Friday, 2 April 2021 : Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the very important day of the Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord, the day when Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was crucified for our sake, when He took up His Cross up the hill of Calvary and died for all. It was all these that made today truly a ‘Good Friday’ because without the offering and selfless sacrifice of Our Lord, there would not have been any hope for us, and it was because of Him that we have seen the light of hope and salvation once again.

Today, on Good Friday we remember the Lord Who willingly emptied Himself of all glory, in obeying the will of His heavenly Father, stripping Himself of all dignity and glory so that He may bear the punishment for all of our sins, and by taking up all those with Him, He might offer a most perfect sacrifice, worthy for the redemption of all of us mankind, and for the atonement of our multitudes of sins. Today we remember God’s love that has manifested in the crucifixion, in a love so wonderful and selfless that He willingly endured all humiliation for us.

Through what the Lord had done that day, He has completed what He had begun the day earlier, in the Last Supper when He instituted the Holy Eucharist, giving His own Precious Body and Blood to be shared by the disciples. As we all just celebrated and remembered yesterday in the events of Holy Thursday, the Lord had the Passover meal with His disciples, in which He instituted the New Passover, one that no longer remembered the past event of how God rescued the people of Israel from the slavery in Egypt, but an even much greater event, that God has come to rescue all of His people from the slavery of sin.

At that Passover meal, we may have noticed yesterday that unlike the usual Passover meal of the Jewish Passover, where a lamb is slaughtered and eaten by the household, at the new Passover, the Lord offered Himself as the sacrificial Lamb, the Lamb of God to be slaughtered for all of us, to be the source of forgiveness for all of our sins and iniquities. This has been prophesied by many of the prophets, particularly that of the prophet Isaiah who spoke at length about the Messiah or Saviour Who would come into the world and Who would suffer persecution, rejection and death.

In comparison with the old Jewish Passover, the significance of the events of Good Friday together with the preceding events at the Last Supper cannot be underestimated or ignored. For at the old Passover, at the beginning of the meal, represented by the Last Supper, is the moment when the first of the four cups of wine is drunk, led by the father and head of the house, where the unleavened bread is taken out and eaten with the lamb as mentioned earlier, which is what the Lord Himself had done, offering His Body and Blood to His disciples in the bread and wine at the Last Supper.

Then, the second cup, the Cup of Proclamations and third, the Cup of Blessings was drunk afterwards, at the moment when the family spoke of the significance of the Passover, reminding the people and especially the young children on why the Passover was so important, for God has saved His people in the past through such great deeds from their certain destruction and annihilation. As indicated from the Scriptures and the accounts of the Last Supper, the last and fourth cup, the cup of Praise had not been drunk yet when the Lord and His three disciples went out of the meal and headed to the Gardens of Gethsemane.

That last cup, also known as the Cup of Consummation, was the cup that the Lord referred to in the Last Supper as of why He would not drink the fruits of the vine again until the coming of the kingdom of God, referring specifically to how the Passover meal, the New Passover He was bringing into this world, had not ended yet as of that night of the Last Supper, and instead would culminate on the Cross at Good Friday, with the death of the Lord as the completion of the New Passover. That was why at the Gardens of Gethsemane, when the Lord was in agony, He prayed that the ‘cup may pass Him by’ and yet, He remained firm in His obedience and dedication to His mission, no matter how tough and painful it would be.

When at the ancient, first Passover the lamb was slaughtered on the day of preparation for the Passover, it was on Good Friday that was the day before the Sabbath day, as has been noted in the Scriptures, that the Lord died on the day of the preparation for the Passover. Thus, indeed it was very symbolic and real how the Lord had chosen that very day to highlight how He was truly the Paschal Lamb, the One to be sacrificed for the salvation of all, the Lamb of the New Passover. While in Egypt, the Israelites used the blood of the lamb to mark the doors of their houses that they were spared the great plague of death coming upon Egypt, thus all of us have been marked by the Blood of the Lamb of God.

How is that then significant for us? It is significant because the Precious Blood that the Lord has shed sealed the New Covenant between us and God, reconciling us to Him, and bridging the gap that had once existed between us and Him. Through the Cross, by His Passion, His suffering and death, and importantly through His Resurrection, Christ has showed that there is hope beyond death, and there is the assurance of eternal life with God.

He has perfectly obeyed the will of the Father, to be the Mediator of the New Covenant between all of us and God. And as the New Adam, according to St. Paul the Apostle, Christ became the source of new life in God, bringing all mankind to a renewed life in grace. Just as the first Adam fell into sin by eating the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, out of desire and disobedience against God, falling into the temptations of Satan. Christ, the New Adam, persevered to the very end, nailed to another ‘tree’, that is the Cross, in full and perfect obedience to God, His Father.

