Tuesday, 4 February 2014 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today in the readings that we heard, we see the nature of love that is in the family. In the first reading we heard how Absalom, the rebel son of king David met his end at the end of his rebellion, and his father David grieved greatly for his death, indeed the sorrow of a father losing his son to death.

And in the Gospel, we heard how the temple official, Jairus, asked Jesus to heal his daughter for she was about to die, due to her grievous illness. And Jesus was moved with compassion and love for the faith the father had in Him, and He resurrected the dead daughter of Jairus when she had died before Jesus reached her home. And the family was once again reunited in happiness and love.

And not to forget the woman with the hemorrhage issue, whom the Lord healed by the touch of the woman’s hand on fringe of the cloak of Jesus. Her faith in God made her whole again, and her trust in the love of God who is Father made her healed from her afflictions. The woman trusted in Jesus and her faith was made an example to everyone.

Family is a unit in our society, which is often under attack these days. The sanctity of the family had often been under attack these days, by the forces of evil in this world, who like to see the family unit disbanded and destroyed. And yet family remained as one of the greatest bastion of the faith and love, in which many people were taught for the first time of the faith in God and how to love just as God has loved us.

And I am very sure that all of us can remember our own families and each members in the family, how each members has his or her own roles in the family. One is the father or the husband, who protects the family and provides for the family by working hard. The other is the mother, or the wife, who sometimes may also work, but whose primary role is in the upbringing of the family, and the children born out of the holy union of marriage.

And of course, there are the children, the gift of God’s love to us. Indeed, children are gifts of love, and therefore should not be taken lightly. Caring and loving the children are the primary duties of the family members, the father and the mother in particular. They are supposed to love one another and show the example of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in all events.

Losing a family member is not an easy thing to endure. Many of us would have endured this one way or another in our respective lives. How our loved ones no longer physically remain with us, as death claimed them and they passed on to the afterlife. And it is often only when we have lost someone that we realise how precious that someone is for us, and only when it is already too late.

David had had many wives, and he had many children. It was common for kings of his time, and even many up to recent days, especially in the Eastern cultures to have many wives and even concubines, and scores of children. The more wives and children they have, be it the sons and daughters of their wives or concubines, the more prestigious and powerful the kings would be regarded.

In such families, including that of David, there were often no love. Much of the interactions in fact were based on rivalry and hatred for each other, as well as based on greed and human desire for power and glory. Each sons would fight with each other for power and influence, and often even would try to claim the kingdom for himself. And that was exactly what had happened to Absalom.

Family not based on love will likely not survive long, and sadly, that is what afflicts many families today. Families often have become mere formality and even at times, considered as obstacles and hindrances by many. That was also why there are so many divorces and abortions of innocent babies, and the numbers are increasing without slowing down.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why Jesus came to this world, in order to teach us of the importance of love, including that of family love. His works and miracles bring happiness and joy to the people, and new hope to those who were afflicted with illness or sorrow. And God is our Father, and He sees us as His children. And Jesus wanted to show us, how much God our Father has loved us.

Indeed, so great is His love that He sent us Jesus, His Son, that through Him, and His death no less, we may have new life in Him. To those who had been sealed with the waters of baptism, we have been made the children of God. God is our Father and we are His children. And if we, as His children, remain faithful and continue to follow His ways, as children ought to obey their parents, then we will have no need to worry at all.

If we make mistakes, do not be scared or afraid. We should be brave to step forward as the woman had done, after she was cured from her bleeding issue. Even though she certainly trembled from head to the feet when she made that confession, but the Lord saw her faith and reward her.

If we make mistakes, then God our Father will chastise us. But He will not destroy us or cast us aside, because just as all fathers, He still loves us very much no matter what, unless if we continue to defy and disobey Him. Listen to our God, our Father, and pay attention to His calling and His guide. Follow Him and walk always in His ways.

May our Lord Jesus Christ continue to bless us, that we may love God our Father ever more, imitating the love that Jesus Himself had shown us, His people and His children. Keep us in Your favour, o Lord, and remind us when we err and walk away from Your path, o God our Father. Amen.

