(Usus Antiquior) Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord, Octave Day of Christmas (Double II Classis) – Thursday, 1 January 2015 : Epistle

Liturgical Colour : White

Lectio Epistolae Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Titum – Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to Titus

Titus 2 : 11-15

Carissime : Apparuit gratia Dei Salvatoris nostri omnibus hominibus, erudiens nos, ut, abnegantes impietatem et saecularia desideria, sobrie et juste et pie vivamus in hoc saeculo, exspectantes beatam spem et adventum gloriae magni Dei et Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi : qui dedit semetipsum pro nobis : ut nos redimeret ab omni iniquitate, et mundaret sibi populum acceptabilem, sectatorem honorum operum. Haec loquere et exhortare : in Christo Jesu, Domino nostro.

English translation

Dearly beloved, the grace of God our Saviour had appeared to all men, instructing us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly and justly, and godly in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to Himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works. These things speak, and exhort: In Christ Jesus our Lord.

Homily and Reflection :

Saturday, 13 December 2014 : Second Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue again to hear about the prophet Elijah and John the Baptist in our Scripture readings. Why is this so, brothers and sisters? That is because in this Advent season, it is particularly appropriate for us to heed their actions and their words, the proclamations of these faithful servants of God, who were sent to the people in order to turn their hearts back to the Lord.

They were sent to a people who had long lived in darkness and sin, and therefore, through their works, God hoped to bring back a people whom He loved to Himself so that they would be lost no more. Yes, He is the Good Shepherd who looks actively for His lost sheep, and desires greatly that all of us be reunited with Him. He wants us all to be freed from our bondage to the darkness of sin, and to this extent, He did the unbelievable, yes, indeed, for all those who did not have faith indeed, it was unbelievable, for He gave Himself, as the One through whom mankind would be saved.

Which other gods or entities who claimed divinity do this? None, and none beside our Lord and God, the One and only True God, who loves all that He created, and loves us in particular so much that He sent us Jesus, the incarnation of the Divine Word of God, to be our salvation. But so that the works of Jesus may come to a full completion and perfection, therefore, before His coming, God sent His servants to prepare the way for Him.

That was the purpose of the prophets and the messengers of God, great and chief among whom were St. John the Baptist and Elijah, who were in fact the one and same person, called to the service of God at two different times and eras, but nevertheless, they were called to the same mission, to call the people to repentance and for them to seek the mercy of God, and to change their ways and sin no more.

This is in perfect resonance to the very purpose and reason of this season of Advent, which means literally ‘coming’ or the coming of Christ our Lord at the end of time, when He will come again in glory to judge all the living and the dead, and it is for that coming of Christ that we should prepare ourselves thoroughly and completely. And in this, we should heed the examples of the prophets and the messengers of God.

All of us who have been baptised in the Name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit had been made children of God, and also therefore as the members of His Body and His Church, the unity of all the faithful ones in the Lord. But at the same time, through our baptism, we have been given a mission, the same mission which Christ had given His Apostles and disciples before He left this world for heaven at the Ascension.

That mission was to proclaim the Good News and the salvation in Jesus Christ to all the nations, to all the peoples of the world, without exception, and to baptise them in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. It is a call for all of us to walk in the same path as the prophet Elijah, who called for the people of the northern kingdom of Israel to repent from their sins, and also St. John the Baptist, who cried out in the wilderness for the people to repent and change their ways, to prepare for the coming of God’s kingdom, and who baptised them with the baptism of water.

We have the faith in us, and we have been granted God’s grace through baptism. Therefore, it is only fitting that we help one another, especially those who are still lost and in the darkness of the world, to find their way to God, so that at the end of the day, God may see in all of us, the same faithfulness shown by Elijah and John the Baptist.

Today, we also celebrate the feast of a martyr and holy virgin, St. Lucy, whose actions may also inspire us further to live according to the will of God, and according to what we have just discussed. St. Lucy was a young Christian maiden, who lived in Syracuse in the island of Sicily. St. Lucy or St. Lucia was a martyr of the Faith during the last great persecution of the faithful by the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and according to tradition, she was executed for being faithful and refusing to recant her faith to the Lord.

