Tuesday, 4 March 2014 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Casimir (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Mark 10 : 28-31

Peter spoke up and said, “We have given up everything to follow You.”

Jesus answered, “Truly, there is no one who has left house, or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward. I say to you : even in the midst of persecution, he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time, and in the world to come eternal life.”

“Do pay attention : many who are now the first will be last, and the last, first.”

Sunday, 16 February 2014 : 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 5 : 17-37

Do not think that I have come to annul the Law and the Prophets. I have not come to annul them but to fulfill them. I tell you this : as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or dot in the Law will change until all is fulfilled.

So then, whoever breaks the least important of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be the least in the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys them, and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the kingdom of heaven.

I tell you then, if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial.

But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial. Whoever insults a brother or sister deserves to be brought before the council. Whoever calls a brother or a sister “Fool!” deserves to be thrown into the fire of hell.

So, if you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with him, and then come back and offer your gift to God.

Do not forget this : be reconciled with your opponent quickly when you are together on the way to court. Otherwise he will turn you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, who will put you in jail. There you will stay, until you have paid the last penny.

You have heard that it was said : Do not commit adultery. But I tell you this : anyone who looks at a woman too lustfully has in fact already committed adultery with her in his heart. So, if your right eye causes you to sin, pull it out and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell.

If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell.

It was also said : Anyone who divorces his wife, must give her a written notice of divorce. But what I tell you is this : If a man divorces his wife, except in the case of unlawful union, he causes her to commit adultery. And the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

You have also heard that people were told in the past : Do not break your oath; and oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this : do not take oaths. Do not swear by the heavens, for they are God’s throne, nor by the earth, because it is His footstool, nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.

Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. Say yes when you mean yes, and say no when you mean no. Anything else you say comes from the devil.

 

Alternative Reading (shorter version)

 

Matthew 5 : 20-22a, 27-28, 33-34a, 37

I tell you then, if you are not righteous in a much broader way than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to our people in the past : Do not commit murder; anyone who does kill will have to face trial. But now I tell you : whoever gets angry with a brother or sister will have to face trial.

You have heard that it was said : Do not commit adultery. But I tell you this : anyone who looks at a woman too lustfully has in fact already committed adultery with her in his heart.

You have also heard that people were told in the past : Do not break your oath; and oath sworn to the Lord must be kept. But I tell you this : do not take oaths. Say yes when you mean yes, and say no when you mean no. Anything else you say comes from the devil.

Sunday, 29 December 2013 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Sirach 3 : 3-7, 14-17a (Greek version 2-6, 12-14)

Whoever honours his father atones for his sins; he who gives glory to his mother prepares a treasure for himself.

Whoever honours his father will receive joy from his own children and will be heard when he prays.

Whoever glorifies his father will have a long life. Whoever obeys the Lord gives comfort to his mother. He serves those who brought him to birth as he would serve the Lord.

For kindness done to one’s father will never be forgotten, it will serve as reparation for your sins. In the day of adversity the Lord will remember it to your advantage; for just as ice melts in the heat, so will your sins melt away.

The man who abandons his father is like a blasphemer; he who annoys his mother is cursed by the Lord. My son, conduct your affairs with discretion.

Thursday, 19 December 2013 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Judges 13 : 2-7, 24-25a

There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife could not bear children. The Angel of YHVH appeared to this woman and said to her, “You have not borne children and have not given birth, but see, you are to conceive and give birth to a son.”

“Because of this, take care not to take wine or any alcoholic drink, nor to eat unclean foods from now on, for you shall bear a son who shall be a Nazirite of YHVH from the womb of his mother. Never shall his hair be cut for he is consecrated to YHVH. He shall begin the liberation of the Israelites from the Philistine oppression.”

The woman went to her husband and told him, “a messenger of God who bore the majesty of an angel spoke to me. I did not ask him where he came from nor did he tell me his name. But he said to me : ‘You are to conceive and give birth to a son. Henceforth, you shall not drink wine or fermented drinks, nor eat anything unclean, for your son shall be a Nazirite of God from the womb of his mother until the day of his death.'”

The woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson. The boy grew and YHVH blessed him. Then the Spirit of YHVH began to move him.

