Sunday, 10 January 2021 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the last day of the liturgical season of Christmas as beginning tomorrow we will begin the Ordinary Time that will last up to the day before Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. And today as mentioned, we recall the extraordinary occasion of the Lord’s baptism at the Jordan by St. John the Baptist, marking the beginning of His ministry in this world.

On this day, we remember that moment when the Lord came to the River Jordan, asking St. John the Baptist to do what he was supposed to do, in baptising Him so that by passing through the water of baptism, He may come to share in our baptism and show unto us the depths of God’s amazing love for each and every one of us. Through the Lord’s baptism, all of us are brought closer to experience the fullness of the truth about God’s love.

We may be wondering why is it that the Lord had to undergo His baptism at the Jordan, because the baptism of St. John was the baptism of repentance, of the desire of man to turn back against their sinful and wicked ways, and embrace God’s love and grace. But the Lord was without any sin, and sin has no place in Him, so how is it then that the Lord asked for baptism from St. John?

This was precisely also why St. John was completely taken by surprise when the Lord asked him to baptise Him, and in fact St. John told the Lord that it was Him Who was supposed to baptise him, a human and a sinner as he was, even though he was indeed the Herald of the Saviour. St. John the Baptist himself had said that he was unworthy to even untie the sandals of the Lord, Who would come after him.

And here we see the Lord instead humbling Himself and abasing Himself so lowly that He was willing to take the place and position of a servant and a sinner, by asking to be baptised by St. John. Through His baptism, the Lord showed us that He truly wants to reach out to us, and to rescue us from our sins. And by this baptism, the Lord revealed before all, what He would do in order to save us all.

We celebrate this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord just right after the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord because traditionally together with the events of the Epiphany, as well as the Wedding at Cana, the Lord manifested and revealed Himself, His nature and the purpose of His coming into this world to all of us plainly, revealed before all of us that we may come to know of the infinite love of God.

The Lord at His Baptism was revealed by the Father Himself to be His Son, as the heavens were opened and the Lord’s voice was heard, ‘This is My Son, My Beloved, My favour rests on Him’. And a dove came down on the Lord, descending on Him from the Father, the symbol of the descent of the Holy Spirit. And therefore, at that very moment, the Lord did not just reveal His Son to be the Saviour of all, but also His nature as a God in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

At Christmas, we have seen the salvation of our God coming down to us in the flesh, born as Man, through the will of the Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit through Mary, the Mother of God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. In Our Lord, Jesus Christ, we have therefore seen the perfect manifestation of God’s love and His desire to save us all mankind, to make us whole again and to heal us from our predicaments and bondage to sin.

Now that we all know of how fortunate we are to have been beloved by God and how we have received this share in the glory and salvation in God through our own Christian baptism, sharing in the baptism of Christ, then we must reflect on just how important our baptism is to us, and what is meant for us to be Christians, having been brought into the Church through the holy water of baptism.

Through baptism, all of us have received a share in Christ, sharing in His humanity and in all that He had suffered, as He gathered all of our sins and their consequences to Himself, all nailed to the Cross as He suffered and eventually died. And through our baptism, we have been led through the waters, just as the Israelites of old passed through the Red Sea on their journey from slavery into freedom.

Thus, we have died to our old lives of sin and bondage to those sins, and brought through the power of God, via the holy waters of our Baptismal sacrament, and became new, free sons and daughters of mankind, and also becoming the children of God, by adoption because if Christ is the Son of God, then all of us who share in the humanity of Christ also become sons and daughters of God.

And as God’s beloved children and the people of the Light of God, today as we recall in the Lord’s baptism, marking the beginning of His ministry in this world, all of us are then reminded of the great commission that the Lord Himself has entrusted to us, to all baptised Christians and members of His Church. This commission is for us to go forth to the nations and baptise all in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that all of us must be the bearers of God’s truth and love to the nations, to all the people as members and parts of the Church. There are still so many people out there who have not yet received God’s truth and appreciate or know God’s love, unlike what we have ourselves received and experienced. And it is indeed up to us to share and reveal what we know to others.

How do we do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is not by loud words and proclamations, but rather through our every actions in life, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to be. Even the smallest actions can either make people to come to believe in God through us, or to push people away from God and His salvation. It is by all these that we can either inspire or prevent people from coming to God.

We can become genuine and good witnesses of our Christian faith through our dedication and faithful actions, in showing love and kindness, compassion and empathy to others whenever we can, in showing care and concern for those who need them, in loving sincerely and generously just as the Lord has loved us. Or have we instead caused scandal for our faith by our immoral and wicked actions?

These are some things that we really need to think about and consider carefully as we proceed in life. That is why, as we end this season of Christmas and begin the season of Ordinary Time, are we going to make these next few weeks be truly ordinary, brothers and sisters in Christ? Although they are called the days and season of the Ordinary Time, by no means in fact that they should be ordinary.

Rather, it means that it is time for us to get our actions ready and to do something, to participate as we should in the good works of the Church, just as the Lord Himself began His ministry after His baptism. Baptism is not the end of our faith journey, brothers and sisters in Christ, but it is in fact the beginning of a new journey, a journey filled with God’s grace and blessed by Him.

Let us all therefore commit ourselves from now on, brothers and sisters in Christ, to be fully dedicated to the Lord at all times, and to do whatever we can with the time and the opportunities given to us. Let us all contribute to the good works of the Church, and be faithful and genuine witnesses of Christ through our lives, and through how we touch the lives of others positively, at all times. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, one of the most important celebrations of the Liturgical Year. This Solemnity of the Epiphany celebrates the revelation of the Messiah or the Saviour of the world to all the nations and the peoples of the world. The word Epiphany came from the Greek word ‘Epiphaneia’, which means revelation and manifestation.

That is why today, on this celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord, we focus our attention on the manifestation and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of the whole world to all the nations, represented by the Holy Magi or the Wise Men. That is why the celebration of the Epiphany is closely tied to the Three Wise Men or Magi, and in the Gospel we heard of the account of their visit to the Lord at His manger in Bethlehem, guided by the bright Star of Bethlehem.

The Magi saw the Star of Bethlehem from afar as a very prominent and bright star, and as they were educated and intelligent people who perhaps dwelled in astrology and other studies, they knew that a very prominent event was about to happen, and in this case, it was the upcoming birth and arrival of the Saviour of the world as prophesied by the many prophets and wise men throughout the centuries and millennia past.

They undertook the very long and arduous journey from their respective lands, as was common at that time, travelling a long time and enduring difficult conditions to reach the place pointed at by the Star. Although their names were not recorded in the Scriptures, but according to the Church traditions, their names were Caspar or Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar or Balthazar. Their places of origin were often given as India, Persia and Arabia or other relatively distant places.

We heard of how they came to king Herod, the ruler of the land, both to ask for advice and direction, as well as to courteously seek permission to find the One prophesied and shown by the Star, which happened to be in the land under the rule of the king. Herod however became immediately suspicious and fearful over the news of a rival King that would come into the world, fearing that this King would seize the power and authority from him and his family.

