(Easter Sunday) Sunday, 27 March 2016 : Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Week, Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-9

Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken our Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have laid Him.”

Peter then set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter.

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too saw the linen cloths lying flat. The napkin, which had been around His head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place.

Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed. Scripture clearly said that He must rise from the dead, but they had not yet understood that.

 

Alternative reading

Luke 24 : 1-12

On the Sabbath the women rested according to the commandment, but the first day of the week, at dawn, they went to the tomb with the perfumes and ointments they had prepared. Seeing the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb, they entered, and were amazed to find that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there.

As they stood there wondering about this, two men in dazzling garments suddenly appeared beside them. In fright the women bowed to the ground. But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You won’t find Him here. He is risen. Remember what He told you in Galilee, that the Son of Man had to be given into the hands of sinners, to be crucified, and to rise on the third day.” And they remembered Jesus’ words.

Returning from the tomb, they told the Eleven and all the others about these things. Among the women, who brought the news, were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. But however much they insisted, those who heard did not believe the seemingly nonsensical story.

Then Peter got up and ran to the tomb. All he saw, when he bent down and looked into the tomb, were the linen cloths, laid by themselves. He went home wondering.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 1-12

On the Sabbath the women rested according to the commandment, but the first day of the week, at dawn, they went to the tomb with the perfumes and ointments they had prepared. Seeing the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb, they entered, and were amazed to find that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there.

As they stood there wondering about this, two men in dazzling garments suddenly appeared beside them. In fright the women bowed to the ground. But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You won’t find Him here. He is risen. Remember what He told you in Galilee, that the Son of Man had to be given into the hands of sinners, to be crucified, and to rise on the third day.” And they remembered Jesus’ words.

Returning from the tomb, they told the Eleven and all the others about these things. Among the women, who brought the news, were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. But however much they insisted, those who heard did not believe the seemingly nonsensical story.

Then Peter got up and ran to the tomb. All he saw, when he bent down and looked into the tomb, were the linen cloths, laid by themselves. He went home wondering.

Sunday, 20 March 2016 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Holy Week (Passion Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 22 : 14 – Luke 23 : 56 (Palm Sunday Year C)

When the hour came, Jesus took His place at the table and the Apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I was eager to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”

Then they passed Him a cup, and when He had given thanks, He said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves; for I tell you that, from now on, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.” Jesus also took bread, and after giving thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My Body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

And after the supper, He did the same with the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant, sealed in My Blood, which is poured out for you. Yet the hand of the traitor is with Me on the table. Know that the Son of Man is going the way marked out for Him. But alas for that one who betrays Him!”

They began to ask one another which of them could do such a thing. They also began to argue among themselves which of them should be considered the most important. And Jesus said, “The kings of the pagan nations rule over them as lords, and the most hard-hearted rulers claim the title, ‘Gracious Lord.'”

“But not so with you; let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is the greatest, he who sits at the table or he who serves? He who is seated, isn’t it? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

“You are the ones who have been with Me, and stood by Me, through My troubles; because of this, just as the kingship has been given to Me by My Father, so I give it to you. You will eat and drink at My table at My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones and govern the twelve tribes of Israel.”

“Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you like grain, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have recovered, you shall strengthen your brothers.” Then Peter said, “Lord, with You I am ready to go even to prison and death.” But Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day before you have denied three times that you know Me.”

Jesus also said to them, “When I sent you without purse or bag or sandals, were you short of anything?” They answered, “No.” And Jesus said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and a bag as well. And if anyone is without a sword, let hm sell his cloak to buy one. For Scripture says : ‘He was numbered among criminals.’ These words have to be fulfilled in Me, and now everything written about Me is taking place.”

Then they said, “See, Lord, here are two swords!” But He answered, “That is enough.”

After this, Jesus left to go as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him. When He came to the place, He told them, “Pray that you may not be put to the test.” Then He went a little further, about a stone’s throw, and kneeling down He prayed, “Father, if it is You will, remove this cup from Me; however, not My will but Yours be done.” And an angel from heaven appeared to give Him strength.

As He was in agony, He prayed even more earnestly, and great drops of blood formed like sweat and fell to the ground. When He rose from prayer, He went to His disciples, but found them worn out with grief, and asleep. And He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Get up and pray, so that you may not be put to the test.”