Friday, 23 August 2013 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listen to the very heart of our faith as how it was explained by Jesus Himself. The Law and commandments of the Lord, the entirety of the divine laws itself had been summed up as love. Yes, love for both God and for our fellow men. All the laws and the rules God had given to His people through Moses and the prophets, are really about showing our love to both He who created us and our fellow brethren, the same children of God.

The entirety of the laws and regulations God had given His people was indeed to guide them that they know what to do in their lives, and will not fall easily into the traps of Satan. Indeed, ever since mankind rebelled against God during the days of Adam and Eve, our ancestors, mankind had ever been under the thrall of the evil one. God who liberated His people from the tyranny of the Pharaohs and the Egyptians therefore also want to free His people from the true slavemasters, that is Satan.

However, liberating His people would not have been easy, as we have been corrupted by sin, and evil had darkened our hearts. We have therefore been rendered unworthy of our Lord and Creator, who is good and perfect. We had shunned the love of God for the temptations of Satan. That was evident even after God had shown His power and brought His people out of the land of Egypt into the Promised Land He promised them and eventually gave them.

Those laws are meant to remind and keep the people in the ways of the Lord, that they will truly grow to be worthy of God, and be worthy of being God’s children and chosen ones. Sadly, by the time of Jesus, the laws had been taken out of its original purpose and context, ending up in the law being observed for the sake of being observed, that is the Law had become an obligation rather than something that truly lives in the hearts of mankind.

The Law of God had instead become a set of rituals that people followed, but the Lord is not in their hearts, because what they are observing is the law of men instead of the law of love, the true Law. That was what Jesus was trying to rectify by teaching the truth about God and His Law. He showed us that the Law is actually not about following rituals or a set of rules, and if we disobey them, we will be punished. The Law was truly God’s love for us, showing all of us, how to love Him and become His loving children.

Jesus reminded His disciples, the people of God, and ultimately all of us today, that the Law must truly live within each one of our hearts. Yes, the Law of love, our love for God, and our love for our fellow men, for everyone without exception. That was the main points that Jesus wanted to stress to each one of us, to keep God’s commandments, not just within us, but also in our actions, our words, and our deeds.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Rose of Lima, also known as St. Rosa of Lima. She is the very first saint from the Americas, the New World. St. Rose of Lima was born in Lima, Peru, in the then Spanish America. She was truly a devout and dedicated servant of God, who was greatly inspired by her faith to do more in the service of God and her fellow brethren. She vowed to remain pure and holy all her life, by pledging a virgin life before God, and despite her parents’ objection, she continued to do her best to pursue her passion in life, that is God.

She prayed fervently and worked with love, sharing her love with everyone she met and everyone she worked with. St. Rose also even wore a silver crown with thorns to remind her of the suffering of Christ wearing the crown of thorns during His Passion, that she would be ever mindful of the suffering and love Christ had shown to her and all of us in order to save us. In St. Rose of Lima, we can indeed see the extent of the love and dedication she had for God and also for her fellow men. This is what the Lord wants from us, and this is the only way that we cam truly follow God’s commandments, not by obeying rules or observing rituals, but by loving one another and loving God, just as St. Rose of Lima had shown us through her own life examples.

We have to devote ourselves to the Lord unconditionally as St. Rose had done, and as Ruth, the holy woman and ancestor of David had done, as we read in the First Reading today. We have to truly give ourselves fully to God, the gift of our hearts, our soul, and all of our beings, that we truly reflect God in all the things that we do, that we truly obey His will and His commandments, and therefore, be made worthy of Him once again, and deserve the eternal reward of life and glory in heaven, which Christ had prepared for us. May the Lord bless us, and through the example and intercession of St. Rose of Lima, may we all be inspired to love God better, serve God better, and commit ourselves more to Him, and do the same to our fellow brothers and sisters. Amen.

Sunday, 18 August 2013 : 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded on the mission that Christ had when He came upon this world. The mission that Christ had in saving this world, is not an easy mission, brethren, because even though He is God, it does not mean that He had an easy time. Yes, He had had much opposition and resistance during His time on earth, and during His ministry to the people of God.

Herod rejected Him, the innkeeper rejected Him and His family. The people rejected Him, and the priests and the Pharisees rejected Him, and together they even had condemned Him to die, to die a humiliating death on the cross. Basically, the path of the Lord is filled with obstacles and dangers, definitely not a walk in the park. That was why Christ said in the Gospel reading, in what some of us may feel a bit disturbed, that He came not to bring peace, but discord.

