Sunday, 13 January 2019 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which is liturgically marking the last day of the current season of Christmas before we enter the Ordinary Time prior to the coming of the season of Lent in early March this year. On this day we commemorate the moment when the Lord Jesus was baptised at the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist, marking the occasion when the Lord finally began His ministry in this world after approximately thirty years since His birth.

St. John the Baptist was apprehensive at first when the Lord came up tp him asking to be baptised by him. He recognised Jesus as the One Whom he had been working all the while for, in order to prepare a straight path for His coming, and of Whom he had testified before the people, that not even he was worthy of untying the straps of His sandals, and how although he baptised with water, but the Lord would baptise them with the fire and the Holy Spirit.

But the Lord insisted despite St. John the Baptist’s reluctance, for everything was to be done in accordance with God’s will. The baptism of Our Lord Jesus was a momentous occasion, in which, the Lord Himself, God Incarnate in the flesh of Man, went through the same rite of passage as all of us the faithful people of God, just as by Him assuming His humanity has united His humanity to our own human existence.

The act of baptism itself, as St. John the Baptist performed it at the Jordan River, is a powerful symbol and reminder, that the people of God have been saved and liberated from slavery, as the Israelites in the ancient times were brought out of the land of Egypt where they were enslaved by the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. When the Pharaoh sent his army and chariots to chase after the Israelites, God opened the Red Sea before them and allowed them to pass through the sea unharmed.

Therefore, by the passing through the waters of the Red Sea, God’s people had been brought by the great power of God from slavery into freedom. And this is linked to another slavery by which not just the sons of Israel, but all mankind suffer from, that is the slavery to our sins. Sin is born out of disobedience and unwillingness to obey the will of God, and its consequence for us is death. Unless we are freed from the slavery of sin, we will surely perish.

This is where God revealed the great wonders of His love for each and every one of us, that even when we have sinned against Him, disobeyed His commandments and disregarded His will, but because God still loves us regardless of these wicked things we have done, He gives us a new hope and deliverance, just as He has once liberated His people from the tyranny of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh.

This time, He is liberating us from the greatest slavery that has enslaved all of us mankind, that is sin and death. And the symbolism of water that is used at baptism is indeed very profound, for water is both the symbol of death and life, as it can cause destruction by its powerful force, and yet, it is also necessary for the presence and propagation of life. Without water, life cannot exist, and water is essential for the maintenance of life.

By this symbolism of water, which is both used at the baptism of the Lord at the River Jordan, and in our own Christian baptism, the Holy Sacrament of Baptism, the Lord unites us all who have received this blessed and holy Sacrament, to His own experience of suffering and death, as well as to His glorious resurrection and triumph over sin and death itself. We share in the same redemptive experience that the people of Israel had experienced by the Red Sea and throughout the Exodus, and now we have even much more than that.

For God Himself has willingly endeavoured to save us, by His mighty deeds, in leading us out of the tyranny and enslavement by sin, through none other than His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Who is God incarnate, the Word of God made Man, through Whom God has given us our salvation. The Lord unites our own mortality to His own humanity, and gathers all of our unworthiness, our sufferings and pains, our sins and all the defilements present in us, and placing them upon Himself on the cross He bore, He became the source of our salvation and eternal life.

That is why, on the celebration of the Easter Vigil, on which day most people who are baptised as adults receive this blessed Sacrament of Baptism, we have the reading of the passage from Exodus on the salvation of Israel crossing through the Red Sea. Just as the Israelites passed on from their old life of slavery and suffering into a new life of blessing and grace with God, thus, we too, have passed on from our old life of sin and disobedience against God, into a new existence and life that is blessed and holy.

That is why, the Sacrament of Baptism is the first of the Sacraments to be received by any Christians. We received it either as a small infant, if we had been born into faithful, Christian families, or as someone who have desired and sought conversion to the true faith, and went through a period of instruction, after which we were baptised just as the Lord Himself was baptised in the Jordan.

At the moment of baptism, our old life and our old iniquities and sins are washed away and cleansed, and our existence is renewed and made blessed by God. Our old life and sin have been destroyed just as we share in the death of Christ on the cross. And through baptism, God made us all His adopted sons and daughters, just as at Baptism of the Lord Jesus, the voice of the Father was heard, “This is My Son, My Beloved. My favour rests on Him.”

