Saturday, 25 April 2015 : Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Apostles and Evangelists)

1 Peter 5 : 5b-14

All of you must clothe yourself with humility in your dealings with one another, because God opposes the proud but gives His grace to the humble. Bow down, then, before the power of God so that He will raise you up at the appointed time. Place all your worries on Him since He takes care of you.

Be sober and alert because your enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Stand your ground, firm in your faith, knowing that our brothers and sisters, scattered throughout the world, are confronting similar sufferings.

God, the giver of all grace, has called you to share in Christ’s eternal Glory and after you have suffered a little He will bring you to perfection : He will confirm, strengthen and establish you forever. Glory be to Him forever and ever. Amen.

I have had these few lines of encouragement written to you by Silvanus, our brother, whom I know to be trustworthy. For I wanted to remind you of the kindness of God really present in all this. Hold on to it. Greetings from the community in Babylon, gathered by God, and from my son, Mark. Greet one another with a friendly embrace. Peace to you all who are in Christ.

Sunday, 1 February 2015 : Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Septuagesima Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Violet (Septuagesima Sunday – Usus Antiquior)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Septuagesima Sunday, which literally means ‘seventy’. This is to remind us that as this is the ninth Sunday before Easter, we are about seventy days away from the great feast and celebration of our Lord’s Passion, death and ultimately, the most important of all, the Resurrection through which He made whole all mankind and bring hope into the world engulfed in the darkness.

As is appropriate, the Gospel today from the Gospel of St. Mark spoke about time and works that men take up, to fulfill the Lord’s call for all of us. The parable of the vineyard workers and the owner is speaking about how we mankind, the people of God are called by the Lord to be His servants and to do the good works which He had initiated in this world.

The Gospel from the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time spoke of how Jesus our Lord exercised His power and authority to cast out demons and heal all those afflicted by the physical and spiritual sickness and diseases. And that is just how our Lord does His work to liberate us all from the clutches of Satan, and ti show the way for us all to seek the Lord our God.

And in the first reading of the Ordinary Time readings, from the Book of Deuteronomy, the Lord had promised His people that He would send them a Prophet, that is the One who would bear His will and His words of truth to the people. Jesus is that Prophet, who taught the people and His own disciples through stories and parables which bore the truth of God inside them. He is the Word of God made flesh.

In the parable told by Jesus in the Gospel for Septuagesima Sunday, the vineyard owner is truly the Lord our God, who is the Lord of all. The vineyard itself is the world that is saved, that is the Church of God, and the workers are all of us, the race of men. God seeks out all of us at different times, and He sought us in the darkened world outside the Church, that is everything else beyond the vineyard. Like the owner who went out to seek more workers for his field at various hours, the Lord too seeks us at all the time, desiring to find us and bring us to salvation.

There are therefore three main things I want and I hope all of us will take away from the readings of today, that we may reflect on them and understand the necessity for us to know what the Lord wants from us. First, it is that we should not wait until it is too late and then only then we desire to seek the Lord. The Lord always wants to seek us, but if we ourselves refuse to listen to His call, then we will be forever damned in the darkness.

And we do not know when death will come for us. All of us will die one day, at the time and place that only the Lord our God knows. There are many who continue to ignore the Lord’s heedings for us, and they wait, thinking that there is still time for them. But death may claim them on the next day, and even on the next minute or second! And when that happens, no matter how we beg or how we plead with the Lord, He will refuse us for we have ourselves refused the generous and repeated offer of mercy which He had given us.

And then secondly, the Lord invites us to enter His Church, to be saved with all those who have been saved earlier. The Church of God is represented in the Gospel with the vineyard and all the workers inside it. All those whom the Lord calls and accepted His call and worked in His Church are saved. Thus, we ought to rejoice indeed, for we have received baptism that initiated us to be the members of the Church, the children of God and thus the partakers of God’s saving works and grace.

And last of all, as we see, that all the workers received equal pay of one denarius or silver coin, regardless of how long they have worked in the vineyard. Thus, the same applies to all of us the children of God. Regardless of what we have in this life, our possessions, our abilities and talents, our works and contributions, as long as we are all faithful to God and keep His commandments, we are all equal before the Lord.

This does not mean literally that everyone should be equal. As we can see, that different workers work at different hours and for different lengths of time. This means that each of us in the Church of God have distinct roles, each according to his or her own abilities. We should not be jealous that others had done less, or be proud that we have attained salvation earlier because He called us earlier than others.