Sunday, 29 December 2013 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Today brethren, as we continue through the Christmas Octave, we celebrate a great feast day, that is the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Holy Family symbolises the perfect family, of which we should based our families and indeed our lives on. Our families must be modeled like that of the Holy Family, filled with love, hope, and in total faith and devotion to the Lord our God.

The Holy Family is holy because of Jesus, the Holy One of God is in their midst, but also because the holiness and piety of both Mary and Joseph, who devoted themselves in their own ways, to God, through their lives and their actions, and ultimately through their respective roles in the Holy Family. They were the ones who gave human love, care, and attention to Jesus, who was born into this world, as a weak and fragile Baby, as weak and fragile as we were when we were still infants.

Jesus is the Son, both as the Son of God, the Word of God made incarnate as humankind, made from the divinity and emptied Himself into our humanity, but He is, as mentioned, also the Son of Man, after making Himself to be one of us, sharing in our humanity through Mary, His mother. Jesus is truly the role model for all children, and for all sons and daughters, that they should follow.

Jesus is obedient to His parents, and He listened to them and their words. He obeyed them and was a truly dutiful son. He learnt about this human life and culture of His people from both His father and mother, that is Joseph and Mary. His family showed Him love, affection, and genuine care. He listened to their advices and words, like when Jesus was left behind in the Temple when He was twelve years old. Despite Him wanting to stay behind in the House of His true Father in heaven, He obeyed to their parents and followed them back home to Nazareth.

The family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph might not have been a perfect family from the values and perspectives of our modern world, but they are perfect and they are our role models in family building, because they have love in them. They may not be rich or endowed with wealth, and they did not have a big and marvellous house to live in, but they have love in them. And that is, brethren, what our families should all emulate.

These days, we tend to forget the true values of a family, and instead think and follow in the ways of the world, and of how the world perceives family today. Families are often no longer based on love, and neither did they instill in them the examples and values of the Holy Family, that we had heard today in the first reading, taken from the book of the prophet Sirach, as well as from the letter of St. Paul in the second reading.

People tend to take family lightly and treat it without honour. And this is well-linked to the decline in respect towards marriage and devotion between husbands and their respective wives. Marriage, which forms families, should be based on love and true dedication between the parties involved. Yet, these days, it is quite often that people are not married for love, but instead for lust, for money, and for material benefits rather than true love.

And this can be linked to the continuously increasing rate of divorce between couples, even among those who had just recently married and also among those who had been married for many, many years. In out faith, divorce is sinful before the eyes of God and it is an abhorrence.

Why so? That is because as God had said, that He had made us men and women, that when we join ourselves with one another, and make the solemn vow before God, we are made one by the Lord, and what the Lord had united as one, no one should ever divide. Yet, the reality is that the number of divorces just keep on increasing year after year.

And who is suffering from all these? It is the children, the fruits of the love of marriage. It is the children who suffer when the parents broke their commitment of love and chose to separate the holy bond placed by God between them. They suffer because they can no longer see their parents in their loving unity, and instead what they see is just division and the bitterness between their parents.

This is why it is very, very important for us to consider deeply the true meaning of marriage. We cannot base our marriage on the basis of lust or money, for these are the things that always end up taking advantage of us and destroying relationships more often than they do not. Love is the basis of a happy and loving marriage, as well as that of a happy family. And this is what we should really base our families on, like that of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Joseph, as the saying goes, was a much older man compared to Mary, who was then just a young virgin betrothed to Joseph to be her husband. And yet, despite their age difference, both of them truly loved one another. And even though Jesus was not technically his son, because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit as God Incarnate, Joseph still loved and cared for Jesus as if He was his own.

Joseph was a role model to all fathers, in his upright life, that he did not engage in licentious acts or any act of wickedness in opposition to the way of the Lord. Joseph offered protection to both Mary and the Child Jesus, when they were in difficulty, providing support to Mary throughout her pregnancy with Jesus, and then led them to Egypt when he was warned that King Herod wanted Jesus dead.

