(Easter Sunday) Sunday, 27 March 2016 : Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Week, Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 10 : 34a, 37-43

Peter then spoke to them, “No doubt you have heard of the event that occured throughout the whole country of the Jews, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism John preached. You know how God anointed Jesus the Nazarean with Holy Spirit and power.

He went about doing good and healing all who were under the devil’s power, because God was with Him; we are witnesses of all that He did throughout the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem itself. Yet they put Him to death by hanging Him on a wooden cross.

But God raised Him to life on the third day and let Him manifest Himself, not to all the people, but to the witnesses that were chosen beforehand by God – to us who ate and drank with Him after His resurrection from death. And He commanded us to preach to the people and to bear witness that He is the One appointed by God to judge the living and the dead.

All the prophets say of Him, that everyone who believes in Him has forgiveness of sins through His Name.

Sunday, 20 March 2016 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Holy Week (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 21 : 8-9, 17-18a, 19-20, 23-24

All who see Me make a jest of Me; they sneer and shake their heads. “He puts His trust in the Lord, let the Lord rescue Him! If the Lord is His friend, Let Him help Him!”

Round about Me are vicious dogs, villainous rogues encircling Me. They have tied up My hands and feet. They can count all My bones.

Dividing My garments among them and casting lots for My garment. O Lord, be not far from Me! O My strength, come quickly to My help.

I will proclaim Your Name to My brothers, I will praise You in the assembly, “All you who fear the Lord, praise Him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify Him! All you sons of Israel, revere Him!”

Sunday, 8 September 2013 : 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 14 : 25-33

One day, when large crowds were walking along with Jesus, He turned and said to them, “If you come to Me, unwilling to sacrifice your love for your father and mother, your spouse and children, your brothers and sisters, and indeed yourself, you cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not follow Me, carrying his own cross, cannot be My disciple.”

“Do you build a house without first sitting down to count the cost, to see whether you have enough to complete it? Otherwise, if you, have laid the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone will make fun of you : ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'”

“And when a king wages war against another king, does he go to fight without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand can stand against the twenty thousand of his opponent? And if not, while the other is still a long way off, he sends messengers for peace talks. In the same way, none of you may become My disciple, if he does not give up everything he has.”

Sunday, 4 August 2013 : 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, our Lord today warns us against the sin of greed, the sin of pride, and the sin of selfishness. Especially in the aimless accumulation of wealth and accumulation of possessions, that we lose sight of the true aim in our life, that is our Lord and God. Wealth and accumulation are well-known sources of temptations that can divert us and our attention away from the path to salvation, that is the path to God.

The Lord also reminded us that we are mortals, mortals because of the original sins of our ancestors, and we are dust, because we are created from dust. Yet, though we are dust, we have life in us because the Lord breathed into us the breath of life, that is the Spirit of life. Yet, we still have limit in our lives in this world. Our lives are temporary, and everyone will eventually meet the end of their respective lives, at the appointed time that God has for all of us.

That is why, the Lord always stresses the importance of being ever vigilant in our lives, to always lead a righteous and upright life, filled with love and obedience to the will of God. We may be mortal and our lives may be short, but if we put our faith and complete trust in God, we will be immortals! Why? That is because the Lord had promised all of us salvation through His Son, and with the Risen Lord Jesus, we too will be reborn to a new life, and receive at the end of our earthly lives, new and eternal life in the glory and bliss of God’s heavenly kingdom.

Yes, that is our inheritance, brothers and sisters in Christ, the true inheritance that we will receive from the Lord, that He had promised us, and Christ His Son had made available to all of us through His death and resurrection from the dead. It is important that we seek the true treasure and not false treasures of the world. Seek what brings us true happiness, the true happiness that only God can give.

We have to choose brothers and sisters, just because we cannot serve two masters as Christ had made it clear to His disciples, we too have to choose between the wealth of the world, and the eternal wealth of the Lord. It does not mean that one is entirely in opposition to the other though. It does not mean that we have to impoverish ourselves of one while we seek the other. What is important is, that we know that ultimately, the wealth and possessions of this world serve only a temporary purpose, bring only a temporary satisfaction, and only temporary pleasure and happiness, while the wealth that we have in God is eternal, and is perfectly and completely satisfying to all of us.

Yes, we can be both rich in this world and in the world after, that is in the eyes of man, and in the eyes of God. That is if we are able to wisely use whatever had been given to us, and look beyond the temptations of the evil one and the allure of wealth, and also to be able to look beyond ourselves and our own desires and needs, to see the true use and function of the wealth and possessions we have received in this world.