Jesus was still speaking when a group appeared, and the man named Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss Him, and Jesus said to him, “Judas, with a kiss do you betray the Son of Man?”

Those with Jesus, seeing what would happen, said to Him, “Master, shall we use the sword?” And one of them struck the HIgh Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus stopped him, “No more of this!” He touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus spoke to those coming against Him, the chief priests, officers of the Temple and elders; and He said to them, “Did you really set out against a robber? Do you need swords and clubs to arrest Me? Day after day I was among you, teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest Me. But this is the hour of the power of darkness; this is your hour.”

Then they seized Him and took Him away, bringing Him to the High Priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance. A fire was kindled in the middle of the courtyard, where people were gathered, and Peter sat among them. A maidservant noticed him. Looking at him intently in the light if the fire, she exclaimed, “This man also was with Him!” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

A little later, someone who saw Him said, “You are also one of them!” Peter replied, “My friend, I am not!” After about an hour another asserted, “Surely this man was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”

Again Peter denied, “My friend, I don’t know what you are talking about.” He had not finished saying this, when a cock crowed. The Lord turned around and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the word that the Lord had spoken, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter went outside, weeping bitterly.

And the guards, who had arrested Jesus, mocked and beat Him. They blindfolded Him, struck Him, and then asked, “Who hit You? Tell us, prophet!” And they hurled many other insulting words at him.

At daybreak, the council of the elders of the people, among whom were the chief priests and the scribes, assembled again. Then they had Jesus brought before them, and they began questioning Him, “Tell us, are You the Christ?” Jesus replied, “You will not believe, if I tell you, and neither will you answer, if I ask you. Yet from now on, the Son of Man will have His seat at the right hand of the MIghty God.”

In chorus they asked, “So you are the Son of God?” And Jesus said to them, “You are right, I am.” Then they said, “What need have we of witnesses? We have heard it from His own lips.

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claming to be Christ the King.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up with His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him now; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while, the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence, I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

On the Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner. Therefore, shouting as one man, they protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder.

Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “To the cross with Him! To the cross!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes.

When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the fields, and laid the cross on him, to carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!'”

“And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the king of the Jews? Free Yourself!”

Above Jesus there was a inscription in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your Kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts.

But those who knew Jesus remained there, at a distance, especially the women, who had followed Him from Galilee; they witnessed all this.

Then intervened a member of the Jewish supreme council, a good and righteous man named Joseph, from the Judean town of Arimathea. He had not agreed with the decision and action of his fellow members, and he lived uprightly in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God. Joseph went to Pilate, and asked for Jesus’ body. He then took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a yet unused tomb, cut out of a rock.

It was Preparation Day, and the star which marks the beginning of the Sabbath was shining. So the women, who had come with Jesus from Galilee, followed Joseph to see the tomb, and how His body was laid. And returning home, they prepared perfumes and ointments. And on the Sabbath day, they rested, as the Law required.

 

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 23 : 1-49

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claming to be Christ the King.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up with His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him now; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while, the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence, I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

On the Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner. Therefore, shouting as one man, they protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder.

Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “To the cross with Him! To the cross!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes.

When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the fields, and laid the cross on him, to carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!'”

“And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the king of the Jews? Free Yourself!”

Above Jesus there was a inscription in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your Kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts.

But those who knew Jesus remained there, at a distance, especially the women, who had followed Him from Galilee; they witnessed all this.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of St. Matthias, one of the Twelve Apostles, although originally he was not included among the Twelve, until after Judas Iscariot had betrayed the Lord and committed suicide for his sins against the Holy One of God. Only then that Matthias was selected, as we heard how it went in the first reading today, to replace Judas so that the number of the Apostles will always be full, that is twelve.

There are great symbolisms behind the number twelve chosen by the Lord to be the chief among His disciples and followers, and He set them aside to become His Apostles, to be the ones who led in the evangelisation of the Gospel and the spreading of the Good News to many nations. The number twelve is often associated with the number of the tribes of Israel, the sons of Jacob to whom the Lord had bequeathed the Promised Land long ago after their exodus from the land of Egypt.

The Apostles, if we read the Book of Revelation, are the ones who will judge the people and the tribes of Israel, at the end of time, and Jesus Himself said that they will be the judges of the people of God. They were the chief assistants of the Lord, to whom Jesus even promised that He went ahead of them to prepare the places for them. Such a good life for them, is it not?