This is why we have also been made the sons and daughters of God, by virtue of our shared humanity with Christ. If Christ is the Son of God, and if we are His brothers and sisters by our shared humanity, then we too can be called children of God. And because God has taken us to be His children, the fullness of His love and grace are slated to be ours. But we must also remember at the same time, that baptism is not the end of the journey for us.

Although baptism has erased the taints of original sin and the sins we have committed previous to our baptism, but this does not mean that we cannot sin anymore after our baptism. We are surely aware how many of us Christians keep on falling back again and again into sin, not listening to the will of God, our loving Father, and instead, preferring to follow the lies and falsehoods of Satan, the deceiver.

Satan knows that through baptism, he has lost his hold on us, and sin and death no longer has their grip on us. But, he still does not want to let us go, and as long as we still continue living in this world, our earthly existence, our bodies and our beings are still vulnerable to sin, and this is where the devil is trying very hard to try to pull us back into sin. And we must be careful lest we fall back into the same predicament, for if we live in a state of sin, we may yet fall into eternal damnation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, as we commemorate the glorious and wonderful moment of the baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ, let us all remember the moment of our own baptism. If we cannot remember it because we have been baptised as infants, then the least we can do is, try to remember the date and time of our baptism, by asking our godparents or parents, who surely can remember the time of that very crucial event in our life.

Let us today give thanks to God for the gift of baptism, in His willingness to take us as His adopted sons and daughters, and for the love which He has shown us, day after day. Baptism is only the beginning of a new journey in which we must make sure that we listen to the will of God. Baptism is the beginning of the time of grace and yet also struggle in which we must often face divisions and even persecutions for standing up to our faith.

May the Lord bless each and every one of us always, and may He allow us to remember the joy of our baptism, and that we may know what we need to do in our lives now that we have been made God’s own beloved children. Let us love Him more and more, each and every days of our life. Let our life and existence glorify God and let us proclaim the wonders of His love by our own loving actions to our fellow brethren. Amen.

Saturday, 12 January 2019 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the story in the Gospel passage, of the exchange between St. John the Baptist and his disciples, as they discussed about the actions of the Lord Jesus, Whom at that time was rising in popularity, having begun His ministry in this world after His own baptism by St. John the Baptist. The disciples of St. John the Baptist were wary and concerned that their own master was being eclipsed in importance and prestige by this seemingly new Teacher and Prophet.

But St. John the Baptist said in all humility before all of them, acknowledging that although he might be decreasing in importance, but more importantly is that the Lord, his Master, of Whom he had spoken, was rising in importance. As the servant of God, he had done all that he could do and was called to do, in order to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord’s Saviour. And now that the Saviour has finally come and revealed Himself, his struggles and hard works were coming to an end.

St. John the Baptist could have been angry and jealous at the apparent competition from the Lord Jesus, had his intentions and desires in serving the Lord be one that was selfish and wrong. Instead, he humbled himself and fulfilled what the Lord had commanded him to do, preparing the path and making the way of the Lord straight. He trusted in God and His will, and devoted himself to serve the intentions of God, that is the salvation of mankind.

What is important was not personal ambitions or desires, but instead, the spiritual well-being and the salvation of all those who have fallen into the pit of sin. St. John the Baptist knew this very well, as he called those multitudes of people to repentance, constantly reminding them of the imminent coming of the kingdom of God. To him, what matters was not that of popularity or worldly glory and praise, but rather, that God’s people turn their hearts once again towards Him that they may be saved.

And then, just as St. John the Baptist had done, the Lord Jesus also devoted Himself to the mission entrusted to Him by His heavenly Father, that is the salvation of all of God’s people. He did not do all the things for personal glory, or fame, or ambition, but instead for the greater glory of His Father, and for the good of all those to whom He has been sent, all those whom His Father has bestowed on Him to shepherd.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, thus this is what each and every one of us as Christians are expected to do, in following the good examples set by Our Lord and Saviour Himself, and by His servant, the faithful St. John the Baptist. We ought to be humble, be selfless and be obedient in all of our daily dealings and actions, not aiming to satisfy our own ego, ambition and selfish desires, but instead, putting our faith, trust and focus on God and God alone.

