Sunday, 4 February 2018 : Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Job 7 : 1-4, 6-7

Man’s life on earth is a thankless job, his days are those of a mercenary. Like a slave he longs for the shade of evening, like a hireling waiting for his wages. Thus I am allotted months of boredom and nights of grief and misery. In bed I say, “When shall the day break?” On rising, I think, “When shall evening come?” and I toss restless till dawn.

My days pass swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, heading without hope for their end. My life is like wind, you well know it, o God; never will I see happiness again.

Friday, 28 November 2014 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the readings are about what is to come at the end of time, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as King and Master of all, and ultimately as the Judge of all creations. Our Lord Jesus Christ is going to come in triumph and glory, vanquishing and defeating evil once and for all, and cast them all into the utter darkness and the eternal lake of fire prepared for them.

In the first reading, it was told about the final defeat of Satan, who will be cast down and have his power forever broken. The authority which Satan once has over us, through sin, has been broken through the actions of our Lord Jesus, by His death and resurrection, and then the might and kingdom of Satan itself will be crushed when the Lord comes again.

That is because, brothers and sisters in Christ, as long as mankind still commit sin and evil in their actions, in their words and deeds, they will always come again under the rule and tyranny of Satan, who is the lord over evil and sin. As long as we sin and commit things evil and abhorrent in the eyes of God, Satan is our master and we are his thralls.

And as long as we remain in sin, and allow sin to affect our hearts and our lives, then death will also have power over us. This is the first death, and also will be the second death for us, if we do not change our ways. What is the first death and the second death, brothers and sisters? The second death was mentioned in the first reading today taken from the Book of Revelations. It is an eternal death and an eternal suffering, from which, all those who suffer that second death, will never be able to escape.

All of us mankind were not meant to suffer death or suffering, brethren, for our ancestor Adam, the first man, and his wife, Eve, the first woman, were created to enjoy the eternal bliss and happiness of the Lord’s creations in Eden. They were meant to enjoy for eternity the goodness of God and not to suffer death and suffering in this world. Alas, sin entered the hearts of men by the disobedience of men, who listened to the sweet lies of Satan, who charmed and twisted them away from true devotion to God.

Satan appeared to Eve as a snake, the most cunning and intelligent of all the creatures, and it is the same old snake that the angel of God will chain up at the end of times, Satan the deceiver, to be bound up so that all of us may be freed from his tyranny and control. Satan played on our desires and our curiosity, and those took the better of us, when he managed to persuade the first men to eat from the forbidden tree and thus sinned against God.

After mankind sinned against God, then we deserve to be punished, and that punishment, is to suffer in our life, whereas the original intention had been for us to enjoy our life in bliss and happiness, and then also to die, suffering from death, just as the words say that, ‘from dust you have come, and to dust you shall return’. This is the first death, the death because of men’s disobedience against God, and all of us mankind are subject to this.

Yes, one day we will all die, and all those who have gone before us have also tasted death, and those who are yet to be born, will one day also suffer death, the first death, but not a final death. For our Lord Jesus Christ had come as our Saviour, who offered a new hope and light amidst the darkened outlook of our future. By His death on the cross, He broke free the chains of sin that enslaved us to death, and by His resurrection, He brought us the offer of a new life everlasting.

And thus, we have no need to fear death, the first death. After all, all of us will go through it at one point of time or another. We will all die, but what matters is, if after that first death, whether we will suffer the second death or instead go into the eternal life promised by our God. This will depend on our actions and deeds in this life on earth, and will be judged upon us at the time of the Last Judgment.

Yes, the second part of our first reading today tells us about the Last Judgment, where the Lord will separate those who have done good and those who have failed to do so, or those who did what are wicked in the sight of God. The good ones He will give His promised reward of everlasting life, in the fullness of glory and happiness which He had always intended for His beloved men from the very beginning, but taken away from us because of the sins of our ancestors and also our own sins.

How about those who are found to be wicked and unworthy then? They will be judged and condemned for their actions, and the second death will be their portion. The second death is eternal, hell-like suffering of total and eternal separation from God and His love, and no hope is to be found there, for there is no escape, and those who are found wicked will be cast down there together with Satan and his fellow fallen angels, who also rebelled against God and brought mankind down with them.

Ultimately, the Gospel today reminds us of the fact that we need to do something, and that we can no longer be passive in our faith and in our lives. Jesus was talking about the signs of nature and the seasons, and how if the people of His time could tell of the coming of the season and time by observing the nature around them, then the coming of the Lord Jesus and the end of time can surely also be known by us, not in exact timing, but in the imminency of it.

