Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 17 : 20-26

At that time, Jesus prayed to God His Father, “I pray not only for these, but also for those who through their word will believe in Me. May they all be one, as You Father are in Me and I am in You. May they be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”

“I have given them the glory You have given Me, that they may be one as We are One : I in them and You in Me. Thus they shall reach perfection in unity; and the world shall know that You have sent Me, and that I have loved them, just as You loved Me.”

“Father, since You have given them to Me, I want them to be with Me where I am, and see the glory You gave Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world has not known You, but I have known You, and these have known that You have sent Me.”

“As I revealed Your Name to them, so will I continue to reveal it, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and also may be in them.”

Monday, 8 December 2014 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is a great and joyful day, a great solemnity and celebration of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the dogma of which had been promulgated by Blessed Pope Pius IX and confirmed just a few years later by the visions of St. Bernadette Soubirous at the now famous Marian site of Lourdes in France.

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is about the fact that because Mary is the mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, the Word of God and the Son incarnate into flesh through the Blessed Virgin, hence it is only fitting that because Christ is pure and without the taint of sin, being God of all goodness, then Mary, His mother, who bore Him in her womb for nine whole months, be made equally pure as well, so that she, as the vessel of the Holy Presence of God, is also without sin.

Thus, this is the meaning of the Immaculate Conception, immaculate which means pure and free from sin, and then conception, the moment when a baby, a human being is formed in the womb of the mother. This means that Mary has been prepared and created in such a way that set her apart from all other men, because while all other men were born with the ties of original sin, the original sin of Adam and Eve, our first ancestors, from the mark of their first disobedience against God, Mary was set free from that bond of sin.

Just as the first woman disobeyed the Lord and sinned, and therefore brought evil into the world and into the hearts of men, then the new woman, Mary, is full of grace and free from sin from her moment of conception, and she obeyed the Lord completely, following all of God’s commandments and lived righteously. Therefore, through her, God was willing to grant His blessings and graces to mankind, that is none other than the gift of His own Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

And just as the first men had sinned, and therefore brought the just punishment for sins to mankind, that is death, then through the new Man, born from the new woman, Mary, through His perfect obedience and love for the Lord God His Father, and through His suffering and love for us unto death, death on the cross, and by rising from the dead, He had gained for us a new life in God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, even as we await the coming of our Lord and as we continue our preparation for His coming in this holy season of Advent, we also celebrate with joy and great hope, the culmination of the long-planned plan of God’s salvation for all of His beloved people, that is all of us. Ever since mankind first sinned against God and fell into the darkness, He had made known what He planned to do, in order to save us from certain death.

He cursed Satan, the snake, for his involvement in tempting mankind to rebel against God and follow their own desires, which is a trait that we continue to carry on even until this day, a vestige of what happened that day in the gardens of Eden. He also punished men, both men and women for their disobedience. They had to suffer the consequences of sin, and that consequence, is death. That is why all mankind are mortals, destined to one day die, although indeed, we were not meant for death when we were created by God.

If we are therefore, able to overcome sin, then we will be able to transcend our fate that is death. And that is exactly what our Lord Jesus had come into this world to prove, and through His own mother too, both of whom were conceived without sin, and remained without sin thereafter. He is because He is God who is all good, and even though Jesus was fully Man, He was also fully Divine at the same time, and thus sin have no place in Him.

He was tested and tempted in every way possible, but He obeyed the Lord and the will of His Father to the fullest. And even at His most vulnerable during the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was tempted terribly to let the suffering of the cross pass from Him, but He remained completely faithful to the mission entrusted to Him. As the new Adam, therefore, He began a new beginning for mankind, where through obedience to God’s will, He had brought life to mankind, and in Him lies the hope of victory and final triumph against death and evil.

For Mary, His mother, as I have mentioned, she too overcame the power of sin, remaining holy, pure and immaculate throughout her life. Despite the great burden and responsibility placed on her, when she heard the Good News of the Archangel Gabriel, that she was to be the Mother of the Saviour and Lord, she accepted it with full faith and confidence in God, putting God’s will first before that of hers.

Today’s feast is a kind reminder to all of us, that through Mary and her example of faith, and also through the faith showed by her Son, Jesus Christ, we can be freed from our attachment to sin, and also to gain for ourselves the salvation which has been promised to us. Indeed, we may think that because Mary had been set aside by God, to be without sin for her role, then it may be impossible for us to do as she had done, but have we ever thought, brothers and sisters, that we too, have been called to the same mission as her?