Each and every one of us as Christians have this important obligation, to be faithful to God, and then to propagate this faith in our own communities. We are called to be role models for our fellow brethren, by our own faithful actions in life, imitating rightly what the saints had done, and walking in the footsteps of the Lord Himself. After all, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must remember that God gave everything for us, even to the point of suffering unimaginable pain and suffering, and dying for us on the cross.

Let us therefore discover a new purpose in our life, that is to love and serve God, by everything we say and do, and by our every actions in life. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to show us His loving and compassionate mercy, each and every days of our life. May He bring us ever closer to Him, so that we may grow deeper in our faith, and remove from ourselves, all sorts of ego, ambition, pride and hubris. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 11 January 2019 : Friday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us about the healing which the Lord Jesus performed on a leper, who asked Him to heal him of his condition, and the Lord was moved by his sincerity of faith and his plight, and healed him off from his leprosy. And we heard how many more people came to the Lord Jesus asking to be healed from their own sicknesses and conditions.

Through this we have seen how Christ is the source of our healing and of our salvation. There is no other Name by which we can be saved, and there is no other means by which we can escape our fated destruction. Through Him mankind have received healing from its predicament, just as the leper was healed from his leprosy. Sin is also like that of the sickness of leprosy, ever spreading and ever growing.

However, unlike leprosy, that affects only the physical body and the flesh, but cannot affect the mind, the heart and the soul, sin is far more dangerous, for sin affects the deepest parts of our own beings, corrupting us deep within our souls, and the consequences of sin are eternal, for the soul is eternal. Leprosy cannot affect us beyond this mortal life, but sin can bring about our downfall and eternal suffering.

Leprosy is a disease that can be cured by many means, and there are ways that leprosy can be easily handled, especially in our modern world today where medical technology has advanced to a great extent, that many of the diseases known to us are easily curable. But sin alone has no cure in any human and worldly means, for in God alone, that we can find our cure from sin. He alone has the power and the authority to forgive us from our sins.

St. John mentioned in his Epistle, that there are three testimonies that proclaim before us how God’s salvation and healing have come down upon us through Christ His Son, namely the testimony of the Spirit, water and the Blood. What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? This is a reminder of the proof which has occurred in history, showing us that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Saviour of the world, promised by God to us, His beloved ones.

The Spirit of God present in us all have recognised Christ’s presence in our midst, as Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist recognised the One Who was in Mary’s womb, as well as her yet unborn son, who rejoiced upon feeling the presence of the Messiah in his proximity. And Mary herself was also filled with the Holy Spirit, praising God in a beautiful song, the Magnificat, proclaiming the great wonders that God has done.

Then, when the Lord Jesus was baptised by St. John the Baptist in the river Jordan, we saw the Holy Spirit descending down upon Him, with the word of God spoken, revealing the Divinity of Christ, Son of the Father. Again, we see in this instance how God has revealed His truth before all, in revealing the salvation that He was about to bring into His people’s midst, through Jesus Christ, His Son.

And lastly, at the moment of the crucifixion, when Christ laid down His life on the cross, He laid down His Body and Blood for the salvation of the world, and we heard how one of the Roman soldiers, who was tasked to check if Jesus had died, pierced His side and immediately water and blood poured forth. The soldier who witnessed that miracle became a believer, St. Longinus, the bearer of the Holy Lance that pierced the side of the Lord.

That occasion again proclaimed the truth about Christ, for the water and the blood represented the two natures of Christ, as a Man and as a Divine, two natures united in the single person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the One Who laid His life on the cross is not just a mere Man, but God Himself, incarnate in the flesh, and it is by His perfect and worthy offering, that we have been saved from eternal damnation.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing then now to allow the Lord to come into our midst and heal us from our afflictions? Do we truly believe in Him, that He is our Lord and Saviour, by Whose authority and power alone we can be healed from our sins? If we truly believe in Him and in His power to heal us, then now, we need to put ourselves in the hands of God, and entrust ourselves to His loving care.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn towards God with a renewed faith from now on, loving Him ever more sincerely, with an ever greater commitment, knowing that in Him alone we have the hope of salvation, and liberation from the pain of eternal death. May God, our loving Father and Saviour, continue to love us and to bless us, in each and every days of our lives. Amen.