We must never ever have the mentality of selfishness in ourselves, and only thinking about our own benefits and happiness, especially at the expense of others, which usually happen when we begin to put our own interests first. We must not be like the rich man who wasted his time in this world worrying about his own future and thus accumulated much wealth which he stored in barns and storage spaces, that he would, in his mind, think that he has a secure and prosperous future to be spent in happiness.

Yes, I want to again stress of our own mortality and the fragility of our own lives. It is unwise to spend so much time worrying about the future and then close ourselves from any concerns beside concerns for ourselves. We do not know when our death will be, nor in what way our death will come to us. It will come to us whenever we are most unprepared, just as the Second Coming of Christ will be. The time is appointed by the Lord, and we have no way to know about it.

Many of us are obsessed with maintaining our beauty, our lives and attempting to even make it better whenever possible. Plastic surgery, and even genetic manipulations to ensure that we can live longer and live more prosperously, gaining more fame through beauty and our possessions. Yet what do these all do? These things will not ensure our beauty nor our prosperity forever. If death knocks at our door tomorrow, despite all these things that we do, would they not all be wasted?

Much more resources should have been allocated to other, better purposes in our lives. It is not that we cannot indulge ourselves or bring happiness to ourselves, but we must never be consumed by our search for such wealth or happiness, that we forget about everything else, about those beloved to us, about God, and about everyone around us who needs us, who needs our love, care, and compassion.

Our wealth in this world is also not permanent. Many things may happen that can wipe out all of our hard-earned savings and ‘happiness’ in an instant, and after that a lifetime of work may be wasted. Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, floods, fires, and many other natural calamities that may happen anytime in our world unexpectedly, will wipe out most of our hard work if not all in much shorter time than that required to gather them.

And yes, death. What would those goods stored in barns and storages do if we die at the time appointed for us to die? Will they be able to provide anything for us in the afterlife? Or perhaps help us to climb from hell into paradise? No, they have not such power. Only God has such power, that is through Christ His Son, whose death had provided us all with a means to reach the true reward, that is everlasting life.

Seek not to build wealth that can be destroyed or wealth that can be stolen or disappear any moment, with or without our knowledge. Seek not wealth or pleasure that are short-lived and temporary, and disappear as quickly as the fleeting motion of our short, mortal lives on earth. Seek rather the eternal wealth and treasure in God, in heaven, that will never disappear, that will never expire, and that will never be destroyed. Let us all, while we still have the time, begin and continue to build our treasury in heaven, filling up with the wealth of our true treasure, that is love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us follow the advice of the Lord, and begin from today, to open the storage of the things we have kept only for ourselves, and offer them to everyone in need. No, I am not just talking about money, wealth, or material possessions. Most important of all treasures is love itself, which God has placed in all of us, but we like to lock it deep within our hearts, that it does not become visible or evident. The same happens to faith and hope.

As long as we remain shut to the world and to the love of God and the plight of others, our wealth in God will never grow, because we never make use the gifts that God had given us and bless us with, that is in His Holy Spirit. If we exercise the faith, the hope, and the love He had given all of us through the Spirit, it will grow and multiply, thirty, sixty, hundredfold and more. Let us begin from today, if we have not done so, to invest in the building of our wealth in heaven, that when we are called back to God, He will truly see us as wealthy in His eyes. Not the wealth of the world, but the true and undiminished wealth of love.

May the Lord inflame in us the fire of His love, and may He push us to go out and render our service to others who are in need of our help and our love. May we be able to share our love with one another, as fellow children of God who loves us. God bless us all, always and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 3 August 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings urge us to always be righteous and honest in all the things that we do, in all our dealings with others and in our relationship with the Lord our God and our neighbours, our fellow men. We are urged to always take the path of the righteous ones and avoid the path as taken by King Herod and those who try to cheat and be dishonest in all their actions.

For actions like that of King Herod shows not only dishonesty, but also giving up of oneself to the temptations of the world and the power of evil. King Herod followed his lust and desire to take the former wife of his own brother as his own. It is unlawful because it seems that the King had taken her as wife while his brother was yet still alive, and therefore committed adultery with her in the eyes of man and God.

He gave in to the temptations of the devil, the lust for human beauty and pleasures of the world, especially through his privileged position as a king at the time, surrounded by good things and other things enjoyed by the privileged class. The same was warned against the people of Israel by the Lord through Moses, that they do not let themselves be swayed by their positions and privileges so as to cheat on others on their money, their possessions or other related things.