Joseph worked hard as a carpenter, in order to provide for both Mary and Jesus. Even though he was a poor carpenter, he did not complain. That is why St. Joseph, besides as the foster father of Jesus, is also known to be the patron saint of workers. He also dutifully fulfilled his role as the father figure to Jesus.

And Mary, as we all know, is totally devoted to her Son. She followed Him through many places, and in many important moments of His life. Ever since Jesus was conceived through the Holy Spirit in her womb, to His birth, and through His suffering and path towards Calvary, Mary is always at the side of Jesus, her Son.

Indeed, all these showed how a family should function, that is in togetherness, in unity, and in love. The father loves the mother and the child, the mother loves the father and the child, and the child loves the father and the mother. Everyone in the family should be dedicated to each other and give no way for dissensions or disunity to happen. That is why, from the example of the Holy Family, we too should follow what Jesus and His family had done, and implement it in our own.

And lastly, indeed, our families should be holy, just as the Holy Family is holy. We must base our family in love, as well as in prayer and in faith. Our families cannot be separated from God nor can we build a lasting family without the presence of God in each and every member of the family. The reason why many families did not last is because they never pray together, and they do not even sit down together to talk, or eat together, or do activities together as one family.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice in the festivities of Christmas, let us also heed of the examples of Christ and His family as we celebrate this feast of the Holy Family. Treasure our families and make sure that we keep faith and love at the centre of our families. Pray together as a family, that is important. Keep God at the centre of our family lives, and be assured that our family lives will be transformed such that we will be truly be grateful.

May the Lord our God, Jesus Christ, bless us that our families too can be like His own family in this world, with His mother Mary and Joseph His foster-father. May the Lord bless our families and let His love be within our families, each and every day of our lives. God be with us all. Amen.

Sunday, 29 December 2013 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 2 : 13-15, 19-23

After the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon be looking for the Child in order to kill Him.”

Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. In this way, what the Lord had said through the prophet was fulfilled : ‘I called My Son out of Egypt.’

After Herod’s death, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother and go back to the land of Israel, because those who tried to kill the Child are dead.”

So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother and went to the land of Israel. But when Joseph heard that Archilaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Judea, he was afraid to go there. Joseph was given further instructions in a dream, and went to the region of Galilee.

There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way, what was said by the prophets was fulfilled : ‘He shall be called a Nazorean.’

Sunday, 29 December 2013 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Colossians 3 : 12-21

Clothe yourselves, then, as is fitting for God’s chosen people, holy and beloved of Him. Put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience to bear with one another and forgive whenever there is any occasion to do so. As the Lord has forgiven you, forgive one another.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful.

Let the word of God dwell in you in all its richness. Teach and admonish one another with words of wisdom. With thankful hearts sing to God psalms, hymns and spontaneous praise. And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as you should do in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not get angry with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, because that pleases the Lord. Parents, do not be too demanding of your children, lest they become discouraged.

Sunday, 29 December 2013 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 127 : 1-2, 3, 4-5

Out of the depths i cry to You, o Lord, o Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication.

If You should mark our evil, o Lord, who could stand?

But with You is forgiveness, and for that You are revered. I waited for the Lord, my soul waits, and I put my hope in His word.

Sunday, 29 December 2013 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Sirach 3 : 3-7, 14-17a (Greek version 2-6, 12-14)

Whoever honours his father atones for his sins; he who gives glory to his mother prepares a treasure for himself.

Whoever honours his father will receive joy from his own children and will be heard when he prays.

Whoever glorifies his father will have a long life. Whoever obeys the Lord gives comfort to his mother. He serves those who brought him to birth as he would serve the Lord.

For kindness done to one’s father will never be forgotten, it will serve as reparation for your sins. In the day of adversity the Lord will remember it to your advantage; for just as ice melts in the heat, so will your sins melt away.

The man who abandons his father is like a blasphemer; he who annoys his mother is cursed by the Lord. My son, conduct your affairs with discretion.