St. Lucy devoted herself totally to the Lord, and like many of her contemporaries, she committed herself to a life of sanctity and chastity, vowing to remain in holy virginity for the sake of the Lord. But her mother, not knowing of this and sickened with disease, betrothed her to a rich young man from a pagan family. Nonetheless, through the intercession of St. Agatha, St. Lucy’s mother was healed and St. Lucy managed to persuade her to donate in charitable acts, her riches and wealth to help the poor of the society.

St. Lucy thus showed her genuine and real faith through her loving actions to her brethren in need, and thus stand as a witness of the Lord and of the faith in Him by her concrete actions. Her betrothed complained against her actions to the local governor, who demanded that she offered sacrifices to the Emperor, which she refused immediately and firmly.

St. Lucy was therefore tortured and punished severely, and the authorities tried to kill her by various means, but they always failed. The wood would not burn when they tried to burn her at a stake. She eventually was martyred by the sword. Nevertheless, through her witness and defense of the faith, she became a great inspiration to many of the later generations, and many were saved by her intercession and examples.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, here we have seen what the faithful, that is all of us, have to do. The examples of St. Lucy and what we have discussed earlier showed that all of us have a responsibility to be witnesses of the faith, just as Elijah and St. John the Baptist had once done, to call the people who have lived in sin and darkness to return to the light of Christ, our Lord.

Indeed, it does not meant that we have to follow St. Lucy into martyrdom for this, but what is necessary is that we must realise that our faith cannot be a lukewarm one. We cannot sit on the fence and wait for things to happen. It is essential that we are proactive in our faith and actively spreading the Good News of our Lord, not just by words, but also through our concrete actions and love towards one another.

May St. Lucy intercede for us, that God may strengthen our faith and affirm us all in His love. May day by day we all grow stronger and more devoted in our lives. God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.


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Tuesday, 25 November 2014 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the words of the Holy Scriptures, which told us about when Jesus foretold the great destruction that was about to befall the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of God there, because of the wickedness of the people who lived there. Then in the psalm we heard of the songs of joy and exultation which came from all of creation to praise the Lord who is to come to save His people.

And in the first reading we heard about the warning and prophecy of what is about to come in the future, at the end of times, when the Lord deems it is time for the ending of the world as we knew it. When everything is at hand, what had been said in the Scriptures, will be completely fulfilled. There are two meanings of the reaping of the earth in the first reading today from the Book of the revelations of St. John.

The first one is related to the parable of the fig tree where the Lord rebuked the fig tree for having bore no fruit, and it withered, and also to the parable of the sower, where the seeds sown in a rich and fertile soil grew to such an extent that they bore a thirtyfold, or a sixtyfold, or a hundredfold return in bountiful fruits and products. Therefore, this means that at the time, when the Lord’s chosen ones had been completed in their fullness, and in the fullness of their faith, He will come again.

The time is not known to us, and only He who knows it all, has control over it. We who have been chosen and we who chose to put our faith in Him has therefore one task for ourselves, that is to live faithfully and genuinely in our love for Him, so that through our actions, we may be filled with such goodness and grace, so that we bear the fruits of love, that is the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

We are the grapes of the Lord, sown with love by our Lord Himself, the vineyard owner. The angels are His servants, who will go forth into the world to reap whatever can be reaped on the day of the harvest. If we do not bear fruit within us, then when the time of reckoning, that is the harvest time, comes, then the angels will find no fruit in us, and we will end up as useless plants.

What is our fate then if that is the case? Our fate will therefore be to share the fate of Satan and his angels, who had been the first ones to disobey the Lord and His will, bearing themselves no good fruit in them. And the same goes if the fruits we produce are rotten or no good at all in quality. No vineyard owner would like to have bad or rotten grapes as his harvest produce, and these will be thrown into the fire to be destroyed, lest they contaminate the good grapes. Hence, the same will happen to us, at the Last Judgment.

The second meaning of the reaping of the earth in the first reading today, is that the grapes when they are pressed, they produce rich liquid that if we look at the most commonly used grapes at the time, the red variant, produce a deep red grape juice, which if we look at it, does look like blood. And this is another meaning of the reaping of the earth at the end of time.

If we read in another part of the Book of the Revelation of St. John, we will see a passage on the Mother Harlot, the great Babylon, seated on the beast, which represent the evil forces and all the wickedness of this world and whoever it is that do not have faith in the Lord. The harlot was drunk with the blood of martyrs, and the anger of God was very great against the world because of that.