Thursday, 10 January 2019 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the love of God, which we need to show in our own lives, just as St. John wrote in his Epistle, that each and every one of us who wants to love God, must also love one another just as He has loved us first. He has shown us His perfect love, by the generous giving of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has become Our Saviour. He has given us His commandments and laws, which are then revealed in its perfection by Himself.

That was when the Lord Jesus came into this world, bearing the truth which we mankind have longed to see. He has revealed to us just how great God’s love is for us, that in essence, all the Law and the commandments He has given His people, is founded upon the love which He has for us, from the very beginning, love that is not selfish and filled with ego, but instead love that is pure, selfless and genuine.

In the Gospel passage, we heard the Lord Himself proclaiming the fulfilment of the prophecies which God has given His people through His prophet Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah had written in his book that the Lord would anoint His Messiah to bear the salvation and new joy into this world, the healing of the sick, the opening of the eyes of the blind, and how those who were paralysed would be able to walk again, and prisoners would be set free. And Jesus came to fulfil all of these.

How did God fulfil His promises of love? It is by liberating us from the source of all of our misery and sufferings, that is sin. Sin is caused by our refusal to obey God’s will, and by our own selfish desires in trying to satisfy our own greed and wants. Sin has corrupted us and made us to suffer, because it made us to be separated from God, and away from God we have no certainty in life. Our conflicting desires and actions cause us to act unjustly towards one another, causing us to suffer.

We suffer because others oppress us, manipulate us and trying to gain more by taking what should have been ours. And we suffer because, even when we have gained what we wanted in life, in terms of all sorts of worldly glory and achievement, money and material possessions, fame and influence, we often do not feel happy, as we end up craving for even more than what we have already had. Life is never fully and truly happy, as we desire for these worldly things, that we can never be fully satisfied from.

We love ourselves more than anything else, but this is what have led us down the path of sin, as well as the path of suffering and unhappiness. That is why, God showed us the way out of this predicament, by showing us what a true love is all about. Through Jesus, we have seen the perfect example of obedience to the Law, which He summarised into two key points, namely, first of all, the love for God, and then the love for our fellow brothers and sisters.

He loved His Father so perfectly, that everything He did, He did because of the love He has for His Father in heaven, obeying Him and doing His will on earth. And this is translated into the love which He showed to all those Whom the Father has loved, His brothers and sisters, each and every one of us, the sons and daughters of man. And this love is made perfect, by the total surrender and obedience to the will of the Father, at the Passion when He willingly suffered for us, because of His love, that by His suffering and by bearing all of our sins, we may receive liberation from those sins, and find our way to eternal life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Our Lord has shown us what it means to love, and He Himself has shown it by what He has done for every single one of us. He loves us all so tenderly, that He did not mind to suffer the pain of the cross, so that by enduring the suffering due for our sins, we may be saved and not perish in hell. This is just how great God’s love is for us, and we should imitate the same love in our own lives. Therefore, first of all, let us love God and put Him at the very centre of our lives, and then, love others just in the same way as we have love God and ourselves.

Let us no longer be selfish and greedy in life, and let us realise that all of our worldly glory and possessions cannot satisfy us, and that they only bring about more sufferings and pains if we continue to desire and crave for them. Instead, let us overcome those selfish desires in us, and learn instead to love more tenderly and generously, and let us all be loving and be willing to share the blessings that we have received from God with one another. Let us be loving just as Christ Our Lord has loved us. Amen.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019 : Wednesday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded yet again of the great blessing and grace we have received because of the love that God has for each and every one of us. God’s love has been manifested in the flesh, in the worldly appearance of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, He Who revealed Himself as we remember that revelation at the Solemnity of the Epiphany we have just celebrated.

And in the Gospel passage that we heard today, we heard about the assurance that God gave to His people, of His steadfast faith and loving commitment to us all, His beloved ones. He came to them in the midst of a great storm in the Lake of Galilee, and as the boat was rocked by heavy waves and strong wind, the Lord appeared to the frightened disciples and reassured them that there was nothing for them to fear, for He was with them.

