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.

Friday, 8 January 2021 : Friday after Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded that through Christ, all of us have been saved and rescued from our great predicament of sin, that we all have been healed and made whole once again through His loving sacrifice on the Cross. He did all of these by the outpouring of His own Blood, the Most Precious Blood by which He has absolved all of us from our sins.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the Lord Jesus and His action in healing a leper who sought healing from Him. The man asked the Lord to make him clean from his leprosy, a terrible condition that had sundered and separated him from the community for according to the Law, those who had been afflicted by leprosy had to leave the community and wander off in the wilderness in order to prevent its spread.

Then the Lord reached out to the leper and said that He wanted to heal him. He healed him immediately from his leprosy and he was whole once again. By this He has restored the link that the leper had once had with his community and returned him to a new life free from the terror of the leprosy. And this is in fact symbolic of what the Lord Himself had done to us.

What I mean is that, all of us, while we were still in the state of sin, corrupted and darkened by all the terrible evils in this world, then the Lord has also reached out to us and touched us by His generous love. He has healed us from our sins, which have no other cure besides the forgiveness from God. Through those sins, we have been separated from God just as how the leper had been separated and cast out from the society. But thanks to God, that is not our end fate.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all called to remember this amazing love that God has shown us, His mercy, compassion and forgiveness. All of us have received healing from the Lord and if we are faithful, we shall receive the fullness of His eternal glory, grace and love. This is what St. John in our first reading today has emphasised, reminding us of the love of God.

The Lord has shown us His love, by the testimonies of water, Spirit and Blood. In two days’ time, we are going to celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, marking the end of the liturgical season of Christmas, and reminding us that through the Lord Jesus and His Baptism at the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit descending on Him, God revealed to all that this was truly His Son, the Beloved One sent into the world in order to save it.

And as I mentioned earlier, by the outpouring of His Blood from the Cross, the love of God has been bared to us in its fullness. By His Precious Blood we have been cleansed and we have received the assurance of grace and salvation. However, many of us are still ignorant and in denial of God’s generous love, compassion and kindness. The Lord has called us and is reaching out to us, but many of us have not yet responded to Him or even shut Him out of our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us reflect on our lives and consider carefully how we are to proceed in life. Let us all turn towards the Lord and remind ourselves of just how great the love that He has shown us, and how He had suffered grievously, endured the worst punishments and humiliations, and died on the Cross for our sake. Let us all therefore seek Him and entrust ourselves to Him and His love with ever greater devotion from now on.

May the Lord be with us always and may He bless us all in all of our efforts and good endeavours from now on. May God be our Guide and strength in this journey of life. May the Lord’s love be with us and within us always. Amen.

Thursday, 7 January 2021 : Thursday after Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded yet again that the Lord has fulfilled His promises to us, the promise of deliverance and salvation that He has made and renewed throughout the history of mankind and the world. The Lord sent His deliverance to us all through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And as Christians, all of us believe in this truth, the same truth that has been preserved through the Church all these time.

In our Gospel reading today, we heard of the moment when the Lord proclaimed the truth of God and the fulfilment of all the wonderful promises of God’s salvation in the synagogue of His own hometown, Nazareth. At that time, the Lord read the prophecy from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and his words, which specifically mentioned what the Messiah or the Saviour would do in order to save the people.

And the Lord Jesus essentially proclaimed the coming of God’s time of grace, His salvation and liberation to all the people. He did not mince His words or hold back anything as He proclaimed God’s truth. He was the Anointed One and the Holy One of God sent into the world to be its Saviour. Through Him all would once again see the light of hope, and a way out of the darkness of sin in this world.

All of these are what we believe in as Christians, that we hold true and strongly to this same truth that the Lord had proclaimed, and which He had then proven through His loving sacrifice on the Cross. The love of God has been made manifest into this world through Christ, and this love was shown to us by the selfless sacrifice and the life-giving action that the Lord had done, in offering up Himself for our sake, for our liberation from sin and for our salvation.

