Monday, 27 October 2014 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ephesians 4 : 32 – Ephesians 5 : 8

Be good and understanding, mutually forgiving one another as God forgave you in Christ. As most beloved children of God, strive to imitate Him. Follow the way of love, the example of Christ who loved you. He gave Himself up for us and became the offering and sacrificial victim whose fragrance rises to God.

And since you are holy, there must not be among you even a hint of sexual immorality or greed, or any kind of impurity : these should not be named among you. So too for scandalous words, nonsense and foolishness, which are not fitting; instead offer thanksgiving to God.

Know this : no depraved, impure or covetous person who serves the god ‘Money’ shall have part in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for these are the sins which God is about to condemn in people who do not obey.

Do not associate with such people. You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Behave as children of light.

(Usus Antiquior) Feast of our Lord Jesus Christ the King, Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost (Double I Classis) – Sunday, 26 October 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a great feast day of the Church as we come together to celebrate the kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is indeed King, and King not just any other king, but the One True King, King over all of creation, and King over all of the universe. He is the King of kings, and the fount of true power and authority, from whom all the kings and rulers of this world eventually received their authority from.

Yes, for Jesus Christ our Lord is the Lord and God, and He is the Son of God, one of the Most Holy Trinity, One True God with Three distinct Aspects. And Jesus came into the world, taking up the form of a humble Man, a simple and poor Man, the son of a carpenter, born in a manger in a dirty and poor stable, even though He is a King, and the King above every other kings and rulers of the earth.

This is to show us all, and to show the world, that the kingdom of Jesus is the kingdom of God, which encompasses everything, and yet it is not of this world. It is not the same in nature as the kingdoms of this world, as the realms and countries of this world, and His kingship is also of a different nature, unlike that of the kings and rulers of the earth. Why is this so?

This is because, as Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, during the time when He was scourged before He went on to be crucified during His Passion, He is a King and His kingdom is the kingdom of truth, that is the truth of God, with true joy and true happiness that only God can give to mankind, who are His people, and whose King, the One True King is Christ Himself.

The kings and rulers of this world lives as the world has lived, and they lived in the way that the world had expected of them on how to live their lives and on how they ought to act. Many of these kings and rulers had power of the world and their dominion is in the world. And many of them become corrupted by the power and the authority they wielded, becoming tyrants and autocrats that oppressed the people for their own benefits.

Yes, many kings and rulers have plenty of wealth and riches of the world, and they have regular sumptuous banquets and meals with his subjects, especially the powerful and rich ones of the world who could afford to dine with the kings and the rulers. They often spend their money in various lavish things and used their possessions often without restraint. The rulers of the world indeed had been corrupted by the temptations which the world had provided.

Of course it does not mean that all of them were wicked, as there were also righteous and just rulers who used their power and authority, entrusted by God responsibly and with justice. But those who lived in the world and acted in accordance with the ways of the world are eventually bound to the rules and the ways of the world, and more likely than not, they committed things wicked in the sight of God.

Jesus reminded the world that His kingdom is not of the world, and thus unlike the rulers of the world, His power and authority does not depend on how much wealth and possessions that He possessed, and neither does He answer to the world and to its ways on all the things He has done. Whatever He has done, was done in the name of truth and the faith, in bringing about the kingdom of God.

Jesus always liked to say that the kingdom of God is near, and called the people to repentance to prepare themselves for the coming of that kingdom. And this call was also echoed by the prophets who came before Him, especially St. John the Baptist, who cleared the path for Him and straightened the way for the King. That is because the kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of truth, one that is to replace all falsehoods of the world, and to replace all the authorities and powers which the Lord had delegated to mankind.

Men had been entrusted to be the stewards of creation, that is to take care of the other things and creatures which God had created in this world. However, as time would tell, many of them fell short, and many misused their power to fulfill their own ego and desires. The lies of Satan and the temptations of the world overwhelmed them and made them to persecute those who have been trusted under them. And that is why we have so much sorrow in this world.

