Sunday, 5 April 2015 : Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Alleluia! The Lord is risen, and we are glad. All creation rejoices because our Lord has triumphed. Satan He had conquered, sin He had cast down, and death He had destroyed forever by the power of His glory and majesty. In His rising from the dead we find hope of our salvation.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the greatest feast of our faith, the culmination of our long wait for this moment, which we began with Ash Wednesday forty days ago, and now finally we come to this moment when we celebrate our Lord’s triumph. For today is the culmination of all God’s hard work, both in heaven and on earth. It was at this moment that God declared to all men, the fullness of His intention, and the goodness that He has planned for them.

Easter is a very important moment for all of us, for without Easter, and without our Lord’s resurrection from the dead, our faith would mean nothing, and we will have no hope in our own lives. We can have hope for the future because our Lord had risen and conquered death, proving to all of us that death and sin do not have the final say over all of us. It was once dreadful, yes, but through what Jesus had gone through for us, He had set us free.

Without Easter, without the resurrection of our Lord, there is no meaning to Good Friday, for then Jesus would just be a mere Man condemned to death, and die a humiliating death on the cross, the end of a rather successful career and work as a popular preacher and prophet. And there would be little meaning to our celebration of the Palm Sunday too, for then Jesus would just be someone who aspired to be the King over the Jews and failed, betrayed by His own people.

And our observance of Lent, Christmas and other important feasts would be for nothing, and our faith would be empty, since we are believing in a person who would seem to be no different than any other person. But Jesus is different, and we know that and we believe that He is not just like any other men, but He is God, who has made Himself to assume the flesh of man, so that He becomes fully God and fully Man at the same time, in the person of Jesus Christ.

And by His own power, Jesus had descended down into hell, after His death, which happened on Good Friday, and when He went down into hell, not because by any sins but because of what He wanted to do for all of us, He brought the souls of the faithful who have been lying in wait for timeless ages, and brought them into the salvation and new life which God had promised them all.

This is the essence of Easter, that is the final victory which had been inflicted on Satan, on sin and death. This is the moment of victory and triumph, of celebration, the new and true Passover, made through the new Covenant which God had sealed by His own Blood shed on the cross. Like the first Passover, a people in suffering under the slavery of the Egyptians had been freed from their torment by their God, who did not forget His love for them, and who had opened even the Red Sea for them to cross to safety from their oppressors.

The Scripture readings today are a series of reminders for all of us, of God’s continuing work and presence in our midst from the very moment when He created this world and all of us, that He never abandoned us mankind even after we have fallen into sin. We were created perfect and all good, as our first reading from the Book of Genesis had mentioned, and we were not meant to suffer death and tribulations in this world, if not because of our disobedience that led us to sin.

God easily could have crushed us and destroyed us if He wanted to. He was certainly perfectly capable of such feat. And yet, He went to all the trouble of coming down personally Himself to sort out the issue, and the rest of the story, we know all about it. It was the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. He assumed our humanity so that as the new Adam, the new Man, He might show the way for us to break free from our chains of sin and become righteous and true disciples and children of our God.

Yes, that is exactly what the significance of Easter is also to us. We have to remember that every Easter, we renew our baptismal promises, and our brethren who have decided to accept our Lord and God as their Lord and Saviour are traditionally baptised on this day, at either the Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday, as this is the moment that signifies new birth, new life and liberation from all the vices and evils of old, of our old lives and of our old habits.

Do we realise how important our baptism is to us? Through baptism we have been made free from all the sins and defects of our past, and we are reborn anew in the Lord. Jesus mentioned to the faithful Pharisee, Nicodemus, how a man must be reborn again if he or she wants to attain the fullness of God’s grace and salvation. And while the Great Flood of Noah’s time destroyed all those who were impure in the world and the righteous ones were saved, so therefore through the waters of baptism, we have died to our old selves of sin, to our old selfishness and wickedness, and reborn into a new life of grace.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this greatest feast of our faith, and as we begin our season of great celebration this Easter, can we ask ourselves as we look deep within our hearts, whether we have already done what God had asked us to do as His disciples and as His children? God had made us His adopted children through baptism, when we are made the members of His Church, and by sharing in the glory of Christ, we became His brethren, the members of His Body.