Thus just as the first Adam led all mankind into sin, the New Adam, Christ, led all of us into the path out of the tyranny of sin, showing us that sin and death do not have the final say over us. For through His death and Resurrection, He proved that He truly is the Lord and Master of life and death, and that His grace is greater than sin and death. And that is why, He has willingly suffered for us that by uniting our humanity to Himself, we share in His death, death to our old, sinful selves, and then share in His glorious Resurrection, entering a new life and existence, with the promise of eternal life.

Hence, we should not treat the events that happened during this Easter Triduum as separate, unrelated events, but rather as one great event, the New Passover and the New Covenant that the Lord has established with us, beginning at the Last Supper, through Our Lord’s suffering and persecution, right through His crucifixion and completed through His death on the Cross. Through all these, right up to the events on Good Friday that we commemorate today, the Lord showed His mighty hands in delivering all of us His people from the tyranny of sin and the darkness of evil.

This is why on the Cross, as He was about to die, the Lord said, ‘I thirst’, and a mixture of sour and bitter wine was given to Him, symbolically showing the drinking of the Cup of Consummation, and the completion of the New Passover, which Christ spoke of as He said, ‘It is finished.’ Right after that very moment, the Lord gave up His Spirit and died, with the words, ‘Father, into Your hands, I commend My Spirit’ completing the sacrifice and offerings of the New Covenant and the New Passover.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all now look to the crucifix, to the Cross of Our Lord, bearing our Saviour Who had suffered and died for all of us. He is the Lamb of God, sacrificed and offered for us, as the perfect and worthy atonement for our sins. And He is also our High Priest, the Mediator of the New Covenant, just as Moses and Aaron once sealed the Covenant between God and Israel with the blood of the sacrificial lamb on the Altar. And thus, Christ, Our High Priest and the Lamb at the same time, offered Himself on the Altar of the Cross, to seal the New Covenant between us and God, and to be the source of healing and absolution for our many sins.

There, on the Cross, lies a reminder of the bloody and sorrowful offering of the Lamb of God, of God Who loved us so much that He is willing to suffer and die for us. And every time we celebrate the Holy Mass, brothers and sisters, we remember this very same sacrifice, for as I mentioned yesterday, on Holy Thursday, that the whole liturgy of the Eucharist in the Holy Mass is no less than the same sacrifice and offering, the same thing that happened two millennia ago, from the Last Supper to the Cross, from the moment that the Lord offered the bread and wine and turned them into His own Precious Body and Blood, and up to the completion of that Passover sacrifice on the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we focus ourselves on the very important events that happened on that day at Calvary, let us all bear in mind always how God loves us so much, that everything He had done and which we remember today, are for our sake and nothing else. Every time we sin and disobey God, let us remember that all those sins are what our Lord Himself bore on His Cross, the wounds He endured, and all the bitterness and humiliations He suffered, so that we may be forgiven and enter into a new life of grace through Him.

Let us all therefore unite our sufferings and ourselves to the Lord, through His crucifixion, His suffering and death. Let us all be truly ashamed of our many sins and all the things that we have done in contradiction to our Christian faith and calling, and in rebellion against God and His will. Let us not harden our hearts any longer, but seek our Lord, the Mediator of the New Covenant, that He may heal us through His Cross, and allow His outpoured Precious Blood to wash us clean and to purify us just as the saints and martyrs had purified themselves in the Blood of the Lamb.

As we all share and partake in the Holy Communion today, let us remember that we receive none other than the Lord Himself, the same Lord and the same sacrifice He made at Calvary, on the Altar of the Cross. The Eucharist we receive is the same crucified Lord and Saviour Who have marked us by His Blood, and bring us forth from the slavery to sin and bring unto us the New Passover, that we are ‘passed over’ from death into new life, which we will be further reminded on as we enter into the time of the glorious Resurrection in Easter.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all move forward in life, no longer looking back at sin and at all the wicked ways of the world, and instead, fill ourselves with the resolve and renewed conviction to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and to glorify Him through our lives, our actions and deeds. May the Lord, our Crucified Messiah, Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, be with us always, and bless us all, His beloved ones, on this most good and wonderful day of our salvation, the salvation of His Cross. Amen.

Friday, 10 April 2020 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we commemorate the day when the Lord Jesus Christ, Our Saviour suffered and died for our sake on the Cross at the hill of Calvary just outside of Jerusalem. We remember this day when the Lord was condemned to die and picked up His Cross, enduring all the insults and torture, all the pains and struggles on the way of the Cross to Calvary.

