Friday, 23 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate a great solemnity in honour of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, a devotion and tradition which had deep roots in our faith in the Church, beginning from an ancient tradition of devotion to the great love which the Lord Jesus had shown us all His people, through His most loving and merciful Sacred Heart, a devotion which was given in its modern form through the visions which was received by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque approximately four centuries ago.

In many of the icons of the Most Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus, we often see Jesus our Lord revealing His Sacred Heart, which is crowned with thorns and pierced with a lance, and with a flaming fire above the Heart, showing the great love and the intensity of which love, through which, our Lord resolved to redeem us from our sins and save us from the disaster that was about to be our fate. It was by this love, that He was willing to go through all sorts of persecutions and sufferings, for our sake and for our salvation.

In His appearance to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the Lord Jesus showed His Most Sacred Heart to her, and spoke to her, saying that while His love for mankind had been great and magnificent, but most of mankind had rejected Him and His love, and spurned His love. We have rejected God’s love for us by our disobedience and refusal to follow His ways, and by continuing therefore to live in sin.

That is why it is important for us to devote ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, by understanding and knowing that great love which God in His heart has shown us all. There are indeed those who refused to believe in the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, because they deemed that it was idolatry and false to worship the supposedly physical heart of Jesus, but that was because of a misunderstanding of what the devotion to the Sacred Heart is really about.

In essence, our devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is a devotion to the physical or human Heart and the Divine Heart of our Lord and Saviour, Who has two natures, God and Man, which are yet united in perfection of love, in one singular Divinity. If the Lord had assumed the flesh of Man, then surely His whole entire Body is a reflection of both His humanity and divinity, including His Most Sacred Heart.

All of us know that the heart is among the most important organs in our body, without which the blood which provides our body cells and other organs with nutrients and oxygen cannot flow. And in figurative terms, the heart is the centre of our emotions and is often associated with love. That is why as I have mentioned earlier on, and in what our Lord Jesus Himself had told all those to whom He revealed His Most Sacred Heart, He told them how He loved all mankind, and yet His people rejected Him and His love.

At the moment of His crucifixion and death, the soldier named Longinus was tasked to attest the fact of His death. He took up his lance and pierced the side of Jesus, which hit towards His heart. Immediately from the Most Sacred Heart came forth blood and water, which poured down upon all who saw it, and those who saw it, including Longinus, believed in Jesus.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through all of these, we have seen how Jesus our Lord has loved us so much, that because of that love, poured out freely from His Most Sacred Heart, He was willing to endure suffering, pain, rejection, ridicule and all sorts of punishments, all of which were meant to be ours. Because of our sins, all of us ought to have been crushed and be destroyed due to them, but the Lord willingly shouldered all those sins, and were wounded for our sake.

Do we all realise just how much it was that the Lord had done for us? His Most Sacred Heart and all the love He had within has made everything possible for us, including our salvation and liberation from our fated destruction because of our sins. Every single wounds inflicted on Him, every single pain, be it physical or mental, from all the rejection, ridicule and mockery, are our sins, caused by our sins, and made by our disobedience.

Let us all therefore do our best, in order to seek to be closer to God, by relying and depending on His Most Sacred Heart, and all the love which He had kept in His Sacred Heart. Let us all remember that whenever we sin and whenever we turn away from His ways, we are taking part in ridiculing and persecuting the Lord, Who had borne all of our sins upon Himself.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians therefore, all of us need to become role models in our devotion and commitment to the Lord, particularly today in the aspect of His Most Sacred Heart, remembering the great love and compassion which He had shown us, poured out from His ever loving Heart, filled with genuine love and mercy for us all mankind. Let us all turn wholeheartedly to Him and be good for the rest of our lives. May the Lord, in His Most Sacred Heart, bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 23 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Matthew 11 : 25-30

On that occasion, Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise You; because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this was Your gracious will.”

“Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

Friday, 23 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
1 John 4 : 7-16

My dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves, is born of God and knows God. Those who do not love have not known God, for God is Love. How did the love of God appear among us? God sent His only Son into this world, that we might have life, through Him.

This is love : not that we loved God, but that, He first loved us and sent His Son, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love comes to its perfection in us.

How may we know that we live in God and He in us? Because God has given us His Spirit. We ourselves have seen, and declare, that the Father sent His Son to save the world. Those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in them, and they in God.

We have known the love of God and have believed in it. God is Love. The one who lives in love, and God in him.

Friday, 23 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8 and 10

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

YHVH restores justice and secures the rights of the oppressed. He has made known His ways to Moses; and His deeds, to the people of Israel.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve.

Friday, 23 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Deuteronomy 7 : 6-11

You are a people consecrated to YHVH, your God. YHVH has chosen you from among all the peoples on the face of the earth, that you may be His own people. YHVH has bound Himself to you and has chosen you, not because you are the most numerous among all the peoples (on the contrary, you are the least). Rather, He has chosen you because of His love for you and to fulfil the oath He made to your fathers.

