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

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 55 : 1-11

Come here, all you who are thirsty, come to the water! All who have no money, come! Yes, without money and at no cost, buy and drink wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not food and labour for what does not satisfy? Listen to Me, and you will eat well; you will enjoy the richest of fare.

Incline your ear and come to Me; listen, that your soul may life. I will make with you an everlasting covenant. I will fulfill in you My promises to David.

See, I have given him for a witness to the nations, a leader and commander of the people. Likewise you will summon a nation unknown to you, and nations that do not know you will come hurrying to you for the sake of YHVH your God, the Holy One of Israel, for He has promoted you.

Seek YHVH while He may be found; call to Him while He is near. Let the wicked abandon his way, let him forsake his thoughts, let him turn to YHVH for He will have mercy, for our God is generous in forgiving.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, My ways are not your ways, says YHVH. For as the heavens are above the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is My word that goes forth out of My mouth : it will not return to Me idle, but it shall accomplish My will, the purpose for which it has been sent.

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

Liturgical Colour : Red

Isaiah 50 : 4-7

The Lord YHVH has taught me so I speak as His disciple, and I know how to sustain the weary. Morning after morning He wakes me up to hear, to listen like a disciple.

The Lord YHVH has opened my ear. I have not rebelled, nor have I withdrawn. I offered my back to those who strike me, my cheeks to those who pulled my beard; neither did I shield my face from blows, spittle, and disgrace.

I have not despaired, for the Lord YHVH comes to my help. So, like a flint I set my face, knowing that I will not be disgraced.

Thursday, 9 January 2014 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in Jesus lies the salvation of this world, just as it had been foretold by the prophets of ages past. Jesus fulfilled perfectly the prophecy of the prophet Isaiah, who foretold the coming of the Messiah, at which time, the world which had been long in darkness would see a new light, accompanied by signs of great joy and healing, which Christ fulfilled perfectly as mentioned by Isaiah.

And yet, even though the signs had been very clear that Christ was truly the Messiah, many of the people adamantly and continuously resisted the Christ and refused to acknowledge the divinity and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Some, like the Pharisees and the Sadducees opposed Him and even hounded Him throughout His ministry because they saw Him as a rival to their own worldly authority in teaching the faith.

Some others, like His own countrymen and neighbours, the villagers of Nazareth refused to believe in Him, just because it was incomprehensible and impossible for them to believe that a mere carpenter’s son, the son of Joseph, could be the Messiah, less so to be the Lord of all creations Himself. They were formed by this prejudice, and therefore, they were not receptive to His teachings or His message.

Jesus spoke with clear authority and with the full grasp of the truth behind the Lord’s plan of salvation. Jesus made clear the true meaning behind the Lord’s ordained laws for mankind, that is the Ten Commandments He had revealed to His people through Moses. The Ten Commandments had been followed by many, but had also been forgotten at times, and their true purpose was truly not understood by the people, at the time of Jesus, when the Pharisees and the teachers of the law taught them the twisted version of the commandments of God.

The Lord had revealed to Moses many regulations and rites in addition to the commandments He gave, but these were meant to make sure that the people obey the Law of the Lord and do not instead walk astray to worship pagan gods, as these stubborn people had shown in the desert, how easily they were swayed to worship the gods and idols of the people around them.

By the time of Jesus, these rules and regulations had been codified by the Pharisees and the teachers, experts of the law, ending up becoming a great burden for the people, for there were many additions to the original rule, following the customs handed down the generations by the Jewish people. These rules numbered about six hundred and thirteen in total, and the Pharisees as well as the teachers of the law enforced them very strictly on the people.

That was why, the Lord Jesus came to us also to make clear the true meaning of the laws He had given to mankind, that they would not perversely use them for their own purposes, or corrupt them with human greed or desire. Jesus taught the people that God’s law is love, just as He is Love. The Law of God was never meant to be the burden for mankind or to punish them, but instead, it was there because the Lord loves us and He wants us to be saved.

Yes, just like the love of a father for his children. And remember how St. John the Evangelist in today’s first reading also mentioned that the law is not a burden? And because if we love God with the sincerity of our hearts, we will surely do anything in our power to devote ourselves to Him and obey Him? That is why, brethren, we must not misunderstood the Lord or misused His commandments just as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us praise and honour our Lord and God for His great love to us. Let us not reject or cast Him away as His own countrymen and the Pharisees, the leaders of God’s people had done. Instead, let us welcome Him and His love for us, by pledging back to Him our own love dedicated to Him.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, strengthen us, and empower us to live with love, every single day of our lives. Amen.

