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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 41 : 3, 5 and Psalm 42 : 3, 4

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I go and see the face of God?

Now as I pour out my soul, I remember all this – how I used to lead the faithful in procession to the house of God, amid shouts of joy and thanksgiving, among the feasting throng.

Send forth your light and your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre and harp, o God, my God.

 

Alternative Psalm (If there is baptism)

Psalm 50 : 12-15, 18, 19

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it.

O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

Monday, 16 December 2013 : 3rd Week of Advent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord is our teacher and our guide, the One who would bring enlightenment to this darkened world of ours, dark in the depth of the ocean of sin, which promotes ignorance, indifference, and even hostility against the infinite and gracious love and kindness of the Lord. He came in Jesus, incarnated into man, so that He might teach His own people directly, on the truth about God and His plan for all of us.

Jesus taught with clear authority, and He showed forth His infinite wisdom and intellect even as He taught the people. He showed them the revelation of the Lord’s Good News to mankind and showed them the truth about what God has prepared for all of us, that is salvation, and the promise of eternal life. He did not make up anything in His teachings, because all that He taught was the truth and is truth.

And although many things had been revealed through the prophets and the words in the Scripture, many still adamantly and obstinately refused to believe in Christ and in what He had taught them. They questioned Him and even His authority, even though they had eyes to see and ears to listen to what Christ had done, which would have been far more than enough to show the authority of the Messiah.

They doubted Him and refused to believe what He would tell them. They ignored His advice to them, and even plotted for His downfall. Such was the reception of a people for whom Christ Himself has come down upon this world for, to the point that He would even die to bear our sins and the consequences of our sins.

But was Jesus bothered by all these negative reactions, especially coming from the leaders of the people and the powerful ones in the society? No! Jesus brushed them aside, masterfully trapping them in their own queries, and He continued to teach the people. He found no point in arguing or debating with them, for after all, they were hell bent at trapping Him in His own words, and were adamantly against Him.

Similar situation also happened in the first reading taken from the Book of Numbers. In order to give all of you an understanding of what happened, one of the kings of the people of Canaan hostile to the people of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt and journey towards the Promised Land, was so terrified by the approach of the Israelites that he resolved to employ the service of a seer, named Balaam, a seer of God.

Balaam was employed to curse the people of Israel, that they would be cursed and destroyed. Is it not the same as the Pharisees who employed all their intelligence and knowledge for the wrong thing, that is wishing for the downfall of Jesus? But Balaam did not obey the orders of his employer, and instead of cursing the Israelites, he blessed them instead with rich blessings.

Balaam showed that we as the children and people of God should have no need to fear worldly authorities. Instead we all should obey the Lord, the One who has real and true authority over all creations. It is He who possesses all authority, the source of all authority that we have. We will not have any authority if we do not adhere ourselves to the Lord.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, as we reflect on the readings we had heard from the Scripture, let us first acknowledge the authority of the Lord and place our full trust in Him. Let us not be like the Pharisees, the Sadducees and many other people who were so occupied with their own pride and arrogance, so as to refuse to accept the Lord and listen to His teachings, stubbornly clinging to their jealousy of the Lord for challenging their own authority.

Let us trust in the Lord, and pay close attention to His teachings. Let us not ignore His call to us, a call which He intended for us to heed, that we may be called to be closer and closer to His love and mercy, changing our once sinful ways, with the ways of the Lord. Make God our guide and our leader, and resolve to walk closely within His path, without turning left or right. Listen to His words and let His words come in and transform us all. God be with us all. Amen.

Friday, 27 September 2013 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 42 : 1, 2, 3, 4

Make justice, o God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; deliver me from the wicked and deceitful.

You are my God, my Stronghold, why have You cast me out? Why should I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?