And we call this day Good Friday despite all the terrible events and circumstances that happened that day in Jerusalem because we do not just focus our attention on what happened during those few terrible hours during which our Lord and Saviour laboured and endured all the sufferings. We have to see it as part of the greater purpose of the Lord’s efforts for our salvation, which is why we celebrate this Good Friday as part of the Easter Triduum and cannot be separated from yesterday’s Holy Thursday celebration of the Last Supper and also from the Easter Vigil and the Resurrection of the Lord.

For without the Resurrection, ultimately the suffering and death of Christ on the Cross is meaningless and empty. Without the Resurrection of Christ, then what happened almost two millennia ago in Jerusalem that day was just of a convicted man and criminal who was punished and condemned to die, and die a most humiliating and painful death on the Cross as how other dangerous criminals were punished by the Romans for their crimes. There would then be no reason for us to celebrate at all.

Instead, we know that today is truly a ‘Good’ Friday precisely because we know that the Cross and the death of our Lord was not the end of His earthly life, but rather the beginning of the Lord’s salvation for us all mankind. It marked the moment when the veil of sin and the tyranny of death were overcome, marking the reunion and reconciliation between God and mankind as symbolised by the tearing of the veil of the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem, signifying that God’s grace and holiness is no longer hidden and denied from us.

The Lord’s Cross has become a great bridge that spans the once great and uncrossable chasm that separated us from God, due to our disobedience and therefore sins against Him. Through our disobedience, we have been separated from God and His love, but then through the obedience of one Man, Our Lord Jesus Christ, mankind have been reconciled with God, and a new hope in a new life and existence in God has been born. This is why on this Good Friday we celebrate it as a truly good and blessed day for us all.

But, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to take note that the sombre nature of today’s celebration and our emphasis on the sufferings and pains that the Lord endured on the Cross, as well as our veneration of the Cross of the Lord or the Crucifix is to remind us that Christ went through all that suffering and endured all of the pains He received for us all. We must not forget that all of His wounds and sufferings are caused by our own sins and our own shortcomings.

The Cross of Christ is a reminder of our own sins and our own rebellion against God, and by that same Cross, we have also been redeemed, through every drops of Blood that was shed from the Body of Our Lord and Saviour. The Lord gave us His life that we may live and not perish because of our sins. He has done all these for us because of His enduring and powerful love for each and every one of us, the love that exceeds even the darkness of our sins.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, through the Cross we have received this assurance of Our Lord’s love and providence, that we will enjoy His love and grace forever. No longer that sin and death will have any hold over us if we put our trust in Him completely and reject those sins that we have committed all these while. However, the allure of sin and the temptations of this world are indeed powerful, and many of us can easily fall again into those same temptations by which we have fallen into sin in the past.

Today let us all spend some time to reflect on our Lord’s Passion and suffering, His great love for us and how all of us need to change our lives for the better, rejecting the sins by which we have been separated from God. We have to be thankful on this Good Friday that the Lord had been so kind towards us, giving us this great and wonderful grace although we have been rebellious, disobedient and ungrateful over His many gifts, wonders and love.

As Christians, we are also called to follow the Lord and take up our crosses, carrying it with Him. What this means is that we must be ready for the sufferings and challenges that will be in our path when we commit ourselves to the Lord and live our lives faithfully as good Christians in our daily living. We must be prepared for the challenges and be ready to endure and yet remain faithful in the Lord. Now in particular, we know how we are living through this difficult moment and suffering, and many are despairing without hope, being sick and dying, separated from their loved ones and even having lost these loved ones.

We know that most people’s attention are now focused on the current pandemic that has been raging on for many weeks so far. We know how many people are living in fear and uncertainty, worrying about themselves and their families. Many have even become irrational in their actions, causing hurt to others in order to protect themselves, in hoarding goods essential for other people, in being racist and opposed to people of certain races and groups, blaming them for the current predicaments.

We know how this pandemic among other troubles we face have led us to worry and to fear of our future. But this is because we think that we are alone in our fight and in our struggles. For all these crosses that we have to bear in life, we must not forget that the Lord is in fact carrying His Cross together with us. The Lord is suffering with us all just as we suffer now. In fact, all of our sufferings are also His sufferings, all of our pains and struggles are also His pains and struggles.

Let us today entrust ourselves, our families and our whole world to the Lord, knowing that the Lord is suffering for us and with us, picking up and enduring His Cross and being crucified that all of us may survive and live. He has offered His own Most Precious Body and Blood on the Altar of the Cross as the offering to redeem us from our sins, and His perfect obedience had been heard, and by His wounds and hurts we are healed and made whole once again. Let us entrust our whole lives to God, and commit ourselves with a renewed spirit that we may truly be the people of the Cross, all those who have hope in the Crucified Christ, by Whose Blood and Sacrifice we have been saved.

