Friday, 18 April 2014 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, Easter Triduum (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 sufferings 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 sin.

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.

Thursday, 10 April 2014 : 5th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Genesis 17 : 3-9

Abram fell face down and God said to him, “This is My covenant with you : you will be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer will you be called Abram, but Abraham, because I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you more and more famous; I will multiply your descendants; nations shall spring from you, kings shall be among your descendants.”

“And I will establish a covenant, an everlasting covenant between Myself and you and your descendants after you; from now on I will be your God and the God of your descendants after you, for generations to come. I will give to you and your descendants after you the land you are living in, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession and I will be the God of your race.”

God said to Abraham, “For your part, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you, generation after generation.”

Wednesday, 9 April 2014 : 5th Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we go closer and closer to the time of celebration of the Holy Week, and as we continue to immerse ourselves in the dynamics of Lent, we need to make a clear and conscious choice on our part, that we resolve to be with God and be faithful to Him, or to reject Him and to follow instead, the devil and his ways of the world.

The three companions of Daniel, that is Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they are all presented with the choice to serve either God their Lord, or the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar and worship him and the statue he had built for himself. And they proved their faith for the Lord, choosing to be burned in the big furnace rather than giving up their faith and worship the king’s statue.

They dedicated themselves to God even though they know that they will suffer from disobeying the king’s order and even knowing the punishment that they would have to suffer for such disobedience. Yet, in doing that they remain true to God and to His will, and as we saw, God did not want His servants to suffer, and therefore, He protected them from the wrath of the flames in the furnace.

We cannot be servants to two masters, as another parable of Jesus has told us, that for example, we cannot be servants of both God and money. In today’s Gospel the people claimed that they were the children of Abraham by the right of descendant, and yet what they did in their words and deeds clearly did not reflect that they were worthy of being the children of Abraham.

For Abraham obeyed the Lord without condition and with the fullness of devotion and giving of his heart. He did not even shy from giving up his own son, the very one long promised by God, to be sacrificed on the Mount of Moria, and for that kind of devotion, he was praised and rewarded by God. Abraham was faithful, in the same way as the three companions of Daniel had been, and they showed that faith in God cannot be one that is arbitrary, but must be something that is concrete and done in complete and full dedication.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we cannot be like the people of Israel who rejected Jesus by claiming that they were the children of Abraham, in trying to justify their wickedness. They thought that being the children of Abraham, they were ensured and guaranteed of salvation, but they were wrong. In fact Abraham would have been ashamed that these people were born from his blood, and being his descendants.

Thus, like the three companions of Daniel, we too must make a firm and conscious choice, especially as we go on in this life, and during this perfect opportunity of Lent, to change our ways if we have erred and strayed away from God’s path. Let us make that concrete choice and action, to seek the Lord and ask Him for His mercy, surrendering ourselves totally to Him, and promise Him and dedicate our whole lives to Him, forsaking all the falsehoods of the devil and the temporal pleasures of this world.

Let us instead seek the Lord and the true happiness that only He can give. Let us be with Him and be in His grace forevermore. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 20 December 2013 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 7 : 10-14

Once again YHVH addressed Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from YHVH, your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.”

But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask, I will not put YHVH to the test.” Then Isaiah said, “Now listen, descendants of David. Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign : ‘The Virgin is with child and bears a Son and calls His Name Immanuel.'”

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 23 : 5-8

YHVH further says, “The day is coming when I will raise up a King who is David’s righteous successor. He will rule wisely and govern with justice and righteousness. That will be a grandiose era when Judah will enjoy peace and Israel will live in safety. He will be called YHVH-our-Justice!”

“The days are coming,” says YHVH, “when people shall no longer swear by YHVH as the living God who freed the people of Israel from the land of Egypt. Rather, they will swear by YHVH as the living God who restored the descendants of Israel from the northern empire and from all the lands where He had driven them, to live again in their own land!”

Tuesday, 17 December 2013 : 3rd Week of Advent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we approach closer and closer to Christmas. It is just another week before we once again celebrate the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was born in the city of David, in Bethlehem over two millenia ago. The coming of the Lord as the Messiah, or the Saviour of all had been foretold long before His birth, through the revelations made through the prophets and the numerous messengers sent by God to His people, to tell them of the great joy of that Good News.

God is faithful to His promises and sought their fulfillment in the coming of the Messiah, born of the family of David, as a fulfillment of His promise to Israel, to those who had remained faithful to Him. He promised David, that his descendant will rule forever in a kingdom that is without end, and the same He had promised to Abraham, that his descendants would be innumerable and great. And not least of all, God promised even our first ancestors, from the very beginning, that He would not abandon them to the works of the evil one.

