Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we marked a great occasion with celebration the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Temple of God in Jerusalem. This day marks the fortieth day since the Solemnity of Christmas Day and traditionally marked the end of the Christmas season. This brings us another reminder that as the liturgical year moves on from the celebration of Christ’s birth towards His Passion and suffering and death during the Holy Week, we should reflect more deeply on His life and His actions.

On this day we remember the moment when the Lord was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem, to be presented and consecrated to God, in accordance to the laws of Moses, as St. Joseph and Mary were law-abiding and devout believer in God. All the firstborn sons of Israel must be offered to God and consecrated to Him, as a sign of the continuing covenant between Him and His people.

Jesus is the firstborn Son of Mary and St. Joseph, and although St. Joseph might have had another child from a previous marriage, or that St. Joseph was not the biological father of the Lord Jesus but merely His foster-father, yet legally he is the father of the Lord Jesus, and for that, Jesus was, in accordance of the law, to be consecrated to God in the Temple.

Jesus was presented to the Lord as the perfect and worthy sacrificial victim, presaging His sacrifice on the cross, by which He was to save the whole world and bring all those who believed in Him into eternal life and salvation. The prophet Simeon and the seer Anna, the prophetess were there at the Temple, and they welcomed the Lord Who came to His people, fulfilling His promises to them.

They told Mary and St. Joseph all that the Baby Jesus would come to do in due time, to save the people by His wondrous deeds, ultimately His loving sacrifice on the cross. It must have been hard for them to believe in all these at first, but they, particularly Mary, treasured all these things in her heart and kept their faith in what God had planned for all of them.

In the second reading today, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews, or the Jewish Christians spoke about Jesus as the High Priest of all the people. This is a common recurring theme he used throughout that Epistle to the Hebrews, referring to the Lord Jesus as the one and true High Priest, through Whom God willed to bring His people to salvation and liberation from all of their sins and to rescue them from their downfall.

In the past, the priests of Israel offered regular sacrifices of animal offerings, the offerings of blood, fats and others for the purpose of the reconciliation between God and His people, as the blood of the animals outpoured would symbolise the cleansing of the sins of the people, supposedly paid for by the blood of the offerings and also marked the renewal of the Covenant between God and His people.

However, those priests needed to offer the gifts and sacrificial offerings again and again because those offerings of bulls, rams and goats cannot have brought about the liberation of us mankind from all of our sins. The only One with the authority, power and ability to liberate us from the multitudes of our sins is none other than the Lord Jesus Himself, Son of God and Saviour of the whole world.

That is because He offered not the blood of animals and creatures, but rather His own Precious and Divine Blood, offered on the altar of sacrifice at Calvary. He willingly and voluntarily surrendered Himself to suffering and death, so that by His death, and later on, glorious resurrection, He could save all the people, and redeem all of them from their sins and wickedness.

That is His loving gift to all of us, which we commemorate every time we celebrate the Holy Mass. The Lord Himself has become our eternal High Priest, offering for our sake the oblations for the purification of our souls, bodies, hearts and minds. There is nothing more worthy or precious than the selfless offering of love, made by none other than Jesus, the Saviour of all mankind.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day it is good for us to pray for all those who have dedicated their lives to serve the Lord and to serve His people in the same way as those who live a consecrated life, the religious priests, brothers and sisters and all those who have devoted their whole lives to serve the Lord as a member of the religious orders and also institutes of consecrated life.

They have answered the Lord’s call to a life dedicated to Him, following the examples set by none other than the Lord Jesus Himself. Just as Jesus has been consecrated and presented to God, dedicating His whole earthly life and existence to follow and obey His Father’s will, all the way to the cross and to Calvary, where He obeyed His Father’s will and died for all of us, our courageous religious brothers and sisters and all who lived a consecrated life have sacrificed a lot for the sake of us all and for the Church.