Kings fight with kings, rulers fight with kings and other rulers for various reasons, for the people, for wealth, for possessions, for women, for pleasures of the world, and for their own personal ambitions and ego. And often that the people suffered for their injustice and their ambitions, which they put above the welfare of the people entrusted under them.

How about Jesus? First we have already known that His kingship is not based on wealth or any properties of the world, but based on the truth of God solely, and that while the kings of the earth bicker over authority and over other things, Jesus the King was solely and completely obedient to the task which He came into the world for, that is the salvation of His people, the beloved ones of God.

And He who is King over all of us is also a caring and loving King, unlike some kings and rulers who loved themselves more, and who loved their money and possessions, and their titles and palaces more than they loved their people. They were the bad and evil shepherds who did not care for their sheep, entrusted to them by the Chief Shepherd, that is Jesus, King over all kings.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who truly knows His sheep, all and every one by name. He knows them and He guides them into the right paths, that is into His truth. And He did not even spare His own life to protect them and to ensure them the salvation which He had promised them. He is indeed the true King, the servant King, who served His people and devoted His entire being to help them and to love them tenderly and graciously.

Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we celebrate this great Feast of Jesus Christ the King, we do not just come to celebrate His great glory as the King of kings, but we also celebrate the love and dedication which He showed as King to all of His people, and all the works He had done with blood and sweat, suffering even death to purchase for us an eternal salvation with Him. Let us all also embrace the truth which He had brought into the world, for if we do not fully embrace that truth, that is our Faith in all of its fullness, then we cannot take part in the kingdom of Christ which is to come.

Thus, may Almighty God, our King of kings, the Master of all creations and of all the world be with us, and give us His awesome strength and power, that we may remain faithful to Him, our Good Shepherd, that we will not be led astray by the falsehoods of this world, which have brought down kings and rulers, betrayed by their own greed and ambition, and that all of us who have been entrusted with power and authority will emulate the example of the true Lord and King, Jesus Christ in all things.

Jesus our King and Lord, love us always and make us to be more like You, that the mightier one is, the humbler and the more dedicated one should become. Do not cast us away from Your kingdom, but help us when we fall, that we may be reunited with You in Your eternal kingdom and glory. Amen.

Saturday, 25 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture and Gospel readings are very clear in that they gave us great and precious advice on how to live our lives and how to be faithful to our Lord and God. The readings showed how God is not an unjust and cruel God who is only concerned about punishing us for our sins, nor would He unjustly punish us without good reason.

God is loving and merciful, and He is willing to welcome us back into His love. Indeed, it is not just that He is willing to do so, but He indeed wants to bring us back into His embrace, and thus He sent us Apostles, disciples, messengers, prophets and other helpers endlessly to be our guides and to help us to orientate ourselves, to avoid being recaptured by the hands of Satan and by the power of sin and to help us to live righteously and justly according to the will of God.

But, this is not the only thing we need to know about the Lord. Our Lord and God is indeed loving and merciful, but at the same time, He is also just and a hater of all forms of sins. I have often mentioned this before, and I would like to repeat it again, for the benefit of all the faithful who hear this message. This is because many of us seem to fall under the lie and delusion that God is loving and merciful only, overlooking the other aspects of Him that we need to understand if we are to achieve salvation in God.

We live in a time when our sensitivities towards sin had been diluted and weakened, and the culture of death and wickedness that is in the world, and which is continuing to change the world in accordance to what Satan wishes, is harming us all, brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of our fellow men were ensnared in the web of deception and temptation set up by the devil, who is and will always be active and about to bring about the downfall of as many souls as possible.

While in the past, sin is sin and being sinful brought about great regrets and repentance, now people often no longer regard their sinful acts as something wrong or something to be regretted. Their casual attitude towards sin is harmful, and that was also why they have committed even more and more sin in their lives. Many have the misconception that God understands them and will forgive them no matter what their sins are, but they were really completely wrong, and if they continue in this attitude, they are in great danger, both soul and body.

The lack of apprehension and disgust towards sin by men, especially in the world of our time is truly unbelievable and dangerous. Instead of seeking God’s mercy and repent for even the smallest sins that we have, we continue to commit sin and disregarding God’s laws and commandments, doing as we like in this life, thinking that God will forgive us in the end because of His love.

