(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 26 March 2016 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 1 : 1 – Genesis 2 : 2

In the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth had no form and was void; darkness was over the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.

God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘Day; and the darkness ‘Night’. There was evening and there was morning : the first day.

God said, “Let there be a firm ceiling between the waters and let it separate waters from waters.” So God made the ceiling and separated the waters below it from the waters above it. And so it was. God called the firm ceiling ‘Sky’. There was evening and there was morning : the second day.

God said, “Let the waters below the sky be gathered together in one place and let dry land appear.” And so it was. God called the dry land ‘Earth’ , and the waters gathered together He called ‘Seas’. God saw that it was good.

God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation, seed-bearing plants, fruittrees bearing fruit with seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And so it was. The earth produced vegetation : plants bearing seed according to their kind and trees producing fruit which has seed, according to their kind. God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning : the third day.

God said, “Let there be lights in the ceiling of the sky to separate day from night and to serve as signs for the seasons, days, and years; and let these lights in the sky shine above the earth.” And so it was. God therefore made two great lights, the greater light to govern the day and the smaller light to govern the night; and God made the stars as well. God placed them in the ceiling of the sky to give light on the earth and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning : the fourth day.

God said, “Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth under the ceiling of the sky.” God created the great monsters of the sea and all living animals, those that teem in the waters, according to their kind, and every winged bird, according to its kind. God saw that it was good. God blessed them saying, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the waters of the sea, and let the birds increase on the earth.” There was evening and there was morning : the fifth day.

God said, “Let the earth produce living animals according to their kind : cattle, creatures that move along the ground, wild animals according to their kind.” So it was. God created the wild animals according to their kind, and everything that creeps along the ground according to its kind. God saw that it was good.

God said, “Let us make man in Our image, to Our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over the wild animals, and over all creeping things that crawl along the ground.” So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

God said, “I have given you every seed-bearing plant which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be for your food. To every wild animal, to every bird of the sky, to everything that creeps along the ground, to everything that has the breath of life, I give every green plant for food.” So it was.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. There was evening and there was morning : the sixth day.

That was the way the sky and earth were created and all their vast array. By the seventh day the work God had done was completed, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 17 : 1-9

Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain, where they were alone. Jesus’ appearance was changed before them : His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became bright as light.

Just then, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus. Peter spoke and said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents : one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

Peter was still speaking, when a bright cloud covered them with its shadow, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My Son, the Beloved, My Chosen One. Listen to Him.”

On hearing the voice, the disciples fell to the ground, full of fear. But Jesus came, touched them and said, “Stand up, do not be afraid.” When they raised their eyes, they no longer saw anyone except Jesus. And as they came down the mountain, Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone what they had just seen, until the Son of Man be raised from the dead.

Friday, 16 May 2014 : 4th Week of Easter (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Do not worry, brothers and sisters, and that is the key message of today’s readings. And why? This is because our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God is firmly on our side, and He will not abandon us, especially not to the forces of evil. He will safeguard us, protect us, shield us, and empower us, that we all will be safe at the end of our lives, and death will not be able to claim us, and nor will Satan have any power over us.

Brethren, God had prepared the places for us, which He made known to us through Jesus, He revealed to us that so long as we believe in Him and remain on the path which He had shown us, we will be safe. And what is this way? Jesus, and none other. Remember when Christ said that He is the way the truth and the life? That is because only through Jesus we can reach out to the Father, as He is the bridge between us and the Lord.

Mankind had long been sundered from the Lord due to their rebelliousness and sin, which prevented them from ever being able to reach out to the Lord. If you recall the story of Lazarus the poor and the rich man, told by Jesus, then you will realise that when the rich man died, he begged Abraham and Lazarus to come over to hell to ease his sufferings there, but as mentioned, there exists an immense and uncrossable chasm that exists between the two, that prevented either side from going to the other side.

The same chasm therefore, also exists between us and God, and this chasm is the consequence of our sins. God did not intend for mankind to suffer all these and to bear all the punishments intended for us, for He created us in all perfection, on that day when the first of our ancestors were still pure and unblemished, when they still walked without guilt in the garden of Eden with God.