Jesus always told us that the coming of the kingdom of God will be like that of a thief, sudden and unannounced. And indeed, only God Himself knows the exact time of His coming. If we think that we still have time and remain idle, not doing things which may help us to secure our salvation, then we may be caught unaware and unprepared, and at that time, if we are judged to be among the wicked, then no amount of pleading or begging will help us anymore.

Therefore, what we need to do brothers and sisters in Christ? We have to be proactive in our faith, and practice it with full sincerity and genuinely show love, as what the Lord had taught us. We have many opportunities in this life, every single day, hour or even minute. Whenever we see that there are people being ostracised, treated badly against, hungry or lonely, are we courageous enough to show them our love? Or do we prefer to remain idle and ignore them?

The choice is clearly ours, to be loving and good, or to be selfish and wicked. The ball is in our court, and it is our choice whether to take up the opportunity and use them, or let them go to waste. May Almighty God awaken in us the courage as well as the sense of urgency to seek Him and do what He had taught us to do, so that at the end of the days, He may find us worthy and righteous, and worthy to enjoy the eternal graces and happiness which He had prepared for all of us. God bless us all. Amen.

 

First Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/26/friday-28-november-2014-34th-week-of-ordinary-time-first-reading/

 

Psalm :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/26/friday-28-november-2014-34th-week-of-ordinary-time-psalm/

 

Gospel Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/26/friday-28-november-2014-34th-week-of-ordinary-time-gospel-reading/

Monday, 20 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are asked through the Scriptures we have heard, to reflect on our own lives, on whether our lives have been filled with selfishness, self-centredness, egoistic acts and behaviours, as well as pride or arrogance, or whether our lives had been filled with love, that is genuine love for one another, and the love for God just as much as we love ourselves.

It is very difficult for us men to live according to the latter standards as compared to the former standards. We have a big ego with us, just as the word ‘Ego’ in Latin means ‘I’, that is we are first and foremost always concerned first about ourselves, and then far below that concern is the concern about others who are around us. We are by our nature selfish, and filled with desire to the point of greed and unwillingness to show charity to others.

This ‘I’ is dangerous indeed, and do you all know who was Satan, our great enemy, before he is known now as the prince of evil and darkness? He was Lucifer, the ‘lightbringer’, one created bright, beautiful, mighty and great among all the angels who serve the Lord day and night, not to outshine his Creator, but to show all creation how great and mighty the Lord is, in creating such a perfect and wonderful creation.

Yet, in the beauty, greatness and perfection in which he had been created, Lucifer grew proud and attached to his perfection and wonders, and thus his ego grew, and his desires grew to the point that he aspired to be like God and even to surpass His own creation, in his own words, that he wanted to raise his throne above the stars of God, and to rule over all creations.

It is this pride that led to his downfall, and it is this same arrogance over his apparent greatness and abilities that made him to commit sin before God. And his rebellion against God brought him nothing but his own downfall, as he was cast out of heaven, as a sign to all others who also followed him into his rebellion, thinking that in the greatness and all the endowments they had received, they had the right to boast or be proud of those achievements.

And what did he get in the end? Nothing but damnation and eternal punishment, for the pride and greed that brought him nothing else but oblivion. Hence, this is also to help remind us, just as we heard in the Holy Scriptures, how Jesus and St. Paul both urged the people of God to let go of their ego, their pride, their arrogance, their selfishness, and all of the vices they had committed in life, and embrace the true faith, in accepting the fullness of the faith as taught to them by the Lord and through His Apostles and disciples.

How is this relevant to us? We can look at our own lives. It is very obvious that at some points and moments in our lives, we are vulnerable to our ego and our desires. How many times in our respective lives, that we put our own prosperity above that of others? How many of us did not hesitate to do certain actions, even when fully knowing that such actions may bring hurt to others, but may benefit us in some ways?

Surely this life is filled with many of such examples, when we mankind succumb to our desires and began to greedily desire on things and possessions, even often beyond our means and at the expense of others. This is also the precise cause of the many evils and miseries in the world, namely wars, conflicts, abuses, hatred and jealousy of one another. That is because mankind had grown proud of themselves and what they can do, and by what they have discovered in life, that they think too highly of themselves and as a result, inevitably come into conflict with one another due to conflicting interests.

