Sunday, 26 September 2021 : Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, World Day of Migrants and Refugees (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Numbers 11 : 25-29

YHVH came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. He took some of the Spirit that was upon him and put It on the seventy elders. Now when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But this they did not do again.

Two men had remained in the camp; the name of one was Eldad, the name of the other Medad. However, the Spirit came on them for they were among those who were registered though they had not gone out to the Tent. As they prophesied inside the camp, a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

Joshua, the son of Nun, who ministered to Moses from his youth said, “My lord Moses, stop them!” But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous on my behalf? Would that all YHVH’s people were prophets and that YHVH would send His Spirit upon them!”

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we celebrate the great Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday marking the moment when the Holy Spirit came down upon the disciples of the Lord, descending from the Heavens like great tongues of fire that rested on each of them. The Holy Spirit gave the disciples great strength and courage, and they went forth out of their hiding place in Jerusalem, and openly preached the truth about the salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ to all the people assembled in Jerusalem at that time.

The people assembled there coming from very diverse places as far as Ethiopia, Parthia and even Rome and the distant provinces came from many different backgrounds, both those from the Jewish diaspora and Gentiles alike. They all spoke various different and intelligible languages. Yet, the moment the disciples spoke to them and give testimony of truth about Christ, they all could understand what these disciples were speaking about, and they seemed to hear them speaking in their own diverse languages.

The Holy Spirit gave the disciples the gift of speaking in tongues, and to some they have also been given the gift of miracles and power over evil spirits, allowing them to heal the sick and perform various other miracles. And through their testimony, sincerity and faith, it was told that the very day of the Pentecost itself, three thousand people gave themselves to be baptised by the Lord, and from then on, the Church began to grow and flourish. This is also why the celebration of the Pentecost marked the beginning of the Church, and we mark and celebrate it as the Anniversary of this Church that we all belong to.

From that day onwards, the disciples were no longer afraid and in hiding, and they finally went forth to fulfil the commandments and the mission that the Lord had entrusted to them. The Church was no longer something hidden but went forth into the world actively proclaiming the Lord and His Good News that still remain true even to this very day. The Holy Spirit has guided the path of the Church and its leaders from then on, leading the Apostles and their successors, the Popes, bishops and priests throughout the many centuries and ages past to the present day.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we reflect on the wondrous gift of the Holy Spirit by the Lord, we are all called to remember our baptismal Covenant with God, and the mission entrusted to each and every one of us, the same mission we all share because of our common baptism. The Holy Spirit has been given to us, and as St. Paul mentioned it in our second reading today, there are various gifts of the Holy Spirit, the wonders, the talents and abilities that have been entrusted to us and awaiting for us to make use of these for the good of all.

And because we have been given the Holy Spirit, all of us are then expected to be fruitful and be bountiful in the Holy Spirit, bearing plenty of rich outcomes as we live our lives in accordance with the will of God and making good use of the talents and gifts that we have received. What are these fruits of the Holy Spirit and how can we then make good use of these gifts to be dedicated as Christians? They are the nine fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the great virtues that all of us Christians should have with us, and which we should cultivate in our lives.

First of all, love lies at the hearts of all Christians, as we cannot call ourselves as Christians unless we know love and unless we know how to love and love sincerely. St. Paul himself had written that even if he were to know the language of Angels and have various other talents and wonders, but without love, then all those things would be meaningless. It was God’s love that allowed Him to be patient with us and to seek us out constantly, even when we continue to disobey Him and distance ourselves from Him. And His love has been manifested completely and perfectly in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born into this world and One Who died for us out of love, that by His suffering and death, He may bring all of us out of the darkness of sin and death, and lead us into eternal life.

And therefore, just as the Lord Himself has loved us so dearly and wonderfully, we too are called to follow in the footsteps of Our Lord, to love without condition and sincerely, to all those who are around us, to our friends and relatives, our family members and even those whom we encounter daily in life, acquaintances and even strangers. We are all challenged to show love not only for ourselves, but also for God, first and foremost, and then also for our fellow brothers and sisters, all those whom we meet in life, and we are challenged by the Lord to show love even to our enemies, as He Himself said, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’

The second fruit of the Holy Spirit is joy, and joy is something that is lacking in our community and in so many among us these days. I know that during this time with the pandemic still raging and flaring up again and again in various parts of the world, the numerous disruptions and negative effects it had on our communities and livelihood, it is very difficult for us to be joyful. Yet, as Christians, we should be the source of joy for one another even during this difficult time. And why should we be joyful when all these misfortunes and terrible things are happening to us? That is because we have faith in God and we believe that no matter what, God will always be by our side, and He shall always have our back at all times. We rejoice because no matter what happens and no matter how bad things can be, in the end, as long as we remain firmly faithful in God, we will triumph.