Let us all fear no longer, be it the fear of diseases or pandemics, be it the fear of darkness and evil, be it the fear of uncertainty and sin, but instead, let us all be filled with God’s hope through the triumph of His Cross. We know that the Cross is not an end, but the beginning of a new glory and a new existence, freed from sin and evil, that as long as we fix our focus and attention on the Lord crucified, we know that in Him, there is sure hope for us all. May God bless us always, now and forevermore, and may He strengthen our faith that we may welcome the coming of Easter with true joy and faith. Amen.

Friday, 19 April 2019 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we gather together to celebrate the occasion of Good Friday, the day which commemorates the moment when Our Lord Jesus Christ bore His Cross and suffered for each and every one of us, and died on the Cross at Calvary, a pivotal and very important moment in the whole history of our salvation. That is why, despite the sufferings, pains and sorrows that are often associated with this day because of the Crucifixion, but we call this day Good Friday, because the Lord has truly brought us true goodness on this day.

And in order to understand this better, we have to understand and appreciate the significance of what happened on Good Friday, and know how Good Friday has changed our history and our lives forever. Before Good Friday, there was no hope yet for our salvation, and all of us mankind were still enslaved by sin, and there was no escape from our fate of death, for our disobedience and refusal to believe in God.

But after Good Friday, there is a fundamental transformation, as dramatically shown to us as the Lord’s death on the cross, and as the veil of the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem was torn open into two. For through the crucifixion, our Lord’s death and resurrection, the Lord has fulfilled completely all that He has promised to all of us from the very beginning, that is from the moment when we mankind first fell into sin.

And the Lord, Our Saviour and Liberator, became the New Adam, as the Son of Man and Son of God, in overturning all the old sins and faults of the old Adam, by which all of us mankind have been brought into sin, and separation from God, our loving Father and Creator. The New Adam brought with Him instead, reconciliation and new life blessed by the grace of God, and countered all that the devil had put in place to bring about our downfall.

The old Adam represents the old life of sin, which we too have had a share in, in our own sinful existence, in our disobedience and refusal to be wholly devoted and committed to God. While the New Adam, Christ was the revelation of the new life that we have been called to embrace, a life wholly dedicated to God, and marked by the love which Christ Himself has shown us, a perfect and selfless love for God and for our fellow men.

Let us begin the comparison and appreciate just how the Lord has overturned all the barriers and traps by which the devil had enslaved us with. In the Book of Genesis, Satan tempted both Adam and Eve, tempting them with the temptations of power and knowledge, embracing their ego and desires, that as Satan himself said, that if they took and ate of the fruits of the tree that God had forbidden them to eat, they would not die, but rather, became like God because they would come to know of all things good and evil, to be equal to God.

Eve succumbed to the temptation, and in turn, tempted Adam to do the same, and as a result, both sinned against God because of their disobedience, and Satan won his first victory against us, God’s beloved people. But almost immediately, God countered with a solemn promise and prophecy that Satan would be defeated and all of his wicked designs would be broken and defeated by His Saviour, the One Who was promised, and was fulfilled in Jesus, the Saviour of the whole world.

Jesus was born of Mary, His mother, and although He is the Divine Word Incarnate, the Son of God Who embraced the flesh of humanity, but He is also fully Man, just as He is fully Divine. And it is through Jesus, His Passion, suffering and crucifixion that Satan was handed the definitive and decisive blow, that completely countered and negated all the evil designs he had had for us mankind from the foundations of the world.

While Jesus is the New Adam, Mary is the New Eve. And both acted in ways that rebuked Satan’s attempts to bring about our downfall. While Eve was disobedient and persuaded Adam to disobey, Mary was faithful and committed totally to God, and in fact, faithfully stayed by the side of her Son, all the way through the Way of Suffering, following Him and remaining close by His side even when all of His disciples fled and ran in fear, right down to the feet of the Cross.

And this is the reflection of the ultimate faith, obedience and commitment that the Lord Jesus Himself showed, as He willingly obeyed His Father’s will, in taking up His Cross, despite of knowing fully what was awaiting Him, all the trials, torture, pain and suffering, challenges and difficulties, and the most humiliating and painful death He was to suffer from. He could have rejected it and abandoned His mission, and yet, He gave Himself so completely and obeyed so well that His prayers for our sake were heard and fulfilled.

While Adam was filled with greed and pride, and fell because of that pride, the Lord Jesus willingly emptied Himself from all glory, emptying Himself from the glory of His Kingship and Divinity, and accepted the most humiliating, inhumane and painful death, death of a criminal on the Cross, reserved for the worst of criminals and rebels at the time of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, while through pride and greed, Adam as well as Eve fell into sin, the Lord Jesus, together with His mother Mary through humility and faith regained for us our heavenly grace.