Sunday, 22 December 2013 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Romans 1 : 1-7

From Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, an apostle called and set apart for God’s Good News, the very promises He foretold through His prophets in the Sacred Scriptures, regarding His Son, who was born in the flesh a descendant of David, and has been recognised as the Son of God endowed with Power, upon rising from the dead through the Holy Spirit.

Through Him, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and for the sake of His Name, we received grace and mission in all the nations, for them to accept the faith. All of you, the elected of Christ, are part of them, you, the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy : May God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, give you grace and peace.

Tuesday, 10 November 2013 : 2nd Week of Advent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord is our shepherd, and we are His sheep. That is how close we are to Him, and how dear and precious we are to Him. For a good shepherd, his sheep would be everything in life, and a good shepherd gives his all for the sake of his sheep. He feeds them, cares for them, protects them from harm, and finds them if they lost their way in the wilderness.

That is precisely what our Lord did, and what He will do for our sake. The Lord is our shepherd, who cares for us, and provides for all our needs. We have been lost in the darkness, and have been destined to death. Yet, He did not give up on us, and went all the way out to seek us and find us in the darkness and bring us back into the light.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He did not fear oppositions and rejections, and He went straight out, seeking those who were considered by many to be lost. He sought tax collectors, prostitutes, and the least and rejected of the society. He sought them and lifted them up from the darkness that once engulfed them, bringing them back into the light. Precisely just like a shepherd tending to his lost sheep and the injured ones, bringing them back to their old selves.

And He as the shepherd rejoices when the lost sheep comes back to the fold. And these who have been saved, will enjoy the fullness of the graces of God, with all the joy and promises He had made to us since the beginning of time. And He did not just make those promises, as He in fact, fulfilled every single one of them without fail.

Such is the love that our Lord has for us, that He did not hesitate to even lay down His life for our sake, that we who were lost, may once again be reunited with Him, and receive from Him the eternal joy and the rewards of heavenly glory. Remember the Psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd?” Yes, in that psalm, we hear how the Lord will lead us to life-giving water, to quench our thirst for the love of God, and we will never hunger again, for our Lord will provide for us, for eternity.

We do not need to worry, if we put our trust and faith in God, because He will take care of us. Sadly, the reality is far from that. We worry, brothers and sisters, worry too much! We are too preoccupied with our worries to even be able to recognise and notice God’s love and care for us. We are so preoccupied and worried about so many things in our lives, that we end up living in constant fear and constant desire.

We always seek more and more things, because desire and greed grows within us. And this world too, increasingly offering us more and more exciting things that often distract us away from our attention to the Lord. We ignore the shepherd who calls out to us, the lost sheep, because we the sheep are too distracted with the things around us.

Let me illustrate it to you with a story. There was a hundred sheep living in peace, in a beautiful and lush meadow, with plenty of food and water for them. They lived in peace with a wonderful shepherd, who loved them as if they were his own family. The shepherd led them every day to the feeding ground, and to the spring of clear water for them to drink. All were good.

The sheep knew their shepherd and the shepherd knew all of them, each one of them, even if there were a hundred of them in all. All would have been good and continue to be good. And yet, one day, one of the sheep saw a beautiful butterfly flying at a far away forest at the edge of the meadow. The sheep was lured by the beautiful butterfly, and it chased the butterfly deep into the forest.

The sheep followed the butterfly until it lost sight of it. The sheep suddenly realised that it is in the middle of the dark forest. And a pair of hungry looking eyes were staring at the sheep, eagerly awaiting its next meal. It was a hungry wolf. The sheep realised that the wolf would eat it, and gave in to its fate. Yet, when the wolf lunged forward to bite and kill the lost sheep, something went in between them.

Lo, there was the shepherd, bleeding after being bitten by the wolf, standing in between it and the frightened sheep. The shepherd hit the wolf with his crook, and killed the wolf. The shepherd then turned to the lost sheep, picked it up, and happily returned to the flock, celebrating that he had found the one lost sheep, and his flock is complete once again. The shepherd knew all along that one sheep was lost because he knew them all, and went to search for the lost one.

This in essence, is what the readings today are about, that is about the Lord our God, who went out all the way to look for us, His lost children. Yes, we have been lost, ever since sin and the temptations of this world, the allures of worldly pleasures and false happiness, turned us away from our devotion to God. It is just like the sheep lured by the beautiful butterfly, that it followed the butterfly deep into the forest.