St. John then spoke of this in our first reading today as he elaborated on Christ as the manifestation of God’s love made flesh just as we celebrate it this Christmas season. He also exhorted all Christians to turn towards the Lord with love, that just as He has loved us so generously at first, then we should also love Him to the best of our abilities with our most sincere love, and then show the same love to our fellow brothers and sisters as well.

The Lord has taught us His love and revealed to us what it means for us to love, through His own actions and examples. He has reached out to all of us, especially even to the worst and the most wicked amongst sinners. He has touched us with His love and He has called us to follow Him and His path, but are we willing and able to commit ourselves to this path, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Let us all today therefore look upon the examples of our holy predecessors in how they lived their lives in accordance with God’s ways, such as what was done by St. Raymond of Penyafort, whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Raymond of Penyafort was a Dominican friar and priest who was the Master of the Order of Preachers or the Dominicans.

St. Raymond of Penyafort dedicated himself, his life and his actions to serve the Lord, compiling the teachings of the faith in the many books and writings that he has written for the many years of his dedicated service. St. Raymond of Penyafort was also committed to the reform of the Church, in his efforts in helping the Church and the leaders like the Pope in leading the faithful to the right path.

Through his efforts and most notably through his renowned miracle, St. Raymond of Penyafort turned many souls towards the Lord. When he worked as the confessor of the king of Aragon, James I, who was infamous for his immoral behaviour, he courageously criticised the king and his actions, which was against the Law of God. He sought to call the king back to his senses and return to the true faith.

When the king still insisted to continue his actions and forbade St. Raymond from leaving the island he was ministering in, he miraculously sailed on his long Dominican robe, and witnessed by many, he made the king to realise the depth and severity of his errors, and the king repented from all his sinful ways. Many others became believers through him and many were inspired by his examples long after his passing.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all devote ourselves to the Lord therefore, filling ourselves with love, the love of God, just as shown by St. Raymond of Penyafort and the many other holy men and women of God. Let us all therefore seek the Lord and do our best as Christians, from now on, that we may lead all souls to Him, Our Lord and most loving Saviour. May God be with us always, and may He bless us in all our good endeavours. Amen.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, one of the most important celebrations of the Liturgical Year. This Solemnity of the Epiphany celebrates the revelation of the Messiah or the Saviour of the world to all the nations and the peoples of the world. The word Epiphany came from the Greek word ‘Epiphaneia’, which means revelation and manifestation.

That is why today, on this celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord, we focus our attention on the manifestation and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of the whole world to all the nations, represented by the Holy Magi or the Wise Men. That is why the celebration of the Epiphany is closely tied to the Three Wise Men or Magi, and in the Gospel we heard of the account of their visit to the Lord at His manger in Bethlehem, guided by the bright Star of Bethlehem.

The Magi saw the Star of Bethlehem from afar as a very prominent and bright star, and as they were educated and intelligent people who perhaps dwelled in astrology and other studies, they knew that a very prominent event was about to happen, and in this case, it was the upcoming birth and arrival of the Saviour of the world as prophesied by the many prophets and wise men throughout the centuries and millennia past.

They undertook the very long and arduous journey from their respective lands, as was common at that time, travelling a long time and enduring difficult conditions to reach the place pointed at by the Star. Although their names were not recorded in the Scriptures, but according to the Church traditions, their names were Caspar or Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar or Balthazar. Their places of origin were often given as India, Persia and Arabia or other relatively distant places.

We heard of how they came to king Herod, the ruler of the land, both to ask for advice and direction, as well as to courteously seek permission to find the One prophesied and shown by the Star, which happened to be in the land under the rule of the king. Herod however became immediately suspicious and fearful over the news of a rival King that would come into the world, fearing that this King would seize the power and authority from him and his family.

King Herod the Great himself was in fact not a Jew or descendant of the Israelites, but rather a Nabatean, one of the neighbouring people of the Israelites. He also seized power from the rightful rulers of the land, the Hasmoneans in a coup engineered and supported by the Romans, who then came to be overlords of the region. As such, king Herod the Great always felt very insecure in his reign, and this news of the coming of a new King certainly unsettled him a lot.

