Wednesday, 5 April 2017 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Daniel 3 : 14-20, 24-25, 28

King Nebuchadnezzar questioned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden statue I have set up? If you hear now the sound of horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and other instruments, will you fall down and worship the statue I made? If you will not, you know the punishment : you will immediately be thrown into a burning furnace. And then what god can deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego answered, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we need not defend ourselves before you on this matter. If you order us to be thrown into the furnace, the God we serve will rescue us. But even if He will not, we would like you to know, o king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden statue you have set up.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s face reddened with fury as he looked at Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He ordered the furnace to heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of his strongest soldiers to bind Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the burning furnace.

They walked in the midst of the flames, singing to God and praising the Lord. Azariah stood up in the midst of the fire and prayed aloud : “You have indeed given a just sentence in bringing evil upon us and upon Jerusalem, the Holy City of our fathers. You have acted in accordance with truth and justice, as punishment for our sins.”

Monday, 25 August 2014 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 95 : 1-2a, 2b-3, 4-5

Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless His Name.

Proclaim His salvation day after day. Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds.

How great is the Lord and worthy of praise! Above all gods He is to be feared. For all other gods are worthless idols, but YHVH is the One who made the heavens.

Monday, 18 August 2014 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Deuteronomy 32 : 18-19, 20, 21

They have disowned the Rock who fathered them; they have forgotten the God who gave them birth. The Lord saw this, and in His anger rejected His sons and daughters.

He said, “I will hide My face from them and see what will become of them. They are so perverse, so unfaithful!

“They made Me jealous with their false gods and angered Me with their idols. I will, therefore, make them envious of a foolish people, I will provoke them to anger with an empty-headed nation.”

Monday, 28 July 2014 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Deuteronomy 32 : 18-19, 20, 21

They have disowned the Rock who fathered them; they have forgotten the God who gave them birth. The Lord saw this, and in His anger rejected His sons and daughters.

He said, “I will hide My face from them and see what will become of them. They are so perverse, so unfaithful!”

“They made Me jealous with their false gods and angered Me with their idols. I will, therefore, make them envious of a foolish people, I will provoke them to anger with an empty-headed nation.”

Thursday, 5 June 2014 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Martyrs)

God has given glory to His Son, Jesus Christ, and He has shown it through Him, as He Himself revealed to the disciples as in the Gospel today, and also based on what He has done in this world. To the rebellious and wretched nation and people who constantly disobeyed His will and commandments, He once again showed His truth and glory through Christ, who performed such wonderful miracles on the kind and scale which have not been seen before in this world.

And through those too, God wanted to remind the people of the love which He has for them and the concern which He always has for them, through all ages. Through Jesus, mankind watched firsthand the undeniable evidence for the love of God, and He proved it through His willingness to bear the suffering and punishments for our sins on the cross and to die to save us from death.

He rose up from the realm of the dead and entered into His glory to bring us from the darkness and hopelessness of this world into the new hope and light of the world that is to come. He wants us to be saved, and to do so, He did not hesitate to give His all, even His life for our own good and safety. All these so that we may have hope in Him, and through Him, enter into the eternal life He has prepared for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must always keep the tenets and the basics of our faith strong, trusting in God in the matter of all that He had revealed to us. What are in this faith? We must always believe that the Lord is God, One and only Almighty and omnipotent God, Lord above all lords and Sovereign of all sovereigns and powers on earth and in heaven.

And then not just that, but that He is One, but has three separate and yet equal Divine Persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all three of whom are different and separate from each other, and yet at the same time also are completely united to each other in perfect love and harmony, forming the Most Holy Trinity that is the basic of our faith.

And that the Son, who is the Word of God, was made flesh and descended into the world as one of us, and we know Him as Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, who revealed to His disciples the glory that He had in Him, just before He was to be betrayed to the chief priests and the elders to be crucified. The Son is worthy, and He offered Himself to the Father to be the One to make clean the people of God, as the only sacrificial victim worthy to absolve the sins of all mankind, something, that the blood of animals cannot do.

And that through His suffering and death, He endured for us the punishments and sufferings which should have been our due for our sins and unworthiness, and instead He bore them upon Himself, and liberated us from death by His rising from the dead on Easter day. The Risen Christ is the proof that God gave as a final reminder of His love to all of us, which St. Paul bravely stood by in the first reading today.

We also have to keep all of these basic tenets of our faith, and we have to keep in mind always the love that God has for all of us. God is Love, and He will always love us, and He will never want us to be separated from Him, unless it is we ourselves who want to be separated from Him. Hence, brethren, loosen our hearts and open them for the Lord, and allow His love to touch us tenderly and transform us into creatures worthy of Him.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Boniface, a bishop and a martyr of the faith. He was a bishop in the region of what is now today’s western areas of Germany, and he did many evangelising and preaching works throughout the still pagan areas of Germany, then still occupied in its eastern portion by many separate pagan tribes worshipping the pagan gods such as Odin, Thor, and other related Scandinavian pantheons.