That means, when the wickedness of the world was such, and the persecution of the holy martyrs was such that their blood cries out to the Lord for justice, then the Lord will heed their call, and at His appointed time, come to judge and destroy all the wickedness in this world. This is therefore related to the first interpretation of the meaning of the reaping of the world by the angel. In what way is this so?

It means that, just as Jesus warned of a great tribulation would soon befall Jerusalem, its destruction and the mayhem it would cause, that would only be a precursor and a brief insight into what will happen when the Lord is about to come again, just as St. John has seen them all in his revelation. Nations will fight against nations, and many will be misled by the forces of evil, seeking to turn us away from the way of the Lord and to worship and serve the devil instead.

In this therefore, the temptation will be great for us to turn from being a good and faithful vine, producing good and sweet grapes, into one corrupted and sickened by diseases, namely the disease of sin, which cause us to produce bad and rotten fruits instead. And the persecution of those who believe in the Lord will be growing more and more, greater and greater, and at times, even our lives and our blood will be at stake.

It is therefore a reminder for us, that first, we have to be thoroughly and completely faithful to the Lord, without doubts or second thoughts. We cannot serve both the Lord and the devil, and if we are to serve the Lord, we have to take our clear stand with Him, regardless of what the world may do to us for doing so. Do not fear the world, for it can only harm our body temporarily, but they cannot touch even a single bit of our soul, which is eternal.

Then, it is also a reminder that if we follow the Lord and remain faithful to Him, everything will not be easy or happy all the time. Difficulties and challenges will surely come our way, but if we are resolute and dedicated in our faith, then be assured, brothers and sisters, that we will be well taken care of by the Lord, and our reward is very great in heaven.

Today, we remember the memory and celebrate the feast of a great martyr and saint, whose example may help us to strengthen our own faith and effort to defend it, in the face of the difficulties and challenges presented by this world. The saint of today is St. Catherine of Alexandria, a holy virgin and martyr of the faith, who died heroically defending her faith and the Lord, as well as her purity, from the corruptions of sin and the world during the last of the great persecutions of the Faith by the Roman Empire.

St. Catherine of Alexandria was born a noble lady, the daughter of the rulers or governors of Egypt, a wealthy and influential province of the Roman Empire. Her beauty, wisdom and skills were such that, many people were her suitors. However, St. Catherine, who was a convert to the faith in her youth, was to dedicate herself and her love only to One, and that One is the Lord.

St. Catherine devoted herself to perpetual and perfect virginity, maintaining her purity, by offering herself totally and completely to the Lord, as a spiritual bride of the Lord, rejecting all the offers of all those who pursued her, even though she was showered with gifts of wealth, riches, power, influence, fame and many others. Eventually, even the Emperor himself, Maxentius, who would later perish against the first Christian Emperor, Constantine the Great, was also taken in by her beauty, but he failed to persuade her as well.

It was told that St. Catherine tried to persuade Emperor Maxentius to stop the persecution of Christians and to make him to see the errors of his ways of idol worship and to embrace the true Faith. The Emperor was not persuaded and he tried to employ several pagan philosophers to debate with her, and instead, those philosophers were persuaded and some joined the Faith.

Eventually St. Catherine of Alexandria was martyred, suffering terribly for defending her Faith and the truth, but in doing so, she had stood up for her faith, and brought witness and testimony to the truth, that inspired even others and brought others to salvation. She is our role model, brothers and sisters, as her actions in life is the example of what we should do in this life, to gain righteousness in God’s sight.

Therefore, with the intercession of St. Catherine of Alexandria, let us all renew our commitment to the Faith, strengthening our resolve to love and serve the Lord in all things, so that we may be true disciples of the Lord, rejecting all the falsehoods of Satan and his allies. Their lies and temptations are plentiful, cunning and wicked.

Remember what our Lord said in the Gospel today, that there will be lots of false prophets and false leads, and if we are not careful, we may fall into the traps of the devil. Let us therefore be courageous to live fully in the Lord, and at the same time, be vigilant and careful in all the things we do, so as to avoid committing sin and falling into damnation. God bless us all. Amen.


