Wednesday, 4 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 4-5, 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

He is for the righteous a light in darkness, He is kind, merciful and upright. It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty.

He gives generously to the poor, his merits will last forever and his head will be raised in honour.

Sunday, 27 September 2015 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this holy day, we heard the readings from the Holy Scriptures about the importance of maintaining one’s purity and obedience to the Law of God, doing good and avoiding all sorts of wickedness and sin. And then it is also important that we help one another in the mission that God had given to us, that is to evangelise to the peoples of the nations, and bring to many the revelation of truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is important that we heed what we heard in the first reading today from the Book of Numbers, where Moses chided Joshua fro protesting against two men who received the Holy Spirit of God even when they were not gathered among the other elders. And the way he spoke to Joshua made it clear to us that we should not see each other as rivals and enemies in our effort to spread the words of the Gospel to the nations.

Indeed, what the Lord is trying to warn us, as He once again repeated the same effort with His disciples, when they tried to stop someone else from healing and curing the sick, and casting out demons using the Name of Jesus, is that we should not give in to our own selfishness and the desire to preserve ourselves or to aggrandise ourselves over that of others, which is unfortunately our human nature.

It is in our tendency to fall into the trap of our own vanity and pride, thinking that we are better than others, and we have that tendency to defend our own actions and deeds, trying to explain the reason why what we have done were justifiable even though they were truly wrong and mistaken. And we all know that it is not easy for us to admit that we have been mistaken or made an error. No one would readily admit that he or she is wrong, before someone pointed it out to them plainly.

And how is it relevant to what we have heard in the Scripture readings today? That is because Joshua as well as the disciples of Jesus were affected by what we know as jealousy, by the desire to not be outshone by others, and therefore, they despised the fact that someone else got what they also desired, but did not get. This is the heart and the root of jealousy, when someone covets what another has, so that they may have it for themselves.

When Joshua saw the two men getting the glory and power of the Holy Spirit, deep down in his heart, he too desired such blessing and grace from God. Similarly, the disciples of Jesus also had in their hearts the desire for the power to heal the sick, and as they have it, they do not want anyone else to share in what they thought as their own prerogatives to give.

But Jesus reminded them, that all of these human frailties and human emotions were detrimental in their path to salvation, just as Moses chastised Joshua with words in similar meaning and purpose. That was why Jesus spoke about cutting one’s own hands if the hands had brought them to sin, and cutting off one’s eye out if these eyes had brought them to sin.

What Jesus meant is not that we literally have to do what He had mentioned. He did not mean that we should really literally cut off our hands and feet, or our eyes and our tongue, should any of these lead us into sin. He spoke figuratively, to show the people the true meaning which He tried to convey to them through parables. What He truly meant is that we have to really make the effort to carve out that part of ourselves which had hindered us on the path towards salvation.

And what are these parts that He was referring to? It is our ego, our pride, our desire, our selfishness, all those that had made us to be blind to our own faults, our own vulnerabilities, and to others’ needs and thoughts, and all these made us to look solely into ourselves, and trying to satisfy ourselves and our needs, becoming selfish and unloving in our actions and attitudes towards others.

It is all these that had brought about so much misery in the world through time and history. If we look back at history, then we certainly should realise how often it was that wars and conflicts were fought over the ambition and pride of men, when one or more people desire to have more of something, be it gold, wealth, land, praise, fame and many other worldly forms of pleasure and recognition.

We should realise how often it was too for oppression and injustice, for pain, suffering and sorrow to be born from the selfishness of men, where the rich and those who have more refused to share what they had and refused to help those who had little or none. And then, even greater misery were born out of the jealousy and the desire of those who have less to possess more, if need by force from those who have more.

This is the great obstacle that barred our path towards salvation in God. That is why Jesus said to His disciples, that unless we mankind die to ourselves and carry up our cross, then we would not have any part with Him, and we would not receive the everlasting grace of our Lord. It is important to take note that what Jesus meant was that we must first die to our pride, our ego, and our selfish desires, crush these and carve these out of our hearts and minds.