King Herod the Great himself was in fact not a Jew or descendant of the Israelites, but rather a Nabatean, one of the neighbouring people of the Israelites. He also seized power from the rightful rulers of the land, the Hasmoneans in a coup engineered and supported by the Romans, who then came to be overlords of the region. As such, king Herod the Great always felt very insecure in his reign, and this news of the coming of a new King certainly unsettled him a lot.

Nonetheless, the Magi managed to get his permission, regardless of the vicious plots that Herod would later on execute in trying to destroy this new threat to his reign as king. The Magi eventually came to Bethlehem after a long journey and saw the King of kings, the One shown to them by the Star and prophesied by the prophets, and they recognised Him and paid Him homage.

And now I want to bring all of our attentions to the gifts that each of the Magi brought before the Lord in homage and submission. Each of these gifts were precious on their own and had great symbolic meaning and importance. The gift of gold, frankincense and myrrh had greater symbolic meaning than what their earthly values might have shown, and it revealed to us all, Who the Lord that the Magi had paid homage to, truly is.

First of all, the gift of gold signifies royalty and kingship, as gold at that time symbolises glory and wealth just as it is still the case today. Therefore this gift of gold signifies that the Lord was truly a King, and indeed not just like any other kings of this world, but the one True King of all, the King of Kings and Lord of lords. He has come into this world as King but not behaving like other kings, for instead of seeking to be served, He came to serve His people, His beloved ones.

Then, the gift of frankincense has two important meaning, first being a symbol of Christ’s role as the High Priest of all, the one True and Eternal High Priest signifying how He would offer the perfect sacrifice and offering to redeem us from our sins, and be the worthy sacrifice and absolution from our shortcomings. Incense is usually used by the priests as the offering of prayers to the gods, and in this way, it emphasised Christ’s High Priest role.

Frankincense then is also a mark of Christ’s divinity, for when offered to Him in homage by the Magi, this offering of the finest quality incense signified the sanctity of God, that the Child born of Mary in Bethlehem was not just a mere Man or a mere Child. He is God Himself in the flesh, possessing two distinct but inseparable natures of Man and Divine concurrently in the person of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

Last of all, is the gift of myrrh from the Magi. On a hindsight, the gift of myrrh is truly a bewildering one given that while myrrh is an expensive commodity and spice highly sought after and rare, but it was also commonly used in the preservation and embalming of dead bodies, which is why given that this was presented to the Child Jesus, it might have been strange at a glance.

However, the myrrh is an important reminder and revelation of the role that the Lord would take up in fulfilling His ministry, as the precursor and sign to His Passion, suffering and death on the Cross. The myrrh therefore marked the great sacrifice and love of God for us all that He would even suffer and go through the most terrible pain and humiliation for our sake, unto death for us.

The gifts of the Magi, the gold, frankincense and myrrh therefore revealed the true nature of the Lord and Saviour, He Who is King over all and the Lord over all things, Who is also the Most High and Almighty God, and at the same time, also the Eternal High Priest of all creation, having been incarnate as Man, and through His humanity united to His divinity, He would suffer for our sake, bearing His Cross of love, that through His suffering and death, all are to be saved from their sins and from the eternal damnation.

The Lord has revealed Himself to the Jews, to His own people at the moment of His presentation and circumcision at the Temple of God, and then now, as celebrated in this Epiphany, He has also revealed Himself and His intentions to the non-Jewish people as well, showing that everything He has promised, He would do for everyone without bias or regard for their race or origin, their status or descent among others. All are equally beloved by God, and He is the Lord and Saviour of all.

On this Solemnity of the Epiphany, we are therefore brought to focus on the Lord’s ever present love for each and every one of us, and reminded of the same love that He has showered on us from the very beginning. Through Christ all of us have seen the salvation of God, and while once we were in the darkness, but through Him and our faith in Him, hope has been restored to us, and we have been strengthened and rejuvenated as God’s beloved children once again.

On this day as we focus on the revelation of the Lord to the nations, as He has shown Himself to the Magi, let us all remember the dedication and commitment of the Magi who answered the Lord’s call and sought for Him as they braved the dangers of the long journey just so that they might pay homage to Him and to worship Him. Their faith is an inspiration to all of us, just as according to the Church traditions, the Magi lived to old age and became Christians themselves, and took part in their respective ministry until their lives’ end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, on this Solemnity of the Epiphany, are we willing and able to follow in the footsteps of the Magi and seek the Lord with renewed zeal and love for Him? Are we willing to renew our faith and commitment to the Lord, that we may ourselves be inspiration for our fellow brothers and sisters, and through us, we may inspire even more people and call more people to the Lord’s salvation and grace? This is our calling as Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us all inspire each other to be ever more faithful to God in all things that we may truly be worthy to call ourselves as Christians and bear the Light of Christ within ourselves. May our actions and deeds, our words and interactions be like the bright Star of Bethlehem shining its bright light in the darkness of the world. Let us all bear faithful witness to our Lord and Saviour, for all the love and commitment He has shown us all these while.

May God, our Lord, King, High Priest and Saviour, revealed and manifested to the whole world, be our Light and Guide, and may He be our Strength as we continue to walk faithfully in His presence in this world bearing witness to His truth and love. May He bless us all in our every good endeavours and works, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 3 January 2021 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, one of the most important celebrations of the Liturgical Year. This Solemnity of the Epiphany celebrates the revelation of the Messiah or the Saviour of the world to all the nations and the peoples of the world. The word Epiphany came from the Greek word ‘Epiphaneia’, which means revelation and manifestation.

That is why today, on this celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord, we focus our attention on the manifestation and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of the whole world to all the nations, represented by the Holy Magi or the Wise Men. That is why the celebration of the Epiphany is closely tied to the Three Wise Men or Magi, and in the Gospel we heard of the account of their visit to the Lord at His manger in Bethlehem, guided by the bright Star of Bethlehem.

The Magi saw the Star of Bethlehem from afar as a very prominent and bright star, and as they were educated and intelligent people who perhaps dwelled in astrology and other studies, they knew that a very prominent event was about to happen, and in this case, it was the upcoming birth and arrival of the Saviour of the world as prophesied by the many prophets and wise men throughout the centuries and millennia past.

They undertook the very long and arduous journey from their respective lands, as was common at that time, travelling a long time and enduring difficult conditions to reach the place pointed at by the Star. Although their names were not recorded in the Scriptures, but according to the Church traditions, their names were Caspar or Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar or Balthazar. Their places of origin were often given as India, Persia and Arabia or other relatively distant places.

We heard of how they came to king Herod, the ruler of the land, both to ask for advice and direction, as well as to courteously seek permission to find the One prophesied and shown by the Star, which happened to be in the land under the rule of the king. Herod however became immediately suspicious and fearful over the news of a rival King that would come into the world, fearing that this King would seize the power and authority from him and his family.

King Herod the Great himself was in fact not a Jew or descendant of the Israelites, but rather a Nabatean, one of the neighbouring people of the Israelites. He also seized power from the rightful rulers of the land, the Hasmoneans in a coup engineered and supported by the Romans, who then came to be overlords of the region. As such, king Herod the Great always felt very insecure in his reign, and this news of the coming of a new King certainly unsettled him a lot.

