(Special – Singapore) Saturday, 14 February 2015 : Solemnity of the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my brethren in faith throughout the Archdiocese of Singapore, today we celebrate this special occasion on Mass on the fourteenth day of February of this year, as the celebration of the Anniversary of that day when the mother church of this See, that is the direct heir of the See of Malacca and the progenitor of the Church in much of Asia and beyond, was consecrated and blessed more than a hundred years ago.

In the year of our Lord, 1897, then Bishop of Malacca, Bishop Edouard Gasnier, M.E.P., consecrated the Cathedral building, which had been built and completed just over half a century earlier in 1846. This great building and house of the Lord has been built as the heart and the beginning of the great missionary work in the small island of Singapore, which had just been founded by the British after hundreds of years of isolation and being a backwater and relatively forgotten island.

In this Cathedral, we have the proof of God’s continuing guidance to the works of His faithful servants in the Church, spreading His Good News to all the corners of the earth. The salvation of God is offered to all who wants to listen to His word, and all those who receive the word and believe, they are all saved. And the work of God continues even to this day, with many of His servants, all of us included, continuing to give praise to God and carry out His works daily amongst our brethren in this world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do you know why the Cathedral of this Archdiocese of Singapore was named the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd? That was because when it was first built, one of those who had great role in the establishment of that church was St. Laurent Imbert, a missionary priest who went on to become the Apostolic Vicar to Korea, supervising the missionary work in that fertile land where many people still lived in ignorance of the Lord.

St. Laurent Imbert faithfully carried out his mission, and despite the fierce and harsh opposition from the pagan Korean government, he did not fear and continued to do his best to minister to the people of God. And when the persecution by the government reached a new high, and the government offered the liberation of those they have counted for death, if the bishop was to surrender himself, St. Laurent Imbert voluntarily surrendered himself and was martyred for his faith.

In one of his last letters before his martyrdom, he explained the reason behind his decision, that is of the Good Shepherd, imitating what our Lord had done Himself. The Good Shepherd lay down His life for His sheep. And indeed our Lord and God had laid down His life for our sake, that all of us, His sheep may be freed from the certainty of death caused by our sinfulness.

In the memory of St. Laurent Imbert and our Lord’s own sacrifice as our Good Shepherd therefore we dedicate today’s celebration, just as this Cathedral was dedicated to the Lord over a hundred years ago. And what is the relevance of this celebration to all of us? That is because the readings today on the feast of dedication of a Cathedral also reminds us all that we are the Temple of God, the place where God Himself resides.

Many of us seem to forget that all of us who believe in the Lord and who keep faith in Him, having received His Most Precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist, have essentially the Lord Himself dwelling in us, in body and flesh, and in spirit and love. Thus, we have to remember always that we belong to God and He is in us. We must shun all forms of sin and wickedness and walk only in His path, as St. Laurent Imbert and all the other faithful saints and martyrs of God had.

May this joyous occasion and celebration be a time for us to reawaken the love and dedication we have for the Lord, and may all of us be able to shun evil and sin, and gain into ourselves the justification and grace which God had promised all those who are faithful to Him, our loving God and our Good Shepherd. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 14 February 2015 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril, Monk and St. Methodius, Bishop, Patron Saints of Europe (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard of the fall of mankind and how mankind had been tainted by sin and evil, because of their disobedience against the Lord’s will and commandments, which He had established with them earlier on when He created them. Sin came into the hearts of men due to the vulnerability of us all mankind against the temptations which Satan arrayed against us.

Mankind received the punishment for their disobedience, and at first it might seem that they would forever be condemned and sundered from the goodness and the graces intended for them from the beginning of time. Yes, God intended not harm for us, but happiness, joy and everlasting fulfillment in Him, as the Garden of Eden was to show us all. Life before sin was perfect and complete, where mankind have all the things that they needed, and above all else, they had their Lord with them, who gave them all that they would ever need.

But mankind fell into the temptation of the evil one, who played upon our natural desire and curiosity, and when he offered our ancestors the opportunity to become equal with God, by getting beyond our boundaries and disobey the Lord, we forever therefore, all of mankind, had been tainted by that rebellion which Satan has brought upon us all mankind. Satan himself had fallen into evil because of his own pride and vanity, which he then passed on to mankind.

And by our nature, it is difficult to satiate our desire and wants. And ever since we ate of the tree of knowledge of the good and evil, our desire to know more and have more for ourselves only increased. And in that, we committed ever more sins, and ever greater in wickedness. How many times we can recognise greed and desire behind the actions of men when they sought to gain more in terms of material goods as well as other things?

And that is why our Lord want to liberate us from our slavery to our desires and wants. He came to show us that all that we need truly is to be faithful to our Lord and put our complete trust in Him, and He will provide us with all the things that we will ever need. He is our Lord, our Creator and our loving Father, and as such, He knows every one of us, in all that we need and in all the things we do.

He cares for all of us, and through Jesus, He made it all clear to us. The feeding of the hungry four thousand men in today’s Gospel tells us all about how God cares for our needs. We all naturally get hungry and we want to eat, and our Lord provided them with food, from the seven loaves of bread He gave His grace and power, and made the bread sufficient for all of them to eat until full.

