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.

Homily and Reflection :

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.


Homily and Reflection :


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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Wednesday, 12 November 2014 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today it is highlighted to us another virtue in our faith life, that is the value of humility and gratitude in our lives, and how important these are in shaping our lives. For the Lord our God, who loves us so much, had decided to forgive us our sins and show His mercy to us sinners, even though more often than not, our sins were such that they should have been unforgivable as they were so wicked in nature.

As mentioned in the first reading today, taken from the letter of St. Paul written to Titus, while he was in captivity in Rome, mankind were once foolish and misguided, and we were once wholly submissive to our desires and our human needs, that we always seek to better ourselves and find what is good for ourselves, even at the expense of others.

It is difficult for us to obey others, and already it is difficult for us to obey the earthly authorities who made their presence and authority felt, and thus not to say about the authority of our Lord, whom many of us failed to notice in our lives. We are fearless and not repentant of our rebelliousness, because we did not recognise the Lord who is around us and within us, and who is watching everything that we do in this life.

It is therefore difficult for us in our nature to look beyond ourselves, and for many of us, pride and arrogance has walled us in, into ourselves as our desire feeds our pride and that pride further feeds our desire, in a vicious cycle that never ends, and eventually uncontrolled, it will lead to a great danger for us. We will not be able to do the will of God if we continue to remain and linger within this darkness within ourselves.

The Gospel today shows how Jesus healed ten lepers, who sought for His help, and He told them to show themselves to the priests, as was written in the Law, on how they ought to show their purity to the priests before they could be admitted back into the society. God’s power worked along the way, and they were healed while on the way to the priests.

Yet, this was where the behaviour of the one Samaritan who was healed, differed greatly from the other nine, who was also healed. The nine lepers was healed, and they joyfully realised that fact, and gladfully went on their way, presumably and most likely, to return to their old lives, and resumed whatever it was that they had lost. Meanwhile, the Samaritan also realised that he was healed in body, but unlike the other nine, he turned back, knowing who it was that had made him clean once again.

The Samaritan turned back and returned to the Lord Jesus, who praised Him for His faith, and said how his faith had made him whole once again. It is because of his faith that he recognised how Jesus has the power to make him clean, and he had placed his full trust in God, and not in himself. This is the attitude many of us had to adopt and emulate, and we have to abandon our ways, which are more often than not, like the other nine who rejoiced and did not give thanks to God.

How many of us in our lives, and in our daily actions forget to give thanks to those who helped us in various ways? And how many of us in fact, in total lack of gratitude and appreciation even caused pain to those who have helped us, or asked even more from them to satisfy our ever-growing desires? It is difficult indeed for mankind to resist such temptation, as we always try to grab at things beyond our means, and we complain when we cannot obtain them.

It is often that we need the grace of humility, temperance and satisfaction, at what God had given and provided us with His love. In the psalm today, the famous and renowned psalm on the Good Shepherd, we are shown how the Lord is our Good Shepherd, who leads us away from danger and darkness, and providing for us in all that we need, so that all of us who believe in Him, will not be disappointed, but gain eternal life and happiness.

He guides us on our way, so that we may not lose our path and fall into darkness. This very life we have, and all the goodness we have in it, are all the blessings of the Lord, and we ought to be grateful and thankful for that love. Yet, do we realise how often it is that we complain against the Lord, when things seemingly did not go our way? How often is it that we are angry at the Lord for seemingly not fulfilling what we have asked for?

We have to therefore, learn from the faithful Samaritan, the people who were often marginalised and ostracised by the Jews as being pagans and unbelievers, as barbarians unworthy of salvation. And yet, it was the Samaritan who humbly sought Jesus to give Him thanks for having healed him from his leprosy. The Jews, just as the other nine lepers, failed to do so.

We should emulate the example of the Samaritan, seeking God’s love and mercy at all times, and realising the love which He has for us, our Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep. And today, we have the example of another shepherd, a holy saint, martyr and bishop whose example we should indeed follow. This is St. Josaphat the martyr, also known as St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, a Bishop who lived in the early modern time Lithuania during the sixteenth and seventeenth century.