But we have to remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that the Lord hates sin in all of its forms and sin is the greatest barrier that separate us from the love of God. As long as the taints of sin remain on our selves, on our body and soul, and we do not repent from those sins, we cannot approach and be one with our Lord and God. That is because, despite of His love and mercy, grace for all of us can only be achieved if we take concrete steps and actions to truly commit ourselves to the Lord.

Thus, that is why the Church, as the guardian of the Faith as it was given to us by Christ through His Apostles, kept the stance on having mercy only when the sinner is truly repentant and desire true forgiveness of sins, not by an easy path, but through gracious devotion to the way of the Lord and by acts of reparation to repay the debts of sin which the sinner had incurred against the Lord.

There are indeed pressures from this world and all who are aligned with Satan and the forces of darkness, as we recently witnessed in the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which had just been concluded at the end of last week. The social media and media in general, in all of their various forms aired their opinions pushing for the agenda to destroy the Faith and the Church, which was advocated by even some within the Church.

Yes, it is the advocation of false and deceiving mercy to sinners, and the notion that the Church tolerates sin, that is most dangerous, not just for those who have committed those grievous sins, but even for the righteous within the Church of God. If we allow this corruption and debauchery of the world to make its way into the Faith and the Church, we are bringing ruin and disaster upon ourselves.

God reminds us through Jesus that He always wants to give us chances and opportunities, as what Jesus told in His parable of the fig tree that did not bear any fruit and was barren. The fig tree was given another chance by the Lord, who gave it another chance to redeem itself, before it is given up for cutting and burning. Thus, in the same way God had given us chance, and even many chances for us to repent and become better, and abandon our sinful ways.

Therefore, it is imperative for all of us to put our complete trust in Jesus Christ our Lord, the root of Faith, the One who is our anchor in our faith and life. Just as St. Paul had written in his letter to the Church and the faithful in the city of Ephesus, he pointed out that the Lord Jesus came to this world to rescue us and to give us new hope, through sincere repentance and humility to seek God’s mercy.

If we do these, then Christ, whose death has washed away our sins and whose resurrection from the dead offer us new hope in life, will bring us from the shadow of death and into the liberated life in God. Mercy cannot be separated from repentance, or otherwise the mercy will be false mercy and bring harm instead of goodness.

Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all detach ourselves from the impurities of this world and purify ourselves in faith. May Almighty God bless us with faith and His love, and may He help us to guard us from the depredations of sin. May all of us get closer to the Lord and put all of our trust to Him, and with Him as our anchor in life, let us all humbly seek His mercy and sincerely offer our repentance to Him, that He may justify us in our repentance and faith. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 12 October 2014 : 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the readings of this Sunday refers very, very clearly to the loving nature of our Lord, God and Father, who created all of us at the beginning of time, to be the most beloved of all His creations. He is truly like a father to us all, giving us life and all that we need, and He paved the path for us in our lives, guiding us in all the things that we do, that even though we often do not realise what He had done, but He is indeed there, watching over us and leading us towards Himself.

God who loves us has prepared all goodness for us, and He has blessed us with great riches, all the inheritance which are promised to us. This is shown by Jesus, when He told the people and His disciples, of the parable of the king and the banquet, where He told them of a king who prepared a great feast and invited many people to come to His banquet.

The banquet represented the promise of good life and eternal joy with God, and just as the king intended to celebrate and be merry with all those who had been invited to the feast, God intended for all of us, His beloved creations, to enjoy the fullness of happiness with Him. That was exactly also what He intended for us at the beginning. But like the guests who refused to come and listen to the king, our ancestors beginning from Adam also refused to listen to God and His will.

The guests might have a variety of reasons for not coming to the banquet prepared for them, and we may not know them, since it was never mentioned by Jesus. But certainly, by observing our own human behaviours and reactions, surely we are able to easily predict them. The guests might have had other businesses and commitments to handle, but then we can ask, has the king not given them the notice for the banquet in advance? And what is so important that they should skip the banquet of the king for something else?