This means that we should not be proud of our justification and look down on others who have yet to be saved. After all, as long as we receive His salvation and agree to become part of His Church, we shall receive the same reward, represented by the equal pay of one denarius for each worker, that is our salvation and eternal life, to live together in perfect bliss and happiness without end, with the Lord our God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all realise that we all have much to do in order to bring others into the salvation in God. We should help one another, and as part of the Church, to be examples and role models for all those who have yet to find their way to the Lord, so that they too may be saved. And we have to realise as well, that the vineyard of the Lord, that is His Church, still require many people to help as the servants of the works of God.

May all of us be awakened to follow the Lord and to righteously walk in His way. Let us all seek the Lord and harken to His call. Do not wait until it is too late for us, but let us stir ourselves from our slumber and walk from now on, only in the path of the Lord. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the great act of God’s love again, the love which He had for us mankind, so much so that He took up our human form and by what He did, He sanctified the whole human race because He sanctified His very humanity and that essence of humanity by the mingling of His divinity with the Flesh and Blood that He offered for our salvation on the cross.

Yes, God had made us all sanctified and justified by Jesus, the Word of God made flesh and incarnate through Mary. As Christ is both God and Man at the same time, fully human and fully divine, He shares with us our human nature and our human body with all of its properties, and yet for He is without sin and pure, through His selfless offering of Himself as the sacrificial victim in place for our sins, thus He made all of us pure, just as the priests of Israel of old offered lambs and their blood for the purification of sins.

But while the priests of old offered the sacrifices for the people and also for themselves, for they were also sinners, and therefore having to offer the gifts and sacrifices again and again for the people continued to sin and deny the Lord, meanwhile the sacrifice of Christ is the sacrifice of the pure and blameless condemned to death, but one that was done out of great and infinite love. That sincere and selfless offering was accepted by God and became the source of our salvation.

And this salvation that God offered through Jesus Christ was the proof of His love and care for us. He cannot even bear to witness us falling into damnation and annihilation, the consequences of our rebelliousness and sinfulness. He wants us to be rescued from our great predicament, and thus He went forth showing that love through His healing of the sick, as what He had done with the mother-in-law of St. Peter.

By those miracles and healings, He became the sign of hope for many who saw in Him the salvation of God, and it gave them the hope of the liberation from the shackles of sin. Many flocked and thronged to see Him, and they brought many of the sick people to Him, so that He might heal them and make them whole once again. And many others also sought Him to hear Him and listen to His teachings, which dispelled the confusion and mystery of the Law of God, and revealed the Law in all of its full truth and reality.

And how is this relevant to us all, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is because we often forget the fact that we are sinners and we have been afflicted with that sickness of our soul. Sin taints our beings, and it separates us from the Lord, as long as we live in that sin and embrace the ways of sin as the way of life we adopt. We have to realise how we need to seek the Lord and ask Him to heal us and liberate us from our sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as the disciples told Jesus that everyone was looking for Him, and He responded by going forth to those people who sought Him, thus we too should seek out our Lord, who loves us very much, and who had given us the sanctification and purification by His death on the cross. He had given us so much, so what we should do is indeed to appreciate that love and has respect for our Lord’s sacrifice.

Therefore, as children of God, we should behave like what is expected from us, that is to live faithfully and keep love in our hearts always. If our actions, deeds and words reflect who we are supposed to be, then we have lived our faith quite well and in the end, not only we will be saved, but also others who see our faith, and through that they are saved as well together with us.

May Almighty God bless us all, grant us strength and perseverance to continue living this life we have with zeal and love, with the same love that God had given us, so that we may love one another and inspire each other in faith that all may be saved. God bless us all. Amen.


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Thursday, 4 December 2014 : First Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard the readings of the Holy Scriptures, it is very clear that is a very strong message which those passages can show us and lead us in how we live out our faith. Today’s readings are about our foundations of faith and the foundations of our lives. It is our choice to have either a strong foundation and security, or to have a weak and shaky foundation and thus risking our own faith and our lives.

And it was also mentioned that, our foundation truly should be in the Lord, who is the Rock of salvation and the Rock of all. He is the strong and unbending Rock who will not be moved by anything, and He is the perfect foundation for us all. No one who put their complete trust and faith in God will be disappointed, for their Lord will secure them and care for them such that, none of them will be lost, no matter how strong the storms of this life can be.