Nonetheless, the Magi managed to get his permission, regardless of the vicious plots that Herod would later on execute in trying to destroy this new threat to his reign as king. The Magi eventually came to Bethlehem after a long journey and saw the King of kings, the One shown to them by the Star and prophesied by the prophets, and they recognised Him and paid Him homage.

And now I want to bring all of our attentions to the gifts that each of the Magi brought before the Lord in homage and submission. Each of these gifts were precious on their own and had great symbolic meaning and importance. The gift of gold, frankincense and myrrh had greater symbolic meaning than what their earthly values might have shown, and it revealed to us all, Who the Lord that the Magi had paid homage to, truly is.

First of all, the gift of gold signifies royalty and kingship, as gold at that time symbolises glory and wealth just as it is still the case today. Therefore this gift of gold signifies that the Lord was truly a King, and indeed not just like any other kings of this world, but the one True King of all, the King of Kings and Lord of lords. He has come into this world as King but not behaving like other kings, for instead of seeking to be served, He came to serve His people, His beloved ones.

Then, the gift of frankincense has two important meaning, first being a symbol of Christ’s role as the High Priest of all, the one True and Eternal High Priest signifying how He would offer the perfect sacrifice and offering to redeem us from our sins, and be the worthy sacrifice and absolution from our shortcomings. Incense is usually used by the priests as the offering of prayers to the gods, and in this way, it emphasised Christ’s High Priest role.

Frankincense then is also a mark of Christ’s divinity, for when offered to Him in homage by the Magi, this offering of the finest quality incense signified the sanctity of God, that the Child born of Mary in Bethlehem was not just a mere Man or a mere Child. He is God Himself in the flesh, possessing two distinct but inseparable natures of Man and Divine concurrently in the person of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

Last of all, is the gift of myrrh from the Magi. On a hindsight, the gift of myrrh is truly a bewildering one given that while myrrh is an expensive commodity and spice highly sought after and rare, but it was also commonly used in the preservation and embalming of dead bodies, which is why given that this was presented to the Child Jesus, it might have been strange at a glance.

However, the myrrh is an important reminder and revelation of the role that the Lord would take up in fulfilling His ministry, as the precursor and sign to His Passion, suffering and death on the Cross. The myrrh therefore marked the great sacrifice and love of God for us all that He would even suffer and go through the most terrible pain and humiliation for our sake, unto death for us.

The gifts of the Magi, the gold, frankincense and myrrh therefore revealed the true nature of the Lord and Saviour, He Who is King over all and the Lord over all things, Who is also the Most High and Almighty God, and at the same time, also the Eternal High Priest of all creation, having been incarnate as Man, and through His humanity united to His divinity, He would suffer for our sake, bearing His Cross of love, that through His suffering and death, all are to be saved from their sins and from the eternal damnation.

The Lord has revealed Himself to the Jews, to His own people at the moment of His presentation and circumcision at the Temple of God, and then now, as celebrated in this Epiphany, He has also revealed Himself and His intentions to the non-Jewish people as well, showing that everything He has promised, He would do for everyone without bias or regard for their race or origin, their status or descent among others. All are equally beloved by God, and He is the Lord and Saviour of all.

On this Solemnity of the Epiphany, we are therefore brought to focus on the Lord’s ever present love for each and every one of us, and reminded of the same love that He has showered on us from the very beginning. Through Christ all of us have seen the salvation of God, and while once we were in the darkness, but through Him and our faith in Him, hope has been restored to us, and we have been strengthened and rejuvenated as God’s beloved children once again.