Let us all pray for them and give them our support and encouragement, our fullest backing and prayers, that they may continue to persevere in doing what the Lord had called them to do, be it in the ministry to God’s people in various capacities, in the Catholic education and evangelisation, in prayerful life in cloisters and monasteries, and many more. Let us all give our support to them, and from among us, those who among us whom the Lord has called, let us all discern carefully and thoughtfully what God wants us to do with our lives.

Let us all, each and every one of us renew our commitment to the Lord, each and every days of our life. May the Lord empower each one of us to live faithfully in whichever vocations and directions which He has led us to. May the Lord, Whose presentation and consecration at the Temple we remember today, will always bless us and strengthen us in our resolve to live ever more committed and devoutly in God. Amen.

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 22-40

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.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law.

Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

His father and mother wondered at what was said about the Child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, “Know this : your Son is a Sign, a Sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a Sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, and spoke of the Child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the Child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon Him.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 2 : 22-32

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.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law.

Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 2 : 14-18

And because all those children share one same nature of flesh and blood, Jesus, likewise, had to share this nature. This is why His death destroyed the one holding the power of death, that is the devil, and freed those who remained in bondage all their lifetime, because of the fear of death.

Jesus came, to take by the hand, not the Angels but the human race. So, He had to be like His brothers and sisters, in every respect, in order to be the High Priest, faithful to God and merciful to them, a Priest, able to ask pardon, and atone for their sins. Having been tested through suffering, He is able to help those who are tested.

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 23 : 7, 8, 9, 10

Lift up, o gateways, your lintels, open up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may enter!

Who is the King of glory? YHVH, the Strong, the Mighty, YHVH, valiant in battle.

Lift up your lintels, o gateways, open up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may enter!

Who is the King of glory? YHVH of Hosts, He is the King of glory!

Friday, 2 February 2018 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Malachi 3 : 1-4

Now I am sending My messenger ahead of Me to clear the way; then suddenly the Lord for Whom you long will enter the sanctuary. The Envoy of the covenant which you so greatly desire already comes, says YHVH of hosts. Who can bear the day of His coming and remain standing when He appears? For He will be like fire in the foundry and like the lye used for bleaching.

He will be as a refiner or a fuller. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. So YHVH will have priests who will present the offering as it should be. Then YHVH will accept with pleasure the offering of Judah and Jerusalem, as in former days.

Friday, 12 June 2015 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate one of the great feast days of the Church, where we commemorate one of the great aspects of our Lord, namely that of His most loving Heart, which He has for all of us. The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus our Lord is filled with perfect love, just as God Himself is Love, and this love is the perfect and unconditional love which our Lord had for us, so much so that He was willing to lay down His life for us sinners and bring us by that to our salvation.

On this day, we celebrate the love of God which had been made evident through Christ. The crucifixion and its aftermath as we heard in today’s Gospel reading is the culmination in God’s everlasting love and good works for us. But since the beginning of time we have seen how great is the love that God has for us His people. It all began with our creation, when God created us and gave life to all of us.

Indeed, for God to show such great love for us, in creating us and giving life to us is already a love great enough, and yet, when we fell into sin, He continued to show even more love and compassion for us, by giving us chance and mercy after He had punished our ancestors for their sins. When Cain murdered his brother Abel, God punished him by having him pursued all his life for having committed such a sin, but He also gave him help by preventing others from killing him.

When mankind have sinned greatly against Him, He did not destroy them outright, but He tried to find the good in mankind. That was how He rescued Noah in the Ark that He commanded Noah to build, so that what is good in mankind, could be preserved. And when mankind sinned in their pride by building up the Tower of Babel, He scattered them and confused their languages, and yet, He also planted the seed of reunion and salvation through His chosen one, Abraham, whom He called out of the nations to be His own.

He did this so that He may one day bring all of His peoples back to Himself and reunite them once again as one people. He blessed Abraham and his descendants, and brought them to great blessings. When they suffered in Egypt in slavery, He heard them and showed forth in might His power to liberate them and brought them to the Land which He had promised to their ancestors.