And last of all, while the old Adam and the first men fell because of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the forbidden tree, the Lord Jesus was crucified on another tree, the tree of the combination of all the sins and wickedness that we have committed because of our pride, our ego, our desire, all of the wicked things within us. And that tree, on which Our Lord and Saviour was hung, is none other than the Cross of our salvation.

Therefore, as we have seen and heard for ourselves, the Lord opposed the works of the devil on every front, and while men had faltered and fell into sin, the Lord showed that sin did not have the final say. For He is much more powerful than even sin and death, and His death on the Cross proved that He can conquer sin and death, and broke the hold that sin and death had over us all mankind, who believe and trust in Him. And we see the proof of this at the Resurrection.

And He also did this, by doing what the Father has willed Him to do, as mentioned by the second reading passage today, in the Epistle to the Hebrews. In that passage, we heard of how the Lord Jesus was described as a High Priest, and not just as any other High Priests, but the one and true, Eternal High Priest, Who has offered His offerings with tears and pain, with sorrow and suffering, for the offering He offered was not of animals and the blood of lambs, but of His own Flesh and His own Blood, He Who is our Paschal Lamb, making a new, Eternal and unbreakable Covenant with us.

A priest in the time of the Old Testament acted as the intermediary between God and man, as the bridge between God and man, linking what had been separated by sin. The priests offered on the altar, the blood of lambs to be the temporary atonement and source of consolation for the sins and rebelliousness of the people of God. But the priests themselves were sinners, and they had to offer sacrifices to atone for their own sins first as well. On the other hand, Christ, Who is the Sinless One, willingly took up upon Himself, both the role of the High Priest as well as the Paschal Lamb to be sacrificed.

We have to realise, brothers and sisters in Christ, that the Cross of Christ, is the Altar upon which our Eternal and True High Priest, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, has offered Himself as the only perfect and worthy offering and sacrifice, by which He brought upon us, healing, pardon and complete reconciliation with God, bringing on us the promised salvation, grace and everlasting life and glory.

By His own loving sacrifice, His own selfless offering and love for God His heavenly Father and for each and every one of us, Our Lord Jesus has brought upon us the salvation that God has long promised to us, and He has brought upon us a new hope and the Light that pierced through the darkness that is in our lives. With Christ, a new Light has dawned, and a new Hope has come into our midst, that with Him, there is hope for each and every one of us sinners.

Today, on this blessed Good Friday, let us fix our attention on the One Who is hung on the Cross. Let us all gaze upon His wounded face, and look at all the wounds that cover His Precious Body. Let us realise that each and every one of those wounds are the very sins that we have committed each and every days of our life, even to the smallest and what is seemingly most trivial of sins. All of these are wounds that we have inflicted on the Lord, and yet, which He willingly took up on Himself because of the love He has for each and every one of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do we all know why is it that Christ suffered so dearly and so painfully? That is because of His love, His great and amazing love for all of us, even to the greatest of sinners. And it is because of this love that He experienced such great pain and sorrow, such suffering and agony, because He knows that unless we get rid from ourselves these sins, He will be separated from us eternally, as we fall into the eternal darkness, out of which there is no escape.

His agony on the Cross, as we continue to gaze on Him Who is hung on the Cross, is caused by all of our refusal to be faithful and to obey the will of God. His pain and sorrow are caused by our own pride, our own greed and jealousy, our ambition and selfishness, all of the wicked things we have done towards one another, every moments we have caused hurt on others, when we trample on the rights and dignity of our fellow brethren, and every time we fail to act with love, when there are people who are suffering and unloved in our midst.

Yet, He endured them all, because of His love for each and every one of us. His love and compassion for us so great that He even forgave His enemies and persecutors from the Cross, praying that their sins would not be held against them. Thus in the same way, God has also willingly loved us and desired to forgive us from our sins, and He extends His hands to us, to embrace us and to welcome us back, that we may be fully reconciled with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on the love of Christ made evident in the Cross today, on this Good Friday and beyond. Let us all bear our own cross with love, following the examples of Christ, that we accept His ever generous offer of mercy and embrace His compassionate heart. Let us all turn wholeheartedly to Him and abandon all things that have separated us from Him, all things that have caused Him to be wounded, our sins and rebelliousness.

Let us from now on, endeavour and do our best to love God, Who has loved us first so much that He endured all those sufferings for us. And let us all also love one another, that we truly become the beacons and bearers of Christ’s Light and love in this world of darkness, that through our love, many more will come to believe in the Lord and in the salvation He has brought to us through His Cross. Let us follow the example of the Christ, the New Adam, and abandon the past sins we have, the life of the old Adam, who fell into sin.