St. Boniface worked hard for the faith, and managed to convert many people and helped them to accept the faith in God, abandoning their sinful old ways and cast down their pagan idols to accept the Lord Jesus as their Saviour and God. He preached in many places and villages, explaining about the faith to the people who then went on to accept the faith.

A particularly famous and renowned happening about St. Boniface and his evangelisation is that he felled a sacred oak in Germany, where the populace had once worshipped the pagan gods there, especially the god of thunder, Odin. When St. Boniface spoke up against the pagan worship and courageously hacked the oak tree down, the people waited for the gods to punish St. Boniface. However, seeing that no harm came upon St. Boniface, they laid down their pagan worship and eagerly took up the faith in God.

St. Boniface was martyred when he met a rogue group of pagan bandits on his way to preach to villages, and he was slain by them, while trying to defend himself with the Gospel book. He welcomed death readily, even at that moment when he was already very old. He did not fear to die, as long as He had brought the light of Christ to so many people and saved so many souls from destruction and damnation.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the examples shown by St. Boniface, let us all be courageous in defending our faith, and let us all have a living and strong faith, one that is anchored firmly on the basic tenets of our faith and put all our trust completely in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. May He guide us always and remain with us always, all the time. Amen.

Monday, 19 May 2014 : 5th Week of Easter (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, to all of us had been revealed the truth, that is there is one God, and that God who is all-powerful and mighty, had come into the world, in the person of Jesus Christ, who walked on this earth, and who performed great miracles from the power of His glory. And in His Name, through the Apostles, whom He had entrusted with power and authority, great healings and miracles happened

He is the one and true God, the only God to exist and the creator of all things and all universe. But not all the peoples knew about Him, and there were indeed those who believed in things other than the truth, such as what the different peoples and different cultures believed. For example, the ancient Greek mythology with their gods and creatures which the Greeks and the Romans believed.

They believed in those gods, which represented each the different elements of nature, such as Zeus or Jupiter with lightning, Apollo and Helios with the sun, Poseidon or Neptune with the sea and the waves, and Hades or Pluto with the realm of the dead. These were powerful and the then little understood aspects and phenomena of nature which the people of the past were awed with.

They worshipped these aspects and phenomena as gods and powerful divine beings because they failed to understand that these were mere creations. The Aztecs and their sun-worship and the other traditions and nations with their various traditions including those mentioned earlier were in awe of these phenomena and often sought to placate ‘the anger of the gods’ by offering them sacrifices and worship, and in some cases, even human sacrifices.

God created all of us, but many did not realise this basic fact, and hence in their ignorance, mankind tried to do different things that stood contrary to the truth that is in God. And that was why He resolved to reveal Himself to mankind, beginning with Abraham, and through His descendants, whom He chose to be His first chosen people.

He revealed His love to them, and gave them His laws and precepts to be followed. Yet, they did not remain completely faithful, and they erred on numerous occasions. As a result, God sent numerous messengers in the prophets to remind these people of their need to obey the Lord and to turn back to His ways.

But yet they continued to refuse to listen to His words, and when He sent His own Son, Jesus Christ to be the One who would finally liberate the entire people of God from the world of darkness, they rejected Him and refused yet again to believe in His teachings and in what He had done. And that was what also happened to the two disciples, Paul and Barnabas, when they went to proclaim the Lord to the Gentiles in the Greek-speaking areas of the Roman Empire.

Because those people had long believed in the supreme power of natural phenomena that they worshipped as the gods, they naturally saw the miracles of Paul and Barnabas as the manifestation of these gods, and that was why they worshipped the two disciples, much to their dismay. That is what is meant by, even though the two disciples taught the people about the Lord, but they failed to understand and failed to open their hearts to accept the Lord into them.

Hence, brethren, this also applies to us who live in this world today. Let us not harden our hearts against the Lord, and let us not close our hearts to Him. Let God enter into our hearts and make ourselves anew. Allow God to speak to us and help us to understand His truth. Do not be indignant as those Gentiles and also the Jews had been. Allow the Lord to do His wonderful works in us. God bless us. Amen.

Friday, 4 October 2013 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Baruch 1 : 15-22

You will say : May everyone recognise the justice of our God but, on this day, shame and confusion befit the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem – our kings and princes, our prophets, and our fathers, because we have sinned before the Lord.

We have disobeyed Him and have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God, nor have we followed the commandments which the Lord had put before us. From the day that the Lord brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt until this day, we have disobeyed the Lord our God and we have rebelled against Him instead of listening to His voice.

Because of this, from the day on which the Lord brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt, so as to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, the evils and the curse which the Lord pronounced by Moses, His servant, have dogged our footsteps right down to the present day.