Mary bore our Lord Jesus in her womb for nine months, and in this way, she became the new Ark of the Covenant, for the new covenant which Jesus was to make with all mankind, was in her, and for that purpose she had been made holy and pure. It is because she is also the Temple of God, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, for as the Archangel mentioned, the Holy Spirit itself would dwell in her, and bore the Christ Incarnate in her.

How about us then? We who have been baptised in Christ, and also confirmed in the Lord, have received the Holy Spirit, and through the Most Holy Eucharist, which is our Lord’s very own Body and Blood, we have received Christ Himself into us. Therefore, the Lord dwells in us, in a way very much the same as Mary had Him inside of her. What is it for us then? What does it mean to us?

That means, just as the Lord had set her to be special by preparing her, to be immaculate without sin ever since she was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, we too must be without sin, for the Lord is in us! Remember what our Lord Jesus told His disciples and what St. Paul further affirmed in his writings? That we are all the Temples of the Holy Spirit, for God dwells in us, and we in Him. If we allow sin, wickedness and fornication to be in us, be it in flesh or in spirit, then we have defiled this Holy Temple, and as I have said, the price for sin, is none other than death.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is imperative that we take this opportunity presented to us, in the holy season of Advent, a season of preparation and contemplation, to think about our way of life, so that we may abhor sin and avoid committing anymore sin in the future. Keep our lives in the Lord and listen to Him speaking in our hearts, by strengthening our prayer and spiritual life, so that He may guide us in the true path, and that we may not fall into the temptation of Satan. Jesus prayed a lot and He always sought to communicate with His Father, and that is an example we should follow too.

May our Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, born and conceived without sin, pure and immaculate, pray for us all sinners, that we may be given new strength and courage by God, to live this life faithfully without sin, and seek the Lord always in our life. God bless is all. Amen.

 

First Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/06/monday-8-december-2014-solemnity-of-the-immaculate-conception-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary-first-reading/

 

Psalm :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/06/monday-8-december-2014-solemnity-of-the-immaculate-conception-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary-psalm/

 

Second Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/06/monday-8-december-2014-solemnity-of-the-immaculate-conception-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary-second-reading/

 

Gospel Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/06/monday-8-december-2014-solemnity-of-the-immaculate-conception-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary-gospel-reading/

Saturday, 7 June 2014 : 7th Week of Easter (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all the faithful followers and disciples of Christ, who have been called by Him to be His servants and His messengers through many nations, and to proclaim His truths to them. But we have to also be ready of the challenges and obstacles that will be on our path to the Lord. St. Paul and the other Apostles all endured sufferings and persecutions throughout their respective ministries, and all except St. John the Evangelist, the disciple whom the Lord loved, met their end in martyrdom.

Of course this did not diminish the role of St. John the Evangelist in any way. Rather, it highlighted the role he played to be the one through whom God revealed His plans for the future, and the end of times, as written in the Book of Revelations or the Book of Apocalypse, the last book in our Scriptures. This book was written by St. John the Evangelist based on what he witnessed in the visions he received while he was exiled on the island of Patmos in Greece.

Indeed, what Jesus said in the Gospel today was not wrong, for indeed, St. John the Evangelist would live to witness the coming of Christ, the Second Coming, which we also await today. But this Second Coming of Christ which John witnessed was not the actual coming of Christ, but the vision that he received, and thus he was the first to witness the perfect fulfillment of Jesus’ Messianic mission, and the complete fulfillment of the prophecies of the prophets of old.

Yet, brethren, again if we look at the Book of Revelations and its contents, there is indeed a bleak and dark future that awaits us. It again brings us to the reality, on how Satan, our former master and dominator, and the enemy of all the faithful desires to carry out his final plan to bring about the downfall of mankind, to drag them together with him into the fate awaiting him and his fellow fallen angels, and to taste power and dominion again, even if for a while.

The world is darkening, and we all know it. Mankind grow ever more engrossed in sin and wickedness, which brought about even greater darkness. The forces of this world has already started moving against us, and we will face even greater challenges from now on. We know that the position of our Church in defending its truth and positions on the central tenets of the faith and life is getting more and more difficult, with opposition and attacks that are piled up against us. This is the work of the devil to destroy us, but we must persevere.

