Tuesday, 1 September 2015 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Thessalonians 5 : 1-6, 9-11

You do not need anyone to write to you about the delay and the appointed time for these events. You know that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people feel secure and at peace, the disaster will suddenly come upon them as the birth pangs of a woman in labour, and they will not escape.

But you, beloved, are not in darkness, so that day will not surprise you like a thief. All of you are citizens of the light and the day; we do not belong to night and darkness. Let us not, therefore, sleep as others do, but remain alert and sober.

For God has not willed us to be condemned but to win salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord. He died for us so that we might enter into life with Him, whether we are still awake or already asleep. Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another, as you are doing now.

Sunday, 22 March 2015 : Fifth Sunday of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the last Sunday of Lent, the fifth of the five Sundays we celebrate during this Lent. On this day we are presented with what God has done for our sake. He has established with us all a new and everlasting covenant or pact, which binds both us and Himself, and sealed with none other than the worthy Blood of the Lamb, the Lamb of God, that is Jesus Christ our Lord.

While the first covenant of God with men was broken because of our ancestors’ disobedience, when Adam and Eve first disobeyed the Lord by eating the forbidden fruit, mankind had been cast out from the benefits of the covenant which God had forged with them. We were never meant to suffer the consequences of sin and suffering death, as the Lord created us so that He may love us and bless us abundantly, and we were to be loved by Him all the days of our life, living in perfect bliss and harmony in heaven.

But yet, we chose to disobey and in our greed and selfishness, we abandoned the goodness which we were to receive and keep, and instead, for a taste of knowledge, we have chosen to place our lot with the devil who was cast down, cursed and condemned. And so, death becomes a part of our lives, and we become subject to it, mortal and as people rejected by the Lord.

Despite all of this, however, God still loves us all greatly, and by no means that He had abandoned us to death. And that is why, even though He had wiped out most of mankind at the time of Noah because of their wickedness, He had called Noah and his family and saved them through the Ark. Noah and his family were righteous and upright, and therefore they did not deserve death. Those who died in the Flood died because they deserved it.

God made a covenant with Noah, and Noah offered sacrifices on the Mount Ararat where he came out of the Ark after the Flood ended. God placed His bow on the sky, which we now know as the rainbow, as the proof of His covenant and faithfulness to His promise. Have God reneged from His promise since then? No, certainly not. He never used water or flood to destroy mankind once again. And we are reminded of this every time the rain ends and the rainbow appears in the skies above us.

It was us mankind who once again disobeyed Him and rebelled against Him, preferring to follow our own path, succumbing to our desires and our greed. And that was shown at the tower of Babel, where men aspired to be like God and to build a tower surpassing all others and reaching up to heaven. God punished them by confusing their languages and they were not able to satisfy their greed and hubris, and they were all scattered around the world.

But God yet wanted to give them a chance, and He saw in one person, a faith in Him which surpassed all others. And that man was Abram, whom God chose and called from the country of his ancestors, to travel to the land which He intended to give to him if he remained faithful. And indeed, he was faithful, and he followed everything that God had commanded him, and even up to sacrificing and offering his own son, Isaac.

Abram was rewarded for his faith, and not only that God did not take Isaac, as He was only testing his faith, but he was made to be the father of many peoples and many nations. And for even those who are not counted among his descendants, he was made to be their father in faith, for he was counted among those who were the first to show righteousness and faith to God.

God made His covenant with Abram, whom He renamed Abraham as part of that covenant, and Abraham again offered sacrifices of animals as the seal for that covenant, the binding agreement that bound both God and Abraham as well as all of his descendants. But again, his descendants were not faithful to that covenant and agreement. They preferred to go their own path and committed all sorts of wickedness, despite the various and repeated reminders sent to them through the many prophets and servants of God.

Some remained faithful to the Lord, but many did not. And the few who were faithful were often harassed and persecuted by those who did not keep their faith. They were forced and persuaded to abandon their faith for the ways of the world, often even at the threat of death. But many persevered and resisted the pull of the world and the temptations of Satan.