Yes, this world of ours, and all of our lives in this world, no matter how different they are, are filled with many storms. These storms represent the difficulties and challenges which we will encounter on our path, and some of them are serious while some others are less serious but yet still a challenge for us all. In order for us to get to our ultimate destination, we have to go through these storms and endure them to reach safety in God.

What are some of these challenges and difficulties in life, brothers and sisters in Christ? They are the temptations of this world, the many temptations and offerings, which although not all of them may be necessarily bad and evil, but many of these can steer us away from our devotion to God and mislead us into following the evil one and our own human desire and selfishness.

It is in our nature to be selfish and thinking about our own good and benefits, as well as seeking for the pleasures of life. This is our human nature, brethren, and it is easy for us to be trapped in it, if we are not careful. If we allow them to take over us and conquer us, it is indeed then just the same as what the Lord mentioned as the house which was built on the foundation of sand, as when the storm comes, it will wreck the house as its foundation is weak.

This is what will happen, if we place our trust in ourselves, in our own power, in our own possessions and in the things and ways of this world. We are mere humans, brethren, and we are truly fragile. When things that are unexpected come our way, it is very often that we succumb and fall prey to the situation, and this is also the cause of much of the sorrows in this world.

Let me ask you, brothers and sisters in Christ, how many times is it in our world, that mankind had committed violence and acts of hatred, out of their fear and worry about themselves, out of their insecurities and problems? Many of this world’s tyrants and dictators were so worried of losing their power and control, and all that they had attained, their wealth and possessions, that they did all they could to preserve those, and the result is hardships, oppressions and wars.

How many of us lose our friendships or loved ones because of our fear, our worries, and especially our jealousy? It is very often for many of us to covet others’s things and privileges, because we fear and we think that in these things lie our strength and our hope. Then we are sorely mistaken, brethren. For all the things of this world are temporary in nature. Imagine, if someone is to store all his riches and treasures, all the rich cloths and goods in a storehouse and it suddenly burst into fire one day. And imagine if someone stores all of his or her wealth and possessions in a bank, or trusted them to the stock market, and one day the bank goes bankrupt or the stock market crashes.

All these show that while we mankind think that we are mighty and powerful, and if we think that we can put our trust in ourselves only, then we have to rethink it through. Trusting in mankind’s power is risky and fragile, just like a house built on sand. The wealth and possessions, fame and power that we built up in this world is not going to be carried over to the world that is to come.

Remember that Jesus said, build up our wealth in God and not in this world? This means that rather than worrying and fearing about what we need and what we have in this world, we should rather trust everything to God, knowing that He will care for us and provide for us everything that we need. Use our energy and strength instead on giving others the love, care and help which they deserved! And let me share with you the life of a saint whose feast day we celebrate today, and whose actions may inspire us to live deeper in trust to our God.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John of Damascus, or St. John Damascene, a philosopher and teacher of the Faith, who lived in a difficult time, as during his lifetime, the place where he stayed had been overrun and under the reign of the unbelievers. Yet, regardless of all these and all the difficulties he faced, he continued to serve the Lord in various ways and became a great source of inspiration for many in the matter of the Faith.

Through his writings he revealed the great wonders of the Lord to the people, and they became rich sources of the Tradition of our Faith. And when there were heretics among the faithful who sought the destruction of holy images and icons, in contravention to the true beliefs of the Faith, St. John of Damascus was not fearful to oppose such heresy, even if that means opposing the rulers of the world, the Roman Emperor of the East, who happened to support the heretics’ faith.

The actions and perseverance of St. John Damascene is an inspiration for all of us in how we ought to live our faith. More often than not, our lives in this world will be difficult and filled with many challenges, but if we put our complete trust in the Lord rather than in our own power and judgment, then we are bound to receive the great graces and favours of our Lord, who will guard us and protect us.

Yes, therefore, following the examples of St. John Damascene, the way of a Christian is to be true brothers and sisters to one another, showing mercy and love to those who need them, to be forgiving and loving in all things, and to be completely and fully devoted to our Lord. If we put our trust in the Lord, we shall never be disappointed, for the Lord is the Rock of our salvation, and if troubles come our way, and we anchor ourselves strongly in Him, nothing can harm us, for He will guard and protect us. God, be with us all and bless us all the days of our lives. Amen.