And when they disobeyed and walked away from His covenant and His love, He punished them hard, and made them to wander in the desert for forty years, causing almost an entire generation of sinners to pass on, before their descendants were finally found worthy to enter into the Promised Land. But God also showed them mercy and love by feeding them with the bread from heaven and the food of angels, with water that is sweet and crystal-clear from the earth itself, even in the middle of the desert.

And despite their continuous and constant disobedience, God remains ever obedient and loving. He shows His mercy from time to time, by rescuing His people through the means of His prophets and messengers, whom He had sent into the world in order to reveal to them the path to salvation in God. This He had done again and again, until the point of time when He truly revealed the fullness of His Heart’s intentions through Christ.

For the Heart of God is filled with so much love and compassion for us that He was willing to come Himself and give us the ultimate hope for rescue and redemption. Through Christ He had established the unshakeable and permanent bridge between Him and ourselves. So that all who believe in Him and in His Most Sacred Heart filled with love for us, may be saved and be brought into our everlasting life and happiness.

The devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is a clear reminder for us all, of the love which God had shown us, the ultimate and perfectly selfless love through His suffering and death on the cross. And indeed, we pray to Him and trust in His Most Sacred Heart, that God in His unfailing love will not cease to love us and forgive us our sins when we repent and change our ways.

There is still time, brothers and sisters in Christ, for us all to accept the love of God and be forgiven. If only that we all realise how much God has loved us and how He is willing to cast aside our sins and allow us to begin anew again. The problem is that many of us do not realise this fact. We are either too proud to admit our sins and faults, or we are too fearful to approach the Lord.

We must not be either of this. We have to realise how loving God is, and therefore not to be afraid to seek His forgiveness, as He will not punish us without good reason. Our punishment comes because we have not turned from our ways and continued to repeatedly sin against Him, just as what the people of Israel had done in the past, by repeatedly refusing to repent, and by continuing to disobey His Laws and commandments.

At the same time, we must also realise that we cannot also be too proud to admit our sins. Many of us are not willing to admit that we have committed sin or made mistakes because we think that we are always in the right. Let us all make the effort to throw away our hubris and pride, and to open our hearts with humility, to approach the throne of our Lord’s merciful love.

Today on this Solemnity of our Lord’s Most Sacred Heart, let us all remember the love which His Heart had poured down unto us throughout the ages, both to us and to our ancestors. Let us all find the courage to approach His loving and sacred Heart, to entreat and move Him to show mercy to us when we have gone astray and sinned before Him and men alike.

Let us all also grow stronger in our trust to the Lord, as all who put their trust in Him shall never be disappointed. Remember that the Lord said to His disciples and to the people, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest? This is exactly what will be ours if we keep our faith and devotion to His Most Sacred Heart alive and strong.

If we adhere strongly to the Most Sacred Heart of our Lord, then His love will be with us, and all of us will be strengthened and encouraged by knowing that He is always there with us and for us. No matter what evil or challenges we are going to encounter, we will always keep true to Him, and if we do our part faithfully, in the end, God and His love will bless us and give us the eternal inheritance He had promised us.

Let us never cease to entreat and look upon the Sacred Heart of Jesus, knowing that our Lord who have saved us with His life, had generously offered us His salvation, shown by the outpouring of the blood mingled with water when His Heart was pierced with a lance after His death. This is a symbol of God’s love, that by His death, He purifies us with His living water and His Blood, and that as God and Man united in Jesus, He made us all worthy, and as the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice, His offering to redeem us has been accepted.

May our Lord continue to love us as He has always loved us so far, and may He forgive us our trespasses day by day, as we commit ourselves ever more strongly to Him and to His ways. May Almighty God in His Most Sacred Heart always find the good in us so that we may be found worthy and receive the fullness of His grace. O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! Amen.

Friday, 12 June 2015 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 19 : 31-37

At that time, as it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so that the bodies might be taken away.

The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man, who had been crucified with Jesus. When they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water.

The one who saw it, has testified to it, and his testimony is true; he knows he speaks the truth, so that you also might believe. All this happened to fulfill the words of Scripture : Not one of His bones shall be broken. Another text says : They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.