And therefore, naturally, as His children, we should behave all children are. Children should emulate their fathers and follow what their parents had taught them. If we truly belong to the Lord, then we would not continue whatever wickedness and evils which we had once committed in our lives. Indeed, if we do so, we do not just mock the goodness of God, but we also bring doom upon ourselves.

Our faith cannot be passive or stagnant, and neither can we believe that because we have been baptised and as members of God’s Church, then we are automatically saved. Our faith requires us to continue living day after day in fulfillment of what our faith had taught us. That means, our actions, our words and our every deeds must show that we truly are Christians, people who have been chosen by God and who believes in Christ and His resurrection from the dead. Otherwise, our actions and deeds will only betray our faith, that to show that we are not worthy of God’s salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice greatly in this great joy of Easter, let us all renew our commitment, as we renew our baptismal promises, and let us mean them with every single words we utter from our mouth. Let us reject Satan, all the devices of evil and all forms of sin with finality, knowing that if we sin any more, we are betraying Jesus yet again and disrespect the love which He had shown us. Let us all grow stronger in our faith and in our dedication to the Lord, and help one another to seek the Lord and become closer to Him.

May Almighty God be with all of us, forgive us all our sins, awaken in us all the love and passion which we ought to have for Him, and by remembering our own baptism, let us all share the joy of Easter with one another. The Lord has risen, and He has conquered death! The glory of our Lord is upon us! Allelluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Saturday, 10 January 2015 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about baptism, the baptism which John the Baptist had performed, and the baptism which Jesus and His disciples also performed at the Jordan River. Then in the first reading from the First Letter of St. John spoke about sin, and the responsibility which we have to remind one another, in order to keep each other free from the taints of sin.

Today we prepare for tomorrow’s celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the feast which marks the beginning of the official period of God’s service in the world through Jesus Christ. The ministry of Jesus in the world officially began after He was baptised at the River Jordan by John the Baptist. In the Gospel today, we heard about the beginning of that ministry, which was to bring mankind and the world, great blessings and graces which continue even until today and beyond.

And what is the mission that Christ came into this world with? It is with the singular purpose of bringing God’s love to real and concrete contact with us mankind, through Jesus Christ the Son of God. And the purpose of baptism is to bring mankind closer to God and into direct contact with the salvation in Jesus, by the removal of the barriers which come between us and our loving Lord and God.

And what is this barrier that stand between us and the Lord? It is sin and all of its forms. Sin and wickedness, the corruptions of evil in our hearts, our minds and our bodies are the primary barriers and obstacles that make it difficult for us to approach the Lord. Sin corrupts our heart and turn our attentions away from the Lord, as it distorts our perception of all things around us and closes our eyes, blinding us from the love and mercy of our God.

What our Lord wants is to free us from sin, from the enslavement to sin, and from the punishment that sin brings, that is death. And that is why He brought the gift of baptism to us, the cleansing of our body, mind, heart and soul from the depredation and corruption of sin, and while we were once sinful and filled with wickedness, because of baptism we were made clean, healed from our spiritual affliction of sin, and made holy and pure as the children of God.

For through baptism we are made the children of God, adopted through Christ who had reunited us with God our Father, and we are also made the members of His one and only Church, the communion and unity among all of His faithful ones, the vessel of His salvation in this world. But this does not mean that, because of baptism then we can be complacent or slack in how we live out our lives with faith. Otherwise, the forces of Satan and his allies will corrupt us once again with sin, and darken our path that we may be lost on our way.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to live out our faith with true and genuine expression of our faith, that we ought to practice what we believe in, and not just merely paying a lip service to it. That is not true faith but a perversion of it. We cannot say that we are faithful to the Lord but our actions show otherwise, as them we will become the mockery of the nations.

We who are in the Church are charged with the responsibility and the mission which Jesus Himself had entrusted to the Apostles. What did He tell us? That we have to go forth to the whole world and to the ends of the earth, proclaiming the Good News of the Lord so that many and more will hear of the salvation that exists only in Christ and therefore they may be saved, through the holy baptism in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Brethren, we must not take baptism lightly, for through it we were sealed and made the possessions of the Lord. It is a holy sacrament, and if we do not live up to our faith after our baptism, then we have to account it to the Lord our God. If we are to spread God’s Good News to the nations, then our faith to Him must be genuine and real for others to believe in us. We must walk the talk, or else no one will believe in us, and they will then be lost, and the responsibility for that loss then will also fall upon us.