Initially, the disciples did not believe that the One they had seen, was indeed the Lord. They were frightened even more, thinking that they had seen a ghost. But God reassured them and told them to have faith in Him. He stepped onto the boat, and almost immediately, the great storm, all of the wind and waves that battered the boat of the disciples were calmed, and the sea was still. And the disciples then knew that He was indeed the Lord.

The meaning of what we have heard in the Gospel passage today is very symbolic, and also a powerful reminder that God is always in our midst, loving us and caring for us. And all these He has done, despite our cynicism and lack of faith, our continued and stubborn refusal to listen to Him and our failure to recognise His presence and love in our midst. The disciples and the boat they were in are in fact representations of the Church, as the Church is often represented as a boat.

And all of us the people of God, are like the disciples who were in the boat, being rocked very strongly by the wind and the waves, fearing that the boat would be overturned and then sink. If that were to happen, many of the lives of the people on the boat would be lost. And that was why, the disciples were fearful, as they were afraid for their lives, and they thought that they had lost all hope. But the Lord proved them and all of us wrong.

All the waves and the storm represent the challenges, the difficulties and dangers that await us in this world, constantly and from time to time. There are many obstacles indeed in our worldly journey, and we can recognise the presence of all these harsh realities in our midst, daily. But we often fail to realise that through all these dangers and challenges, God never ceases to be with us, guiding us on our way and protecting us.

As He stepped onto the boat, Christ calmed the wind and the waves, and this showed us all, that truly, we have nothing to fear, as long as Christ is the focus and strong anchor of our lives. He is the Head of the Church, and through Him alone, we can find our way through the turbulent times and challenging moments of our earthly lives. But if we prefer to live our lives in our own way, then this is when we start to lose our grip and security, and begin to sink as our lives are battered by the many challenges found in life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do we want to continue living in ignorance of the Lord’s loving presence in our midst? Do we want to continue to live our lives in our own way, and turning away from God’s path? Shall we instead learn to listen to the Lord, opening our hearts and minds to know what it is that God wants from us? He wants from us our love, just as He has loved us first, from the time when He created us from nothingness.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He empower us all to live faithfully in His presence from now on. Let us all turn towards Him with all of our strength and ability, each and every days of our life. Amen.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019 : Tuesday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures reminding us of the great love which He has blessed us with. He has given us His love, as St. John wrote in his Epistle, in none other than the perfect gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, the perfect manifestation of God’s love in our midst. There is no greater love than the love which God has given us, in allowing Himself to enter into our world in the form of Man, humbling Himself as such, just so that He could save us all from our fated destruction because of our sins.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard the passage from the Gospel according to St. Matthew in which the Lord Jesus showed His tender and compassionate love for His people, when He saw many of them, five thousand men and many thousands more women and children, who followed Him for many days, were hungry and without food. He had pity on them and He thus fed them to provide for their physical and bodily needs.

In that occasion, He performed the famous miracle of the multiplication of the loaves of bread and fishes, that from the five loaves of bread and two fishes present, all of the multitudes of people could eat to their hearts’ content, and still twelve full baskets of scraps and leftovers were collected. Through this, we can see how God loved His people so much, that He took care of them, giving them providence and sustenance in the form of the physical food.

But what the Lord has done in that occasion, was in fact merely just a foreshadowing of what was to come, what He was about to do in order to show them all His infinite love, by the breaking of His own Body, the true Bread from heaven, not the bread that satisfies just the flesh and the stomach, but the spiritual and true Bread, through Whom all of those who have faith in Him and partake in Him will be saved.

And that is God’s love for us, as St. John reminded us all through his Epistle, as God’s love become incarnate in the flesh, and became Man, so that, by that act, the perfect offering and sacrifice, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, Jesus Christ, Our Lord, may complete perfectly the long awaited salvation for all of God’s beloved ones, that is all of us. He offered Himself, His own Body and Blood, broken on the Altar of the Cross, that all of us may receive this rich and unimaginable bounty of life through His loving sacrifice.

Yet, unfortunately, many of us are still ignorant of the love which God has shown for us. We still live in ignorance of His love because of sin, that caused us to be desensitised to God’s love and mercy in our midst. We are so preoccupied by worldly matters, by all sorts of temptations, of power, of glory, of ambition, ego, and other greedy and unworthy pursuits in life, that we are unable to feel and recognise God’s ever present love.