Then, the next fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace. As Christians we must believe in peace and we are all called to be the bearers of God’s peace in our community. There are also plenty of conflicts that had been happening this past few months alone as tensions rose up between countries and peoples, exacerbated by the current pandemic situation and all the instabilities it caused. Those conflicts also came to be as a result of mankind’s greed and unbridled desires, their pride and ego, and their pursuit for power and glory. That is why, as Christians we should show through action that we should uphold peace above conflict, and do our best to reconcile ourselves and also be intermediaries for others who disagree and are in conflict.

Then comes the fruit of patience. As Christians we have to know patience, much as Our Lord Himself has shown us so much patience all these while, despite our various infidelities and wickedness. God still cared for us and loved us, and He also patiently tried again and again to call us and to lead us to return to the right path. All of us are called to be patient in life as well, and if necessary to endure with faith all the challenges, trials and difficulties that we may have to endure as we continue to live our lives faithfully as Christians in each and every moments of our lives.

Then the fruits of kindness and goodness, which must have been self-explanatory, that as Christians, we ought to have empathy and concern for others, that in all the things we say and do, we will always have consideration for others, our fellow brothers and sisters, in our minds. We should always strive to be good as well, which means that we are all called to a life of virtue, a life of obedience to the will of God. We should always show kindness in our every actions and be as true Christians in all things, resisting the temptations to sin and to do what is against God’s teachings and against His will.

And as Christians, we are all called to have strong and genuine faith in the Lord, the fruit of faithfulness in the Holy Spirit. That means we should truly believe in all the things that we profess to have faith in, and not just merely paying lip service or being outwardly pious and yet inside, God has no true place within our hearts. To be truly faithful to the Lord is not an easy task, brothers and sisters in Christ, for it will require us to commit ourselves wholeheartedly and to dedicate our time, effort and more to serve the Lord through our lives.

Lastly, the two fruits of gentleness and self-control are important reminders for all of us to live a life of virtue and faith, not controlled by our own desires and the allures of worldly pleasures. This is why we should not be quick-tempered or easy to give in to anger and pride, and we have to overcome the temptations of our flesh, which could derail our path towards God and His salvation. We are all called to focus our attention instead on the Lord and always contemplate on His ways and truth, rather than listening to the temptations of our pride and desire.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Pentecost today, let us all remember that Pentecost is not merely just the end of the season of Easter. On the contrary, it marks a new beginning for the Church, which as mentioned, back then, the disciples were strengthened and encouraged by the gift of the Holy Spirit descending on them. Then are we going to follow in their footsteps, brothers and sisters? Are we also going to proclaim our faith courageously and dedicate ourselves and our time to the best of our abilities from now on?

This is our calling and mission as Christians, and we should embrace them wholeheartedly, if we have not done so yet. Let us all be part of the Church’s mission to reach out to more and more people, and to call on more to follow the Lord, to be His faithful witnesses, guided by the Holy Spirit with our various and diverse gifts and abilities, that we may indeed bear rich fruits of the Holy Spirit and become great inspirations to one another in faith. Come, o Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and enkindle in us the fire of Your love. Amen.

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 20 : 19-23

At that time, on the evening of the day when Jesus rose from the dead, the first day after the Sabbath, the doors were locked where the disciples were, because of their fear of the Jews. But Jesus came, and stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” Then He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples kept looking at the Lord and were full of joy.

Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

Alternative reading

John 15 : 26-27 and John 16 : 12-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “From the Father, I will send you the Spirit of truth. When this Helper has come from the Father, He will be My witness, and you, too, will be My witnesses, for you have been with Me from the beginning. I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now. When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into the whole truth.”

“For He will not speak of His own authority, but will speak what He hears, and He will tell you about the things which are to come. He will take what is Mine and make it known to you; in doing this, He will glorify Me. All that the Father has is Mine; for this reason, I told you that the Spirit will take what is Mine, and make it known to you.”

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Corinthians 12 : 3b-7, 12-13

No one can say, “Jesus is the Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There is diversity of gifts, but the Spirit is the same. There is diversity of ministries, but the Lord is the same. There is diversity of works, but the same God works in all.

The Spirit reveals His presence in each one with a gift that is also a service. As the body is one, having many members, and all the members, while being many, form one body, so it is with Christ. All of us, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, have been baptised in one Spirit to form one body and all of us have been given to drink from the one Spirit.

Alternative reading

Galatians 5 : 16-25

Therefore, I say to you : walk according to the Spirit and do not give way to the desires of the flesh! For the desires of the flesh war against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are opposed to the flesh. Both are in conflict with each other, so that you cannot do everything you would like. But when you are led by the Spirit you are not under the Law.