Thus, brothers and sisters in Christ, what then, we can do so that we can prevent or to settle this matter? We are often too focused on the world, and all things worldly, to the point that we ended up worrying too much about what we ought to eat, what we may receive in life, what possessions we should have or obtain, and many other things, while forgetting that in our pursuit of such things and in our worry, we may end up causing trouble for one another.

Worry and fear is not the way, brothers and sisters in Christ. We have to realise that our Lord and God loves us very much, and He wants to love us tenderly just as a father loves his children. He provides us with essentially everything that we need in this life. He will care for us as He had always done, and if we put our complete trust and faith in Him, we shall never be disappointed.

Indeed, those who put their trust in themselves will be disappointed, and just like the rich man who worried about where he ought to put his excess harvest products and building new barns to contain them, he did not put their trust in God and thus he will suffer for his selfishness and lack of love, both for men and for God. Thus, this is exactly what we need to avoid.

Let us all from now on, lead a life filled with genuine faith in God, seeking God at all times, and seeking to imitate Him in all that we do, so that in everything we do in this life, we may be truly like the children and the servants of God, and like the Apostles and disciples in their lives, so that our lives may be filled with love and charity, love that we show for our fellow men, particularly those who are in most need for our love, the last, the lost and the least among men.

And lastly, let us all love God by devotion and by action, showing our genuine faith to Him founded in love. May Almighty God see our love and our faith, and by those love and faith we have done in this life, may we be made justified and worthy of salvation and the promise of eternal life which God had made through Jesus His So. Let us pray therefore for one another, and helping one another that all of us will reach the Lord our God safely. Amen.

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 (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the love of God for us in the Eucharist through which He gave us all His own Body and Blood, so that we who share in them, we may receive salvation in our God, and be freed from the bondage of sin and death. And we are reminded of this fact in the readings from the Holy Scriptures which we read today.

In the first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord revealed to Isaiah His servant, of the coming of salvation for the people of Israel, in the person of Cyrus, the King and Emperor of the Persian Empire, who would deliver the people of God the salvation which they would come to await for. For a background understanding, I will share with you the significance of this passage from the Book of Isaiah by telling you the historical background behind it.

At the time the revelation was made to the prophet Isaiah, it was at the time just as the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the conquering power of the Assyrian Empire. The people of the northern kingdom was unfaithful and were engrossed in wickedness and in the worship of the pagan gods. As such, they were handed over to the hands of their enemies and brought away as slaves and exiles from the lands promised and given to their ancestors.

Meanwhile, in the kingdom of Judah, the southern kingdom, the people of God there were also not always faithful. They also from time to time rebelled against the will of God, preferring to follow their own ways and disobeyed the Lord’s instructions. At the time of the prophet Isaiah, during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judea, the consequences for these were not so apparent yet, but then soon they too would suffer the same fate as their northern brethren, the kingdom of Israel.

They too would be defeated, conquered and exiled, as well as into slavery by the rising power of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, under the famous king Nebuchadnezzar, who brought siege to Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, and brought it to ruin. The Temple of Solomon was destroyed and the Ark of the Covenant was lost in the chaos. This represented the end of the southern kingdom of Judah and the rule of the kings as a whole, and also marked the beginning of what would be called the Babylonian exile.

During this period of exile, the people of Judah were also uprooted and cast away from the land promised and given to their ancestors, and brought in chains to the foreign lands. There they suffered indignation and much humiliation, and they were made to work hard and experienced the bitter pills of difficulties of the world for a period of time, when, according to the word of God through the prophets, that they were humbled among the nations.

Yet, God did not leave them alone with that fate for long. He promised them deliverance, precisely through the prophet Isaiah, that the King of Persia, Cyrus the Great, who conquered many kingdoms in the known world at that time, would conquer Babylon and then liberated all the people of God from their bondage and slavery, allowing them to return home to their ancestral lands of Israel, freed at last from their bonds and exile.

God called Cyrus from among the nations, and gave him His blessings and grace, even though he did not know Him. Such was the Lord’s will and plan, and how He put all of His desires and will into effect. He never retracted His promises, nor is He ever being unfaithful. He fulfilled His promises through Cyrus, who just like Moses, brought the people of God out of suffering, bondage and slavery into freedom and God’s renewed promise and covenant.