And while we continued to rebel against His will and stay in our waywardness, God remains faithful, and He sends to us the One who was to create that new covenant which will be the final and perfect covenant that will last for all time. Christ is that Mediator of the New Covenant, the everlasting promise which God has promised to us, that to all of us He has promised eternal joy and eternal life, the freedom and liberation from death.

It is sin, our disobedience and rebelliousness which have bound us to death, for death is the consequence of sin. For in God is life, and it is He who holds the reins of life and death. If we do not hold fast to our faith in the Lord, then we will likely lose our hold on Him, and if we have no part in Him, then we would have no life, for death is the only thing that we can look forward to.

But our Lord had shown us that there is life beyond death, that is the life with our Lord, which we also know as the life in the world to come, as we always mention as we took our Creed at the Sunday Masses. And we have to look at the story of how Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the dead. He brought back Lazarus from the dead, so that He can show how death does not have the final say over us.

Many of us fear death, and indeed it can be said that everyone is afraid of dying, but we are afraid because we are not sure what is to happen with us after that, and we are afraid because we think that when we die, we will lose all the things we have in this world. We cannot let go of the things we have, be it possessions, money, wealth, the fame we have accumulated, the prestige and position of honour which we have attained in the society.

And if we do not trust in the Lord, that is why we also fear death, because we see it as the end to our good life in this world. That is why we also fear when we age, because we see ageing as being drown closer and closer to death. And this is where the very problem lays. Ever since the beginning, we mankind are always selfish and concerned only about ourselves. That is why our ancestor sinned, why they grumbled and complained against the Lord whenever things do not go their way, because they think only of how to please themselves and to satisfy their desires.

In this holy season of Lent, the time of preparation for the Holy Week and Easter, we all should really find the time and opportunity to withdraw from our hectic schedules and works, and to think through our priorities in this life. Have we truly placed our complete and full trust in the Lord? Have we been truly faithful to the covenant which He had established with all of us? He had sealed it with none other than with His own Precious Blood.

Only the Blood of the Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is worthy to absolve all of our sins, the accumulative burden of our sins, of all mankind past, present and future, that when we have been freed from the shackles of sin, then we too shall be freed from the bonds of death. Our mortal bodies may be subjected to death, but our soul is eternal, and the Lord who is Lord over life and death will raise up all of His faithful ones to life, body and soul, to be with Him, and to receive the eternal bliss and happiness initially intended for us when He first created us.

It is the time for us all to make a clear decision, on whether we prefer to continue with our usual way of life, giving in to the pull and to the temptations of the good things in life, or whether we prefer to take the more difficult path, of allowing  God to enter into our lives, knowing that by following Him we will face difficulties and even rejection from the world, or by giving in to our desires, where we shall have life as we wanted it, but we greatly risk if not assured of the rejection by our Lord and therefore eternal damnation.

Jesus Himself had shown us all the way to go. He is our High Priest who offered for the sake of us all, the perfect sacrifice of Himself, laying down His life and baring down Himself, stretched on the cross. It was not by His great might, power or strength that He had won a victory and pardon for us, but rather through His humility and obedience to the will of His Father, our Lord in heaven. And through that, He gathered all of  us scattered in the world, and make us to be one people through His Church, that is His Body.

The same therefore will apply to us. If we are faithful to Him, and walk in His path, God will bless us and lift up from us the punishment for our sins, that is eternal death. He will give us a new life, and the promise of everlasting life, united with Him and all the other righteous ones in heavenly glory. If we decide to follow the path of our unfaithful and rebellious ancestors, then we have to be ready to suffer the consequences.

Let us all today renew the faith which we have in the Lord, and let us also take this opportunity to renew our commitment to do good in our lives, be it in terms of building up our relationship with God, or in loving one another genuinely and caring for them, rather than to keep to ourselves and rather than trying to satisfy our endless desires and wants.

