Monday, 18 January 2021 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in our Scripture readings today we heard first of all the continuation of the discourse on the High Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, highlighting the role of the Lord Jesus that He took in order to bring the people of God to salvation through Him and His ultimate loving sacrifice on the Cross.

The author first began by highlighting the role that priests had in those days, as according to the law of God revealed through Moses, the priests were to offer sacrifices for the sake of the people, for many purposes. But those sacrifices were especially meant as means for mankind to be reconciled with God, for through those sacrifices, God would then forgive the people their sins. The priests interceded for the sake of the people as they offered the sacrifices on the Altar.

However, those sacrifices, which involved the offering of slaughtered animals like lambs and doves, were not permanent and lasting, and the priests had to offer the sacrifices again and again for themselves as well as for the people, for all were sinners and fell again and again into the traps and temptations to sin. And therefore the priests had continued offering the sacrifices for the people’s sins for all the centuries right up to the time of Jesus and His ministry.

The Epistle to the Hebrews directed at the believers from among the Jews and the Jewish people in general explained that with His coming, the Lord Jesus has brought about the perfection of the old Law, by revealing Himself as the one and Eternal true High Priest for all of us. He is the High Priest Who offered the one and final offering for the sake of our salvation, and by His offering, He has opened the path for all of us to reach God’s grace and everlasting love.

The Lord Jesus offered not the blood and sacrifice of animals on the Altar like what the priests had done earlier. Instead, He as the High Priest, was also the sacrificial Lamb of offering, the Paschal Lamb that was slain for us on the Altar of the Cross, when the Lord bore His Cross to Calvary and died, shedding His Precious Body and Blood for the sake of all of us. From the Cross, He lifted up that perfect and most worthy offering to His heavenly Father, completing once and for all the redemption of all mankind.

This is what we have heard from the Gospel passage today as well. In that passage we heard the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who argued with the Lord and asked Him why He and His disciples did not fast as stipulated by the laws of God revealed through Moses, which the Pharisees and the disciples of St. John the Baptist did. And then, the Lord said that He was revealing the truth about all things, and using the parable of the wine and wineskin, the new and old piece of cloth, He told them all of the new way that He Himself was about to show them.

That parable of the wine and the wineskin, as well as the parable of the new and old pieces of cloth spoke of the incompatibility between old and new ways, the old and new practices. The Lord was highlighting the differences between the way that the Law used to be practiced and interpreted, and preserved by the Pharisees, and the truth that He had then brought to the midst of the people.

The Lord has made a New and everlasting Covenant with each and every one of us, as our one and true Eternal High Priest. No longer that the sin offerings and animal sacrifices need to be made, for the Lord Himself has offered the perfect offering to the Lord, His own Self, as the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice, slaughtered and made to die on the Altar of the Cross. And by His own Precious Blood, He sealed this New Covenant between God and us mankind.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard today’s readings, let us all first of all be grateful of the great love that the Lord has for each and every one of us, that for our sake, He willingly went through the worst of sufferings, and picked up upon Himself our punishment, that through His Passion, suffering and death on the Cross, He may free us all from the bondage of sin and the tyranny of death, and by sharing in His Resurrection, we too may enter into the glorious new existence and life in Him.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us on our journey of faith, at all times. May all of us grow ever stronger in faith and our love of the Lord, so that no matter what happens, we will be ever faithful and be good witnesses of our Christian faith, our love for God, in our communities, as shining beacons and examples of the truth of God, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 17 January 2021 : Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we celebrate the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, all of us heard the words of the Lord through the Sacred Scriptures reminding us that all of us have been called and chosen by Him and we are all called to respond to His call for us to follow Him and to be His disciples. And this is in essence, what it truly means for us to be Christians, that we devote ourselves to the Lord and do what He has commanded us to do, His will and commandments.

In our first reading today we heard of the calling of the prophet Samuel when he was merely just a young boy in the care of Eli, the Judge and leader of Israel. The Lord called Samuel, who was sleeping and was still so young that he had not yet comprehend who the Lord truly was. He thought that Eli had called him and came to ask him again and again, only for Eli eventually to realise that the Lord had called Samuel. And Samuel answered the Lord call innocently and honestly, and God was with him through his life from then on.

Samuel would become a great leader over all of Israel succeeding Eli, as Judge and Leader, as well as a great Prophet and also a Priest of the Lord, for Jewish tradition stated that he belonged to the tribe of Levi. Samuel dedicated his life to the Lord, guiding and shepherding all of the Israelites through difficult moments, especially when they fell into sin and disobeyed the Lord. He gave Israel their first king when he anointed Saul as the king of Israel after the people complained and insisted to have a king over them. And even still he did not stop doing works for the sake of the people.