We did not listen to the voice of the Lord our God speaking through the words of the prophets whom He sent to us, but each one of us followed his perverted heart, serving false gods and doing what displeases the Lord our God.

Saturday, 17 August 2013 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White

Joshua 24 : 14-29

So fear YHVH, and be sincere and faithful in serving Him. Set aside those gods your ancestors worshiped in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Serve only YHVH. But if you do not want to serve YHVH, make known this very day whom you shall serve – whether they be the gods your ancestors served in Mesopotamia or the gods of the Amorites who formerly occupied the land in which you now live. As for me, I and my household will serve YHVH.

The people answered : “May God not permit that we ever abandon YHVH to serve other gods! For it was He who brought us and our ancestors out of Egypt, the house of slavery. It was He who did those great wonders that we have seen; He protected us on the way and through all the land where we passed, driving away before us all the nations especially the Amorites who lived in this land. So we shall also serve YHVH : He is our God!”

Joshua asked the people : “Will you be able to serve YHVH? He is a Holy God, a Jealous God who does not tolerate wickedness or faults. If you abandon YHVH to serve other gods, He will turn against you and just as He has done you so much good, so shall He punish you and destroy you.”

The people replied, “No, may it not be as you say. We will serve YHVH.” Joshua said : “You yourselves are witnesses that you have chosen YHVH to serve Him.” They answered : “We are witnesses.”

Joshua then said, “Remove now from your midst any other gods and serve YHVH, the God of Israel, with all your heart.” The people answered, “We will serve YHVH, our God, and obey His commands.” On that day at Shechem, Joshua made a covenant with the people and fixed laws and ordinances. He also wrote down everything expressed in the book of the Law of God; he chose a great stone and put it under the oak tree in the sacred place of YHVH.

Then Joshua said to the people : “This stone shall be a witness to all that YHVH said to us, for it heard all these words. It shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with YHVH.”

Joshua immediately sent the people away and everyone returned to his land. After all these deeds, Joshua, son of Nun and servant of YHVH, died at the age of a hundred and ten.

Sunday, 12 May 2013 : 7th Sunday of Easter (Psalm)

Psalm 96 : 1 and 2b, 6 and 7c, 9

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Justice and right are His throne.

The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory. Let all spirits bow before Him.

For You are the Master of the universe, exalted far above all gods.

Monday, 29 April 2013 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters, let us not dwell in the false gods and idols, and remain true in our faith in God our Lord. Let us not be like the pagans at the time who failed to see the truth in God, and instead dwell in their imaginaries deities and gods, made out of earthly materials of stone, wood, silver, or gold. For these are merely empty vessels, vessels of deception by the devil to lure the faithful away from the true faith in God.

For today, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, even though we no longer see and worship idols made out of gold and silver, in the form of pagan and heathen false gods, the likes of Zeus, Hercules, and countless other gods, today in our world, a new kind of idols are rising, and not in the form of merely false gods in craven false imageries, but in the form of money and wealth itself.

For wealth and material possessions had been alluring to mankind for long ages past, and today, with God becoming ever more distant in the hearts of many, because of the rising secularisation and detachment of God from the world, due to the evil forces of relativism and scientific development, which marginalised God from the once central role He had in our daily lives, had become the new gods, which attempt to replace the One, True God in our hearts.

But they will not succeed, for God our Lord is mighty, and His love is everlasting, and despite all the attempts by the evil one to turn mankind away from God, God always stays ahead of Satan’s attempts, and send the helper and the advocate through the Holy Spirit, that inflames the hearts of many of the faithful to love God ever more, and strengthen our faith in Him.

Many of us had become myopic in our obsession with the material and the temporal possessions in this world, and so obsessed that we failed to look beyond our desires and obsession, in order to find the truth that is in the Lord and in His love, which He made manifest through Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary. Let us not limit ourselves to only viewing our desires and our needs, but let us always take a step back, and take some time to reflect, that our vision will not be then limited just to our desires, but our eyes will then be opened to see the plight of our fellow men, who are still suffering.

Today, we commemorate the feast day of a great saint and Doctor of the Church, that is St. Catherine of Siena. St. Catherine of Siena is a great saint and teacher of the faith through her numerous laters and literary works, which became inspiration for many Christians of her era and even today. She zealously defended the faith in God and zealously love Him in her actions and her life. She was also important in the bringing back of the Papacy from its self-imposed ‘exile’ from Avignon in France to return to Rome, where the centre of the Church is. Therefore, she played a great role in the reestablishment and rejuvenation of the Church as we know it today.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today renew our commitment to serve and love our Lord, and to grow ever stronger in our faith in Him, that we will be transformed by His love, into beings of light and love, that in our every actions, words, and thoughts, we reflect the nature of God, and everyone can see that God is in us, and He is working through us. Let us pray for ourselves, for our brethren, and for our world, that it will be filled with God’s love and presence forever more. St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us. Amen.