Let us seek genuine conversion to our Lord and be renewed greatly in our faith and devotion to Him. Seek not what is temporary in the world, but seek what is everlasting in heaven. It is better for us to suffer in this world for a while rather than to suffer for eternity in the world that is to come. May Almighty God bless us all always, forgive us all our sins and bring us to His promise of everlasting life. Amen.

Sunday, 15 March 2015 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Laetare Sunday)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the fourth Sunday of Lent, and by tradition, it is also called Laetare Sunday, from the first word in the Introit or the opening theme of the Mass, ‘Laetare, Jerusalem’ or ‘Rejoice, o Jerusalem’. Thus, just as during the season of Advent we celebrate the Gaudete Sunday, in this season of Lent, we also have this short intermezzo or ‘break’ from the penitential nature of this season, and we reflect for a while on the theme of ‘joy’.

That is why, today the vestments used are of rose colour, similar as that of Gaudete Sunday, to represent the more uplifting and cheerful nature of this celebration as compared to the much more sombre and humble nature of the rest of this Lenten season. And from this, we should indeed ask ourselves, what is this joy that we are celebrating today, and why now, in the middle of this season of penitence and preparation for Easter?

That is because it is part of the preparation of our minds, hearts and bodies for the coming of the celebration of the greatest mysteries of our Faith, that we should know of the outcome of our penitence and repentance, that is the joy of the liberation from all the harms and the threats that await us as long as we remain in the state of sin. And this has been aptly summarised and shown through the readings of the Holy Scriptures chosen for this day.

In the first reading we have from different years the readings that represent hope that triumphed over despair, and the dawn of a new hope for the people of God afflicted and living in darkness and in lives filled with troubles. They told of how the people of Israel, who have been destroyed and defeated by their enemies, and with the Babylonians razing even Jerusalem, destroying its Holy Temple, have been succoured by God who never forgot about them.

God sent them salvation through the person of Cyrus, the first King and ruler of the Persian Empire who defeated the Babylonians and liberated the people of Israel after having spent many years and decades in bitter exile away from their homeland.  They were sent back and led back to their ancestral land, and they were reestablished there in great joy and happiness.

Them we also heard how the prophet Samuel, the prophet and judge of Israel anointed David to be the king over all of Israel, to replace the first king, Saul, who had erred from his ways and who did not keep faithful the commandments of the Lord, and who had led the people in error as well, causing them to sin. Thus, God also sent a deliverance to His people through David, liberating them from their troubles and suffering into joy and happiness.

With the anointing of David, the golden era of Israel would come, where after the Israelites had often been troubled and even enslaved by their enemies around them, and after Saul the first king himself was slain by the Philistines, David would lead Israel to defeat all of their enemies and rule over them, and peace and prosperity would last throughout the rest of his reign and that of Solomon, his son.

And all these led to the ultimate help and rescue which our Lord had given us, the true joy and happiness that surpass any other joy and happiness. For there is no greater joy than for us to be reunited with our loving God and Father. We have been long separated from Him because of our sins and wickedness, and because of that we too have been doomed to destruction and despair, but because God loves us so much that He was willing to come Himself to help us overcome that sin and despair, and because of that hope and joy arise within us, not to be quelled by despair anymore.

Christ Himself mentioned to Nicodemus, the righteous and faithful Pharisee, that just as Moses once lifted up the bronze serpent high on a staff to save those people who had been bitten by fiery serpents, that all who have seen it would not not die and live, then the same was also done by our loving Lord, who allowed Himself to be raised up on the cross, hung between heaven and earth, surrendering it all, so that all of us who believe in Him will not die but receive everlasting life, as well as true joy and happiness.

Such indeed is the great love that our Lord has for us, that He was willing to endure so many things and so great a suffering, mockery and torture, even unto a humiliating death on the cross, in order to save all of us, unworthy and rebellious as we are. Therefore, it is imperative that we all understand God’s love for us, and we have to know what is true joy, and what our aim should be in this life.

