seek only for the Lord. May our Lord therefore be with us, and guide us to walk upright at all times in His ways, that we may never again fall into sin. Amen.