But, brethren, you have to look at what they have to face in life, as they proceed on with what they had been entrusted with. They were charged to bring the people of God from many nations and return them to the embrace of God, their loving Father. This was no easy task, and they had enormous challenges in their ministry, facing rejection after rejection, and the open and blatant hostility of the Jewish leaders and priesthood, as well as opposition from various groups of people who refused to listen and believe in the truth.

And eventually they also met their end in various means, through martyrdom and suffering, in different parts of the world, when the people to whom they had dedicated themselves to, turn their back on them, rejecting them, and murdered them, shedding the Apostles’ blood, which in turn became the seed for the faith of more Christians, as inspirations for even more martyrs to rise up and defend their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what St. Matthias had been chosen for. It was not an easy task, but he and the other Apostles persevered nonetheless, and  they served as an inspiration for all of us. So how is this relevant to us who live in this modern era, in this modern day world? It is relevant because we are all also charged with the same mission to evangelise the world, to spread the Good News to all men.

And even these days, it does not mean that this work is getting any easier. On the contrary, it is getting more and more difficult, with challenges and oppositions from every possible sources and corners of the world, from both outside the Church and even from within the Church. Being a missionary and a worker of the Lord like the Apostles is not easy, but arguably, it is truly worth doing. Why? Because the Lord takes good care of all those who believe in Him and those who do His will, like the Apostles did.

Let us therefore be encouraged, that we will be faithful and committed to the cause of the Lord, that we may be fruitful in our attempts at evangelisation, and bring more souls closer to the salvation in God. May the Lord protect and guide us on our way, that through the help and intercession of St. Matthias the Apostle, we may become ever better disciples of God. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 3 January 2014 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 29-34

The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! It is He of whom I said : A Man comes after me, who is already ahead of Me, for He was before me. I myself did not know Him, but I came baptising to prepare for Him, so that He might be revealed in Israel.”

And John also gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit coming down on Him like a dove from heaven, and resting on Him. I myself did not know Him, but God, who sent me to baptise, told me, ‘You will see the Spirit coming down, and resting, on the One who baptises with the Holy Spirit.'”

“Yes, I have seen! And I declare that this is the Chosen One of God!”

 

Alternative Reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

 

Luke 2 : 21-24

On the eighth day the circumcision of the Baby had to be performed; He was named Jesus, the Name the angel had given Him before He was conceived. When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord.

As it is written in the law of the Lord : “Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God.” And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Thursday, 8 August 2013 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are reminded today, of our own weaknesses, of our own vulnerabilities, and the need for all of us to follow the will of our God, and follow the thinking of our God, trusting in Him fully with all our hearts, our minds, and all our beings, instead of trusting our own instincts and human emotions.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Dominic, also known as St. Dominic de Guzman, a well known preacher who lived in the high Middle Ages Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth century Europe. He was the founder of the Dominican religious order, also known as the Order of Preacher. St. Dominic was well known for his strong devotion in the Lord, and his unshaken faith, in which he emphasized on the importance of having a strong and vibrant faith in God, as our armour, and put our trust in the Lord, instead of trusting in the power of men.

St. Dominic worked hard to spread the words of the Gospel, preaching to many people of God who had gone astray from the faith, and those in whom the flames of faith had died down. He had made much impact in strengthening the faith and zeal among the faithful at a time when heresies were commonplace in the Medieval Europe, particularly the Albigensian heresy or the Catharian heresy widespread in the Christendom at the time. Not only that, St. Dominic de Guzman was also well-known for being the one who propagated the devotion to the mother of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, through the Rosary.

St. Dominic and his successors in the Dominican religious order continued the spreading of the holy Rosary, as a potent tool and weapon which we can use, in our fight and constant struggle against the devil, as something that can help us anchor our faith firmly in the Lord, through the inspiration of the faith that His Blessed Mother has, that is the faith of Mary. The Dominican friars, monks, and priests continued until today the works and passions of St. Dominic, bringing more and more lost souls back to the embrace of the Lord who loves them.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important for all of us to continue to have faith in our Lord and in His saving power. Not just any faith, but a strong and immovable faith like that of a rock, faith that will never be shaken by any power of the devil or the temptations of this world. If our faith in the Lord is not strong, the devil can easily sow the seeds of rebellion and distrust in our hearts, and that will make our faith even weaker and less anchored.