What is important, brothers and sisters in Christ, is that we must pray. We have to pray constantly and fervently, with heart, mind and soul focused on the Lord. In doing that, we keep ourselves strongly anchored in the Lord, and we will not be easily swayed by the forces and attacks of the devil designed to make us falter on the way towards salvation. We need to have a good and healthy prayer life, that we keep constant communication with the Lord our God.

Why so? That is because through prayer we allow ourselves to listen to God and find out what is His will and plan for us. Prayer is a two-way communication between us and God, and we should always keep it that way. For prayers that are made to be like litany of requests are meaningless and in fact harmful for us, as it feeds our pride and negative emotions, through which the devil may attack us. The Lord loves us and He knows what we need, and hence, there is absolutely no need for us to demand from Him anything. Rather, let us instead spend precious and meaningful time with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us from today onwards change our way of life, that we become more profoundly and strongly anchored to God, so that in all of our dealings, in our words, deeds and actions, we may truly reflect on our true nature, that is as the children of God. Let us increase our charity and life-giving actions, helping one another to reach the Lord our God.

May God continue to watch our steps, strengthen us in our faith, and affirm us in His everlasting love. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 1 June 2014 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today in the readings we all see the power of prayer, and how we need to pray, constantly and consistently throughout our lives. We must be filled with prayers every single moments of our lives, so that we will be in constant touch and communication with the Lord our God, who loves us.

Today we celebrate the Seventh Sunday of Easter, and at the same time we also celebrate World Communication Sunday, which indeed ties in smoothly with the readings of the Scripture we have today. Communication is one thing that I find to be increasingly lacking in these days and in the world today, and people increasingly becoming less and less communicable due to various reasons, but more importantly because of the rise of virtual communication.

The rise of the social media such as Facebook, Twitter and many other forms of internet or media-based communication had eroded the traditional sense and meaning of communication, to the point that many had forgotten what it meant by communicating with others. Especially teenagers today had often forgotten the important communication skills as they get more and more glued to their smartphones and gadgets that prevent them from interacting with others in a proper way.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, not just that, but the sinister effect of excessive technological innovations and developments is that mankind increasingly becoming isolated and uncommunicable to not just their fellow men, but also to God their Lord and Creator. Imagine how hard it must be for many who are so engrossed with their online activities, games, and applications to be able to take some time to spend it with God, not to mention significant amount of time they should have spent with God.

See how Jesus prayed to His Father in today’s Gospel, see the sincerity and the focus that Jesus showed as He prayed to the Father for the sake of His disciples and all of mankind. He prayed to the Father to bless them and to guide them through life, and show His favour upon them. His prayers are the example of how we too, should pray. Our prayer must bring glory to God and not to ourselves, and our prayer must be a sincere and genuine relationship and communication with the Lord, a two-way talk that is from heart-to-heart.

The Apostles too, gathered together and prayed regularly, as we witnessed in the first reading today. There are two types of prayers indeed, one that is personal and the other which is communal. Both are equally important, and we should not proceed forward in our faith if we exclude any of the two, or even both from our lives. We have to pray in person, in one-by-one contact with our Lord, but we must also be praying together as a united Christian community to our God.

Remember, brethren, that our faith is both personal and communal. We cannot say that we just keep to ourselves and pray alone to God without regards for the community, for we have been united to one another, all the believers in Christ, as part of His one Body and Spirit, and therefore we cannot disregard our brethren in faith in our communication with God. However, at the same time, we also cannot disregard having a personal relationship with God and establish a good and working communication with Him either.

In today’s world, as I had mentioned earlier, the increasing prevalence of alternative forms of communication through various means is a great danger when these are used without careful deliberations and considerations by the users, as they do not just erode our ability to properly communicate with each other, but also erode the relationship we have with our Lord and God. How many of us can spend time with God and sacrifice the time we normally use to play our games and using our social media platforms? Not many of us, if I would say it.

So today, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are challenged on our way of communication, and also through our way of praying, that whether we have spent the necessary time with God, communicating effectively and sincerely with Him, rather than spending the time meaninglessly to enjoy the decadence of the world which is quite evident these days.

Have we been an effective and responsible communicator? And with regards to the use of social media, have we been responsible in its use? We have to realise that as much as social media can be harmful and destructive in its use, as the many examples in our world today can testify, it also has its potential and great uses, which many of us have yet to employ.