May the glorious Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ be our guide always, that each and every one of us will grow ever deeper in faith and in our love for God, remembering at each and every moments of our life, the boundless love that He has shown us through the Cross. May He continue to be present within our hearts, that the love of Christ Crucified will fill us to the brim, and allow us to be loving to one another and towards God in the same way that Christ has loved us, all the way to the Cross. Amen.

Friday, 30 March 2018 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the Good Friday, together the entire Church celebrate the moment when the Lord Jesus Christ, Our God and Our Saviour, suffered and took up His cross, and willingly be crucified on that cross to His death at Calvary. This day is indeed truly ‘Good’ because it is the day when our salvation has come, coming unto us from the cross of Christ.

The Lord Jesus was condemned to death and He was forced to take up His cross, a punishment for sins and for mistakes that He Himself had not done. It was the hatred, the enmity and the jealousy of the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin and the chief priests that had condemned the Lord to death on the cross. But the Lord accepted it willingly, though He did agonise over it, in His humanity, at the Garden of Gethsemane just before He was betrayed and arrested.

It was painful for the Lord to endure His cross and to bear it up to Calvary, because the burden of the cross is not just the weight of the physical wooden cross itself, already considerable due to its large size, and it is not just the distance which Jesus had to travel from the Praetorium in which He was condemned to death in the midst of Jerusalem towards the hill of Golgotha outside the city of Jerusalem.

No, the main reason why He suffered is because of our sins, all the faults and mistakes we have committed. We should have been punished for this, and we should have been cast into hell for eternity, but the Lord loves each and every one of us, for He has created us all out of strong and pure love, and surely He does not want any of us to perish because of our sins and disobedience.

Hence, He chose voluntarily to bear all the burdens of those sins and took it up upon Himself. We may think that such a feat is impossible, but remember, brethren, that what seems to be impossible for men, is completely possible for God. And God chose to bear our sins, weighing Him down on the cross, and also all the pains and sufferings He had to bear. All the lashes and wounds, all the cuts and slashes, all the spittle and all the humiliation He had to bear, all these are due to our sins.

When His accusers assailed Him and when the burdens of our sins crushed down upon Him, He accepted all of them quietly, as mentioned in the Scriptures, like that of a lamb waiting to be slaughtered for sacrifice. He gave Himself on the Altar of Calvary to be the Paschal Lamb, to be sacrificed for all of us, for the redemption of our sins. He brought all of our sins to the cross, and there, as the sacrifices of old, He poured down His own Blood, to seal a new Covenant between God and us, reconciling us with Our loving God and Creator.

That is just how much He loved us all, brothers and sisters, that He was willing to endure all of that, so that by His suffering and death, all of us who believe in Him may live. We all may think that the Lord remained on the cross because He was nailed to it, even when the people mocked Him to come down from the cross and save Himself. The teachers of the Law and the chief priests mocked Him, calling on Him to show a miracle by freeing Himself and coming down from the cross, that they might believe in Him.

Why did Jesus not come down from the cross? Certainly, He is God, and He is perfectly capable of doing so. But the words of the people who mocked Him, and the voices of the Pharisees, the chief priests and the elders were the voices of the devil, and all of his fallen angels and demons. Just as the devil tempted the Lord Jesus in the desert at the start of His ministry, then, at the very end of His earthly ministry, Satan tempted Jesus to abandon His mission and come down from the cross.

Who would not want to save himself or herself? Who would not want to be relieved from a great pain, inconvenience and suffering? We mankind have always been selfish by nature, and certainly we are tempted to put our own needs, desires and wants ahead of that of others. But that was not what the Lord Jesus had done. Despite all the pain He suffered, all the painful wounds He had to endure, all the blasphemy and all the insults He had to listen to, and the painful wounds of the nails that were hammered into His hands and feet, He persevered on.

For whose sake did He do all these? For all of us. It was not the nails that bound Christ fast to the cross, but it was the love He had for each and every one of us. It was His love that enabled Him to bear such a great burden and such an unbearable amount of pain. As huge and massive as our combined burden of sins are, even much greater is the love that God has for each and every one of us.

That, is what we need to realise when we look upon He Who is crucified on the cross, He Who died for us on Good Friday, the day when God Himself, Who took up the existence of Man, laid down His life, to save His beloved people. Have we appreciated the love that He has for each one of us? This is what we need to reflect on, as we remember His suffering and death today, on Good Friday.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians, all of us are called to follow in the example of Christ. If the Lord Himself has shown such great love and concern for each and every one of us, and if He has been so merciful and forgiving towards us, granting us opportunities after opportunities, and chances after chances for us to be reconciled with Him, even to endure such great pain on the cross for that purpose.