Money, wealth, and possessions are not necessarily bad, and neither does other things that can give us happiness and pleasurable feelings. However, it is important that we do not misuse them for our own selfish purposes and intents, that we end up being controlled by these things. We have to learn to control ourselves, our desires, and our emotions. Learn to control our possessions, and do not let them control us instead.

We must always focus our attention on the Lord, and put our full trust in Him. He is the One who can give us everything that we need in our respective lives. The Lord our God is the source of our true happiness and our true joy. It is not in the world that we can find our true happiness and pleasure, not in sexual relations, human beauty, wealth, or abundance of possessions, but in the love of God, supported by our love of one another. If we do this, we obey the Lord’s commands, that is to love Him and love one another with all our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength.

If we do not love God with all our hearts and our strength, we will be more prone to the deceptions of the evil one, and eventually lead to scenarios such as the one in the Gospel, where King Herod was literally forced to behead St. John the Baptist and therefore made a great sin in the eyes of God, just because of his complete fascination in his own wife’s daughter’s beauty. Then, the same also can happen as in the scenario highlighted in the First Reading, where temptations can indeed be great for anyone to deal dishonestly with one another, and cheat on one another, particularly in monetary matters.

If we love money and possessions more than our brethren and our Lord, then we will grow to desire to possess them more and more in amount. This will lead to even greater desire, an unending cycle of desire, that will end up with us committing greater and greater sins in the eyes of the Lord. One good example would be gambling, in which many stories tell the same case, that an insatiable desire for more wealth and possessions resulting in major loss of money, and therefore, immense financial problems, which later on, tend to push people to do sinful things such as stealing, crime, or even corruption.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must stand up for the Lord, and stand up for His love, and we must dare to stand up against the temptations of wealth, material, and worldly pleasures. We have to realise and come to a full understanding, that worldly possessions are not everything for us. What we truly need is the Lord and His love, and the love of our fellow brothers and sisters, and not the love of money or the love of the world. This is what truly can fulfill our needs, especially our need for love. Money and possessions can satisfy us, but it can never satisfy us forever. We have to use it as a tool to bring love to others instead of being controlled by it.

Let us commit ourselves to our Lord and God who loves us so much that He gave us Jesus as the perfect gift, the divine love of God, given to us freely, that we may have a new hope and a new life in us, in perfect reunion with our God and Creator. He is the true love and true happiness that we should all seek in life, and put our focus on. Let us never forget His Passion and His suffering, and ultimately His death on the cross at Calvary. Let us always look at our crucified Lord with pride in our hearts. May God bless all of us, and remain with us at all times. Amen.

Saturday, 27 July 2013 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we who believe in Christ had been marked by the Lord our God, with a special mark, for each one of us, to distinguish us from those who do not believe and do not have faith and love for the Lord. That mark is none other than His own Precious Blood, the Blood of the Lamb of God, which He gave to us to mark His faithfulness and love for us, to mark the New Covenant He has established with all of us, with all mankind, a covenant that will never be broken.

The Blood of the covenant of Christ reminds us of the first reading today, when Moses sealed the covenant between the people of Israel and the Lord their God with the blood of animals, the blood of lambs and goats sacrificed on the altar made to God. The blood sealed the promise that God had made with their father Abraham, that his descendants would prosper and enjoy God’s blessing and be led to the Land of Promise.

On the other hand, the covenant involve a two-way promise and vow, and therefore, just as the Lord has vowed to bless His people and care for them, so the people too must keep their part of the covenant, to obey the laws of the Lord, and live according to His will. If they remain faithful to their part in the covenant, their lives will truly be happy and blessed, and they will receive the fullness of their covenant with God.

But if they break their part of the covenant, by disobeying the Lord and doing wicked things not in conjunction with the Lord’s will, then they will not receive the blessings that the Lord had promised them, and instead, they will truly suffer for having turned their back on the Lord and His covenant, the covenant of love He had offered freely to Abraham and his descendants that they will be blessed.

That was exactly what many of the people of Israel did, even just after Moses had sprinkled the blood of the covenant on them, as they complained against Moses and the Lord for having brought them in the journey through the desert to the Promised Land.

They complained because they did not keep themselves strong enough in the faith that the devil could come to them and sow the seeds of discord and evil in their hearts, and the seeds of desire and greed, desiring ever more things from the Lord, complaining to the Lord when they did not receive enough, even though the Lord had fed them with bread from heaven, the manna, and with quails and birds for them to eat, and also provide them with sweet and clear spring water to drink.

No, brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not the way that we should follow, the rebelliousness and the hard-hearted people of Israel during their sojourn in the desert. We must instead follow the path of Christ, of love and dedication, which we should give to the Lord and to our fellow men, and also thanksgiving to the Lord when it is due. That is because the Lord had given us much, very much indeed, that He gave us nothing else more precious, nor that there will ever be anything that is to be more precious, than His own Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour, and new hope of life eternal.

We must fortify ourselves, brethren, in our hearts and minds, that we will not succumb to the evil one. Prevent the sower of evil from sowing seeds of evil and sin within our hearts. Do not let him to reign free over us, and enslave us to the chains of sin and death. The devil will always try and utilise everything that is within his power to corrupt us and turn us from the path of the Lord, that is salvation, towards the path to hell and eternal damnation.

We must have a strong and healthy prayer life, that our heart will be defended from the assaults of the evil one. In doing so, our faith and dedication to the Lord will be complete.” But remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that faith cannot stand on its own, and without good and positive acts in our words, deeds, and actions, our faith will be dead and empty. Yes, as empty as that of the people of Israel in the desert. They had been given manna, the bread from heaven and quails as food during their desert journey, and yet they still complained and blasphemed against His Name.

Our Lord is faithful, just as He is loving, brothers and sisters in Christ. He loves us all so much, that He shed His own Body and His own Blood, through the cross, that all of us be redeemed in a new covenant that He established by His own sacrifice, for our sake. This is no blood of the lambs and goats that die, brothers and sisters, but here is the Blood of the Lamb of God who lives, the Lamb who has triumphed and conquered Satan and evil. This Blood, the divine blood given to us out of the Lord’s own will, is the blood that purifies and cleanses, washing our beings white and pure again from all the filth and darkness of sin within us.

We receive this Blood and the Body, in the Eucharist, which the priests turned from the humble bread and wine, into the very Being of our Lord and Saviour, who died as the lamb of sacrifice, the True Lamb, who is the only one worthy to redeem us from all the weights of our faults and evil, all the horrible things we had committed, things abhorred by the Lord our God. He established this new covenant, a covenant not only with the people of Israel of old, but with all mankind, without exception. He established this new covenant, especially for sinners. The greater the sin that a sinner has, the more the Lord wants to come to redeem him or her from their fate that is death and hell.

He paid for this new covenant and sealed it with His own Blood, not blood of any animals, but the most precious Blood possible, the divine blood of the Lord, poured down on us from the cross, given to us to drink in the Eucharist, in the form of wine transubstantiated into His Blood. We who partake in this divine gift is sealed in the new covenant with God, through Christ, and as long as we remain faithful to God, we will ever be in God’s grace, and we will receive the gift of eternal life Christ had promised all those who believe in Him.

Our Lord loves us so much and He wants all of us saved, from our fate of certain death in sin. He has given His best and His all in His part on the covenant. But as I have mentioned, a covenant is made between two parties, in which both parties have to commit to the covenant that it is made valid and true. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we ready to commit ourselves to Christ, to His love? Are we ready to take up our own crosses and follow Christ, so that we will make whole the new covenant of the Lord?

Are we ready to commit ourselves to the Lord present in the Most Holy Eucharist? In His Body and Blood that He gave us that He may be in us and we in Him? Let us from now on strive to be the loving partner of our God in that holy covenant, and play our part, that is following the Lord’s commandments that is love. Love our God and love our fellow brethren as we love ourselves. For God is love! Amen.

Thursday, 25 July 2013 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of one of the great Twelve Apostles, that is St. James the Lesser, the brother of St. John the Evangelist, the beloved disciple of Christ, and one of the sons of Zebedee, whose mother’s pleading to Christ we heard in the Gospel Reading today. St. James the Lesser was also the first of Christ’s Apostles to be martyred and went to heavenly glory, leading the way for his fellow Apostles, in glorifying Christ and God through his death.

St. James and his brother, St. John were courageous and fearless defenders of the Gospel, and brave messengers of the message of salvation, that is brought by Christ unto this world. They became witnesses to the death and resurrection of Christ. He witnessed the Risen Lord who gave them the mission to spread the Good News to all mankind, to the ends of the earth, and to make disciples of all the nations, a mission which is still true even until today.
Just as St. James was captured, imprisoned, and eventually martyred by the actions of King Herod, the King of Judea at the time, he did not give up his faith, and neither did he slacken from the mission the Lord had entrusted him with, despite the relatively short time that he had in his mission, him being the first to be martyred and die among the Apostles of Christ.

