Sunday, 29 October 2017 : Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, the holy day of the Lord, all of us through the Scripture readings and passages we received have been reminded of the importance of obeying and adhering to the Law of God, as what all of us as Christians must do in our lives. And the Lord Jesus summed up the entirety of the Law of God into two very important commandments, that is the essence of the entire Law.

Why did the Lord Jesus do this? Why did He explain to the people at His time on this matter? That is because the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Him about the question, “Which is the most important commandment in the Law?” And the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were well known for their strict adherence and interpretation of the Law, focusing on even minute details in the laws according to Moses.

And they wanted to test Him and to challenge Him, by making Him to be on the spot, when they asked that question. Should He try to give an answer by pointing out any particular laws and rules within the customs, laws and traditions upheld by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law at that time, then they would strike at Him using their in-depth knowledge of the laws and regulations, bringing even more questions and troubles for the Lord.

However, the Lord Jesus knew their thoughts and intentions. Those people had been so focused on the applications of the Law with regards to worldly concerns and other corruptions of the Law as it evolved throughout history, that they have forgotten the true intentions of the Law. And Jesus pointed out those intentions and purposes of God’s Law to them, in a way that they could not deny, because by denying, they would admit that they have not done what the Lord had commanded them to do.

Jesus made it very clear that the Law of God has in its primary intention, for the people of God to learn how to love, and indeed practice that love, which they have to give first and foremost to God their Lord and Master. The first three commandments of the Ten Commandments in fact is about this love which we must have for God, that we worship Him alone above any other things, above any other worldly matters and idols.

The other seven commandments of the Law, exhorting us to love our parents, not to kill, not to steal and all of that refer to the love that we must have for our fellow brethren, our fellow men and women. But do we know what it truly means for us to love our fellow brothers and sisters? It is by listening and remembering what we have heard in today’s first reading taken from the Book of Exodus, when the Lord exhorted the people through Moses to be loving and to be generous in compassion to one another.

Yet, the people had forgotten all these by the time of Jesus, when the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law oppressed the poor and the lowly, those whom they deemed to be inferior to them, and they levied great obligations and rules for them to follow. They cared only for their own desires and plans, and despised even those whom they should have cared for, as the leaders and guides of the people of Israel.

In our own lives, let us spend some time to think about how we have acted in these lives we have lived thus far. Have we been so focused on our own concerns and desires, like those of the Pharisees, that we have failed to give our love to those to whom we are commanded to love? First of all, the Lord our God, and then to our fellow men and women, those who are around us, strangers and acquaintances alike.

But in our own lives, as we can witness it ourselves among our relatives, friends, peers, colleagues and all those whom we interact with day by day, there is not much love among the peoples, but instead anger, disputes, jealousy, wrath, and all sorts of negative and wicked behaviours, that befits more that of those who follow Satan rather than those who follow the path of the Lord.

How many of us put so much great importance in our careers and in finding more money and worldly possessions, that we end up spending so much time trying to advance ourselves in our career, gathering more fame for ourselves, filling and satisfying ourselves with all sorts of worldly pleasures and more? In the end, what does all these earn us, brothers and sisters in Christ? All these things do not avail us when the end comes for us, when we have to give an account of our lives before God.

We may think that we do not worship the idols of false and pagan gods as the people in the past did, and that we are Christians because we believe in God. Yet, through our actions, in prioritising all the worldly pursuits ahead of God and others, we have made those to be our modern day idols, all the things that became great distractions and obstacles on our path to God’s salvation and grace.

And similarly, let us ask ourselves, how many of us have caused grievances and suffering for others, because of our selfish actions, and due to our desires to gain good things for ourselves, indulging in the ‘idols’ of our worldly lives? We cannot be true disciples of the Lord, as long as we put God and His people, our brothers and sisters in Christ aside, and not prioritising God as the centre and focus of our very lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today embark on a new course and path of life, no longer being corrupted by our greed and worldly desires, by all the corruptions of our sins and all the temptations of life. Let us all devote ourselves wholeheartedly to God from now on, giving our very best to help those who are around us to do the same. Let us fill our hearts with the desire to love God, not just with words alone, but through our real and genuine actions as well.

Let us all fulfil our calling as Christians, to love our brethren unconditionally just as the Lord has loved each and every one of us, sinners and delinquents, and yet He was willing to forgive us from our sins. Let us reach out to those who are less fortunate than us, that if we see anyone who is struggling to make ends meet in life, then we should care for them and do whatever we can to aid them.

