Friday, 29 September 2017 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Daniel 7 : 9-10, 13-14

I looked and saw the following : Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took His seat. His robe was white, as snow, His hair, white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before Him. Thousands upon thousands served Him and a countless multitude stood before Him.

Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book. I continued watching the nocturnal vision : One like a Son of Man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into His presence. Dominion, honour and kingship were given Him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served Him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; His kingdom will never be destroyed.

Alternative reading

Revelations 12 : 7-12a

War broke out in heaven, with Michael and his Angels battling with the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated, and lost their place in heaven. The great dragon, the ancient serpent, known as the devil, or Satan, seducer of the whole world, was thrown out. He was hurled down to earth, together with his angels.

Then, I heard a loud voice from heaven : Now has salvation come, with the power and the kingdom of our God, and the rule of His Anointed. For our brothers’ accuser has been cast out, who accused them night and day, before God. They conquered him, by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, for they gave up their lives, going to death.

Rejoice, therefore, o you heavens, and you who dwell in them.

Thursday, 29 September 2016 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Daniel 7 : 9-10, 13-14

I looked and saw the following : Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took His seat. His robe was white as snow, His hair white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before Him. Thousands upon thousands served Him and a countless multitude stood before Him.

Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book. I continued watching the nocturnal vision : One like a Son of Man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into His presence. Dominion, honour and kingship were given Him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served Him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; His kingdom will never be destroyed.

Alternative reading
Revelations 12 : 7-12a

War broke out in heaven with Michael and his Angels battling with the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and lost their place in heaven. The great dragon, the ancient serpent known as the devil or Satan, seducer of the whole world, was thrown out. He was hurled down to earth, together with his angels.

Then I heard a loud voice from heaven : Now has salvation come, with the power and the kingdom of our God, and the rule of His Anointed. For our brothers’ accuser has been cast out, who accused them night and day, before God. They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard how Job, the rich man who encountered great calamities because of the works of Satan to tempt him and test his faith in God, lamented about the sufferings which he had endured, and cursed that life which he had been brought to difficulties in, even to the point of cursing and regretting his own birth, a great lamentation and sorrow indeed.

But to all those who are familiar and know the Book of Job well, even though Job complained and complained about many things, and questioned about many things, but in no way that he was being directly disrespectful or insulting against God. Job also in the end realised the love which God had for him and all mankind, and was truly very sorry and repentant for all the abuses and curses which he had uttered.

And in the Gospel according to St. Luke, we heard how Jesus was proceeding to Jerusalem to embrace His mission as the Saviour of mankind, and then when He was passing by a Samaritan village, He asked for a lodging and dwelling, and was rejected because the people heard and knew that He was going to Jerusalem, the capital city of Judea and where the Jews have their centre of power.

We all should know that the Jews and the Samaritans at that time, as it had been for centuries before the coming of Christ, had been at odds and relationship between them had been stormy at best. The Samaritans feared the Jews because the Jews often mistreated them and have strong prejudice against them, and at times they had also suffered under the rule of the Jews, while the Jews themselves, puritan in nature, particularly the Pharisees, strongly condemned and looked down at the Samaritans as pagans and barbarians.

Therefore, it was likely that the Samaritans in the village refused to accept Jesus, not because of any hostile intent or malice, as what was shown by the Pharisees and the people of Israel themselves towards Jesus, but rather because of fear, uncertainty and doubt about what would happen to them, if they were to accept Jesus into their midst. Surely they were also aware that the Jews were particularly not at friendly terms with Jesus and His disciples at the time. It was after all, moments just before Jesus would carry on with His Passion and suffer death at their hands.

And notably, we should see that, Jesus did not punish them, and He even rebuked the Apostles for suggesting that the Lord should punish them for their apparent rejection of Him. This is in fact the same as what happened to Job, when his friends, fellow faithful ones of the Lord, counselled him and in a sense, persuaded him to be admonished, because they thought that Job was a sinner, and it was because of sin that he was punished. The truth was that Job was special, and he suffered not because of his sins, but rather, because he was truly faithful.

Today, we also celebrate the feast of St. Jerome, one of the great early Church fathers, and one of those who initiated the translation of the Bible from the original Greek version, the Septuagint, into a Latin version, which was more comprehensible to the Latin speaking world of the western portion of the Roman Empire, and eventually how we all know the Scriptures we have today, which are further translations from the Latin Bible written by St. Jerome, the Vulgate Bible.