All the more in fact Samuel’s work grew as we should know how king Saul eventually disobeyed the Lord and became unfaithful. Samuel often stood up against Saul and rebuked him for his unfaithfulness, something that must have indeed required a lot of courage and faith, which Samuel had in his service to the Lord and His people. Samuel anointed David as king over Israel to replace Saul, and although he was to disappear from the records of the Scripture not long afterwards, likely as he was already very old at that time, but his contributions to the people of God cannot indeed be underestimated.

In our Gospel reading then we heard of the calling of the first disciples by the Lord, when He came to the River Jordan and was baptised by St. John the Baptist, and then the latter revealed to two of his own disciples Who Jesus really was, the Lamb of God and promised Messiah or Saviour of the world. Those disciples, one of whom was St. Andrew the Apostle, then decided to follow the Lord and asked Him firstly where He stayed.

The Lord then asked them to follow Him, and from then on, they were convinced by the Lord, and St. Andrew introduced Him to his brother Simon, as well as the other fishermen, the brothers St. James and St. John, the sons of Zebedee. St. Andrew introduced the Lord as the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. The Lord called them to follow Him as well, and they all followed the Lord as well, leaving behind their boats and professions, and walked with God from then on.

The Lord gave Simon a new name, that is Cephas, the Aramaic word for ‘stone’, which is Greek is Petros, and in Latin, Petrus, and thus, henceforth, he would be known as St. Peter the Apostle. They all followed the Lord, and with other followers and disciples, listened to the Lord, did what He asked them to do, and eventually, after His Passion, death and Resurrection, were commissioned and sent to the many peoples of the nations, establishing the Church of God.

In those two readings therefore we heard of the Lord calling His people to follow Him, with the example of Samuel, when he was but just a young boy, and then the poor fishermen of Galilee, the brothers Andrew and Simon Peter, James and John the sons of Zebedee. They all acted on the Lord’s call, responded, not just with words, but with action and eventually, a lifetime of dedication and commitment. Samuel dedicated his whole life to serve the Lord, and all the brothers-turned-Apostles mentioned suffered martyrdom for their faith and dedication.

How about us all then, brothers and sisters in Christ? The Lord has called us all as well, through our common baptism. As we become part of the Church through baptism, we have had a share in the same calling and mission entrusted by the Lord to His Apostles and followers, especially the Great Commission, to ‘go forth to the nations and be witnesses of the Lord and His Good News, and to baptise all in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’

All of us share in this same mission by our common baptism, and all of us are urged to be active in contributing ourselves to the works of the Church, and to live our lives as good and faithful Christians at all times and in all things. We cannot call ourselves as Christians unless we are active in living our faith, and doing whatever we can to commit ourselves to the good cause of the Lord. Otherwise, we are no better than hypocrites who believe one thing and then act in a different and even contradictory way.

Then, if we are all wondering if we are up to the task of doing what we have been called to do, we should look no further than those whom the Lord Himself had called. Samuel was just merely a boy when he was called, while the fishermen of Galilee were illiterate, poor, unknown and had no prior experience in the faith. They had little knowledge of the Scriptures and little wealth or means to support themselves. But that was where then they learnt to trust in the Lord, to allow the Lord to lead and guide them, to teach them and show them the way to go to.

That was also the contrast between them and the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who were highly educated and highly knowledgeable on the Scriptures and the teachings of the prophets and the elders. Many of them refused to believe in the Lord and follow Him because they presumed that they knew more and better than others. It was this ego and pride that became stumbling block in their way to the Lord. But some among them, like Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and others, they were humble and willing to listen to the Lord, and thus, were counted among the Lord’s disciples themselves.

We can see that one does not have to be qualified and capable to follow the Lord. A poor man can be a disciple just as a rich man can, a man without education or much knowledge, intellect or abilities can be a follower of the Lord just as a smart or genius can, and a sinner, no matter how great, can also be a follower of the Lord, provided that the sinner is willing to abandon his or her sinful ways, turn their back against their past, wicked ways, and embrace the Lord fully and be His true disciple.

Aren’t all of us sinners too, brothers and sisters in Christ? Whether our sins be small or great, in some way or another, we have sinned against Him, and even after we have been baptised, we may end up falling again and again into sin through the many temptations present all around us. But this should not discourage us from embracing the Lord and responding to His call. Just as He has called His disciples from all sorts of origins, and some, like His own Apostles, were sinners, and committed sins and faults, like how St. Peter denied the Lord three times at His Passion, and how the others abandoned Him at the same time, no disciple of the Lord is perfect.

Instead, we must allow the Lord to take our imperfections, and allow Him to lead us down the path towards perfection in Him. For the Lord made worthy those whom He had chosen, and not we who make ourselves worthy for the Lord. If we think that we are more worthy than others, that is when we allow pride and ego, jealousy and ambition to cloud our thoughts and judgments, distracting us from our true intention and purpose of following God. Rather, we should focus on the Lord and our faith in Him, and discern in what way we can contribute for the work of the Church.

