Saturday, 29 July 2017 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha (First 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, lives in God, and God in him.

Thursday, 9 October 2014 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 11 : 5-13

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to his house in the middle of the night and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine who is travelling has just arrived, and I have nothing to offer him.’ Maybe your friend will answer from inside, ‘Do not bother me now; the door is locked, and my children and I are in bed, so I cannot get up and give you anything.'”

“But I tell you, even though he will not get up and attend to you because you are a friend, yet he will get up because you are a bother to him, and he will give you all you need. And so I say to you, ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For the one who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened.'”

“If your child asks for a fish, will you give him a snake instead? And if your child asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”

Thursday, 24 July 2014 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear the admonition, almost to the point of lamentation, on why the people of God, whom God had loved so much, did not appreciate that love and refused to budge and listen to the kind words of the Lord, offering hope and comfort. God had done so much for men, as we all may testify and witness in how He cared for His people throughout the Scriptures, and yet they rejected His love.

But the Lord is not someone who would just leave sinners like that once His approach had been spurned. In fact, He tried many times and sent reminders after reminders to tell mankind, both how much He loves us, and also how He gave us chance after chance, which we either ignored or cast aside in our pursuit for the goodness of the world. We have tasted the corruptions of this world, and into sin, where we have fallen into.

Our hearts and minds are corrupted with the darkness of sin, and our beings are filled with darkness that prevents us from seeing the light and living in the light. We are truly the creatures of darkness, unlike the children of the light we all ought to become. And precisely as it had been written in the Scripture reading today, how we trust rather in the leaking faucet and pipes, that is our own flawed strength and feeble foundations, over the strength of the everlasting spring of God’s power.

We are easily tempted, and too easily bribed by Satan who offered the sweetest of his treacherous lies and temptations. He has all of his forces arrayed against us, tempting us daily that we may eventually falter along our path towards salvation, and be dragged together with him into the hellfire. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must be vigilant and be solid in our faith, that we have a strong defense against whatever it is that the devil is using against us.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Sharbel Makhluf or St. Charbel Makhluf, a renowned Maronite saint, who lived just over a hundred years ago in today’s Lebanon. St. Sharbel Makhluf is a holy man and a deeply devoted person to God, who was born to a devout Christian Maronite family, a group of Christians that has dwelled for a very long time in Lebanon area since the days of the early Church, and which remained loyal to the authority of the Apostles even though many others had apostasized.

St. Sharbel Makhluf joined the religious life and devoted his life entirely to God. He was truly a role model for the faithful, and his life was an example for all to see. His life might have been relatively uneventful, and he dedicated all of his time to God. However, upon his passing from this world to the heavens to be with God, miracles came abound from his body and his grave. This is a mark of favour by God, showing how much He blessed those who are with Him and who devoted themselves to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, should we not follow the examples of this great and yet humble saint of God? In his life, St. Sharbel Makhluf had shown us that it is perfectly possible for us all to be faithful servants of our God, provided that we set our sights, our attention and our hearts on Him alone. If we do these things, certainly God will bless us just as He had once blessed St. Sharbel Makhluf.

Let us all therefore seek God in this life, and devote ourselves ever more to our loving God. God wants nothing other than our love and devotion, just as He Himself had first been devoted to us. Let us no longer spurn His love, but with great humility, ask Him for His grace and forgiveness, that we may once again enjoy the fullness of His love. God be with us all. Amen.

Sunday, 1 June 2014 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 7-8a

The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His sanctuary.

Hear my voice when I call, o Lord, have mercy on me and answer. My heart says to You.

Saturday, 1 March 2014 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

James 5 : 13-20

Are any among you discouraged? They should pray. Are any of you happy? They should sing songs to God. If anyone is sick, let him call on the elders of the Church. They shall pray for him, anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord.

The prayer said in faith will save the sick person; the Lord will raise him up and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. There will be healing if you confess your sins to one another and pray for each other. The prayer of the upright man has great power, provided he perseveres.

Elijah was a human being like ourselves and when he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, no rain fell for three and a half years. Then he prayed again : the sky yielded rain and the earth produced its fruit.

Brothers, if any one of you strays far away from the truth and another person brings him back to it, be sure of this : he who brings back a sinner from the wrong way will save his soul from death and win forgiveness for many sins.

Monday, 10 February 2014 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White (Virgins)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God loves us all so much, and this world so much, that He wanted to be involved with us, and He wanted to enter into our lives, and indeed, He came to dwell among His people in His love. He cannot deny the love He has for us, because the love He has for all of us is pure love, the purest of all love. It is not lust or desire, but a true desire and wish for all of us to be one with Him, and for us to be freed from all the chains and fetters of sin that had separated us from Him.