Therefore, with a firm hand YHVH brought you out from slavery in Egypt, from the power of Pharaoh. So know that YHVH, your God, is the true and faithful God. He keeps His covenant, and His love reaches to the thousandth generation for those who love Him and fulfil His commandments, but He punishes in their own persons those who hate Him and He repays them without delay.

So keep the commandments, the norms and the laws that today I command you to practice.

Friday, 3 June 2016 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we all celebrate the great Solemnity and Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the moment when we celebrate the great and infinite love which God has for all of us which He had made apparent and true through His own Son, Jesus Christ, Whom He had sent into the world to become our Saviour.

Today’s chosen Scripture readings therefore match perfectly the theme we mentioned, as they all spoke about the Lord as our Shepherd, and all of us as God’s beloved sheep. And all the sheep of God ought to belong to the same flock tended to by the Shepherd of all mankind, our God Himself. None of the sheep should have been lost, but in reality, some sheep did get lost and wandered off into the foreign lands.

God in many occasions used the example of a shepherd to show the love which He has for us all, as the society of the people of God at that time were composed of mainly agricultural farmers and shepherds, tending the farmlands and the flock of sheep and goats. Thus, by relating to them through parables related to farming and to shepherding the sheep, God hoped to bring the message to His people in a clearer manner.

They would be able to relate to the fact how true and good shepherds would not abandon his sheep, but protect them and care for them with genuine love. He does not abandon the sheep when danger comes to the flock, but instead he would try to protect the flock as best as he could, even to the point of laying down his life and to suffer for the sake of the safety of the sheep.

And when a sheep is lost and wandered off on its own, the shepherd would go out all of his way to find the lost sheep and return it to the flock, as what Jesus had told the people. And in the same manner, God Who loves us all like a shepherd loves his sheep, will go forth and try to find us out in the darkness and in the wilderness where we are currently lost in.

And if shepherds know that one or more of their sheep are missing, then the Lord also definitely knows if we have erred and wandered off on our own, losing our way in this uncertain world. And He will definitely try to bring us back to His grace but ultimately, it is up to us whether we want to accept God’s mercy and forgiveness. The sheep can choose whether it wants to embrace the shepherd or to run away from him.

Today therefore, as we all celebrate this great solemnity of our Lord’s Most Sacred Heart, we all want to give thanks to our loving God, and glorify Him, as He has been so kind and compassionate to us, so gracious and so loving that even though we have committed sin and wickedness before Him and spurned His love, He was willing to forgive us and to welcome us back as long as we ourselves want to be forgiven and want to change our ways.

And not only that, God Himself has appointed His servants to be shepherds like Him, the Good Shepherd, modelled after Himself, to care for us all and to guide us all back to Him. And these are our devoted priests, all the men who had given themselves totally to serve the Lord and His people. The priests are those whom God had anointed to be His shepherds to lead the people whom He loves and cares for, so that they may find their path to Him.

So today is also the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life, when we all devote our prayer to our priests, that God may keep them holy and stay devoted to Him and to the mission to which they have been called to serve with zeal. It is not easy to become a priest and remain faithful as one these days, even as it was difficult in the past, as challenges and new obstacles arose to hamper the works of our priests.

And we all certainly know that not all priests had remained faithful as the good and just shepherds of God’s people. Some of them gave up along the way, abandoning the call and the vocation to which they have devoted themselves. They left the service and their calling because they were unable to devote themselves wholeheartedly to the mission entrusted to them, or that they had a change of heart and mind.

And worst of all, some even perverted and abused the purpose of their office, and betrayed the trust which those who have been entrusted to them had accorded to them. As a result, the faith and the Church were scandalised by them, and in the end, it was the good Name of our God which has been tainted and ruined by their actions.

I am speaking about those priests and servants of the Lord who had committed grievous sins by improper conduct and improper relationships even as they made their vow of chastity and purity, as well as improper desires and corrupt actions when they have already made the same vow to be pure and good role models. And this is the reality of our Church, how few of those who had been appointed as shepherds had erred and became bad shepherds and led the people into the wrong paths.

And because of these and other wicked and scandalous things that some of them did, it made the life and the work of the faithful priests and servants of God to be very difficult, and challenges continued to form in many varieties against our faithful and good shepherds. They are mocked, rejected and they were seen as those who had no future, and we can see even parents of those young men willing to join the priesthood actively discouraging them from entering the seminaries.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today pray for our priests, and let us all devote our prayers to them, asking God to bless them and keep them in His grace, and may He empower them and give them courage in order to persevere against all the challenges stacked against them. Let us all not be discouraged when we see our priests encounter many difficulties, but instead, let us be inspired by their examples, and those among us who have been called, let us consider carefully God’s calling.

May God bless us and our priests, that all of us, especially our priests may follow the example of Him Who is our Good Shepherd, showing love in all of our actions and devoting ourselves to the works of love, caring for all the flocks of the Lord, that all may be saved. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 3 June 2016 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 15 : 3-7

At that time, Jesus told the tax collectors and the Pharisees this parable : “Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders?”

“Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”