We should make use of this opportunity to make use of whatever God has given us to be the true witnesses of our Christian faith, by being exemplary in life and in all the things we do, in our every interactions and in even the smallest actions we carry out daily. In our second reading today, St. Paul reminded all of us that we are all the Temples of God’s Holy Presence, the Temples of the Holy Spirit. By our baptism, the Lord Himself has dwelled among us, and being present within us. Therefore, we should do our very best to uphold an exemplary Christian life, one that is filled with genuine action and righteousness.

Let us all not worry about how we are going to follow the Lord. Have faith in the Lord and entrust ourselves in His hands just as how the Apostles had done, and He will lead us down the right path. And the Lord will make us all worthy, strengthening and empowering us to do what He wants us to do, in glorifying His Name and proclaiming His truth in the world today. Let us all be the beacons of God’s light, living an honest and good Christian living that our lives will become genuine examples and inspiration for others to follow.

May the Lord Who calls us to be His disciples be with us always and bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, that we may serve Him from now on, in leading more and more souls to the salvation in God, continuing the good works began by the Apostles and faithful servants of God, following Him faithfully like them and the prophet Samuel of old. Amen.

Saturday, 16 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are presented through the readings of the Sacred Scripture, the truth of God’s love and compassionate nature, and His desire to seek us and to love us all once again, as He has shown us through Jesus Christ, His one and only beloved Son, Who came into this world to be our Saviour, and not just any one’s Saviour, but for everyone, without exception, even to the worst of sinners.

That is why today we are presented with the story of the calling and conversion of Levi, the tax collector in our Gospel passage today. Levi was the name of St. Matthew the Apostle before he was called by the Lord and embraced the calling to be an Apostle. Levi was a tax collector, which as a group of people were greatly hated and reviled within the community by the rest of the Jewish people.

The tax collectors were seen as traitors to the nation for their work in collaborating with the Romans in collecting the much hated taxes, the symbol of the Roman dominance over the region. And they were also seen as greedy and haughty, seeking to enrich themselves over the others, many of whom were living in poverty and destitution. However, in truth many of them were really no different from all others, those who seek a living in difficult and turbulent times.

What the people thought of the tax collectors were biases and prejudices that were sustained by the elders as a means to seek scapegoats to place the people’s hatred and all the blame for the misfortunes and challenges that they faced. When the Lord came to Levi and called him to be His follower, it was with this mentality that many others had seen the tax collectors like Levi all that time.

Yet, Levi showed us and all the people that tax collectors were not necessarily evil as they had often been painted as, and they were in fact good and just people too, in their own way. And Levi willingly abandoned everything, his job and profession, all that he had in order to follow the Lord. Not only that, he also gathered the other tax collectors, many of whom were evidently also willing to listen to the Lord and seek Him.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were quick to criticise, pointing out to the disciples of the Lord and questioning them why their Lord and Master would sit and have dinner together with sinners, and activity that was often disliked by the elders and the Pharisees as they deemed entering into the house of sinners and being with them to cause them to be defiled by the sins of those sinners.

Yet, ironically, as they pointed out the sins of others, in truth they themselves had failed to realise that they themselves were sinners. And because they were sinners, they should have been like the tax collectors in desiring to seek God for His mercy and forgiveness. Instead, they hardened their hearts and closed them to the Lord, preferring to remain aloof and looking down on others from their high position and maintaining an attitude of self-righteousness.

But this is exactly where they faltered and fell, brothers and sisters in Christ. For while the tax collectors might have committed sins and lived wickedly, yet by listening to God and answering to His call, and as exemplified by Levi, who abandoned everything to follow the Lord and became one of His disciples, even the greatest of sinners could become great saints themselves had they chosen to embrace God’s ways and abandon their sins.

This is a lesson and reminder for all of us never to allow pride and ambition, greed and ego to bring us to our downfall. We should not allow all these to lead us down the wrong path, but instead, following in the examples of Levi, we should seek the Lord and follow Him with all of our heart, He Who is our High Priest and Redeemer as according to the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, that we have been hearing for the past few days.

May the Lord bless us all and may He strengthen us all our faith, and may He guide us down the right path that each and every one of us may follow Him ever more faithfully. May God be the Light of our lives and be our strength, forgiving us from our sins and faults when we come seeking Him in humility and sincere desire for forgiveness, at all times. Amen.

Friday, 15 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded through the Scriptures about faith, which means that we really should think of how we should live up our lives with faith in God and with trust in Him. But it is often that we have not been willing to listen to Him or to trust in Him. Instead of listening to Him and obeying Him, we prefer to trust in our own judgments and thoughts, our own knowledge and intellect.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord healing a paralytic man who was brought up to Him through the roof over the place where He was teaching the people. The Lord showed pity and compassion for the paralytic man, and healed him from his troubles, and forgave him his sins. Immediately the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law rallied against Him and was angered that someone claimed to forgive sins, when in their thoughts, no one could have forgiven sin but God alone.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were all those who delved deeply into the study of the Scriptures, the Torah and the words of the prophets of God, studying the Law of God as revealed through Moses, as well as all the rules and regulations that had been passed down through the generations. They were the keepers of the faith for the people, the ones entrusted by God to be the shepherds and guides, leaders and role models for the rest of the people of God.