This discord come about exactly because of the divisions that the Lord, in His person and in His teachings, that divides the people, because some people will follow and obey the Lord, but there will always be some or many who will dissent and disagree with Him. They were those who had rejected Him in the first place. Those who mocked Him, His disciples, and even us, who believe in Him.

Many martyrs of the early Church faced suffering and martyrdom because their families and relatives rose up against them, either betraying them to the authorities or by dealing with the holy martyrs themselves. Discord existed between the people of God and those who still believed in the pagan gods. Even discord and persecution awaited God’s servants, the prophets like Jeremiah.

We tend to sway away from the path of the Lord, because just as the Lord Himself had been rejected, mocked, and treated badly, we too, who follow the Lord will face much opposition and discord in our lives, and in all our dealings. We will be rejected as well, and we will face discord even with our own families and relatives. This discord however, does bring about potential destruction and conflict that involve all of us. It is indeed much easier for us to follow the ways of the world, and give in to the temptations of this world, some of which include money, wealth, sexual pleasure, good life, and many other things.

The world offer us much goods, and much things that are indeed more enjoyable, pleasurable, and easier to be done than to follow the Lord, and that is exactly what caused the discord and friction that will surely exist within our families, within our circle of friends, and within our own societies, much like how it was during the early Church. In the early Church, being the followers of Christ means to be detached from the larger general population, and for those in the positions of privilege and power, following the Lord, or in short becoming Christian was a serious risk to them, both for their position and for their own lives.

Temptations are many, brethren, and even more so in this world of ours today. In this world, many things easily bring us astray from the true path towards the Lord. Money, wealth, world pleasures, and even good food can corrupt us and our hearts, subverting us from the purpose given to us. That is why, brethren, our churches are empty! Our seminaries are empty! Our new priests are getting fewer and older! All because of the challenges presented to us and the Church, especially important in this ever-changing times.

Yes, brethren, the need is greater than ever for us to support one another and pray for one another, that we remain faithful and dedicated to their faith in God. This is that we will not fall to the traps of the evil one, and therefore falter in our path towards salvation. We have to be strong and stand up against the temptations of evil and the pleasures of the flesh, and rebuke the devil and all that he offers us. But worry not, brothers and sisters, for our Lord is with us, and He will guide us and protect us, as long as we remain faithful and loving to Him.

God walks with us and remains with us if we are faithful to Him. He will not abandon us, just as He never abandoned Jeremiah in the sewers, and He lifted him up through king Zedekiah and his servants. The same happened to the disciples of Christ, the apostles, like St. Peter who was imprisoned by King Herod and intended to be executed, because of his faith in Christ, and was to be made an example to the other Christians. However, God rescued him through His angel, and He liberated him from his shackles in order to do many more good things for the sake of God, and God’s beloved people.

In our world today, there will be many challenges and persecutions, in many different forms, and do not be surprised that the devil may attack where we least expect, that is from within, from within ourselves, within our own families, within our own friend circles, and within our own societies. Indeed brethren, the one who caused divisions and discords among us is in fact not the Lord, but ultimately is the devil who sowed in us the seeds of his discord, his rebellion, and his disobedience against the will of God. Sin and our human weaknesses are the channels through which Satan nurture in us these seeds of evil. It is up to us whether we let divisions and discord rule over us, or that we give ourselves fully to the Lord and immerse ourselves in His love, that all of us may be reunited in harmony, as the one people of God, all of whom obey the Lord our God with all our hearts and with all our beings.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, reminding ourselves of the words of the readings today, of the teachings of the Lord revealed through Christ our Lord, let us resolve to continue our total love and devotion towards He who had come into this world to save it. He who has punished the enemies of the Lord and the enemies of those who believe in Him. He who had taken those He had chosen from this world, and protect them, that despite the oppositions of this world against them, they remain triumphant because of the power and glory of God given them through Christ, who had marked them as His own.

May the Risen Christ who is triumphant against evil, bless us and strengthen us with His love, that we will persevere in our worldly struggle and indeed, daily struggle against sin and against the forces of evil arrayed against us. May the holy saints and martyrs of God who had gone before us, intercede for our sake and pray for us sinners still living in this world. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 18 August 2013 : 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 12 : 49-53

I have come to bring fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have baptism to undergo, and what anguish I feel until it is over!

Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on, in one house five will be divided : three against two, and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.