Tuesday, 10 February 2015 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we continue the theme of the readings as we heard yesterday, of the Lord creating the whole world and the entire material universe as we know it now. He made all things good and perfect, all free from the taints of imperfections and evil in the beginning. Then indeed, we may be asking, how come then is it that there is so much evil things in the world now? How come is it that there is so much hatred, violence, jealousy and greed around us?

The answer lies in what mankind had committed in disobedience against the Lord, the sins which they have done in the presence of the Lord and men alike. Sin is a sickness of the soul, a blemish in the otherwise perfect and immaculate creations of God, especially for mankind, the greatest of all God’s creations. That is why there is so much evil in the world, so much sadness, sorrow and conflict that strike us all on daily basis.

And that was why God sent His Son Jesus into the world, in order to bring about the true purification of all mankind from the taints of sin. And today’s readings indeed share the same theme, that is cleansing and purification. However, we can see clearly in the Gospel today, the conflict that existed between Jesus our Lord and the Pharisees in how they approach this.

As I have often mentioned, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are notorious for having adopted an excessively strict and unforgiving stance on the interpretation and application of the Law. As a result, they gave a great burden for the people of God to bear. There are many laws, rules and regulations which the people to obey, from things that are truly important to trivial matters and things such as the cleansing of the hands before meals, just as the one mentioned in the Gospel today.

The hereditary laws and customs of the Jewish people stipulated that each person should undergo ritual cleansing, washing and purification regularly, and this includes the ritual washing before meals, where each person are supposed to wash up to and including their elbows. Indeed, such is the complicated nature of the laws, to the point that obeying them and following them required a great deal of effort, and it is likely also that many would lose the true and real intention behind why they even observed those laws in the first place.

And that was why Jesus criticised the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law so much, because they are focused so much on the external cleansing and the purity of their exteriors, that they completely forgot about their insides, that is their heart and soul. It is useless if we are concerned only about the cleansing of our bodies and the exterior, ignoring the correct alignment of our heart, that is our interior.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? Christ had mentioned in another passage that to be concerned about which food that is worthy or unworthy, clean or unclean does not make sense, for that which brings about sin and corruption comes not from the outside but rather from the inside. External dirt and filth while unappealing do not bring about the corruption of our beings, but the corruption that is within us will eventually corrupt our bodies and externals as well.

Already this can be seen in how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law reacted to the teachings of Jesus. They professed to be faithful to the Lord and liked to show off their piety by public display through prayers and other actions in the public places, and yet they were so judgmental to sinners and all those who genuinely needed God’s help that you truly would not believe at all that they belonged to the Lord in the first place.

They also rejected Jesus and His teachings and they spat upon His actions, which were clearly the actions of God made real in this world, the manifestation of God’s love and mercy. Instead, they were so blinded by their pride and their hubris, that these eventually led to their eventual downfall. Just as they have rejected the Lord, so will the Lord reject them.

Today, we also celebrate the feast day of St. Scholastica, a holy virgin and saint of God. St. Scholastica by tradition was the twin sister of St. Benedict of Nursia, another great and renowned saint well known for his holiness and dedication to the Lord. Both St. Scholastica and St. Benedict were devoted servants of the Lord who made monastic lifestyle an appealing way of life to the people of God.

Monastic lifestyle is for those who have decided to give all of their lives in complete and total dedication to the Lord. They withdrew from the world and from all forms of worldliness and instead, dedicate themselves in a life of prayer. As such, they commit themselves to a life of contemplation, of looking into themselves and the emptying of oneself of personal ego, but seeking the cultivation of individuals filled with the love of God.

In that way, rather than seeking the purification of the externals first, we focus on the purification of our interiors first, that is to shun all forms of temptations of sin, the lies and sweet words of Satan designed to bring about our downfall. That is what the Lord wants from us, that we all genuinely reject sin and all forms of wickedness and instead follow Him with all of our heart.

May all of us be awakened and see in Christ and all He had done, the abundance of love and mercy which God wants to shower us with, if only that we can listen to Him and learn to practice the faith we have by action and real dedication from the heart. Let us not lose our focus as the Pharisees had lost theirs and let us all be truly faithful, not just in external appearances, but truly love God from the deepest depth of our hearts. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 9 January 2015 : Friday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded of the purpose of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into this world. He came not just for nothing or just to save the righteous ones, but even more importantly, from the story of the healing of the leper, we should know that Jesus came into the world in order to save the weak, the sinners, the wicked and all those who have been lost to Him.