Are we able to love Him in the same way, this God Who has loved us so much? Just as He has given everything for our sake, even dying on the cross, are we able to love Him with all of our heart and devote ourselves to Him? That is first and foremost our priority in life and our primary obligation. If we have not done so, then we must love God with all of our strength, with all of our effort, with all of our mind, heart, body and soul.

Then, naturally, as Christians, we must also show the same love to one another. After all, God loves each one of us equally. He even forgave all of His enemies, and all those who have condemned Him to death on the cross. He prayed to the Father, that He would not hold them accountable for the sin they have committed for condemning Him to death, because of their ignorance and inability to see and understand the truth.

Yet, sadly, we see in many occasions around us, how we Christians act in the most un-Christian manner. We often gossip about each other and we often slander and seek to harm one another, either physically or mentally. We often bicker over worldly matters and we become jealous and covetous when we do not get or have what others possess. In the end, our actions and deeds, and even our words cause hurt and pain in others.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, our actions that cause harm upon others are sin before God, and as we have just discussed earlier, it is the same sin that the Lord Jesus bore upon His cross for our sake. How can we call ourselves as Christians if our actions are contrary to what God has done and what He has shown us and called us to do?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we move on from today’s remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to His glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday, let us all renew our commitment before Lord crucified, that from now on, we will no longer live our lives with selfishness, ego, anger, and all sorts of negativities that had plagued our lives in the past. Instead, let us all love Him and love one another, just as He has shown us His ultimate love with the cross.

May the Lord, crucified for us this day, be the source of our strength and inspiration, that we may continue to live our lives in His footsteps, devoting ourselves at all times to serve Him wholeheartedly. May the Lord be with us all, and may He bless all of our actions. Amen.

(Holy Week) Friday, 14 April 2017 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Good Friday of our Lord’s Passion, the moment when Jesus our Lord was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate at the instigation of His opponents, and put to suffer and was tortured, made to bear the heavy wooden cross, and eventually was crucified on the cross, and died. This is what we commemorate today, the day when our Lord Himself died for our sake.

And why do we call this day ‘Good Friday’? Should we not be mourning for such a sombre event, when someone died, and all the more, God Himself Who died? That is because, without Good Friday, then all of us mankind, who are all sinners, would have perished and be destroyed, as then we would have had no hope for salvation. As we are sinners, our sins should have caused us to be damned and to be cast out from the grace of God, and endure the same fate as Satan and his angels, that is eternal suffering.

Yet it was God’s love for each and every one of us that had led to the cross. The cross of Christ is first of all the symbol of God’s love, for the Lord Jesus was willing to carry up that heavy cross, not just the burden of the heavy physical wooden cross, but also the even much heavier burdens of our sins, the combined weight of our disobedience, our faults and our failures. It was all these which God had carried upon Himself, bearing on Himself all of our sins and the consequences for those sins.

St. Paul in his Epistle to the faithful and the Church in the city of Rome, spoke of how people would not find it easy to give up his or her life for the sake of another person, even if the person is a close or good friend. They may consider it if the person had been very good and upright in all things. As a result, there might just indeed be people who would give up his life for a righteous person. But usually, there would not be those who want to do anything good for the sake of those who were wicked and evil.

But take note how God showed His great love for His people. He gave up Himself and His life, not only for the righteous or for the just, but for everyone, every single one of us mankind, from the greatest saints to the worst of sinners and wicked people. Indeed, He also died for the sake of His enemies and all those who had put themselves as obstacles in His path!

That is indeed what God had done, just as He had done for the sake of His people Israel in the past. He showed them care and concern, and was truly patient with them, even though when they have constantly rebelled against Him and disobeyed Him. Because of their sins and wickedness however, the Israelites perished in the desert as what was supposed to be their just punishment came up to them.

In one occasion, we heard how the Israelites suffered grievously from fiery serpents that were sent by God Who was furious at their lack of faith, and as punishment for their sins. Indeed, many of them died and there were many among them who were swayed to turn themselves in to the Lord, admit their sins and wickedness. The people came to Moses, asking him to ask the Lord to forgive them, for they would no longer sin before Him.

Therefore God instructed Moses to craft the likeness of a serpent, a bronze serpent, to be placed on a stand so that all the sons and daughters of Israel could see the bronze serpent. And all who had been bitten by the fiery serpents, and who ought to have died, would not die because they had seen the bronze serpent, the symbol of God’s mercy and forgiveness. It is a reminder to all of them, that their sins had brought about their downfall, and should have ended up in them perishing, but God loved each and every one of them, and wanted to forgive them.