On this day as we focus on the revelation of the Lord to the nations, as He has shown Himself to the Magi, let us all remember the dedication and commitment of the Magi who answered the Lord’s call and sought for Him as they braved the dangers of the long journey just so that they might pay homage to Him and to worship Him. Their faith is an inspiration to all of us, just as according to the Church traditions, the Magi lived to old age and became Christians themselves, and took part in their respective ministry until their lives’ end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, on this Solemnity of the Epiphany, are we willing and able to follow in the footsteps of the Magi and seek the Lord with renewed zeal and love for Him? Are we willing to renew our faith and commitment to the Lord, that we may ourselves be inspiration for our fellow brothers and sisters, and through us, we may inspire even more people and call more people to the Lord’s salvation and grace? This is our calling as Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us all inspire each other to be ever more faithful to God in all things that we may truly be worthy to call ourselves as Christians and bear the Light of Christ within ourselves. May our actions and deeds, our words and interactions be like the bright Star of Bethlehem shining its bright light in the darkness of the world. Let us all bear faithful witness to our Lord and Saviour, for all the love and commitment He has shown us all these while.

May God, our Lord, King, High Priest and Saviour, revealed and manifested to the whole world, be our Light and Guide, and may He be our Strength as we continue to walk faithfully in His presence in this world bearing witness to His truth and love. May He bless us all in our every good endeavours and works, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021 : Wednesday after Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded yet again that the Lord has revealed and manifested His love to us in the form of His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who has been born into the world. This season of Christmas and at the Solemnity of the Epiphany, we are constantly being reminded of the Lord’s manifestation of His perfect love and compassion for us in Christ.

The Lord is reminding us to live in love, and to be loving just as He has been loving and kind to us. He has shown us so much compassion and kindness, and then therefore, we should also follow in His examples and all that He had taught us and revealed to us. He wants us all to learn from Him and follow the way that He has loved generously from His loving heart, so that each and every one of us may love Him and also love our fellow brethren as well.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the Lord Jesus coming to His disciples when they were all in a boat in the middle of the stormy Lake of Galilee. There was such strong waves and wind that the boat where the disciples were travelling in was almost overcome and sunk, and the disciples were filled with fear and panic, worried about what would happen to them if the boat sank.

The Lord was praying at that time by Himself, and then He came towards them in the midst of all the waves and the storm, the wind and squalls. The disciples were worried and freaked out because they thought that they had seen a ghost. And all these happened just after they had witnessed the Lord performing the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men with just five loaves of bread and two fish as per mentioned in yesterday’s Gospel.

The Lord has repeatedly shown His love to us all His people, and patiently reaching out to us to heal us and to bring us out of our predicament and troubles. But we need to have faith in Him, brothers and sisters in Christ. Unless we trust in Him and place our faith in Him, we will end up like the disciples who worried over their lives and were full of fear, ready to even abandon the ship, which would actually mean danger to their lives.

That is because when we panic, we end up making rash and improper decisions that we will only come to regret later on. Abandoning the boat was one of the last thing that the disciples should contemplate, as although the waves were indeed very powerful, but if they chose to abandon the ship, there goes therefore their last anchor to safety, as the waves could quickly overwhelm them and sank them.

The Lord Jesus came to them and calmed them, reassured them that it was indeed Him, and not a ghost or apparition. He reminded all of them that they need to have faith in Him, no matter how difficult, dangerous or terrible the situation might be for them. We must never forget that even through our most challenging situations, the Lord will always be by our side, journeying with us and leading the way for us.

We should keep this in mind even as we begin this new year with so many uncertainties and fears that remain over the pandemic and the other trials currently faced by the world. Instead of fear, we should deepen our faith in the Lord and resolve to commit ourselves ever more to the Lord, dedicating ourselves to Him with even greater faith and conviction, and becoming genuine and powerful witnesses of His love and hope in our communities today. We should reach out in love to all those suffering, and be selfless towards each other, and not only thinking of our own survival.

Let us all be the bearers of Christ’s light, His love and compassion in our world today, so that through our collective actions, no matter how little they may be, we may be brought ever closer to God and to His consoling love. May God be with us always, and may He strengthen each and every one of us, with His love and grace. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021 : Tuesday after Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the readings of the Scripture of the love that God has shown us and manifested to us in the person of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the whole world. Through Him we have seen God’s love becoming tangible, no longer distant and unapproachable, and in Him, all of us have received the new experience of God’s ever enduring love.