In this season of Lent, it is a perfect time for us to stop our hectic life schedules for a moment, that we will be able to find a time to look deep into our own lives, and reflect upon our actions and deeds. It is a time for us to reevaluate our lives’ priorities and focus. What is true joy and happiness for us? What is it that all of us should aim for in life? Is it power, wealth, worldly happiness and pleasures? Or is it true and genuine love, that is the same love which our Lord had shown us?

Many of us are not happy in our lives. We are not able to attain true happiness because we do not know what it is really. Many of us think that money can bring us happiness and good life, and so we slaved ourselves to working many hours and pushing ourselves so hard in order to earn more money, but at the end of the day, can we buy love and attention with money? Most likely not, and even if we manage to get these, it is likely that these would not last.

Thus, as we reflect on the joy that we ought to celebrate today, we have to realise that our true joy come with our salvation by God, who had devoted Himself so much for our sake, so that we are given a new hope in our great despair. While once it has looked very bleak for us, that we have been condemned because of our sins, but now we know that through Christ, there is hope for a new life that is what God intended for us.

Let us all therefore dedicate ourselves to change our way of life, changing the focus we have in life, that instead of seeking for temporal joy, and happiness that would not last, we instead seek eternal joy and happiness. Money, fame and all worldly things cannot give us real joy, but real joy is when we love one another, helping those who are in need of something, be it basic needs of life, or even love, care and attention.

As we continue to prepare ourselves during this Lenten season, let us pray that our loving God may help us to find our way in this life, so that we may endeavour to seek our joy in the Lord. Let us focus our attention on the Lord and not be distracted by the concerns of this world, and by all the temptations of the flesh and of the world, all of which promise us temporary joy but risk us everlasting despair and sorrow. Do not seek what does not bring us true satisfaction, which only God can give. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 8 March 2015 : Third Sunday of Lent, Memorial of St. John of God, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard a very clear message in the readings of today, that we mankind must leave our current state of filth and sinfulness, and embrace instead the love and mercy of our God, who will then dwell in the hearts of all who have repented from their evil ways and believe in Him. This is the truth of our Faith, and which we have to spread to all the world, for the salvation of all mankind.

This is the season of Lent, and we have entered into the third week of this sacred season. Lent is the season of reflection, of understanding ourselves and all that we have done and committed in this world, be it good or evil. It is the time for us to look into ourselves and think about our future, especially what we are to become in the end. Will we be part of God’s kingdom or will we be rejected and cast out because of our wickedness and sins?

These are the questions which we should seriously consider as we continue on with our lives, especially as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the greatest mysteries of our Faith in the celebration of our Lord’s Passion, death and resurrection this coming Holy Week and Easter season. We have to prepare ourselves in heart, mind, body and soul for this, even as we see our brethren among us who are preparing themselves to be received into the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism.

We heard about God giving His Laws and Commandments, the Ten Commandment to His people in our first reading, and how those were meant to guide them in their ways in life, so that they would remain ever faithful and righteous in the eyes of God and men alike. He provided them with much goodness and blessings, as they have been chosen and blessed over the other nations. God smote down their enemies and all who have risen up against them, and He also gave them food and drink of immeasurable quantities as they journeyed through the desert.

But instead, the people of God, Israel, refused to obey and listen to the Lord their God. As soon as the Lord guided them away from the Egyptians, they sinned by rising up a golden calf to be their ‘god’ and broke the covenant which God had just made with them through the Law He had given them. What we heard today is the other great sin they had committed, at Massah and Meribah, so much so that whenever we hear the names today, they equate with rebellion and disobedience against God.

Despite all the good things which God had done unto them, they refused to be content and demanded all the more. They contended that their life in slavery in Egypt was much better than what they had then in the desert, as free men and women. This is despite God’s providing them with bread from heaven itself, the manna, sweet as honey and delicious, as well as filling, and everyone had enough to eat, with large birds given by God every day for their food.