Therefore, today, as we prepare for tomorrow’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ, let us all be faithful to God, not just in mere profession of the faith, but also through real action, and then, we must not forget that, we have to follow the example of John the Baptist, who served God faithfully, and yet took no credit for himself. He humbly submitted himself to the will of God and served and worked with great devotion. Let us all follow his examples and become better children of God, and bring all our brethren to the salvation in God, that together we shall be found righteous and just. God be with us all. Amen.

First Reading :

Psalm :

Gospel Reading :

Sunday, 19 October 2014 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mission Sunday and Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs; and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Thessalonians 1 : 1-5b

From Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy to the church of Thessalonica which is in God the Father and in Christ Jesus, the Lord. May the peace and grace of God be with you.

We give thanks to God at all times for you and remember you in our prayers. We constantly recall before God our Father the work of your faith, the labours of your love and your endurance in waiting for Christ Jesus our Lord.

We remember, brothers and sisters, the circumstances of your being called. The Gospel we brought you was such not only in words. Miracles, Holy Spirit and plenty of everything were given to you.

Monday, 6 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s readings from the Holy Scripture and the Gospel, we heard about how the Lord through His servant Paul the Apostle wanted to remind us to remain true to our faith, and that we should keep strongly to the faith which we have received through the Church, that is the true and orthodox faith, and reject all forms of heresies and heterodoxies that is present in our society and all around us, the falsehoods and lies which Satan spread to try to divide the Church of God.

For there exists in our society, false prophets and false teachers trying to proclaim the word of God in a twisted manner, to serve their own purposes, and also to serve the purposes of Satan, the evil one, for these false prophets and teachers indeed belong to Satan and his allies, as the ones who tried so desperately to wrench control over us from the Lord and to themselves.

And the sad fact is that many mankind, our own brothers and sisters willingly heard their words and went over to their side, and therefore becoming corrupted and unworthy, many were lost to us and to the Lord, condemned for eternity together with the false prophets, with Satan and his fellow fallen angels, the demons. Some did repent and return to the faith, but the damage had indeed been done to the unity of the Church.

Over the centuries, numerous false prophets and teachers of the faith sprung up, causing various heresies and divisions in the Body of the Church of God, and while some of these were healed and brought back into the truth of the Holy Mother Church, many remained lost to us, and in turn, they led even more people to be lost from the salvation which God had promised through His Church.

And to those who believe in ‘new’ revelations supposedly proclaimed and brought through the means of angels, and in one, even claiming that the Archangel Gabriel himself brought the ‘new’ revelation, they have to all beware, that unless it affirms the faith in the Lord, and in our Lord Jesus Christ, who has died for us, and who has risen in glory and majesty, then it is no angel, but Satan and his evil spirits that came to deceive mankind with their lies.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should rebuke Satan and reject all of his empty and false promises. We should also ignore and not heed the false teachings and the lies of the false prophets who taught falsehood instead of the truth of the Lord. Instead, we should follow the true way of the Lord, as Jesus His own Son, who came into the world, had revealed to us.

If the false prophets often appealed to our sense of self-preservation and satisfaction of our self, and our needs and wants, then the Lord showed that the true way to the Lord is through love, and this is none other than through loving God and loving one another, to think less of the self and the ego, and grow deeper and stronger in the love that is in our heart.

We cannot truly love God without having love for our brethren and all those around us who are always in need of our love. Similarly, we cannot truly love one another with full sincerity and genuine nature, without love for God. Love without either or both of the love we ought to have for God and others is imperfect love, and it may lead to harm rather than good.

And Jesus showed that it is important for us to take heed on how to love. He showed it through the story we all know, on the actions of the Good Samaritan, who went all the way to tend to the robbed and wounded man, taking care of him with genuine love and care, as an example of what love is, and what love should be. The Good Samaritan, as compared to the supposedly pious and respected Levite and the priest, is the one who had gotten the essence of love.