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Wednesday, 8 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard in the Scriptures, in the first reading, in the letter which St. Paul addressed to the Church in Galatia, on the conflict which existed even among the Apostles, and of the good works which they had performed among the people of God, teaching and spreading the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ.

However, indeed, the Apostles themselves were still human, although they had indeed been blessed and inspired by the Holy Spirit which they had received together at the day of the Pentecost, and which they spread to those chosen to be Apostles and leaders by the laying on of the hand. The Holy Spirit strengthened and guided them in their actions, but they were still humans after all, even that of St. Paul.

It was human nature for them to feel fear and insecurity, which sometimes may lay in the way of the good works of the Lord, as St. Paul put it, in how Peter, the chief of the Apostles acted in such a way to the people of God, to those among the faithful who did not belong to the Jewish race, in a prejudiced and biased manner, to please those who came from Jerusalem.

It is in our human nature to think first about our own self-preservation and for our own safety and benefits first before thinking about others. We are by nature selfish and proud of ourselves, which if we can see, even St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians espoused this, in his manner to establish how his own actions compared to that of Peter was righteous and just.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to be in constant touch with our Lord and God, so that we may always be reminded our own frailties and insecurities, and also reminded of what God has in stock for us, and as well as the nature of our God, that is mercy and love. He is loving just as He is forgiving, and to all those who walk in His ways, He would grant them much grace and blessings. He provides for us all in all things, so that we really have no need to worry or fear.

And today Jesus showed us in the Gospel, how to pray to the Lord, with proper disposition and attitude, which will definitely bring spiritual goodness to our hearts, minds and souls. We may think that we know how to pray, and we may think that we do not need to be coached and taught on how to do so, but that is where we are again very, very wrong.

If we notice, many of us when we pray, we end up in creating a litany of requests and demands, asking God to fulfill and heed to our wishes and wants. As a result, our prayers became insincere, and what ought to be a communication and loving contact between us and our Father in heaven, who loves us and cares for us, end up being like a spoilt child crying for demands to be fulfilled by his parents.

That is why, the Lord’s Prayer, Pater Noster, the prayer which Jesus taught His disciples is the perfect prayer, which establishes between us the crucial link with God our Father, beginning by extolling His greatness and holiness, as well as showing our perfect and complete obedience to His will and graces, which He as the Lord of all heaven and earth, has right to justify all that He has planned for us.

And instead of boasting of our achievements and demanding from Him what we want to have in life, we should rather give thanks to Him for His provision in our lives, that in our daily lives, we have enough to live for ourselves, and if we do not have enough, that He moved the hearts of those around us to help us make ends meet in this life, just as He moved those with excess to generously give part of what they have more.

And ultimately, that we seek God’s mercy for the sins and wrongs we have committed in the course of our lives. Our days do not pass without us committing sins and unworthy things, and no matter how small they are, they bar us from proceeding forward to be closer to God. And we have committed sins and cause injury, both physical and mental, to our brethren around us, just as they have done the same unto us.

If we persist in our hatred and unwillingness to forgive one another, this will merely lead to more and more pain and suffering among us, which will lead to even more sin and darkness in our lives, that will end up separating us further and further from the love of God and bring us ever closer to the brink of damnation. Thus, it is beautiful and wonderful indeed if we can truly forgive one another, that is to forgive each other the sins and mistakes.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, we who are all children of God, the members of His Church, we must all stand together as one. Do not let our ego and Satan break our unity and strength. Let us all forgive one another when we committed any wrongs or mistakes, and let us all renew our faith and commitment to the Lord, by spending precious time with Him, in deep and genuine prayer, not for our own needs and desires, but for our spiritual growth and salvation in God.

May Almighty God, our Father who is in heaven, forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven others who have sinned against us, and may He never cease to love us and grant us His daily blessings. God be with us all. Amen.

Saturday, 16 August 2014 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White

Ezekiel 18 : 1-10, 13b, 30-32

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Why are you applying this proverb to the land of Israel : ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge?'”

“As I live, word of YHVH, this proverb will no longer be quoted in Israel. All life is in My hands, the life of the parent and the life of the child are mine. The lives of both are in My hands, so the one who sins will die.”