And sweet, crystal-clear water had been given to them to drink, coming out from the rocks and the earth itself. They have no need to fear for their lives or to be afraid of not having enough, for God also ensured that everyone had enough, that all those who have collected more did not have too much, while those who collected less did not have too little. Yet, despite all these, the people of God gave in to their desires and greed, and demanded for more.

It is from this abyss and darkness that God is calling us to come out and seek His light. He urges us all to be rescued from the pit of darkness, that is our greed, our desires, our pride and all the other things and negativities that prevented us from being truly reunited with our Lord and God. We are reminded that we have to change or else we will also walk the same path as the Israelites to destruction. They were punished for their disobedience and all those who walked the path of rebellion were cast to outer darkness.

In the Gospel today, we are therefore reminded again of the day of our baptism, the day when we are accepted into the Church of God and therefore became partakers in the divine inheritance which we are to receive. And for those among us to be baptised soon, this is an affirmation of the promise of salvation which they are to receive if they remain faithful just as we are faithful to God.

If we allow the Lord to dwell in us, by accepting Him fully and worthily as we receive the Eucharist in the state of grace, then we will have the Lord in us, and He will satisfy us with all that we ever need. Indeed, much like what He had done so long ago with the people of Israel and even much more. The people who ate the manna and drank the sweet spring water still died and perished, but all of us who have received the Lord, we will no longer need to fear death.

It is not that we will no longer die. All of us are still mortals, and will one day have to face death, but it is no longer something that we should be afraid of, for we have the assurance of Christ Himself, that we have been freed from eternal death. By His resurrection He had assured us of the life that is to come, eternal and filled with bliss, happiness and glory which will be ours if we remain faithful to the end.

This Lent is the perfect opportunity for us to reevaluate our ways, and to think about what we have done, what we have failed to do in accordance to the will of God, and most importantly, about what we can do in the upcoming future. The choice is now in our hands, to change sincerely and genuinely, and to love the Lord our God and our fellow men with all of our hearts from now on.

If we believe, then the Lord truly will be the source of our strength in us, welling up like unstoppable force of the spring water, that will nourish us and provide us with all that we need. Remember always, that our bodies and our beings are the Temple of God’s residence, and God Himself dwells in each and every one of us. It is time that we prove to God that we can provide Him with such a worthy and suitable dwelling place, that He will find us worthy and justify us by our faith, that in the end, our share will be the eternal life which He had promised us. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 1 March 2015 : Second Sunday of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the second Sunday of the season of Lent. We celebrate today the time and season for preparation for us to prepare for the celebration of the most important mysteries and parts of our faith, that is the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. And today we are also presented with the catechesis or teaching, meant to showcase the love which our Lord had shown us in various ways, but foremost of all, through the giving of His Son, Jesus Christ.

There are many meanings and symbols attached to the readings we have heard on this day, and all of it are centred on two main messages which the Church desires all of us to bring home this day and reflect upon them to enrich our own faith life and help us to grow stronger in faith.

The first of them is that the love and faith our Lord showed us is so sincere and genuine, that it is unconditional and so devoted it was that He did not spare even His own Son for our sake and for our salvation. The second of which is that in Jesus lies our salvation and the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation, and that there will be difficulty if we follow the path of Christ, but if we do so, then we will share in His glory and in the revealing of our true selves just as Christ had been revealed to the world.

In the first reading today, from the Book of Genesis, we heard how God asked Abraham, our father in faith, the father of Israel and many nations, to sacrifice his own beloved son, Isaac, the heir and son whom God had promised him. Imagine what Abraham would have thought when he heard of such a request from the Lord, to give up his own son and heir, whom he had awaited for such a long time, and yet then God seemingly just wanted to take him away.

Abraham was a very wealthy man, with many possessions, animals and large number of servants and land, and he was also faithful and righteous, picked by God from among the nations, to be the one with whom God made His covenant with. And God promised Abraham that he would become a great nation and his descendants would be innumerable, as many as the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the seashore. Yet, God wanted to take the only son whom Abraham had, and wanted him to be given as a sacrificial victim.