But at the time of Jesus, the nation of the Jews have endured many cycles of persecutions, oppressions and enslavement by other, more powerful nations, and the latest to be added to the list at the time was the Roman Empire, which ruled over most of the known world, and was known for the first regular and organised ruling imperium in the world, with a meticulous system of taxation, both to maintain control and to obtain revenue for the Roman state.

However, the imposition of taxes also represented the symbol of Roman dominance and mastery over the world, and over the peoples of the Mediterranean at the time, including the Jews, who lived in the Roman province of Judea, which constituted roughly the old Promised Land which they had been given, together with the provinces of Galilee and Decapolis.

The imposition of the taxes were hated and disliked by the people, who viewed them as first the symbol of their submission to the Romans and their Emperor, the Caesar in Rome, as well as the symbol of their renewed enslavement and the end of their freedom which they had often fought hard for and gained for. It also burdened them economically, and thus they were resented by the people as a whole. This was also why the tax collectors were so hated by the people, and they were considered outcasts and traitors, as they were seen as serving the hated Romans in imposing their hated taxes.

The Roman taxes were paid with the Roman currency, that is the Roman coins, most commonly the silver variant, the denarius. On the denarius, just as all the other Roman coins, the face portrait of the Emperor were printed, such that to the extent of the Romans and the peoples of the Empire recognised their Emperor by the coins they released.

This represented a problem, and a rather serious one, in the view of the Jews, as the Roman Emperors at the time, beginning with the Emperor Augustus, and even his pre-Imperial predecessor, Julius Caesar, were deified and worshipped in the Empire as gods or descendants of the gods. Thus, for the Jews, particularly to the Pharisees, the act of paying the taxes with the Roman coins represent a potentially dangerous and serious sin.

Yes, that is the offering to the idols, as equated by the ‘offering’ of the Roman coins with the Emperor’s portrait to the Empire, and thus to the Emperor himself, the deified entity, the pagan god patron of the Empire. Thus, the Pharisees and the elders of Israel wanted to trap Jesus with the question, and had He answered that they should pay the taxes, then they could whip up the masses’ opinion against Jesus and accuse Him of collaboration with the Romans, essentially a traitor to the nation.

On the other hand, if He had answered that they should not pay the taxes, then the Pharisees and the elders, with their links to the Roman establishment could claim that Jesus wanted to lead the people in rebellion against the Roman rule, by refusing to pay the taxes due for them. But Jesus knew all that they had plotted against Him with, and He gave them the answer which none of them had predicted.

Give to God what belongs to God, and give to the Caesar, the Emperor of Rome, what belongs to him, namely the coins and the wealth of the world. Jesus wanted to remind us, just as He wanted to rebuke His opponents, that the wealth and the materials of this world belong to the world and ought to be returned back to them. Thus, money and possessions that we have and gained in this life, is no more than the means for us to live a good and sufficient life, enough for us to sustain ourselves, but they should not be the focus of our life.

Yes, for God is the Creator of all of us, the most beloved ones of all His creations. We were made by God with love, given life by His Spirit and intended for greatness and goodness, and despite our waywardness and disobedience, in the end, we still belong to God, and nothing and noone can deny this very fact. Hence, whatever we are and whoever we are, we ought to give it to the Lord, as we truly belong to God and not to this world.

And hence, we should avoid all the evils of this world and keep ourselves pure, and the Lord had already warned against these sinful ways, namely the sins of the Pharisees, who preached what they believed in, but they did not practice what they had preached. That is why they were called hypocrites, and rightly so, for their faith in the Lord was superficial, and all that they cared about was their own vanity and pride.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what God wants from us is our love, that is what we ought to give to Him, after He Himself had loved us all first. We should also keep ourselves away from the vices and evils of the Pharisees. Think not about bringing harm and plotting against others, but think rather of love, and how we can better love one another, as well as forgiving those who had sinned against us, as Jesus Himself had taught us.

And today in our world, as it had been in the past, there are still many people who live in the darkness of the world, following the ways of the Pharisees and have yet to see the love of the Lord and have yet to understand His ways. And thus, today, in which we also celebrate the occasion of the Mission Sunday, we have to remind ourselves of the responsibilities and the obligations which we have been given by the Lord when we became the member of His Church.

God desires not the destruction of mankind, just as He did not desire the condemnation of His people, Israel. This was why He sent them deliverers, beginning from Moses and then Cyrus, and finally Jesus Himself, His own Son, the One who would deliver not just the Jews but all mankind from the greatest of their bondage and slavery.