St. Jerome himself once lived a pleasurable and debauched life early in his life, but soon his experiences, especially as he studied the occurrences of death in catacombs awakened him to the realities of hell to come. Thus, he atoned for his sins, and turned his energy into intellectual pursuits, working hard to study the teachings of the Lord and the teachings of His Church.

St. Jerome was indeed quite a scholar and writer, and his contributions to the Church was indeed immense. He wrote extensively, and his writings, together with his contemporary, St. Augustine of Hippo, another Doctor of the Church and important pillar of the Western Christendom, they formed the strong foundation and basis for the development of the faith and the Church in the subsequent years, including up to today.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the fact highlighted here very clearly, after we heard the Scripture and Gospel readings, as well as the life of St. Jerome, we should all realise how our Lord is great, loving and merciful. God does not desire our destruction and suffering, but rather our prosperity and happiness. That is why He will never punish us without good reason, and more often than not, the suffering we encounter in life, was because of the works of Satan and his agents, as well as from ourselves.

It is indeed our wickedness and our lack of faith which caused us to suffer, because these separate us from the love and harmony of God, and we end up to dwell in the darkness of sin and evil, and it is this darkness that cause us suffering, and if we are not careful, we risk losing ourselves completely and fall into eternal damnation together with Satan and his angels.

Clearly this is not what we want. Therefore, let us all today vow to renew our faith to the Lord, and show it through concrete action, so that through our words and deeds, we may bring glory to God and show all those who see us, how great and loving is our God, and how merciful He is to forgive us from all our sins. May all of us be freed from the suffering of evil and this world, and be led into a new life in perfect happiness and joy of the Lord. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Feast of Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel (I Classis) – Monday, 29 September 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great feast of a great protector, our great defense against the assaults of the evil one, Satan, the prince and progenitor of all evils. We celebrate today the feast of the chief of all the angelic hosts of heaven, that is St. Michael the Archangel, prince of all the angels, and chief of the seven Archangels who served before the throne of God.

The angels were created by the Lord to be His servants, that is to be the ones who carry out His will throughout the world, to be His messengers and the bearers of His good works, to exercise His power throughout the universe He had created. He created angels of many forms and kinds, and they have various tasks and functions, depending on how they were created.

Just like men, when we were first created, the angels were initially pure and blameless, free from what is now called as sin, the impurities and imperfections that blemished the purity of creation, through disobedience against the will of God. The angels too, were granted free will just like us, so that, just as we are able to choose our path and destination in life, then they too were able to choose.

But everything was good and perfect, just as our ancestors once lived in perfect peace and harmony in the gardens of Eden, the angels were all pure and immaculate, free from all evil and taints of sin, that is until the corruption and fall of Lucifer, the greatest, brightest and the mightiest of all the angels, and unfortunately, his pride too was the greatest of all the angels, his vanity and sense of superiority over others, which proved to be his greatest undoing.

While now we speak of St. Michael the Archangel as the chief of all the heavenly hosts, he was not made such because of his greatness and his power or might, neither it was because he was the most beautiful or splendid among the angels of God. It was rather because of St. Michael’s great obedience and faith in the Lord, which made him to be the greatest defender of the Lord and His beloved people against the forces of evil.

For as mentioned, that Lucifer was once the greatest and the mightiest among the angels, but this made him proud beyond any pride, and he began to plot his rise among the angels, and eventually even boasted that he would make his throne rise above the stars of God, namely the angels, to be the ruler of them, and displacing God as the ruler over all creations.

Lucifer was proud and haughty, and he was brought down, because he was thinking too highly of himself, aspiring to be the ruler of all surpassing the Creator, while he is merely a creation, albeit a glorious and great one at that. On the contrary, St. Michael was known for his great faith and piety, and the complete trust he has for the Lord. And in addition to this, he was also told to be trembling at always before the presence of God.

This does not mean that St. Michael was fearful or weak, but rather, in doing so, he actually by himself acknowledging the superiority of God, and how great God is as compared to himself. It is his humility, courage and piety which made the Lord to choose him and honour him to be the great commander of His heavenly forces. And he courageously led the forces of the faithful against the deceiver and the evil one, the fallen Lucifer, who was struck down and cast out of heaven, to suffer for eternity the fate prepared for him.

The examples of St. Michael’s faith, piety, dedication and courage therefore should become guiding lights for us to follow, that in our actions and deeds, we may model them after what St. Michael had once done, and what he is doing now, that is leading the hosts of the Lord in a constant and regular battle for the salvation of our souls, against Satan, the fallen Lucifer, and his allies, those angels who were also ensnared in his pride and vanity, and ended up rebelling against God.