It was because of the sins of Adam the first man, and his partner and wife, Eve, the first woman, that mankind were sundered away from the Lord and His love. We were cast out of the life in bliss and eternal happiness that God had prepared for us, away from the eternal companionship with God that He had intended for us and for our ancestors.

But, as I have often mentioned, God did not give up on us. That was why He was willing even to send a part of Himself, the Word who is Son, to assume flesh and be one of us, and finally to bring all mankind back to God through His death and glorious resurrection. That is God’s love for us, and He dedicated Himself completely for our sake.

The suffering of Jesus is due to our sins, and He volunteered to take upon our sins and all of their weight, and bear them dutifully as He walked on that path to Calvary, obeying the Father in all that He did. He was lifted up between the heavens and the earth, and on the cross, He offered His life and perfect obedience in exchange for our salvation and the remission of our sins, for those who believe in Him.

In doing so, Christ became the bridge that closes the gap between the Lord and us, but the chasm continue to remain there. For as long as we sin and continue to commit things that are displeasing to God, we will not be able to cross that chasm and reach the Lord. Jesus is the only way through whom we may reach out to the Father.

Yet, it is not just as simple as that, because for us to go to the Lord through Jesus, we must follow Him in all of His ways. We cannot be half-hearted in following Jesus, or as we cross that chasm, we will falter and fall into chasm, and thus into sin and damnation. If we allow even a single laxity in our faith in Jesus our Saviour, we allow sin to make its way back into is and corrupt us once again, separating ourselves once more from the Lord.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray fervently and sincerely, that in all the things we do, we will always follow the Lord with all of our heart, without  turning left or right, and without being influenced by the various temptations and pleasures which Satan had placed on our path. Be courageous to say no to him and ignore all the offers that he made, no matter how attractive they are. Do not let him distract us and make us fall on our way to the Lord.

May the Lord strengthen our faith, that He may make our faith in Jesus stronger, that we will cling closely unto Him and put in Him all of our trust. Let us never again be separated from God, and let us continue to walk faithfully with Him towards the Lord our loving God. Amen.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014 : 3rd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 30 : 3cd-4, 6ab and 7b and 8a, 17 and 21ab

Be a rock of refuge for me, a fortress for my safety. For You are my rock and my stronghold, lead me for Your Name’s sake.

Into Your hands I commend my spirit; You have redeemed me, o Lord. But I put all my trust in the Lord. I will rejoice and be glad in Your love.

Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save me in Your love. In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from human wiles; You keep them in Your dwelling.

Friday, 18 April 2014 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, Easter Triduum (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 30 : 2 and 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17 and 25

In You, o Lord, I take refuge, may I never be disgraced; deliver Me in Your justice. Into Your hands I commend My Spirit; You have redeemed Me, o Lord, faithful God.

I have become an object of reproach for My foes, a horror for My neighbours, a fear to My friends. Those who see Me in the streets flee from Me. I am like the dead, unremembered; I have become like a broken pot, thrown away, discarded.

But I put My trust in You, o Lord, I said : “You are My God;” My days are in Your hand. Deliver Me from the hand of My enemies, from those after My skin.

Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save Me in Your love. Be strong and take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.

Thursday, 26 December 2013 : Feast of St. Stephen, Protomartyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 30 : 3cd-4, 6 and 8ab, 16bc and 17

Be a rock of refuge for me, a fortress for my safety. For You are my Rock and my Stronghold, lead me for Your Name’s sake.

Into Your hands I commend my spirit; You have redeemed me, o Lord, faithful God. I will rejoice and be glad in Your love, for You have seen my affliction.

Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, from those after my skin. Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save me in Your love.

Tuesday, 10 November 2013 : 2nd Week of Advent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord is our shepherd, and we are His sheep. That is how close we are to Him, and how dear and precious we are to Him. For a good shepherd, his sheep would be everything in life, and a good shepherd gives his all for the sake of his sheep. He feeds them, cares for them, protects them from harm, and finds them if they lost their way in the wilderness.

That is precisely what our Lord did, and what He will do for our sake. The Lord is our shepherd, who cares for us, and provides for all our needs. We have been lost in the darkness, and have been destined to death. Yet, He did not give up on us, and went all the way out to seek us and find us in the darkness and bring us back into the light.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He did not fear oppositions and rejections, and He went straight out, seeking those who were considered by many to be lost. He sought tax collectors, prostitutes, and the least and rejected of the society. He sought them and lifted them up from the darkness that once engulfed them, bringing them back into the light. Precisely just like a shepherd tending to his lost sheep and the injured ones, bringing them back to their old selves.