Yes, all of us who have sinned and under the whim of sin are enslaved and bonded to sin. And the chains of sin that bind us will eventually and inevitably lead to death, the punishment and ultimate consequence for sin. And not just any death, but eternal death, which will separate us from the love of God, the suffering of hell for eternity, where we are completely and entirely devoid of that love which God lavishes on us.

We can just begin to imagine the kind of suffering when we lack and are denied the wonderful love which God has for us. The pain and suffering far dwarfs the kind of physical and mental suffering which the people in exile and slavery had suffered. And this is exactly what God does not want to happen to us, and thus He also sent His people more deliverers, and who are they? They are none other than each one of us, who have been received into His Church, and have been endowed with the faith.

Let me share with you the inspiring lives of the saints who we also commemorate today, that is St. Jacques Chastan and St. Isaac Jogues, as well as St. Paul of the Cross. For the case of St. Jacques Chastan and St. Isaac Jogues, they were French martyrs, who were part of the French missionaries, the Mission Estrangeres de Paris, the M.E.P. priests who were specialised in the missions to the far ends of the world, spreading the word of God to those who have yet to hear the Good News of the Lord.

St. Jacques Chastan was sent to the missions in Asia, to Thailand, then called Siam, and to Macao, and finally to Korea, where he met his death with faith, in a holy martyrdom. Through his works there and with the collaboration of many other missionaries, many souls were called to the Lord, and heeding the call of conversion, they gave themselves to be baptised and to be part of the Church of God.

The Korean authorities were strongly opposed to the efforts of the missionaries, and they did everything they could to prevent the spread of the faith. Many people, including St. Jacques Chastan were martyred in the defense of their true faith, refusing to renounce the faith and salvation which they had received. After all, when one had been liberated and delivered from slavery, who would want to be enslaved again? To do so would condemn oneself to an eternity of suffering.

Meanwhile, St. Isaac Jogues was a French missionary who was sent to the wild and undiscovered regions of North America, then known as the New World. He worked for the Lord among the many tribes of the North American indigenous populations. Life was indeed difficult for him, and the wars and conflicts between the tribes made it even more difficult. Nevertheless, St. Isaac Jogues persevered and continued to minister to them, spreading the Good News and converting many of them, urging them to abandon their old ways and learn the ways of the Lord.

St. Isaac Jogues was also martyred for his faith, while he was on his mission. He never gave up until the end, and as a result, together with him, many people who were enslaved by sin and darkness, were made free and gain salvation together in God. Such was the role model which actions we can and that we indeed should follow in life.

Lastly, St. Paul of the Cross, the Italian priest of the early modern era who was particularly devoted to the memory of the Holy Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the remembrance of that singular act of ultimate love of God, through which mankind were delivered from the chains and the tyranny of sin into true freedom. Through his works and devotion to the Holy Passion of our Lord, St. Paul of the Cross bring many of the faithful into greater and deeper understanding of their faith, and how all of us too have our own roles to play in helping one another to reach out to God’s salvation.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, heeding the call of the Lord which He had made through the Scriptures and the Gospels which we had heard today, let us all be renewed in our faith and zeal for the Lord. Let us all realise the great love which God has for all of us, that He does not want to see us remain chained to sin and darkness, and for that He had sent us Jesus, to be the One true Saviour of all, in the mould of Moses and Cyrus, but He did even greater things than these two had done.

Why so, brethren? That is because sin is a greater slavery than anything else that may affect our body. Sin enslaves both our body and soul, our heart and mind, and all that comprise us. And thus, through Christ, by believing in Him and in His love, and in His death on the cross, through which He showed us the act of ultimate love, offering Himself in exchange for us as a ransom for death, the consequence of our sins, we have been made free.

Hence, on this occasion of Mission Sunday, inspired by the examples of the saints whom we remember today, let us all also imitate the love which Christ had shown us, and let us imitate this love and show the same love in our own actions and deeds in life, that we may come to realise the great potential within us, and also in the many others who still live in darkness and sin.

May Almighty God bless us and our efforts, the missionary works which we ought to take on, in order to spread the Word of God and the Good News of the Gospels to all the nations, especially those still under the thrall of sin, so that we may truly be what Jesus had asked of us, to give to the Lord what belongs to Him, that is all of us, our hearts and our minds, our entire being. May God bring more and more souls to Him and rescue them, and free them from the shackles of sin and into the everlasting life in true joy which He had promised us all. God be with us, forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/17/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-gospel-reading/

Second Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/17/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/

First Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/17/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-first-reading/

Wednesday, 15 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the distinction between the ones who lived in the flesh and in the Spirit, that is those who listen to the whim of their human weaknesses, namely pride, anger, jealousy, desire, arrogance, greed, ignorance, wrath, lust, dishonesty and many others, rather than to walk in the way which the Lord had designed for us.

