Sunday, 20 November 2022 : Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 23 : 35-43

At that time, the people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Jesus, saying to one another, “Let the Man Who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the Chosen One of God!”

The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the King of the Jews? Free Yourself!” Above Jesus there was an inscription in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this Man has done nothing wrong.”

And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

Monday, 6 June 2022 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 19 : 25-34

At that time, near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleophas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw the mother, and the disciple whom He loved, He said to the mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “This is your mother.” And from that moment the disciple took her to his own home.

Jesus knew all was now finished and, in order to fulfil what was written in Scripture, He said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of bitter wine stood there; so, putting a sponge soaked in the wine on a twig of hyssop, they raised it to His lips. Jesus took the wine and said, “It is accomplished.” Then He bowed His head and gave up the Spirit.

As it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so that the bodies might be taken away. The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man, who had been crucified with Jesus.

When they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a lance, and immediately there came out Blood and water.

Friday, 15 April 2022 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the important occasion of Good Friday, on which day we remember the Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross, as we are surely all familiar with, as He brought His Cross from Jerusalem right up to the hill of Calvary, was nailed on the Cross, raised up and eventually died. Through His death, the Lord has brought us all the salvation and the eternal life that He has promised to each and every one of us. This day we remember that act of supreme love which Our Lord had done for us, remembering His own words, that there is no greater love than for one to lay down his life for a friend.

This Good Friday celebration reminds us of all that God had done for us, out of His persistent and enduring love for each one of us sinners. He loved us all so much that He has given us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Who suffered and died for our sake. This same Christ brought His Cross and placed it firmly on His shoulders, taking upon Himself all of our faults and sins, enduring on our behalf all the sufferings and punishments due for those sins, so that by His sufferings, His wounds, He might become for us a source of sure hope and consolation, bringing upon us redemption and a new life blessed by God, to be reunited with God, our most loving Father and Creator.

His suffering and death has been long foretold before by the prophets, most prominently by Isaiah, as we heard in our first reading today. Through the Servant prophesied by Isaiah, God would bring about the salvation of all mankind. Yet, He would have to endure the worst treatments and the greatest humiliations in order to accomplish His mission. He would be broken and crushed, and all of the sufferings intended for us would be placed squarely on His shoulders. Those were all the things that Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, had willingly accepted upon Himself, in fulfilment of the prophecies made about Him.

And in continuation of yesterday’s discourse from the Mass of Holy Thursday, the Institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Last Supper, I have shared earlier how today’s events cannot be separated from all the events that were commemorated yesterday. I mentioned how the Last Supper is the New Passover and the hallmark of the New Covenant which Our Lord has made and established with us, modelled upon the original Passover which happened in the land of Egypt, when the Lord saved the Israelites from the tyranny of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh.

At the Last Supper, the Lord made a fundamental change to the celebration of the Passover, which while was still essentially similar, He placed Himself as the centre and the focus of the commemoration, and the absence of the usual young, unblemished lamb that were slain and sacrificed, to be shared by everyone. And that is because in the new Passover and the new Covenant, Christ Himself is the Lamb, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. This is important because at the Last Supper, the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist, transforming the bread and wine fully into the essence, substance and reality of His own Precious Body and Blood.

He shared His Precious Body and Blood in the bread He blessed and broke, and in the wine He blessed and shared with the disciples, and through them, He has passed the same Eucharist to us. At every celebration of the Holy Mass, as the priests prayed the prayer of consecration, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine the priests offered on our behalf at the Mass, are also transformed into the same Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord. Yet, at the same time, it is not that a new sacrifice is offered each time the Holy Mass is celebrated, but rather, the same sacrifice of Our Lord that spans the period from the Last Supper to Calvary is brought into our midst, the same loving sacrifice of Our Lord that we remember and celebrate today.