Nonetheless, the Magi managed to get his permission, regardless of the vicious plots that Herod would later on execute in trying to destroy this new threat to his reign as king. The Magi eventually came to Bethlehem after a long journey and saw the King of kings, the One shown to them by the Star and prophesied by the prophets, and they recognised Him and paid Him homage.

And now I want to bring all of our attentions to the gifts that each of the Magi brought before the Lord in homage and submission. Each of these gifts were precious on their own and had great symbolic meaning and importance. The gift of gold, frankincense and myrrh had greater symbolic meaning than what their earthly values might have shown, and it revealed to us all, Who the Lord that the Magi had paid homage to, truly is.

First of all, the gift of gold signifies royalty and kingship, as gold at that time symbolises glory and wealth just as it is still the case today. Therefore this gift of gold signifies that the Lord was truly a King, and indeed not just like any other kings of this world, but the one True King of all, the King of Kings and Lord of lords. He has come into this world as King but not behaving like other kings, for instead of seeking to be served, He came to serve His people, His beloved ones.

Then, the gift of frankincense has two important meaning, first being a symbol of Christ’s role as the High Priest of all, the one True and Eternal High Priest signifying how He would offer the perfect sacrifice and offering to redeem us from our sins, and be the worthy sacrifice and absolution from our shortcomings. Incense is usually used by the priests as the offering of prayers to the gods, and in this way, it emphasised Christ’s High Priest role.

Frankincense then is also a mark of Christ’s divinity, for when offered to Him in homage by the Magi, this offering of the finest quality incense signified the sanctity of God, that the Child born of Mary in Bethlehem was not just a mere Man or a mere Child. He is God Himself in the flesh, possessing two distinct but inseparable natures of Man and Divine concurrently in the person of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

Last of all, is the gift of myrrh from the Magi. On a hindsight, the gift of myrrh is truly a bewildering one given that while myrrh is an expensive commodity and spice highly sought after and rare, but it was also commonly used in the preservation and embalming of dead bodies, which is why given that this was presented to the Child Jesus, it might have been strange at a glance.

However, the myrrh is an important reminder and revelation of the role that the Lord would take up in fulfilling His ministry, as the precursor and sign to His Passion, suffering and death on the Cross. The myrrh therefore marked the great sacrifice and love of God for us all that He would even suffer and go through the most terrible pain and humiliation for our sake, unto death for us.

The gifts of the Magi, the gold, frankincense and myrrh therefore revealed the true nature of the Lord and Saviour, He Who is King over all and the Lord over all things, Who is also the Most High and Almighty God, and at the same time, also the Eternal High Priest of all creation, having been incarnate as Man, and through His humanity united to His divinity, He would suffer for our sake, bearing His Cross of love, that through His suffering and death, all are to be saved from their sins and from the eternal damnation.

The Lord has revealed Himself to the Jews, to His own people at the moment of His presentation and circumcision at the Temple of God, and then now, as celebrated in this Epiphany, He has also revealed Himself and His intentions to the non-Jewish people as well, showing that everything He has promised, He would do for everyone without bias or regard for their race or origin, their status or descent among others. All are equally beloved by God, and He is the Lord and Saviour of all.

On this Solemnity of the Epiphany, we are therefore brought to focus on the Lord’s ever present love for each and every one of us, and reminded of the same love that He has showered on us from the very beginning. Through Christ all of us have seen the salvation of God, and while once we were in the darkness, but through Him and our faith in Him, hope has been restored to us, and we have been strengthened and rejuvenated as God’s beloved children once again.

On this day as we focus on the revelation of the Lord to the nations, as He has shown Himself to the Magi, let us all remember the dedication and commitment of the Magi who answered the Lord’s call and sought for Him as they braved the dangers of the long journey just so that they might pay homage to Him and to worship Him. Their faith is an inspiration to all of us, just as according to the Church traditions, the Magi lived to old age and became Christians themselves, and took part in their respective ministry until their lives’ end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, on this Solemnity of the Epiphany, are we willing and able to follow in the footsteps of the Magi and seek the Lord with renewed zeal and love for Him? Are we willing to renew our faith and commitment to the Lord, that we may ourselves be inspiration for our fellow brothers and sisters, and through us, we may inspire even more people and call more people to the Lord’s salvation and grace? This is our calling as Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us all inspire each other to be ever more faithful to God in all things that we may truly be worthy to call ourselves as Christians and bear the Light of Christ within ourselves. May our actions and deeds, our words and interactions be like the bright Star of Bethlehem shining its bright light in the darkness of the world. Let us all bear faithful witness to our Lord and Saviour, for all the love and commitment He has shown us all these while.

May God, our Lord, King, High Priest and Saviour, revealed and manifested to the whole world, be our Light and Guide, and may He be our Strength as we continue to walk faithfully in His presence in this world bearing witness to His truth and love. May He bless us all in our every good endeavours and works, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 3 January 2021 : Second Sunday after Christmas (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, the second Sunday in the season of Christmas, we are reminded yet again of the reason why we celebrate this Christmas. We do not rejoice and celebrate because we seek pleasures and joys of this world, or satisfaction for our needs and desires. We rejoice because of the love that God has shown us so wonderfully and generously through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

So great was His love that since the very beginning, He has given us His compassion and love, showering us with mercy and patience throughout the journey. Despite our rebelliousness and sins, He has always continued to love us, even to the greatest of sinners. When Adam and Eve sinned against God, He could easily have annihilated them or condemned them to eternal suffering, but He did not do so.

While He forced them to wander the earth and suffer the consequences of their sins, but at that very same moment He also reassured them that salvation would eventually come for all of them, when He spoke of the Woman through whom the Lord would bring His salvation, crushing the devil, his power and dominion over the world and all the evil and wicked plots he had created against us.

When Cain murdered Abel out of jealousy, the Lord still showed Him mercy and helped him to get away from his predicament, and He rescued Noah and his family on the great Ark when all of the whole world had completely turned against God and dwelled in their wickedness and evil. Then, throughout many years, decades and centuries, again and again He helped His people, making Covenant with His servant Abraham and his descendants.

Throughout the history of mankind, God has always remained faithful to the Covenant He had made with us since the beginning. He has always guided and attempted to lead us to Himself. He has never abandoned us no matter what. Sadly, it was us and our predecessors that had abandoned the Lord and betrayed Him for the temptations and allures of the world. We sought quick satisfaction and comfort, which is why we turned to everything in the world and not to God.

Nonetheless, God remained faithful, and He rescued His people from their troubles, from their slavery in Egypt, guiding them through the Red Sea and destroying their enemies, establishing them in the lands of Promise, and made them prosper. Again and again, when the people disobeyed Him and were stubborn in rebelling against Him, He showed patience and tried to bring them back to His truth and love.

Throughout more and more centuries God continued to take care of His people, and He sent His deliverance to us, fulfilling all the promises He had made from the very beginning. The Lord Himself became Man, assuming our human nature and the existence of our flesh, became fully Man just as He is also fully Divine. In the person of Jesus Christ, exists inseparably two distinct natures, Divine and Man.