The social media and other forms of communications we have today provide us with enormous potential for evangelisation and spreading the Good News of the Lord, if we use it purposefully and meaningfully. With the internet, we can easily spread the Good News from one person to many people around the world with the click of the mouse and the typing of a keyboard, where this would have been impossible if we rely just on the word of mouth, direct contact, or any other forms of traditional communication.

This said, it is why we need to be careful and be prepared, that everything that we do or say will bring glory to God, and not end up causing more harm than good, both to ourselves, and also to others. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this day, let us all come together and pray, communicating with the Lord our God, just as Jesus had done, asking Him to bless us and guide us in our lives.

Let us all pray that we will be responsible and purposeful in our communication with others, and use whatever are in our means, in order to bring greater glory to God and reveal Him to all the peoples of all nations. May God bless us in our endeavour, and be with us always. Amen.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 : 1st Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Prayer, prayer is important, and prayer is an integral part of our faith. We cannot say that we are faithful to God if we do not pray, and if we do not have a good and healthy prayer life. A good prayer life means maintaining constant and genuine devotion to the Lord. But sadly, brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us still do not know or are not aware of what constitutes a good prayer.

In fact, we all know the prayer that Jesus taught to His disciples today, the Pater Noster, or ‘Our Father’, the prayer which Jesus Himself taught to the people, as the example and the pinnacle of what a prayer should really be. It is a perfect prayer, because it encompasses every single dimension of prayer, of what prayer should be.

First of all, prayer is not a litany of request, demands, or wishes which we convey to the Lord, asking or even demanding God to fulfill them. In fact, we are often angry or disappointed if our wishes are not fulfilled. We thought that God did not want to fulfill our wishes or failed to do so. If we think in that way, then we have failed in our understanding of what prayer truly is.

Prayer is first and foremost, the media of communication between us and the Lord our God who loves and cares for us, who is our Father, and who watches over us every single day of our life. And just like all parents do, God wants to talk to us, as often as possible, and He also wants us to talk to Him as well. Yet, what actually happened is that we speak all the time, and did not allow God to speak to us.

We are often not aware that prayer involves a two-way communication between us and God, and it is in fact not the correct way for us to launch a litany of demands in our prayers. Instead, we should talk sincerely to God from our hearts, and before we can do that, we have to first put forth a listening ear to God’s word, for He speaks in our heart.

Very often, the noise of this world, the distractions that exist around us, and the noise of our own incorrect way of praying prevent us from listening to God’s words. We therefore have to find a way so that we can quieten down all those noises and distractions, and find a quiet time where we can spend it with God in full quality. That is why when we pray, it is better to do it in private, and in the time when we do not think about all our worries and concerns of the world.

And by noting the example of the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer taught to us by Jesus, we can learn how to make best use of prayers and how to be truly a prayerful servant of God. First we should praise and glorify God and His Name, just as the angels and saints in heaven do every moment and every day, praising God without end.

Then, prayer must also be a thanksgiving for the goodness and graces that God had shown us. We have to thank Him first of all for the gift of life, which God extended to us, allowing us to continue in our devotion, and to continue to do many good and marvellous things in our respective lives.

And lastly, in prayer, we have to be humble at all times, for we are all sinners and we all should ask in a great supplication for the forgiveness of our sins. But just as we do that, we must also remember that we also owe our brethren, whenever we commit things that cause them hurt or pain, just as they do the same things to us, and that is why, when we pray, we have to also forgive one another, getting rid of hatred and bitterness in our hearts, so that ultimately our hearts will be completely open for the Lord to come in and dwell within us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now that we all know how to pray well and how to utilise prayer for the benefit of our faith, let us all then put it into practice from now on, that we may truly be a prayerful people, and our lives be filled with genuine and devoted prayers, as well as actions, which we do for the good of all, and out of love for God our loving Father. Amen!

Sunday, 16 February 2014 : 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Our Lord is perfect, and He is good in all of His doings and dealings. He came to straighten our path, and make good again our status, that we will be shown the way to true salvation in God. For we mankind over time had grown to be lax, proud, and disobedient. Instead of following what God wants from us, we tend to walk on our own path, and ignore all of His calls towards us.

That was why we veered away from God’s path, and walked towards damnation with the devil. The devil was only very glad that we would come towards him instead of the Lord, and that was why he lured us even more towards himself, that just as he is to suffer, we also will suffer with him. We twist the law of God to suit our own purposes.