The devil is the wolf, awaiting for us in darkness, awaiting for the time when we fall to the trap, and then he will strike. But do you think that our God will just let us fall prey to the devil like that? That shepherd was Jesus Christ, who came to protect us from the schemes and devices of the evil one. He stood before us and the evil one, taking into Himself, the punishment intended for us.

Every single wound that Christ inflicted upon Himself, are every single sins that we had committed. Every single mankind past, present, and future, everyone that has ever sinned. These wounds represent the sorrows of the Lord for our sinfulness, but at the same time, they are the living testimonies of the great and eternal love for us all.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we ready to truly proclaim the Lord as our God? He did not hesitate to take upon Himself the sins and sufferings of mankind. Then should we also hesitate to love and dedicate ourselves to the Lord? Let us take this opportunity to seek further to love the One who gave His life for us, and to reach out to Him, reaching out our hands to welcome the Shepherd who wants us, His lost sheep, to be reunited with Him.

May the Lord our loving God and Shepherd, continue to watch over us and protect us, that we will always be in His grace and love, receiving the daily blessings and care from His hands. God be with us all. Amen.

Thursday, 14 November 2013 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord warns us today, that the kingdom of God is coming, and indeed it is drawing nearer even as we speak. No one but God Himself knows about the exact timing when this will happen. We can only know that it is indeed very, very soon. We are urged to be prepared that when the time comes, we will not be caught unprepared and therefore thrown into the pits of hell and suffer for eternity.

Jesus revealed that the kingdom of God has arisen within each one of us, since the Holy Spirit that gives us life, dwells within all of us. It is with this Spirit that the kingdom of God arrives to us within our hearts. As mentioned in the first reading taken from the Book of Wisdom, wisdom itself came from God, and indeed everything eventually has their origins from the same, one, and true God.

It is the Holy Spirit who dwells in us that represent the wisdom present in all of us. Wisdom is a gift from God to mankind, that we all may, through the Spirit, discern about our lives and what happens around us. A truly wise person is not someone with plenty of knowledge or intelligence, as this is not true wisdom. A truly wise person is someone who realise that the Spirit within them has empowered them to do many things, including realising and preparing for the coming of God’s kingdom.

Through wisdom in the Holy Spirit, the full truth of the works of Christ in this world has been revealed completely, just as it had to the apostles many years ago. Through Christ, God wants to reunite mankind to Himself, by the redemption of their sins and the resurrection of the body and soul from death. That has been revealed to us in the life of Jesus Himself, who suffered for our sins, died, was buried, and rose up from death, leading mankind towards the Father in a similar way.

Those who sincerely believe in God will have no need to ask what the Pharisees and the people had asked, because they already know God’s involvement in all things, especially in what Jesus had done throughout His ministry. These others asked because simply their faith is not strong enough and lacking. They doubted the works of God in Jesus, and were not convinced by what Christ had told and taught them all those while.

They asked for signs of the coming of the kingdom of God, and yet Christ Himself is the concrete sign that the kingdom of God is near. All the prophets had been prophesying about Him, the one and true Lord who would come to save His people, and yes, He came indeed, in Jesus, saving all mankind through His sacrifice on the cross, that a new hope may dawn, the hope of everlasting life in glory in heaven.

Jesus has given us much, as He gave His own flesh and blood for us, through His disciples, and which we commemorate in every Mass until today, for us to eat and drink, and be strengthened by His power and presence within us. Through the Most Holy Eucharist, the Lord comes within each one of us who believes and dwells within us. That is the essence of wisdom that had been mentioned.

For wisdom cannot come without accepting the Lord our God as our Saviour and Lord, and immerse ourselves in the abundance of His divine love. For it is in the Lord and with the Lord who dwells within us, with His presence and His Spirit, that we gain the complete perfection of wisdom as well as the completeness of salvation.

Many would say that science and the present day discoveries and developments prove that our faith in God and all that are meaningless. Why so? Because they tried to use human wisdom to explain what is divine, and in the same way, this is precisely what the Pharisees had done. They doubted the coming of the kingdom of God through Jesus, just because they were not able to see it. They were blinded to the truth that has already been revealed through Jesus and through His actions.

Science, brethren, is in fact not a bad thing. It is how people use it makes it look bad, especially to us the faithful ones in God. Science is our humble men’s attempt to explain what happens around us, and inevitably, the greater understanding we have for our surroundings, for our universe, will bring us to the greater picture, that is the realisation, of how wondrous God’s love for us, and how great God is, in bringing about all creation together, by Himself.