Remember that Jesus Himself said to the Pharisees to rebuke them? He said that He came into the world not to save the righteous nor the healthy, but to save those who need His help, those who are separated from His love, and all those who are far away from His grace. He came as a doctor to heal the illness of the sick, and for our case, this illness and sickness is sin, the taint and corruption on our body and soul that prevented us from receiving the grace of God.

In short, Jesus desires for us to be forgiven from our sins, to be cleansed from our iniquities and sins, and to be made whole again, so that no one will be lost in the end. All those who are lost will be brought back together again, so that in the grace of God they may be saved. That is the meaning and intention of God’s love, which He freely offers to all those who seek Him and who are willing to listen to His urgings and calls.

But all this cannot happen without our part to play, and we need to do something on our part ourselves. God offers us His salvation and grace freely, but if we are not responsive and unreceptive to His offers, then it will be useless for us. We will not be part of God’s salvation. We must be receptive and also take the initiative to allow the work of God to take place in ourselves, so that God’s salvation may come to work for us.

Jesus Himself said that if we need anything, we only have to ask and it shall be given to us, and we just have to knock at the door, and the door will be opened for us. That is the truth, and God is generous with His love. The problem is of course that many of us for various reasons refuse to do these, and therefore shutting ourselves out from the richness of God’s grace.

Many of us are too proud to ask for God’s help, or to lower ourselves to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness, and that is why many of us are still lost in the darkness of this world, and many of us continue to sin because we are too proud and haughty, thinking too highly of ourselves to humbly beg for the forgiveness for our sins. And on the other hand, many of us are also too afraid to ask for God’s help because we fear His punishment, His anger and His wrath, and hence, again we continue to live in sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if any of us are among these two groups of people, then we should indeed reflect, on the love of God, which He had shown through Jesus and through His loving sacrifice on the cross, the torture and sufferings He went through for our sake. We should open wide the doors of our heart to allow the Lord to come into us and to transform us from being the creatures of evil and sin into the people of the Light.

Therefore, let us all show love in our actions, loving one another and caring for each other, forgiving one another of the faults and mistakes we have done to each other. We have to live out our faith with real action, and we have to open up ourselves to the Lord, not to enclose ourselves within our pride and fear. Do not let pride prevent us from seeking out to the Lord and seeking His forgiveness for our sins. And of course, we should not allow our fear to come in the way of our seeking of the love of God.

May our Almighty and loving God be with us always, that we may not lose our way as we find our way towards Him and His salvation. May all of us grow stronger in faith and love, so that in all things we say, do and act, we may have the love of God in us. Let us throw far, far away all forms of pride and fear from our hearts and embrace God with love. God bless us all. Amen.

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Monday, 29 December 2014 : Fifth Day within the Octave of Christmas, Memorial of St. Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 95 : 1-2a, 2b-3, 5b-6

Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless His Name.

Proclaim His salvation day after day. Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds.

But YHVH is the One who made the heavens. Splendour and majesty go before Him; power and glory fill His sanctuary.

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Thursday, 11 December 2014 : Second Week of Advent, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Popes)

Psalm 144 : 1 and 9, 10-11, 12-13ab

I will extol You, my God and King; I will bless Your Name forever. The Lord is good to everyone; His mercy embraces all His creation.

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures from generation to generation.


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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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Monday, 17 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are shown that those who are faithful in God and those who have endured persecution for that faith will be rewarded greatly and wonderfully by the Lord. In the first reading, from the Book of the Revelations or Apocalypse of St. John the Evangelist, in the vision of the end of times which he received from the Lord at the island of Patmos, it was written about the Lord commending the Church in Ephesus, for their perseverance in faith.

In that revelation, the Lord sent His messages, praise and also warning to the faithful in the various principal Churches of the early Christianity. The Church in Ephesus had persevered amidst the difficulties and persecutions they had to endure, but yet they also have lapsed in some aspects of their faith, and they had not been completely faithful to the Lord, and the Lord wanted to remind them that fact.

In the Gospel is the story of how Jesus healed the blind man from his affliction, enabling him to see once again. In that story, we hear how the blind man knew that Jesus was coming towards him, and he asked humbly and with great persistence, calling Him as the Son of David. This is significant, consider that he could not even see, but yet he knew that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of David, and the One who would bring mankind to salvation.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters? In another occasion, when Jesus also healed another blind man, He mentioned how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who opposed and criticised Jesus in His every actions by their hypocrisy and strict observance on the Law, were truly blind even though they physically could see with their eyes.

