(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 26 March 2016 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Third Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 14 : 15 – Exodus 15 : 1

YHVH said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. You will raise your staff and stretch your hand over the sea and divide it to let the Israelites go dryfoot through the sea. I will so harden the minds of the Egyptians that they will follow you. And I will have glory at the expense of Pharaoh, his army, his chariots and horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am YHVH when I gain glory for Myself at the cost of Pharaoh and his army!”

The Angel of God who had gone ahead of the Israelites now placed Himself behind them. The pillar of cloud changed its position from the front to the rear, between the camps of the Israelites and the Egyptians. For one army the cloud provided light, for the other darkness so that throughout the night the armies drew no closer to each other. Moses stretched his hand over the sea and YHVH made a strong east wind blow all night and dry up the sea.

The waters divided and the sons of Israel went on dry ground through the middle of the sea, with the waters forming a wall to their right and to their left. The Egyptians followed them and all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and horsemen moved forward in the middle of the sea.

It happened that in the morning watch, YHVH in the pillar of cloud and fire, looked towards the Egyptian camp and threw it into confusion. He so clogged their chariot wheels that they could hardly move. Then the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites for YHVH is fighting for them against Egypt.”

Then YHVH said to Moses, “Stretch your hand over the sea and let the waters come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea.

At daybreak the sea returned to its place. As the Egyptians tried to flee, YHVH swept them into the sea. The waters flowed back and engulfed the chariots and horsemen of the whole army of Pharaoh that had followed Israel into the sea. Not one of them escaped. As for the Israelites they went forward on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the waters forming a wall on their right and their left.

On that day YHVH delivered Israel from the power of the Egyptians and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore. They understood what wonders YHVH had done for them against Egypt, and the people feared YHVH. They believed in YHVH and in Moses, His servant.

Then Moses and the people sang this song to YHVH : I will sing to YHVH, the glorious One, horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.

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

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ezekiel 24 : 15-24

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, I am about to suddenly take from you the delight of your eyes, but you are not to lament or weep or let your tears flow. Groan in silence and do not mourn for the dead; wear your turban, put on your sandals, do not cover your beard or eat the customary food of mourners.”

I spoke to the people in the morning and my wife died that evening. The next morning I did as I had been commanded. Then the people said to me : “Explain to us the meaning of your actions.”

I said to them, “The word of YHVH came to me in these terms : ‘Say to Israel : I am about to profane My sanctuary, your pride, the delight of your eyes for which you long.'”

“‘The sons and daughters you left behind will also fall by the sword, but you will do as I have done : you will not cover your beard or eat the customary food of mourners; you will keep your turbans on your heads and sandals on your feet. You will not lament or weep. Instead, because of your sin, you will waste away and groan among yourselves.'”

“‘Ezekiel will be a sign for you. Do as he did and when this happens you will know that I am YHVH.'”

Wednesday, 30 July 2014 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Jeremiah 15 : 10, 16-21

Woe is me, mother, why did you bring me to the light? A man of dissension throughout the land! I owe them nothing, neither do they owe me, yet they all curse me!

I devoured Your words when they came. They were my happiness and I felt full of joy when You made Your Name rest on me. Never did I associate with worldly people, amusing myself with scoffers!

When Your hand was upon me I stood apart and You filled me with Your anger. Why is there no end to my sorrow or healing for my wound? Why do You deceive me, and why does my spring suddenly dry up?

Then YHVH spoke to me, “If you return I will take you back and you will serve Me again. Draw the gold from the dross and you will be as My own mouth. You must draw them to you and not go over to them. I will make you a fortress and a wall of bronze facing them; if they fight against you they will not overcome you.”

“I am with you to free you and save you. I will redeem you from the wicked and free you from the hands of tyrants.”

Monday, 2 June 2014 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 67 : 2-3, 4-5ac, 6-7ab

Arise, o God, scatter Your enemies; let Your foes flee before You. As smoke is blown by the wind, so blow them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before You.

But let the righteous be glad and exult before God; let them sing to God and shout for joy. Sing to God, sing praises to His Name. Rejoice in His presence.

Father of orphans and Protector of widows – such is our God in His holy dwelling. He gives shelter to the homeless, sets the prisoners free.