That was why Jesus came to straighten things out, to clarify what the Lord truly wanted from each one of us. The Pharisees, the scribes and teachers of the Law had abandoned the true meaning of the law of God, for their own version of the law, twisted with human pride, arrogance and ignorance. They filled the law of God with many corruptions and unnecessary burdens that they piled up on the people.

They hid the law behind layers after layers of unnecessary and burdensome rituals and observations, and they themselves revelled in the glory they have gained and the praise given to them by the people for their supposed piety and observation of the law. They therefore prevented the people of God from realising the true meaning of the law, deceiving the people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this world did not know Christ and they have rejected Him, even among His own people, and foremost of all those of course were the Pharisees and their parties. This was because there was no God in their hearts. Their hearts were filled with things and pleasures of this world. The world today is no different. The allures and pleasures of this world had corrupted many, and closed their hearts away from God.

These things distract us from God and what He wants from us. As often mentioned, what God wants from us is not blind or meaningless obedience and obeisance. What God wants from us is love and faith. He wants from us devotion and true and unbridled love. That was why He gave us Jesus, as a proof of His love and to teach His love to us.

The Lord Jesus explained that the laws that God had given to mankind should not be taken just at the face value or be taken from granted. The law of God is all about love, just as God Himself is Love. And this love is to love one another as fellow children of God and loving God Himself who is our Father. And it is this truth that Jesus came for, not to destroy or obliterate the old laws revealed to Moses, but to straighten it and clarify the meaning behind it.

Jesus came to perfect the law of God revealed to Moses. He came to erase all the corruptions of the world added over the centuries by the people of God in their ignorance and arrogance, and bring the law once again to its true purpose. Yes, the law of God as I have often mentioned, was not meant to enslave God’s people or to punish them.

Brethren, let us all heed the call of our Lord delivered to us through Jesus, that we should return to His fold, and seeking God and His love rather than our own glory and prestige as the Pharisees had done in the past. Let us focus on loving the Lord and following His ways, making sure that first of all we seek to understand what God wants from each one of us.

Let us dull the edge of our pride and arrogance, and sharpen the edge of our humility. We should seek the wisdom of God and trust in His words rather than in the words of men. Lead a good and pure life, and seek what is good instead of what is wicked in the eyes of the Lord. Do not commit sin as Jesus had said, and avoid any licentiousness and evil.

Be pure and holy just as our Lord is holy. Be good and faithful in His ways and listen to Him when He speaks to us. God spoke to us in the silence of our hearts, but silence is a rare occasion these days. Our world is too noisy with distractions and allure of pleasures and filled with temptations that keep us away from the Lord.

Let us therefore then take the time for God, and spend some time with Him regularly. Seek Him, and ask Him what He desires from us. He wants our love, obedience with clear understanding, and devotion. Time is one of the things we can certainly spend for His sake. If we remain in Him and keep ourselves faithful, we will be strong against whatever temptations of sin or any attempt by the devil to derail us from the path of salvation.

Keep ourselves free from sin, for sin is the gateway to destruction and eternal damnation. Sin prevents us from receiving the grace of God. May our Lord therefore strengthen the faith and love inside of us, that we may resist sin and remain in the favour of God. May He bless us all forever and ever. Amen.

Friday, 17 January 2014 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony, Abbot (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White (Priests and Abbots)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we reflect on the kingship and authority of the Lord, and how it can be compared to the authority of kings, princes, and any other earthly powers and authorities. We heard today of the clamour and the request of the people of Israel, that they be granted a king to rule over them, as lord to be their king and protector, much in the same way that their neighbours and other states have kings and princes to rule over them.

Continuing the catechesis in the theme of the prophet Samuel, during his ministry, Samuel faced much difficulties in dealing with the people of Israel, as even though they revered him as the prophet of the Lord, and following the way of the Lord as he ruled them as the judge of the Lord, they were not satisfied, and as before, had been bought over by the forces of the world. They clamoured for and desired for things of the world, including modelling themselves after the ways of the world.

This, even despite the fact that they had been chosen by the Lord, as a chosen race, and a chosen people. They were set aside from others, to be the ones whom God loved the most, as the chosen ones among His creation. Yet, they continuously fought against His will and chose to walk on their own way, and persistently asked to be given a king to rule over them, chosen from among them.

The people of Israel had no king over them, because the Lord their God is their King, the One who lead them and the only One who truly have authority over them. Indeed, the Lord God is not just the King of Israel, but also King over the entire universe, that is over the entire creation. He is Lord over all creation, and therefore over all mankind, over all states and dominions.