“Imagine a man who is righteous and practices what is just and right. He does not eat in the mountain shrines, or look towards the filthy idols of Israel, does not defile his neighbour’s wife, or have intercourse with a woman during her period; he molests no one, pays what he owes, does not steal, gives food to the hungry and clothes to the naked, demands no interest on a loan and does not lend for interest, refrains from injustice, practices true justice, man to man, follows My decrees and obeys My laws in acting loyally. Because such a man is truly righteous, he will live, word of YHVH.”

“But perhaps this man has a son who steals and sheds blood, committing crimes which his father never did. Will such a man live? No, he will not! That is why I will judge you, Israel, each one according to his ways, word of YHVH. Come back, turn away from your offenses, that you may not deserve punishment.”

“Free yourself from all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, Israel? I do not want the death of anyone, word of YHVH, but that you be converted and live!”

Sunday, 27 July 2014 : 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are fielded with a good question, one that asks us and looks deep into the depths of our souls, hearts and minds. It is this question, ‘What is truly precious to us in our life?’ And this asks us exactly what we consider as something precious and to be guarded well in our lives.

There are many things that mankind find precious in life. Yes, some of the examples are wealth, possessions, family, loved ones, and many other things. To different people, these may command different level of preciousness. Yet, it is quire common for many of us to treasure wealth, possession, fame and standing in the society as things truly precious to us. This is especially more so in our world today, which is filled with greed and evil.

In the first reading today, we heard about the story of young King Solomon of Israel, just after he had succeeded to the throne from King David his father. This is a story how King Solomon prayed for wisdom before the Lord when the Lord offered to him all the things that he desired to have. King Solomon is renowned for his incomparable wisdom, in the story how he settled the issue of two mothers who are claiming to be the mother of the same baby.

God did not just give great wisdom, intellect and understanding to King Solomon, but as He Himself mentioned to the king, He granted him more than just what he had asked for, just because in his humility and meekness, he asked not for the wealth or power of the world, but for wisdom and understanding of things good and evil. God saw this and granted him what he had asked for, and in addition to that, all the others that he had not asked for.

But the example of Solomon is an example of how mankind can be corrupted by our desire and our greed. Our pride and desire will come in the way of righteousness, and prevent us from thinking and feeling rationally. Solomon grew wise and great, but he also gained much power and wealth during his long reign as king of Israel. If we read the first part of the Second Book of Kings, it would be clear how much wealth and greatness and fame that King Solomon had attained in his reign.

King Solomon was great, and his reign, together with that of King David his father was seen by all the people as the golden age of Israel, when the people of God were in the peak of their glory and power. However, with great power comes great responsibility, as well as great temptation and corruption. We know the phrase, that power corrupts, great power corrupts greatly, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is what exactly happened to Solomon, as well as many of the kings who followed after him in both Israel and Judah.

When mankind began to gain power and goodness such as wealth and possession, they can be tempted to get more and more, often by means that are wicked and unjust in nature. This is how Solomon also fell into sin and failed to live up to the expectations and failed to follow God in the same way as his father, king David had done.

But this does not mean that this is limited to the case of king Solomon or anyone who is powerful and rich. All of us are prone to this same fault. Mankind are all naturally predisposed to greed and desire, and this is something we really need to put in our greatest effort to escape from. If we are able to resist that wicked desire for more wealth, possession, affluence, fame and many other things that corrupt our hearts, then we can draw closer to God, and avoid those obstacles which Satan had placed on our way.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important that we all realise how blessed we are in God. The Lord Jesus had taught us all that the kingdom of heaven is at the end of our path in life, if we remain faithful and devoted to God, without falling inti temptation of this world as King Solomon had done. King Solomon was faithful to God, but over time, his attachments to the worldly goods, and the attachments he had to his numerous wives and concubines, designed to grant him greater power and prestige, had dulled his mind and heart. Great wisdom is of no use if your heart and mind are dulled and confounded by the evils of this world.

It is ultimately not that we should shun all forms of contact with the world or anything of the sort. They are themselves neutral and none are inherently evil in purpose. Money and possessions are in particular capable of both good and bad actions and uses. It is when mankind use them and get hold of them, that they have the choice of either using them for good or bad, more often for bad than good in many cases.