And as I mentioned yesterday night, the Last Supper in fact happened earlier than the typical Passover which happened on the Sabbath. It was mentioned at the end of the Gospel today that after the Lord had died, it was the preparation day for the Sabbath, and He could not be properly buried yet as there was not enough time before the Sabbath began on sunset on the same day of the Lord’s death on the Cross. If we remember what happened on the original Passover, the Lord instructed that the young, unblemished lamb were to be prepared and then slaughtered the day before the Passover. This very day is the day when the Passover lamb was to be slaughtered. When the Lord said from His Cross towards the very end, ‘It is accomplished’, it is a reference to the completion of the offering of the Lord’s sacrifice for the atonement of our sins.

Hence, Good Friday is indeed a commemoration of the moment when Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sinless One and the Lamb of God was slain for us, much as how the Passover lamb was slain and its blood used to mark the houses of the faithful. In the same way, by His death, the offering and sacrifice began at the Last Supper and completed on Good Friday, Our Lord has broken His Body and shed His Blood for us, that on His Cross, the offering and gift of the Eucharist that we all share as Christians, was made complete and perfect. That is why we believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation, that the bread and wine have been fully transformed in essence and reality to the Most Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord Himself.

That is why the Holy Mass itself is the recreation of the events at Calvary, the Lord offering His own Body and Blood, the perfect and worthy Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb slain for our sake. At the Holy Mass we have the unbloodied representation of the same bloody sacrifice of Our Lord at Calvary, on our Altars the same sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Saviour and High Priest on the Altar of His Cross. That is what the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews had spoken about, that Christ is the one true High Priest Who has offered the perfect sacrifice, with Himself as the sacrificial victim as the Lamb of God. That is why the Mass is truly the pinnacle of our worship, the worship of God Who has come down into our midst to dwell with us, and Who has willingly embraced suffering and death for our sake.

For the only sacrificial offering worthy of the redemption of all mankind is Christ Himself, Who as the perfect and unblemished, immaculate Son of God and Son of Man, has offered Himself as the means for us to be reconciled with God. Through His Cross, He has reestablished the connection and path between us and God, a connection that had once been broken by our disobedience and sins. He has shown us the power of God’s love, mercy and compassion. That is why today, even as the whole creation mourns the death of the Son of God, it is a ‘Good’ Friday because this day we who once have no hope of redemption have seen the light of God and the path out of the darkness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we commemorate our Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross, we are all called to remember that through our baptism, we have shared in the death that Christ has gone through, by dying to our sins and our past way of life. Let us all look upon the Lord crucified today and see in Him, our hope and our salvation, and be fearful no more. Christ our Lord has conquered by His Cross, and by His sacrifice which we now commemorate, He has reunited us all to God. Let us all be thankful to all that He had done for our sake, and commit ourselves to Him anew.

Let us all pick up our crosses and follow Him, as He Himself said that no one can become His disciples unless they pick up their crosses and walk with Him. This is what we need to do from now on. Let this Good Friday commemoration is not just a-once a year event and then is quickly forgotten again once the Holy Week is over. As Christians we are all called to be good role models, inspirations and examples for one another, in how we live our lives and in all of our actions. Are we able to do this, brothers and sisters? Are we ready and capable of committing ourselves to be the faithful witnesses of Our Crucified Christ?

May our Lord Jesus, Who was crucified and died for us all out of His boundless love for each one of us, continue to watch over us as we journey in this world. May all of us remain strong in our faith, commitment and dedication to Our Lord, even as we encounter many challenges and trials in our path. May all of us persevere in faith in the same way that Our Lord has persevered through even the worst of sufferings, pain and humiliation that through Him we may have the hope and joy of eternal life, free forever from the bondage and tyranny of sin and evil, from death and damnation in hell. May God bless us all in the remaining Easter Triduum celebrations and henceforth, that we will always grow ever closer to Him, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 15 April 2022 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 18 : 1 – John 19 : 42

At that time, when Jesus had finished speaking, He went with His disciples to the other side of the Kidron Valley. There was a garden there, which Jesus entered with His disciples. Now Judas, who betrayed Him, knew the place, since Jesus had often met there with His disciples. So Judas took soldiers and some servants from the chief priests and Pharisees, and they went to the garden with lanterns, torches and weapons.

