Friday, 20 May 2016 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Mark 10 : 1-12

At that time, Jesus then left Capernaum and went to the province of Judea, beyond the Jordan River. Once more crowds gathered around Him and once more He taught them, as He always did. Some (Pharisees came and) put Him to the test with this question, “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?”

He replied, “What law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined.”

When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked Him about this, and He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery.”

Monday, 15 September 2014 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, if yesterday we celebrate the great feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, in which we rejoice with God, for the cross which has become a concrete sign of triumph and victory against the devil and his machinations, then today we celebrate the feast and memorial of our Lady of Sorrows, that is of Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus, who was greatly grieved by the suffering and death of her Son at the cross.

Indeed, Jesus is the Son of God, the Word incarnate into flesh. However, many of us often forget that He is also the Son of Mary, for it is through her obedience and acceptance, that the Word of God was able to assume human form in His great humility, to be born from the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother.

Jesus was indeed God in all of His fullness, and He was there before all ages, not counted among the creations, but as the Creator, through whom the Lord created all things. He was not formed as any other children, that is through the union of a male and a female, which bears a new human being. Rather, by the Holy Spirit He was placed in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, assuming the form of a Man.

Nevertheless, we all know that a mother share a special bond with her children, as the child in the womb is nourished by the mother, and the child gets his or her food from the mother herself. Thus, there exists a special link between a mother and her child. The same kind of bond also existed between Mary and her Son Jesus, even though they are not related by blood, but because Jesus Himself once dwelled within the womb of Mary, and then she cared for Him through life as His own loving mother.

You can imagine the kind of feeling that existed within Mary’s heart and the thoughts that ran in her mind as she heard the words of Simeon, who predicted a sorrowful and painful future for her as the Mother of Jesus, a premonition and insight to what would happen in the future of her time, when the Lord Jesus would suffer at the hands of the chief priests and the Pharisees, and then He would endure such brutal treatment that culminated with His death on the cross, a most cruel death.

Yes, and Mary witnessed all of those events. In fact, she followed her Son as He walked down the path of suffering to Calvary, what we also know as the Way of Suffering or Via Dolorosa, from Jerusalem to the hill where Jesus was crucified. She witnessed how her Son was treated like the worst of criminals, even though He was blameless, and how He was framed for false charges and were subjected to lies by false witnesses.

Mary met her Son on His way of suffering, as immortalised through the Stations of the Cross, or Way of the Cross, the fourth station. She followed Him through to His crucifixion, staying close by His side, even witnessing how nails pierced the limbs of her Son, and then she stayed on until He gave up His Spirit and died. Such great indeed was the sorrow and agony that the Blessed Mother of our Lord suffered from, having to witness all these herself.

Yet, Mary remained firm and devoted to the Lord, and she did not doubt the Lord and why such suffering and humiliation occurred to her Son. Mary remained faithful and devoted as she was ever faithful, even though in her heart there was then a great sorrow. But she truly believed in God and in His plans, and just as staunchly and surely as she had said yes to the Archangel Gabriel who brought her the news of her special role in salvation, she also remained as firm as ever in faith throughout that greatest ordeal in her life.

She knew that even with her sorrow and sadness, God was still with her, and that everything was according to God’s plan. And therefore, she is truly our role model in faith, that even in times of difficulty and sorrow, she still held strongly to her faith in the Lord and did not doubt the Lord even for a moment, entrusting everything to God. After all, when the Lord Jesus Christ was risen from the dead, the Lord and His mother both have their final laugh against the devil and the forces of darkness desperately trying to stop God’s will and plan of salvation for mankind.

And this day also, we should reflect once again on the love that a mother has for her children, and in general, the parents’ love for their children. And this love, which should exist in all families united by the Lord, in the recent era and time, especially in our world today, had been gradually eroded by the lack of love and the lack of respect for the institution of the family itself.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how many of us this day actually support actions that break this harmony and love? How many of us are even involved in activities that snuff out lives from innocent ones? What I am referring is the actions of these days’ peoples who are obsessed with terms such as female rights and equality, as well as rights in general, as justification for actions such as abortion, child abuse and even divorce.