However, due to their knowledge and privileged status within the community, the high esteem and respect they commanded and gained made them to be proud, and some among them became even haughty and arrogant because of that. This is indeed how pride and hubris, human desires and greed can bring about our downfall, as they caused us to close the doors of our hearts and minds from God. And because God has no place in our hearts when we are too full of ourselves, that is when His truth cannot reach us and illuminate us.

In our first reading today taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews, the author also reminded us of this fact, as many of us failed to believe because we were unwilling and unable to listen to the Lord, and as long as our ears and the doors of our hearts and minds are closed shut against the Lord and His words, then we shall have no part in God or in His inheritance. And no, it is not due to the Lord that this happens to us, but rather, by our own conscious choice and action that we will have brought these upon ourselves. Do we want this for ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Today, as we listened to these words of the Scripture, we are therefore kindly reminded to remove from ourselves the taint of these rebellious and stubborn actions and thoughts from our hearts and minds. And instead, as Christians we are all urged to open our hearts and minds to the Lord, and allow Him to lead us and guide us through life. And just like the paralytic man who humbly and sincerely sought healing from the Lord, we too shall be healed from our afflictions, that is our sins.

If we choose to be like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, in thinking that everything is fine and alright with us, and that there is nothing we need from the Lord or that we are better than others, then we need to remind ourselves that pride and all these hubris, all these thoughts and other desires we have can easily drag us down the wrong path, and in the end, we shall have no part in the Lord and in all the joy and true happiness, glory and wonders that He has promised those who kept their faith in Him.

Let us therefore be humble and make ourselves small before the Lord and others, recognising that each and every one of us are equally sinners before God. And God’s love, compassion and mercy will heal us if we truly seek Him most sincerely from the depths of our hearts. Let us all reject all the temptations and distractions of pride and our many worldly desires that they will not become serious obstacles preventing us from reaching the Lord and His salvation.

May the Lord be with us all and may He heal us from our afflictions, especially by forgiving us our sins when we seek Him with genuine desire to repent and turn away from our wicked and sinful past. May He bless us all in our every good endeavours, and may He give us the strength to remain always faithful, at all times. Amen.

Thursday, 14 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are reminded through the words of the Lord in the Scriptures to be always obedient and faithful to Him and to His commandments, laws and ways. We should not allow ourselves to be swayed and tempted to sin, to do what is against the will of God, against His teachings and ways. As Christians we are all called to be righteous and good in life, and to be exemplary in our actions and way of living at all times.

In our first reading today from the Epistle to the Hebrews, the author reminded the faithful converts among the Jewish people of the rebellion and disobedience of their ancestors, as reiterated in our Psalm today as we heard of the rebellion of the Israelites at Massah and Meribah, which referred to one of the most terrible and wicked rebellion of the Israelites as they at that time still journeyed out of the land of Egypt during their Exodus.

The Israelites remained stubborn and rebellious despite everything that God had done for them, in bringing them out of the land of their slavery and protecting them from the oppression by the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. They refused to believe in Him and put their faith and trust in Him despite all the love that He has shown them, in providing for them with plenty of food, the manna and flocks of birds, with water to drink even as they journeyed through the dry and lifeless desert.

They had been disobedient, rebellious and stubborn, and yet, the Lord still loved them and wanted to care for them. They did test His patience again and again, many times, and suffered punishments and consequences for such deliberate acts of disobedience. Nonetheless, the Lord still led them and guided them patiently until they reached the land that He has promised to them and to their ancestors.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we heard in the Gospel passage today of how the Lord Jesus healed a man of his complaints, his leprosy and his sickness. The Lord showed pity and love for the man, and willingly healed the leper, making him whole once again. The Lord touched the leper and miraculously healed him. This is the love that God has for each and every one of us, and which He has patiently showed us all these while.

The Lord wants us to be healed from our sickness and troubles. However, we are not sick, aren’t we? Many of us are physically well and perfectly healthy. But what I refer to, is the sickness of our sins, our spiritual sickness. For each and every one of us who have sinned, have been afflicted by those sins we committed, and therefore, had been corrupted and made to fall further and further away from the path of the Lord.