The Lord is the font of power and authority, from whom alone power and authority may come. Without the Lord, there can be no true power or authority, but instead there will often be tyranny or abuse of power. That was what the prophet Samuel warned the people about, to try to dissuade them from the foolishness of insisting having a king over them. The people did not listen to him.

The king as the leader of the people of Israel would have enormous dominion and power over his people, and by the standards of monarchical rule at the time, kings and their authority are often absolute. The word of the king is often law and unchallengeable. Thus, the people could not just refuse or reject any orders, demands, or desire from their respective kings.

As long as the king is faithful to the Lord, and lead them in his own behaviour and actions in accordance with the will of God, the people would prosper and be blessed, just as long as the people would stay faithful to the Lord. However, if the king is not faithful to the Lord and refuse to worship Him, and instead follow his own way in things, then great suffering and tragedy would happen to the people of God.

A clear example would be the behaviour of the first king himself. The king whom had been demanded by the people of God, led them to ruin and condemnation. For Saul, although supposedly was anointed king over Israel, but he did not remain faithful throughout his reign. While the prophet Samuel passed to him the will and commandments of the Lord, Saul did not fully obey them, and let his human judgments to allow him to corrupt the power he had been entrusted with.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This often repeated phrase is indeed true in this case. Saul abused the power and authority given to him, and he began to act tyrannically and without the spirit of the Lord in him. It was not only king Saul, but in fact, many of the kings of Israel, especially the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel after division of Israel, were tyrants and wicked people, who brought the people of God to sin even more before the eyes of God.

It may seem that having kings over them might be a very bad choice for the people of Israel, but in fact, not all kings were bad rulers and unfaithful. The king David and Solomon for example, as well as some of the kings after them, such as Hezekiah and Josiah, were faithful and zealous kings, who followed the commandments of the Lord and exercised their power as the vicar of the Lord. They acted justly and in accordance with the will of God, and the people were blessed by God during their reign.

In the end, God would not let the devil to corrupt and destroy His beloved people, for the truth about the Lord is that God is love! He loves us completely and could not have given Himself to abandon and destroy us on purpose. It is often our own actions and deeds that condemned and doomed us rather than any divine actions. God cares for us, and He truly loves us.

That was why, to fulfill the promise He made to mankind, as well as other promises He had made to David his servant, which He made clearly known through the numerous prophets and messengers He sent over the ages, He came down upon the world, to be one of us, and to reassume the kingship He had over His people, that He, the true King and King over all other kings and lords, would once again lead their people.

Jesus came bearing the message of love, and love He had shown for mankind, by showing the authority He had over spirits and illnesses, and also the authority over sin and its forgiveness. He is Lord, God who was made into flesh by His own power. Yet the people continued in their resistance against Him, and they rejected Him, even though He, their King, had come to them to liberate them from the tyranny of sin and evil.

Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of St. Anthony, also known as St. Anthony the Great, a well-known abbot and religious, who lived during the late period of the Roman Empire in what is now the present day Egypt. St. Anthony was one of the first monks, who sought life in seclusion from the world and one of complete dedication to the Lord. That was why St. Anthony pioneered the trend which became common in the years after him, of those going into the wilderness and the desert to seek that consolation and relationship with God through prayer.

St. Anthony was often at odds with the devil and his forces, in his piety and constant life of prayer, dedicated to God who loved mankind. The devil often opposed St. Anthony during his various journeys and sojourns in the desert, even at times striking him physically and threatening him with considerable danger. Nevertheless, St. Anthony never feared the devil, not even a bit, and laughed off his attacks.

That was because St. Anthony had complete and deep faith in God and in His power, who has all the authority that there is in heaven or on earth. That was why St. Anthony often rebuked Satan by saying that despite all the challenges, temptations, and threats that he posed on St. Anthony, he has no authority or power whatsoever over him, and that the Lord protects all those who remain faithful to Him, and remain in His love.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to emulate the exemplary faith of St. Anthony? And his love of the Lord? That he and many others had gone into seclusion just so that they could be truly with God and dedicated their lives to Him? We do not have to go to the extent of leaving everything we have and going to the wilderness as St. Anthony had done, but what we can learn from him are his examples in life and his attitude towards faith.

