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.

Monday, 29 April 2013 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor (Gospel Reading)

John 14 : 21-26

“Whoever keeps My commandments is the one who loves Me. If he loves Me, He will also be loved by My Father; I too shall love Him and show Myself clearly to Him.”

Judas – not Judas Iscariot – asked Jesus, “Lord, how can it be that You will show Yourself clearly to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word and My Father will love him; and we will come to him and make a room in his home.”

“But if anyone does not love Me; he will not keep My words; and these words that you hear are not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. I told you all this while I was still with you. From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.”

Wednesday, 10 April 2013 : 2nd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

John 3 : 16-21

Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved. Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.

This is how the Judgment is made : Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For whoever does wrong hates the light, and doesn’t come to the light, for fear that his deeds will be seen as evil. But whoever lives according to the truth comes into the light, so that it can be clearly seen that his works have been done in God.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013 : Tuesday of the Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

John 20 : 11-18

Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet.

They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She answered, “Because they have taken my Lord and I don’t know where they have put Him.”

As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognise Him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and answered Him, “Lord, if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will go and remove Him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, and said to Him, “Rabboni!” – which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch Me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and say to them : I am ascending to My Father, who is your Father, to My God, who is your God.”

So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what He said to me.”

Monday, 1 April 2013 : Monday of the Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 28 : 8-15

The women left the tomb at once in fear, yet with great joy, and they ran to tell the news to Jesus’ disciples. Suddenly, He met them on the way and said, “Rejoice!” The women approached Him, embraced His feet and worshiped Him. But Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid! Go and tell My brothers to set out for Galilee; there they will see Me.”

While the women were on their way, the guards returned to the city, and some of them reported to the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests met with the elders, and decided to give the soldiers a large sum of money, with this instruction, “Say that His disciples came by night while you were asleep, and stole the body of Jesus. If Pilate comes to know of this, we will explain the situation and keep you out of trouble.”

The soldiers accepted the money and did as they were told. This story has circulated among the Jews until this day.