But the Lord did not let us all alone by ourselves, or to suffer the consequences of our sins by ourselves. Instead, He extended His loving hands of mercy and His generous love, that each and every one of us may find forgiveness through Him, be reconciled and reunited to Him that we may not perish, but enter into the eternity of happiness and glory that He has always intended for us, from the very beginning, but prevented by our sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reflect on our way of life and our actions, and think of how we can appreciate better the love that God has constantly showed us, in all the patience He has shown us despite our numerous disobedience and stubbornness. Let us all no longer harden our hearts and be open to receive the Lord into our hearts, and let us all grow to love Him more and more with each and every passing moments.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to bless us all, and may He strengthen us to be ever more faithful in all things, and be ever more courageous in standing up for our faith in the Lord, at all times. May God be our Guide and Light always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we heard of the works of the Lord, in ministering to us, His beloved ones, as described in the Epistle to the Hebrews as well as in our Gospel passage today. We heard of all the tangible works that the Lord had done in our midst, as Our Lord and Saviour, showing the genuine love of God to each and every one of us.

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews in our first reading today clearly and plainly described the works that the Lord had done, in coming down upon us and in taking up our human nature. By His sharing with us in His humanity, in the real and tangible existence in flesh and blood, the Lord has gathered us all in and embraced us with love, and led us into the new path towards His salvation.

He came to heal us from our sins, from all the afflictions that had been affecting us, all these while. In the Gospel today we heard how the Lord had laboured to touch all those who had been afflicted with various diseases and conditions, and possessed by evil spirits. The Lord healed them all and showed His love for them generously, but He did not stay on in just one place.

When His disciples asked Him why He disappeared as many more were waiting on Him, He told the disciples that He was also needed elsewhere, as there were still many others who had not yet heard of the truth and seen the love that He was to bring unto their midst. Thus, the Lord continued to show the love and mercy of God to all of us, the children of God, wherever He could, and sent His disciples before Him to help in His works.

But, His ultimate design came to be revealed in what He had willingly accepted at the end of His ministry in this world, as He accepted the burden of the Cross, as our High Priest and Mediator with God, as described and explained by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews in our first reading today. As our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ became the Mediator between us and God, His heavenly Father, being the Bridge between us and Him.

While the priests of the Old Testament offered sacrifices of animals and their spilt blood upon the Altar, the Lord offered nothing less than Himself, as He is indeed both the High Priest as well as the perfect and unblemished Lamb of God, though sinless and without fault, willingly shouldered upon Himself the whole burden and weight of our multitudes of sins and faults. He offered for our sake the perfect sacrifice worthy of the forgiveness of our sins.

The Lord accepted this burden and role out of His amazing love for us, in enduring all the sufferings, humiliation and trials for our sake. He has humbled Himself and emptied Himself of all glory and majesty to bring us back to Himself, to embrace us and to love us all once again as He had always intended to. Due to sin, we have been separated from the love of God, and we should have suffered death and destruction. Yet, it was by God’s grace that we have been spared such a fate.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we all know of just how great the Lord has loved us, all these while, then let us all appreciate and love the Lord with all of our strength. And perhaps we should be inspired by the examples set by St. Hilary of Poitiers, whose feast day we celebrate today, and whose contributions and great commitment to the Lord and the Church we ought to remember this day.

St. Hilary of Poitiers was one of the most renowned early Church fathers and leader as the Bishop of Poitiers and defender of the true faith amidst the many challenges, heresies and divisions facing the Church during his time. At that time, there were numerous heresies misleading the faithful with false teachings, particularly that of the Arian heresy, which was widespread and supported even by powerful members of the community.

St. Hilary of Poitiers himself was not born as a Christian, but turned to the faith together with his family after he began delving into the study of the Christian Scriptures, their texts and faith. And the people saw the greatness and piety in St. Hilary of Poitiers, who was so well-respected by the faithful that they all unanimously elected him as their bishop, as the Bishop of Poitiers.

At that time, the Arian heresy was spreading rapidly, and as the heretics attempted to overcome the Church and even persecute the believers of the true faith, St. Hilary of Poitiers dedicated himself to struggle against the efforts of the Arians, and laboured hard in order to regain the faithful from the clutches of the false teachers and leaders. He encountered plenty of challenges and difficulties, having to endure even exile for his steadfastness in opposing the heresies and falsehoods.

But through his tireless efforts, his many writings and contributions, eventually, not only that St. Hilary of Poitiers managed to return to his See, but together with many others who upheld the true, orthodox Christian faith, he also began to stem the tide of heresy and lies that eventually saw the triumph of the true and orthodox Christian faith as upheld by the Ecumenical Councils and passed down authentically from the Apostles.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us have heard of the commitment and the efforts put by St. Hilary of Poitiers, who dedicated himself to the service of God with all of his strength. Having known of God’s love ourselves, can we follow in St. Hilary’s footsteps, brothers and sisters? Let us all seek to serve the Lord and glorify His Name at every possible opportunities, from now on. May God bless us and be our Guide in our journey towards Him. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we are reminded through the readings of the Scripture of just how fortunate we are to have been beloved and chosen by God to be His people. The Lord has made His Son to be one of us, to be like the most beloved of His creation, to share with us our humanity and therefore, save us from our fated destruction and lead us back into reconciliation with Him.