Thus the same often happens to us, as we live our lives in this world. How often is it that when God calls us and guides us to His ways, that we said no to them and quickly go about worrying about our own selves? How often is it that we prefer to follow our own hearts’ desires and wants, rather than to listen to God and follow His will for us? We often complained that God interferes in our lives on one hand, saying that we prefer to do things on our own, but on the other hand, when we are in trouble, we are also quick to blame God for not helping us when we are in need.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, men are not easy to satisfy, and our hearts continue to lead us to listen to our own desires and wants. It is within our human nature to succumb to the temptations of our flesh, and as a result, like the guests, we tend to regard our own concerns as priority, thinking about ourselves first and how to please ourselves first before that of others.

And the other possible ‘reason’ for their disobedience is indeed their laziness and sloth, preferring to remain idle in the comfort of their houses rather than to travel to the king’s palace to attend the banquet. And this we can indeed relate to ourselves, on how we tend to be slothful in this life, refusing the apparently more difficult path which the Lord offered us, and prefer the ‘easy’ and happy life which this world apparently gives.

Thus I would also like to share with you what St. Faustina Kowalska, the one who introduced the devotion to the Divine Mercy, had seen in one of her visions. She saw two paths and men who walked along these two paths. One path is a path that is filled with flowers and wonderful things, wide and pleasant to walk on, while the other path is a path filled with thorns, obstacles, and both narrow and difficult to walk on.

But then, she saw that the easy and pleasant path hide a terrible secret, that at the end, the many people who walked on that path, fell into an endless chasm that suddenly arose on the path of the road, and many were unaware of the chasm, and fell into the chasm as they walked. Meanwhile, on the narrow and difficult road, much fewer people travelled through it, but even as those who persevered on continued, when they reached the end, they found a very beautiful garden filled with goodness, where they lived on ever after.

Thus, the vision presented us yet again, that the Lord offers us goodness and the promise of eternal happiness in Him, and He will not renege on the promise which He had made and renewed over the many generations again and again. It is our choice whether we follow Him and trust in Him, or instead trust in Satan who ought not to be trusted. He leads us into damnation with him, but he is very clever indeed, and as we know in how he tried to tempt even Jesus, he offered all the goodness which he can offer us, be it food, power, wealth or glory, or other things that fulfill and satisfy our desires.

Thus we must be vigilant, and we cannot let go our our guard against the possible assaults by Satan, who awaits at every corner hoping to deceive us and lead us into harm. And that was why Jesus continued His story, by saying that after the king in his anger had destroyed all those who had disobeyed and spurned his invitation, he invited many others who were brought to his banquet instead of the first invited.

This is to highlight first the fate that all those who refused to listen to God, and prefer to follow their own paths and desires is death and destruction, just as those who walked the easy path fell into the chasm of infinite suffering in the vision of St. Faustina Kowalska. The path which the Lord offers may not seem easy, and indeed that obstacles will be plenty, but if we remain faithful to the end, we will be richly rewarded.

And then, when Jesus mentioned about the man who came to the banquet not wearing the proper banquet garment, He was in fact referring to how we lead our faith life. In being faithful to the Lord, we cannot be half-hearted, and in our effort to seek the Lord our God we cannot be divided between Him and something else. Thus, when we come to the banquet of the Lord, we too cannot be divided in our hearts, our minds and our souls.

What is this banquet of the Lord which God had prepared for all of us? That is none other than the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where we celebrate in unity with the singular act of God’s greatest act of love for us all, that is His sacrifice, suffering and death on the cross, where He bared Himself to all those whom He loved, offering Himself as the perfect offering for the reparation and the redemption of all of us from our sins.

And just as the king prepared lavish food and drinks in the banquet, so thus the Lord also gave the best of all food and drink to all of us, who comes to His banquet, that is His own Precious Body and Precious Blood. Remember when Jesus said that those who eat of His Body and drink of His Blood will not die but live eternally with God? And that is the case indeed. If we are to come to attend the banquet, that is the Holy Mass, should we not then be properly ‘attired’?

