Saturday, 7 September 2013 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White

Colossians 1 : 21-23

You yourselves were once estranged and opposed to God because of your evil deeds, but now God has reconciled you in the human body of His Son through His death, so that you may be without fault, holy and blameless before Him.

Only stand firm, upon the foundation of your faith, and be steadfast in hope. Keep in mind the Gospel you have heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which, I, Paul, became a minister.

Monday, 1 July 2013 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, to follow Christ is to suffer and to endure rejection the way the world had rejected Him first, and we have to carry our own crosses in our faith journey with our Lord. That is what the Lord Himself told us we should do, to follow Him and love Him through the journey of the cross.

Our Lord is a loving God, and He loves all of His children, regardless of their backgrounds. We are all equal before the Lord. But as much as the Lord loves all of us, He is also a just God and a good God, who rejects the filth of sin and the corruption of evil. That was why He wanted to end the wickedness of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, whose sins had become so bad that they ended up angering the Lord greatly so that He would want to punish them.

Lot, the relative of Abraham settled in the valley of Sodom after his separation from Abraham, which occurred because of conflict between their shepherds over the matter of land. He then settled in the city of Sodom and Gomorrah, and therefore would have been subjected to the destruction of the city by God’s wrath for its sins.

But God is a loving God and is not heartless, and that was why He would not let those who are just and good to suffer from the suffering and punishment intended for those who had rebelled against the Lord. Therefore, even without the interventions of Abraham, God certainly would still go and send His angels to help rescue Lot and his family, the only righteous ones that can be found in all of Sodom and Gomorrah, so that they would not suffer the same fate as the sinful ones.

The questions of Abraham to the Lord, his interventions to save the righteous merely serve to highlight even more clearly that our Lord and God is both a vengeful and angry God, but also a just and loving God. A God who detests sin and all of its evil fruits, and yet also forgiving and merciful to those who are repentant and those who love Him. He wants us all to return to Him, and He does not want us to be lost just because of our faults and those of our forefathers’.

Yet, it is indeed difficult to find good and repentance in our world, and that was why, despite Abraham’s repeated pleas to the Lord to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, if as little as ten righteous people could be found, the two cities were not spared simply because of the wickedness of those who stayed in them, not even ten righteous ones could be found. Only Lot and his family were considered righteous, and therefore, the Lord sent His angels to rescue them from the catastrophe of God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah.

God loves us, but He also wants all of us to understand the need to be pure and good, as our Lord is good, and nothing evil can stand before Him and survive. The Lord is merciful, and if only we approach His throne with a contrite heart full of regret and grief for our sins, He will embrace us and reunite us with Himself.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, God gives us a chance at repentance and redemption in this life, one made possible by none other than the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord on the cross at Calvary. This sacrifice bridged the unbridgeable chasm between us and God. God will welcome us back if we are truly sincere in our repentance and our love for Him who also loves us with all of His heart.

May God be with us, as He had been with Abraham and may we all also remain faithful to God’s covenant with us, keeping His commandments and teachings passed down to us from the Apostles through the Church. Amen.

Thursday, 13 June 2013 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Psalm 84 : 9ab-10, 11-12, 13-14

Would that I hear God’s proclamation, that He promise peace to His people, His saints. Yet His salvation is near to those who fear Him, and His Glory will dwell in our land.

Love and faithfulness have met; righteousness and peace have embraced. Faithfulness will reach up from the earth while justice bends down from heaven.

The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its fruit. Justice will go before Him, and peace will follow along His path.

Friday, 7 June 2013 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Luke 15 : 3-7

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

“Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!'”

I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.

Friday, 31 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Zephaniah 3 : 14-18

Cry out with joy, o daughter of Zion; rejoice, o people of Israel! Sing joyfully with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem!

YHVH has lifted your sentence and has driven your enemies away. YHVH, the King of Israel is with you; do not fear any misfortune. On that day they will say to Jerusalem : Do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble, for YHVH your God is within you, YHVH, saving warrior.