That was what happened to the people of Israel during their journey in the desert, when the Lord led them through Moses to walk through the desert of Sinai from Egypt towards the Promised Land of Canaan. Even though the Lord had shown them His power and might through the miracles He had shown them via Moses and Aaron, by the Ten Plagues He had sent to punish their former Egyptian slavemasters, and despite His opening of the Red Sea for them to cross, and finally, even giving them manna, the bread of heaven to eat, and sweet water to drink from rocks, they still rebelled against Him and constantly complained against Him throughout the journey.

They abandoned the Lord immediately after He made them walk through the Red Sea, when Moses went up the Mountain of God and did not come down for forty days, when they decided to take the matter on their own hands, and made a new ‘god’ of gold shaped into a calf, abandoning the Lord their God who had shown them their might, for the pagan idol of gold and the world. They did not have true faith in their heart, nor true love for God, but they merely have amazement, wonder, and even fear for the Lord, for all the things He had done for them, but that is not love or faith.

We must be strong and have our faith firmly rooted in the Lord, that we will not be tempted nor give in to our human weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Ever since our ancestors ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we have been exposed to such weaknesses, negative things such as lust, greed, wrath, anger, pride, and many others. These can derail us from the path towards salvation, that is the path for us to return to our Lord.

What happened to Moses and Peter in the first and the Gospel readings respectively are also examples of what can happen, even to those whose faith are firm and strong in the first place, if we do not keep our faith strong at all times and let it to waver or allow evil to dwell within us and plant his seeds of evil within us. Moses as the leader of the people of Israel and Peter as the leader of all the Apostles, the one to whom God entrusted all His people on earth to.

As the leader of the people, Moses certainly had a great responsibility, and his role as the one who speaks directly to the Lord God made his works even more demanding on him. When the people constantly complained and rebelled against his leadership and the Lord Himself, the strain went too much for him and indeed, at Massah and Meribah, as we heard from the reading today, Moses snapped. In his anger and wrath, he disobeyed the Lord in order to chastise the people. Yes, the Lord in His love still allowed the water to flow through the rocks for His people to drink, but Moses’ disobedience is something that he should not have done. As a result, he was not to enter the Promised Land together with the rebellious people, who had been punished for their lack of faith in the Lord.

Peter, the leader of the disciples of Jesus in his fear that the Lord would suffer and die under the Jewish authorities, rebuked Jesus in that he said that Jesus should not face His death and therefore complete what He was born into this world for. Peter gave in to his fear and uncertainty, and his faith was shaken. But the Lord rebuked Satan who was inside him, and rebuked the one who sowed the seeds of uncertainty in the heart of Peter, and reminded Peter as well, that one ought to put their full trust and attention to the Lord their God and not in the wisdom and power of men.

Yet, despite the apparent weakness of faith of Peter, and his later abandonment of the Lord in his three times denial that he knew Christ, Peter, who was Simon son of John has great faith in his heart, that the Lord who sees all knew about the true faith in Peter. That was why, He named Simon as Peter, which means ‘Rock’ or Cephas in the approximate Aramaic language used by the people of Jesus’ time.

That is because Peter truly is faithful to the Lord, and he truly loved Him, and he showed that in the end by giving up his own life for the sake of the Lord, as the martyr of the faith. He led the people of God in the Church faithfully and dutifully, ensuring that a stable foundation of God’s Church was built, and behold! The Church of God that He established on Peter as foundation remains today as our Church, with our current Pope Francis, as the successor of Peter as the head of the Universal Church.

We too, brothers and sisters in Christ, ought to strengthen our faith and our love for the Lord our God. There are many ways to do this, that our faith will blossom and grow together with our love, both for God and for our fellow men. Pray often, speak to the Lord our God through prayer, that we constantly remain in connection to His will and His words, that we do not easily fall astray of the true path to God.

And following the push by the Dominicans and their founder, St. Dominic, let us pray the rosary often with meaning and devotion, and not just merely chanting the prayers, but that we really mean the prayers in the rosary that we offer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, that she will then deliver our prayers to the throne of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, God and King of all the Universe, who will hear us, and succour us at all times.