This attire does not mean just that we should be properly attired with proper clothing and wear when we come for the Mass. Certainly we do not come to the banquet of the Lord wearing clothes as if we are about to go for a picnic or a leisure walk. Instead we should wear our very best and look our very best to honour the Lord our God. However, if this is as far as we go, then it is not enough.

How many of us attend the Holy Mass and yet our minds are not in the Mass at all? How many of us prefer to talk among ourselves and with our friends, and also to pay attention to our phones and other communication devices, contacting persons even outside the Holy Mass, and not to focus our heart, mind and soul to the Lord, who should be at the centre of the celebration? Ought the king not be given his proper place in his own banquet? And thus, should we not indeed give the Lord the proper adoration and respect He deserve in the Mass?

Think about these, brothers and sisters in Christ. There are two key messages which our Lord Jesus Christ and His revelations through the Scriptures want to tell us all today. First is that, we have a choice, either to follow the easier way out, that is to follow what we want and disregard the Lord, or to follow Him, and walk in His ways, even though that path might indeed be difficult and challenging. But the reward is clear, while the first path leads to destruction in the end, the path of the Lord never disappoints.

And then second, that if we choose to follow the Lord, He who loves us so much that He gave us everything, and held back not even His own Son, to bear our sins and die for our sake, that we may have life in Him, we cannot be half-hearted or be divided in our hearts, in our souls, and in our minds’ desires to follow Him. We cannot serve both God and our own heart’s desire, that is the temptations of the flesh.

And thus, as I have mentioned, we have to give it all, at the banquet of the Lord where He had given His own Body and Blood to us, in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, that we have to be fully prepared and properly attired in our body, in our mind, in our soul, and in our hearts. Our focus should be completely on the Lord. Look at Him who is in the Eucharist, and focus our entire being to Him! If we do so, then He, who is the King of all, will approve of us and our actions, and justify us in our faith.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we go on with our lives from today onwards, let us all dedicate ourselves anew and renew our commitment to the Lord. Let us from now on attend and fully participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, giving our Lord all of our love and devotion, just as He had loved us first to the fullness of His heart, that He even gave us His life.

May Almighty God be with us all, and may He guide us to Himself, that amidst all the difficulties and challenges which we may and will indeed encounter, we may remain faithful, and with our gaze fixed at Him, may we gain the promise of eternal life, which God gives freely to all who are true to Him in faith and love. Amen.

Sunday, 5 October 2014 : 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the message of the Holy Scriptures and the Gospel today is very, very clear indeed. The Lord exhorted all of us not to follow the path of those who refused to listen to Him and those who kept evil in their hearts, for example the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, all of whom who kept in their hearts jealousy and desire, that is desire for power, authority and human praise, even above their responsibility and duty to obey the Lord and follow Him.

That was very clearly demonstrated in the first reading we have heard today from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, who wrote about how God referred to Himself being a vineyard owner and master, who laboured and worked hard on a vineyard, that is the vineyard of His people. And yet, no matter what the Lord had done for them, all the love and commitment He had given to them, they produced sour fruits and were unproductive.

St. Paul in his letter to the faithful in the Roman Greek city of Philippi exhorted the people to follow the Lord faithfully, casting out any doubts and impurities that they had in their hearts, so that they might avoid any form of jealousy, hatred, and any other negativities from infecting their hearts, which is the root of all the disobedience against the Lord.

Thus, in the Gospel today, we heard how Jesus made it clear to the people, linking clearly to the message of God as prophesied by Isaiah the prophet, and as His Apostle Paul elaborated later on. Jesus mentioned in His parable when He taught the people, of the parable of the vineyard and the evil tenants. He recounted about how the vineyard owner entrusted the works of the vineyard to the tenants who repaid his kindness with vile acts and vile desire in their hearts.

Not only that they had reneged on their promise and vow, and their part of the work contract to provide the portion which had been due to the vineyard owner, but they refused to obey and budge, even to the point of torturing and refusing to listen to those whom the owner had sent to persuade them and get them to pay their due. And in the end, when the owner sent his own son, the vile tenants plotted to destroy him with the wicked aim to gain the vineyard for their own.