These actions are actions that betray love and destroy life, which should indeed be held sacred in what we know as the institution of the family. Yet the culture of today’s world no longer hold the institution of the family as sacred and as something that must be uphold and protected at all times. Instead, family and the sanctity of life had increasingly become more and more meaningless and less precious as time goes by.

In this, we have to look at the sorrow of Mary, which she expressed on the suffering of her Son and His eventual death on the cross. In that we can clearly see how Mary loved her Son, just as all mothers should love their children. Therefore, it should not even be the case where we treat the lives of the innocent children like as if they are nothing.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this feast of our Lady of Sorrow, let us recall the devotion and dedication which Mary had towards the Lord, and the true, genuine and undying love which she had shown to her Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, where we can see how we should also behave in our own families. Our families must be based on love, that is genuine and gentle love between the parents and their children, and must cherish life, instead of the culture of death which we have today.

Mary, our Lady of Sorrows, in your sorrow, may we all grow to rediscover the love in our families, that parents may be more loving and dedicated to their children and vice versa. May Almighty God bless our families with love, so that our families may indeed be beacons of light and faith for the world, and cherish life and harmony, instead of death and apathy. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 26 July 2014 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of two saints, St. Joachim and St. Anne. And in case you do not know who they are, they are actually the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the father and mother of the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, and thus, they are the grandparents of our Lord. They truly had a great significance, especially in moulding Mary, born immaculate without sin, into the great servant of the Lord she is now.

In an age and time when mankind lived in sin, and lived in a world filled with uncertainty, greed and endless desires, St. Joachim and St. Anne were simple people, who lived humbly and righteously before God, following Him in all of His precepts and were totally obedient to His will. The light that was in them, was truly crucial, as this light became a guiding light for the one whom they bore into this world, the Mother of our Saviour.

It is perhaps that St. Joachim and St. Anne themselves did not realise how great an impact they would have on the world through Mary their daughter. However, it is through their commitment and devotion to God, and in their loving and tender care for their daughter Mary, that they imparted the love of God to her, and from her, eventually to Jesus, her Son, and eventually to all of us.

The role of St. Joachim and St. Anne cannot be diminished or be ridiculed or be made less important, for we all should know what kind of responsibilities that parents may have, or are expected to have. It is through their careful and dedicated work on Mary their daughter, that our Blessed Mother grew great in her faith. She was conceived without sin and any taints of darkness like that of her Son, Jesus, but this alone will not be good, if she did not have loving parents as that of St. Joachim and St. Anne to care for her and to provide for her spiritual growth and well-being as she grew up.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is imperative now that we talk about the family, and yes, the family itself as a sacred and crucial unit of the Christian society and the Church, and the dangers that are facing the family as an institution of the Christian faith. We all know that our world today and the currents of our times are not exactly favourable or friendly to the family. In fact, it was an outright hostility, if not direct conflict between the family and its values, and the contemporary ways of this world.

All of us have to understand this, by first understanding the importance of marriage, and its sanctity, being a Holy Sacrament of the Church. Marriage is a holy occasion, when a male and a female adult are joined together in matrimonial agreement and Sacrament before God, and promised to be together till death separates them. And remember that, in marriage, God made man and woman into one, one in body and spirit, and no bond that God had made sacred, man may divide.

And yet, marriage is increasingly becoming a plaything and a ridicule for the world. Marriage is no longer considered by many as sacred and holy, and many have forgotten that it is not something to be taken lightly. We have to look at how many people had decided to dissolve their marriage because of various reasons, but if we look at all those reasons, they are truly mankind’s selfish desires and their inability to reject the temptations and the lies of Satan.

Marriage inevitably leads to family, for marriage is not just for the sake of pleasure, and in particular, it should never be seen for the sake of the pleasures of the flesh and for the enjoyment of this world. If this is the case, then we have truly failed to understand the value and importance of marriage. Marriage is to bring about a holy union intended towards the creation of life. Yes, marriage inevitably leads to family, with child-bearing the grace of God to all mothers.

Therefore the family itself too is an important institution, especially because we have to realise that in our faith, we need a strong and firm foundation from the very beginning, if we are to be able to resist Satan and all of his advances on us. Without a strong foundation of faith in the family, we will not be able to reject him with full certainty, and may end up failing miserably and fall into sin.