Samaritans as we all know, were highly discriminated against at the time of Jesus, in the territory of Judea in particular, where the robbing incident took place between Jerusalem and Jericho. They were seen as pagans and barbarians who did not follow the way of the Jews and did not worship and believe in the one true God. Yet, when Jesus came into the world, they were among the first to believe Him while the Jews doubted and rejected Him.

The actions and the deeds of the Jews did not represent what they professed to believe in. Their actions, as represented by the priests and the Levites were not representative of what they said they have faith in. All said, it is not all of the Jews that were in the wrong, as there were also many among them who followed Christ, such as His family and His disciples, but the problem truly lay with the prejudice with which the Jews in general held against the Samaritans.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, all of us should learn from the readings of the Holy Scripture and the Gospel today, from the actions of the Good Samaritan, who went the extra mile to help the unfortunate man. We should also therefore do the same, not just to those whom we loved, but also to everybody, including to those who are even against us and those who are not among those who we normally care for.

And we do not have to accomplish big and extensive things in order to do this. Even in simple things, like helping anyone, even strangers around us who are in need of even simple help, will do it just nicely. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all commit ourselves to a new life filled with love, both for God and for our fellow brothers and sisters, in real action, that in everything we do, we may show love, and through that love we may find justification for our faith.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Bruno, a priest and a contemporary of many other saints of the tenth and eleventh century Middle Ages Europe. He was the founder of the Carthusian religious order, and he was a great intellectual and a great educator. Many of those whom he had educated and influenced in life eventually became great saints themselves, as well as great and influential leaders of the Church, including even Pope Urban II, who initiated the First holy Crusade against the infidels.

St. Bruno, even though he was influential and well-respected, he remained humble and dedicated to his works, to advance the cause of the Faith in the world and to save souls. He refused the opportunity to be appointed and made a bishop, and he rather renounced himself from all worldliness, that he might focus much more of his abilities and time to help those who need his help, just as the Good Samaritan had once done.

May Almighty God put in us the spirit of love, that we may be more like the Good Samaritan, who devoted himself in love to his suffering brethren in need, and that we may also follow in the footsteps of St. Bruno of Cologne. May we grow less dependent and free from our ego, our desire and our selfishness, that we may truly be found righteous and just in the sight of our Lord and our God. God be with us always, and may His blessings and graces always be abundant in our lives. Amen.

Monday, 24 February 2014 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we are taught how to be good disciples of the Lord. We are told what are the characteristics that make us children and servants of the Lord. We have to be humble and open to suggestions, listening to others’ opinions, and most importantly, to pray and pray seriously, and pray deeply with our hearts.

We have to get rid from ourselves all of our negative influences and emotions, ridding of ourselves from pride, arrogance, hatred, jealousy and many other things that prevent us from truly becoming good and holy servants of the Lord. We have to detach ourselves from many things of this world, and instead put ourselves ever closer to the Lord our God.

Our faith in God must be a living one, and must be an active one, which St. James, whose letter is in our first reading today, often emphasised in his writings. This faith must be based on genuine love we have for God and for His people, that is our fellow brothers and sisters, our fellow mankind.

One way for us to be faithful to God is as often emphasised by St. James himself, is to love, that means to love one another, and to show it in all of our actions. However, we also need to pray, that is to devote ourselves to God in a deep conversation, from our heart to the heart of God. This is in essence what a prayer should be, and indeed prayers must not become a litany of demands and desires, but instead, prayers must be a genuine channel through which we communicate with God.

Through prayer, we strengthen ourselves, in terms of our spiritual defense and grace from God. We receive much grace and power through prayer, because it is through prayer that God gets into contact with us individually, and it also strengthen the anchor of faith that we have in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we all reflect on the readings and their meaning to us today, let us take a look at our own lives, whether we have truly been committed to the Lord through prayer and action. We cannot separate one from the other, just as St. James had told us, that faith cannot be separated from action, and neither can good actions be truly separated from faith in God.

Have we been faithful to God and spend our precious time with Him? Have we been faithful and walk always in the ways of the Lord, showing it through concrete actions? If we have done these, then our faith is genuine and alive, and we are on the right track. Otherwise, change, brothers and sisters! Change and abandon all the wickedness of your past and go seek the Lord with all the strength that you have.