Jesus knew all that was going to happen to Him; He stepped forward and asked, “Who are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus said, “I am He.” Judas, who betrayed Him, stood there with them. When Jesus said, “I am He,” they moved back and fell to the ground. He then asked a second time, “Who are you looking for?” and they answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus replied, “I told you that I am He. If you are looking for Me, let these others go.” So what Jesus had said came true : “I have not lost one of those you gave Me.”

Simon Peter had a sword; he drew it and struck Malchus, the High Priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given Me?”

The guards and the soldiers, with their commander, seized Jesus and bound Him; and they took Him first to Annas. Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the High Priest that year; and it was Caiaphas who had told the Jews, “It is better that one Man should die for the people.”

Simon Peter with another disciple followed Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the High Priest, they let him enter the courtyard of the High Priest along with Jesus, but Peter had to stay outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the High Priest, went out and spoke to the maidservant at the gate and brought Peter in.

Then this maidservant on duty at the door said to Peter, “So you also are one of His disciples?” But he answered, “I am not.” Now the servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire and were standing and warming themselves, because it was cold. Peter was also with them warming himself.

The High Priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in places where the Jews meet together, either at the assemblies in synagogues or in the Temple. I did not teach secretly. Why then do you question Me? Ask those who heard Me, they know what I said.”

At this reply one of the guards standing there gave Jesus a blow on the face, saying, “Is that the way to answer the High Priest?” Jesus said to him, “If I have spoken wrongly, point it out; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike Me?” Then Annas sent Him, bound, to Caiaphas, the High Priest.

Now Simon Peter stood there warming himself. They said to him, “Surely you also are one of His disciples.” He denied it, and answered, “I am not.” One of the High Priest’s servants, a kinsman of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you with Him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at once the cock crowed.

Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the headquarters of the Roman governor. It was now morning. The Jews did not go inside, lest they be made unclean by entering the house of a pagan, and therefore not allowed to eat the Passover meal. So Pilate came out and asked, “What charge do you bring against this Man?”

They answered, “If He were not a criminal, we would not be handing Him over to you.” Pilate said, “Take Him yourselves and judge Him according to your own law.” But they replied, “We ourselves are not allowed to put anyone to death.” It was clear from this what kind of death Jesus was to die, according to what Jesus Himself had foretold.

Pilate then entered the court again, called Jesus and asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “Does this word come from you, or did you hear it from others?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed You over to me. What have You done?”

Jesus answered, “My kingship does not come from this world. If I were a King, like those of this world, My guards would have fought to save Me from being handed over to the Jews. But My Kingship is not of this world.” Pilate asked Him, “So You are a King?” And Jesus answered, “Just as you say, I am a King. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of truth hears My voice.” Pilate said, “What is truth?”

Pilate then went out to the Jews again and said, “I find no crime in this Man. Now, according to custom, I must release a prisoner to you at the Passover. With your agreement I will release to you the King of the Jews.” But they insisted and cried out, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.”

Then Pilate had Jesus taken away and scourged. The soldiers also twisted thorns into a crown and put it on His head. They threw a cloak of royal purple around His shoulders; and they began coming up to Him and saluting Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him on the face.

Pilate went outside yet another time and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing Him out, and I want you to know that I find no crime in Him.” Jesus then came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak and Pilate pointed to Him, saying, “Here is the Man!”

On seeing Him the chief priests and the guards cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate replied, “Take Him yourselves and have Him crucified, for I find no case against Him.” The Jews then said, “We have a Law, and according to the Law this Man must die because He made Himself Son of God.”

When Pilate heard this he was more afraid. And coming back into the court he asked Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “You will not speak to me? Do You not know that I have power to release You, just as I have power to crucify You?”

Jesus replied, “You would have no power over Me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed Me over to you is more guilty.” From that moment Pilate tried to release Him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who makes Himself a King is defying Caesar.”