This is what the Lord has shown all of us, His enduring love for every single one of us, without exception. The Son of Man and Son of God born in Bethlehem to Mary is the perfect manifestation of this Love. We are celebrating this Christmas because of this, the generosity and wonders of God’s love that never ends, His faithful love and commitment to the Covenant which He had made with all of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as St. Paul said in his Epistle to the Ephesians as our second reading today, the Lord has revealed His truth to us through Christ, Our Saviour and Lord. He has brought freedom to us through His Son, and most importantly through His most loving and selfless sacrifice on the Cross, by which He established a new and everlasting Covenant with all of us. By His own Blood, He has paid the price of sin and liberated us from eternal death.

Now, what is important is that, each and every one of us as Christians are His followers and believers, that is we believe in all that He has revealed to us, and we believe that He is our Lord and Saviour, our most loving Father and Creator. And now that we have received this truth from Him, our calling and purpose in life is to bear witness to this truth, and to the same hope and love that He has shown us through Christ.

How are we making our Christmas celebrations meaningful and worthwhile, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is not by spending a lot of money and lavish celebrations that we truly rejoice and celebrate this Christmas. Rather, it is by devoting our effort, time and attention to show the love of God in this world, by reaching out with love to all our brethren in need, especially those who are in need of love and compassion.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all make our Christmas celebrations truly meaningful and worthwhile, devoting ourselves to follow the Lord’s calling and do our very best to touch the lives of others, being generous in giving and in loving one another. May the Lord be our Guide, our Strength and our Hope. May He bless each and every one of us and strengthen us with the courage to live virtuously and filled with His love from now on. Amen.

Sunday, 5 January 2020 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, one of the great celebrations during the season of Christmas, commemorating the moment when three great men, known as either the Three Magi or Three Kings or Three Wise Men came to visit and pay homage to the newborn Christ in Bethlehem, the place of His birth, bringing the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

This great celebration is known as the Epiphany of the Lord from the original Greek word ‘Epiphaneia’ which means the unveiling or revelation, linking to the occasion of the visit of the Magi who came from the faraway lands as the revelation of the Messiah to the people in distant lands, as representative of the many nations that will come to worship the Lord and praise Him. Through the three gifts of the Magi, the truth of the Messiah was also unveiled to us, though it might not have been known right at that moment of time Who He was.

First of all, the gift of gold represents Christ’s kingship and power, as He has come as King, the King of Israel and the King of the whole world, the One Who was prophesied to be sitting on the throne of David, His ancestor. Gold has always been valued by many cultures and civilisations for a very long time, and it has always been associated as a symbol of wealth and power, and therefore, they are often possessed by the rich and the powerful, especially the lords and kings of the nations.

Therefore, the Three Magi came to honour the King Who has come into this world as He has promised. But it is also important for us to note how Christ chose to be born into this world. He did not come in great wealth and power, unlike the lords and kings of this world. He was born into poverty and suffering, and not in a large and sumptuous palace, but in a small, dirty stable that was not suitable at all for the dwelling of any man.

But that was how Our Lord and King chose to come into this world, not into wealth and privilege, not into glory or fame, but into obscurity and in the most humiliating condition possible to highlight that His Kingship is unlike any of the kingship and any ruling in this world. His Kingship is not bound and neither can it be described by any worldly parameters, for His Kingship and authority come from Himself and not from worldly wealth, power, fame or any of the sorts.

And then, He is not just like any other kings of the earth because He is also at the same time, God and the Divine Word Incarnate, as represented by the gift of frankincense. Incense are fragrances from aromatic sources like hardened tree sap and liquids that are often used from the earliest history of mankind for the purpose of worship of the spirits and the divine. Frankincense are the finest type of incense reserved only for the most solemn occurrences, and therefore the gift of frankincense by the Magi showed us that He is the Lord, Our God.

Jesus Christ, Our Lord and King is also the Son of God, fully Man and fully God, having human nature and divine nature united in His one person, and this is the truth about Himself, born of a woman and yet also the eternal God from before the beginning of time, the mystery of our faith revealed to us today. And the gift of frankincense was truly an acknowledgement that this Child born the Messiah, was God Incarnate and ought to be worshipped.

This is where the irony can be seen more plainly, as we know how things would turn out as the Lord later embarked on His ministry. King Herod the Great wanted Him dead, and the Pharisees and many of the elders and teachers of the Law refused to believe in Him, those leaders of the people to whom God had sent His own Son. Yet, it was from the Magi, from the faraway, non-Jewish lands that the acknowledgement of the Lord Jesus as not only King but also God, were given.

Now, as we then look at the third and the last of the gifts of the Three Magi, we will then fully understand the significance of not just these gifts but also what it means for us to have God Himself dwelling in our midst and why we even celebrate Christmas in the first place. The third and last of the gifts is myrrh, an expensive and rare fragrance and spice used typically for embalming of the dead bodies.

Such a gift would have been unthinkable and weird to be given to a newborn Child. Why would someone give a perfume used for the preparation of dead bodies as a gift for a Child? But this is exactly symbolic of what the Lord’s ministry in this world, as a revelation of what He would do to fulfil that mission. I refer to how Christ suffered, took the burden of His Cross and endured all the bitterness, and died for us. That myrrh symbolised this death that Christ suffered through for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we can see, the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are representative of the truth about the Messiah Whom the Magi paid homage to at Bethlehem, the King Whose coming was promised, Who is also Divine, Word of God, the Son of the Father Who assumed our human existence and flesh, all so that He could fulfil the completion of God’s plan to save us, by His suffering, Passion and death on the Cross.

Thus, through the events surrounding the Epiphany today, all of us see how God revealed Himself to the nations, represented by the Three Magi who had endured great trials and distances to pay a visit and worship the One Whose coming they have seen in the great Star of Bethlehem. And what is remarkable is how those Magi, who were very wise and knowledgeable, were willing to bear the difficulties and challenges of distant travel at a time when travelling was hazardous and difficult.

They followed the Star which guided them to the One they had been looking for, and today’s events were the culmination of what was probably many months of travel from the homeland of the Magi to Bethlehem, finally seeing the Holy One of God. We saw the faith of the Magi in entrusting themselves to this small, little Child, Whom they recognised as the One Who would save the entire world as prophesied.

Once again, this is completely contrary to the attitude of those to whom God had actually sent His Son to first, that is the Israelites. They have all known the prophecies and the promises of God, and yet many among them failed to believe or even refused to believe in Him. Some would even want to destroy Him and His works because they saw in the Lord Jesus a bitter rival for influence among the people of God. God has revealed His truth to them in many occasions and through many signs, but because they hardened their hearts, they did not have the faith.

Today on this Solemnity of the Epiphany therefore, all of us are called to reflect on the faith that all of us have in the Lord, on whether we truly have faith in the Lord, believing in everything that He has revealed to us as we celebrate it in this Epiphany of the Lord. Through the Epiphany with the Wise Men or Magi, all of us are shown the wonderful manifestation of God’s love through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, He Who is King as honoured by gold, Who is also God as worshipped by the frankincense, and Who will bear the Cross and die for our sake as anointed with the myrrh.

God has revealed the fullness of love to us through Christ, His Son, and we have heard how the Magi went on the arduous and long journey to seek Him. Such a dedication can only happen when one has faith and love for God, that the person is able to do what he or she can do to follow the Lord and to seek Him out even through the trials and challenges present in our life. Are we able to have this same faith in us, brothers and sisters in Christ?