Many phenomena in our universe cannot be fully explained by mankind, and through science, no matter how advanced it is. Why so? That is because many of the important events that scientists have deduced through science are in fact, deductions and hypotheses. These are predictions based on what people think might have happened, through observation. Yet, again, in all these, without the presence of God, everything truly is empty and meaningless.

For it is God who made all things, in ways that our minds and our understanding can never comprehend, not even with the most advanced tools and technologies. It is He who give purpose and meaning to all things, even to our very existence, to our very own lives. How wasted and meaningless our lives would be, if it were to be without meaning, without a clear goal, that is for us to reach out to God, the One who made all things exist.

And the Lord promised us that He will come again, and come again He will indeed! As we all always say in our Creed, that the Lord will come again to judge the living and the dead, that is the moment, when the kingdom of God is truly present and become a perfect reality, when all the righteous ones will join God in heaven, while those who are wicked will be cast out from the sight of God for eternity.

Yet, as Jesus had said, the kingdom of God is already within us, as we who received the Lord and the Spirit that He sent us, the kingdom of God is already within our heart. Inside, the Lord had planted various good seeds that awaits us to germinate, grow, and produce fruits. Therefore we are all expected to give fruitful and indeed, bountiful returns. We cannot be barren nor be useless. For when the Lord comes again to judge all creation, we will be found unworthy by the Lord.

May the Lord our God who loves us, continue to do so, and keep us always in His grace. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brethren in Christ, today we listen again to the healing miracle of the ten lepers by the power of Christ our Lord. The Lord has authority over all things, as the Lord and Creator of all things in this universe. He alone has the power to alter everything as He saw fit. He had come down to us in Jesus His Son, to bring about concrete change to all of us, reaching out to us all as we are all in one way or another, sick.

Yes, we are sick, and we are ill, brethren! Not the illness of the physique or those that are visible to the eyes, but the illness that is inside our souls. This is what Christ had come to us to cure. For physical illnesses and diseases can have many cures but for this illness of the soul, there is only one and only cure, that is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus, as He Himself had said, came especially for the sick and for those who are downtrodden. And yes, we are all sickened, brothers and sisters, and this sickness, that is of our soul, is the illness of sin. Yes, sin is our suffering and the pain that had infected us, affected us, and made us all unworthy before God our Lord.

Sin is a leprosy, yes the most terrible form of leprosy indeed, that is the leprosy of the soul. All of us have sinned at one point of our lives, and indeed, even from day to day we have sinned and inflict on ourselves more and more of this leprosy. And just like leprosy, sin spread like disease, affecting all of us, corrupting the health of our souls. Sin has no bounds and it affects everything.

Yet, unlike our diseases of the body, which inflicts physical pain and suffering to us, which none of us would certainly like, sin is often enjoyable and even attractive to many of us, that we are constantly always tempted to commit sin in our daily lives. That is why, sin is so dangerous, and we all ought to be careful, lest we all fall into corruption of sin.

The Lord Jesus came to us to heal us from this affliction, just as He showed His power by healing the lepers, the paralysed, those with physical debilitation, as those with spiritual illness, as those whose demons He had cast out. But often, we are too proud to admit our sinfulness and indeed, this illness, this leprosy of our souls. We are like those portrayed by the Book of Wisdom in our first reading as the proud and the mighty, those who do not bend their knees to acknowledge our Lord, the Master of all.

We are also often like the nine other lepers, the ones who did not return to Jesus after knowing that they have been healed. Jesus did not ask them to give Him thanks or worship Him for what He had done, but yet the one leper, the Samaritan, returned and give thanks and glory to God. For he knew that it is God who is the One with the power and authority, healing him from the leprosy that had affected him.

We are often like the nine other lepers, because we are often too immersed in our joy and happiness, when we received good things from God, that we failed to give Him thanks for all the blessings He had granted us. We often even give glory to ourselves and praise ourselves instead of God. That is what happened to the nine other lepers, that they were so engaged in their happiness, that they dashed off back to their old lives without stopping and use the chance to thank God as the Samaritan had done.

Nevertheless, brethren, we must not think that God does not want us to be happy, as what He wants from us is merely our love for Him. It is only right and just that we thank Him for the multitudes that He had given us. Not the least of which, is the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. It is the greatest gift God had given us mankind, because in Jesus, we are saved and given a new lease of life, and He did this precisely by striking against that leprosy of the soul, that is sin!

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us take time to reflect, whether for the many good things God had given us, we have thanked Him properly for them. God does not need us to utter a long litany of thanks, as what He truly needs is, none other than our love, and our wholehearted dedication to Him. May the Lord who loves us dearly, continue to bless us and watch over us, as we grow in His love. God bless us all. Amen.