The parable was exceedingly clear in their meaning to us, who now know about the Lord’s revelation through the prophets and Jesus Himself, His Son, even though the people who heard it directly from Jesus at the time might not have gotten the idea through or understood the message of the parable. The parable was a clear rebuke against the actions of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as well as a significant portion among the people of God who had adamantly refused to believe and listen in Christ the Lord.

The vineyard owner represented the Lord our God, the Father and Creator of all the universe. And thus, the vineyard itself represented the creation, the universe, our world. Meanwhile, the vineyard tenants referred to mankind, who had been entrusted with the care and stewardship of the world. Remember what God had said to our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, when He blessed them and granted them the authority and stewardship over all the earth and all that God had created.

But mankind sinned and rebelled against the will of God, and they refused to listen to Him and they also refused to follow and obey His will. The ones whom the owner had sent to remind the tenants and to get them to obey their part of the work contract were none other than the prophets, the messengers and the numerous servants which the Lord had sent to His people, including Isaiah, Elijah and many others, to lead them and to guide them into the path of righteousness.

However, as the parable told us, that the tenants refused to budge, and even persecuted and killed the servants sent by the master of the vineyard, the same had happened to the many prophets which God had sent to His people. In their continued rebelliousness and disobedience, they chose to ignore the words of God, and then they also tortured and killed many of the prophets and servants sent by God to lead them to righteousness.

Then, obviously, the son of the owner sent to the tenant referred to none other than Jesus Himself, and He was indeed speaking of what would eventually happen to Him, that is to be betrayed by His own people to whom He was sent to, punished and condemned for sins and problems that He did not commit, and were made to die a most shameful and painful death on the cross, just as the tenants plotted against the son to gain the ownership of the vineyard.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were the epitome of the actions of the evil tenants, perfectly representing what they had done as they rose up against Jesus and all that He did. They tried to disrupt His activities wherever He was, and they doubted Him in whatever He had done and said, and in all occasions, they tried to discredit Him by various methods and ways, only to be humiliated by the Lord who turned their devices against them.

They refused to listen to the Lord and follow Him because of the evil in their hearts, the pride that cover the breadth of their wisdom and discerning ability, and the desire for fame and worldly glory that they were blinded and deafened against the truth revealed by God through Jesus. Therefore, they sinned and sinned very greatly against God, and therefore deserved hellfire, for they did not just condemn themselves, but they also misled countless others into damnation with them.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the readings of the Holy Scripture and the Gospel today, let us all do a self-introspect on our own lives, on our every deeds and actions, and in our lives as a whole, whether we have been like the evil tenants in our actions, succumbing to our own personal desire and human weaknesses, succumbing to the temptations of sin and Satan instead of listening to God as we should have.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all throw far, far away the negative parts of our heart, kill off the pride within us, and humbly allow the Lord to come into our lives and begin to transform our lives for the better. Let us all also come to realise how important it is for us all to work together as fellow children of God, to help one another that we may grow stronger in faith, hope and love.

May Almighty God, the sower of all the good in the world, help us to grow stronger in faith, in our hope, and most importantly, in our way of loving God and one another. May He grant us strength and perseverance, to lead a righteous life freed from our iniquities and unworthiness. God bless us all, always, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s readings, is truly all about children, as in the first reading, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, mentioned how we are like children to the Lord, whom the Lord will send His love, care and providence, and how the Lord will bring gladness to us, like that of a father who loves his children with all of his heart, protecting and providing for the wellbeing of the children.

And in the Gospel, as written by St. Matthew, showed us the bickering and competition among the Apostles and the disciples of Christ, on who would be considered the greatest among them, in the kingdom of heaven. And Jesus brought to Himself a child, whom He made into a model for the Apostles, chiding and rebuking their childish ways of fighting amongst themselves for meaningless purpose.

Rather, Jesus mentioned to His Apostles, that if they want to be found worthy of the kingdom of heaven, they must be like children in their faith. Not childish in their faith and in their way of life, but instead to be as innocent and pure in their faith in life as those possessed by the young children. Those who know children and how they are like would immediately know how pure they are, untainted by the ways, the concerns, and ultimately the corruptions that exist in the world.