This Solemnity of the Epiphany is a timely reminder for us all to rediscover our faith and love for God, knowing first of all how He has loved us so dearly before everything else, that He gave us all the most wonderful gift of all, King, Lord and Saviour all in one. By His death and resurrection, Christ has saved us all from our certain destruction because of our sins and faults. He has given us everything so that we will not perish and have eternal life through Him. So, are we then able to dedicate ourselves to Him?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all spend time to think about how we can grow further in faith and dedicate our time and attention to love the Lord with greater fidelity from now on. Let us all grow in faith and learn to trust the Lord in all things, spending the time and effort to build a stronger and better relationship with God in each and every moments of our lives.

And as God has revealed Himself to us, let us all be witnesses to His truth and reveal Him to the nations and to all those who have not yet known Him. Let us all do this by our role model and good example, doing our best to live our lives according to our faith from now on. Those who see us will know of our faith, and through that, they will come to know God. Hopefully like the Magi coming to see the Lord, many more people too will come to worship the Lord. May God be with us all and His Church, always. Amen.

Sunday, 6 January 2019 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate after the twelfth day of Christmas, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, which on this year happens to fall also on its traditional day of the sixth day of January. On this day, we are reminded of the moment of the Epiphany, which came from the word ‘Epiphaneia’ that means manifestation or ‘appearing’ in Greek. This is related to what is commemorated in Epiphany, in what we have as our Scripture passages today.

In the readings for the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the central figure and focus is the coming of people from all over the world, which was historically represented by the Three Wise Men or the Three Magi, who came from various parts of the world, bringing gifts and paying homage to the Lord of lords and King of kings, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of the whole world. In today’s theme therefore, we see the Lord revealing Himself and His salvation to the many people of various races and origins, beyond the original race of the Israelites.

If at His birth, the Lord’s coming was witnessed by the local shepherds, representing the nation and people of Israel, then the coming of the Three Wise Men bearing gifts and paying homage represent the universality of Our Lord’s salvation and His authority over all of the whole world, and not just over the people of Israel alone. At that time, the prevalent thought was that, the Messiah would come to the people of Israel, and become a King over them, excluding those who did not belong to the race and nation of Israel.

And how did God reveal Himself to the nations? His coming into the world was marked by a great star, a mighty sign in the sky visible to many in various parts of the world, which pointed to the coming of a great King and Saviour, that prompted each one of the Three Wise Men, traditionally named as Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, to come from their faraway homelands, to pay a visit to the coming Messiah of God and the King to come.

Each of them bore a gift that when inspected further, seems to be strange and unfitting gifts to be given to a newborn Baby. But, each of the three gifts of the Three Wise Men, in fact played a major part in the revelation of God’s truth, showing us all, the true nature of God and His Saviour, in His great Kingly glory and in His fullness of divinity, and in the mission which He was to embark on, in order to achieve our salvation.

First of all, the gift of gold is a gift that symbolises power and authority, indicating the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. At that time, gold is reserved only for the use of royalty and the divine, as they were so precious, incorruptible and beautiful beyond compare. The gift of gold therefore reveals to us the Kingship of Christ, King of all kings, the Lord and Master of all the whole universe. The Three Wise Men came before the Lord and knelt before Him, representing their acknowledgement of Christ as their Lord and King.

Then, the frankincense is the finest quality incense used only exclusively for the worship of the divine, for only the finest is reserved for the use of divine worship. The gift of frankincense thus reveals to us the divinity of Christ, that this Messiah or Saviour Who has come into the world, was not just any mere human beings, but far more than that, as One Who is fully Man, and yet also fully Divine, the Son of God Himself, the Word of God Incarnate.

This shows that the Lord Who has come into the world, is truly the love of God incarnate in the flesh, appearing in our midst, God Who made Himself tangible and touchable, contactable and relatable, and yet, without diminishing His divinity and His Godhood. And it was interesting and remarkable, that God wanted to make Himself so small and insignificant, to put Himself in the Body of a little Child, born in a dirty and cramped stable in the outskirts of the small town of Bethlehem.

This is where the last gift of the Three Wise Men, that is the myrrh, is remarkable, as it reveals to us the purpose and meaning of Christ’s coming into the world, choosing to be born as a Man. The myrrh is a precious ointment and spice, usually used for anointing the body of a deceased person prior to its burial. Truly, it is a very unusual and some may even think, inappropriate gift to be given to a child, and less still, the Child Who is also God and King of kings.

But in truth, even at the moment just after He was born into this world, the third gift, the myrrh has revealed the true nature of His mission, the salvation of all of God’s beloved people, by the obedience of the Son, the suffering He had to endure for the sake of our salvation, the pain and the suffering of the cross of Our Lord. Christ had to suffer and die on the cross, that by His death, He became for us the source of eternal life.

That blessed myrrh is the sign of His mortality, the mortality of the Humanity that is part of His person, and yet, not the mortality caused by His own sins, rather because He willingly took up for Himself, all the sins and punishments due for those sins, so that because of this, by absolving us from our sins, we will not perish and suffer the fate of those who have disobeyed and sinned against God, but instead, have a new hope of life everlasting in God.

This is also linked to the earlier symbolism of the frankincense, as it also presents before us the symbolism of worship, both God Who is worshipped and adored in the divinity of Christ, and in the humanity of Christ acting as the High Priest of all mankind, offering Himself, the Perfect offering of the Most Precious Body and Blood, of the Son of God made Man, Whose blameless and pure sacrifice became the source of our eternal life and salvation.

Therefore, as we have discussed, the three gifts of the Three Wise Men each showed a different aspect of Christ, Who is a King, a Priest and God, and lastly, as a Suffering Servant, the One Who was to suffer and die for our sake. Through all these, the truth about Christ, Who He is and what His mission is, have been revealed to all, and represented by the Three Wise Men, the Magi, all the nations have come to see the glory of God and His salvation.

This is the fulfilment of what the Lord has revealed through His prophets, especially the prophet Isaiah, who said that a people who lived in darkness, have seen a great light. The Three Wise Men saw the great and bright Star of Bethlehem, and followed its light to find their way to the Messiah, and they found Him, after what would have been a very difficult and arduous journey of probably months and more.

Today, we ought to reflect first of all, on God’s love for us, His desire to reveal to us, the fullness of truth about Himself, of His great and boundless love to each and every one of us. And He chose to enter into our lives, humbling and emptying Himself from all majesty and dignity, being born in a place least suitable for human habitation, less still that of the King of kings and Lord of lords. He gave everything for us, even His life, that by His selfless and ultimate sacrifice, we may have new life in Him and through Him. He revealed Himself to all the peoples of all the nations, that they may know Him, and may be saved, through Him.

This is the true joy of Christmas, which is the reason why we celebrate this wonderful season and time of Christmas, because God’s love has been a part of our lives, and we have seen how glorious and wonderful is His salvation for us. And now, what we need to do, is for us to open our hearts and minds, to welcome Him and to seek Him and His love for us, following in the examples set by the Three Wise Men.