In our first reading today from the Epistle of St. John the Apostle we heard St. John describing plainly and clearly what is God’s love, and how God Himself is love and the personification of true love. And he said that unless we know love and practice love among ourselves, then we cannot say that we have known God or have faith in Him because God Himself is love, and if we know God, we would have known love and how to love.

The Lord manifested His love in sending His Son into the world so that by this act, this singular act of supreme love, He may save all of us His beloved ones, by the act of His most merciful love, in reaching out to us and touching us with His own hands, in caring for us and in providing us all that we needed, just as He has always intended. He has always loved us and been faithful to the Covenant He had made with us, even when we were still rebels and being unfaithful.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus and His miraculous feeding of the five thousand men, which indicated an even much greater number of people, as the women and children were not counted among the numbers, and it was very likely that those men gathered there would have brought their families together with them, either to listen to Him or to be healed by Him.

And the Lord had pity on them when He saw how they had been following Him for days on end, without food and sustenance, and they were all very hungry. The Lord took the five loaves of bread and the two fishes that were there, offered by a young boy, and after having blessed them, multiplied them miraculously by His power into such a quantity of food that all the people had enough to eat, and twelve baskets of leftover were obtained in the end.

We see in this act, how God truly cared for His people, feeding them and caring for them in their hour of need, while at the same time also caring for them spiritually through His teachings and through His words calling on all of them to turn away from their sins and to find their path towards God and His grace and love, as shown through Christ Himself.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us having known of God’s love and having received His love at all times throughout our lives, let us all first be grateful and appreciative of all these love which we have received from God. Let us all be thankful that the Lord has shown His compassion and kindness to us despite us having been irresponsible, stubborn and hard-hearted all these while.

And then, we are all now having been beloved by God, full of His compassion and love. Can we love the Lord in the same manner as how He has first loved us all so generously, brothers and sisters? Every time we celebrate Christmas, we are being reminded of God’s love incarnate in the Flesh, in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, born into this world. Through Him all of us have received the fullness of God’s promise and love.

Let us all therefore be filled with renewed love of the Lord, with faith and trust in Him and His providence. Just as He has fed His people and guided them to His truth, He shall guide us all and provide us all the path to eternal happiness and true joy, for an eternity of glory with Him in Heaven. Let us all bear witness to this love and commit ourselves to be the witnesses of the light and salvation of God in the midst of all the darkness.

May God be with us always, and may He strengthen us and our resolve that we may ever serve God and dedicate our time, effort and attention to make the Lord known in this world, within our own communities and among all those whom we meet and encounter regularly in life. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 4 January 2021 : Monday after Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue to celebrate the season of Christmas, and we are all called to continue walking in the path that the Lord has shown us, to dedicate ourselves to the same truth that He has revealed and passed down to us. Are we able to commit ourselves to His truth and resist the temptations and falsehoods from all those who seek to subvert His message of truth?

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. John the Apostle, St. John is reminding all of us of the truth and commandments that the Lord Jesus Christ has revealed to all of us, and to stay steady in that faith that He has bestowed on us. We must be wary of the falsehoods and all the false leaders and false prophets who can end up leading us astray from the path of truth.

In this season and time of Christmas, all of us are reminded that the Lord has come into this world in order to save us, just as we have heard in our Gospel passage today of the Lord Who has come in the flesh in Jesus Christ, the Son of Man and Son of God Most High. The Gospel passage we heard today spoke of His works and ministry among the people, healing their sick and casting out evil spirits among others.

The Lord also proclaimed the message of repentance and change, calling on all the people to repent from their sins and to change their ways that they would no longer follow the path of the devil and his falsehoods and lies. He is calling on all of us to abandon these sins and wickedness in life, rejecting the false paths and distractions in this world and renew our dedication and commitment to God.