A Brief State of the Church in China – a Church in Trial and Persecution, a Church of Martyrs, a Church of Hope

The Church in China (1949) consisted of :

20 Archdioceses

85 Dioceses

39 Apostolic Prefectures

3,080 Missionaries

2,557 Chinese priests (Total : 5,637 priests)

4 million Catholics

 

The Church in China (2014) consists of :

20 Archdioceses

94 Dioceses

34 Apostolic Prefectures

1 Apostolic Exarchates

3,500 priests (approximate)

12 million Catholics (both open and underground)

 

Looking at the above comparisons, we can see a wary future for the Church in China, which had been in official and unofficial persecution for the past six and a half decades since 1949, the year when the Communist Party of China took over power in China. Since then, the Church in China, which was once among the most vibrant and fastest growing in the world, had been in great tribulation and period of persecution. Especially during the Cultural Revolution years in the 1960s, there were great attacks against the faithful and the faith throughout the country.

On one side, it seems that there had been a growth in the number of Catholics and in terms of the growth in the number of the dioceses. However, if we look deeper into the reality of the Church and the faith, there had been a great trouble that threatened many of the faithful, especially being divided between the ‘official’ government-sanctioned ‘church’ and the underground ‘loyal’ Church.

Many of the Archdioceses and dioceses are vacant, or that their bishops are not recognised as valid and legitimate, having often been government-picked, and more of a loyal men to the government rather than true and good shepherds for the faithful. Many of the bishops were picked by the government-sanctioned Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association or CPCA, whose leaders have often been noted to be not just laymen, but even non-baptised people.

There had been much grievances and controversies in the recent years in the illegitimate and illegal election and ordination of bishops by the CPCA and the Chinese government which were not approved by the Holy See. On some occasions, the bishops did receive blessing from both parties, but in many other cases, it was the contrary. This further deepened the division among the faithful in China.

Many of China’s priests and bishops are underground, that is they remain faithful and loyal to the completeness of the faith in the Church, and unaffected by the pressure from the government to obey them. There had been great persecution against them and the faithful under their care, such that imprisonments and forced labour are not uncommon.

Ma_Daqin_2_(600_x_450)

And recently, just almost two years ago, the then newly appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Shanghai, Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin bravely and courageously announced his resignation from the CPCA, the official ‘church’ of China at his own episcopal ordination, which was done with the blessing of the Holy See and the Pope. This resignation triggered a massive response from the government which resulted in his incarceration for the past two years, and he had greatly suffered for this. His episcopal motto is clear and indeed clearly highlighted his wish for the unity of the Church in China with the Universal Church, free from any external intervention. His motto is “Ut Sint Unum ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam” or “That they may be One, for the greater glory of God.”

The Church in China still grows, and more and more people hunger for the truth that Christ can offer them. There are many opportunities at evangelisation, and many brave and courageous ministers of the Lord’s Gospel went forth even against the challenges that await them. The recent attacks by the government on the Christian faith, as shown by the demolition of a church building in Wenzhou show how much the authoritarian government fears the power and influence that the Church and the faith may have in bringing about their downfall. The downfall of Communism and the authoritarian governments in Eastern Europe must still be fresh in the minds of the autocrats in Beijing, and they fear their own demise if they allow the faith to grow unchecked.

There is still great hope in the Church in China, and there is genuine faith in the people, who desire to be reunited completely with their brethren in faith, all of us, in the Universal Church, and be freed from any form of pressure or external domination, which are unjust and uncalled for. But they need our prayers, our support and our encouragement.

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Let us ask for the intercession of the Blessed Mother of our Lord, Mary, the Help of Christians, who in the above picture is depicted as our Lady of Zose or Sheshan, from a famous pilgrimage site in Sheshan near Shanghai. Let us ask for her intercession for the Church in China and for the faithful there, our brethren in faith. Just as once the Lord had done His great works through Pope St. John Paul II, another great saint, to cast down the tyranny of atheism and unbelief in the states of Eastern Europe and Russia, may our Lady of Sheshan also intercede for the sake of our brethren in faith in China, a great nation and a great civilisation and yet is filled with worldly hatred of the devil who hates the Church and all its faithful.

We also pray that there will be a new spirit of dialogue and renewal, and that those entrusted with power at the top of the Chinese government hierarchy will finally realise the futility and the inhumane nature of their attempts to control the Church and the faithful. We hope that there will be an amicable and peaceful solution, that the Church in China may be completely reunited once again with the Universal Church, free from all the current issues and dilemmas, and free from any political arguments and intrusions by any external forces.

May the Lord be with His people always, protect them, bless them, and guide them to the light of Christ. May He give them rest and grace, after all the difficulties and challenges that they have faced, in the courageous and zealous defense of their faith in Him. Amen.

Saturday, 10 May 2014 : 3rd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 115 : 12-13, 14-15, 16-17

How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of the Lord.