And yet, Abraham obeyed and listened to God. He did not complain or protest against the Lord and what He had asked. Instead, he brought his son to the mountain where he was supposed to sacrifice his own son, and when his son asked him, where the sacrifice was, Abraham told his son that ‘God would provide’. Abraham knew in his heart that God would be faithful to His covenant, and as St. Paul mentioned in one of his letters, Abraham knew that God would not take away the son He had promised him, and that there would be a way, one or another, to come out from that predicament.

As difficult it was and as great a dilemma it was for Abraham, he did not hesitate to listen to the Lord, be faithful to Him, even to the point of being ready to cut the life out of his own son. He was ready with the knife when God stopped him, and told him that He had seen how great and genuine his faith was. Abraham’s faith and love for God is unconditional and genuine, desiring no returns, or else, he would not have walked up that mountain to sacrifice his own son to God.

The same therefore applies to how our Lord and God loves us all. His love is genuine, and He loves us all with all of His heart. He lamented greatly our waywardness and the loss of us all to the darkness, that is the darkness of this world. He certainly does not desire us to be lost, and therefore, for His great faithfulness and love, He did not spare even His only Son, the Divine Word which became Flesh, to be born as Man, and to die for our sake, as reparation for our sins.

This is a parallel to what had happened between Abraham and Isaac, his son. Just as Abraham was faithful to the Lord, the Lord Himself is faithful to His promises to all of us, that He will save all of us from the darkness and suffering of sin. Even if we deny Him and rebel against Him, He cannot deny Himself and His love for us. And that is essentially the essence of this season of Lent, the season of forgiveness. God gives us the chance to repent and change our ways, by believing in Jesus, His Son and by listening to what He had taught us.

And from there we come to the second of the meanings of this day’s readings. It is about what had happened that day at the Mount Tabor, where Jesus revealed the truth about Himself to the three of His disciples, Peter, James and John. He revealed the fullness of His glory on top of that mountain, an event known as the Transfiguration. Jesus was revealed in all of His glory as the Almighty God and Lord of all.

Another significance of this event can be seen from what happened next. Jesus spoke with two of the greatest figures of the Old Testament, namely Moses and Elijah. Moses was the leader of the people of Israel who led them out of Egypt where they lived in slavery and great suffering, and who have received the Law of God from the Lord Himself, and taught the Law to the people. Meanwhile, Elijah was a great prophet and servant of God who struggled against the wicked kings of Israel and who laboured hard to bring the people of God back to the path of righteousness.

Moses therefore represented the Law, while Elijah represented the Prophets. And the significance of their appearance to Jesus is that, Jesus is the embodiment and fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. The Law of God is the proof of God’s love for us, a set of guidelines meant to show us how to be truly devoted and faithful servants and children of our Lord, and therefore it is meant to help us to keep our paths straight, walking in the path of the Lord alone.

How about the prophets? They are the faithful servants and messengers which God had sent to His people in order to remind them and to bring them back to the right path whenever they have erred in their lives. They spoke of God’s truth and explain again the meaning of the Law to the people, who were often stubborn and rebellious in their ways.

Jesus fulfilled the entirety of the Law and the prophecies of the prophets completely and perfectly. He made the Law of God understandable to all the people, showing its true meaning and intent that is love. He taught the people and through His disciples, He revealed the fullness of God’s intentions and love for mankind. By the perfect fulfillment of the Law and the words of the prophets, He had made salvation and hope previously not available to us, to become available.

For Christ our Lord is the bridge which bridge the great span and rift that existed between us and God, for our sins and rebelliousness which had separated us from God’s grace and love. And by His glorious Transfiguration on the mount, which we heard from the Gospel today, He revealed to us our future, the fate which will be ours if we obey the Lord, His Law and walk righteously in His ways.