We mankind are special indeed, for we are the greatest of God’s creations, including even the angels, and we are the most beloved ones of all the things which God had created. As such, while the angels who rebelled were given no second chance to turn back to the Lord, and receive forgiveness, we mankind alone had been given this gift of forgiveness, that as long as we repent our sins and rebelliousness, and if we are willing to follow the way of the Lord, we will be saved.

That is why, even though our ancestors had disobeyed the Lord, through the instigation of the snake, the form assumed by the fallen Lucifer, who wanted mankind to also follow into his rebellion, God gave us a second chance, and by no other means than to send His very own Son, part of Himself, Jesus Christ our Lord, to assume our own form, and through what He had done, He gave up His life and through His sacrifice, gained for us a new hope and a new justification in Himself.

And we also have to note that the Lord is thoroughly concerned with us, brothers and sisters in Christ. He is truly concerned about our fate, and whether we will share the fate of the devil, that is to suffer in the hell fire, or to be reunited with Himself in perfect love and harmony, just as what He intended for us at the very beginning when He first created us.

That is why, He sent us Jesus His Son, so that through what He taught His disciples, and from them passed down to us, we may all know what we need to do in order to avoid the dark fate which awaits us if we remain in our life of sin. But we need to be aware that, what Jesus said today in the Gospels, we should not interpret or take it literally, which means that if a part of our body made us to sin, then we should not chop it off just like that.

There is indeed wisdom and thought put into that kind of decision, to cut off the part that corrupts the entire body and soul, but that also means that we can no longer do good with the same part of the body, which God had given us. This is where we need to truly understand, that what the Lord means is that, we have to really do our best to excise from ourselves any actions or parts which have been great hindrances to our salvation, beginning from within ourselves.

Sin corrupts everything it touches, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and it is caused by the accumulation of the negativity in our hearts, of which things such as pride, jealousy, hatred, greed and many others consist of. And it was this same thing that had corrupted even the greatest and the brightest of the angels into rebellion against God and therefore sinned against Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore let us renew our faith in the Lord, not by just mere empty words and promises, but also through real action and devotions, that is by following the examples of St. Michael the Archangel. Let us excise from our hearts, all evils and darkness, that we may truly become pure and worthy of the Lord once again. We can do this by sincere love and devotion to the Lord, and by listening to what He had said to us through Jesus.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all sharpen the edges of our humility and obedience to God, that we may always listen to Him and follow Him, obeying Him in His will for us rather than to listen to our own desires and pride, as Lucifer had done. Let us all not be enslaved by our emotions and pride, that we may truly rebuke Satan and let him to suffer alone the fate which he had earned for himself. Do not let him to drag us into hellfire, brethren!

Let us pray and ask for the help and intercession of St. Michael the Archangel and the holy angels, so that they may help us and protect us from all the harm which the evil one and his allies, the fallen angels had intended for us. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, so that by the power of God, you who are the prince and leader of all the heavenly hosts, may smite down Satan and all his lies, and all those who are working their evils in our world, seeking after the ruination of all the souls of the faithful. Amen.

Monday, 29 September 2014 : Feast of the Holy Archangels St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a great feast day of the Church, that is the feast of the Holy Archangels of God, and primarily of which, is the Prince of all heavenly hosts, the leader of all the angels of God, that is St. Michael the Archangel, the faithful servant of God and one of the seven holy Archangels serving before the throne of God, the vanquisher of Satan, who defeated the forces of evil and all the fallen angels, and cast them out of heaven.

The Holy Archangels, three of whom were named, St. Michael the prince and leader of angels, St. Gabriel the messenger and the voice of God, and St. Raphael the healer and the mercy of God, all of them represent the different aspects of God, and they are the greatest servants of the Lord, sending and giving His messages to all whom the Lord wills to reveal Himself to.

The Archangels of God are also the chiefs of our protectors, the leaders and the ones in charge of our guardian angels, and all the angelic hosts and forces of heaven, who are locked in constant and regular combat and battle against the forces of darkness, led by the prince of evil, that is Satan. Satan desires nothing but for our destruction, for in his jealousy of the Lord, he desires to destroy all that is dear to God, especially all of us mankind, the greatest and the most beloved of all His creations.

Satan himself was once a great Archangel, and in fact was once the mightiest, most beautiful and the greatest of the angels of the Lord, created with such perfection and beauty, and with such might and authority, that the bright and mighty Archangel, Lucifer, was filled with great pride about himself. But it is this same pride which became his greatest undoing and became rightly, as the greatest sin of all.