When Pilate heard this, he had Jesus brought outside to the place called the Stone Floor – in Hebrew Gabbatha – and sat down in the judgment seat. It was the day of preparation for the Passover, about noon. Pilate said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” But they cried out, “Away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!” Pilate replied, “Shall I crucify your King?” And the chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

Then Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified. They took charge of Him. Bearing His own cross, Jesus went out of the city to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew Golgotha. There He was crucified, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus in the middle.

Pilate had a notice written and fastened to the cross, which read : Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews. Many Jewish people saw this title, because the place where Jesus was crucified was very close to the city; and the title was written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. The chief priests said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews’; but, ‘This Man claimed to be King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered them, “What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and divided them into four parts, one part for each of them. But as the tunic was woven in one piece from top to bottom, they said, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots to decide who will get it.” This fulfilled the words of Scripture : They divided My clothing among them; they cast lots for My garment. This was what the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleophas, and Mary of Magdala, when Jesus saw the mother, and the disciple whom He loved, He said to the mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “There is your mother.” And from that moment the disciple took her to his own home.

Jesus knew all was now finished and, in order to fulfil what was written in Scripture, He said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of bitter wine stood there; so, putting a sponge soaked in the wine on a twig of hyssop, they raised it to His lips. Jesus took the wine and said, “It is accomplished.” Then He bowed His head and gave up the Spirit.

As it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so that the bodies might be taken away. The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man, who had been crucified with Jesus.

When they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a lance, and immediately there came out Blood and water. The one who saw it, has testified to it, and his testimony is true; he knows he speaks the truth, so that you also might believe. All this happened to fulfil the words of Scripture : Not one of His bones shall be broken. Another text says : They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea approached Pilate, for he was a disciple of Jesus, though secretly, for fear of the Jews. And he asked Pilate to let him remove the Body of Jesus. Pilate agreed, so he came and took away the Body. Nicodemus, the man who at first had come to Jesus by night, also came and brought a jar of myrrh mixed with aloes, about a hundred pounds. They took the Body of Jesus and wrapped it in linen cloths with the spices, following the burial customs of the Jews.

There was a garden in the place where Jesus had been crucified, and, in the garden, a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And therefore, because the sepulchre was nearby, and the Jewish day of preparation was coming to a close, they placed the Body of Jesus there.

Friday, 15 April 2022 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Hebrews 4 : 14-16 and Hebrews 5 : 7-9

We have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God, Who has entered heaven. Let us, then, hold fast to the faith we profess. Our High Priest is not indifferent to our weaknesses, for He was tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sinning. Let us, then, with confidence approach the throne of grace; we will obtain mercy and, through His favour, help in due time.

Christ, in the days of His mortal life, offered His sacrifice with tears and cries. He prayed to Him Who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His humble submission. Although He was Son, He learnt through suffering what obedience was, and once made perfect, He became the Source of eternal salvation for those who obey Him.

Friday, 15 April 2022 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 15 April 2022 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Isaiah 52 : 13 – Isaiah 53 : 12

It is now when My Servant will succeed; He will be exalted and highly praised. Just as many have been horrified at His disfigured appearance : “Is this a Man? He does not look like One.” So will nations be astounded, kings will stand speechless, for they will see something never told, they will witness something never heard of.

Who could believe what we have heard, and to whom has YHVH revealed His feat? Like a root out of dry ground, like a sapling He grew up before us, with nothing attractive in His appearance, no beauty, no majesty. He was despised and rejected, a Man of sorrows familiar with grief, a Man from Whom people hide their face, spurned and considered of no account.

Yet ours were the sorrows He bore, ours were the suffering He endured, although we considered Him as One punished by God, stricken and brought low. Destroyed because of our sins, He was crushed for our wickedness. Through His punishment we are made whole; by His wounds we are healed. Like sheep we had all gone astray, each following His own way; but YHVH laid upon Him all our guilt.