And when a child believe in something, they really hold on to it very strongly, and they believe without a single grain of doubt, such purity it is within their hearts, before the corruption of the world and the darkness of the world taint them. And indeed, the Apostles and disciples of Christ who bickered and quarrelled over who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven exactly showed us what kind of corruption that the world and the darkness of evil can have on us.

Human desire, that is desire for fame, wealth, possessions, glory and many other things, as well as human pride, hubris, jealousy, arrogance, and greed, as well as many other negativity that exist in us are what had caused a great gap and indeed, a rift to develop between us and the Lord, our loving Father. Our Lord and God loves us dearly, as we clearly heard in the way He proclaimed it to the prophet Isaiah.

But that rift of our pride, of our greed, of the darkness that is in us separate us from the love and grace of God. And that is truly dangerous and harmful, for we have just two choices, either life and glory in God or death and eternal damnation in hell, away forever from God. If we choose to cling on to our disobedience and our way of violence and evil, the taints of darkness within our hearts, then we move dangerously closer and closer towards damnation awaits us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of a great and holy woman, a renowned saint, known as the Little Flower, and more appropriately, the Little Flower of Jesus in full. She is St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, a Discalced Carmelite religious nun, who devoted her entire life and work to the cause of the Lord and His people.

St. Therese of Lisieux was very renowned both during and after her life in her piety and her spirituality, and she was truly devoted and dedicated in complete faith to her Lord and God, and ever since her mother passed away very early in her life, she had been alone in the world, and in her loneliness as well in her constant sickness, she suffered greatly, in silence and in sorrow.

St. Therese of Lisieux encountered a divine experience as she grew older, and she experience a complete transformation of herself, where once she felt sorrow and suffering, the love and joy of Christ had entered her and made her anew. She entered the religious life following the example of her older sister before her. She took on the name of Therese in honour of St. Teresa of Avila, the founder and the great saint of the order of the Discalced Carmelites.

She persevered through the difficult life of a religious sister, despite her weakness and constant sickness, and even amidst the persecution and ridicule from her fellow sisters, who ridiculed her apparent lack of talent in doing the many things which the sisters committed themselves to do at that time. And eventually she discovered what she named as the ‘Little Way’, which is the way of surrendering all to God, and putting all our trust in God, just like that of a child.

In this, St. Therese Lisieux proposed the idea that in order for us to attain salvation, we who are mere men and sinners have great difficulties in our effort and our way to reach the Lord and His salvation. Instead, rather than boasting and fighting our way to become greater and mightier, as what the Apostles had done, she proposed that instead we should become smaller and little, and our Lord and loving Father will raise us up to Himself, just like a father who raises up his children.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, following the examples of St. Therese of Lisieux, through her amazing thoughts and wisdom, and as well as through what our Lord Jesus Christ had taught us Himself, let us all become ever more faithful to our Lord and devote ourselves ever more strongly to Him. Let our faith and our lives be pure and sincere, like that of little children, and cast away all pride, jealousy, hatred, desire and other negativity, the taints of darkness from our hearts.

May our loving God and Father continue to love us tenderly and provide for us, that all of us His children may come to a greater understanding and appreciation of the love He had shown to us, and may draw ever closer to His merciful and loving heart. God bless us all, forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, 11 September 2014 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are presented with the readings from the Scriptures and the Holy Gospel, on the importance of love in our lives in this world. Without love, that is genuine love, we cannot survive in this world, and we will have no part in the inheritance of our Lord and God, who is Love. Love is the key to solve many problems in this world, as without love, hatred and violence reign free and supreme.

The essence of what we heard today is the nature of love, and how our love should be. Our love must be genuine and true, and it must be wholesome. It cannot be love that brings joy to some and yet causes pain to others. To us mankind, it is the latter kind of love that we often encounter, and we ought to know that this is no love.

Love is when we are able to free ourselves from deceit and evil within our hearts, and be able to look beyond the veil of darkness that surround us, which include the feeling of fear, hatred, jealousy and prejudice which prevent us from truly loving as we should have loved. Love is when we can love and care for everyone, no matter whether they return our love or whether they have loved us first.