May the Lord who is faithful and loving be with us always and give us His love and kindness, strengthening us whenever we are weak, and planting the seeds of faith in us, anchoring it on solid rock foundation, that we will withstand whatever assault Satan tries to make, and whatever temptations this world attempt on us, to lead us astray from salvation into damnation. Let us, inspired by the example of St. Dominic, reach out to one another and help one another in our devotion to the Lord, that all of us will be saved together. Amen.

Friday, 2 August 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop; and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord our God is great, and He is mighty. He is the ruler over all creation and has authority and power over all. From generations to generations He had shown His greatness to the people of Israel and all the other children of God. He had saved Noah from the flood by His enduring love, and brought Abraham, our father in faith into the Promised Land that He promised to his descendants.

He made his descendants into great nations, and to Jacob and his sons, he made them into His chosen people of Israel. He blessed them and protected them, and He made Joseph prosperous in Egypt when his brothers thought evil things for him. He blessed His people, made them prosper and multiply in foreign lands. When they were enslaved and persecuted, He rescued them and punished their enemies, bringing them out of the land of Egypt to the Promised Land.

It is His wonders, His infinite love, and His faithfulness that the people of Israel celebrate in the feast days appointed by the Lord and told to them through Moses, in the first reading today. The people celebrated His blessing in the Promised Land and all its wealth, by thanking Him and offering the first fruits of their labour in that blessed land, as a sign of their love and dedication to Him, their Lord and God. They also commemorate the Passover, their greatest feast, because on that day in Egypt long ago, the Lord had shown His might and saved for eternity, the people of Israel from the slavery under the Egyptians and the Pharaohs.

The Day of Atonement is also a special occasion for the Jewish people, because indeed, as much as the blessings that the Lord had given to the people, their ancestors had also rebelled and sinned against the Lord, by their disbelief and lack of faith, and by their doubt in the power and authority of the Lord, much like the people of Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, which we heard today in our Gospel Reading. The Day of Atonement reminds them that they are sinful and they are nothing in the eyes of God because of their sins, and yet, in His infinite mercy and love, He embraced them and made them whole again, forgiving them from their sins.

It is not only the people of Israel who has feast days and days of celebrations in their annual calendar, my brothers and sisters, because we, the people of God, the chosen people of God, who believe in Christ, also have our feast days, not unlike that of the people of Israel of old. We commemorate Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Messiah, who had come into the world, the Word of God made flesh, for the salvation of all mankind.

We celebrate His birth on Christmas, the day when the Lord stooped down from His divine throne in heaven, and came down to be one of us, one like us, save for sin, so that we may have a new hope for salvation and deliverance from evil and death. We celebrate His ministries in this world in our daily and weekly Sunday Masses, when we listened to the readings of the Gospels, highlighting His good works and mission in this world, the teachings He had given to His apostles and from them, to us.

We celebrate daily and weekly, His most Glorious death on the cross, the ultimate sacrifice of the divine, the death of our own Lord and God, on the cross, for our sake, that we who believe in Him will not taste death but life. We celebrate this every time we have the Mass, when the ultimate sacrifice of Christ is brought closer to us, through the Eucharist, the Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood of Christ, that Jesus Himself had given us and His disciples, that He will live in us, and we in Him.

During the time of the Holy Week and Easter, we celebrate the greatest works He had done in His mission, that is the Passover of the Lord, the Great Passover, not unlike the Jewish Passover of old. This time, however, the Lord did not just pass over the people of Israel and brought death to their Egyptian oppressors, but this time, the Lord passed over the judgment of death from those who have their faith in Him, and brought them, not just into any Promised Land, but into the eternal happiness and blessing of the Promised heaven, which Christ promised to all those who put their complete trust in Him.

That is why, brothers and sisters, we ought to take greater attention and commit ourselves more strongly and more vigorously to our Lord, by putting greater effort on our own part, to fully participate in the celebrations and feast days of our Lord, celebrating the memory of His wondrous work for our sake, celebrating the mysteries of His birth, His ministry, His suffering, death, and resurrection from the dead, for in Him lies our only hope and our salvation.

Today, we celebrate the feast of both St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard. St. Eusebius of Vercelli was the bishop of Vercelli who lived in Italy in the late Roman Empire at the fourth century after the birth of Christ. St. Eusebius faced much difficulties during his ministry as the servant of God’s Gospel, facing many divisions in the early Church, between the various heretical factions trying to subvert the truth of the Lord’s Good News.