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Wednesday, 26 November 2014 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s readings remind us of the truth of our Faith and how things will happen to us if we are to be the disciples of Christ, and if we remain faithful to Him. Suffering and difficulties will be our lot and part of our lives, but we do not need to worry, as our Lord is with us, and He will guide us to the final triumph and victory against evil, and into our eternal reward and glory.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus told His disciples and the people who heard His teachings, and from them to us. We clearly heard of what challenges the faithful will encounter for the sake of the Lord. The world, which is our world, with all of its forces and powers, with all of its influences and temptations, are against the Lord and all of His ways. The ways of this world are the opposite of the ways of the Lord.

And as such, the world will always stand against the Lord and His efforts to bring light into it. The darkness of this world, the powers of Satan and his angels want us to remain in darkness and lost to the Lord, that we may remain forever in sin and debauchery. But the Lord Jesus wants an end to all of these, as He loves us and He wants us to be rescued and brought into the light.

Thus He sent His messengers and servants into the world, and through His teachings, the Apostles and the saints went forth around to spread His Good News to all the nations and all the people. They persevered in their missions, accepted in some but rejected in many places. There were many persecutions against them, betrayal by those they have trusted, betrayal by those who professed the same faith to God but who failed to persevere and were tempted by the world, and many other sufferings.

Many including St. Paul were sent to prison and suffered grievously in incarceration, and they were betrayed by their own people, reported and punished by the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Priesthood and council, which jealously watched after their actions and tried many times to bring them to court and kill them for what they stood up for. And what did these holy servants of God stand up for? None other than the truth, as the Lord Jesus had revealed to them, and now these truths have also been revealed to us.

But the works of the Apostles, the disciples and servants of the Lord are not yet done. This world is always covered in darkness and sin, just as it had been in the past. Many among the people of God are still longing for the light, and many had been misled by the lies of the devil, and to follow the ways of the world. And who will be there to give the light of our Lord to them? It is none other than all of us, brothers and sisters.

For through our baptism, when we were born anew in the Lord, we have been made one as the Church of God, and as its members, we too share the same mission which had been given to the Apostles, the disciples and the servants of our Lord, that is to evangelise and spread the Good News of the Gospel to the whole world, and thus to enlighten a people who still live in the darkness of this world, and bring them all into the light just as we are already in the light of Christ.

It is important for us to realise that each and every one of us have been entrusted with many gifts of the Lord, for the use in the benefit of those who are around us. All of us have the responsibility and obligation to help our brethren in need. For surely, if we have done nothing to help them, then they will be lost to the darkness forever in damnation, and our Lord will then judge us for our failure to help when we are able to do so.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue our day today, and from now on henceforth, let us all realise that we need to stay true to our faith in God, and in that therefore, we have to live our faith and commit ourselves completely to the Lord, and in order to do so, we have to be a witness of the Faith and our Lord through our actions, words and deeds that truly proclaim the Lord and that we are indeed His followers.

We do not have to worry or fear about what we will encounter. We will indeed encounter challenges and difficulties in this life, but we have to keep our spirit up, knowing that we will be triumphant in the end. There is nothing that Satan and his allies can do to harm us, as they have no power over us, as long as we stay true to the Faith and refrain from sinning.

At the end of days, when our Lord and Master comes again in His glory, we shall be united in His triumph and enjoy forever our rightful reward. His wrath, as born by the seven angels will not befall us. The seven plagues of the Book of revelations will only affect all those who have not walked in the way of the Lord but instead prefer to give in to the world’s desires and temptations.

May Almighty God help to keep us faithful to Him, and awaken in us the desire to help one another, to keep each other vigilant and devoted to the Lord, so that at the end of time, when our Lord comes again to make a reckoning with the world and all of His children, He may find us righteous and faithful to the end and thus worthy of His eternal promise of life everlasting. God bless us all. Amen.


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Friday, 21 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the feast of the presentation of the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, that is Mary, Theotokos or Mother of God. She was chosen by God from among many of the children of mankind, to be the one who was destined to be the vessel to bear the coming of the Saviour into this world, and in that, to bear the Lord and Master of all the creations Himself, when He was incarnate into flesh.

As our Lord is perfect and perfectly good, without sin and any taint of evil, thus His blessed mother, Mary, was also therefore conceived without the taint of sin, of the original sin of Adam and Eve, the first ancestors of mankind. She was conceived free from sin, immaculate and pure, worthy to be the Mother of our Lord and Saviour, as decreed by God. And today, we celebrate the memory of her presentation at the Temple of the Lord.