Send forth Your light and Your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre and harp, o God, my God.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Saints Pontian, Pope and Martyr, and Hippolytus, Priest and Martyr (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord our God is a loving and merciful God, who is quick to forgive and slow to anger. He cares deeply for all of His children that is all of us. He gave His all to save His lost ones, likened by Christ Himself as the shepherd who went out to seek for the one lost sheep. Yes, brethren, so great is God’s love for all of us, that He was willing to come down to us, as a man, to be one of us, that He may save us all through His great sacrifice, a sacrifice for all our sins and our unworthiness.

The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep and is willing to die in exchange for the life of his sheep. That was exactly what Christ had done for the sake of us all, that is to die on the cross for us, to give up His life, that we may have life in us, through Him and through His action in His saving Passion. In order to look for us, the lost sheep, He was willing to go through painful suffering and rejection, so that He may find us, and not just find us, but also gather all of us, and return us into His most loving embrace.

We have been lost ever since our ancestors disobeyed the will of God and forsook His love, preferring the devil and the pleasures of this world instead of the love of our God. If our God does not love us or care for us, then He could have easily blasted us into oblivion, erasing us from existence. Remember, He is the Almighty God, who is all-powerful and almighty, and He is the God who created the universe. Just as easily as He created us, He can as easily erase us from creation, and therefore eliminate the evils present within us.

Yes, we have been dirtied by the evils within us, and the evils of this world, that we are unworthy for the Lord who is all good and perfect. Yet, He troubled Himself and went all the way, even to incarnate Himself as one of us, through the Blessed Virgin Mary, that He became one of us, sharing our sufferings, sharing our troubles and pains, even though He certainly was not obliged to do that. He was truly like a shepherd who shared the sufferings and experiences of his sheep, be it in the sun or in the rain, in safe times or in times of danger, when wolves are threatening to eat the sheep the shepherd is guarding.

Our loving God protects us from harm and shield us from pitfalls and from our enemies. That was evident in His great providence to His people, Israel. He blessed them, smote their enemies, and gave them food to eat and drinks to satiate their thirst. He brought them through the desert into the land He promised all of them. In His love and kindness, He had poured His love to His people, and protected them as He always had. Yet, the people lacked gratitude, and they made complaints after complaints against the Lord, chiding that He had not done enough good for them.

God kept His patience and continued without end to provide help to His people, by sending them His prophets and messengers. The people hardened their hearts and they rejected God’s messengers, casting them out of their cities and even killed them in cold blood. The Lord thundered His wrath on the rebellious ones and casted them out of His presence, but He kept on hoping in us mankind, that we will find our way back to Him our Father and our Good Shepherd.

To this end He sent us a great new hope, in Jesus Christ, part of the Most Holy Trinity, who became our connector to the Lord our Father, as the bridge that bridged the uncrossable and infinite chasm created as a result of our rebellion against God and His love. Christ is that shepherd who went out of his way to look for the lost sheep, and when the lost ones are found, great rejoicing happens, to the shepherd and the whole flock of the sheep, because the lost ones are no longer lost, but reunited as one once again, with the saved ones.

We have been saved, brothers and sisters in Christ, because we have believed in Jesus our Lord and Saviour, and accepting His offer to salvation, which He granted freely to all who trust in Him and all who put their faith in Him. We have been saved because we have been joined to that One Body of Christ that is the Church, the One and only Church that God had established, to be the united body of His faithful ones, that is the flock of the Lord’s sheep. We have been baptised in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, and we have been taken away from this world and its evils, and brought together with other faithful ones, into the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, out of which there is no salvation.

Today, brethren, we commemorate the feast of two great saints and martyrs of the early Church, namely Pope St. Pontian or St. Ponziano, Bishop of Rome and successor of St. Peter the Apostle as the Vicar of Christ, and St. Hippolytus, a priest of the Church of God, also known as St. Hippolytus of Rome. Pope St. Pontian lived through the turbulent times of the third century Rome, when the Roman Empire went through a series of military and political upheavals. Pope St. Pontian initially led the Church in a relatively peaceful state, but soon faced a tough persecution of the faithful when a new Emperor came into power and began to persecute Christians once again.