The Three Wise Men travelled from faraway countries, traversing many difficult terrains and facing many challenges along their journey, and yet, they remained faithful despite all those challenges, and completed their journey of faith towards the Saviour Who was promised to come. They believed in the Saviour of God, and came to pay Him homage, while those who have heard the message of God’s truth, such as many of the Pharisees, many among the Israelites, king Herod and his supporters, refused to believe in Him, and rejected Him.

Today’s occasion of the Epiphany calls us to turn towards God, revealed before us, His love and His merciful compassion for us, that we may see in Him, a new hope and light that dawns, dispelling the darkness of sin that have blanketed us and became a barrier preventing us from realising just how much God loves each and every one of us. We are called to walk in the footsteps of the Three Wise Men, to follow the Lord with faith, in our respective journeys of faith in life.

Are we able to make that commitment, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to love the Lord with ever more conviction and zeal? It is not impossible, for after all, God Himself loved us so much, that He humbled Himself, emptied Himself of all dignity and majesty, that He, the King of kings and Lord of lords, became our Saviour, by His death on the cross, a most painful and humiliating death, out of His love for us. Nothing is impossible for God, and therefore, by God’s will, we too can love Him in the same way.

Let us be inspired by the faith of the Three Wise Men, and walk, from now on, in God’s grace, abandoning our sinful past and embracing a newfound zeal and faith in God, keeping Him as the centre and focus of our lives. May God, Our loving Father, Our Creator and Our Saviour Who revealed Himself to all the nations and to all the peoples that they may know Him, be our guide, and may He bless us in everything we do, for the greater glory of His Name. Amen.

Monday, 9 January 2017 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we commemorate the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, which falls after the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the moment when Jesus was revealed to the world for the first time through the actions of the Three Wise Men or the Magi. These events mark the ending of the season of Christmas today, as the readings of the Scripture shift from the events surrounding the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, into one that begins His earthly ministry.

The baptism of our Lord Jesus at the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist was a momentous event which marked the beginning of our Lord’s work on earth, to fulfil the mission which He had been sent into this world for. Jesus was then thirty years old, fully grown as a Man, endowed and blessed with all the good human upbringing that His mother Mary and His foster-father St. Joseph had given Him throughout all those years.

Thus the baptism of our Lord Jesus can be seen as the coming of age event, through which a formal beginning of the ministry of the Saviour of the world was marked. After the baptism, the Lord went on to prepare Himself through fasting for forty days and nights before He was ready to set forth and teach the people the Good News of God.

It is indeed a reminder of our own baptism that we celebrate this feast of the Baptism of our Lord today. Let us ask that simple question, which answer has often stunned many of us Christians until today. What does our baptism mean to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? What is its significance to us, to our faith and to our respective lives? And indeed, can we remember the day of our own baptism?

If we cannot remember the day of our own baptism, then it means that we do not care how important is baptism and the moment of baptism to all of us. Baptism is very important and indeed crucial to us, as Jesus Himself had demonstrated through His own baptism, that each and every one of us, through baptism, received the grace to become the sons and daughters of God. For God, through His Son Jesus Christ, have made us to share in His baptism, as His brethren.

And what is baptism about? There are many symbols used in baptism, primarily which is blessed and holy water. It is a symbol of cleansing and healing, representing how Jesus was baptised by St. John the Baptist at the Jordan river, and also how the people of Israel passed through the waters of the Red Sea, when God brought them out of Egypt, and also later on when He brought them to the land of promise, opening up the Jordan river for them to pass through.

It is a symbol of the destruction of our past and sinful lives. We have been immersed in the water just as our Lord Jesus was, and we share in His death together, His death on the cross. And water is also a symbol of life, for water is needed for us to continue living. Thus, it is also a symbol of our sharing of the Lord’s glorious resurrection from the dead, that each and every one of us who have been baptised now have in us the promise of everlasting life Jesus had made to His disciples.

The holy oil of chrism is a reminder of the anointment which our God had given us, just as He had anointed His Messiah or Saviour, to be the One through Whom salvation would come into this world. We receive the Holy Spirit through Him, and the Spirit of God Himself lives inside of us. And therefore all of us have been made the Temples of the Holy Spirit, the Temples of God. For God Himself is amongst us, and He resides within us.

We received the candle lighted with the flame from the Easter Candle, and this is the representation of the Light of Christ, the Risen Lord, through Whom we have seen the true Light and rejoice, because we have been living in the darkness, and He has come to save us all from the darkness of this world, and bring us into a new world of light.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all today remember the day of our baptism, and if we were still then too small and too young to remember what happened, then at least let us all reflect on all the significance of our baptismal ceremony and what it means for us all Christians to become the sons and daughters of God by our baptism, which we share with the Lord Jesus, our Lord and God.

And most importantly, we have to remember that just as Jesus began His earthly ministry by His baptism, each and every one of us as Christians have been entrusted with the divine ministry by our Lord Himself, Who tasked us all to go forth and to bring the Good News to all the peoples of all the nations. And we need to do this by being genuine disciples and followers of our Lord, and by practicing our faith through real actions, through our good works.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He also strengthen our faith, which we have with us ever since the day of our baptism. May we all grow stronger in our conviction and desire to serve Him, our Lord and Master, and be more courageous and dedicated in the mission which He had entrusted to all of us. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 8 January 2017 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many of us will remember that this Solemnity of the Epiphany is related to the Three Wise Men, or the Three Magi or Three Kings, which figurines are always accompanying the Christmas crib, bearing gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense for our Lord Jesus. But then, what is the true meaning and significance of this Epiphany feast?

The word Epiphany came from the Greek word ‘Epiphaneia’, which means the manifestation or appearance, coming from the word ‘Appear’. This feast is also sometimes known as the Theophany, also from the Greek word ‘Theos’ which means God. Thus, this Solemnity of the Epiphany is truly a celebration of the revelation and manifestation of the Lord God, Who made Himself apparent to the whole world through the means of the Three Wise Men or the Three Kings.

It was a feast originally celebrating the Baptism of our Lord Jesus, as at Baptism, when St. John the Baptist baptised Jesus, many people who were there could witness the Holy Spirit descending as a Dove and landed upon the head of Jesus, and the voice of the Father speaking, revealing to all, particularly to St. John the Baptist, that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He is the long awaited Messiah and Saviour of the world.

But over time, especially in the tradition of our Faith, the focus shifted to the moment surrounding the Nativity of our Lord, the moments surrounding His birth. The Angels had appeared to the shepherds of Bethlehem and proclaimed to them the great joy of the coming of the Lord and Saviour, the Good News which mankind had awaited for long, and which God had promised to them for many ages through His prophets and messengers.

Yet it was at the events celebrated this Epiphany when the Lord revealed Himself to His people who were of non-Jewish origin, namely the Gentiles, people from faraway lands, who also came to worship God, and who wanted to believe in Him and in His ways and messages. The Three Wise Men, or the Magi, represented these people, who came following the Star of Bethlehem and came bearing gifts to Jesus our Lord, paying Him homage as their one and true King.

There are many symbolisms surrounding the event of this Epiphany, and which we should try to understand so that we may make use of them as best as we can in order to benefit ourselves in our developing faith in our God. For in the Epiphany, we should be able to relate to ourselves and our journey in faith to God, and in the identity of the One Whom we worship, the Lord God of all creation.