The Lord had revealed His laws through Moses, with all the rules and regulations designed to help the people to control themselves and prevent themselves from succumbing to the desires and temptations of the flesh and the pleasures of the world, with which Satan constantly and daily assault us all mankind, in order to drag us into damnation together with him for eternity.

The Law of God, as exemplified by the Ten Commandments are a set of guides and rules to help the people of God as focus to lead them in life, just like a lighthouse with its light guides ships away from the shores and from dangerous and sharp rocks, so that they would not flounder and be wrecked on the reefs. Thus the purpose of the Law of God was not to punish, but instead to love the people of God, that is by showing how God loves them through such care that He gave them such guidance that they may not hurt themselves by doing something foolish in life.

Yet, many of the people refused to listen to and obey the laws, despite constant and repeated reminders by the Lord. They continued to persist in their rebelliousness, and they walked with pride, knowingly following the ways of Satan the deceiver, who lavished them with lies and temptations of the flesh. Like the tales of old, again using the example of the ships and the sailors who guide them through rough waters, Satan and his agents were like the legendary sirens who were told to be enchanters who lulled unaware sailors and ships with their songs, that they ended up wrecked on reefs and rocks and be lost.

The lull, the joy and the pleasures of Satan are dangerous, brothers and sisters in Christ, be it then, and be it now. He is always about and around us, looking for opportunities where we are at our most vulnerable. And if we are not careful, we may indeed be trapped by the devices of Satan and fall into damnation. Thus we have to be ever vigilant and be ready to guard ourselves against such vicious attacks.

And how do we best do this? This is by embracing the teachings of Christ and asking the Holy Spirit to be our guide, by entrusting ourselves fully to His love and shunning all things of the devil. That means we have to cast away all acts of fornication and corruption of our flesh, heart and soul, and begin to walk righteously in the sight of God. We have to practice our faith and commit fully to the truth and love of God, showing the faith we have in our words, actions and deeds.

And today, we celebrate the feast of a great woman and saint, whose life can be a model for us all, in living our faith. She is St. Teresa of Jesus, also known famously as St. Teresa of Avila, after the name of the city where she came from. St. Teresa of Jesus was recently made a Doctor of the Church, for her great and numerous works in faith, through which her writings and works became priceless inspiration source for many of the faithful.

St. Teresa of Jesus herself was born in Spain during the time of the early modern era Europe, at the time when the Church was about to be rocked greatly by the so-called Protestant ‘reformation’, where many of the faithful were led away by the lies and falsehoods of the agents of Satan, who infiltrated many hearts of the faithful and turned them against the efforts of the Lord through His Church.

Satan appealed to the people of God, to make themselves free from the Law of God through the Church, which had been seen by many as corrupted. Indeed, the Church leadership and hierarchy at the time had been seen as debauched and corrupt, much like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law at the time of Jesus. They only fulfilled the Law on the superficial level, but in their hearts, they were corrupt and they served only their own desires.

But many people took matter to their own hands, and rather than listening to the words of the Holy Spirit, they followed the lies of Satan that caused even greater injury to the Church and to the faithful. They refused to help the Church and the faithful to get free from the entanglements of Satan, and instead they themselves became entangled even further.

This was where St. Teresa of Jesus entered the scene. Joining the Carmelites at a young age, St. Teresa of Jesus had always been noted for her great piety and devotion to the Lord, who made herself to belong completely to Christ our Lord. She wrote many books and writings which became model for many who came after her in the subsequent centuries, and she also received many visions about the Lord, and how we mankind ought to live our faith life. She eventually also became a leading figure of the Counter-Reformation efforts to return many souls to the Lord.

She suffered from many illnesses and diseases throughout her life as a religious sister, but she did not complain or become bitter because of that. Instead, she saw it as a suffering being suffered for the sake of the Lord. She also promoted the need for mankind to put themselves completely in trust to God, and to surrender themselves and subject themselves to the love of God.