He was harshly treated, but unresisting and silent, He humbly submitted. Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearer He did not open His mouth. He was taken away to detention and judgment – what an unthinkable fate! He was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for His people’s sins. They made His tomb with the wicked, they put Him in the graveyard of the oppressors, though He had done no violence nor spoken in deceit.

Yet it was the will of YHVH to crush Him with grief. When He makes Himself an offering for sin, He will have a long life and see His descendants. Through Him the will of YHVH is done. For the anguish He suffered, He will see the light and obtain perfect knowledge. My just Servant will justify the multitude; He will bear and take away their guilt.

Therefore I will give Him His portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong. For He surrendered Himself to death and was even counted among the wicked, bearing the sins of the multitude and interceding for sinners.

Sunday, 10 April 2022 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (Passion Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 22 : 14 – Luke 23 : 56

When the hour came, Jesus took His place at the table and the Apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I was eager to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

Then they passed Him a cup, and when He had given thanks, He said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves; for I tell you that, from now on, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Jesus also took bread, and after giving thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My Body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” And after the supper, He did the same with the cup, saying, “This cup is the new Covenant, sealed in My Blood, which is poured out for you.”

Jesus continued, “Yet the hand of the traitor is with Me on the table. Know that the Son of Man is going the way marked out for Him. But alas for that one who betrays Him!” They began to ask one another which of them could do such a thing. They also began to argue among themselves which of them should be considered the most important. Jesus said, “The kings of the pagan nations rule over them as lords, and the most hard-hearted rulers claim the title, ‘Gracious Lord.’”

“But not so with you; let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is the greatest, he who sits at the table or he who serves? He who is seated, is it not? Yet I am among you as One Who serves. You are the ones who have been with Me, and stood by Me, through My troubles; because of this, just as the kingship has been given to Me by My Father, so I give it to you. You will eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones and govern the twelve tribes of Israel.”

“Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you like grain, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have recovered, you shall strengthen your brothers.” Then Peter said, “Lord, with You I am ready to go even to prison and death.” But Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day before you have denied three times that you know Me.”

Jesus also said to them, “When I sent you without purse or bag or sandals, were you short of anything?” They answered, “No.” And Jesus said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse or a bag must take it, or even his coat, and sell it, and but a sword. For Scripture says : He was numbered among criminals. These words have to be fulfilled in Me, and everything written about Me is now taking place.”

Then they said, “See, Lord, here are two swords!” But Jesus answered, “That is enough.” After this, Jesus left to go as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him. When He came to the place, He told them, “Pray that you may not be put to the test.” Then He went a little further, about a stone’s throw, and kneeling down He prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; however, not My will but Yours be done.” And from heaven there appeared to Him an Angel, who gave Him strength.

As He was in agony, He prayed even more earnestly, and great drops of blood formed like sweat and fell to the ground. When He rose from prayer, He went to His disciples, but found them worn out with grief, and asleep. And He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Get up and pray, so that you may not be put to the test.”

Jesus was still speaking when suddenly a crowd appeared, and the man named Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss Him, and Jesus said to him, “Judas, with a kiss do you betray the Son of Man?”

Those with Jesus, seeing what would happen, said to Him, “Master, shall we use the sword?” And one of them struck the High Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus ordered him, “No more of this!” He touched the man’s ear and healed him. Then Jesus spoke to those coming against Him, the chief priests, the officers of the Temple and elders; and He said to them, “Are you looking for a thief, a robber? Do you really need swords and clubs to arrest Me? Day after day I was among you, teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest Me. But this is the hour of the power of darkness; this is your hour.”

Then they seized Him and took Him away, bringing Him to the High Priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance. A fire was kindled in the middle of the courtyard where people were gathered, and Peter sat among them. A maidservant noticed him. Looking at him intently in the light of the fire, she exclaimed, “This man also was with Him!” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him!”

A little later someone who saw him said, “You are also one of them!” Peter replied, “My friend, I am not!” After about an hour another asserted, “Surely this man was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” Again Peter denied it : “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about!” He had not finished saying this, when a cock crowed. The Lord turned around and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the word which the Lord had spoken : “Before the cock crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter went outside, weeping bitterly.