Yes, it has been promised to all those who keep their faith, that they shall be glorified in body, heart, mind and soul. Thus, the Transfiguration is a premonition and reminder of our own transfiguration, the glorification of the faithful. But it will not be automatic, and neither will it be an easy path for us to take. There will be opposition and challenges, and we all have to be ready for all of them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, lastly, as Jesus went down from the mountain, and from there on to His suffering and death in Jerusalem, therefore all of us are reminded again that life is not all easy and there will be times when we have to suffer or even risk our lives for the sake of our faith in God. Peter and the other two Apostles were certainly awed by what they have seen when they saw Jesus transfigured in glory before them.

Peter therefore told Jesus that they wanted to build three tents for Him, Moses and Elijah because they felt such great happiness and joy being in the glory of God and seeing Man glorified because of faith. Jesus reminded them, that in order to reach there, they had to first go through difficulties, challenges and suffering, and that was why, they did not remain on the mountain forever, but they went down, and the Lord went forth to face His Passion and death in Jerusalem.

What does all of these mean for us, brothers and sisters? It means that all of us should use this Lenten season to the best of our abilities, to repent from our sins and seek God’s forgiveness. We have to bear our crosses, just as the Lord went on to carry His cross to Calvary. We have to have that clear goal, that is our transfiguration from the creatures of sin and darkness, into the creatures of the light. Until then, we have to work hard and resist the temptations of sin, and strive to walk always in the way of the Lord.

May Almighty God be with us all in this holy season of Lent, and help us to make use of this season to change our sinful ways into the way of righteousness that in the end, God will find us worthy and we will receive the full reward which He had promised to those who keep their faith in Him. He is ever faithful to us, just as Abraham had been faithful himself by not even holding back giving his own son, and more so for our Lord who did not spare even Jesus, His own Son, for our salvation. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear once again, as we had heard on last Sunday’s Gospel, on the kingdom of heaven being a treasure, which is highly sought after, and the one who found it sell everything he had and buy the place where the treasure is found. And in the first reading today, we heard how when Jeremiah complained and cursed for his unfortunate fate and oppressed state, the Lord came and reassured him with His words and vow that He will stay faithful to men who also put their trust in Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God is always with us, no matter how difficult life is. Yet we often like to curse God and be angry with Him when things seem to not go the way that we wanted it. We do not like it when things go difficult for us, and it is in our nature to complain or to be angry with someone, and to vent our dissatisfactions that we may get some sort of relief and even pleasure from doing so.

But the Lord is patient and forgiving, and as temperamental and as bad as our tantrum is, He will always be patient and send us encouragements after encouragements and reassurances after reassurances. We often get lost on our path towards God, and God sent us encouragement and guidance through various means to ensure that we end up at the correct path and goal in the end.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Peter Chrysologus, a bishop and a Doctor of the Church who lived during the time of the late Roman Empire, during the fall of the Empire in the West, as the Bishop of the Roman Capital of Ravenna. St. Peter Chrysologus got his name and title ‘Chrysologus’ which literally means ‘golden-worded’ precisely because of his excellent oratory skills, in his sharp and yet touching homilies and teachings which drive through the teachings of the Church strongly into the hearts of many of the faithful.

St. Peter Chrysologus taught to the people the meaning of being a follower of the Lord, condemning heresies and falsehoods that brought the people away from the truth in the Lord. He brought them new hope and strength through his words and teachings, just as the Lord Himself had done as we heard how He encouraged Jeremiah to be strong and to put his trust in Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect and ponder on the Gospel’s message for today, as well as the message the Lord wanted to tell us through His interactions with the prophet Jeremiah, and as well as the life of St. Peter Chrysologus, let us all realise that we are all called to be children of God, that means to be children of the light, to be children of faith, hope and love.

We have to be the bearers of hope for one another, and in our actions, words and deeds we should affirm each other’s faith, and by loving one another we show love to this world that lacks the warmth of love. Let us awaken in one another the love for God, and the desire to seek God, who is the true desire and the true treasure we should seek with all of our strengths.