In this time of Christmas, we are called to refocus our attention on the Light of Christ and not in all the false ‘lights’ that merely serve as distractions and false leads that we may be trapped into following. We are all called especially at the start of this new year to reexamine our lives, how we have lived them and how we are going to proceed forward in our path of life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through these reminders that the Lord has given us, let us all do whatever we can in order to devote our efforts and attention to be witnesses to Him in wherever we are, in our families, among our friends and within our communities. We are all called to bear faithful witnesses to the Lord, by our every words, actions and deeds, through even our smallest and regular interactions with each other, with all those whom we encounter in our daily lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, our calling as Christians is to be the bearers of Christ’s light of hope, of strength and love in the midst of all these darkness. And we all clearly know just how darkened this world had been in the past year alone, and we are all in the position to make a difference in the lives of so many people. Let us all strive to be devoted Christians from now on, living our lives with faith, genuine faith from now on, and not just treat it as a mere formality.

Let us all stand fast to the truth and Light of Christ, and reveal Him to the world, that many more people may come to see His goodness and love, and be saved from the abyss of their despair, the darkness of this world and the corruption of their sins. May God be with us and may He guide us in all of our good efforts and endeavours, for His greater glory. Amen.

Sunday, 3 January 2021 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, one of the most important celebrations of the Liturgical Year. This Solemnity of the Epiphany celebrates the revelation of the Messiah or the Saviour of the world to all the nations and the peoples of the world. The word Epiphany came from the Greek word ‘Epiphaneia’, which means revelation and manifestation.

That is why today, on this celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord, we focus our attention on the manifestation and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of the whole world to all the nations, represented by the Holy Magi or the Wise Men. That is why the celebration of the Epiphany is closely tied to the Three Wise Men or Magi, and in the Gospel we heard of the account of their visit to the Lord at His manger in Bethlehem, guided by the bright Star of Bethlehem.

The Magi saw the Star of Bethlehem from afar as a very prominent and bright star, and as they were educated and intelligent people who perhaps dwelled in astrology and other studies, they knew that a very prominent event was about to happen, and in this case, it was the upcoming birth and arrival of the Saviour of the world as prophesied by the many prophets and wise men throughout the centuries and millennia past.

They undertook the very long and arduous journey from their respective lands, as was common at that time, travelling a long time and enduring difficult conditions to reach the place pointed at by the Star. Although their names were not recorded in the Scriptures, but according to the Church traditions, their names were Caspar or Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar or Balthazar. Their places of origin were often given as India, Persia and Arabia or other relatively distant places.

We heard of how they came to king Herod, the ruler of the land, both to ask for advice and direction, as well as to courteously seek permission to find the One prophesied and shown by the Star, which happened to be in the land under the rule of the king. Herod however became immediately suspicious and fearful over the news of a rival King that would come into the world, fearing that this King would seize the power and authority from him and his family.

King Herod the Great himself was in fact not a Jew or descendant of the Israelites, but rather a Nabatean, one of the neighbouring people of the Israelites. He also seized power from the rightful rulers of the land, the Hasmoneans in a coup engineered and supported by the Romans, who then came to be overlords of the region. As such, king Herod the Great always felt very insecure in his reign, and this news of the coming of a new King certainly unsettled him a lot.

Nonetheless, the Magi managed to get his permission, regardless of the vicious plots that Herod would later on execute in trying to destroy this new threat to his reign as king. The Magi eventually came to Bethlehem after a long journey and saw the King of kings, the One shown to them by the Star and prophesied by the prophets, and they recognised Him and paid Him homage.

And now I want to bring all of our attentions to the gifts that each of the Magi brought before the Lord in homage and submission. Each of these gifts were precious on their own and had great symbolic meaning and importance. The gift of gold, frankincense and myrrh had greater symbolic meaning than what their earthly values might have shown, and it revealed to us all, Who the Lord that the Magi had paid homage to, truly is.

