Monday, 9 June 2014 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 120 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – from where shall come my help? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.

Will He let your foot slip, the One watching over you? Will He slumber? No, the guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.

The Lord is your Guardian, the Lord is at your side and you in His shade; Sunstroke will not be for you by day, nor the spell of the moon by night.

The Lord guards you from every evil; He will protect your life. The Lord watches over your coming and going both now and forever.

Saturday, 1 March 2014 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 140 : 1-2, 3 and 8

Lord, I call on You, hasten to help me! Listen to my plea when I call to you. Let my prayer rise to You like incense, as I lift up my hands as in an evening sacrifice.

O Lord, set a guard at my mouth, keep watch at the gate of my lips. But my eyes are turned to You, o God, my Lord; strip me not of life, for You are my refuge.

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.

Sunday, 20 October 2013 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mission Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 120 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – from where shall come my help? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.

Will He let your foot slip, the One watching over you? Will He slumber? No, the guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.

The Lord is your guardian, the Lord is at your side and you in His shade; Sunstroke will not be for you by day, nor the spell of the moon by night.

The Lord guards you from every evil; He will protect your life. The Lord watches over your coming and going both now and forever.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the word of God in the readings, in which we are told first of the greatness of God and His kindness and love for His people, in giving to His people, the full promise of His covenant by bringing them into the land promised onto them for possession, just as God had once promised Abraham, their forefather.

Today, we also listened to the end of Moses the great prophet and leader of God’s people, who acted as the conduit of God’s amazing power and brought Israel out of Egypt, through the miracles the Lord performed through Moses and his brother, Aaron. Moses was appointed to be tool through which God exercised His saving power on His beloved people. But Moses too had his flaws, and he disobeyed God in Massah and Meribah, when the people tested the Lord and complained against Him and Moses, His servant.

Through that disobedience, Moses was not allowed to enter the Holy Land, that Promised Land of Canaan, but he was indeed allowed to take a look of the land the people of Israel was about to enter, before the Lord took him into heaven into His presence at the end of his earthly life. Moses, as all men had, met the end of his life that is death. But as Christ had proven, that death is not the end, nor does it have any power over us, because, He had overcome death, and brought new life to all mankind, that is eternal life with God in heaven for those who remain faithful in God.

Although Moses had indeed gone, and no one was ever like him in this world, save for Christ, our Lord who had incarnated Himself as one of us, but there were many prophets that God had sent to His people to guide them from generations to generations. And then, our Lord Himself had commissioned His apostles, the disciples whom He had chosen, to be the new messengers and bearers of the will of God in this world. Yes, they were to be the leaders of the people of God, the shepherds of God’s beloved sheep, in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church He Himself had established and entrusted to the Apostles through Peter.

From the apostles, the authority of leadership of God’s people, as the divine shepherds, came down to bishops and priests throughout the generations, and eventually to our bishops and priests today, who minister to us and lead us in our path towards God, as our leader and guide. They are our role models and to be like Moses of old, when he led the people of Israel from the land of Egypt, to the Promised Land of Canaan.

And like Moses, our priests and bishops too have to deal with all kinds of problems, with our complaints and rejections of the Lord, that they really have much things to deal with in their hands. Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, their job is not easy, and they always need our constant prayers and assistance. And one of the task that priests need to do is to bring peace and love between one another, just as we listened in the Gospel Reading today, of the need to reconcile between ourselves, between brethren and children of the same God.

Today, we mark the feast of one of those excellent priests of the Lord, the leader of God’s people, the true shepherd, the good shepherd of God’s flock. Yes, that is Saint Maximilian Kolbe, the well-known saint of the Holocaust of Nazi Germany during the World War II era. St. Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan friar, who in his great zeal in the service of the Lord, and after witnessing the erosion of the faith in many, established the Militia Immaculata or the Army of Mary, a group intended to foster the love and devotion to the Lord through His mother Mary, and through the work, many people rejoined the Church and had their faith strengthened.

St. Maximilian Kolbe did much good works and service during his life and as a priest of the Lord. He truly became like Moses was for the people of Israel. He ministered to the people of God and through the Militia Immaculata, spread catechism and teachings of the Church to many people, bringing them closer towards the Lord and salvation, by means of printed media and publications such as newspapers and magazines. St. Maximilian Kolbe also went to Japan and established at Nagasaki in particular a base of operations, from where the good works of St. Maximilian Kolbe and his fellow workers spread to the people still in darkness.

St. Maximilian Kolbe protected many thousands of people including the Jews, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland at the beginning of World War II. He protected them from the cruelty of the Nazi holocaust policy, but in the end he himself was captured and imprisoned by the Germans. He was incarcerated in prison with many other people, suffering under very harsh treatment and hard labour in the Nazi concentration camp. Yet, he did not give in to despair, but he in fact encouraged his fellow inmates, singing hymns and saying the Mass for them.

St. Maximilian Kolbe was not obliged to do so, but he did so because of the faith and dedication he had for the Lord and for the people of God. He truly lived his faith and made it a concrete and living faith. One day, the Germans wanted to punish a few people in the prison, because it was found that someone had managed to escape the prison, and therefore these people had to suffer in the escaped prisoner’s place. One Polish military officer who was imprisoned was chosen to be among the ones to suffer death. His pleas for mercy because he had a wife and children brought the attention of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who offered himself in exchange for the man, that is to die in his place instead.

The example of St. Maximilian Kolbe is truly praiseworthy, brothers and sisters in Christ, because through his death, much had been achieved. Yes, his death was not a waste, but it has brought much fruits, that is the fruit of love, the fruit of one’s selfless act of sacrifice, for the love of his fellow men. St. Maximilian Kolbe exemplified the very words of Christ, on who is a true and good shepherd, that is someone who love fully those who had been entrusted to him, his friends and loved ones, and one who even would die for the sake of his friends. That was what St. Maximilian Kolbe had done with his sacrifice for the poor soldier and indeed, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself had done for all of us out of His love.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, we all ought to emulate the example of St. Maximilian Kolbe in our own lives, in our giving of ourselves to our brethren in need. We can do it in a variety of ways, but basically we have to be ready to give our all for our brethren’s sake. As importantly as this, let us support our priests and those who have been appointed as shepherds over us, that they will remain faithful to the mission they have been appointed to, and faithful to the people and the flock they have been entrusted with, just as St. Maximilian Kolbe and many other great saints and martyrs had done.

May the Lord bless us, our priests, and our Church, and may through the intercession of St. Maximilian Kolbe and all the saints, more souls will find their way to heaven, and may in this world that we live in today, justice and peace can be held up ever better, and may the innocent and the weak ones be protected from harm, injustice, and evil. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 29 June 2013 : Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, Great Feast Day of the Church of Rome (Psalm)

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

I will bless the Lord all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify the Lord, together let us glorify His Name! I sought the Lord, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress.

The Lord’s angel encamps and patrols to keep safe those who fear Him. Oh, see and taste the goodness of the Lord! Blessed is the one who finds shelter in Him!