In the Jewish custom, as according to the Law of God revealed through Moses, the firstborns of Israel are dedicated to the Lord, through a presentation ceremony, as ceremonially belonging to the Lord. This is a strong reminder of what they had encountered in Egypt, during the time of their liberation from slavery. At that time, God sent ten great plagues to pressure the Pharaoh to liberate the people of Israel and allow them to go back to the land of their ancestors in freedom.

The last of the ten plagues, and the most terrifying of them all, is the death of all the firstborns of the Egyptians, including the firstborn of the Pharaoh himself. No firstborn was spared, and the firstborn of humans and animals of the Egyptians alike were destroyed, for the sins of the Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The firstborn of the people of Israel however, were spared, because of the Lord’s promise to them, and His instruction, that they be presented and offered to Him, and they ever since belonged to the Lord who spared them from the power of the angel of death.

Thus, Mary, who was the firstborn of the couple, Joachim and Anne, whom we know now as St. Joachim and St. Anne, was offered at the Temple of God, according to the Law. Thus from that day of the presentation onwards, Mary was entrusted completely to God, and she remained pure and blameless, as God had intended her to be, as the new Ark of the new Covenant, which was made through Jesus her Son.

Jesus too was presented at the Temple when He was eight days old, in the same manner of His mother Mary, as her firstborn Son. And from this offering of the blameless and pure sacrifice, Christ, who is the Lamb of God, offered Himself to be the One to bear the burdens of the sins of the world, and thus purify us from our sins and allow us to escape the claws of death, which is caused by sin.

The festival of the Jewish Passover, which commemorated the ‘passing over’ of the angel of death over the faithful people of God, who sacrificed a lamb and shed its blood on their doors’ lintels and surfaces, is therefore completed in its perfection through Jesus, the One and True Lamb, whose Blood is shed over all mankind, and therefore those of us who believe and receive His Body and Blood had been marked to be saved, and to be passed over by death, which is the lot of those who are wicked and unfaithful.

Thus, this feast of the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is a reminder for us all, that we who believe in Him and faithfully receive His Body and Blood, had also received grace and salvation through the death and resurrection of our Lord. However, this does not mean that this alone is enough for us to be saved.

When we present something to the Lord, certainly we do not offer something that is wicked, evil, tainted and filled with sin. We ought to offer something that is pure, filled with love and righteousness, with genuine faith and understanding of what that faith is about. Thus, let this day’s celebration be a wake-up call to all of us, so that we may look deep into ourselves and see where we have been faithful, and more importantly, where we have fallen short and where we have failed in our faith.

Let us all follow the example of Mary, the mother of our Lord, whose life is completely and totally devoted to the Lord and His ways, and in all that she did in her life, she did them with complete and full faith in God, knowing that God knows best for His servants and handmaids, and she also acted with love, justice and in accordance with all that the Lord had taught His people.

Mary is our role model, and we should follow her examples. Let us not wait any longer, lest the Lord comes again in surprise, and catch us unprepared. Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, what is at stake, is the salvation of our souls, and whether, on the day of judgment, we will be ‘passed over’ by eternal death and then proceed into eternal life and bliss, or whether we will suffer the penalty of death for sins we have been unrepentant from.

Mary, mother of us all, pray for us all sinners, that we may learn to change our ways, to follow your examples, and therefore we will be able to offer ourselves anew and refreshed, pure and freed from the taints of sin. Pray for us that we may do our best to distance ourselves from sin and all things wicked in the sight of God. May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, bring us to eternal life. Amen.


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Tuesday, 18 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of the Basilicas)

Luke 19 : 1-10

At that time, when Jesus entered Jericho and passed through the city, a man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see Him because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” So Zaccheus climbed down and received Him joyfully.

All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.” But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”

Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”


Alternative reading (Mass for the Dedication of the Basilicas)

Matthew 14 : 22-33

At that time, Jesus immediately obliged His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowd away. And having sent the people away, He went up the mountain by Himself to pray. At nightfall, He was there alone. Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves, for the wind was against it.

At daybreak, Jesus came to them walking on the sea. When they saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But at once Jesus said to them, “Courage! Do not be afraid. It is Me!”

Peter answered, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You walking on the water.” Jesus said to him, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing the strong wind, he was afraid and began to sink; and he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and took hold of him, saying, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?”

As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus, saying, “Truly, You are the Son of God!”


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