First of all, the gift of gold signifies royalty and kingship, as gold at that time symbolises glory and wealth just as it is still the case today. Therefore this gift of gold signifies that the Lord was truly a King, and indeed not just like any other kings of this world, but the one True King of all, the King of Kings and Lord of lords. He has come into this world as King but not behaving like other kings, for instead of seeking to be served, He came to serve His people, His beloved ones.

Then, the gift of frankincense has two important meaning, first being a symbol of Christ’s role as the High Priest of all, the one True and Eternal High Priest signifying how He would offer the perfect sacrifice and offering to redeem us from our sins, and be the worthy sacrifice and absolution from our shortcomings. Incense is usually used by the priests as the offering of prayers to the gods, and in this way, it emphasised Christ’s High Priest role.

Frankincense then is also a mark of Christ’s divinity, for when offered to Him in homage by the Magi, this offering of the finest quality incense signified the sanctity of God, that the Child born of Mary in Bethlehem was not just a mere Man or a mere Child. He is God Himself in the flesh, possessing two distinct but inseparable natures of Man and Divine concurrently in the person of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

Last of all, is the gift of myrrh from the Magi. On a hindsight, the gift of myrrh is truly a bewildering one given that while myrrh is an expensive commodity and spice highly sought after and rare, but it was also commonly used in the preservation and embalming of dead bodies, which is why given that this was presented to the Child Jesus, it might have been strange at a glance.

However, the myrrh is an important reminder and revelation of the role that the Lord would take up in fulfilling His ministry, as the precursor and sign to His Passion, suffering and death on the Cross. The myrrh therefore marked the great sacrifice and love of God for us all that He would even suffer and go through the most terrible pain and humiliation for our sake, unto death for us.

The gifts of the Magi, the gold, frankincense and myrrh therefore revealed the true nature of the Lord and Saviour, He Who is King over all and the Lord over all things, Who is also the Most High and Almighty God, and at the same time, also the Eternal High Priest of all creation, having been incarnate as Man, and through His humanity united to His divinity, He would suffer for our sake, bearing His Cross of love, that through His suffering and death, all are to be saved from their sins and from the eternal damnation.

The Lord has revealed Himself to the Jews, to His own people at the moment of His presentation and circumcision at the Temple of God, and then now, as celebrated in this Epiphany, He has also revealed Himself and His intentions to the non-Jewish people as well, showing that everything He has promised, He would do for everyone without bias or regard for their race or origin, their status or descent among others. All are equally beloved by God, and He is the Lord and Saviour of all.

On this Solemnity of the Epiphany, we are therefore brought to focus on the Lord’s ever present love for each and every one of us, and reminded of the same love that He has showered on us from the very beginning. Through Christ all of us have seen the salvation of God, and while once we were in the darkness, but through Him and our faith in Him, hope has been restored to us, and we have been strengthened and rejuvenated as God’s beloved children once again.

On this day as we focus on the revelation of the Lord to the nations, as He has shown Himself to the Magi, let us all remember the dedication and commitment of the Magi who answered the Lord’s call and sought for Him as they braved the dangers of the long journey just so that they might pay homage to Him and to worship Him. Their faith is an inspiration to all of us, just as according to the Church traditions, the Magi lived to old age and became Christians themselves, and took part in their respective ministry until their lives’ end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, on this Solemnity of the Epiphany, are we willing and able to follow in the footsteps of the Magi and seek the Lord with renewed zeal and love for Him? Are we willing to renew our faith and commitment to the Lord, that we may ourselves be inspiration for our fellow brothers and sisters, and through us, we may inspire even more people and call more people to the Lord’s salvation and grace? This is our calling as Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us all inspire each other to be ever more faithful to God in all things that we may truly be worthy to call ourselves as Christians and bear the Light of Christ within ourselves. May our actions and deeds, our words and interactions be like the bright Star of Bethlehem shining its bright light in the darkness of the world. Let us all bear faithful witness to our Lord and Saviour, for all the love and commitment He has shown us all these while.