It may be a daunting task for us to do so, but if we do not begin even from simple and little things, we will never get things done. It has to begin now, and it can begin even by us spending small amount of time every day, especially before we are about to go to sleep, to quieten ourselves down, and to open our hearts to God. Forget about all the things that bother us in this world, and forget about all the business and the dealings that we have in our daily lives, just for a moment, and offer that time wholly to God.

If we do so, then we are on the right track. Have faith in the Lord, my brothers and sisters in Christ, open our hearts to Him and communicate intimately with Him, so that we may know what He wants from us, that we will be able to translate it into concrete actions, filled with love, both for God and for our fellow mankind. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called to reflect on our lives and on our attitudes towards our faith. Have we seen our faith as something that needs just to be there as a belief? Or have we seen it as something that constantly need to be kept alive by active contributions and works? That was what St. James in his letter in today’s first reading tried to tell us about the faith.

Our faith cannot be dormant or be based on mere words or letters of the word. Our faith must be supported with a strong foundation, that is the foundation of love and devotion to God. And in order to do that, we have to act, and be active in love. Remember what Christ had told us? That we ought to love one another, especially those who are least and weakest in our societies?

St. James was particularly condemned and shunned by the Protestant heretics, who held firm to their false and twisted idea of sola fide and sola scriptura, that is the firm belief that only the Holy Scriptures is correct and the only thing to be followed, and more importantly, sola fide, that means faith is sufficient, certainly by literal understanding of the words of Christ, when He said to some, that their faith had saved them.

Yet, they had truly missed the point by their extremely literal understanding of the true meaning of God’s message. Faith is important, and indeed we have to put our complete faith and belief in the Lord, but faith cannot be merely that, meaning just faith. We do not have true and living faith if we just merely say, Lord, Lord, I believe in You, and keep ourselves to reading the Holy Bible all day long without action.

Action, that is action based in love, is an integral part of our faith, and therefore, an integral part of our salvation in Jesus. We cannot separate action of love from faith in love itself, for God Himself is Love, and Jesus is the embodiment of that Love. God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son, Jesus Christ, that all who believe in Him will not die, but receive eternal life.

Faith is important, but can we believe in Love, that is the love of God, if we ourselves do not practice love in our words, deeds and actions? If our actions are instead based on hatred, prejudice, jealousy, and many other negative influences, then are we not contradicting our own faith in the Lord? And does that not mean that we have actually no faith in God?

That is precisely why the path of those who believed in salvation by faith alone is wrong, because many of them in their blind zeal to prove and fight for their version of the faith, they sowed much hatred, prejudice, and jealousy among themselves against the truth that is in God and in His Church. But again, they are not the only ones that are in the wrong, because we ourselves too often do not truly follow what the Lord wants from us.

We are often ignorant of our own faith, and we treat our faith as nothing more than a profession of the Creed and attendance at the Mass every Sundays. We do not truly practice our faith, and in our own daily habits and activities, we often do not reflect the love of God. This ignorance of our faith is something that we have to avoid at all cost, for again, I would like to remind you that this kind of faith is dead, and will do us no good before God.

Practice our faith, brothers and sisters in Christ, and put love in all of our words, actions and deeds. Put what the Lord had revealed and taught to us into real action. As Jesus had said, let all of us love one another, all of our brothers and sisters, children of the same God just as much as we care and love for ourselves. And of course, love God with all of our hearts and our strength.

But loving God does not mean for us to keep ourselves enclosed in our own world of desire for salvation, for doing that will mean selfishness. Loving God can be much more concretely professed, by following what He told us! Yes, that is to love our brethren, especially those who are the last, the lost, and the least. And Jesus Himself said that whatever we had done for them, we did them for God.

Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we heed what St. James had called us to do, and indeed challenged us to do? Shall we change our perspective on our own faith in God? Shall we from now on make our faith in God truly vibrant and alive? We have to make our faith in God concrete through actions, and that is actions based on love.

May our Lord Jesus Christ guide us and bless us with wisdom and understanding, that we may realise how important it is to love, and how crucial it is towards our salvation. May God continue to be with us and walk with us, that we may continue to love Him and devote ourselves to Him with full, living faith. God bless us all. Amen.