Saturday, 17 February 2018 : Saturday after Ash Wednesday, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 58 : 9b-14

If you remove from your midst the yoke, the clenched fist and the wicked word. If you share your food with the hungry and give relief to the oppressed, then your light will rise in the dark, your night will be like noon.

YHVH will guide you always and give you relief in desert places. He will strengthen your bones; He will make you as a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters never fall. Your ancient ruins will be rebuilt, the age-old foundations will be raised. You will be called the Breach-mender, and the Restorer of ruined houses.

If you stop profaning the Sabbath and doing as you please on the holy day, if you call the Sabbath a day of delight and keep sacred YHVH’s holy day, if you honour it by not going your own way, not doing as you please and not speaking with malice, then you will find happiness in YHVH, over the heights you will ride triumphantly, and feast joyfully on the inheritance of your father Jacob. The mouth of YHVH has spoken.

Monday, 25 July 2016 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of one of the great Twelve Apostles, the chief disciples and servants of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today is the feast of St. James the Apostle, also known as St. James the Greater, the brother of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. They were featured in today’s Gospel as their mother came up to Jesus with them and asked Him to grant a great favour to her sons, that is to sit at the sides of the Lord in His triumph.

The attitude of the mother of the two Apostles, as well as the two Apostles themselves would serve to highlight the misunderstanding that the world often have with regards to power, influence, fame and all the things which we mankind often link together with greatness and success. But St. Paul in his letter to the faithful in Corinth reminded them all that the true treasure we have in us is in reality, the treasure of Christ, by sharing in His death and resurrection.

The people of this world by its nature are looking for good and happy things, putting their trust in accumulating and gathering more and more of what would satisfy their desires, all the temptation of power, of pleasure and debauchery, of fame and human praise, the glorification of the ego and the person above that of the suffering that others may endure due to our endless pursuits for those things.

But to be a disciple of Christ, we have to heed what the Lord Himself had said to St. James and St. John, that they would drink from the same cup of suffering and persecution that the Lord would drink, and they would share in the same persecution and opposition which He had endured from the world. To be a follower of Christ, it also means that we may be ridiculed and be rejected by the world, as our ways may then come into conflict with what the world considers as a norm.

Indeed, our Lord Himself showed by the examples He Himself had done. That by rejecting human pride and desire, He came into the world not to boast of His own power and majesty, but instead to serve and care with love a people whom He had claimed for Himself. He told His disciples, that while the way and the norm of this world is for the strong to oppress the weak with their power, it should not be so for those who follow Him.

And St. James took this advice to the heart and committed himself to the service of God with zeal and devotion. He ministered to the people of God and worked hard to establish the foundations of the early Church. He proclaimed the Gospel and the Good News to the world, telling the people about their Lord and Saviour, going even as far as the land of Hispania, now in Spain, to evangelise to the people there, where now a great Cathedral is standing for his honour, the renowned Cathedral of St. James of Compostela, Santiago de Compostela.

Lastly, as the fulfilment of what Christ our Lord Himself had told both St. James and St. John, indeed, St. James would share in the suffering of the Lord, by being imprisoned on the order of king Herod of Galilee. He was suffering in prison, and for the pride and greed of the wicked and unfaithful king, he was martyred, one of the first among the Twelve Apostles to suffer martyrdom for their faith in God.

And while his brother, St. John the Apostle and Evangelist was known to be the only one among the Twelve Apostles not to face martyrdom, but St. John also suffered greatly in his many years of life and service to the Church. St. John was imprisoned many times, and had to run for fear of his life many times, but remained faithful to the Lord to the end.

All of these showed us, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice in the glory of God’s holy saints and Apostles, that being a follower of Christ require commitment, hard work and perseverance. It will not be an easy path for us to follow if we choose to be faithful to God. If we think it has been easy so far, then we have to remember what Christ had said, that we ought to follow Him by taking up our own crosses in life and walk in His path.

Perhaps in many occasions we have allowed ourselves to let go of the many obligations of being Christians. Perhaps we have allowed ourselves to be swayed by the arguments and judgments of this world that led us into confusion and inability to discern and decide what it is like to be a Christian, that is to be truly faithful and to be committed to our calling to be one of God’s chosen ones.

Let us discern this and reflect on this matter as we celebrate the feast of the great Apostle St. James. Let us all follow in his footsteps and reinvigorate our effort to live ever more faithfully as those whom God had called and chosen. Let us all be fearful no more, but instead renew our faith in Him and be ever closer to Him and be faithful to all of His ways. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 25 July 2016 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 20 : 20-28

At that time, the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favour. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here You have my two sons. Grant that they may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, when You are in Your kingdom.”

Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink My cup, but to sit at My right or at My left is not for Me to grant. That will be for those, for whom My Father has prepared it.”

The other ten heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations act as tyrants over them, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you : whoever wants to be more important in your community shall make himself your servant.”

“And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man Who has come, not to be served but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”

Monday, 25 July 2016 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 125 : 1-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

When the Lord brought the exiles back to Zion, we were like those moving in a dream. Then our mouths were filled with laughter, and our tongues with songs of joy.

Among the nations it was said, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord had done great things for us, and we were glad indeed.

Bring back our exiles, o Lord, like fresh streams in the desert. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs and shouts of joy.

They went forth weeping, bearing the seeds for sowing, they will come home with joyful shouts, bringing their harvested sheaves.

Monday, 25 July 2016 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Corinthians 4 : 7-15

However, we carry this treasure in vessels of clay, so that this all-surpassing power may not be seen as ours but as God’s. Trials of every sort come to us, but we are not discouraged. We are left without answer, but do not despair; persecuted but not abandoned, knocked down but not crushed.