Let us all ponder on all these, and think, on what do we consider or what we can consider as true and genuine treasure in our lives. Is it that all we can get as treasure is only in this world, in all the things we can see, touch, hear and enjoy? If we think that this is so, then we are in the danger of falling into the same pitfall into which Solomon and so many other men had fallen into. Even king David himself fell into this when he was tempted by Bathsheba, and plotted to kill her husband so that she might belong to him, and so committed a sin before God.

Our true treasure is in heaven, the prize which God Himself had prepared for us. Jesus Himself had told His disciples, that He went ahead of them to prepare for them the place which He had made ready and reserved for them in the kingdom of the everlasting life, that is the life to come, in heaven. That is also, brothers and sisters, what is to be our reward. This is the treasure that we have to seek, and not what is in the world.

Seek not the treasures that can rot or be destroyed. Neither seek the treasures that we cannot bring with us into the life that is to come. Our material wealth and goods, and all else do not matter and do not affect what we will be like in the world of the afterlife, when we are either reunited once again with God in eternal happiness or whether we will be cast away forever from His presence and suffer forever in hellfire with Satan and his fellow fallen angels.

God is our true treasure, and the One who we should aspire to gain, that means to be closer to Him and to make Him our own, just as He had resolved to forgive us our sins and trespasses and make us His own. We should do what Jesus told us in His parable of the one who seek a precious pearl, or a precious treasure, and selling all that they have in order to gain the treasure.

Be warned that we should not interpret this literally and sell everything we have. Rather, what it means is that, we should not spare any thought or have any doubt about seeking the Lord and finding our way towards Him. We must put in a lot of effort to do this, as well as to counter any opposition that we will encounter on our way. We must put in our effort, which is through none other by understanding the Lord’s will and teachings, and putting them into concrete practice in our own lives.

May Almighty God guide us on our journey, and strengthen our faith, so that we may continue to persevere, despite all the difficulties and challenges, that we can eventually at the end of the day, receive our well-earned reward, the treasure of all treasures, that is for us to see and be one with God, our Lord and Father once again. Amen.

Monday, 12 May 2014 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs, and St. Pancras, Martyr (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are affirmed with the love of the Lord, who had given us that love through His gift of Jesus, His only beloved Son to us, as a fitting sacrificial victim and the intermediary between us sinners to He who is perfect in heaven. Through Christ all were made worthy of the Lord and were promised the glorious eternal life in heaven.

Yes, and this promise was extended to all mankind, to all the beloved creations of the Lord Most High, and not just to a certain group of people. If we read the Old Testament, it is very easy for us to have the misconception that the people of Israel, or the Jews, are the chosen people of God, whom the Lord chose over all the other nations.

God did choose the descendants of Jacob, and therefore, the descendants of Abraham, to be His first chosen, to be the ones to whom He first revealed Himself to, and the ones to whom He revealed His will and His love. But this does not mean that God excludes all the other nations from His love. He loved them equally just the same, just as we have our breath of life every single moments of our lives.

The shepherd, Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of all the people of God, did not choose favourites among His people. Indeed, He came first to the Jews, just as His Father had first chosen them to be His people. But this does not mean that His salvation is intended only for them to the exclusion and damnation of all the other nations.

He loves us all, and wishes us all to be saved, and therefore, that is why He commended the disciples to go and spread the Good News to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. That is His intention, and He desires that we all be reunited with God in eternal bliss of splendour and happiness. And thus, He sanctifies all mankind through His death and resurrection.

We must never be haughty and judge ourselves, just like the Jews who thought themselves of being worthy of salvation, because they misunderstood the intentions and actions of the Lord as one of favouritism, particularly the chief priests and the Pharisees. They judged themselves worthy and condemned others who did not share their opinions, to the point of persecuting Jesus and His followers in their ministry.

God showed His mercy to mankind, and He forgave them all, on the account of His love and dedication for them. The Lord is loving to all, and He readily shows His love for us all. He comforts us when we suffer and when we are sad, and He lifts us up when we fall down into despair and hopelessness. He shows His care for us without any discrimination.

Today we celebrate the feast of many saints, namely St. Nereus and Achilles, as well as St. Pancras, all of whom were slaves and servants of the Empress or Augusta of the early era Roman Empire. They were the servants of the wife of the Emperor Domitian or Domitianus, who was infamous for his great persecutions against the faithful and the Church, who carried out the one of the great persecution against the Church.