In our first reading today from the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistle mentioned how the Lord has given dominion over all things to man, and not to any of the Angels. As recorded in the Book of Genesis, all of these have been affirmed from the beginning as the Lord created man and woman, that mankind was to hold dominion over all of creation, and to rule over them. And the Son of Man, God Incarnate, Jesus Christ, was thus the Ruler over all things, over all beings physical and spiritual, over all the Angels and spirits.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord Jesus as He was teaching in the synagogue was confronted by a man possessed by evil spirits, who spoke before the Lord saying that they knew Who He truly was, the Holy One of God, Son of God sent into this world. They were trying to disturb His works, as were everyone to hear that Jesus was acclaimed as the Son of God and Messiah, that would create chaos and conflict. But the Lord would have none of that, and sternly ordered the evil spirits to get out of the man.

Those evil spirits were malicious beings of the spiritual realm, that might be demons or fallen angels, all those who have followed Satan into his rebellion against God. The evil spirits might be mighty and powerful, as Satan was powerful and mighty, but in the end, none of them were able to rise up against God. For God alone is the source of all power and authority, and He is the Lord and Master of all. And by being born as a Man, the Lord wants to show us that He has given us all authority and power even over those spirits, through Him.

Those spirits had to obey the commands from the Lord, and through that, the Lord wanted us all to know that not even those spirits, and neither sin, can overcome the power of God and the love which He has for each and every one of us. It was this love that made Him to willingly take on the mission to save us, by descending into this world and assuming our human nature, and by His sacrifice on the Cross, His suffering and death, He brought us into freedom and the promise of eternal life and glory.

What is the significance of all these, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is a constant reminder for us that no matter what happens, God will triumph and we shall be victorious through Him and with Him. We should not be afraid of all those who are up against us, Satan and all of his forces of wicked and evil spirits, or any of the obstacles that they may put in our path going forward.

We should not be afraid of these, or be fearful at all. Instead, we need to be vigilant and watchful, and to be very careful not to be easily tempted and persuaded by the lies and the falsehoods that the devil and all of his allies may try to use against us. In the end, as long as we remain strong and steadfast in our faith in God, we will always persevere against all of them.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we have been created as good and wonderful by God, most beloved of all of His creation. There is no other created beings whom God calls His own sons and daughters, which He had made concrete by sending His own Son to be dwelling among us and to be born into this world to be One like us, as the Son of Man. Through Him, all of us are united once again to God, reconciled to our most loving Father.

Let us all therefore turn towards the Lord with a heart filled with love and devotion for Him, and let us all reject all the temptations and pressures to sin and disobey against Him. Let us always trust in God, and put our faith in Him, entrusting that He will always lead us down the right path, no matter how challenging or difficult the path may seem to us. We must never lose faith, and we should not be afraid!

May God bless each and every one of us, and may He guide us all in our journey towards Him, that all of us may find true glory and happiness in Him, and be blessed forever as God’s beloved ones, now and always, forevermore, through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, 11 January 2021 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we embark on the first day of the current Ordinary Time season of this current liturgical year, we are reminded of the calling that all of us have received as Christians, that each and every one of us have received the same urging and calling from the Lord to be His disciples and followers as the Apostles had once been called.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the account of the calling of the first of the Twelve Apostles, whom the Lord called just right after He began His ministry with His baptism at the Jordan. He went to the region of Galilee, near His own hometown of Nazareth, and found there the four fishermen, the brothers St. Peter and St. Andrew, as well as the brothers St. James and St. John, the sons of Zebedee.

The Lord came to them and called them, and they responded in kind, leaving everything behind, their boat and profession, and even their family behind in order to follow the Lord. In some historical accounts and according to the tradition of the Church, St. Andrew was one of the two disciples of St. John the Baptist, to whom the servant of God revealed the identity of the Saviour of the world, the Lamb of God.

It was therefore likely that St. Andrew introduced the Lord to his brother St. Peter as well as to the other fellow fishermen, and thus, having heard that the One before them was someone truly special and unique, and probably touched by His charisma and authority, they responded to His call and dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to His cause from then onwards.

The Lord has called His disciples to follow Him, and they responded in kind, committing themselves to Him, the One Whom the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews spoke of as the Radiance of God’s Glory revealed to the whole world, and as the One Whom God called as His own Son. And this revelation of truth had been made to all of us through the Church and the faith passed down to us.

Now, what all of us need to realise is that each and every one of us have a responsibility and duty to respond to God’s call much as how the Apostles had responded to Him. As we begin this season of the Ordinary Time after Christmas, it is easy for us to misunderstand the nature and importance of this time. Although it may be known as the ‘Ordinary’ Time, but it is by no means ordinary at all.