He will jump for joy on seeing you, for He has revived His love. For you He will cry out with joy, as you do in the days of the Feast. “I will drive away the evil I warned you about, and you will no longer be shamed.”

 

Alternative Reading

 

Romans 12 : 9-16b

Let love be sincere. Hate what is evil and hold to whatever is good. Love one another and be considerate. Outdo one another in mutual respect. Be zealous in fulfilling your duties. Be fervent in the Spirit and serve God.

Have hope and be cheerful. Be patient in trials and pray constantly. Share with other Christians in need. With those passing by, be ready to receive them. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not wish evil on anyone.

Rejoice with those who are joyful, and weep with those who weep. Live in peace with one another. Do not dream of extraordinary things.

Thursday, 30 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Sirach 42 : 15-26

Now I shall remind you of the works of the Lord and relate what I have seen. The Lord’s works depend on His word, and creation obeys His will. The sun shines on everything and the work of the Lord is filled with His glory.

Not even to His holy ones has the Lord given full knowledge of all His marvellous works. The Lord, Master of the Universe, has ordained that all should stand firm in His glory. He penetrates both the depth of the abyss and the human heart and knows their secret. For the Most High has full knowledge and ordains the signs of the heavens.

He knows the past and foretells the future and reveals the traces of the world’s mysteries. No thought escapes Him, no word is hidden from Him. He has ordered the marvellous works of His wisdom, from ever and forever. Nothing can be added, nothing can be taken away and He has no need of counsel.

All His works are beautiful, even to the smallest spark of light. All this lives and endures forever : all is useful and obedient to His will. All things are in pairs, one opposite the other, and nothing He makes is in any way deficient.

One thing emphasizes the excellence of the other; who could ever weary of admiring His glory?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Mark 9 : 38-40

John said to Him, “Master, we saw someone who drove out demons by calling upon Your Name, and we tried to forbid him because he does not belong to our group.”

Jesus answered, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My Name can soon after speak evil of Me. For whoever is not against us is for us.”

Sunday, 21 April 2013 : 4th Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, World Day of Prayer for Vocations (50th Anniversary) (Psalm)

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Monday, 8 April 2013 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Today we commemorate the day when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, the Mother of God, and announced to her, the great news of joy, that the Lord had finally made true His promises, that He would come and then save the people of Israel and all mankind. It is through Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born through Mary, His mother, that the salvation of the world came into fruition, the culmination of God’s long-conceived plan since the day of our fall into sin and death.

That day was indeed a glorious day, because the angel announced the arrival of the Messiah, who was to be none other than Son of God Himself, Jesus, born into man, incarnate from His divinity and took up the mortal man’s body though without sin. But the greater is the joy and glory because of what Mary did on that day, for her faith and obedience to the Lord was so great and perfect, that through her humble acceptance of that great mission to bear Christ in herself, and through her humility, that the salvation of the world and all mankind was possible.

Without Mary’s full obedience and acceptance of her mission in delivering Christ into this world, the coming of the Messiah would not have happened. It is her attitude towards the vocation that God had placed in her, which earned her our praise and adoration, the first and greatest of all the saints in heaven, and none other than the mother of our Lord Himself, to whom our Lord would listen, just as at the wedding in Cana.

We all had deserved death since the beginning of time, since when our ancestors, from the time of Adam, succumbed to the temptations and the lies of the evil one, preferring worldly pleasures to God and His love, rebelling against His great kindness. Through this act of treason, we deserved death, but yet, our God, with His great love for us, was keen to show us His mercy, and throughout time, through countless prophets, He had made His intentions clear for all to see and listen, that He would send a deliverer, the Messiah, who would correct all things once again, and made the world into a perfection once again, cleansed from all the taints of evil.