Now the guards, who had arrested Jesus, mocked and beat Him. They blindfolded Him, struck Him, and then asked Him, “Who hit You? Tell us, Prophet!” And they hurled many other insulting words at Him. At daybreak, the council of the elders of the people, among whom were the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, assembled again. Then they had Jesus brought before them, and they began questioning Him, “Tell us, are You the Christ?”

Jesus replied, “You will not believe, if I tell you, and neither will you answer, if I ask you. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” In chorus they asked, “So You are the Son of God?” And Jesus said to them, “You are right, I am.” Then they said, “What need have we of witnesses? We have heard it from His own lips.”

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ the King.” Pilate asked Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up by His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the Accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked Him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

(At Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner.)

Shouting as one man, the crowd protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder. Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes. When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, arriving from the countryside, and laid the cross on Him, to carry it behind Jesus.

A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!’ And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?”

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. (Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”) And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man Who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the Chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the King of the Jews? Save Yourself!” Above Jesus there was an inscription in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this Man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “In truth I tell you, today, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.”

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely, this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts. But those who knew Jesus, and the women who had followed Him from Galilee, remained there at a distance. They witnessed all these things.

Then a member of the Jewish supreme council intervened, a good and righteous man named Joseph, from the Judean town of Arimathea. He had not agreed with the decision and action of his fellow members, and he lived uprightly in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God. Joseph went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ Body. He then took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a yet unused tomb, cut out of a rock.

It was the day of preparation and the Sabbath was beginning. So the women, who had come with Jesus from Galilee, followed Joseph to see the tomb, and how His Body was laid. Returning home, they prepared perfumes and ointments. And on the Sabbath day they rested, as the Law required.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 23 : 1-49

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ the King.” Pilate asked Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up by His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the Accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked Him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

(At Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner.)

Shouting as one man, the crowd protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder. Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes. When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, arriving from the countryside, and laid the cross on Him, to carry it behind Jesus.

A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!’ And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?”

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. (Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”) And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man Who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the Chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the King of the Jews? Save Yourself!” Above Jesus there was an inscription in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this Man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “In truth I tell you, today, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.”

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely, this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts. But those who knew Jesus, and the women who had followed Him from Galilee, remained there at a distance. They witnessed all these things.

Tuesday, 5 April 2022 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 8 : 21-30

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews, “I am going away, and though you look for Me, you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” The Jews wondered, “Why does He say that we cannot come where He is going? Will He kill Himself?”

But Jesus said, “You are from below and I am from above; you are of this world and I am not of this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. And you shall die in your sins, unless you believe that I am He.” They asked Him, “Who are You?”; and Jesus said, “Just what I have told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the One Who sent Me is truthful and everything I learnt from Him; I proclaim to the world.”

They did not understand that Jesus was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing of Myself, but I say just what the Father taught Me. He Who sent Me is with Me and has not left Me alone; because I always do what pleases Him.”

As Jesus spoke like this, many believed in Him.

Friday, 2 April 2021 : Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the very important day of the Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord, the day when Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was crucified for our sake, when He took up His Cross up the hill of Calvary and died for all. It was all these that made today truly a ‘Good Friday’ because without the offering and selfless sacrifice of Our Lord, there would not have been any hope for us, and it was because of Him that we have seen the light of hope and salvation once again.

Today, on Good Friday we remember the Lord Who willingly emptied Himself of all glory, in obeying the will of His heavenly Father, stripping Himself of all dignity and glory so that He may bear the punishment for all of our sins, and by taking up all those with Him, He might offer a most perfect sacrifice, worthy for the redemption of all of us mankind, and for the atonement of our multitudes of sins. Today we remember God’s love that has manifested in the crucifixion, in a love so wonderful and selfless that He willingly endured all humiliation for us.