And the wonders of God’s love is such that, even though we have sinned and disobeyed against Him, but God loves us so much that He was willing to be reconciled with us, if only that we are willing to accept His mercy and love, and repent from our sinful and wicked ways. Through Christ, His Son, He revealed and offered us His purest love, so generously, that all of us who have accepted Him as Our Lord and Saviour, will receive nothing less than eternal life and glory with Him.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing to make the commitment to love God? Are we willing to love Him just as He has loved us first so generously and tenderly? God is calling upon us to turn towards Him, filled with love, to receive the fullness of His grace and love, by uniting ourselves to Him, in perfect love, through Christ. Let us therefore, from now on, renew our commitment to live our lives with faith and devotion. May God, Our loving Lord and Creator, continue to love us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 7 January 2019 : Monday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures, telling us about the need for us to discern carefully the path of our life, and listen to the right words of advice, that is the truth of God and not instead the lies and falsehoods of the devil. Otherwise, we may end up walking in the wrong path and fall to the trap of sin, which the devil has prepared laboriously to bring us into our doom.

In the passage taken from the Epistle of St. John, our first reading today, we heard of the distinction between the path of God and the path of the world, those who side with the antichrist. Those who reject the way of the Lord are those who side with the devil, the enemies of God, because they do not agree with the Lord’s way, and do things in manner that is against the commandments and the Law of God, as mentioned by St. John.

How should we then discern so that we will not end up going down the wrong path? Then we need to realise that we have to deepen our understanding and knowledge of God’s ways, by delving deeper into the teachings of the Church, and rediscover the richness of the bounties of God’s truth, which have been preserved well by His Church, and taught to us by His bishops and priests, all those who have been tasked with the preservation and the propagation of truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the way of the Lord is one of love and compassion, of obedience to God and adherence to His ways. And the Lord Himself has summarised the Law into two main, essential laws. First of all, we ought to love God with all of our hearts, with all of our minds, and with every ounce of our strength. And then, we ought to show the same love towards our fellow brothers and sisters, our neighbours, those in our families, and even the strangers whom we encounter in our respective lives.

But as we can easily see and witness all around ourselves and our livelihood, it is not easy to walk in the path that God has set before us, as there will inevitably be conflict and misalignments with the ways and the expectations that come from the world, from the society around us. By our human nature and tendencies, we are often selfish and egoistic, prideful and harbouring hatred in our hearts. We are often jealous of each other and desire what others have but we ourselves do not have.

That is why, it is not easy for us to be faithful to God and to follow His ways. There will be many temptations and even pressures for us to walk away from His path. But if we remain strong in our conviction to love God and persevere in walking down the path He has shown us, then we are assured of the salvation and liberation which God has brought down upon us. We will be deemed worthy of the glorious kingdom and eternal life and joy which will be ours by faith.

Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Raymond of Penyafort, a renowned Dominican friar and preacher, who lived during the High Middle Ages. He was remembered for his important role in the codification and formalisation of the Canon Law in the Church. But more importantly, he also stood up for his faith and the teachings of the Church, even when his king was against him, who though faithful but ensnared with the temptation of lust with a concubinage relationship.

St. Raymond of Penyafort insisted repeatedly that the king must dismiss his concubine, and the king persistently refused to do so. Eventually, it was told that a miracle happened, when St. Raymond of Penyafort wanted to leave the king behind, having no longer been able to tolerate his wicked behaviour, and when the king insisted that he remain, St. Raymond warned the king of the fate awaiting those who refused to listen to God’s will and repent from their sins, and casting his cloak to the water, he sailed on the cloak as if it was a ship. Having heard of this, the king repented from his sins and became a good Christian from then on.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard the faith and virtues of St. Raymond of Penyafort, let us all be inspired by him and the courage he had in resisting wickedness of the world, and in how he had stood up for his faith in God. Let us all also be courageous in how we live up to our faith, by our actions, and be willing to commit ourselves, from now on, to love God with all of our strength, and be courageous in living a life in accordance with God’s will and grace. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.