This and many of her other teachings in her writings help mankind to find a clear path towards the Lord, avoiding all the efforts of the devil who constantly tried to turn mankind away from the path towards salvation and into damnation with him. Like the clear and bright light of the lighthouse, what St. Teresa of Jesus had written, had said and had done in her life, enduring suffering after suffering in joy with the Lord, and in her complete and undying trust in God, she showed us all, who still wander in the darkness of this world, how to reach our target and destination, that is the Lord our God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today ask for the intercession of St. Teresa of Jesus and of other holy saints of God, that they may help intercede for our sake, and pray for us before the Lord, that we may follow their leads and examples, to avoid falling into the traps and devices of Satan and that we may also reject firmly all forms of fornications of the flesh, and begin to live according to the Spirit. May Almighty God guide us on our way, and lead us to Himself, that we may find our way to resist Satan and remaining true to our faith in God. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 12 October 2014 : 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the readings of this Sunday refers very, very clearly to the loving nature of our Lord, God and Father, who created all of us at the beginning of time, to be the most beloved of all His creations. He is truly like a father to us all, giving us life and all that we need, and He paved the path for us in our lives, guiding us in all the things that we do, that even though we often do not realise what He had done, but He is indeed there, watching over us and leading us towards Himself.

God who loves us has prepared all goodness for us, and He has blessed us with great riches, all the inheritance which are promised to us. This is shown by Jesus, when He told the people and His disciples, of the parable of the king and the banquet, where He told them of a king who prepared a great feast and invited many people to come to His banquet.

The banquet represented the promise of good life and eternal joy with God, and just as the king intended to celebrate and be merry with all those who had been invited to the feast, God intended for all of us, His beloved creations, to enjoy the fullness of happiness with Him. That was exactly also what He intended for us at the beginning. But like the guests who refused to come and listen to the king, our ancestors beginning from Adam also refused to listen to God and His will.

The guests might have a variety of reasons for not coming to the banquet prepared for them, and we may not know them, since it was never mentioned by Jesus. But certainly, by observing our own human behaviours and reactions, surely we are able to easily predict them. The guests might have had other businesses and commitments to handle, but then we can ask, has the king not given them the notice for the banquet in advance? And what is so important that they should skip the banquet of the king for something else?

Thus the same often happens to us, as we live our lives in this world. How often is it that when God calls us and guides us to His ways, that we said no to them and quickly go about worrying about our own selves? How often is it that we prefer to follow our own hearts’ desires and wants, rather than to listen to God and follow His will for us? We often complained that God interferes in our lives on one hand, saying that we prefer to do things on our own, but on the other hand, when we are in trouble, we are also quick to blame God for not helping us when we are in need.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, men are not easy to satisfy, and our hearts continue to lead us to listen to our own desires and wants. It is within our human nature to succumb to the temptations of our flesh, and as a result, like the guests, we tend to regard our own concerns as priority, thinking about ourselves first and how to please ourselves first before that of others.

And the other possible ‘reason’ for their disobedience is indeed their laziness and sloth, preferring to remain idle in the comfort of their houses rather than to travel to the king’s palace to attend the banquet. And this we can indeed relate to ourselves, on how we tend to be slothful in this life, refusing the apparently more difficult path which the Lord offered us, and prefer the ‘easy’ and happy life which this world apparently gives.

Thus I would also like to share with you what St. Faustina Kowalska, the one who introduced the devotion to the Divine Mercy, had seen in one of her visions. She saw two paths and men who walked along these two paths. One path is a path that is filled with flowers and wonderful things, wide and pleasant to walk on, while the other path is a path filled with thorns, obstacles, and both narrow and difficult to walk on.

But then, she saw that the easy and pleasant path hide a terrible secret, that at the end, the many people who walked on that path, fell into an endless chasm that suddenly arose on the path of the road, and many were unaware of the chasm, and fell into the chasm as they walked. Meanwhile, on the narrow and difficult road, much fewer people travelled through it, but even as those who persevered on continued, when they reached the end, they found a very beautiful garden filled with goodness, where they lived on ever after.

Thus, the vision presented us yet again, that the Lord offers us goodness and the promise of eternal happiness in Him, and He will not renege on the promise which He had made and renewed over the many generations again and again. It is our choice whether we follow Him and trust in Him, or instead trust in Satan who ought not to be trusted. He leads us into damnation with him, but he is very clever indeed, and as we know in how he tried to tempt even Jesus, he offered all the goodness which he can offer us, be it food, power, wealth or glory, or other things that fulfill and satisfy our desires.