The Three Kings or the Three Wise Men are representatives for us all, people from every nations, from every languages and origins, from all the ends of the earth, who came to worship the Lord and who want to believe in Him. They were following the Star of Bethlehem, which represented the coming of the Lord, Who is indeed the Light of the world. Amidst the darkened sky, the star shone brightly, visible from afar, all the way to the lands where the Magi lived in.

That was just like how we saw the Lord, the Light of our lives, amidst the darkness of this world, and we see in Him, the Light which we ought to follow, and which we indeed want to follow. It is also because of faith that they have travelled long distances, enduring difficult conditions of their journey to come and pay homage to the King of kings. That is why the star of Bethlehem is also a sign of faith, the same faith which we share in our own journey of faith. We may have different stories of how our lives had developed, but nevertheless, all of us believe in God and want to look for Him.

Through this event, we know how the Lord wanted to save us all from the threat of our destruction. He did not intend just for the salvation of certain group of people, but all of mankind, including Jews and non-Jews alike. At that time, there were those who thought that being the chosen people of God, the people of Israel were the only ones who were worthy of God’s salvation, particularly among the Pharisees and the elders of the people.

These people shunned the pagans and foreigners, whom they called as Gentiles. They thought of these people as unclean and unworthy of God and His love, and even considered coming into contact and entering their houses as being defiling and brought impurities upon them. But it was God Himself through Jesus Who broke the barriers and the perceptions, proclaiming to all that God loves all people, all of His children, both Jews and Gentiles alike.

We can see the contrast in many occasions throughout the Gospels, when the supposedly pagan Gentiles, from the Greeks to the Samaritans, actually welcomed the Lord and His teachings through Christ, while the Jews themselves were not always receptive to Him, and in some occasions they even rejected and opposed Him, as what the teachers of the Law, the Pharisees and the elders of the people did.

God, through His revelation in this Epiphany wanted to show all of His people, that He is God, Who had come into the world in the form of Man in Jesus Christ, through Whom He would bring His salvation to all of His people without exception. It will not be based on the birth or background of His people that He would save them, but instead, He would save them through faith. Those who believe in Him and place their trust in Him will be saved.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now that we have discussed about how and why God revealed Himself to the whole world, then now let us all discuss how God revealed Himself to the world through the Three Wise Men. They brought to Jesus our Lord three different and truly unique gifts. Do we all know the significance of those gifts? Each of them had a meaning, and each of them indeed are parts of the revelation of Who Jesus truly is.

The gift of gold, frankincense and myrrh are indeed strange gifts to be given to a newborn Child. Now let us go through each one of them. Gold is a precious metal which since long ago have become a source of wonder and amazement to many people around the world, and it has long become a symbol of wealth and power. And it was often that gold are fit only for the rulers, the royalty and all those who were endowed with power and authority. Not just any person were able to afford t possess gold.

Thus gold represented Jesus Who came into this world as a King, and not just like any other kings, but as the King, the one true King, from Whom all power and authority came from. All the other rulers of this world ultimately derived their authority and power from the Lord, Who blessed them and granted them the guardianship over His people on earth.

Yet we can see just how amazing our Lord and our King is, for although He is a great King, Lord and Master of all the Universe, He is humble, loving and caring for all of His people. And He is showing all by His own examples. He is a leader, a King Who does not sit above everyone else and oppress those who are under Him. Instead, He is a servant leader, Who went through the lowest and the most difficult things a leader had to do, that is to actually go and do the works in order to help His people.

And indeed, even as God, He is not a distant and fearsome God Who oppresses His people. The frankincense is the best quality incense which are both rare and expensive, and are only used for the most solemn of purposes for worship. Incense had been used for a long time as well, in many religious purposes, for the worship of deities and gods, as well as an aromatic perfume because of its aroma and good smelling smoke.

Thus the frankincense represents the divinity of Christ, that Jesus, while He was a mere Baby, weak and fragile, born in a dirty and cramped stable fit only for animals, not for a man, less so a king, and even less so for the King of kings and as the Creator and only God of the whole Universe, was and is indeed God, the only One Who deserves to be worshipped and adored by all of creation.

Through those two gifts, the story of the Epiphany, the visit of the Three Magi or Wise Men has inspired in the hearts of many people about the birth of our Lord, Who has willingly come down upon this world as a Man, taking up the flesh of Man, and born in the worst possible condition, in a poor and dirty stable, and yet, He is indeed the God and King of this world, and this universe. He is both God and Man at the same time, all united in the person of Jesus Christ, Who had two natures, the Divine Nature of God, and the Human nature of Man.

But all these would not be complete, neither would it make sense without the third gift of the Three Magi, which revealed to us all, the very purpose of why Jesus came into this world, why God would want to enter into this world as a mere Man. Myrrh is an aromatic compound commonly used in the past for the purpose of embalming dead bodies, to preserve the dead bodies from decomposition and from emanating foul odours.

It would indeed be weird for someone to give the gift of myrrh to a baby, and less so, to the King of kings and the Creator God of all. But that myrrh represent nothing other than the Passion of our Lord Jesus, what we are celebrating at every Holy Week, of Jesus Christ our Lord, Who willingly took upon Himself the burdens of our sins, the sins of our forefathers, and indeed of all mankind. And He bore it all upon Himself, bearing His cross to Calvary, where He laid down His life for all of us, that we may live.

Thus in Epiphany and what we celebrate today, we see the perfect embodiment and fulfilment of God’s love, in the person of Jesus Christ, the Child Who was born that night in Bethlehem two millennia ago, and to Whom the Three Magi or Wise Men paid homage to, bearing the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, signifying and revealing to all the whole world that He is not just a mere Child, but indeed the King of the whole world, God of all creation, Who out of His infinite love and mercy for us, willingly took up the flesh of Man, incarnate through the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, to be our Saviour.

Now, what we need to ask ourselves as Christians, is simple indeed. As Christians, do we truly believe in God’s love through Christ? Do we take Him as our King and our Lord? Have we lived in accordance with His ways, in our actions and deeds? If we say that God is our King and Lord, and yet our actions, words and deeds do not reflect our obedience and adherence to His ways, will it not cause shame and scandal to our Lord’s great and holy Name?

Let us all spend time to reflect on ourselves and our respective lives as we celebrate and rejoice together in this feast and Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord. Let us all first of all be thankful to God Who has loved us so much, that He is willing to reveal Himself and His love through Jesus Christ His Son, His greatest gift to all of us. He has sent us the means of our salvation, our liberation from our sins and the One through Whom all of our past trespasses will be forgiven.

May we all grow ever deeper in our relationship with God, and by understanding more about our Lord, by receiving His revelations and understanding them, by our prayerful life and good works, we may receive from Him the gift of everlasting life and grace. May God be with us always and may He bless us in all of our life’s endeavours. Have a blessed and wonderful celebration of the Epiphany. Amen.

Sunday, 10 January 2016 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ, the time which is usually associated with the ending of the Christmas season, or Christmastide, although in some traditional celebrations, the season of Christmas does not end until the second day of February, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord or the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, following a forty day period for Christmas.