Mankind had indeed erred ever since the beginning, when they first tasted the fruits of sin, in contempt of the love of God for them, trusting more in the sweet but poisonous words of Satan rather than the loving words of God. Adam and Eve were lured into the trap of the devil, who promised them knowledge, greatness, and glory, by disobeying God. Indeed, the Lord loved them and gave them all the blessings He had intended for them, but He also set specific rules for them, to keep them away from sinfulness and thus, destruction.

Mankind were created pure, without knowing even an ounce of sin and evil. Evil was unknown to them, and all creations were created good and perfect. Yet, you may indeed ask then, why did God even plant such a dangerous tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so that our ancestors might eat from them? Would it not be better for that tree to be not present at all?

Well, brethren, indeed, although all creations were created good and perfect, it was the devil himself who first ruined the order of the universe, through his own pride, jealousy, and vanity, desiring none other than the throne of God and to supersede God in his pride. Evil therefore was made to exist in the world, and that was why, God contained that evil and prevented our ancestors from knowing them, that they would not be corrupted as the devil had been.

After mankind fell to the temptations of the evil one, God could easily have obliterated them and destroyed them, for they have followed in the path of rebellion of Satan. Yet, He did not do so, and although He punished them for their disobedience, banishing them from the bliss and joy of Eden, to labour and work hard on barren earth, but deep inside, the Lord loved us still, and loved us deeply He did.

We have known good and evil, and therefore, we have the capacity for good or for evil. And that was exactly what mankind had done all these while. We had done much good, but also much evil. And evil and sin are the thongs that prevented us from reuniting ourselves with God, for God is good and perfect, and sin has no place before Him. As long as we remained sinful and rebellious, we cannot be with God.

That was why, for a long while, ever since the beginning, God had prepared a comprehensive plan of salvation. One that He first told our ancestors and the devil himself, as a premonition of what will happen. He chose those who were righteous and just, who disdained sin and rejected the sinful temptations of the devil, beginning with Noah, whom He called and rescued from among all mankind and their wickedness in the Ark, and then to Abraham and his descendants, the chosen ones of God.

And He chose David, a faithful servant, through whom the long planned salvation plan would continue, and although both his ancestors and descendants did not remain faithful to Him, sometimes even committing things very evil in the eyes of God, the Lord continued on, as He certainly knew what will eventually happen. And He revealed part by part His plan to the numerous prophets and messengers He had sent to His people, to call them to repent from their sinfulness.

And while some did heed His call, many continued to defy Him and turned deaf ears against His words delivered through the prophets. In fact, they persecuted and rejected these prophets and messengers, and even slaughtering them. Even John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the coming of Christ, they rejected, ridiculed, and eventually brought to death.

After a long while, in Jesus, the salvation itself finally arrived. God Himself incarnate into man, to be one of us. He did this for no other reason than that first He might reveal to His beloved children, of what He had intended for them, in all its fullness, and most importantly, to be a sacrificial victim, a worthy sin offering to take away from us, all the taints of sin that separated us from God. He became the way, and the only way between us and God our Father.

After hearing what the Lord had done and what He had planned, and what He had done through Jesus, as we all know from the Holy Scriptures, now it is our time to think, and to reflect on our own actions, and on the reality of our own sinfulness.

Yes, brethren, we have received the word of God and His revelations, as part of our faith, and we have indeed accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. But have we truly lived in the way that Christ had taught us? Have we all remained faithful to His laws and commandments of love? Just as it was in the past, our world and our surroundings presented to us many tempting challenges and offers, those that many of us and those before us had taken up.

We professed our faith in God, and yet many of our actions still did not reflect this faith we have in Him. We are no better than those Pharisees and the chief priests who outwardly professed their faith and yet had no love for the Lord in them.

As we approach ever closer to the celebration of Christmas, let us all renew and strengthen our love for God, that we will be able to commit fully to the Lord and walk faithfully in His path. Let us all renew our faith in Him and profess it through not just our words, but also our actions. Let us all be courageous to proclaim our faith in God, that we truly believe in our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the long awaited Messiah.

May this Advent season be a fruitful one for all of us, that we make best use of the time to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christ’s coming into this world. Let us all prepare ourselves, that we rid ourselves of sin and wickedness, that we all be pure and ready to welcome our Saviour, that when He comes again, we will be found worthy for the eternal joy and rewards He had promised us. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 13 December 2013 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Red (Martyrs)

Isaiah 48 : 17-19

Thus says YHVH, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel : “I, YHVH, your God, teach you what is best for you : I lead you in the way that you must go. Had you paid attention to My commandments, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”

“Your descendants would have been like the sand, and those born of your stock like its grains, their names never cut off nor blotted out from My presence.”