Yet, one bad trait of mankind is our inability to know the limits to our desires. We always desire for more and more, and the more we are given, even more things we desire for ourselves. The people of Israel when they were on their way from Egypt out of their slavery and into the Promised Land, complained and protested against the Lord that the food that they had when they were in Egypt was much better, even though God had made large birds to come and provide them with those as food, and also with even the bread from heaven itself, that is the manna.

And God also provided them with sweet and crystal-clear pure water which He made to pour out from the earth itself. Such was the love and care that God had poured upon His beloved people, that He gave the best of all things to them. But they spurned that love and rejected Him, complaining and resisting with obstinate hearts. And destruction and ruin were what they deserved.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, the holy saints and servants of God who were the evangelisers of the Faith in many countries and areas now known as Eastern Europe. They standardised the language used in those regions, the languages used for the means of the Church. And using those languages and the Scriptures translated into those languages, they managed to bring many people who used to be in the darkness and bring them into the light of our Lord.

St. Cyril and St. Methodius should both give us an inspiration to carry on the knowledge which we have received on the love which our God has for us, to more and more people who have yet to receive it, to those who have yet to witness it, and to all those who still lay in the darkness of the world. They have brought the light of Christ and bring about their salvation.

So much and so great is God’s great love for us that He sent us His faithful servants and called them from the world to bring about our salvation and safety. Thus, shall we all cast aside all of our pride, our greed and our stubbornness, and then carry up our cross and follow Christ our Lord? He has provided us all freely with the salvation that He bought for us through His sacrifice and death on the cross.

May Almighty God bless us all, guide us all on our way, and protect us from harm of the evil one, and while awakening in us the love which we all ought to have for Him. Let us all be thankful and grateful for the rich love and mercy which our Lord had shown us, and be grateful for all He had provided us, knowing how to say enough when we have enough for us, for what we need. God be with us all. Amen.

(Special – Singapore) Saturday, 14 February 2015 : Solemnity of the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 2 : 13-22

At that time, as the Passover of the Jews was at hand, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple court He found merchants selling oxen, sheep and doves, and moneychangers seated at their tables.

Making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the Temple court, together with the oxen and sheep. He knocked over the tables of the moneychangers, scattering the coins, and ordered the people selling doves, “Take all this away, and stop turning My Father’s house into a marketplace!” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture : ‘Zeal for Your House devours Me like fire.’

The Jews then questioned Jesus, “Where are the miraculous signs which give You the right to do this?” And Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then replied, “The building of this temple has already taken forty-six years, and will You raise it up in three days?”

Actually, Jesus was referring to the Temple of His Body. Only when He had risen from the dead did His disciples remember these words, then they believed both the Scripture and the words Jesus had spoken.

(Special – Singapore) Saturday, 14 February 2015 : Solemnity of the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 3 : 9-13, 16-17

We are fellow workers with God, but you are God’s field and building. I, as a good architect, according to the capacity given to me, I laid the foundation, and another is to build upon it. Each one must be careful how to build upon it. No one can lay a foundation other than the one which is already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Then if someone builds with gold upon this foundation, another with silver and precious stones, or with wood, bamboo or straw, the work of each one will be shown for what it is. The day of Judgment will reveal it, because the fire will make everything known. The fire will test the work of everyone.

Do you not know that you are God’s Temple, and that God’s Spirit abides within you? If anyone destroys the Temple of God, God will destroy him. God’s Temple is holy, and you are this Temple.

(Special – Singapore) Saturday, 14 February 2015 : Solemnity of the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 84 : 9-14

Would that I hear God’s proclamation, that He promise peace to His people, His saints – lest they come back to their folly. Yet His salvation is near to those who fear Him, and His Glory will dwell in our land.

Love and faithfulness have met; righteousness and peace have embraced. Faithfulness will reach up from the earth while justice bends down from heaven.

The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its fruit. Justice will go before Him, and peace will follow along His path.

(Special – Singapore) Saturday, 14 February 2015 : Solemnity of the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 43 : 1-2, 4-7

He took me to the gate, facing east. Then I saw the Glory of the God of Israel approaching from the east with a sound like the sound of the ocean, and the earth shone with His Glory.

The Glory of YHVH arrived at the Temple by the east gate. The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court : the Glory of YHVH was filling the House. And I heard someone speaking to me from the Temple while the Man stood beside me.

The voice said, “Son of man, you have seen the place of My throne, where I will place the soles of My feet, and live among the Israelites forever, and the people of Israel, they and their kings, will no longer defile My holy Name with their prostitutes and the kings.

Saturday, 14 February 2015 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril, Monk and St. Methodius, Bishop, Patron Saints of Europe (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 8 : 1-10

At that time, soon after Jesus healed a deaf and dumb man, He was in the midst of another large crowd, that obviously had nothing to eat. So He called His disciples and said to them, “I feel sorry for these people, because they have been with Me for three days and now have nothing to eat. If I send them to their homes hungry, they will faint on the way; some of them have come a long way.”

His disciples replied, “Where, in a deserted place like this, could we get enough bread to feed these people?” He asked them, “How many loaves have you?” And they answered, “Seven.” Then He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Taking the seven loaves and giving thanks, He broke them, and handed then to His disciples to distribute. And they distributed them among the people. They also had some small fish, so Jesus said a blessing, and asked that these be shared as well.

The people ate and were satisfied. The broken pieces were collected, seven wicker baskets full of leftovers. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand in number. Jesus sent them away, and immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and went to the region of Dalmanutha.