So great was God’s love that He gave us His only Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, that through Him, all of mankind and all creation have hope of a new life, an eternal life with God, and no longer be separated from the very God who loves us very much. To make all these possible, Christ would have to lower Himself, to be as men are, but unblemished, without the taints of sin. Pure as crystal and white as snow, and that is who Christ was. Because He was to give Himself up, not as mere burnt or sin offering and sacrifices, but as the true Lamb of God, our paschal lamb of sacrifice, whose purity and unblemished nature was the only one in all creation worthy of redeeming all of us from our unavoidable fate, that is death.

While the blood of goats and bulls was only able to cleanse sin temporarily, and that people would still die after those offerings, those cleansed by the Precious Blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ would no longer experience death, that is eternal death. For through the offering of His Body and Blood, Christ had given each of us a new lease of life, a life that is filled with the glory and love of God. In baptism, that we received, either as a baby or as an adult, we received this new life. We were dead to our old life, and we shared in this death, the death of Christ on the cross, that we die to ourselves and our sins, and with the Risen Lord, we too are resurrected to begin a new life in God.

It is not easy to obey God’s commandment and will, especially in the case of what God had entrusted to Mary, and to no other person. For Mary was born without sin as well, immaculate, just as her Son is, because, to be the vessel through whom God would be incarnate as Man into this world, no vessel that is tainted with sin would be worthy. Mary’s obedience made her role in our faith ever greater, since her obedience became a great role model to all of us. She obeyed despite the difficulties, and the implications of her acceptance would have on her.

Remember that what happened after Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant. He wanted to divorce her, though with honour, so that she would not be treated as an adulterous woman, since she was a virgin, and yet with child. This was the implication that would happen to Mary, all the difficulties she had to endure, by accepting the will of God, to bear Christ in herself, that through her holy womb, Christ was brought forth as Jesus, her Son. Yet she obeyed without conditions, and submitted fully to the will of God, gladly embracing the role that she is to play in the history of salvation.

As we commemorate this great event, let us reflect this fact, and whether we too can be as courageous, faithful, and obedient as Mary was, in bravely and gladly answering the call of God, that all the great works of our Saviour would be possible. Can we begin today, to strive to be more like her, and to follow her example? We may not have to bear Christ and give birth to Him like Mary did, but in our own surroundings and in our own lives, we have our own missions and callings by God, and the things God had entrusted upon us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us pray, that we would be able to follow after the example of Mary, the Mother of God, that we can also say yes, to our Lord, and accept His will, and the mission He had entrusted upon all of us with great humility and great joy. May God bless all of us, and make our faith stronger, that we will always live in the favour of God, filled with His love. Amen.

Sunday, 24 March 2013 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Holy Week (Scripture Reflection)

Christ, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom we know as our Saviour, through His death on the cross at Calvary, had His story of the Passion He went through for our sake told today, beginning from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and ending with the great Resurrection on Easter Sunday. It all began in what today’s commemoration called as the Palm Sunday, the beginning of the Holy Week, in which in this holiest of all weeks in history, the story of salvation of all mankind was unfold. It marked the culmination of Jesus’ mission on this world to save it and bring it back into unity with God the Father, who loves all.

Palm Sunday marked how Christ came into Jerusalem, welcomed as a ‘king’ and glorified with the palms and hymns, and all the people glorifying God and mentioned His descent from David, as a sign of His mission to make God’s promise fulfilled to David, that is to establish David’s throne forever through Him, and to mark the return of the true King to the people of Israel. He is indeed a king of glory who will lead His beloved people to glory and victory once again, and this victory is none other than that of the ultimate triumph over evil, Satan, and all his evil plots that had plagued all mankind since he brought Adam and Eve, our forefathers to evil and rebellion against God.

Yes, Christ had entered Jerusalem in order to bring about that triumph, that victory against Satan who had enchained mankind to slavery under sin since the beginning of creation. He came as the one to liberate mankind, as their king to lead them out of the darkness of evil. Yes, Christ is a king, king of all kings indeed. For in Him lies all authority and all power that is there on earth and in heaven. But yet, our Lord remains humble, a servant leader. For even He entered Jerusalem not on a mighty warhorse or elephants as kings and rulers of the earth would do or had done before, but on a humble donkey, widely considered as a dumb and weak animal.