St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was a bishop whose see was reunited with the leadership of the Roman Pontiff, the Pope, after it had been separated for many hundreds of years due to the Great Schism between the Western and Eastern Christianity. As such, St. Josaphat had a very difficult time in managing his flock, as many of them remained loyal to the old and rebellious ways, and refuse to follow their bishop and shepherd in obedience to the Vicar of Christ.

Nevertheless, St. Josaphat remained faithful and devoted, working tirelessly to serve God’s people, even serving those who were openly in rebellion against him. He preached to them the word of God and urged them to remain faithful, and also to follow the teachings of the true Faith. In the end, however, those who were opposed to St. Josaphat rose up and murdered him in cold blood, throwing his body in a river.

The body of St. Josaphat was recovered and brought with honour to Rome, where it received the honour of being buried at the hallowed ground of the Basilica of St. Peter. Later on, with the intercession of St. Josaphat himself, his archenemy, a rival bishop who set up his position in direct opposition to St. Josaphat, repented his sins and was reunited with Rome.

Today, brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the examples of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych the martyr and faithful bishop, let us all work together as one people, one Church of God. Let us help one another, in union with our bishops and those whom the Lord had placed over us, as representatives of His authority, so that we may learn of humility and obedience to God’s will.

Let us all pray to the Lord, that He will grant us grace, to diminish in our pride and desires, and grow stronger in our humility and desire to seek the Lord. Let us learn to obey fully the will of God and seek the fullness of His eternal love and mercy, like the Samaritan leper who was healed from his afflictions, giving thanks to God for that love shown to him, and was praised by the Lord for his faith. God bless us all. Amen.


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Tuesday, 11 November 2014 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us through the readings of the Holy Scriptures we are all shown the virtues of obedience and proper behaviours according to the teachings and the ways of the Lord. In the first reading, in continuation of the letter which he sent to Titus while he was in captivity in Rome, St. Paul exhorted the faithful ones of God to follow the rules and expectations for each members of the Church, be it man or woman, old or young.

Meanwhile, in the Gospel reading, Jesus told a parable to His disciples, about a servant and his master, and the relationship between them, which ought to be proper, as how a master should be, and the servant should also act and do things as is expected of him. In this, we also see a clear link with the exhortations of St. Paul, on how the Church consists of many members, made up of many different kinds of peoples, all of whom should behave as they are expected to behave.

Mankind had the nature to rebel and disobeying others. It is often difficult for us to listen to others and follow what they want us to do. Ever since the beginning, we have rebelled against our Divine Master, the Lord God, who was so generous with His love and care for us, His servants, and yet we still chose to walk on our own path, disregarding the commandments of God, and rather, we listened to our own hearts’ desires.

Just look at the people of Israel, the chosen people of God, who for generations continued to rebel against the Lord’s will, and even after the Lord had given them His Law, from time to time, they continued to follow their own paths, worshipping pagan gods and idols, sacrificing to these idols, and also committing other forms of debauchery and wickedness in their lives.

And they wanted a king to rule over them, and God gave His permission for them to do that, and they had kings, some of whom were good, but many were wicked and disobedient to God, acting not as they should. The kings of Israel were the vicars and regents for the Lord’s true reign over His people, Israel, and yet they misappropriated and abused their powers and authority, serving their own purposes, leading the people even deeper into sin and rebellion against the Master of all.

And even in the world today, we still see such rebellious attitudes running rampant among us. It is difficult for many of us to know who we are and what we are expected to do, as a member of God’s Church. That is why, if we look at the various issues at hand, we can see that there are many dissenting voices trying to disturb and in fact destroy the order of things, as God had ordained.

Each of us has our role to play in the Church of God, as the presbyterate, the members of the ordained priesthood, or as the laity, the people of God who live on their daily lives as normal. And the men and women, each of whom had their own unique and complementary roles in the Church, as the members of God’s people. Yet, many people who did not understand how the order of things is like, are trying to disrupt the harmonious way of things is working.

Therefore, we ought to stand up against those who cry out for gender equality in the Church in any of its forms, and the subversion of the roles of the priest and the laity, by the blurring of the differences in their roles. Those who called for such horrendous changes are not educated and ignorant in the truths of our Faith, and as St. Paul had said in his letter, we should help them to learn the truth, find their roles in the Church and act accordingly according to those roles.