On the contrary, these passages from the Scriptures serve as an important reminder for us all to keep our focus on the Lord and to respond to His call to action. We must not let our days and moments just pass us by without anything significant or noteworthy in how we live our lives, especially in following Christ and His commandments and path. We are reminded that our actions are very important, and we need to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles in following the Lord.

There are still many areas in which our contributions and efforts are needed, and the works began by the Apostles are still very much in progress. The Lord has entrusted to us His Church the great commission, to go forth to all the peoples of all the nations and baptise them all in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Yet, there are still so many out there who have not yet known the Lord, or refused to believe in Him.

It is therefore up to us to make the Lord known among the people, and not just by mere words and proclamations, but even more importantly, through our actions and faith. If we are not living our faith in the way that we should have lived them, then how can we expect others to follow the Lord in the same way? How can we expect them to believe in God if we ourselves have not genuinely believed in Him?

Let us all discern all these as we proceed through these next few days and weeks ahead. Let us all be true Christians in all words and deeds, in all things, so that through us, God may be glorified and made known, and more people will come to believe in Him through us. May God bless each and every one of us, and guide us in our every good efforts and endeavours, for His greater glory. Amen.

Sunday, 10 January 2021 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the last day of the liturgical season of Christmas as beginning tomorrow we will begin the Ordinary Time that will last up to the day before Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. And today as mentioned, we recall the extraordinary occasion of the Lord’s baptism at the Jordan by St. John the Baptist, marking the beginning of His ministry in this world.

On this day, we remember that moment when the Lord came to the River Jordan, asking St. John the Baptist to do what he was supposed to do, in baptising Him so that by passing through the water of baptism, He may come to share in our baptism and show unto us the depths of God’s amazing love for each and every one of us. Through the Lord’s baptism, all of us are brought closer to experience the fullness of the truth about God’s love.

We may be wondering why is it that the Lord had to undergo His baptism at the Jordan, because the baptism of St. John was the baptism of repentance, of the desire of man to turn back against their sinful and wicked ways, and embrace God’s love and grace. But the Lord was without any sin, and sin has no place in Him, so how is it then that the Lord asked for baptism from St. John?

This was precisely also why St. John was completely taken by surprise when the Lord asked him to baptise Him, and in fact St. John told the Lord that it was Him Who was supposed to baptise him, a human and a sinner as he was, even though he was indeed the Herald of the Saviour. St. John the Baptist himself had said that he was unworthy to even untie the sandals of the Lord, Who would come after him.

And here we see the Lord instead humbling Himself and abasing Himself so lowly that He was willing to take the place and position of a servant and a sinner, by asking to be baptised by St. John. Through His baptism, the Lord showed us that He truly wants to reach out to us, and to rescue us from our sins. And by this baptism, the Lord revealed before all, what He would do in order to save us all.

We celebrate this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord just right after the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord because traditionally together with the events of the Epiphany, as well as the Wedding at Cana, the Lord manifested and revealed Himself, His nature and the purpose of His coming into this world to all of us plainly, revealed before all of us that we may come to know of the infinite love of God.

The Lord at His Baptism was revealed by the Father Himself to be His Son, as the heavens were opened and the Lord’s voice was heard, ‘This is My Son, My Beloved, My favour rests on Him’. And a dove came down on the Lord, descending on Him from the Father, the symbol of the descent of the Holy Spirit. And therefore, at that very moment, the Lord did not just reveal His Son to be the Saviour of all, but also His nature as a God in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

At Christmas, we have seen the salvation of our God coming down to us in the flesh, born as Man, through the will of the Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit through Mary, the Mother of God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. In Our Lord, Jesus Christ, we have therefore seen the perfect manifestation of God’s love and His desire to save us all mankind, to make us whole again and to heal us from our predicaments and bondage to sin.

Now that we all know of how fortunate we are to have been beloved by God and how we have received this share in the glory and salvation in God through our own Christian baptism, sharing in the baptism of Christ, then we must reflect on just how important our baptism is to us, and what is meant for us to be Christians, having been brought into the Church through the holy water of baptism.

Through baptism, all of us have received a share in Christ, sharing in His humanity and in all that He had suffered, as He gathered all of our sins and their consequences to Himself, all nailed to the Cross as He suffered and eventually died. And through our baptism, we have been led through the waters, just as the Israelites of old passed through the Red Sea on their journey from slavery into freedom.

Thus, we have died to our old lives of sin and bondage to those sins, and brought through the power of God, via the holy waters of our Baptismal sacrament, and became new, free sons and daughters of mankind, and also becoming the children of God, by adoption because if Christ is the Son of God, then all of us who share in the humanity of Christ also become sons and daughters of God.