Jesus Himself made the direct comparison between that event with His own Passion. He was very specific in His mention of what would happen at the time of His own Passion, when the Son of Man, Himself, would be lifted up high for all to see, just as Moses had raised the bronze serpent in the past. That was when Jesus was crucified, put to death on the cross, a way to die at that time, most humiliating and reserved only to the worst of criminals in accordance to the Roman law.

Surely, the devil himself would have thought that he had won when Jesus was arrested, condemned to death and brought to the cross at Calvary. Ever since Jesus began His ministry, he had done all of his efforts in order to undermine and stop the works of Jesus, by tempting Him, which did not work, and then, he chose to oppose Him through various people and various means.

But God turned that symbol of ultimate humiliation into the symbol of the ultimate victory and triumph, for as we all know, Jesus Who died on that day at Calvary, did not die for nothing, and neither did He die permanently, for death had no hold or power over Him. Sin and death, darkness and evil fled away when the Lord rose in glory after He had died for three days, showing to all that death is not to be our fate. The fate of all humanity, is instead to share in the cross of Christ and therefore to share in His glorious resurrection as well. And this means that we all ought to have eternal life with God.

Moses raised the bronze serpent, and all who saw it lived, even though they had been bitten by the fiery serpents. In the same way, Jesus our Lord was raised up on the cross for all of us to see, to witness and to realise, that by His death on the cross, He Who took up upon Himself all the multitudes of our sins, had sacrificed Himself out of love for us, so that whoever looked upon Him and believed, will not die but have eternal life from God.

But surely now we can say, we do not see God, for Jesus is no longer here with us. He was there two millennia ago surely, but then He had been crucified and died, and had risen into His glory and ascended to heaven. We no longer see Him, and we were not there during His crucifixion. But yet, we are also saved, brothers and sisters in Christ. Why is this so? That is because in every Holy Mass, and including in today’s service, even though there is no consecration today, the Lord becomes really present in our midst, through the Most Holy Eucharist.

When the priest consecrates the bread and wine brought forth to the Altar, he in fact, reenacts the same sacrifice at Calvary, lifting up both bread and wine, but no longer just mere bread and mere wine, but in substance and essence completely transformed into the Body and Blood of our Lord Himself. Do we all remember the time of our Lord’s crucifixion and death whenever we see these happening? Or are we too busy with ourselves and all of our busy schedules and thoughts to realise just how fortunate we are to have God Who really cares for us and Who loves us deeply?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we may feel sorrowful because the Lord our God Himself had died on the cross. We may feel sorrowful and dejected because indeed, how can we not do so, considering that our God Himself, our Lord, Master and Creator had died for our sake? Indeed, we are sorrowful because every single one of our sins had been borne by Him, without complaint, without objection, but only with the reply of a perfect love.

We are sorrowful because our sins are indeed the wounds that were inflicted on Christ. Every single lacerations, every single wounds are our sins, our slander towards one another, our lack of love, care and concern for the poor and the needy, our action in ostracising others, being unjust and biased against our fellow men, or by our jealousy, hatred and all the other things that had caused us to fall into sin. Do we realise just how much God loved each and every one of us, that He was willing to bear all of these, so that He can forgive us the multitudes of our failures and incompetence? And He never complained at all, as He made His way to Calvary!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today, as we celebrate the Passion and death of our Lord, let us all spend time in prayer and contemplation. Let us remember every single moment that we have sinned, all the faults we have, all the jealousies and unbecoming attitudes we had shown in life, all of our slandering and wicked ways, and reflect on how much we have caused pain and sorrow for our Lord, as He bore that cross of our sins, on His way to save all of us.

Yet, let us also remember that, Good Friday does not stand by itself. Easter comes after Good Friday. And therefore, because we have shared in the death of our Lord, we also will share in His resurrection and receive eternal life, provided that we truly can come to the understanding of the importance of leading a good, just and upright life, sinning no more and turning ourselves and our ways completely to God.

Let us remember that vice versa, Easter does not come about without Good Friday. There will be lots of challenges ahead on our path. Jesus did not have it easy, and indeed He suffered in the most difficult of ways possible. And so, we too will suffer as He has suffered, and we will be tempted just as He had been tempted. Yet, if we do not lose our sight and focus on the light and hope that is to come, the joy of Easter, surely we will then be able to find our way to the Lord, and in the end, receive from Him the crown of everlasting glory.

May the Lord bless us all, forgive us all our sins, and may by His triumphant and victorious cross, reminds us always of our own daily crosses that we need to take up, that we may follow Him towards salvation and the glory of eternal life. Amen.