The truth is that, each members and parts of the Church have unique roles and expectations, and their roles are distinct and complementary to each other. One cannot usurp the function and role of another without disrupting the proper and good order in the Church.

The priests are the ones who celebrate the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, and also are the ones authorised to give the Holy Sacraments to the people of God. Meanwhile, the laity are not allowed these roles, but instead, what are their roles? Their roles are to help the priests in their ministry and works, and in living their daily lives, they ought to be exemplary and faithful, and in building up their families, they should lead a true Christian way of life, creating good and faithful Christian families.

None of them can function without the other, as they support each other and becoming pillars, strong pillars of the Church and the Faith. And then, with regards to the roles of men and women in the Church, each of them have their own complementary roles, that support each other and perfect each other in the running of the Church.

Only men can become priests, as chosen by the Lord, and it is an unchangeable and unalterable Law of the Lord, given that the Apostles were men. But this does not mean that women are sidelined or discriminated against in the Church. Instead, women also occupy very special role in the Church, as the guardians of the Faith in the family, by her faith and dedication to God, she became role model for her family.

And we also know that there are many female religious, as nuns and others, who dedicated themselves fully to the Lord in prayer and loving service. These religious support the good works of the priests, by assisting in their missionary and loving works, and through dedicated service to mankind, showing a great example of faith to be followed by others. There had been many saints who were holy women, both religious and the laity who had dedicated themselves to the way of the Lord.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Martin of Tours, a renowned saint and Bishop of Tours during the late Roman Empire. St. Martin of Tours was once a Roman soldier, who was pious and devoted to the Lord. He was born of a pagan family, but he attended Christian services since youth and became a believer against the wishes of his father.

The qualities of St. Martin of Tours had been evident even since his youth. When he was still a centurion in the Roman Army, he met a poor beggar in a town, who was freezing to death on the cold road. St. Martin of Tours was moved with love and pity, cutting his own centurion’s army cloak in half, and giving that half of a cloak to cover the body of the poor beggar.

At night, St. Martin of Tours had a vision of the poor beggar, who brought the half cloak to him, and revealing himself to be none other than the Lord Jesus Himself. He rewarded St. Martin for his actions, and this vision and event simply pushed St. Martin further in his zeal, and it also brought him into the faith completely, for he was still a catechumen at that time.

As a member of the Roman Army, he was often intrigued by the need for him to shed the blood of others, of his enemies, which he felt was against his conscience as a Christian and follower of the Lord. Therefore, eventually he renounced his part in the Army and became a full time follower and servant of the Lord, by becoming disciple of another famous saint, St. Hilary of Poitiers.

As the bishop of Tours, this holy man carried out numerous good works for his flock, building up churches and places of worship, setting numerous standards to be followed by the followers of Christ, and establishing strong foundations of the faith in his diocese. Through his various works as bishop and shepherd to the people of God in Tours, he brought many blessings and goodness to them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, on this holy day of St. Martin of Tours, let us all take home two messages, and two important things which we need to heed in this life. First, is that all of us should play our roles actively in the Church, not by trying to be what we are not supposed to be, but to be faithful to the Lord and His will, just as He had said in the Gospel today, that we fulfill the will and wishes of our Lord and Master, without succumbing to our desires and pride.

And then second, we have to emulate the example of St. Martin of Tours in how he had lived his life. We have to show mercy and charity to others, helping those who are in need of help, so that our faith in the Lord will not be just merely empty faith, but will instead be alive and vibrant, filled with the love of God. And after we have done all these, remember that we have done it not for ourselves, but as the actions of the loving servants of our God.

Let us all say to the Lord, that we have all done our duties faithfully and as a servant of God should have done. Let us grow richer and stronger in our humility, so that we may learn how to live according to the role which God had given us, and not to seek to gain more for our own purposes. And we hope that He who sees all and knows all that we do, will reward us with His everlasting grace and love. God bless us all. Amen.


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Sunday, 2 November 2014 : Feast of All Souls, 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Black

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of All Souls, which means that we celebrate the memory of all those who have departed this life before us into the afterlife. The souls of the dead are separated from their bodies, and while their bodies sleep, their souls await the resurrection of the dead at the end of time, during the Last Judgment, when Jesus the King will come again and judge all the living and the dead, and this is part of our faith.