For in his pride, he chose to rebel against God and His love, thinking that he is mightier than his own Creator, the Lord of all the universe. The creation failed to realise that despite all of his power, might and beauty, and despite all of his perfections, that he is still merely a creature, and not the Creator. And he is still nothing compared to the Lord of all, who is perfect in all things that He has, and He truly has everything.

Satan, who was Lucifer, the lightbringer, boasted that in his majesty, glory and power, he would raise his throne above the throne of God, and thus rule over all creations. He brought many of his fellow angels into sin and darkness, what we now know as the fallen angels. But his pride is his undoing, and instead of rising up in glory, he was thrown down in shame. The one who led the hosts of the faithful angels was Michael the Archangel, who was made the chief of all the angelic hosts.

St. Michael the Archangel was made the chief of all heavenly angels and all the heavenly hosts not because he was great and mighty, nor because he was proud and beautiful as Lucifer or Satan was, but because he obeyed the will of God fully and completely, as an obedient servant of God Most High. It was said that St. Michael always trembled before the presence of God, not because he was fearful or afraid, but because he knew that he was in the presence of the Lord and Creator of all the universe, and he is nothing before Him.

That was why, God rewarded him such as to make him chief of all the heavenly hosts, as a great protector and role model for all of us the faithful. Remember that Jesus always said that the mighty would be humbled, and the humble would be glorified? This is the exact thing that had happened. Lucifer was cast down for his pride, to suffer for eternity the torture of hell and the lake of fire, while Michael the humble was raised to a position of honour.

St. Gabriel the Archangel and St. Raphael the Archangel also followed and obeyed the will of God in their own way, listening to God in all things and carrying out His will into the world. St. Gabriel the Archangel delivered the Good News of the Lord to Mary in Nazareth, while St. Raphael was sent to the family of Tobit the Israelite exile, and to help exorcise the demon Asmodeus from Sara, the soon-to-be wife of Tobit’s son, Tobias.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice together as one to celebrate the feast of St. Michael the Archangel and his fellow Archangels, let us all realise our frailty and our prone nature towards sin, and how we can follow the examples of the holy Archangels to lead our lives to come into closer relationships with our God. Let us heed the examples of the holy angels of God, who fought day and night at all times to protect us from the depredations of the evil one and his forces.

Evil is never at rest, brethren, for Lucifer, fallen and shamed, as Satan had enmity on us mankind, and this was why he tempted our first ancestors into sin, so that through that disobedience we might also follow in his footsteps, and therefore end up in eternal suffering and destruction. But the Lord clearly does not want this to happen, and that was why He sent us Jesus His Son to be our Saviour and Redeemer.

And the angels constantly are on guard against the attacks of the evil one, but they certainly cannot fight on their own. We too should take part in this fight and resistance against the evil forces, and thus rebuke the devil who is trying to set us up against the Lord. Therefore, let us all reflect on our own actions, so that we may know how to be a true follower of Christ and thus gain salvation through Him.

May all of us be able to cast away our pride and arrogance, knowing full well that all of us are sinners who are unworthy of God’s love and presence, for our disobedience and the disobedience of our forefathers, but it is the love of God our Lord and Father, who made us whole again, by sending us love Himself through Jesus, who shed His life so that we may live once again, not just any life, but life supported by the love and the grace of God.

Let us be like the holy Archangels, obedient and faithful, always listening to God in all things, faithfully carrying out His will. And what is God’s will for us? None other than so that we can love, first that is to love God Himself, with all of our hearts, with all of our souls and with all of our minds and strengths, and then to show the same love to our brethren around us, in particular those who are in the greatest need.

May Almighty God guide us on our ways, so that we may find our way towards Him, not by pride or arrogance, nor through our power and might, but through our sincere desire to be reunited with Him, and to seek His mercy and love, so that, with the help of the angels and the holy Archangels of God, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, with His Blessed Mother and His saints, we may attain salvation and eternal life, in the loving grace of God, leaving Satan to suffer by himself with his fellow rebel angels, for eternity, while we enjoy the fruits of our good labour in this world.

St. Michael the Archangel, and all the holy Archangels and angels of God, pray for us, and protect us in battle, that we may always triumph against anything that the devil, Satan, that old snake and deceiver has put in our path, that we may rebuke him and profess our faith and love for the Lord our God. Amen.