I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people. It is painful to the Lord to see the death of His faithful.

O Lord, I am Your servant, truly Your servant, Your handmaid’s son. You have freed me from my bonds. I will offer You a thanksgiving sacrifice; I will call on the Name of the Lord.

Sunday, 4 May 2014 : 3rd Sunday of Easter (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Peter 1 : 17-21

You call upon a Father who makes no distinction between persons but judges according to each one’s needs; take seriously, then, these years which you spend in a strange land. Remember that you were freed from the useless way of life of your ancestors, not with gold and silver but with the precious blood of the Lamb without spot or blemish.

God, who has known Christ before the world began, revealed Him to you in the last days. Through Him, you have faith in God who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him in order that you might put all your faith and hope in God.

Friday, 25 April 2014 : Friday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 4 : 1-12

While Peter and John were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming that resurrection from the dead had been proven in the case of Jesus.

Since it was already evening, they arrested them and put them in custody until the following day. But despite this, many of those who heard the Message believed and their number increased to about five thousand.

The next day, the Jewish leaders, elders and teachers of the Law assembled in Jerusalem. Annas, the High Priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high priestly class were there. They brought Peter and John before them and began to question them, “How did you do this? Whose Name did you use?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke up, “Leaders of the people! Elders! It is a fact that we are being examined today for a good deed done to a cripple. How was he healed? You and all the people of Israel must know that this man stands before you cured through the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean. You had Him crucified, but God raised Him from the dead.”

“Jesus is the stone rejected by you the builders which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other Name given to humankind all over the world by which we may be saved.”

Reflections on Easter, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ : the Easter Message

Alleluia! The Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour and God is risen, Alleluia!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, first I would like to share with all of you the joy of Easter, the blessings of the Risen Lord Jesus, who had died on the cross for us, and Risen in glory, overcoming the powers of death, and showing that death has no final say over all. Today is indeed a day of great joy, as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, that there is hope in all of us mankind.

For we who follow the Lord and His way, have died to our sins and to our past lives, as the Scriptures had mentioned, and then followed the Lord in His resurrection, and we were risen to a new life in Christ, filled with love, hope, and faith. Today is the day when Christ broke the hold of sin and death over all of us, we who had been once enslaved by the powers of sin, ever since our first ancestors disobeyed the will of God and followed their own will into destruction.

Christ is the dawn of new life and new hope, which God has given us as the perfect gift, the gift of Himself, to bring us away from our former lives in darkness and into the new purity that is worthy of God. In His resurrection, Christ washes away the darkness of sin and death and bring with Him a new light that will never be dimmed, and is the light of hope that is the beacon for all of us as we proceed towards the Lord, our final destination.

What is the significance of Easter and the Resurrection of our Lord? If Jesus Christ had just died for us on the cross and remain dead and buried, then we would have no hope at all, and there would be no salvation for us. It is precisely because Christ is the first of all and the first to rise from the dead, then we too have the hope to rise up from the ashes of our death and sinfulness, into a new life of hope in God, one that is filled with the hope of complete reunion and perfection in God.

Christ heralded the end of the long separation between God and His beloved creations, mankind by serving as the crucial and only link between us and God the Father. Through His cross, He had bridged the once uncrossable and impassable chasm existing between us and God. Through His resurrection, our redemption became a reality.

When Christ died, He passed into the realm of the dead, just as all those who were under the power of death. It was there too that countless people from the beginning of time awaited the coming of the Saviour who would release them from the enthrallment and tyranny of Satan and evil, and bring them into a new and eternal life of goodness with God.

This was the harrowing of hell, when Christ broke apart the chains holding those who were dead and righteous in their lives before God, freeing them from the dominion of death, and together with Christ, they went on to new life in God, in eternal bliss and happiness, having been reunited with God through the Resurrection of Jesus.

Such was the joy of the people who had long awaited the salvation that came through Jesus, and such was the joy of the angels and the saints of God when the Lord is Risen and show to the devil his final and utter defeat, the defeat of all his schemes and plotting against God and His beloved ones. This great joy is what we celebrate in Easter, and indeed in every time we come together to celebrate the Mass, that is in essence the celebration of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

This joy is because we celebrate life, the dawn of a new life, one that is no longer marred by sin and evil, but one that is firmly anchored in God and His love. Easter is about life, the celebration and joy for life. That is why we rejoice and give thanks to the Lord for this bright, new life He had granted us through the resurrection of Jesus His Son. Easter is a time for renewal and rejuvenation, when the coldness and bitterness of our past is gone, and replaced with the hope and fresh breeze of new life.