We believe that all the souls of the righteous will be judged by God to belong to Him, and as the Last Judgment shows, they will be counted among the saved ones, and be granted the eternal life and happiness which God had promised all of us. Meanwhile, the souls of the wicked and all those who had done evil in life, and never repented from those evils, will be cast into the eternal damnation and punishment in hell, with Satan and his angels.

Why do we then celebrate today, as the day of commemoration of all the souls who have departed this life? That is because, our Faith believes that, while the righteous ones and those who have done justly in life, will enter heaven directly, being found worthy of it, who are the saints, whose feast day we just celebrated yesterday, the solemnity and feast of All Saints. And those who are wicked and evil in life, they would be condemned to a state of eternal death and suffering, cast into hell and the lake of fire.

But how about those who were with sin, but yet also were righteous? Many of us are in this state, as we commit venial sins and sometimes even mortal sins, and yet in our lives we also commit things that are good and righteous in the sight of God? God is loving and merciful to us, brothers and sisters in Christ, and therefore, if we had been faithful and righteous in life, despite of our sins, we will not be cast into hell and suffer for eternity without hope.

That is because hell is reserved only for those who constantly refused to listen to the Lord and commit mortal sins, and other form of sins, one after another and failing to seek the Lord’s mercy. Hell is however, not exactly a place, but a state, in which we are separated from God and His love for eternity, without hope of redemption and salvation, as we ourselves have rejected the salvation in Jesus in the first place, through our actions.

The suffering is because of the unimaginable nature of losing God’s love and presence in our lives, which brought despair and sorrow so great that it is painful. This is certainly not the fate which God intended for all those who remain faithful to Him. But at the same time, for many of us, we are still not yet worthy of heaven, for the glory of heaven is reserved for those who are truly just alone, and sin has no place in the presence of God. Remember that God is just and His hatred against sin is as great as His mercy and love for us all.

Therefore, our Faith has the concept of what is called purgatory and limbo, in which the souls of the dead and all the souls of those who have not been baptised and yet are righteous among the nations, remain during their sojourn before they are worthy of heaven, suffering temporarily for the consequences of their sins. In the purgatory and limbo, the souls who are there are not without hope, unlike those who are in hell, but they also long for the happiness and joy of heaven which the saints enjoy, and that temporal separation from God, even though not permanent like those souls in hell, bring them great longing and great suffering.

Therefore, on this commemoration of the All Souls’ Day, we commemorate those souls of our brethren, who had departed before us, and we pray for them, asking also the intercession of the saints and imploring the Lord for His generous mercy, to be given to those souls who now suffer in purgatory, for the venial sins and other impurities which prevent them from truly being with God.

But at the same time, this occasion should also be a reminder for us who are still alive, that we should take heed of this fate of the souls suffering in purgatory, and even more so, that we take heed of what is going to happen to the wicked and those who embrace evil, who will be cast down into hell. We have to be vigilant in our own lives, and guard our actions, that evil will not have its way into us, and cause us to commit sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, our Church in fact consist not just all of us who believe in Christ in this world today, as this is just one component of the Church of God. We are the Church Militant, who are still living and walking on this world, fighting constantly and regularly in a spiritual battle against the forces of evil, and resisting all forms of sin, we ought to lead a righteous life, to guard against Satan and to be justified in our faith that we merit salvation.

But our Church also consists of the Church Triumphant, which consists of the holy saints, men and women who had been found worthy to merit the glory of heaven, and yet, as I have mentioned yesterday, and as we celebrated the feast of All Saints yesterday, they are still very much together with us, and they constantly pray for our sake, and being close to the throne of God, they are our intercessors, asking for God to show us His mercy and love.

And lastly, our Church also consists of the Church Suffering, namely the souls of the dead who are still in purgatory, suffering for their sins, on their path to heaven, and yet at the same time, they are again also very much still with us, as even death does not part them from us. They are all aware of their sins and how these sins had prevented them from directly enjoying the fullness of God’s promise and how they had suffered because of that.

