Wednesday, 16 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the matter of having genuine faith in God and to give judgment with the right intention in mind, so that as Christians we are truly filled with love, first of course for God and then secondly for our fellow brothers and sisters, and not to love ourselves above these as what many of us have often done.

It is our nature that we are selfish and self-loving, as the desires in our hearts and the ego and pride within us made us to seek our own satisfaction and the sense of fulfilment. And that is why we seek for all these worldly pleasures and comfort, desiring to be pleased and filled with all sorts of joy for our own benefits. And this often led us into causing, either intentionally or unintentionally, the sufferings of others.

That was what St. Paul spoke of as he wrote in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Rome. He spoke of those who put their own interests ahead of their obligation to serve God faithfully and justly, in their responsibility to be just and righteous in all of their actions. And this is related to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today as well, as we heard of the Lord rebuking the Pharisees for their inappropriate actions especially considering their very important position as the custodians of the Law and as teachers of the faith.

Many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law took great pride in their privileged and highly respected status in the community, and they often looked down on those whom they deemed to be less worthy and more sinful than they were, such as the tax collectors and prostitutes, disabled and people with evil spirits and diseases in particular, seeing those people as being cursed by God and therefore were unworthy.

They judged others because they saw themselves as superior and in doing so they wanted to prove just how good they were in comparison to those whom they despised and had judged against. And this was why the Lord was unhappy with them because they failed to realise just how they themselves were sinners too. They should not act as if they were superior or better for in reality, they actually were equally sinful and unworthy.

The Lord wants us all to know that all of us are equally beloved by Him, and we should not be prejudiced or be biased in our attitudes and opinions towards others, but instead treat one another with love and genuine compassion from our hearts. For if God Himself has loved us so wonderfully and blessed us so greatly with His mercy and love no matter how great our sins had been, then how can we not love one another in the same way?

Today all of us are called to be humble and to get rid of our pride and ego, all the obstacles that often come in our way, in our faith journey and life. Unless we get rid off ourselves all these obstacles and wickedness in us, it may be difficult for us to be true disciples of Our Lord, as in the end, we will end up loving ourselves and being concerned about ourselves more than we love God and our fellow brethren as we should have.

That is why, on this day perhaps we should spend some time to reflect on the life of two saints whose lives can be inspiration for us how we should carry on living our lives from now on with genuine faith, love and devotion towards God. They are St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. St. Hedwig of Silesia was the Duchess of Silesia and later of Poland who was known for her great piety and devotion to God, her charitable acts and faithful life, while St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was renowned as the one who helped to make the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to be as popular as it is today.

St. Hedwig of Silesia was a pious and dedicated wife, who had to endure many struggles in the noble courts and numerous plots against her family, both from external and internal sources. She was remembered for her many charitable actions and generosity to the poor and those who were suffering throughout the realm of her husband. Her personal piety and great humility in life were well known. She remained faithful and true to her faith, and after she was widowed, she entered into a monastery and devoted the rest of her life as a religious dedicated entirely to God.

Meanwhile, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was known for her visions of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, through which she received the revelation about the Lord and His love through His Most Sacred Heart, by which eventually the ever popular Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus came to be. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was also known for her great piety and dedication to God throughout her life, despite of the many difficulties and challenges she herself had to face.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have here the example of two pious and holy women of God who devoted their lives to the Lord and have become inspiration for many others to follow. Are we then able to follow their examples as well and dedicate ourselves to God from now on with renewed zeal, faith and love? Let us all turn away from our sinful ways in our past and embrace from now on a renewed holiness in God, living our lives filled with love for God and for our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.

May the Lord continue to bless us all and guide us in our journey, and may He continue to be with us through our journeys in life, that through the intercessions of St. Hedwig of Silesia and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, we may be brought closer to God’s ever present love and compassionate mercy. Amen.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Luke 11 : 42-46

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “A curse is on you, Pharisees! To the Temple you give a tenth of all, including mint and rue and other herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. These ought to be practiced, without neglecting the other obligations.”

“A curse is on you, Pharisees, for you love the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplace. A curse is on you, for you are like tombstones of the dead which can hardly be seen; people do not notice them, and make themselves unclean by stepping on them.”