You know what comes from the flesh : fornication, impurity and shamelessness, idol worship and sorcery, hatred, jealousy and violence, anger, ambition, division, factions, and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I again say to you what I have already said : those who do these things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy and peace, patience, understanding of others, kindness and fidelity, gentleness and self-control. For such things there is no law or punishment. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its vices and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us live in a spiritual way.

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 103 : 1ab and 24ac, 29bc-30, 31 and 34

Bless the Lord, my soul! Clothed in majesty and splendour; How varied o Lord, are Your works! The earth full of Your creatures.

You take away their breath, they expire and return to dust. When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and the face of the earth is renewed.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works! May my song give Him pleasure, as the Lord gives me delight.

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Acts 2 : 1-11

When the day of Pentecost came, the disciples of Jesus were all together in one place. And suddenly out of the sky came a sound like a strong rushing wind and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. There appeared tongues as if of fire which parted and came to rest upon each one of them. All were filled with Holy Spirit and began to speak other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.

Staying in Jerusalem were religious Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered, all excited because each heard them speaking in his own language. Full of amazement and wonder, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? How is it that we hear them in our own native language?”

“Here are Parthians, Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and foreigners who accept Jewish beliefs, Cretians and Arabians; and all of us hear them proclaiming in our own language what God, the Saviour, does.”

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this evening we celebrate the Vigil Mass of the great Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday, marking the most momentous occasion when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord assembled in Jerusalem, on the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of the Lord, not long after the Lord ascended gloriously and returning into His Heavenly Throne. This day we celebrate this important moment as the Holy Spirit came down from Heaven unto us, as promised.

Today marks the beginning of the Universal Church, as it was on this day that the disciples of the Lord began their missionary outreach and efforts, as they previously hid themselves and kept a low profile out of fear of the Jewish authorities. After the Holy Spirit descended upon them, they began to go out and preached the Good News of God’s salvation and truth to the people assembled in Jerusalem, led by St. Peter, the leader of the Apostles, and it was told that three thousand men were convinced by them and gave themselves to be baptised.

Through the Scripture readings we have received and heard today in this Vigil of the Pentecost, we heard very important and symbolic readings that we may not have realised at first why these readings were chosen as the Scripture passages for this occasion. In fact, as we heard and remembered again what we have just heard earlier on, in the readings prescribed for this Pentecost Vigil, God wanted to show us through His Church, that the coming of the Holy Spirit restored and renewed all of us, His beloved people, once weakened and brought down by sin and the darkness of evil.

In our first reading, one of the readings came from the Book of Genesis, detailing the moment when God confused the language of the men and women gathered at the site of Babel, where they all aspired in pride to build a tower so high that it would reach up to the heavens itself. Through their wickedness, sin and disobedience therefore mankind had been scattered all throughout the world, divided by their languages and different speeches, unable to understand one another, divided in purpose and essence.

Then, when the Lord sent His Holy Spirit to His Apostles and disciples at the Pentecost, if we recall what happened, the Holy Spirit came down on them all and strengthened them, and they all began to speak in tongues, as they went out preaching and glorifying God before all the people who were gathered in Jerusalem, and all those people assembled were all astonished because they heard these disciples of the Lord all speaking simultaneously and at the same time in their own languages.

What happened, brothers and sisters in Christ? When mankind became proud and fell into sin, they lost the gift of wisdom and language, knowledge of the Holy Spirit, which God withdrew from them as what happened at the Tower of Babel. When He granted the Holy Spirit back once again to His disciples, they all received the Spirit that reinvigorated them, gave them wisdom and knowledge, one of which is the gift of tongues, that they were able to comprehend and speak in various languages.

Then, we also heard the reading of the Covenant between God and His people Israel as it happened in Mount Sinai in one of the other first reading for this Vigil, which is significant because in that occasion, the people of God rebelled against God and three thousand men were lost to the sin of idolatry, as they chose a golden calf idol over themselves to be their god instead of the Lord God Who led them out of the land of Egypt. Those three thousand people were slain because of their sin against God, in denying Him and refusing to acknowledge Him as God.

And as mentioned, on the day of the Pentecost, three thousand people were added to the numbers of the faithful, as an obvious contrast with what we heard regarding the moment when the Israelites fell into sin and disobeyed God with the golden calf idol. This is very symbolic as the gift of the Holy Spirit strengthens and restores the unity that we have with God, our Lord and Saviour, overcoming the power of sin that had led to death. Instead, through the Spirit, we have received new life in God, as those three thousand people baptised on the Pentecost had received theirs.