Through what the Lord had done that day, He has completed what He had begun the day earlier, in the Last Supper when He instituted the Holy Eucharist, giving His own Precious Body and Blood to be shared by the disciples. As we all just celebrated and remembered yesterday in the events of Holy Thursday, the Lord had the Passover meal with His disciples, in which He instituted the New Passover, one that no longer remembered the past event of how God rescued the people of Israel from the slavery in Egypt, but an even much greater event, that God has come to rescue all of His people from the slavery of sin.

At that Passover meal, we may have noticed yesterday that unlike the usual Passover meal of the Jewish Passover, where a lamb is slaughtered and eaten by the household, at the new Passover, the Lord offered Himself as the sacrificial Lamb, the Lamb of God to be slaughtered for all of us, to be the source of forgiveness for all of our sins and iniquities. This has been prophesied by many of the prophets, particularly that of the prophet Isaiah who spoke at length about the Messiah or Saviour Who would come into the world and Who would suffer persecution, rejection and death.

In comparison with the old Jewish Passover, the significance of the events of Good Friday together with the preceding events at the Last Supper cannot be underestimated or ignored. For at the old Passover, at the beginning of the meal, represented by the Last Supper, is the moment when the first of the four cups of wine is drunk, led by the father and head of the house, where the unleavened bread is taken out and eaten with the lamb as mentioned earlier, which is what the Lord Himself had done, offering His Body and Blood to His disciples in the bread and wine at the Last Supper.

Then, the second cup, the Cup of Proclamations and third, the Cup of Blessings was drunk afterwards, at the moment when the family spoke of the significance of the Passover, reminding the people and especially the young children on why the Passover was so important, for God has saved His people in the past through such great deeds from their certain destruction and annihilation. As indicated from the Scriptures and the accounts of the Last Supper, the last and fourth cup, the cup of Praise had not been drunk yet when the Lord and His three disciples went out of the meal and headed to the Gardens of Gethsemane.

That last cup, also known as the Cup of Consummation, was the cup that the Lord referred to in the Last Supper as of why He would not drink the fruits of the vine again until the coming of the kingdom of God, referring specifically to how the Passover meal, the New Passover He was bringing into this world, had not ended yet as of that night of the Last Supper, and instead would culminate on the Cross at Good Friday, with the death of the Lord as the completion of the New Passover. That was why at the Gardens of Gethsemane, when the Lord was in agony, He prayed that the ‘cup may pass Him by’ and yet, He remained firm in His obedience and dedication to His mission, no matter how tough and painful it would be.

When at the ancient, first Passover the lamb was slaughtered on the day of preparation for the Passover, it was on Good Friday that was the day before the Sabbath day, as has been noted in the Scriptures, that the Lord died on the day of the preparation for the Passover. Thus, indeed it was very symbolic and real how the Lord had chosen that very day to highlight how He was truly the Paschal Lamb, the One to be sacrificed for the salvation of all, the Lamb of the New Passover. While in Egypt, the Israelites used the blood of the lamb to mark the doors of their houses that they were spared the great plague of death coming upon Egypt, thus all of us have been marked by the Blood of the Lamb of God.

How is that then significant for us? It is significant because the Precious Blood that the Lord has shed sealed the New Covenant between us and God, reconciling us to Him, and bridging the gap that had once existed between us and Him. Through the Cross, by His Passion, His suffering and death, and importantly through His Resurrection, Christ has showed that there is hope beyond death, and there is the assurance of eternal life with God.

He has perfectly obeyed the will of the Father, to be the Mediator of the New Covenant between all of us and God. And as the New Adam, according to St. Paul the Apostle, Christ became the source of new life in God, bringing all mankind to a renewed life in grace. Just as the first Adam fell into sin by eating the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, out of desire and disobedience against God, falling into the temptations of Satan. Christ, the New Adam, persevered to the very end, nailed to another ‘tree’, that is the Cross, in full and perfect obedience to God, His Father.