Then a teacher of the Law spoke up and said, “Master, when You speak like this, You insult us, too.” And Jesus answered, “A curse is on you also, teachers of the Law. For you prepare unbearable burdens and load them on the people, while you yourselves do not move a finger to help them.”

Wednesday, 16 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Psalm 61 : 2-3, 6-7, 9

My soul finds rest in God alone; from Him, comes my salvation. He alone, is my rock and salvation; with Him as my stronghold, I shall not be overcome.

Find rest in God alone, o my soul; from Him, comes my hope. He alone, is my rock and my salvation; with Him as my stronghold, I shall not be overcome.

Trust in Him at all times, my people; pour out your hearts before Him; God is our refuge.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hedwig, Religious and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)

Romans 2 : 1-11

Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, if you are able to judge others. For, in judging your neighbour, you condemn yourself, for you practice what you are judging. We know, that the condemnation of God will justly reach those who commit these things, and do you think that by condemning others, you will escape from the judgment of God, you, who are doing the same?

This would be taking advantage of God, and His infinite goodness, patience and understanding; and not to realise that, His goodness is in order to lead you to conversion. If your heart becomes hard and you refuse to change, then you are storing for yourself a great punishment on the day of judgment, when God will appear as just Judge.

He will give each one his due, according to his actions. He will give everlasting life to those who seek glory, honour and immortality, and persevere in doing good. But anger and vengeance will be the lot of those who do not serve truth, but injustice. There will be suffering and anguish, for everyone committing evil, first the Jew, then the Greek.

But God will give glory, honour and peace to whoever does good, first, the Jew, then, the Greek, because one is not different from the other before God.

Friday, 28 June 2019 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrating the popular devotion to Our Lord’s Most loving and Sacred Heart, as first revealed through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and all others through whom God had revealed the great love in His Most Sacred Heart, the great love of a loving Father, the love of a most loving and compassionate Shepherd, Our God.

In the Scripture passages we have heard today, most prominently the Lord was depicted as the Good Shepherd, as the Figure Who showed great love and compassion, care and mercy to us all, who are of the Lord’s flock, His most beloved sheep. This is most profound example used by the Lord Himself to show how much He has loved His people, in a community where many among the people had the profession of shepherds.

In the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, the passage which is our first reading today spoke of the Lord referring to Himself as the Shepherd of Israel, the One Who would guide His people to the right path, protecting them from harm, binding and healing their injuries, watching over them and looking out for those who have been lost from Him. He would guide them all with justice, mercy and compassion, which is exactly what the Lord Jesus would reiterate with His message of Himself as the Good Shepherd.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord again referred to Himself before the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law as the Good Shepherd, showing to those people how God is loving and merciful, kind and compassionate to all of His beloved ones, even to the worst and most rebellious, the most wicked and the greatest of sinners among them. No one is ever beyond the reach of God’s love and compassionate mercy.

In order for us to understand the significance of the encounter and the words the Lord spoke to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law more clearly, we must understand the philosophy and the actions that those two groups of people often took at that time. They put the obedience and adherence to the Law over everything else, and they were very particular with how those laws and regulations are preserved and followed.

And they deemed all those who did not follow the Law as they have followed and preserved it to be inferior and unworthy, to be sinners and undeserving people while at the same time thinking highly of themselves and being proud of their own obedience and adherence to the strict observation of the Jewish customs, traditions and laws, and being highly respected by the people and being very influential in the community.

That was why they were very ardent in their prejudiced attitude against the prostitutes, tax collectors and other people deemed to be sinners in general. They also thought of people with disabilities and sicknesses as those whom God had punished and cursed because of their sins. They looked down on them and rejected them, and when the Lord sought all these people, they immediately cast the same prejudice on the Lord, seeing Him approaching those whom they deemed to be unworthy and unclean.

This is where the Lord showed His love and revealed what it truly means for one to obey the Lord and His laws. Mankind might have been unfaithful, wicked and filled with sins, and yet, fundamentally we are all still His beloved creations, His beloved children and people. We are the sheep to Him, Who is the Shepherd of all of us. And a shepherd loves his flock of sheep above all else, and a true and dedicated shepherd will do everything just so that his sheep will be good, safe and well taken care of.