Yes, and as Christ had mentioned in the Last Supper He had with His disciples, the greatest among all, the leader should be the servant of all, and show the leadership, not via strong arms, wealth, or power, but through example through service. That a leader truly is a leader only if he serves as an example of his leadership, for a leader is not made a leader to glorify that leader, but most importantly that he will do good for the sake of others, especially those upon whom he had been appointed as a leader for.

And remember, Jesus Christ Himself had said that His kingdom is not of this world, but is a kingdom of love and truth, and not of power, strength, and glory. For Christ had come into this world, to be that servant leader, that as its leader, being God, who created it and all mankind and creations on earth, He had come to show example through His teachings and His actions, and also showed example to other leaders on how they should be responsible on their duties entrusted to them, as well as showing them how to lead as He had done.

He came to Jerusalem to face His death, as we all know, that He was to die on that week, which we commemorate every year on Good Friday. From that jubilation and glorification that we see and commemorate today of His entry, within a short time, all that turned to lamentation, and worse, condemnation, when they shouted “Crucify Him!” at Christ when He was being condemned to death before Pilate. He shows that power and glory indeed are just temporary, and indeed things may just change as quickly as it would, as it was with Christ, who was hailed as King and then condemned to die like a criminal within the same week.

Jesus wanted to enter Jerusalem because He must do so in order to accomplish the mission that had been given to Him by the Father, and also because He is of the Father, He also loves us that He wants to save us, despite all the difficulties and the sufferings that He had to go through. Being human as Jesus is, He Himself too feel the suffering that all of us suffer from, and even He asked God the Father, to let that cup of suffering that He had to drink to pass from Him. Such is the extent of suffering that He had to suffer from that even Jesus, who is fully human and fully divine, was also pushed to the point of wavering in the face of such unprecedented and unimaginable weight that He had to bear.

Indeed, inside that cup of suffering, is all our sins, our faults, and our rebellions against God. That is all the weight of sin that Christ had to bear through His suffering until His death, in order to purchase us from Satan, our jailor, our slaver. He redeemed us from our slavery to sin by His own being, His own Precious Body and Precious Blood, which He freely gave to all of us, that we may have eternal life in Him.

It is up to us entirely whether to follow Christ, in taking up our crosses as Christ had asked of us and His disciples, and therefore in doing so, sharing in the cross of Christ and therefore in His glory upon His resurrection, or we can be like His accusers and like those who shouted for His death, or by continuing to live in our state of sin, and therefore adding more and more to that cup which Christ had to bear, and also therefore took part passively in scourging Christ and creating His wounds.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we begin this Holy Week and all the celebrations and Masses that we are going to have, let us keep our focus on Christ, on Christ crucified on the cross, for through that cross all of us were saved from sin and eternal damnation, and also on Christ Resurrected, which on Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, and indeed through the entire Easter season we are going to celebrate. That despite the death of Jesus on the Cross, all is not lost, since on the third day, He was risen to life again, and was resurrected in glory, to show the final victory of God and light over Satan and his agents of darkness.

Holy Week is not just like any other week, but it is indeed a very important week, and should be the most important week in our calendar year, when there are so many events surrounding the salvation of the world are being commemorated. We should do our best and our utmost in order to make this Holy Week a truly holy and blessed week. Let us reflect on the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ as we begin this Holy Week, with today, reflecting over the entry of Jesus in Jerusalem, how Jesus, the king of all kings, and Son of God the Most High, entered Jerusalem, His Holy City on a donkey, a lowly animal, and readily welcoming the death that would take Him that same week in Jerusalem.

May God Almighty bless all of us and make this Holy Week a truly holy and blessed week for all of us. Happy Holy Week! Amen.