And as God’s beloved children and the people of the Light of God, today as we recall in the Lord’s baptism, marking the beginning of His ministry in this world, all of us are then reminded of the great commission that the Lord Himself has entrusted to us, to all baptised Christians and members of His Church. This commission is for us to go forth to the nations and baptise all in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that all of us must be the bearers of God’s truth and love to the nations, to all the people as members and parts of the Church. There are still so many people out there who have not yet received God’s truth and appreciate or know God’s love, unlike what we have ourselves received and experienced. And it is indeed up to us to share and reveal what we know to others.

How do we do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is not by loud words and proclamations, but rather through our every actions in life, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to be. Even the smallest actions can either make people to come to believe in God through us, or to push people away from God and His salvation. It is by all these that we can either inspire or prevent people from coming to God.

We can become genuine and good witnesses of our Christian faith through our dedication and faithful actions, in showing love and kindness, compassion and empathy to others whenever we can, in showing care and concern for those who need them, in loving sincerely and generously just as the Lord has loved us. Or have we instead caused scandal for our faith by our immoral and wicked actions?

These are some things that we really need to think about and consider carefully as we proceed in life. That is why, as we end this season of Christmas and begin the season of Ordinary Time, are we going to make these next few weeks be truly ordinary, brothers and sisters in Christ? Although they are called the days and season of the Ordinary Time, by no means in fact that they should be ordinary.

Rather, it means that it is time for us to get our actions ready and to do something, to participate as we should in the good works of the Church, just as the Lord Himself began His ministry after His baptism. Baptism is not the end of our faith journey, brothers and sisters in Christ, but it is in fact the beginning of a new journey, a journey filled with God’s grace and blessed by Him.

Let us all therefore commit ourselves from now on, brothers and sisters in Christ, to be fully dedicated to the Lord at all times, and to do whatever we can with the time and the opportunities given to us. Let us all contribute to the good works of the Church, and be faithful and genuine witnesses of Christ through our lives, and through how we touch the lives of others positively, at all times. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 9 January 2021 : Saturday after Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we heard the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the obligation that each and every one of us have in proclaiming the Lord’s Good News of salvation, in living our lives with faith and rejecting the many temptations to sin. All of us should be inspirations to each other that we may show one another what it truly means to be Christians, that is to be those who truly believe in Christ.

In our Gospel reading today, taken from the Gospel of St. John the Apostle, we heard of the account of what happened after the Lord Jesus was baptised by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan. Jesus began His ministry and was gathering a lot of followers at the same time as St. John the Baptist himself still performing his ministry and baptised many. The disciples of St. John were worried and came up to him with the concern that the Lord was drawing more and more people away from them.

But St. John calmly and gladly remarked that it was just exactly as how it was supposed to be. As the servant, his role was merely to do the will of God, and as the Herald to announce the coming of the Messiah, his role was to prepare the way for the Lord in this world. And at that time, all these had been accomplished, and the Lord has begun His ministry to a great and successful beginning. St. John the Baptist humbly remarked that it was only right that while his Lord and Master increased in importance and prominence, that he decreased in these.

He showed us that as a true disciple of the Lord, all of us need to focus ourselves on God and adhere closely to Him, and we should not allow pride, ambition, ego and desire to dictate how we live out our lives. Otherwise, we will easily swayed by those many worldly temptations and lose our way, falling deep into the trap of sin. Instead, all of us are called to be humble and to be faithful to God at all times.

In our first reading today, St. John the Apostle in his Epistle mentioned how all of us as Christians are the holy people of God and that therefore we should be free from sin and reject the path of sin, so that we will not end up being trapped more and more in the path of sin, which will end up in our eternal damnation if we are not careful. If we are truly God’s children and His beloved ones, we should reject all the corruptions of sin.

This means that we should be righteous and just in all of our actions and dealings as true Christians. Of course this is much easier said than done, as there will certainly be plenty of obstacles going forward if we choose to walk down this path. But as long as we stay true to our faith in God, then we should not falter or fall, and by the grace of God, we can overcome even the greatest challenges ahead.

Now, the question is, what are we then going to do as Christians in our living actions and in our daily lives? Through our baptism all of us have received the commandments of God, to love one another and to love Him with all of our heart, with all of our might and strength, and dedicating ourselves to His cause. As we are about to conclude the celebrations of the season of Christmas, let us all make good use of the time and opportunities given to us, to be true witnesses of the Lord.

Let us all devote ourselves each and every moments of our lives like St. John the Baptist and the many others had done, and let us all do our best, in whatever we do so that, no matter how little or insignificant those actions that we may do, we may indeed bring a difference into the lives of others, and help many more people to come closer to God and receive His providence, grace and love just as we ourselves have received from God.

May God be with us always, and may He continue to guide us through this life, helping us all to remain faithful to His laws and commandments, and inspire in our hearts strong love and faith in Him. May God bless us all generously, now and always. Amen.