Sometimes the sheep end up going wayward on its own, being misled or distracted by things that probably sparked its curiosity, and the sheep becomes lost from the flock. The shepherd knows all of his sheep, and every single one of them are precious to him. If one of the sheep is lost, the shepherd will come to know of this very quickly, and unless he does not care for his sheep, he will do whatever he can to find that lost sheep.

A sheep that is left to wander on its own is in a great danger because of all the threats that can destroy it, from falling into a ravine, or off a cliff, of being hunted and killed by wolves and predators among many others. And how are all these relevant to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is what each and every one of us have experienced ourselves and perhaps even are experiencing now at this very moment.

For it is sin and the temptations to sin which have led us astray from the Lord, end up in us being separated from God and from the flock of God’s faithful as we end up falling deeper and deeper into sin. We have become the lost sheep of the Lord, and the Lord Who is our Good Shepherd does not want us to be lost from Him. Rather, He wants us to be reconciled to Him and be found, and He had done everything He could to gain us back.

That is what He meant when He said that the shepherd would seek the one lost sheep even though there was only one lost sheep among one hundred sheep in all. The shepherd would do everything to find that one lost sheep so that the lost sheep may be found and be reunited with the rest of the flock, safe from all the dangers that could have happened to it if it remained lost and separated from the flock.

Unless we are found and reunited with our loving Shepherd, we will fall deeper and deeper into sin, and from there into the danger of eternal damnation, out of which there is no escape from eternal despair and suffering, annihilation and total destruction. This is not the fate that God, our loving Father, Creator and Shepherd wants to happen to us, because He loves each and every one of us so much.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate this great love which Our Lord has shown from His most loving and compassionate heart, His Most Sacred Heart, which was filled with love for each and every one of us, so much so that, He did the ultimate act of love to show us just how much He loves us and how precious each and every one of us are to Him. He took up His Cross, suffer persecution, pain and the worst of pains and went through a most humiliating death so that, all of us may live.

That is just how much Our Lord loves us, in His loving and bleeding Most Sacred Heart. In the depiction of His Most Sacred Heart, we see the Lord’s Heart being surrounded by a crown of thorns and with a great burning flame representing His ever passionate and burning love for us. And that crown of thorns represents all the pains and sufferings He had suffered for the sake of that love He has for us.

And now, we have those whom God had called to be His caretakers, His shepherds made in His own image and example, namely our priests, who are shepherds of God’s flock, representing the one true Shepherd in our midst. They are the ones who go around the world taking care of us all, God’s beloved people, showing the same love that God has poured forth from His Most Sacred Heart.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today that is why, on this Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we also pray as the whole Church together for those who have been called by God, to be His servants and followers, His priests, dedicating themselves into the priestly life and to shepherd His beloved people. On this day, we gather our prayers for them, that each and every one of them may be courageous and be loving just as Our Lord has loved us so deeply.

And at the same time, let us all realise this great love that God has shown us, that He had done everything for our sake, enduring every kinds of imaginable sufferings of the worst kind, that we may be saved. He did all of that in order to save us and to reunite us to Himself. Each and every one of us are truly precious to Him. Next time, before we even contemplate to sin or to disobey God, let us remember that every single sins we commit, no matter how small, how insignificant they may seem to us, they are wounds we inflict on the Lord, that He bore willingly for our sake.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all strive to be better disciples of the Lord, and be more dedicated to Him, remembering how He has loved us so wonderfully and generously despite of all of our nonsense and disobedience. His patience and most loving Sacred Heart is truly our hope, and we should cling closely to this hope we have in Him. May the Lord Jesus Christ, His most loving Sacred Heart continue to love us all, now and forevermore as always. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us all. Amen.

Friday, 28 June 2019 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 15 : 3-7

At that time, Jesus told the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law this parable : “Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’”

“I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”

Friday, 28 June 2019 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 5 : 5b-11

Because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything. Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die.

But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us; and we have become just, through His Blood. With much more reason now He will save us from any condemnation. Once enemies, we have been reconciled with God through the death of His Son; with much more reason, now we may be saved, through His life. Not only that, but we even boast in God because of Christ Jesus, Our Lord, through Whom we have been reconciled.