St. Eusebius persevered and despite the difficulties, he professed his faith and adherence to the true teachings of Christ reflected in the orthodoxy of the Church magisterium. He defended the faith against heresies and promoted reconciliation between the different factions of the faithful, and also urged people who had veered away from the true faith to return once again to their Lord and their God.

St. Peter Julian Eymard also did not have an easy time in his ministry, as he faced challenges in the increasingly secular France, at the start of the nineteenth century, just decades after the horrors of the French Revolution. Yet, he persevered and continued to do great works for the sake of the people of God, ministering to them with love. He championed the cause of the children receiving the Holy Communion at a young age, which would be approved by the Church through Pope St. Pius X in the early decade of the twentieth century.

St. Peter Julian Eymard established the order of the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, members of whom are devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord Himself, and in the service of His people, leading a prayerful and contemplative life filled with joy of the Lord. St. Peter Julian Eymard continued to serve the Lord in the best way he could, and he gave glory to God, the Lord who had come down from heaven to save us from death, and give us a new hope of eternal life.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the examples of St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard, we should also glorify the Lord our God and give Him our thanks, by devoutly following His teachings and proclaiming His life, death, and resurrection, particularly to those who had yet to hear the Word of God and thus the words of salvation.

May the Lord guide us in this journey through life, that we will always persevere regardless of the difficulties, and let us always remember of the love our God has for all of us, that He even was willing to suffer and die for us all, that we may live, and not just any life, but an eternal life of bliss and happiness with Him in heavenly glory. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 25 July 2013 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of one of the great Twelve Apostles, that is St. James the Lesser, the brother of St. John the Evangelist, the beloved disciple of Christ, and one of the sons of Zebedee, whose mother’s pleading to Christ we heard in the Gospel Reading today. St. James the Lesser was also the first of Christ’s Apostles to be martyred and went to heavenly glory, leading the way for his fellow Apostles, in glorifying Christ and God through his death.

St. James and his brother, St. John were courageous and fearless defenders of the Gospel, and brave messengers of the message of salvation, that is brought by Christ unto this world. They became witnesses to the death and resurrection of Christ. He witnessed the Risen Lord who gave them the mission to spread the Good News to all mankind, to the ends of the earth, and to make disciples of all the nations, a mission which is still true even until today.
Just as St. James was captured, imprisoned, and eventually martyred by the actions of King Herod, the King of Judea at the time, he did not give up his faith, and neither did he slacken from the mission the Lord had entrusted him with, despite the relatively short time that he had in his mission, him being the first to be martyred and die among the Apostles of Christ.

But that reminds us all of the reality of following our Lord Jesus Christ, that as St. Paul mentioned in the first reading today taken from the Second Letter to the faithful in Colossus, that following the Lord is not an easy way, and there will be many persecutions awaiting the faithful, many trials and tribulations inflicted by those who hated the Lord and His people. The devil is at work, brothers and sisters in Christ, because he is ever busy undermining the work of Christ in this world, trying to snatch us away from His embrace, and bring us into the eternal darkness of hell.

However, let us not fear the devil and his devices, Satan with all his wicked tools of corruption, temptation, and blasphemy against the Lord. That is because Christ our Saviour had conquered, and He had shown His might to all creation, freeing mankind forever from their bondage to sin, and therefore to death and Satan himself. For Satan, the evil one, had been our jailor and our master, the slave master ever since our ancestors chose to follow and obey his words rather than the commandments of the Lord.

Christ had given up Himself as the sacrificial victim, offered to everyone without exception, so that out of the outpouring of His love and His blood from the cross, everyone will be washed clean from the taints of their sins, like the way how the saints and martyrs in the vision of St. John, the brother of St. James, washed their cloaks and robes clean and pure white in the Blood of the Lamb, in his vision written in the Book of Revelation, as a vision of the end times.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, while following Christ will be difficult, with opposition from many, and even persecutions and oppressions may accompany it, but the Lord will be with us, walking alongside us. He carries us whenever we are weak and downtrodden. He gives hope to us whenever our hearts are heavy and filled with despair. For He is our God, a loving God, and a Good Shepherd, who cares for His sheep so much, that He would give His life for their sake, that they may live.