St. Hippolytus lived in the same era, a contemporary of Pope St. Pontian, and in fact they clashed over certain issues during the time prior to their martyrdom. They were bitter rivals, and their rivalry even threatened to split the Church under factions led by each of them respectively. However, over time, they reconciled their differences, and worked together to bring back the lost sheep of the Lord caused by the divisions in the Church and among the faithful. Both St. Hippolytus and Pope St. Pontian were captured and exiled together by the Emperor who persecuted Christians harshly.

Eventually both of them met their end in death, in sacred martyrdom, in the defense of their faith, and in their courageous and vibrant love, which they showed to their fellow men, the flock of the Lord that they have been appointed as shepherds for. They did not fear death, because the Lord who had conquered death through His own death on the cross, has been triumphant, and death will not have the last word. Through their actions and deeds, many of the lost sheep of the Lord, and those who have yet to hear the Lord’s word were inspired to seek the Lord and find His truth, bringing to them the salvation of our Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, even though both Pope St. Pontian and St. Hippolytus had died a long time ago, but the spirit of their hearts and their works are still evident even until today. They have inspired all of us to also be shepherds for one another, to take care for one another, dissolving the differences between us, and seeking for what unites rather than what divides.

Let us seek our God the Good Shepherd, and if we are lost, let us find He who looks for us day and night. Let us not to forget to ask the assistance and help from His faithful servants, the saints, Pope St. Pontian and St. Hippolytus, all the other saints and martyrs, and the holy angels of the Lord. Last but not least, let us also seek the help of the greatest saint of all, the mother of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us continue to walk in the path of the Lord, and not to be led astray by the temptations of evil, that we will be reunited by the Lord our God in complete and eternal happiness. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 25 May 2013 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor; Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope; and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we learn about God, that God is our Father, our creator. God shaped us from dust, in His own image, that we look like Him, and receiving His Holy Spirit through His breath, we gain life that is anchored in the Spirit that is in all of us.

He is our Father, and like our earthly father, He loves us, protects us, and grant us His grace, through His guidance and numerous blessings to us. He taught us many things through subtle means, and He opened our eyes to the knowledge of the world. He brought us up since the day of our conception and cares for us till the day of our death.

God who is our Father loves us, brothers and sisters in Christ, that He even sent His only Son, one of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, to be one of us, to be a lowly man like us, and in doing so, He brought us even closer to Himself, because we now, through Christ, truly become children of God, because Christ Himself, the Son of God, is our brother, just as He is our Lord and Saviour.

But we have rebelled against His love and His faithfulness to us, and we have rejected Him since the first days of creation, beginning with the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, when they ate the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, trusting Satan in the snake more than they trust the Lord their God and their creator.

Yes, one weakness that mankind particularly has today is greed, my brethren, especially greed for knowledge, curiosity, and an excess of it, which resulted exactly in the rebellion of the first mankind, because of their curiosity of the knowledge of good and evil as tempted by Satan. The Lord has given each one of us wisdom and intellect, but we have never felt enough, and are always curious and wanting to know more.

This is how our modern world rapidly becoming less and less faithful to God, and many turn their hearts away from total obedience and love for God. Many question their faith, because they are curious about the truth behind it, and they trust more alternatives to God such as scientific discoveries, because in those discoveries, they gain more and more knowledge, and this displaces God in their hearts, because to them, science seems to offer them something tangible, as science itself represents something that must be verifiable and visible.

Yes, our God and Lord may not be visible to us, and His presence may not be easily felt, if you apply the standards of science, and the standards of our human stature to it, but God does exist in our hearts, brothers and sisters in Christ, and He is present in all of us, through the Spirit of life that He has given us. What mankind is lacking truly is the ability to transcend that greed for more knowledge and more understanding, but in the process, those greed transform them into a corrupted being.