Let us also reach out to those who have been ostracised by others and are unloved, that they do not slide further into a world devoid of love. Let us bring them to experience the love of God through our own hands, and through the love which we now share with them. May God continue to guide us to Him, and make us ever more faithful servants of His with each passing day. May God bless us always, and guide us in all of our endeavours. Amen.

Sunday, 29 October 2017 : Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 22 : 34-40

At that time, when the Pharisees heard how Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. One of them, a lawyer, questioned Him to test Him, “Teacher, which commandment of the Law is the greatest?”

Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the most important of the commandments. The second is like it : You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The whole Law and the prophets are founded on these two commandments.”

Sunday, 29 October 2017 : Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Thessalonians 1 : 5c-10

You, also, know how we dealt with you, for your sake. In return, you became followers of us, and of the Lord, when, on receiving the Word, you experienced the joy of the Holy Spirit, in the midst of great opposition. And you became a model for the faithful of Macedonia and Achaia, since, from you, the Word of the Lord spread to Macedonia and Achaia, and still farther.

The faith you have in God has become news in so many places, that we need say no more about it. Others tell, of how you welcomed us, and turned from idols, to the Lord. For you serve the living and true God, and you wait for His Son, from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, Who frees us from impending trial.

Sunday, 29 October 2017 : Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 17 : 2-3a, 3bc-4, 47 and 51ab

I love You, o YHVH, my strength. YHVH is my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer and my God.

He is the Rock in Whom I take refuge. He is my Shield, my powerful Saviour, my Stronghold. I call on YHVH, Who is worthy of praise : He saves me from my enemies!

YHVH lives! Praised be my Rock! Exalted be my Saviour God. He has given victories to His king; He has shown His love to His anointed ones.

Sunday, 29 October 2017 : Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Exodus 22 : 20-26

You shall not wrong or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not harm the widow or the orphan. If you do harm them and they cry out to Me, I will hear them and My anger will blaze and I will kill you with the sword, and your own wives will be widows and your own children orphans.

If you lend money to any of My people who are poor, do not act like a moneylender and do not charge him interest. If ever you take a person’s cloak as a pledge, you must give it back to him by sunset, for it is all the covering he has for his body. In what else will he sleep? And when he cries to Me I will hear hum, for I am full of pity.

Sunday, 20 November 2016 : 34th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Christ the King and Closing of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the last Sunday of this current liturgical year, which the Church has crowned as the great Solemnity of our Lord Jesus, Christ the King, King and Master of all the Universe. On this solemn feast day, we commemorate our Lord Who is the past, present and future, as He was, is and will always be King of all kings, Ruler and Master over all.

All other kings and rulers gain their authority from the Lord, and no ruler has true power or authority unless it has been devolved upon them in one way or another from the Lord, on Whom all authority and power belong. But His Kingship is different from the kingships of the world, and the nature of His kingdom is different from the kingdoms and countries of this world.

Let us all look at the examples of the kings and rulers of this world. The kings and rulers of this world like to dress in the finest clothes and wear the best accessories, have the best vehicles, the nicest looking ones, and in our modern world many even have their own private jets and planes, helicopters and all the gimmicks and luxury of our world today. Many dwell in sumptuous and large palaces and residences, all designed to bring awe to all others who look upon them and witness their power.

And what do all of these bring these rulers and kings of this world, brethren? Many of them did so in order to garner more prestige, honour, praise, fame and wealth for themselves, trying to awe all those who view and witness their majesty. Many even tried to extort and made others to provide for more in order to do these. Yet, the reality behind all of these is that, they felt insecure because they did not have real and genuine power and authority with them.

And our Lord Jesus, Who is the One True King did not need to do all of them, for His authority came from Himself. In fact, He chose to lower Himself and empty Himself of all of His power and glory, becoming one of us as a Man, becoming one of His lowly creations, for one singular purpose in mind, and that is love. Yes, God Who is our King loves all of us without exception, each and every one of us are always foremost in His mind.

And that, brethren, is true kingship. A king and a ruler must always have his people first in mind, and not himself. When kings and rulers abandon this important tenet, that is when tyrants were born, those who oppressed the people and acted in ways that brought about benefits, glory and other goods for themselves at the expense of those over whom they are ruling and governing.