Following the examples of St. Joachim and St. Anne, and in how they brought up Mary, the mother of our Lord, let us all remember, those in the family and with children in particular, that our familial bond must be strong, and that it must be based on love, as well as on faith in God. We have to always remember the saying, that a family that prays together will stay together.

Therefore, let us all renew our commitments to the Lord, beginning from our own families, making the effort to come together, pray together and glorify the Lord together through our actions as a family. Let us keep holy our family, respect one another in the family, and together let us help one another, as well as in the great family of the Church of God, to come ever closer to the Lord our God, seeking Him always at all times.

May God bless all families, keep them holy and in love, so that all peoples may grow forever stronger in love, in hope and in faith. Amen.

Friday, 13 June 2014 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 5 : 27-32

You have heard that it was said : Do not commit adultery. But I tell you this : anyone who looks at a woman too lustfully has in fact already committed adultery with her in his heart.

So, if your right eye causes you to sin, pull it out and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell.

It was also said : Anyone who divorces his wife, must give her a written notice of divorce. But what I tell you is this : If a man divorces his wife, except in the case of unlawful union, he causes her to commit adultery. And the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are faced once again with the reality of our world, both past, today, and also what it will be in the future. We know that this world does not belong to the Lord but to the devil, for the evil one has his dominion over the world, and we are all under his power which he exercised through the world.

With Christ and His death on the cross, and His glorious resurrection from the dead, He had liberated us from the thrall and dominion of Satan, in that he no longer has any direct power or control over us, and eternal life has been promised and assured to us, providing that we follow the Lord and always walk in His ways.

But the devil still has his ways in this world, and he remains very capable of tempting us and leading us astray from the path that we walk on towards the Lord and His salvation. He has many ways and tools through the world, and his weapons are plenty. Just like when Satan tempted our Lord Jesus with all the things at his disposal, including the wealth and temptations of the world, he will do so to us too, to make us falter.

Why is this so crucial, brethren? And why do I bring this matter up today? That is because today we celebrate the feast of the missionary who brought the faith to the land of England, which that time was filled with mostly the Anglo-Saxon invaders and some native Britons, around the end of the sixth century, more than a thousand years ago. He is St. Augustine of Canterbury, the founder and the progenitor of the Church in England, which is now known as the United Kingdom.

And you all know that there was a great tragedy of the faith, when heresy, an immense heresy and unworthiness brought so great a destruction for the faithful, which remains even until today, and the great repercussions continue to affect even to the rest of the world. Truly, the devil was busy, and is busy causing havoc among the faithful and in God’s Church!

What am I talking about then? It is about the so-called ‘Church of England’, the ‘Anglican Communion’, the product of the devil and his cultivation of division among the faithful, the product of the King of England five hundred years ago, King Henry VIII, who in his futile and desperate attempts to seek a male heir, resulted in him choosing to follow the path to damnation and brought many down with him, rather than submitting to the will of God.

Let me fill you in with some background, beginning from St. Augustine himself, the founder of the Church in England. St. Augustine was a priest and missionary from Rome, who was the personal confidant of Pope St. Gregory the Great and a holy and pious person, dedicated to the works of the Lord. He was well renowned for his great piety and exemplary lifestyle, and as such he was chosen to evangelise the Good News to the heathens in England.

England was once a province of the Roman Empire, and the faith had made its way to that country, and ever since the Emperor Constantine made the faith legal,  the Church there had grown, but with the downfall of the Roman Empire in the West, the society in England broke down, and with the invasion of the Germanic Anglo-Saxons from what is now northern Germany, the faith in England floundered and for many years, the people there lived in darkness.

Pope St. Gregory the Great who was elected Pope in 590 AD was a great worker and dedicated reformer, who was very dedicated to the evangelisation of the word of God among the many people who still were ignorant of the faith, and he sent many missionaries, including to England, whom he sent St. Augustine of Canterbury to.

St. Augustine of Canterbury was known as such because he founded the see of Canterbury in the southernmost part of England where he landed after his trip from Rome. The see of Canterbury eventually grow to become the first or the primate seat of all England and the isles there, and that is why now the supposed successor to St. Augustine of Canterbury is the Archbishop of Canterbury, but the one who now holds that seat is illegitimate and unworthy of such a position, ever since the King, Henry VIII sundered the Church in England from the obedience to the Pope, the entire rebellious episcopate and priesthood in England had been rendered invalid.