That is why Christ asks us to be like the children, to have faith like the children, because children are pure and innocent, and in the children lie the fullness of the love of God, and they are beings that can truly love God with all their heart, their mind, and their soul, without being disrupted and clouded by the evils of this world, simply because, in the innocence of their heart, they know only the love of God.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we too should follow the children’s example, in their pure and unadulterated love for God. If you see a child pray, you can see that their prayer is pure, and not like many of us who utter litany of wishes in our prayer, because we have been tainted by greed and desire, desiring that God grant us our wishes, although prayer is in fact the bridge of faith, our pure connection, a two-way connection between us and God, instead of being a help line or a wishing line.

That is why those of you who are parents with young children, it is important to educate your children well, and ensure that they are protected from the evil influences that are ever present in our world, and in our surroundings. In a world where knowledge had become much more readily accessible and in the reach of even children through the media and the internet, there is a need for greater vigilance, brethren, that we, and especially young children, do not fall prey to Satan’s advances. Knowledge is good, and knowing more is good, but are we able to truly distinguish between truth or lies? and are we able to distinguish between what is good and what is bad?

Today, we also celebrate feast of saints, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Saints because we do not just celebrate one saint, but three saints! They are St. Bede the Venerable, a holy monk living in the seventh and early eighth century England, who contributed greatly to the development of the Church in Britannia, and we also have Pope St. Gregory VII, a great Pope, and a great reformer Pope, who championed the freedom and the authority of the Papacy against secular powers that try to usurp the Church’s authority from it, and finally St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, a virtuous religious sister who often received visions from the Lord, and was known for her great piety and love for God.

St. Bede the Venerable was a great author who wrote extensively on the early histories of the British Isles, but also made important chronicles of the development of the Church in the West and in Britain, especially in the well known history of the Church and people of England, that is the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum. His works brought great advancement in the field of learning and knowledge. This shows the greatness of wisdom and intellect that God has given us, and if we utilise it right, we can bring about great good to mankind, just as St. Bede the Venerable had done.

Pope St. Gregory VII, is a great Pope of the medieval era, who championed Papal supremacy and authority over the rulers of Christendom. He persevered over the power of the secular ruler, in the person of the Holy Roman Emperor, the Christendom’s ruler at the time, over the appointment of bishops, which rightfully should belong to the successor of the apostles, the successor of Peter, that is the Pope, alone. He triumphed against those who in their pride think that they know it all and did not pay proper respect to the Lord out of their pride and arrogance.

St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi gained many visions which she received regularly from the Lord, and through her writings on her visions and experiences, many believed in the Lord. This is the proof that knowledge and wisdom indeed comes from God, and from God alone. We humans receive our knowledge and wisdom from the Spirit that is also our life, but we are prone to think that this knowledge and wisdom is our own, and disregard the Lord’s role in it.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us from now on, follow in the footsteps of these great saints, and pursue the true knowledge, the truth that is in the Lord. Do not be tempted by the falsehood that this world offers, that is Satan’s temptation. God who loves us will grant us truth, wisdom, and knowledge that is anchored in Him, that we will not fall like Adam and Eve once did. May God be our light of guidance, and steer us on the path to return to Him one day. Amen.

Monday, 22 April 2013 : 4th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Psalm 41 : 2-3 and Psalm 42 : 3, 4

As the deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for You, o God. My soul thirst for God, for the living God. When shall I go and see the face of God?

Send forth Your light and Your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre and harp. O God, my God.

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 30 March 2013 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Psalm after Seventh Reading)

Psalm 41 : 3, 5 and Psalm 42 : 3, 4

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I go and see the face of God?

Now as I pour out my soul, I remember all this – how I used to lead the faithful in procession to the house of God, amid shouts of joy and thanksgiving, among the feasting throng.

Send forth your light and your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre and harp, o God, my God.

 

Alternative Psalm (If there is baptism)

 

Psalm 50 : 12-15, 18, 19

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it.

O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.