Today, brothers and sisters, we are still called by the Lord, to be like His disciples, and to be like His Apostles, particularly like St. James whom we remember today, in our zeal for Him, in our love and dedication for Him, and most importantly, in our actions and words, that we always reflect Christ at all times in them. Never speak a word without contemplating Christ, and never lift up your hand before listening to the Lord’s will.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important that we base ourselves on a good, strong, and vibrant prayer life, because prayer is the way for us to communicate with the Lord our God. Prayers are not supposed to be one-way request hotline for us to bombard the Lord with our needs and petitions, but it is rather a channel for us, to be able to listen to the Word of God speaking silently inside our hearts. Once our internal dispositions are good, based on a good faith and prayerful life, then we can embark on our mission of love, that is to make disciples of all the nations, by preaching the Good News of salvation, to the ends of the earth.

In his Epistle, that is the Epistle of James, St. James wrote especially about how faith without good works is the same as a dead faith. There can be no salvation without a living faith, that is faith made alive with good works based on the love of God. Therefore, it is important that we have a good prayer life and a heart dedicated to the Lord, and use this love in our heart, to do good for our neighbours, our brothers and sisters in need, that our faith is made alive, because we practice our faith, in following the Lord’s commands, that is to love one another just as we love ourselves.

The world today has ever greater need for missionaries and labourers of Christ, as more and more people are in need of God’s love and mercy. More and more people are turned away from the Lord because the world and its goodness have deceived them and led them away from the true path towards the Lord. Materialism and consumerism had made so many people paying less attention to the very God who had saved them from damnation, and they turned their backs on the Lamb who had shed His blood for their sake.

Be not afraid, and inspired by the zeal and example of St. James the Apostle, and the other Apostles and disciples of Christ, let us renew our effort to make a difference in our world, by bringing Christ into it, and fearlessly preaching the truths of the Gospel. We do not have to aim high nor go far, brothers and sisters, because we should indeed begin within our own families, within our own circle of friends, and within our own respective societies.

Have we as a family or within our friendships reflect Christ in all our words, deeds, and actions? Have we showed love in all the dealings we have with others. Do we bring life and love to others through what we have done to them? Have we brought peace to people who are in conflict and have we stood up for those who had been unjustly treated and persecuted?

All of us can do our own respective parts to play in our own respective communities, be it at home or outside, between our friends and our families. Let us all then resolve, and renew our commitment to the Lord, to be truly His disciples, not just in name, but also in our actions, and every words that leave our mouth. Let us bring light to all the nations, the Light of Christ, which reveals the way to the salvation of Christ.

Let us pray also for all the participants of the World Youth Day, which is now ongoing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that the youths of God will be new missionaries and new disciples of the Lord, committed to their mission, to bring the Good News to all, to comfort the sorrowful, to bless and heal the sick, and to love those who are unloved and rejected by the society.

St. James the Apostle, pray for us and intercede for our sake, all of us sinners and weak at heart, to the Lord our God, that He will strengthen us and give us His Spirit that we will all be courageous to glorify Him and to show Him to the world, a world that still lies in darkness, and badly in need of the Light of Christ. May God bless us all and give us all courage and faith. Amen.

Sunday, 21 July 2013 : 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Colossians 1 : 24-28

At present I rejoice when I suffer for you; I complete in my own flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body, which is the Church. For I am serving the Church since God entrusted to me the ministry to make the Word of God fully known.

I mean that mysterious plan that for centuries and generations remained secret, and which God has now revealed to His holy ones. God willed to make known to them the riches and even the Glory that His mysterious plan reserved for the pagan nations : Christ is in you and you may hope God’s Glory.

This Christ we preach. We warn and teach everyone true wisdom, aiming to make everyone perfect in Christ.

Sunday, 14 July 2013 : 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Deuteronomy 30 : 10-14

For you shall turn to YHVH, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and observe His commandments and norms, in a word, everything written in this book of the Law. These commendations that I give you today are neither too high nor too far for you. They are not in heaven that you should say : “Who will go up to heaven to get these commandments that we may hear them and put them into practice.”

Neither are they at the other side of the sea for you to say : “Who will cross to the other side and bring them to us, that we may hear them and put them into practice.” On the contrary, my word is very near you; it is already in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can put it into practice.