The prophet Ezekiel saw a great field of dry bones in his vision, and he saw how those bones became a great and vast assembly of people, all living and breathing after the Lord gave them the breath of life, which is representing the Holy Spirit, that exists in everywhere and in all things, just as in the beginning of the Book of Genesis, the Holy Spirit was represented as being in all things and floating all around nothingness before Creation came to be.

It was this same life that God has given to the first man, Adam, as He moulded him from dust, and the same life that the Lord has given to each and every one of us. And it was significant that this vision was revealed to the prophet Ezekiel as Ezekiel lived during a time when the fortunes of the Israelites were at its very lowest, having been scattered and made to wander off among the nations, humiliated and cast down because of their sins and disobedience against God, even losing their own homeland and the city in which God has placed His own dwelling, Jerusalem and its great Temple.

Through that vision, God wanted to tell His people that He shall restore them and return them once again to His grace. He shall gather them all back once again and reunite them to Himself, just much like how He also would restore all the other people who had been scattered because of their sin and pride at the Tower of Babel. He would restore them all and bless them once again, calling them to repent from their sins and to abandon their wicked ways. Through the Holy Spirit He would bestow on them all, He would reveal the fullness of truth to them and that they may seek and find Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we all celebrate this Vigil of the great Solemnity of the Pentecost Sunday, all of us are called to reflect on the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit that God has given us, that through the Holy Spirit, He has strengthened and encouraged us, giving us wisdom and guidance wherever and whenever we need them. And all of us who have shared in the same Spirit of God, through our common baptism, have also shared in the same mission of the Church, that is to be the witnesses of the Lord and His truth in our own communities, at all possible opportunities, to reach out to our fellow men and women.

God has given us the Holy Spirit that we may be sanctified, rejuvenated and strengthened, that through the various gifts and talents we have received, we may indeed bear rich fruits of the Spirit, and shine with the most wonderful light of faith such that all those who see us, hear us and witness our deeds and works, they may all know that we are God’s beloved ones, His followers and disciples. And this is the challenge that we all have today. Have we been living our lives faithfully as we should as Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ? Or have we instead been ignorant of our mission and calling as Christians?

Let us all therefore be genuine witnesses of the Lord in all possible opportunities, doing whatever we can in order to touch the hearts and minds of others, so that through us, many more people may come to believe in the Lord, just as how the Apostles and disciples of the Lord spoke with such great passion and showed their love for God that so many turned to the Lord and became His followers. As members of the same Church of God, this is what we have been called to do, and what we should embrace wholeheartedly, following the examples set by our holy predecessors in faith.

Although the season of Easter ends with this celebration of the Pentecost, it does not mean then that everything goes back to normal and we can just continue on with our lives without any action or commitment from us to live in accordance with our Christian faith. On the contrary, all of us are called and reminded this Pentecost, as always, to be fruitful in the Holy Spirit and to make best use of all that God has given us, and to walk courageously and faithfully in His path. Pentecost as I said earlier, marked the important moment when the Church was truly born, and as such, marks a beginning rather than an end.

Pentecost marks the beginning of a new, evangelistic and missionary journey that from now onwards we should continue to live our lives to the fullest, and we should commit ourselves fully to the Lord that through us, God and His works may continue to reach even more and more people, and through us, the Holy Spirit shall come down and renew the face of the whole earth, dispelling the darkness of sin and evil, and bringing forth a new era of peace and love. May God be with us always, and may He continue to guide us, through the Holy Spirit, that we will always ever be faithful and dedicated to Him. Amen.

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 7 : 37-39

At that time, on the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me; and let the one who believes in Me drink, for the Scripture says : Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”

Jesus was referring to the Spirit, which those who believe in Him were to receive; the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into His glory.

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 8 : 22-27

We know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pangs of birth. Not creation alone, but even ourselves, although the Spirit was given to us as a foretaste of what we are to receive, we groan in our innermost being, eagerly awaiting the day when God will give us full rights and rescue our bodies as well.

In hope we already have salvation. But if we saw what we hoped for, there would no longer be hope; how can you hope for what is already seen? So we hope for what we do not see and we will receive it through patient hope. We are weak, but the Spirit comes to help us. How to ask? And what shall we ask for?

We do not know, but the Spirit intercedes for us without words, as if with groans. And He Who sees inner secrets knows the desires of the Spirit, for He asks for the holy ones what is pleasing to God.

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 103 : 1-2a, 24 and 35c, 27-28, 29bc-30

Bless the Lord, my soul! Clothed in majesty and splendour; o Lord, my God, how great You are! You are wrapped in light as with a garment.

How varied o Lord, are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all – the earth full of Your creatures. Bless the Lord, my soul!

They all look to You for their food in due time. You give it to them, and they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are filled with good things.

You take away their breath, they expire and return to dust. When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and the face of the earth is renewed.