Jesus our Lord showed that by His own examples, going about to care for His people, all of them without exception. He went forth seeking those who had been lost to Him through sin, and that was why He went to seek for the lowest of the lowest in the society, those who have been rejected and ostracised because of their sins, the prostitutes and tax collectors. The Pharisees and the tax collectors failed to see and understand this, the reason why Jesus wanted to be with these people, who they themselves had condemned and cast out of the society.

The Pharisees, the elders and the teachers of the Law represented the elites of the Jewish society at that time, those with power, authority and influence, who were highly jealous of those whom they considered as rivals to their power, and that included Jesus, His followers and His teachings which are often against the ways of these leaders. That is because they have corrupted and twisted the laws to serve their own purpose and not the purpose of God.

But Jesus showed them all, all of the people, and us, His true kingship, as a King truly devoted to His people, and as One Who really show by example of what a ruler should do for the good of his people. He showed us that He is a King Who is also the Good Shepherd, ready to lie down His life for His beloved sheep, so that the sheep, His flock, may be safe amidst the danger around them.

The Kingship of Christ is the Kingship of love, mercy and compassion, and not of pride, hubris or ambition, unlike the kings of this world. His Kingship is the Kingship of truth and justice, as He proclaimed before Pontius Pilate just before He was condemned to die on the cross. He came to proclaim the truth before all His people, the truth about His love and the truth about how we can be reconciled with Him, but truth is not always pleasant to be heard and understood.

Many of us mankind profess to believe in the Lord, and yet, in our actions, we would rather have Satan, the devil as our king. To many of us, we put our human needs and desires often ahead of our responsibilities and duties as Christians, as those who ought to obey the Lord. And yet in how we carry out our lives and our actions, we do not resemble those who are called children and people of our God, our King.

Let us reflect and think of our own actions, and what we have witnessed in this world resulting from our actions, the actions of man. As I have related to you earlier on in this discourse, many rulers and kings of this world act in ways contrary to how the Lord had acted, because they shirked the responsibilities they had over their people, they served themselves and their needs first.

Wars and conflicts raged on in this world to serve the purposes of people’s greed and desires, the futile pursuit of worldly glory, wealth and human fame and praise. For the sake of a piece of land, or for wealth and properties, or even for the sake of hubris, ambition and human pride, mankind and particularly their rules have waged wars and conflicts that brought about pain, sorrow and destruction for many. And this is the sad reality of our human actions, of how flawed our humanity is now.

And today, therefore, as we rejoice and celebrate together this great solemnity and feast of Christ our King, there is that urgent need for us to really devote ourselves anew to our King, no longer with just mere words or paper proclamations alone, but rather with actions and real deeds. We must be truly devoted to Him in our ways and deeds, or else we are not being faithful to Him, and we will face the consequences in the end.

Rather, let us all be like the repentant thief at the side of Jesus, who acknowledged his sins before Him, and how he deserved to die while Jesus Who was innocent did not. Yet, Christ our King willingly laid down His life for our sake, even forgiving and dying for His betrayers and enemies. This is our One and True King, Who has shown us the way forward by His own actions and examples, through which He made known to us His infinite love and mercy.

Now it is the time for us to choose, shall we side with the king of this world, that is Satan? If we treasure and value the goods and pleasures of this world a lot, and spending our time so much on these things, even to the detriment of others around us, then we are siding with the devil. Or shall we instead side with the true King of all, Christ the Lord, Who is Lord even over the devil and all of his fellow rebel angels?

As Christians, we are all called to follow the examples of Christ. Therefore, just as He has shown us how to love, and how to forgive one another our sins and mistakes, we too should do the same. Let us all be good servants and followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, our King, the one and only King we have, Whose ways is our ways, and Whose laws is our delight.

May through our works and actions, the Name of our Lord and King will be glorified, and by our own examples, may we reflect His Glory and His truth, that we may be able to find our way to Him, with many others who will be inspired by our examples. O Lord, our Eternal and Almighty King, be with us always and never abandon us. Amen.

Sunday, 20 November 2016 : 34th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Christ the King and Closing of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Luke 23 : 35-43

At that time, the people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Jesus, saying to one another, “Let the Man Who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the Chosen One of God!”

The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the King of the Jews? Free Yourself!” Above Jesus there was an inscription in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this Man has done nothing wrong.”

And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with Me today in paradise.”