We must be dedicated to our Lord, brethren, for we cannot hope to both dedicate ourselves to the Lord and to the devil. Our faith in God must be genuine, and we should always seek out for the Lord in our lives, as St. Anthony had done. That is why it is important for us, every single day, to spend some time with God in prayer. St. Anthony’s devotion and strong prayer life protected him from the machinations of the devil.

The Lord too will therefore be with us and guide us, if we pray often, and if we pray devoutly, and dedicate ourselves completely to Him. May our Lord and God, Jesus Christ the King, bless us, strengthen us, and protect us, that our faith may be strong and our love may be truly genuine and tender, just as that which St. Anthony had. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Today we heard of the famous call which God made to the prophet Samuel, when he was still a child. Samuel, who was still an innocent child and not knowing the purpose which God has given to him, was called and Samuel responded. Samuel was called to be the one to deliver God’s message to His people and to let them know His will.

The people had steered away from the path of the Lord and engaged in activities wicked in the eyes of God, following what their neighbours were doing, and worshipping pagan gods and idols instead of their Lord and God. The priest and judge appointed over the Lord’s people at the time, Eli, was already very old and his sons did wicked things before God even though they were priests and leaders of the people.

Hence Samuel was called to be the servant of God, to bend once again God’s people to His will and to make them a righteous people once again. Even before his birth, he had been pledged by his mother Hannah, to the service of the Lord, in thanksgiving for hearing her prayer for children. Samuel, entrusted to the Lord and through Eli’s care, grew great and wise, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the calling of Samuel in today’s first reading, we did not hear the content of the message which God told to Samuel. Nevertheless, the key message from what God had told Samuel was that He was angry with the wickedness of the people of God, especially with those of the two sons of Eli, whose wicked deeds were loathsome to God, and that He would make Samuel to be a great prophet and leader of His people.

God loves us and He cares for all of us like a father loves his children and his family. After all, He created us as the last and the greatest of all His creations, destined for great things and eternal happiness, to fill the earth with all of us and rule the world as the stewards of God’s beautiful creations. This beautiful order of nature and our inheritance was disturbed when the evil one brought sin onto our ancestors, by tempting them to rebel against God’s commandments, disguised as sweet words of lie.

That was why God who loved us beyond anything else in creation, for we have been created in His very own image, wants us to be made worthy again and purified from the taints that evil had brought upon us. God sent His messengers and heralds to help bring us back into line, prodding us along the way to change our ways and return to the loving embrace of our God.

All of these essentially have the same message for all of us, including what Jesus had done in His ministry when He was still in this world. This message is that God calls us to be once again His complete and unblemished possessions, that we will once again walk in His ways and not follow the ways of the devil. He sent His own Son into this world precisely in order to do that. He gave us hope in Jesus, through His life, death, and finally resurrection, as the beacon of light and triumph leading us out of the darkness and back into the light.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as Samuel was called by God in his sleep, let us also reflect on what had happened, and how Samuel was taught to respond to the Lord’s call by Eli. When the Lord calls, we should answer, I am here Lord, Your servant is listening, much in the same way as Samuel had done. And we have the advantage over Samuel in fact, because much had been revealed to us by none other than our Lord Jesus, who revealed to us the truth about Himself and the hope He brought to us.

In our world today and in our lives, many of us have often forgotten about the Lord, and His call had not been heard by us, in the great noise of our hectic lifestyle, and the things of the world that surround us. The voice of the Lord speaking in our hearts is often drowned out by the world and its noise, which apparently offered us options and alternatives more delectable to us as compared to what the Lord offers us.

Let us break free from the bonds of evil and be liberated from the falsehood that had been planted by the devil within us. Do not be afraid to answer when the Lord calls upon us. Answer Him with courage and confidence and put our listening ear closely upon His words. It is often important for us to take off some time from our busy life and spend time regularly with our Lord and God.

That is why, it is important for us to pray. Prayer is not just a long litany of self-praise or requests to be made to the Lord, hoping or even demanding that God will fulfill what we want. This is not prayer, but empty words. We have to pray often, and in praying means, to let God speak to us just as we talk to Him quietly within our hearts. We have to seek to know Him just as He knows about everything that we are.

Pray, and pray often and pray right, brethren! Open our hearts to the Lord and listen to Him speaking and calling upon us! Let Him come and transform us, that all of us will become truly worthy, and truly glorified in Christ, and when He comes again in His glory, may we all be ready to answer Him when He calls on us, with a firm and solid, “Here I am Lord! Your servant is listening!” God bless us all. Amen.