Love must be unconditional, in that when we love we should not expect the love we give to be returned. And therefore, it is not right if we demand that the love we have given ought to be repaid with similar kind of love. This kind of love is not a perfect love as Jesus had taught us, but rather it is love with benefits, that is we are likely to continue to love as long as it benefits us, but we are then likely to stop that love and care once the condition becomes unfavourable for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, there is much violence and hatred in this world, and these are not easy to be overcome. There is much effort required if we are to overcome these sinister forces threatening to split mankind apart and pit brethren against their own brothers and their own sisters. Why is this so? This is because there are many temptations in the world, the idols of mankind.

If St. Paul in the first reading today, in his letter to the faithful in Corinth said that the faithful should not consume food that had been offered to the pagan idols, said such in a very devoted attempt to ensure that those whose sensitivities were affected by such action be not allowed to fall again into sin, then we too in our own behaviours in this world should avoid all the fornications of our body and soul to sin.

How so? It may seem that in today’s world, in most of the world the old pagan worship of idols with offerings of food and other forms of sacrifices are no longer prevalent, and thus this can be deceiving to many of us. We often do not realise that in the absence of those idols, other, new idols had risen up to take their place in corrupting mankind and bringing them further and further away from salvation in God.

Money, power, influence and others in this world are all these new idols. They are what many in the world toil for, work for, and in many instances even to fight with one another, even with those dear to them, so that they can be closer to these new ‘idols’ and get more of them in the world. And we all should know that they are the main cause of wars, conflicts, and violence prevalent throughout the world.

If mankind continue to worship these idols of money, power, influence and others out there in the world, then there will be no end to suffering for mankind, and the world will slide ever further into chaos and darkness. That is why we have so much anger and violence in the world, so much suffering and people in difficulties, and why so many people have their rights violated against by those with power.

And if we recall today, that this day we remembered thirteen years ago was a great tragedy that befell a nation, that is the United States of America when two large jets were hijacked by extremists and then flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. The resulting destruction caused thousands of deaths and many more injured and not just that, for the families of those who were lost, they still grieved even until today.

In this regrettable and horrible event, we can see clearly that above all the bickering and all the conspiracy theories, above all the disputes and the attacks which one side attack the other with, and above all of that, it is the innocent ones who suffer, both in the site of the event itself, where thousands lay dead, and in the aftermath, in the wars that followed which caused even more death on both sides in the conflict.

Mankind are often fighting over what they want, and they seek more and more in this life. We are by nature difficult to satisfy, and if we do not leash our desire, we risk having the attitude of doing anything in order to get at our goal. And hence, that is why we committed violence, show hatred to others, and not easily satisfied even though we have been given plenty.

This is because in many of us, if not most, we lack love in our hearts. This is not the love as the world knows it. Love as the world knows it is exactly the kind of love that care only for the benefit of the self, a selfish love, which when it had served its purpose, then it turns into hatred, evil and destruction. What we urgently need to have with us, is the kind of love that Jesus had taught us and shown us, an unconditional and true love.

This love is such that it is not a selfish one, but a genuine love for others. Love that asks for no returns or reciprocation, as Jesus mentioned. And this love also overcomes hate and prejudice. Jesus taught us that we should forgive one another, no matter what kind of pain we have received from another. This is a crucial key on how to break that continuous and self-sustaining cycle of violence and evil.

If we repay violence, anger and hatred with equal violence, anger and hatred, then we are merely perpetuating the cycle, and in fact we add even more negativity by committing evil on others ourselves. Rather, Jesus taught us to love, and therefore, through that love, instead of evil, the love that is pure and unconditional may begin to heal the broken souls and hearts of mankind filled with hatred and darkness.

Therefore, as we remember those who perished on this day thirteen years ago, let us all learn to love and forgive, and to pray for all those who are still committing acts of violence, anger and hatred throughout the world, that they too may learn of the love of Christ, be converted to His life and gain salvation in Him. God bless us all, and may He give us His love, that we too may love each other and Him with all of our hearts and with all of our strengths. Amen.