Thus just as the first Adam led all mankind into sin, the New Adam, Christ, led all of us into the path out of the tyranny of sin, showing us that sin and death do not have the final say over us. For through His death and Resurrection, He proved that He truly is the Lord and Master of life and death, and that His grace is greater than sin and death. And that is why, He has willingly suffered for us that by uniting our humanity to Himself, we share in His death, death to our old, sinful selves, and then share in His glorious Resurrection, entering a new life and existence, with the promise of eternal life.

Hence, we should not treat the events that happened during this Easter Triduum as separate, unrelated events, but rather as one great event, the New Passover and the New Covenant that the Lord has established with us, beginning at the Last Supper, through Our Lord’s suffering and persecution, right through His crucifixion and completed through His death on the Cross. Through all these, right up to the events on Good Friday that we commemorate today, the Lord showed His mighty hands in delivering all of us His people from the tyranny of sin and the darkness of evil.

This is why on the Cross, as He was about to die, the Lord said, ‘I thirst’, and a mixture of sour and bitter wine was given to Him, symbolically showing the drinking of the Cup of Consummation, and the completion of the New Passover, which Christ spoke of as He said, ‘It is finished.’ Right after that very moment, the Lord gave up His Spirit and died, with the words, ‘Father, into Your hands, I commend My Spirit’ completing the sacrifice and offerings of the New Covenant and the New Passover.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all now look to the crucifix, to the Cross of Our Lord, bearing our Saviour Who had suffered and died for all of us. He is the Lamb of God, sacrificed and offered for us, as the perfect and worthy atonement for our sins. And He is also our High Priest, the Mediator of the New Covenant, just as Moses and Aaron once sealed the Covenant between God and Israel with the blood of the sacrificial lamb on the Altar. And thus, Christ, Our High Priest and the Lamb at the same time, offered Himself on the Altar of the Cross, to seal the New Covenant between us and God, and to be the source of healing and absolution for our many sins.

There, on the Cross, lies a reminder of the bloody and sorrowful offering of the Lamb of God, of God Who loved us so much that He is willing to suffer and die for us. And every time we celebrate the Holy Mass, brothers and sisters, we remember this very same sacrifice, for as I mentioned yesterday, on Holy Thursday, that the whole liturgy of the Eucharist in the Holy Mass is no less than the same sacrifice and offering, the same thing that happened two millennia ago, from the Last Supper to the Cross, from the moment that the Lord offered the bread and wine and turned them into His own Precious Body and Blood, and up to the completion of that Passover sacrifice on the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we focus ourselves on the very important events that happened on that day at Calvary, let us all bear in mind always how God loves us so much, that everything He had done and which we remember today, are for our sake and nothing else. Every time we sin and disobey God, let us remember that all those sins are what our Lord Himself bore on His Cross, the wounds He endured, and all the bitterness and humiliations He suffered, so that we may be forgiven and enter into a new life of grace through Him.

Let us all therefore unite our sufferings and ourselves to the Lord, through His crucifixion, His suffering and death. Let us all be truly ashamed of our many sins and all the things that we have done in contradiction to our Christian faith and calling, and in rebellion against God and His will. Let us not harden our hearts any longer, but seek our Lord, the Mediator of the New Covenant, that He may heal us through His Cross, and allow His outpoured Precious Blood to wash us clean and to purify us just as the saints and martyrs had purified themselves in the Blood of the Lamb.

As we all share and partake in the Holy Communion today, let us remember that we receive none other than the Lord Himself, the same Lord and the same sacrifice He made at Calvary, on the Altar of the Cross. The Eucharist we receive is the same crucified Lord and Saviour Who have marked us by His Blood, and bring us forth from the slavery to sin and bring unto us the New Passover, that we are ‘passed over’ from death into new life, which we will be further reminded on as we enter into the time of the glorious Resurrection in Easter.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all move forward in life, no longer looking back at sin and at all the wicked ways of the world, and instead, fill ourselves with the resolve and renewed conviction to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and to glorify Him through our lives, our actions and deeds. May the Lord, our Crucified Messiah, Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, be with us always, and bless us all, His beloved ones, on this most good and wonderful day of our salvation, the salvation of His Cross. Amen.