May God, our Lord, King, High Priest and Saviour, revealed and manifested to the whole world, be our Light and Guide, and may He be our Strength as we continue to walk faithfully in His presence in this world bearing witness to His truth and love. May He bless us all in our every good endeavours and works, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 3 January 2021 : Second Sunday after Christmas (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, the second Sunday in the season of Christmas, we are reminded yet again of the reason why we celebrate this Christmas. We do not rejoice and celebrate because we seek pleasures and joys of this world, or satisfaction for our needs and desires. We rejoice because of the love that God has shown us so wonderfully and generously through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

So great was His love that since the very beginning, He has given us His compassion and love, showering us with mercy and patience throughout the journey. Despite our rebelliousness and sins, He has always continued to love us, even to the greatest of sinners. When Adam and Eve sinned against God, He could easily have annihilated them or condemned them to eternal suffering, but He did not do so.

While He forced them to wander the earth and suffer the consequences of their sins, but at that very same moment He also reassured them that salvation would eventually come for all of them, when He spoke of the Woman through whom the Lord would bring His salvation, crushing the devil, his power and dominion over the world and all the evil and wicked plots he had created against us.

When Cain murdered Abel out of jealousy, the Lord still showed Him mercy and helped him to get away from his predicament, and He rescued Noah and his family on the great Ark when all of the whole world had completely turned against God and dwelled in their wickedness and evil. Then, throughout many years, decades and centuries, again and again He helped His people, making Covenant with His servant Abraham and his descendants.

Throughout the history of mankind, God has always remained faithful to the Covenant He had made with us since the beginning. He has always guided and attempted to lead us to Himself. He has never abandoned us no matter what. Sadly, it was us and our predecessors that had abandoned the Lord and betrayed Him for the temptations and allures of the world. We sought quick satisfaction and comfort, which is why we turned to everything in the world and not to God.

Nonetheless, God remained faithful, and He rescued His people from their troubles, from their slavery in Egypt, guiding them through the Red Sea and destroying their enemies, establishing them in the lands of Promise, and made them prosper. Again and again, when the people disobeyed Him and were stubborn in rebelling against Him, He showed patience and tried to bring them back to His truth and love.

Throughout more and more centuries God continued to take care of His people, and He sent His deliverance to us, fulfilling all the promises He had made from the very beginning. The Lord Himself became Man, assuming our human nature and the existence of our flesh, became fully Man just as He is also fully Divine. In the person of Jesus Christ, exists inseparably two distinct natures, Divine and Man.

This is what the Lord has shown all of us, His enduring love for every single one of us, without exception. The Son of Man and Son of God born in Bethlehem to Mary is the perfect manifestation of this Love. We are celebrating this Christmas because of this, the generosity and wonders of God’s love that never ends, His faithful love and commitment to the Covenant which He had made with all of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as St. Paul said in his Epistle to the Ephesians as our second reading today, the Lord has revealed His truth to us through Christ, Our Saviour and Lord. He has brought freedom to us through His Son, and most importantly through His most loving and selfless sacrifice on the Cross, by which He established a new and everlasting Covenant with all of us. By His own Blood, He has paid the price of sin and liberated us from eternal death.

Now, what is important is that, each and every one of us as Christians are His followers and believers, that is we believe in all that He has revealed to us, and we believe that He is our Lord and Saviour, our most loving Father and Creator. And now that we have received this truth from Him, our calling and purpose in life is to bear witness to this truth, and to the same hope and love that He has shown us through Christ.

How are we making our Christmas celebrations meaningful and worthwhile, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is not by spending a lot of money and lavish celebrations that we truly rejoice and celebrate this Christmas. Rather, it is by devoting our effort, time and attention to show the love of God in this world, by reaching out with love to all our brethren in need, especially those who are in need of love and compassion.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all make our Christmas celebrations truly meaningful and worthwhile, devoting ourselves to follow the Lord’s calling and do our very best to touch the lives of others, being generous in giving and in loving one another. May the Lord be our Guide, our Strength and our Hope. May He bless each and every one of us and strengthen us with the courage to live virtuously and filled with His love from now on. Amen.