Thus, they too are praying for our sake, imploring the Lord to send us reminders and strength, to overcome our evils and wickedness, while we still have time, and not to wait until it is too late for us. As at best, our sins will prevent us from being found worthy of heaven directly, and we will end up in purgatory just as they are now in purgatory, or even at worst, that we may end up falling into the endless pit of hell, without any way or hope of escaping it.

Therefore, on this day, we really should use the opportunity, to pray for our beloved ones, and also for every other souls who have departed this life, that the Lord will show mercy on them. We should ask the saints for their intercession, that they will also pray for the sake of the souls in purgatory, as well as pray for us too, so that all of us may be eventually found worthy by the Lord and escape suffering towards eternal life and salvation, together with them the saints, in the glory of heaven.

Let us commit all of us to prayer, that we pray for all the members of the Church, particularly all of us the Church Militant, fighting constantly against evil of this world, and those in purgatory, the Church Suffering. We should pray for one another and help one another to guard ourselves from wickedness, that God’s promised salvation will bear fruit in us, through our faith, our repentance and our devotion to Him.

Nevertheless, this day of All Souls remind us yet again, and the Scriptures also affirmed that we should have no reason to fear death, or fear the condemnation and suffering of hell at all. That is because, even though because of sin, our disobedience against God, we will die, but we will not die forever. Jesus our Lord Himself had made the ultimate proof, when He died on the cross for us, and then rose in glory and majesty, showing that He had conquered death.

Therefore, even as we remember the dead today, and even as we reflect on the nature and inevitability of death to all of us, we have to always remember and put our complete hope and trust in our Lord Jesus, our Risen Lord and Saviour. Through His death we have also died to our sins and to our past lives, and through His Resurrection we have been brought into a new life, a life that is justified by faith and by our love for God.

That is why the sacrament of Baptism is so important, just as the Scriptures mentioned, that through the waters of baptism, when we are immersed in it, we have been ‘drowned’ unto death, the death from our old lives, filled with sin, impurities and wickedness of our heart and soul, and we have been remade into a clean, pure slate, which the Lord transformed into a new life through His resurrection. We did not remain in death, but we rise with Him in glory, if we choose to follow Him faithfully and devotedly.

Death and sin has no say over us, brothers and sisters in Christ, if we remain faithful to the Lord, and if we put our trust solely in Him alone. The belief in the resurrection is central to our faith, and as long as we believe in this, we shall have the eternal assurance of life and salvation, which our loving God had made through Jesus His Son. The souls in purgatory and limbo also knows this, and they prayed ceaselessly for the end of their suffering, when their sins are made clean, and they once again reunite with their Lord. The Lord had indeed won the final victory over death.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, on this occasion today, let us first be reminded that the consequences of sin is death, and death is fatal for us, if we do not make the conscious effort to detach us from those sins, then we are in great danger of falling into eternal damnation. Let us not be deceived by our own glory and achievements, for remember that we are all mortals, and eventually whatever we have in this world, will mean nothing if we have not done them in the Name of God.

Let us instead, look upon the examples of the holy saints, who have put their trust in God, and walked in His path. They have abandoned their wicked past, and cast away their old lives of sin, and in return they received the glory of God, and the fullness of divine promise made through Jesus, our Lord. Following the examples of the saints is a foolproof and guaranteed path for us, that we may also become justified in our faith, and therefore be assured in our own salvation.

And lastly, let us never forget those who have gone before us, and those whom we have loved, who have predeceased us, and now who may be in purgatory, seeking to be united in complete fullness with God. We pray for them, and ask the saints for their intercession for the sake of these souls in purgatory and limbo as well, that they may be delivered from the suffering which they now endure for their sins.

May after their sufferings, their sins are cleansed and they may be brought into full and glorious unity with God, and may we one day also be with them, in the glory of heaven. Let us put our trust and faith ever in God, who is Lord of the living and the Judge of all, knowing that if we do so, death will not have its final say on us, and we will receive the fullness of our Lord’s promise of eternal life and happiness.

May all the souls of those departed in the Lord, receive the grace and love of God, rest in peace, the peace of Christ our Lord. And may we all who still walk in this world continue to walk faithfully in the way of our Lord, emulating the examples of the saints, that we all, together as one Church, Church Militant, Church Triumphant, and Church Suffering be one day be reunited fully in God’s glory when He comes again, and may we praise Him for eternity thereafter. Amen.


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