And He as the shepherd rejoices when the lost sheep comes back to the fold. And these who have been saved, will enjoy the fullness of the graces of God, with all the joy and promises He had made to us since the beginning of time. And He did not just make those promises, as He in fact, fulfilled every single one of them without fail.

Such is the love that our Lord has for us, that He did not hesitate to even lay down His life for our sake, that we who were lost, may once again be reunited with Him, and receive from Him the eternal joy and the rewards of heavenly glory. Remember the Psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd?” Yes, in that psalm, we hear how the Lord will lead us to life-giving water, to quench our thirst for the love of God, and we will never hunger again, for our Lord will provide for us, for eternity.

We do not need to worry, if we put our trust and faith in God, because He will take care of us. Sadly, the reality is far from that. We worry, brothers and sisters, worry too much! We are too preoccupied with our worries to even be able to recognise and notice God’s love and care for us. We are so preoccupied and worried about so many things in our lives, that we end up living in constant fear and constant desire.

We always seek more and more things, because desire and greed grows within us. And this world too, increasingly offering us more and more exciting things that often distract us away from our attention to the Lord. We ignore the shepherd who calls out to us, the lost sheep, because we the sheep are too distracted with the things around us.

Let me illustrate it to you with a story. There was a hundred sheep living in peace, in a beautiful and lush meadow, with plenty of food and water for them. They lived in peace with a wonderful shepherd, who loved them as if they were his own family. The shepherd led them every day to the feeding ground, and to the spring of clear water for them to drink. All were good.

The sheep knew their shepherd and the shepherd knew all of them, each one of them, even if there were a hundred of them in all. All would have been good and continue to be good. And yet, one day, one of the sheep saw a beautiful butterfly flying at a far away forest at the edge of the meadow. The sheep was lured by the beautiful butterfly, and it chased the butterfly deep into the forest.

The sheep followed the butterfly until it lost sight of it. The sheep suddenly realised that it is in the middle of the dark forest. And a pair of hungry looking eyes were staring at the sheep, eagerly awaiting its next meal. It was a hungry wolf. The sheep realised that the wolf would eat it, and gave in to its fate. Yet, when the wolf lunged forward to bite and kill the lost sheep, something went in between them.

Lo, there was the shepherd, bleeding after being bitten by the wolf, standing in between it and the frightened sheep. The shepherd hit the wolf with his crook, and killed the wolf. The shepherd then turned to the lost sheep, picked it up, and happily returned to the flock, celebrating that he had found the one lost sheep, and his flock is complete once again. The shepherd knew all along that one sheep was lost because he knew them all, and went to search for the lost one.

This in essence, is what the readings today are about, that is about the Lord our God, who went out all the way to look for us, His lost children. Yes, we have been lost, ever since sin and the temptations of this world, the allures of worldly pleasures and false happiness, turned us away from our devotion to God. It is just like the sheep lured by the beautiful butterfly, that it followed the butterfly deep into the forest.

The devil is the wolf, awaiting for us in darkness, awaiting for the time when we fall to the trap, and then he will strike. But do you think that our God will just let us fall prey to the devil like that? That shepherd was Jesus Christ, who came to protect us from the schemes and devices of the evil one. He stood before us and the evil one, taking into Himself, the punishment intended for us.

Every single wound that Christ inflicted upon Himself, are every single sins that we had committed. Every single mankind past, present, and future, everyone that has ever sinned. These wounds represent the sorrows of the Lord for our sinfulness, but at the same time, they are the living testimonies of the great and eternal love for us all.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we ready to truly proclaim the Lord as our God? He did not hesitate to take upon Himself the sins and sufferings of mankind. Then should we also hesitate to love and dedicate ourselves to the Lord? Let us take this opportunity to seek further to love the One who gave His life for us, and to reach out to Him, reaching out our hands to welcome the Shepherd who wants us, His lost sheep, to be reunited with Him.

May the Lord our loving God and Shepherd, continue to watch over us and protect us, that we will always be in His grace and love, receiving the daily blessings and care from His hands. God be with us all. Amen.