That was why He sent the people prophets after prophets and messengers after messengers, to reveal both the love He has for us, and the designs He had planned for each one of us. He gave them law to obey and follow, that they may walk always faithfully in His ways, and not be corrupted by the ways of this world ruled by Satan, the father of evil and sin.

And He chose to involve Himself with His own people, first by freeing them from their slavery in Egypt, and delivering them from their oppressors into the Promised Land. Through Moses His servant He gave them the true physical manifestation, in short, a proof of His love for them. He gave them His own laws, the law of love, written by Himself on the two stones as the sign of the Covenant He had made with them, a Covenant of love, that the people of God would love their God and God would love them equally back.

Yet, the people of God did not remain always faithful, and many times they rebelled against Him and His love. They followed other gods, did things wicked in  His eyes and even killed His prophets and messengers sent to remind them of the need for them to love God as part of their Covenant with Him. But God did not give up on His love for the people.

That was why He chose to even dwell among them, to dwell in the Temple which His faithful servant David had planned for Him and his son Solomon built for Him. The Temple marked yet another physical proof of God’s love for all of His people, His beloved children, and a clear proof of His desire that He wanted all of them to be with Him and He, in them.

And as the final proof of love, He gave of Himself, through Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, the Divine made Man. Jesus was the true, perfect, and complete manifestation of God’s love surpassing even the previously mentioned examples of God’s love. After all, who would have abandoned all the glory and power of heaven and all creation, to descend upon this world and become a lowly Man?

Jesus our Lord and God emptied Himself of His divinity and assumed our humanity, that He might dwell among all of us, as one of us. Yes, indeed, God who is Love was manifested in the flesh! In the flesh and blood of Jesus our Lord indeed! Through the intermediary role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, God made clear His love to all mankind.

Jesus showed God’s infinite love for us by ministering to us, being a servant to His people, healing them from their afflictions, and empowering them with the revelations of God’s love. Jesus shared the love of God to His disciples, and from them we receive God’s love as well as the revelation on its nature. Yes, Christ showed His ultimate love for all of God’s creations by becoming the Lamb of sacrifice, hung on the cross and died for the sake of all of us.

There is no love greater than for someone to give up his life for his friend. Indeed, this was what Jesus meant, and He showed it by His own action. He died to save us, and through His glorious resurrection, He picked us up, and made us to stand up again, now on the solid foundation of faith and on the solid foundation of hope of eternal life, and on the solid foundation of love. This is the new Covenant of love that Jesus had made with all of us, sealed with the outpouring of His own Blood.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Scholastica, who was a renowned religious figure, and the twin sister of St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the order of the Benedictines. Together, the siblings founded the order, and helped many to find their way to love God and dedicate themselves to Him. St. Scholastica was known for her great piety and dedication and she often spent long hours in prayer.

The dedication and devotion that St. Scholastica had for the Lord is an example for all of us in how we should respond to the love that God had shown to us. Just as the Lord had loved us so much, then we too should respond in the same way and respond to Him with our own love. We should dedicate ourselves to the Lord following the example of this pious and holy saint.

Brethren in Christ, let us therefore pray for one another, that we all may grow in love, and grow to love our Lord more and more, that we may be able to fulfill our part of the Covenant God had established with us, that we love Him just as He had loved us. May our Lord continue to love us, watch over us, and bless us. Amen.

Friday, 31 January 2014 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White (Priests)

Psalm 50 : 3-4, 5-6a, 6bc-7, 10-11

Have mercy on me, o God, in Your love. In Your great compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil.

For I acknowledge my wrongdoings and have my sins ever in mind. Against You alone have I sinned.

What is evil in Your sight I have done. You are right when You pass sentence and blameless in Your judgment. For I have been guilt-ridden from birth, a sinner from my mother’s womb.

Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice. Turn Your face away from my sins and blot out all my offenses.

Monday, 20 January 2014 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Memorial of Pope St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr, and St. Sebastian, Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green and Red (Martyrs)

1 Samuel 15 : 16-23

Samuel then told Saul, “Enough! Let me tell you what YHVH said to me last night.” Saul replied, “Please tell me.” So Samuel went on and said, “Though you had no confidence in yourself, you became chief of the tribes of Israel, for YHVH wanted to anoint you king over Israel.”

“Then He sent you with this command, ‘Go. Completely crush the Amalekite offenders, engaging them in battle until they are destroyed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of YHVH but instead swooped down on the spoil, doing what was evil in His sight?”

To this, Saul replied, “I have obeyed the voice of YHVH and have carried out the mission for which He sent me. I have captured Agag, king of Amalek and completely destroyed the Amalekites. If my men spared the best sheep and oxen from among those to be destroyed, it was in order to sacrifice them to YHVH, your God, in Gilgal.”

Samuel then said, “Does YHVH take as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to His command? Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission better than the fat of rams. Rebellion is like the sin of divination, and stubbornness like holding onto idols. Since you have rejected the word of YHVH, He too has rejected you as king.”