This was what Jesus meant when he said in the Gospel today when He said of cutting off the parts thar brought us to sin. What He meant is that we have to carve out those selfish things and thoughts from deep inside us, that the hindrance and obstacle to our salvation may be removed. Our limbs and our flesh did not bring us to sin, for all these are controlled by none other than our heart and our mind, the desires in them which lead us to either do good or to commit evil.

Yes, in fact, our limbs and body can be used for doing good things beneficial for others who are around us. If we cut them off hastily without understanding, then we would lose the potential that they have in bringing good things upon others. What we have to cut out is indeed instead all the dark things that lie inside our hearts, namely selfishness, pride and greed.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today shall we all reflect deep into ourselves and think of our own actions, words and deeds, all the things we have said and done in the past, remembering whether we have done what is right and just, helping others who are in need, helping and loving those who were unloved and lonely, or whether we have dwelled in our pride and arrogance, and in our reluctance to do anything for the benefit of others.

Let us all grow smaller and weaker in our pride and selfish attitudes, and grow more in our loving attitude and care upon one another. May the Lord help us and guide us on our way, so that we may know the way to seek Him is through humility and commitment to love, loving both the Lord and our brethren around us, and not to put ourselves above them.

Let us cast out our ego and pride, and with humility, let us approach the Lord, and love Him with all our might. Let us be charitable and loving in all our actions, helping especially those who are poor, sick and dying, those rejected by the society, that through us and our works, we may bring each other closer to God our Father. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 27 September 2015 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 9 : 38-43, 45, 47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone who drove out demons by calling upon Your Name, and we tried to forbid him because he does not belong to our group.”

Jesus answered, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My Name can soon after speak evil of Me. For whoever is not against us is for us. If anyone gives you a drink of water because you belong to Christ and bear His Name, truly, I say to you, he will not go without reward.”

“If anyone should cause one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble and sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a great millstone around his neck. If your hand makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a hand, than with two hands to go into hell, to the fire that never goes out.”

“And if your foot makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a foot, than with both feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye makes you fall into sin, tear it out! It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, keeping both eyes, to be thrown into hell, where the worms that eat them never die, and the fire never goes out.”

Sunday, 27 September 2015 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

James 5 : 1-6

So, now for what concerns the rich! Cry and weep for the misfortunes that are coming upon you. Your riches are rotting and your clothes eaten up by the moths. Your silver and gold have rusted and their rust grows into a witness against you. It will consume your flesh like fire, for having piled up riches in these the last days.

You deceived the workers who harvested your fields but now their wages cry out to the heavens. The reapers’ complaints have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You lived in luxury and pleasure in this world thus fattening yourselves for the day of slaughter. You have easily condemned and killed the innocent since they offered no resistance.

Sunday, 27 September 2015 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 18 : 8, 10, 12-13, 14

The Law of the Lord is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of the Lord is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The fear of the Lord is pure, it endures forever; the judgments the Lord are true, all of them just and right.

They are a light to Your servant, in keeping them they win a great reward. But who can discern one’s own errors? Forgive the failings of which I am unaware.

Preserve me from wilful sin; do not let it get the better of Your servant. Then shall I walk blameless and innocent of serious sin.

Sunday, 27 September 2015 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Numbers 11 : 25-29

YHVH came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. He took some of the Spirit that was upon him and put it on the seventy elders. Now when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But this they did not do again.

Two men had remained in the camp; the name of one was Eldad, the name of the other Medad. However, the Spirit came on them for they were among those who were registered though they had not gone out to the Tent. As they prophesied inside the camp, a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

Joshua, the son of Nun, who ministered to Moses from his youth said, “My lord Moses, stop them!” But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous on my behalf? Would that all YHVH’s people were prophets and that YHVH would send His Spirit upon them!”

Thursday, 5 March 2015 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 16 : 19-31

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores.”

“It happened that the poor man died, and angels carried him to take his place with Abraham. The rich man also died, and was buried. From hell, where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest.”

“He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus, with the tip of his finger dipped in water, to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire.’ Abraham replied, ‘My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off, while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort, and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you, or from your side to us.'”

“The rich man implored once more, ‘Then I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father’s house, where my five brothers live. Let him warn them, so that they may not end up in this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ But the rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'”

“Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.'”