Sunday, 14 September 2014 : 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is truly a great feast day of the Church, of such a great importance for us, as in it lie one of the greatest aspect of our faith itself. And this is none other than the exaltation and the glorification of the Holy Cross, on which our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ had hung upon as He went on His mission of salvation to save us all from death because of our sins.

The Holy Cross is not just any cross, but it has been made holy and sacred because it was on that wooden cross, made from a tree, that Jesus had emptied Himself completely from His divinity, and suffered a grievous and horrendous pain as He laid dying, hanging from that cross. The Holy Cross is a reminder for all of us, of He who once hung there out of His love for us, so that we may have new hope in this life, and that we may look beyond death that is once our fate.

The cross was the favourite punishment method by the Romans, the conqueror of the known world at the time, where they used it to punish rebels against the Roman authority, as one of the most severe methods of punishment, reserved only for those who brought about great harm and threat to the Roman state. The victims of crucifixions were left to hang on the cross, made from a tree and carved to form a cruciform plank, so that the victims were left to hung between the heaven and the earth.

This punishment was both designed to bring the greatest amount of suffering to the victim, by denying the victim a quick death, giving them a slow and increasingly painful suffering, and also to give the greatest humiliation possible, as the victims were stripped to mere loincloth or even naked, stretched wide on that cross, often on the roadsides and high places like hills, so that many would be able to see the humiliation and suffering of those who dared to test the might of Rome.

Thus, the cross was a symbol of ultimate humiliation and suffering for all who see them at the time of Jesus, during the peak of the Roman Empire. But yet, many centuries prior to the time of the Romans, the prophets have foretold of the suffering Messiah, namely through the prophet Isaiah, who prophesied how the Messiah would come and bear the suffering for all of mankind. It was also mentioned how He would suffer, even long before the time when the punishment was common.

For in crucifixions, the victim would either be tied to the cross or in especially serious and severe occasions, the victims would be nailed upon the cross. The latter method would be more grievous and painful, and even more humiliating, and was indeed reserved only for the worst enemies and the greatest of punishments for the enemies of Rome.

And the prophet Isaiah mentioned that the Messiah would be pierced, and that piercing indeed represented how Jesus, the Lord and Messiah would be nailed on the cross. He would also be lifted up high, like when Moses lifted high up the bronze serpent in the desert. This too is a premonition of what was to come when the Lord came to save His people from destruction and death.

When the people of God, the Israelites were saved from their slavery in Egypt, they went through a long Exodus and journey through the desert in their progress to reach the land promised to them through their ancestors. In that journey, which was not an easy one, God was with them along the way, and He blessed His people, giving them great providence and food along the way.

Yes, if we read through the Book of Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, we should all realise how blessed this people had been. God destroyed their enemies and all those who went on to fight against them were crushed and have their forces utterly beaten, and God gave them into the hands of His people. And we all should be aware that God Himself freed them from the chains of the Egyptians with great might, with ten plagues, each of which were of terrible ferocity.

God even sent His people the bread from heaven to eat, in the form of manna, and large birds for them to catch and eat as well. He gave them clear and sweet water to drink, and we have to imagine that, having crystal clear and good water to drink in the middle of the desert is no mere small feat. Nothing is of course impossible for the Lord, and He loves us beyond anything else.

And it is that love that prevented Him from totally and completely annihilating that people which had risen up against Him, despite all He had given them and blessed them with. Having been given and endowed with so much graces, the people of God made complaints after complaints of their supposedly ‘miserable’ existence and life in the desert, and even longed for the ‘good’ life in Egypt where they once lived in slavery.

They spurned His love and kindness, complaining even against what they have been given to eat, bread from heaven itself. This was why, eventually, God took action against them, to remind them that He is Lord over all, and that those who constantly defy Him and oppose Him will meet their end in eternal suffering and destruction. He sent them therefore, fiery and poisonous serpents that attacked them, struck them and killed many of them.

But we have to always remember and take note that it is not God who desired our destruction, as it had happened with the Israelites. In fact, it was the people’s own stubbornness and refusal to return to the light of God which had caused their own destruction. The serpents represented the suffering and the punishment that the people must endure for their sins, and the ultimate effect is indeed none other than death.

Ever since mankind had first disobeyed against the Lord, they have sinned against the Lord in their hearts and in their bodies, such that they were no longer worthy of the Lord. The consequence of sin is death, as sin separates one from the Lord. The Lord who is all good and perfect cannot tolerate the imperfections caused by evil to be in His presence, and therefore, naturally, sin led mankind to death, and if nothing had been done, then all mankind would have faced death eternal, and eternal separation from the love of God.