They were martyred in the defense of their faith, and they refused to recant their devotion and commitment to the Lord. They stayed faithful to the end and received holy martyrdom, and now they are revered by us in the Church as saints of the holy Church, worthy of heaven and interceding for our sake daily before the Lord.

In their example, we see how even the people considered to be unworthy by many in Jesus’ time can become saints and holy martyrs, by their following of the teachings of the Lord and by walking faithfully in His ways. Thus, we too should not be afraid and instead, walk courageously in the footsteps of these holy men to be also faithful disciples of the Lord and be courageous in our works, that we may bring even more souls to salvation.

May the Lord open our minds and hearts today, that we will learn to be inclusive and not to exclude others or be judgmental, and instead be humble in seeking the Lord’s forgiveness and love. May He guide us always that we may approach ever closer to His throne of mercy and to His loving embrace. Amen.

Friday, 11 April 2014 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we often like to presume many things, even those that we have no right to. We like to think that we know it all and refuse to believe if we face any kind of criticism or feedback from others. We especially do not like if we are questioned on our way of doing things. We resist and make complaints when things do not go our way.

That is, brethren, what happened to the people of Israel, the Jewish people of Jesus’ time. They had forsaken the truth of the Lord for human conveniences, and had rejected the Lord in favour of the devil and his worldly pleasures and temptations. They refused to see the truth that came with Jesus, and obstinately kept to their wicked ways.

They failed to understand the Christ and the purpose of His coming, as they did not understand God’s ways or the Scriptures in the first place. They put their trust in their human ways and observances, rather than seeking to know more about God and what He had intended for them. They failed to see how Jesus is the Messiah, the very One who would liberate them from the grip of sin and death.

Why so? That is because they have grown complacent and accustomed to the ways of the world, that they end up rejecting any attempts to make them change their ways. But again, as we see from the readings today, not all of them were such as that. Not all of the people of God were set in their wicked and rebellious ways, as there were indeed those who would listen to God and repent their sinful ways.

Those who refused to listen to Jesus and His words likely came from those who stood to lose the most by following Jesus and abandoning their wicked ways. These were the people in positions of power and influence, and they committed evil deeds through their positions and occupancies, leading many others to follow them into sin.

That was why the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the teachers of the Law were the ones who were most adamant against Jesus and His teachings, because they  looked upon Him as a rival and a usurper to their power and influence. The irony is such that they were the ones who by right should have the greatest knowledge of the Scriptures among the people of God, and thus should have been the ones who would have first noticed the Messiah and the Lord when He comes.

Thus, they refused to open their hearts to listen to the wisdom of God and instead succumb themselves to the temptations of Satan in their hearts, opening themselves to evil, such as pride, anger, wrath, jealousy and hatred which led them to act in a way that opposed the Lord and His ways, even as He came into the world to be the light to those who are in darkness, including they themselves.

That is what happened if we too allow ourselves to be taken over by our desires and human weaknesses, by our pride and arrogance, and by our jealousy and insecurities which lead us to disobey God and block His attempts and offers which He gave to us freely for our sake and for our salvation. That makes us to sin even more and to fall deeper into damnation.

So, today, we have to change our ways if we have acted like the Pharisees, and today, we celebrate the feast day of St. Stanislas or St. Stanislaus, a martyr of thr faith and one of the first pioneers of the faith in the kingdom of Poland, a thousand years ago. The martyrdom of St. Stanislas is well known even today, both in Poland and abroad.

St. Stanislas was the Bishop of Krakow, the same diocese from where our late Blessed Pope John Paul II came from originally before he became our Pope. St. Stanislas brought about a vigorous evangelisation of the then still largely pagan peoples of Poland, bringing about a real transformation of the society and bringing them to know the ways of the Lord.

St. Stanislas fought against many vices in the society, one of the most serious ones involve the very king of Poland himself, Boleslaw II also known as the Bold. King Boleslaw the Bold was known for his many good deeds, but he was also corrupted by the many vices of the world, and he did many things that were immoral and evil in the sight of God.

St. Stanislas did not fear of even rebuking his own superior, the king. St. Stanislas rebuked the king and eventually excommunicated him, casting him outside the communion of the Church into damnation. Yet instead of changing his ways and repenting for his sins, King Boleslaw chose the quick way out and murdered St. Stanislas with great cruelty and without fear of God for murdering one of His faithful servants.