King Henry VIII was a great and mighty king of England, great in all things especially in his willpower and desire, but he is seriously lacking in one thing. He lacked a male heir, which was all-important especially for monarchs and rulers who always sought for ways to secure their rule and reign, even to that of their descendants’. His first and lawful marriage to Catherine of Aragon provided a daughter but no son.

Hence, Henry VIII was desperate and tried to have his marriage to Catherine annulled, or in short, to divorce her so that he can marry another woman to provide him with a male heir. He petitioned the Pope in Rome to be allowed to do so, but as we all know that divorce is sinful and terrible, for it tramples upon the sanctity of marriage life, which we know is a Sacrament, and a union by God which no man should divide.

The Pope refused to give his permission and sanction, and king Henry VIII in his obstinence, decided to break relations with Rome instead, and established the so-called ‘Church of England’, a national church with the king at its head. It is an act of desperation, and an act of wickedness, done without greater regards for the good of the faithful people of God, casting many souls into eternal damnation and deny them salvation by leading them into heresy.

St. Augustine would truly be sad had he lived to see such degradations and wickedness that his successors at the throne of Canterbury had allowed to happen, as the bishops conspired and followed the king and his successors into sin and wickedness, and therefore hell is assured for them.

And even more lamentable is that, king Henry VIII in his desperation and insanity, even went on to marry a total of six times, a marriage that produced only one male heir, who was sickly and died not long after king Henry VIII himself, ultimately a punishment from God for his debauchery and great sin of causing a split in the Church of God and the faithful.

Today, as we remember St. Augustine of Canterbury and ask for his intercession, let us ask him to pray for the Anglican ‘churches’, that these may see the error of their ways, abandon their sinful rebelliousness and return to the Holy Mother Church, expunging from themselves the mortal sins of Henry VIII and embrace total and complete repentance.

May God guide them, and also all of us, to be able to walk the true path, the path towards salvation in God, and be reunited as one people, and believe in Him without the taint of the corruption of Satan. Let us not be like those who have rebelled against God, like king Henry VIII and his supporters, who put ahead human and worldly concerns, as well as their private desires ahead of God’s love and truth. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 28 February 2014 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 10 : 1-12

Jesus then left that place and went to the province of Judea, beyond the Jordan River. Once more crowds gathered around Him and once more He taught them, as He always did. Some Pharisees came and put Him to the test with this question, “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?”

He replied, “What law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined.”

When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked Him about this, and He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery.”

Sunday, 16 February 2014 : 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 5 : 17-37

Do not think that I have come to annul the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to annul them but to fulfill them. I tell you this : as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or dot in the Law will change until all is fulfilled.

So then, whoever breaks the least important of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be the least in the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys them, and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the kingdom of heaven.

I tell you then, if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial.

But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial. Whoever insults a brother or sister deserves to be brought before the council. Whoever calls a brother or a sister “Fool!” deserves to be thrown into the fire of hell.

So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with him, and then come back and offer your gift to God.

Do not forget this : be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There you will stay, until you have paid the last penny.

You have heard that it was said : Do not commit adultery. But I tell you this : anyone who looks at a woman too lustfully has in fact already committed adultery with her in his heart. So, if your right eye causes you to sin, pull it out and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell.

If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell.

It was also said : Anyone who divorces his wife, must give her a written notice of divorce. But what I tell you is this : If a man divorces his wife, except in the case of unlawful union, he causes her to commit adultery. And the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

You have also heard that people were told in the past : Do not break your oath; and oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this : do not take oaths. Do not swear by the heavens, for they are God’s throne, nor by the earth, because it is His footstool, nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.

Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. Say yes when you mean yes, and say no when you mean no. Anything else you say comes from the devil.

 

Alternative Reading (shorter version)

 

Matthew 5 : 20-22a, 27-28, 33-34a, 37

I tell you then, if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial. But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial.

You have heard that it was said : Do not commit adultery. But I tell you this : anyone who looks at a woman too lustfully has in fact already committed adultery with her in his heart.

You have also heard that people were told in the past : Do not break your oath; and oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this : do not take oaths. Say yes when you mean yes, and say no when you mean no. Anything else you say comes from the devil.