And that is hell. Hell is the total separation of a creation of God from the very love of the Creator and Lord of all. And this total separation is final and unchangeable. Thus, this is what hell is truly about, not the fires and the images of hell that we are commonly exposed to, but the suffering in hell is far greater than we can ever imagine, since it means that the total separation from God’s love, that should be unimaginable to us all, because it was God’s love that is everything to us, how we live and why we live in the first place, and we are able to walk and enjoy this life on earth because of God’s love that is with us and in us.

Hell is what is due to mankind as the punishment for our sins, and in hell, it is the despair and the state of total hopelessness which is the greatest suffering, as all the souls in hell know that there is absolutely no hope of escaping that state, eternally damned and separated from God’s love, and it is this eternal and constantly repeating despair, hopelessness and guilt of having betrayed the Lord which brought about the greatest suffering for the souls in hell.

But is this what God intends for us? Is this what He intended for the people He loved and which He had created in His own image, as the pinnacle and the greatest of all His creations? No! This is exactly why He wants to save us, and so great was His desire, that the very truth was laid bare for all to see and hear, as we often heard in the famous phrase from the Gospel of St. John, chapter 3 verse 16, namely that God loved the world and His people so much, that He sent His only Son into the world, so that all those who believe in Him would not be lost and perish, but gain eternal life.

This is the very essence of what we are celebrating on this day, that is the glory and the mystery of the Holy Cross of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom the Lord Himself had sent, a part of Himself, His own Word made incarnate into flesh as one of us, and to walk among men, so that He might exercise His power and bring salvation to all those who believe in Him. And the way how He did that, was through the cross of suffering, which He transformed into the cross of glory and triumph.

As I had mentioned much earlier on in this homily and reflection, that the use of crucifixion and the punishment of the cross was indeed to punish and to bring the greatest suffering on the sufferer, and also to humiliate the sufferer, and in this case, this suffering One is Jesus, the Messiah and Saviour of all. Even though He was guiltless, blameless and without sin, He offered Himself freely as part of God’s long planned salvation for His people, so that through His death, He might open a new path for them, into salvation and eternal grace.

To those who observed His death and especially among those who followed Him during His ministry would indeed question, why would such a holy Man and the Messiah no less, suffer such a humiliation and suffering so great if He was indeed chosen by the Lord. And we know that even throughout history and until today, there are still many those who refused to believe in the crucifixion of Christ because they deemed it impossible and unreasonable for such a great One to suffer such a humiliating death.

Yet we know that Jesus Christ, Son of God, Messiah and Lord of all, chose this way because indeed, He loves us all very dearly, and He would not want us to be sundered forever from His love, that is hell. He does not desire for us to inhabit hell, simply because, that was not His intention for us. His intention is for us to live happily with Him in love and harmony. And that was why He chose to come into this world, that is to bring all peoples to Himself.

But sin lays between God and us, as a great and seemingly insurmountable barrier that prevent us from returning to God our Lord. Therefore, if we read the Book of Leviticus, we know that there is such a thing as sin and burnt offering, where animals such as lamb were slaughtered and then burnt on the altar, and the blood together with the animal constituted a worthy offering to God, who then accepted it as the partial reparation and remission for the sins committed by God’s people.

But the people of God remained in sin, and also they inherited the original sin of their forefathers, ever since they rebelled against the will of God and followed Satan into his rebellion instead. This original sin and other sins that mankind committed kept them separated from the love of God, and due to the immensity of the sins of mankind combined together, no amount of sacrifice would be able to redeem mankind from their sins, save for one.

Yes, the one sacrifice and the only one, when the Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself offered His own Body and Blood as the only worthy sacrifice for the immensity of the combination of our sins together. Only He who is perfect, perfectly unblemished and pure, without any taints of sin, and He who is Lord of all, had the worthy offering to make in order to save us from our sins.

And thus He suffered, all the sufferings and humiliations He endured, all the spittle and the mockery from the people He endured, and the cross of suffering He carried on His back, enduring lashes after lashes and mockery after mockery as He made His journey towards Calvary. Yet He did not give up. We cannot even comprehend the kind of suffering which Jesus endured for our sake.

Why so? This is because the suffering He endured was much more than just the apparent physical suffering, even as great as that suffering was. He endured the weight and the consequences of our sins, and all of this bore down on Him as a great weight beyond any other weight. He was blameless, and yet He was crushed for our sins. This was also yet another fulfillment of the prophecy of the prophets.