Saturday, 26 October 2013 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Mass of our Lady)

Luke 13 : 1-9

One day some people told Jesus what had occurred in the Temple : Pilate had had Galileans killed, and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.

Jesus asked them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered this? No, I tell you. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish as they did.”

“And those eighteen persons in Siloah, who were crushed when the tower fell, do you think they were more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you : no. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish as they did.”

And Jesus continued with this story, “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the gardener, ‘Look here, for three years now I have been looking for figs on this tree, and I have found none. Cut it down, why should it use up the ground?'”

“The gardener replied, ‘Leave it one more year, so that I may dig around it and add some fertiliser; perhaps it will bear fruit from now on. But if it does not, you can cut it down.'”

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Blessed Pope John Paul II, Pope (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, be ready, be prepared, and be vigilant. Those are the key things that the Lord wants from us all to take heed of and to observe, as we live in this world, that we do not fall into the traps of the devil. That we also take heed of the loving works and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Lord, through whom we have been made worthy once again, of the Lord.

Having been taken from the dominion of the evil one, and no longer having to suffer eternal punishment with him is the reason, brethren, why the devil will constantly try to corrupt us back, so as to once again cast us away from the presence of God, as once happened to Adam and Eve, our ancestors, through their transgressions in disobedience.

We cannot be idle and let our guard be weakened, for the devil has his army of fallen angels, his subordinates, ready at all times to strike at us at our weakest points. That is why we must always be prepared for all circumstances. The Lord will come again as He had promised us through His disciples, and He will come again at a time we least expect of all.

Be prepared, brethren, for we have to always be awake at all times, that when the Lord comes again, at the time unexpected to all, we will be found ready and upright by He who comes, and therefore, be found worthy of His eternal kingdom, and worthy of the eternal glory and joy that He will bestow on all of us whom He will take as His own, and no one else will have any power over us.

And He who is to come has come down once as Jesus, the Son of Man, to be the new Adam. For just as once Adam the first man had sinned before the Lord and therefore, as the first reading today stated, that because of his single transgression, mankind had to suffer the consequences of Adam’s sin, by allowing evil and sin to enter into the hearts of men, therefore, by the singular act of Christ, the new Adam, the new Man, we are once again made whole and complete in salvation.

That singular act, is an act of perfect obedience to the will of God, and an act of perfect selflessness and love, just as the act of Adam, the first man, is an act of selfishness and disobedience. For Adam and Eve, tempted by Satan in the form of a snake, desired to have knowledge on things good and evil, and therefore to be like God, just as the snake had tempted them so. This brought mankind into sin and therefore bring them under the jurisdiction of death.

Yet, Christ’s act of selflessness, love, and perfect obedience, that is none other than His Passion and sacrifice on the hill of Calvary, when He laid down His life for our sake, for the love of us all, and in complete obedience to the will of God the Father. In this, He had become the new Man, the new Adam, through whom all mankind are once again made justified and worthy.

Today, we celebrate the feast of a great man, and yet a humble and loving servant of God. Yes, that is the feast of Blessed Pope John Paul II. This year will be the last time we celebrate his feast as a Blessed, as next year in April, Pope Francis, the current Pope will elevate this holy man into the glory of the sainthood. Blessed Pope John Paul II is well known for his love and devotion for the Lord, through His Blessed Mother Mary. This devotion extended not just to his devotions and prayers, but also to his life and actions.

Blessed Pope John Paul II showed the nature of Christ to the world, through his own life examples. He forgave the one who had tried to assassinate him, mirroring the example of Christ who forgave those who had pierced Him and condemned Him to die a humiliating death on the cross. Blessed Pope John Paul II also showed the nature of suffering and perseverance through his last years of life, lived in suffering from various debilitating conditions. He taught many of us the importance of faith and devotion to God, even amid suffering and times of difficulties.

And ultimately, Blessed Pope John Paul II was known for his approach to all mankind, especially those who had faltered in their way towards the Lord. He championed the call for everyone to reach out towards holiness, and a life filled with faith and love towards the Lord our God. He asked all to open wide the doors of their heart to the Lord. Yes, indeed, the doors of our heart must be opened to the light and love of God, that we do not reject His love and kindness, which He had offered freely for us, and too often that mankind decided to reject Him and turn Him away from our hearts.

May the Lord our God who laid down His life for us, continue to inspire in us, the love for Him and for our fellow men, that we can realise how much love that He has for us. And also, that we all can begin if we have not done so, to build up our heavenly ‘bank account’ through obeying the will of God, doing His commandments, that is again, to love one another and to love God. So that when the Lord comes again, at a time unknown to us, we will be found ready and worthy, that He will bless us and give us the place in the kingdom that He had prepared for us. May Blessed Pope John Paul II intercede for us in heaven, and may God bless us all. Amen.