The blind man on the contrary, can truly and perfectly see, even though he may appear to be blind. That is because, ultimately, our true eyes lie in our hearts. The eye of our hearts is the one that truly sees all around us and also at the same time, show who we are inside of us. If our eyes on our head that can see visually all things around us, fail to see truth, then it is useless.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, they were not able to look at the truth or face the truth, that the One whom they have opposed all that time, was the One who had been promised by God to be their salvation. Yes, Jesus came to this world out of the love of God, to save all mankind, even those who hated and rejected Him. He came into this world to dispel the darkness that veiled men’s hearts, the true eyes of theirs, so that they can see once again.

The blind man recognised the light of Christ from within his heart, as even though he was unable to see, but the presence of Christ is known to him. The eyes of his heart can see clearly amidst the darkness. Meanwhile, the jealousy, pride and arrogance of the Pharisees had clouded and blinded their eyes, closing the doors of their hearts from the possibility of them accepting Jesus as their Lord.

Therefore, it is a call to all of us, so that we may abandon and reject all forms of wickedness and evil from our lives, that we do not follow the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law to their doom. Those people were not able to recognise the Lord and accept Him because of their jealousy and hatred for Him, seeing Him as a great rival to their worldly power and influence. They have seen much in world, and the temptations and seductions of Satan swayed their heart over, and they were corrupted.

The blind man, who was not able to see for many, many years, if not the whole of his life, was pure and innocent, for he was not able to see the tempting things in the world, and therefore, he was able to recognise God when He came. This means that our eyes that see many things around us, are the gateways to our hearts. And if they are corrupted, our hearts inside us too will likely to be corrupted as well.

Therefore, we have to be careful in our actions, and we have to discern well everything that we are to say or do. Let our eyes not corrupt us and resist the temptations of pride, of greed, of anger, of jealousy and of any other negativities with which the devil is trying to subvert us against the Lord. Let us break through the veil of darkness which covers our hearts, that from there, we may be like the blind man, who sincerely and genuinely seek the Lord, knowing that He is there.

Yes, our loving God is always there for us, and it only takes us to ask Him, and seek Him with all of our hearts, for us to gain His graces. Remember what He told His disciples? Ask and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you? Therefore, let us all ask God for His grace, that we may recognise Him and His presence in our lives, and through our interactions with those around us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today is also the feast of a holy woman, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, whose life can be a great inspiration to all of us. St. Elizabeth of Hungary was a princess of the Kingdom of Hungary during the High Middle Ages. She was of the royal blood and of very high social class, betrothed and married to the family of another ruler, and yet in all of her actions, she was very devout and charitable.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary was the patroness of many religious works, evangelisation and mission efforts, and especially, the patroness of many charitable organisations. She donated much money and funds to help the poor, and occasionally also took part in directly helping the poor themselves. She was widowed later on, and after her widowhood, she devoted herself completely to the Lord.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary donated whatever she had in her possession to charity and for the sake of the poor. She also devoted herself as a religious nun, and gave her all to God from then onwards, just as she had devoted herself earlier on through her actions. This is an example we can and indeed should follow, as with love and charity, our faith will be strong, and a strong faith will help us to keep our vision straight and clear, avoiding and resisting all the temptations and false promises of the evil one.

May Almighty God, who gave us the grace and blessing in St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a holy woman and a person of charity and love, a person of true faith and devotion, help us to also be able to walk in her path, that all of us will have our faith in Him strengthened and at the end of time, we will be found righteous and be worthy of the glories of heaven. God bless us all. Amen.


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Friday, 14 November 2014 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 John : 4-9

I rejoiced greatly on meeting some of your children who live in accordance with the truth, according to the command we have received from the Father. And now, I ask you, Lady – I write to you not a new commandment but that which we had from the beginning – I ask you : let us love one another.

This is love : to walk according to His commandments. And this is the commandment : that you walk in love as you have learnt from the beginning. Many deceivers have gone out into the world, people who do not acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ who came in the flesh. They are impostors and antichrists.

Take care of yourselves that you do not lose the fruit of your labours, but receive a perfect reward. Everyone who goes beyond and does not remain within the teaching of Christ does not have God. The one who remains in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.


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