Thus we must be vigilant, and we cannot let go our our guard against the possible assaults by Satan, who awaits at every corner hoping to deceive us and lead us into harm. And that was why Jesus continued His story, by saying that after the king in his anger had destroyed all those who had disobeyed and spurned his invitation, he invited many others who were brought to his banquet instead of the first invited.

This is to highlight first the fate that all those who refused to listen to God, and prefer to follow their own paths and desires is death and destruction, just as those who walked the easy path fell into the chasm of infinite suffering in the vision of St. Faustina Kowalska. The path which the Lord offers may not seem easy, and indeed that obstacles will be plenty, but if we remain faithful to the end, we will be richly rewarded.

And then, when Jesus mentioned about the man who came to the banquet not wearing the proper banquet garment, He was in fact referring to how we lead our faith life. In being faithful to the Lord, we cannot be half-hearted, and in our effort to seek the Lord our God we cannot be divided between Him and something else. Thus, when we come to the banquet of the Lord, we too cannot be divided in our hearts, our minds and our souls.

What is this banquet of the Lord which God had prepared for all of us? That is none other than the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where we celebrate in unity with the singular act of God’s greatest act of love for us all, that is His sacrifice, suffering and death on the cross, where He bared Himself to all those whom He loved, offering Himself as the perfect offering for the reparation and the redemption of all of us from our sins.

And just as the king prepared lavish food and drinks in the banquet, so thus the Lord also gave the best of all food and drink to all of us, who comes to His banquet, that is His own Precious Body and Precious Blood. Remember when Jesus said that those who eat of His Body and drink of His Blood will not die but live eternally with God? And that is the case indeed. If we are to come to attend the banquet, that is the Holy Mass, should we not then be properly ‘attired’?

This attire does not mean just that we should be properly attired with proper clothing and wear when we come for the Mass. Certainly we do not come to the banquet of the Lord wearing clothes as if we are about to go for a picnic or a leisure walk. Instead we should wear our very best and look our very best to honour the Lord our God. However, if this is as far as we go, then it is not enough.

How many of us attend the Holy Mass and yet our minds are not in the Mass at all? How many of us prefer to talk among ourselves and with our friends, and also to pay attention to our phones and other communication devices, contacting persons even outside the Holy Mass, and not to focus our heart, mind and soul to the Lord, who should be at the centre of the celebration? Ought the king not be given his proper place in his own banquet? And thus, should we not indeed give the Lord the proper adoration and respect He deserve in the Mass?

Think about these, brothers and sisters in Christ. There are two key messages which our Lord Jesus Christ and His revelations through the Scriptures want to tell us all today. First is that, we have a choice, either to follow the easier way out, that is to follow what we want and disregard the Lord, or to follow Him, and walk in His ways, even though that path might indeed be difficult and challenging. But the reward is clear, while the first path leads to destruction in the end, the path of the Lord never disappoints.

And then second, that if we choose to follow the Lord, He who loves us so much that He gave us everything, and held back not even His own Son, to bear our sins and die for our sake, that we may have life in Him, we cannot be half-hearted or be divided in our hearts, in our souls, and in our minds’ desires to follow Him. We cannot serve both God and our own heart’s desire, that is the temptations of the flesh.

And thus, as I have mentioned, we have to give it all, at the banquet of the Lord where He had given His own Body and Blood to us, in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, that we have to be fully prepared and properly attired in our body, in our mind, in our soul, and in our hearts. Our focus should be completely on the Lord. Look at Him who is in the Eucharist, and focus our entire being to Him! If we do so, then He, who is the King of all, will approve of us and our actions, and justify us in our faith.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we go on with our lives from today onwards, let us all dedicate ourselves anew and renew our commitment to the Lord. Let us from now on attend and fully participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, giving our Lord all of our love and devotion, just as He had loved us first to the fullness of His heart, that He even gave us His life.

May Almighty God be with us all, and may He guide us to Himself, that amidst all the difficulties and challenges which we may and will indeed encounter, we may remain faithful, and with our gaze fixed at Him, may we gain the promise of eternal life, which God gives freely to all who are true to Him in faith and love. Amen.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 32 : 12-13, 14-15, 20-21

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

From where He sits He watches all those who dwell on the earth – He who fashions every heart observes all their deeds.

In hope we wait for the Lord, for He is our help and our shield. Our hearts rejoice in Him, for we trust in His Holy Name.