But Jesus endured all of them with perfect obedience and perfect love for us. He is truly the new Adam, as St. Paul had said, as the One who went to correct all the wrongs that began with Adam, the old Adam, our forefather who sinned against God. Just as Mary His mother is the new Eve, whose obedience and faith, rebuking Satan and his lies, Jesus is the new Adam through which God renewed mankind.

Jesus therefore changed that symbol of ultimate shame, the cross, designed as such by the Romans, into a symbol of hope and glory. He turned the cross from a symbol of death and destruction into a symbol of salvation and liberation from sin, from the slavery of the forces of evil, and the guarantee of life eternal as promised by the Lord. Thus, the essence of the cross and the crucifix we have today signify this important turning point, which Christ had made the cross into our hope, through His death on the cross for our salvation.

Sadly indeed, despite all that the Lord had done for us, many of us mankind still acted like the people of Israel of old, disregarding the love of God and even ignoring Him altogether. How many of us actually realised the love that God had for us? Every single step He took on His passion journey towards His death, He did it out of His love for us. He did not want us to perish, but it is many of us who chose perishing in the world rather than embracing God’s love.

Remember, that in Jesus we have been saved, out of God’s love. He wants to forgive us our sins, but this is only possible if we too play our part, and believe in Him. We can start this through our own actions and our own daily lives. Have we acted in accordance what our Lord had taught us? Have we practiced our faith and what we believe in our lives? Have we loved our brothers and sisters as much as we love ourselves?

We have much work to do in front of us, brothers and sisters in Christ. Our lives will indeed be difficult, if we choose to follow the Lord and walk in His path. But our Lord had made His cross a sign of victory and triumph, the Holy Cross, that even Satan and his forces will tremble and flee from. Satan knows that the cross was his ultimate undoing. His defeat lay at the cross that had liberated mankind from the burden of their sins. He knows that his doom is coming, and he cannot avoid that final defeat.

However, Satan will grow desperate and he will do all he can to stall as many souls as possible on his way to doom. Remember that he has all the power in this world to tempt and persuade us to divert our path from the path of salvation into the path of doom. Temptations of the evil one is plenty in this world saturated with materialism, consumerism and love of the self. Selfishness and violence is on the rise, brethren, and if we do not guard ourselves against Satan’s advances, we will fall.

Therefore, let us all work together, brothers and sisters in Christ! We who have been saved by the suffering and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ must be strong in our faith and in our dedication to God, so that Satan will not stand against us. Remember the Holy Cross and Jesus our Lord whenever temptations of Satan come to prevent us from seeking the Lord. Proclaim the Holy Name of Jesus and staunchly rebuke Satan for his attempts to tempt us.

Jesus has indeed been given the Name which is above every other names, for first He is God made flesh, and thus, it is the Name of God Himself, Master of all the universe and over all creations. Then, through His perfect love and obedience, He had become an example for all mankind and for all creation, and no one in creation can do anything other than to obey this Lord and Master who had given His all to save His beloved ones. And even Satan had to obey the Lord, with fear and great trembling on his knees. Such is the power of the Name of Jesus Christ. Do not use His Name in vain!

And even in the Roman Empire, which was pagan and idol worshipping, the Lord also gained a final victory. Many Emperors of Rome persecuted the Christians, the faithful ones in the Lord, but their prayers and the blood of the martyrs eventually triumphed, the triumph of the Holy Cross, when the Lord made them strong and grow in might, so that more and more people would come to listen to the words of salvation in the Gospels and the Scriptures.

Ultimately, the famed Emperor Constantine saw a bright sign of the Lord, Christ Himself in His insignia, as the victorious and conquering King, and went on to win a great victory that eventually led to the repentance and conversion of the Roman Empire into a great, Christian Empire belonging to God. Thus, the Cross had triumphed against the enemies of the Lord, led by Satan and his fallen angels.

Therefore, let us all take an opportunity, every day in our lives to look at the cross, at the crucifix on which lie the Body of Jesus our Lord, as a reminder that He died out of His infinite and enduring love for us, so that we who have seen Him and believed, will not die but live a new life everlasting, just as Moses lifted the bronze serpent and all who had been bitten and saw the bronze serpent did not die but live.