On this day, we commemorate that moment, when Christ began His earthly ministry, to begin the works which He had been born into this world for, that is to herald and bring about salvation to all mankind, and to liberate them from their sins and from the chains of wickedness, evil, sin and death. It was at that moment of His baptism that He officially began His earthly ministry, and this is truly important to all of us as well in its meaning.

This is also the model of our Church’s sacrament of holy baptism, the first of the seven sacraments and the first one that a believer, either as a baby or as a catechumen deciding to follow the Lord, must receive, before he or she would be able to receive the other sacraments, such as the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Most Holy Eucharist, Penance or that of the Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders.

It was through baptism that a faithful is welcomed into the Church of God, and through baptism, the faithful was sealed with the seal of the Living God, and became one with all the other members of the Church, adopted as God’s children and become partakers of God’s plan of salvation and in His everlasting kingdom of joy and happiness. Without baptism, the state of our souls will continue to be in limbo and darkness.

Just as Christ was immersed in the waters of the Jordan, we too have been immersed in the water during our baptism. Water itself has many symbolic meanings, the most common of which is its purifying capacity, where water cleanses things that are dirty and corrupted, and washes away all dirt and unpleasant things. It is also a symbol of life, since water is crucial for life, and absolutely no life could have existed in the absence of water.

And thus, as we were immersed in the water during our reception of the Sacrament of Baptism, we were also purified from the taints of our past sins, the wickedness and corruptions of sin that had been with us, and by the holy water blessed and made pure by the hands of the priests, the Lord Jesus had made us all whole again in body and in spirit, just as He had once healed the lepers, the sick and the dying.

And water can also bring death, as we have seen how water can be so destructive in occurrences such as tsunamis, floods and various other forces of water that brought death and misery, just as it can also bring life, and indeed is essential for life. Thus, the waters of baptism symbolised that death which all of us ought to share in the Lord, that through this sharing with His death, we may also have a share in His glorious resurrection.

Yes, the waters of baptism is a symbol of the death and the end of our old life on earth, in our commitment to abandon and reject sin and Satan in all of its forms, and by dying to this old life, as St. Paul had mentioned, we left behind all of the attachments, the bonds and the chains that kept us in our old ways and which had prevented us from attaining God’s salvation and grace.

The baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ at the Jordan is a symbol for us all to remember, for even though He Himself was different, as He was without any taint of sin, and yet He chose to lower Himself and be immersed in the Jordan, and baptised by His servant John the Baptist, but through that action, we should now be able to understand clearly what our Lord had intended for us to do with our own lives.

Before the Lord Jesus was baptised, since the day when He was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in a stable, His parents had cared for Him very well, both His mother Mary, as well as His foster father St. Joseph. And He was brought up in Nazareth, the village where His family lived in, and where He Himself grew up as all men did, and He grew both in knowledge, wisdom and strength, and in the favour in the sight of God.

And as His father St. Joseph was a hardworking carpenter, and considering the fact that sons normally followed in the footsteps of their fathers, it was likely that Jesus was perhaps once a carpenter too, or at least that He knew how to handle things as His foster father had done. And so, He likely dealt with things and matters of the world such as crafting furnitures and other wooden objects.

Yet, when He was baptised by John at the Jordan, that was the moment when all was revealed regarding Jesus, His true nature and His mission on earth. And afterward, He began His ministry, tending to the sick, both in body and in spirit, and He blessed many people, fed them, and gave them the Good News of God through His own words.

And in the end, He carried up the cross that was burdened with all of our sins and iniquities, and He bore all these up with Him as He ascended the hill of Calvary, stretched up between the heavens and the earth, and He gave up His own life, as a perfect and fitting sacrifice to serve as the absolution and the forgiveness for all the multitudes of our sins and their effects.

In all these, we have to realise that the story of our Lord Jesus from His baptism to His death on the cross is actually the example of our own Christian life, of how we are all expected to live out our lives in faith. We who have received the gift of baptism should therefore go forth and do as the Lord Himself had done, loving one another, forgiving those who have done bad things to us, praying even for our enemies and for those who persecute us, as well as other things that He had commanded us all to do.

This is what we need to do, and this is what we should indeed do as those who call themselves as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and wholeheartedly follow His laws and commandments, so that in everything that we say and do, we will always be faithful, and bring glory to our Lord and God. May God bless us all and keep us in His grace, now and forever. Amen.

Saturday, 9 January 2016 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the actions of John the Baptist and Jesus, who were both baptising the people at the Jordan river. We heard about how he humbly rejoiced when his own Lord and Master gained popularity over that of his, and despite the protests from his own disciples, he remained true to his mission, that is as the herald and as the one who preceded the coming of the Messiah of God.

Through him, the world now knows the reality and the truth found in the Saviour of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who came into this world in order to save it from the certain destruction if we were all to follow our usual path in the ways of the world, and in all the vices and sins we have committed daily in our respective lives. Through Him this world has found a new light.

And it is to this light that all of us have been called, that is to shed and to leave behind all the traces and taints of our sins and wickedness behind us, and to put forth righteousness and faith in our God. In Jesus our Lord, we have the example and the lead to follow if we are to be freed from the bonds of darkness and the servitude to sin and death that had kept us and many others chained throughout the ages.

As we approach the ending of our celebration of Christmas and all of its mysteries and nature, all of us should take some time to reflect on what Christmas and its joy, and indeed what our faith truly means for us. Is it just the celebration and joy because we are following what others had done, and then we just join in all the fun and the partying? Or did we rejoice because we know what the Lord had done for us?

St. John the Baptist knew all these, and as he knew the greatness of God’s love and all that He had planned to do for us all mankind, he rejoiced and praised the Lord with all his might whenever he heard the Lord Jesus making advances in His earthly works and missions, as he knew that he had been successful in the mission he was brought into this world for, that is to prepare the way for his Lord and Master, Jesus.

It is in our human nature to be jealous and to desire things for ourselves, such as power, influence, money, wealth and many other worldly goods and things. And therefore, the disciples of John the Baptist asked such questions because they thought it would have been natural for someone to be jealous and to be angry when another person seems to be better and doing things that are harmful or in opposition to what a person is doing.

But St. John the Baptist enlightened them and told them how as a servant of God, Whose works were then just beginning to take off, into the perfect fulfilment of God’s plan of salvation, he was just a tool in the hands of the Lord. And what is important is that the work of God was done, and as he diminished and became less, the Lord became more important.

In the first reading, we all heard at the end of the reading, where St. John in his letter or epistle reminded all the faithful who read that Epistle, of the importance of avoiding idols and keeping ourselves free from the taints of wickedness. This is applicable to us all today as well, as these idols will bring us further away from the Lord and ever closer to damnation.

We may think that we are safe from idols and from such corruptions, but we are truly wrong in this. Take note that these idols may not be the idols of gold, silver, wood or stone, carvings and images of animals as it was in the past, but our new idols are the idols of money, of fame, of recognition and affluence, all of which often come in between us and God.

Let us all therefore today commit ourselves anew in faith to our Lord, so that we may be able to better resist the temptation of these new idols, and therefore gain for ourselves the salvation that we can only find in the Lord our God. Let us commit ourselves to say and do things that will glorify God forevermore and let us no longer be idle or be distracted in our path. God bless us all in all of our endeavours. Amen.