But that reminds us all of the reality of following our Lord Jesus Christ, that as St. Paul mentioned in the first reading today taken from the Second Letter to the faithful in Colossus, that following the Lord is not an easy way, and there will be many persecutions awaiting the faithful, many trials and tribulations inflicted by those who hated the Lord and His people. The devil is at work, brothers and sisters in Christ, because he is ever busy undermining the work of Christ in this world, trying to snatch us away from His embrace, and bring us into the eternal darkness of hell.

However, let us not fear the devil and his devices, Satan with all his wicked tools of corruption, temptation, and blasphemy against the Lord. That is because Christ our Saviour had conquered, and He had shown His might to all creation, freeing mankind forever from their bondage to sin, and therefore to death and Satan himself. For Satan, the evil one, had been our jailor and our master, the slave master ever since our ancestors chose to follow and obey his words rather than the commandments of the Lord.

Christ had given up Himself as the sacrificial victim, offered to everyone without exception, so that out of the outpouring of His love and His blood from the cross, everyone will be washed clean from the taints of their sins, like the way how the saints and martyrs in the vision of St. John, the brother of St. James, washed their cloaks and robes clean and pure white in the Blood of the Lamb, in his vision written in the Book of Revelation, as a vision of the end times.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, while following Christ will be difficult, with opposition from many, and even persecutions and oppressions may accompany it, but the Lord will be with us, walking alongside us. He carries us whenever we are weak and downtrodden. He gives hope to us whenever our hearts are heavy and filled with despair. For He is our God, a loving God, and a Good Shepherd, who cares for His sheep so much, that He would give His life for their sake, that they may live.

Today, brothers and sisters, we are still called by the Lord, to be like His disciples, and to be like His Apostles, particularly like St. James whom we remember today, in our zeal for Him, in our love and dedication for Him, and most importantly, in our actions and words, that we always reflect Christ at all times in them. Never speak a word without contemplating Christ, and never lift up your hand before listening to the Lord’s will.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important that we base ourselves on a good, strong, and vibrant prayer life, because prayer is the way for us to communicate with the Lord our God. Prayers are not supposed to be one-way request hotline for us to bombard the Lord with our needs and petitions, but it is rather a channel for us, to be able to listen to the Word of God speaking silently inside our hearts. Once our internal dispositions are good, based on a good faith and prayerful life, then we can embark on our mission of love, that is to make disciples of all the nations, by preaching the Good News of salvation, to the ends of the earth.

In his Epistle, that is the Epistle of James, St. James wrote especially about how faith without good works is the same as a dead faith. There can be no salvation without a living faith, that is faith made alive with good works based on the love of God. Therefore, it is important that we have a good prayer life and a heart dedicated to the Lord, and use this love in our heart, to do good for our neighbours, our brothers and sisters in need, that our faith is made alive, because we practice our faith, in following the Lord’s commands, that is to love one another just as we love ourselves.

The world today has ever greater need for missionaries and labourers of Christ, as more and more people are in need of God’s love and mercy. More and more people are turned away from the Lord because the world and its goodness have deceived them and led them away from the true path towards the Lord. Materialism and consumerism had made so many people paying less attention to the very God who had saved them from damnation, and they turned their backs on the Lamb who had shed His blood for their sake.

Be not afraid, and inspired by the zeal and example of St. James the Apostle, and the other Apostles and disciples of Christ, let us renew our effort to make a difference in our world, by bringing Christ into it, and fearlessly preaching the truths of the Gospel. We do not have to aim high nor go far, brothers and sisters, because we should indeed begin within our own families, within our own circle of friends, and within our own respective societies.

Have we as a family or within our friendships reflect Christ in all our words, deeds, and actions? Have we showed love in all the dealings we have with others. Do we bring life and love to others through what we have done to them? Have we brought peace to people who are in conflict and have we stood up for those who had been unjustly treated and persecuted?

All of us can do our own respective parts to play in our own respective communities, be it at home or outside, between our friends and our families. Let us all then resolve, and renew our commitment to the Lord, to be truly His disciples, not just in name, but also in our actions, and every words that leave our mouth. Let us bring light to all the nations, the Light of Christ, which reveals the way to the salvation of Christ.

Let us pray also for all the participants of the World Youth Day, which is now ongoing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that the youths of God will be new missionaries and new disciples of the Lord, committed to their mission, to bring the Good News to all, to comfort the sorrowful, to bless and heal the sick, and to love those who are unloved and rejected by the society.

St. James the Apostle, pray for us and intercede for our sake, all of us sinners and weak at heart, to the Lord our God, that He will strengthen us and give us His Spirit that we will all be courageous to glorify Him and to show Him to the world, a world that still lies in darkness, and badly in need of the Light of Christ. May God bless us all and give us all courage and faith. Amen.