We have been bitten by the serpent, Satan, and his poison is threatening to destroy us, that is sin. But if we trust in the Lord Jesus, and look at the victorious cross, the Holy Cross of Christ, we will not die but live too! Let us carry together our crosses in life with Christ, so that just as He told His disciples, that we may have a share in His resurrection, and therefore be granted new life eternal, freed from all vestiges of sin and evil, and rejoice for eternity with our loving God. May Almighty God bless us this day and every day of our lives, that we will always be faithful and dedicated to the Cross of Christ! Amen.

Friday, 12 September 2014 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate yet another feast honouring the Mother of our Lord and God Jesus Christ, that is the Blessed Virgin Mary. And today we rejoice together in the honour of her Most Holy Name, at which even Satan and all his allies tremble, just as they tremble and cower in fear when the Name of her Son is mentioned.

We all first should understand why we all have names with us. The reason is so that we can be easily identified by others around us. Some people indeed can remember names better than they can remember the looks and faces. And remember, brethren, that in most cases, especially in the past, after we die and pass away from this world, only our names would be left behind as the memory for others to see and judge.

Yes, we mankind are most prominently and easily known and remembered through our names, be it in our deeds and actions, be these actions good or bad, or if we have done nothing in particular, in which our names will generally be quickly forgotten. But there are those names that upon which, when we utter it, even the demons and Satan would tremble in fear.

If we utter the name of the holy angels and saints, Satan and his allies fear them because these men and women, and the holy angels remained staunch despite the temptations of the world and the temptations of free will and desire, and they remained faithful servants of God, and in the end, they receive heavenly glory and be with the Lord, interceding for us all day and all night long. Satan knows that those holy saints and angels are interceding for us even now, and when we utter their names and ask for their intercession, Satan knows that God is with us, and he can do nought to crush us.

And even more fearsome therefore is the Holy Name of Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by that virtue and by the virtue of her perfect and upright behaviour, as well as total obedience to the will of God, is the greatest of all of God’s creations, the greatest among all the children of God and the foremost of all saints and rule even over the angels of God.

Satan flee in fear whenever he hears the Names of Jesus and Mary, because he knows that he has no power and no authority over them, and his doom is at hand. And if we refer to the Book of Genesis, just after mankind had sinned by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God Himself prophesied the coming of salvation for mankind through a woman, who would be the descendant of men, and who would bear a Son, as we heard in the prophecy of Isaiah and the other prophets, and the snake, or Satan the deceiver would be crushed.

It is through Mary that the salvation of this world was made possible by her obedience to take part in God’s plan for salvation, and in her acceptance of the role as the Mother of our Lord and Saviour. This was evident later as Mary had to endure much physical and spiritual sufferings, as she followed on the life and works of her Son, who was met with such opposition and hostility, even unto death on the cross.

Truly, Mary agreed to be part of this very difficult and challenging task, but she did not even complain or resist when the news was brought to her by the Archangel Gabriel. She obeyed completely and fully, surrendering herself to the will of God and to His plans for her. From then on, Mary became the one who made the salvation of mankind possible, because through her, the Word of God was incarnate into flesh and blood, becoming our Lord Jesus, fully man through her mother Mary, and fully God, as He was conceived by the Holy spirit.

Satan, having been dealt a terrible and crushing defeat by Jesus through His triumphant sacrifice on the cross, rightly feared Mary, because she is the Mother of Jesus, who walked with Him and guided Him towards the triumph of the Lord and all that is good against evil and all its forces. In addition, Satan, whose goal is the corruption and destruction of all mankind rightly feared Mary, because in her we have a great and perfect example of a paragon of love and virtue, who obeyed the Lord in all things.

If we follow the example of Mary’s obedience, love and devotion to God, we cannot go wrong. That is why Satan feared Mary, because she is like a beacon of light that shine brightly on our path as we go towards her Son, Jesus Christ our. Lord. Thus we know the phrase, Ad Iesum per Mariam, or ‘To Jesus through Mary’. Following Mary and her examples are the best ways for us to be closer to God and to attain salvation in Jesus.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all whenever we are tempted to sin and to do what is evil in the eyes of the Lord, that we should utter the Most Holy Name of Mary, that Satan who tempts us when he hears that Name would flee in fear, and that our soul will remain pure and clean from his corruptions and evil. Satan knows that he is doomed, and the Name of the mother of the One who had defeated him will certainly remind him that, and make him flee in fear.

Let us not fear Satan and his darkness, for Mary is with us, this blessed one among all women and all creations of God is caring for us as our mother, who prays for us incessantly and constantly before the throne of her Son, our Lord in heaven. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you amongst women, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.