May Almighty God be with us and guide us to this treasure, that we may be ever closer to Him and remain forever always in His love and grace. Let us all work together to seek our desired treasure in life, namely to seek and live together with our God. Let us do our best and ask St. Peter Chrysologus for his kind intercession. Amen.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today it is revealed to us, how it is that it is not easy for us or anyone to enter into the Kingdom of God, and what the Lord has done to help us, that we can indeed enter His Kingdom. Many of us though, remain ignorant on the love of God, and what He has done for us, and many of us too, remained in our debauched way of life.

Yet, many of us at the same time also remain unaware that in our actions, we do not do things that will ensure our salvation in God. We remain idle, and even worse, we did things abhorring and abominable in the eyes of the Lord and even in the eyes of mankind. We like to deal with the things of the flesh, temptations of this world, and the offerings of the evil one rather than obeying the Lord and doing what is pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.

This is because it is not easy to follow the Lord and do as He commanded us. His desire for us is to love one another, and care for one another, just as we ought to love Him, with all our heart, with all our attention, and with all our dedication. We have to give Him the full attention and the complete dedication of our hearts. We cannot be half-hearted in this, as the Lord Himself said, that we cannot serve two Masters.

We cannot serve both the Lord, as well as Satan. Satan, the deceiver and the great enemy, has dominion and power over this world, ever since sin and evil entered into us. Ever since we have sinned against the Lord and disobeyed Him, we have entered into the dominion and fall under the power of the evil one. He is what is to many of us, our true master, because the things at we do reflect not the actions of the children of the one, true God, but instead as the actions of the children of Satan.

Brethren, why is the Lord so critical of those people who asked Him about the nature of salvation? Whether there are few or many that will be saved? That is because, they knew that the path is not going to be easy, and yet they did nothing about it, and continued on their daily life schedules. Often they neglected to do what the Lord had asked them to do, because they were too busy going about their routines.

Yes, as we all now know, that to sin is not just for us to do evil things or things that are considered evil. That is sin all right, but sin is also about failing to do what is right, what is good, and what is expected of us, to the point that we fail to appreciate the nature of goodness and love itself. We tend to become self-absorbed in our lives, and prefer to stay in our own comfort zones. We tend to detest going the extra mile to do what is good.

This is what the Lord wants to change from us, that we no longer give in to our pride and our human vanity, and instead open ourselves and our hearts in particular, ever more to the love and compassion of the Lord our God. In opening of ourselves, we do not only rid ourselves of the sense of self-preservation and vanity, as well as getting rid of the pride within us, but we also open ourselves at the same time, to loving our brethren, our brothers and sisters in the same Lord.

Let us therefore, brothers and sisters, step outside our comfort zone. Be daring to open up ourselves, and cast away the veil of pride and sin that had enclosed our hearts for long enough. We shall not allow them to interfere in our lives any longer. Let us also decisively reject Satan, casting him out of our lives, and rejecting all of his lies and false offers. Reject the father of lies and accept the Father of truth. Reject the father of hatred and accept the Father of love.

Hence, brethren, from now on, let us break free from our slavery under Satan, casting away his yoke, and rebuke the pleasures of this world that he offered all of us. No doubt that he will not be pleased, and will use all the powers in his possession to return us to himself. This is why our journey will not be easy, as oppositions will be rampant, and this world itself, as the dominion of the fallen one, shall be against us, the children of God.

Be not afraid though, because the Lord our God will surely send His help upon us. He will not abandon His children to be the slaves of His rebel angel. What is important then, is for us, to keep strong our defenses, namely our spiritual defenses, through constant and devout dedication to the Lord our God in prayer. When we pray, make sure our prayers are meaningful and dedicated to the Lord our God.

Do not let selfishness and pride come between us and the Lord. Indeed, let us be meek and humble before God, asking Him for forgiveness for our sins, and give ourselves in complete surrender before Him, that He will take us away from the dominion of Satan, into eternal life of glory with Him in heaven. God be with us all, forever and ever. Amen.