As a result, King Boleslaw lost his throne, overthrown and eventually died in great infamy, because he disobeyed God and refused to listen to His will. He followed in the footsteps of the Pharisees who were adamant in their rebelliousness, that they refused to listen to God. This is what we have to avoid, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Yes, we cannot be complacent, and we have to open our ears, and the ears of our heart wide, so that we may listen to God and obey Him. Let us not be like King Boleslaw, the Pharisees and all those who acted to preserve their own selves and as a result end up in condemnation, which threw them into eternal suffering in hell. Let us all be faithful servants of our God, and continue to serve Him and listen to His will.

May God be with us always and guide us till the end of time, God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 5 April 2014 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 7 : 40-52

Many who had been listening to these words began to say, “This is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some wondered, “Would the Christ come from Galilee? Does the Scripture not say that the Christ is a descendant of David and from Bethlehem, the city of David?”

The crowd was divided over Him. Some wanted to arrest Him, but no one laid hands on Him. The officers of the Temple went back to the chief priests, who asked them, “Why did you not bring Him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this Man.”

The Pharisees then said, “So you, too, have been led astray! Have any of the rulers or any of the Pharisees believed in Him? Only these cursed people, who have no knowledge of the Law!”

Yet one of them, Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier, spoke out, “Does our Law condemn people without first hearing them and knowing the facts?” They replied, “Do you, too, come from Galilee? Look it up and see for yourself that no prophet is to come from Galilee.”


Friday, 21 March 2014 : 2nd Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jesus spoke about Himself when He talked about the parable of the evil tenants in today’s Gospel reading. And indeed everything came true as He spoke of. Jesus was the son of the owner of the vineyard, and the owner is God the Father, while the vineyard is this world where we live in. The grapes and the grapevine are all of us, the people of God.

The evil tenants are, in specific terms, the Pharisees and the elders of Israel, those who rejected Jesus the Son, and who later crucified Him to death on the cross. But in more general terms, they can also refer to anyone with power or holding any positions of power. They can also refer to any of us, brethren. For we mankind are prone to temptations of power and they may come at any time.

Why are we like the evil tenants? That is because we relish in the glories and joys of this world, that we grow attached to them, and we became obsessive over them, not wanting to give them up. That is what had happened to the Pharisees and the chief priests by the time of Jesus. They who had been entrusted with power and authority over the people, grew attached to that power, and it consumed them with desire for power, and jealousy for anyone they saw as threat to that power.

That explained why they were so stubborn and tried their best to undermine the works of Jesus and His disciples wherever they went to. They followed Jesus and heard Him as He taught the people of the revelation of God’s truth and salvation, but they did not listen to Him. Yes, they keep their ears and hearts closed against the Lord who tried to reach out to them and reconcile them with Him.

They tried to come out with plots after plots, and plotted they did, against the Lord and Messiah whom they are supposed to serve and preach for. They hardened their hearts against Him and branded Him a heretic and a blasphemer while in fact it was they themselves who had blasphemed against God through their wicked actions.

It is a lesson that all of us can learn from, that we should not let our human pride and ambition to get in our way as we go to seek the Lord and ask Him for His saving power. We cannot let ourselves be manipulated by the evil one, who sowed the seeds of lie in us, making us think that it is good for us to disobey and break the law of God as long as it suits our own desires and purposes.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we be like the Pharisees and those whose greed for power and control had obstructed their acknowledgment of the Lord’s authority? Or shall we be meek and humble, asking our Lord for guidance and for Him to lead us into a blessed life with Him? The choice here is clearly ours and we have to act upon it.

Let us not be brought down by the trap of power, and the pull of desire and wants, that we end up being great obstacles in the Lord’s work of salvation. Instead, let us learn to be humble, to set aside our own greed and human pride, and allow the Lord to be our guide and our leader, entrusting with Him and truly trusting Him to make the decisions that will be good to our own lives.

May the Lord our God help us to be reconciled with Himself, and to cast out all semblances of evil and wickedness from ourselves, that we may once again be made worthy, that we will not be judged to be among those who are unworthy of His salvation and those destined for damnation in hell. Let us pray for one another, and support one another, that our faith in God may be always strong. God bless us all. Amen.