If Christ died without being risen after three days in the realm of the dead, then we would have had no hope, as we know that death would eventually claim us for our sins and trespasses. Instead, we know that because Christ was risen, He triumphed over death and conquered it, so that again, as I had mentioned, death does not have the final say over us.

But Christ did not just do this for us to take advantage on. We also have to accept Him as our Lord and Saviour for us to be able to take part in the salvation that Christ had brought upon us. That is the essence of baptism, which we also celebrate particularly on this holy and great day. We celebrate with those who had finally accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour, and we praise God because more and more are brought to the light of God.

Baptism is in essence the celebration of Easter, because in baptism, our past sinfulness are washed away by the waters of baptism, and we are reborn again in Christ, who by His power makes us to be truly the children of God, and the inheritor of the vast goodness that God had promised us His beloved ones. Through baptism, like Jesus, we died to our old lives and sins, and we welcome a new life, risen together with Christ, a life that is hopefully filled with love, hope and faith in the Risen Lord.

Today we have to recall closely what happened on the day when we were baptised. For many of us, this is perhaps difficult since we are baptised when we were still infants, and therefore we could not recall the experience of our own baptism. For some of us, we are fortunate for we accepted the Lord when we were already at an age when we are able to make conscious decision and decide that we want to take the side of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, when we were baptised, the Lord claimed us as His own, and we were sealed with the seal of the Living God, none other than with the Most Sacred Name of the Holy Trinity. Baptism marked our moment of truth, when Christ who is Risen today brings us with Him to the glory of the new life and resurrection, and we are brought away from our past darkness and sinful lives.

But that does not mean that we should be complacent and leave it at as if we have already been assured the riches of the kingdom of God as our reward. Satan definitely will still try his best to persuade us back to return to his ways and will lure us with great pleasures of the world. Many have fallen along the way, even though they have seen the light of God. This Easter should serve as a reminder for us, that we have to be always vigilant and treasure what we have in the Risen Lord.

Let us help one another, that we may be ever closer to God, and let us reach out to the Lord, who had first reached out to us through Jesus His Son, who suffered for our sins and trespasses, wounded and scourged for our rebelliousness, died for our sake, and went to free those who were in darkness and brought them into the eternal light and peace in God. Let us help one another that all of us will be one in the Risen Lord.

May Almighty God and the Risen Christ, bless us on this wonderful day. Alleluia! Let our song of joy and praise resound throughout the earth, proclaiming our Risen Lord this day to all creations! Amen.

Saturday, 19 April 2014 : Easter Vigil of the Lord’s Resurrection, Easter Triduum (Third Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 14 : 15 – Exodus 15 : 1

YHVH said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. You will raise your staff and stretch your hand over the sea and divide it to let the Israelites go dryfoot through the sea. I will so harden the minds of the Egyptians that they will follow you. And I will have glory at the expense of Pharaoh, his army, his chariots and horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am YHVH when I gain glory for Myself at the cost of Pharaoh and his army!”

The Angel of God who had gone ahead of the Israelites now placed himself behind them. The pillar of cloud changed its position from the front to the rear, between the camps of the Israelites and the Egyptians. For one army the cloud provided light, for the other darkness so that throughout the night the armies drew no closer to each other.

Moses stretched his hand over the sea and YHVH made a strong east wind blow all night and dry up the sea. The waters divided and the sons of Israel went on dry ground through the middle of the sea, with the waters forming a wall to their right and to their left. The Egyptians followed them and all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and horsemen moved forward in the middle of the sea.

It happened that in the morning watch, YHVH in the pillar of cloud and fire, looked towards the Egyptian camp and threw it into confusion. He so clogged their chariot wheels that they could hardly move. Then the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites for YHVH is fighting for them against Egypt.”

Then YHVH said to Moses, “Stretch your hand over the sea and let the waters come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. At daybreak the sea returned to its place. As the Egyptians tried to flee, YHVH swept them into the sea.

The waters flowed back and engulfed the chariots and horsemen of the whole army of Pharaoh that had followed Israel into the sea. Not one of them escaped. As for the Israelites they went forward on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the waters forming a wall on their right and their left.

On that day YHVH delivered Israel from the power of the Egyptians and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore. They understood what wonders YHVH had done for them against Egypt, and the people feared YHVH. They believed in YHVH and in Moses, His servant.

Then Moses and the people sang this song to YHVH : “I will sing to YHVH, the Glorious One, horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.”