At any moment we carry in our person the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in us. For we, the living, are given up continually to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may appear in our mortal existence. And as death is at work in us, life comes to you.

We have received the same spirit of faith referred to in Scripture that says : I believed and so I spoke. We also believe and so we speak. We know that He Who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and bring us, with you, into His presence. Finally, everything is for your good, so that grace will come more abundantly upon you and great will be the thanksgiving for the glory of God.

Sunday, 26 October 2014 : 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come together as one family of the Church of God, and we listened to the words of the Scripture and the Gospel. And today we heard how it was shown to us the truth and the heart and core of what is the Law of God, which God had revealed to His people through Moses, His servant. The basics of this Law is the set of ten commandments we know as the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments is the basic tenets of the faith which God revealed to mankind so that they might follow in the ways which the Lord was to show them, that is the way of love. Before the revelation of the Ten Commandments, mankind did not have a standard set of rule that governed them, and as a result each one acted as it pleased them and as they liked, more often than not, not in accordance with the will of God and thus wickedness reigned over mankind.

And this Law was given through Moses to the people of God, to be a guide to them and in how they lived their lives. The Ten Commandments was written on two slabs of stone, written by God Himself, as a covenant which God renewed with the descendants of Abraham. And this covenant is a covenant of love, made upon love which God has for mankind, and as our part of the covenant, we also have to love Him back in the same way as He had loved us.

What is a covenant exactly? It is the promise and contract that is established between two parties, and it is legally and completely binding in nature. Both sides who have committed to a covenant must remain faithful to it, and as we all know, our Lord is forever ever faithful, and He never walked away from His promise. After all, He fulfilled completely His promises to His servants Abraham, David and all Israel, and the perfect fulfillment of His promises was through Jesus.

It is we mankind who often renege on our part of the covenant. God had first made His covenant with Adam, the first man and his wife Eve, the first woman. To them He gave authority and stewardship over all of the earth and over all of creations. And yet, they disobeyed despite God’s love and care for them, and they chose to put their lot with Satan and listened to their personal human desire rather than listening to God and obeying their part of the covenant between God and mankind.

And Abraham was faithful, this son of Adam who was righteous among the nations, that God renewed His covenant with men through Him, and he was blessed beyond all other men for his faithfulness and righteousness, walking faithfully in the way of the Lord. And yet, it was his descendants who yet again reneged against the Lord, committing evil after evil, with the treatment they showed to Joseph in jealousy and how they sold him into slavery out of that jealousy and hatred they had.

But God was patient, and He continued to love His people despite of their unfaithfulness and disobedience. Indeed, He wanted to show them His love, which He had shown them for generations after generations, but spurned by the people who did not listen to the Lord nor realise the extent of His love for them. He thus sent His servant Moses to liberate them, and to lead them to the promised inheritance for them, and bring them to know His Law, the Ten Commandments revealed through Moses.

But was the people faithful? No! As soon as they were freed from the land of Egypt they continued in their disobedience, complaining and disobeying God, creating idols after idols and embracing fornications after fornications of their bodies and souls. And they were indeed punished for their disobedience, for embracing the ways of the world and for worshipping false idols. But God again did not give up on the people He loved so much, and as He had done through the prophets, He revealed the final act of love He had for us.

Yes, that act is through Jesus, whom the Father sent to the world in order to save it and to bring all of us, the partakers of the covenant of God, into a new hope through the new covenant which Christ had established in His love. Yes, and that is why He explained to the Pharisees, the true meaning of the Law which is love. The love of God for men, and the desire of God to see us saved and freed from our state of sin due to our breaking of the promise of the covenant.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were puritans and extremists in the way of their faith, as they observed the Law very strictly, imposing a very strict set of rules, regulations, habits and behaviours which they forced onto the people of God. This was because the basic tenets of the faith, the Ten Commandments and the sets of laws and regulations which God had revealed through Moses had been twisted in their meaning and purpose by them, those shepherds and leaders who had been entrusted with teaching authority but misused them for their own gains.

The observations of their Law had become unmerciful in nature and they persecuted others just because they thought that those who did not adapt their puritan and extremist beliefs were unworthy and ought to be condemned. They condemned the one whom Jesus healed, the blind man from birth, just because he defended the Lord and told the truth about Him, a truth which the Pharisees and the scribes failed to see.

Remember again what the Lord told Moses and the people of Israel in the Book of Exodus in the first reading today? God made it clear to them that in the observation of the Law, one must act with the core of love in all purposes, and not anger, injustice, prejudice, and less so jealousy and other negativities which cause us to exercise the Law imprudently, just as the Pharisees had done.

Why the Ten Commandments of the Lord again? Why should it be that we should not kill, we should not steal, we should not covet others’ possessions? Why is it that we ought to honour our father and mother, loving our God and having no other gods beside Him? That is all because we all need to know love, and realise what is love all about, that is to give ourselves completely and totally to the love of God, avoiding all these actions which does not lead us to love and life, but indeed to hatred and death.

When we kill, we do not have love in us, and when we steal from someone, we do not have the love we ought to have for that brother or sister of ours, and when we covet someone else’s possession, it is impossible for us to love that person when we at the same time have any negativity towards the person. And how can we love if we cannot even love our parents, and foremost of all, if we cannot even love our God and devote ourselves entirely to Him?

We should take heed of what St. Paul had written to the Church and the faithful in Thessalonica, where he praised them for their ways and how they had changed their ways of old, of pagan worship and idol worship, of fornication and sin, into the way of the children of God, and walk righteously in the path of the Law. They obeyed the Law, not just because they have to obey it, but they understood the importance and the true meaning of the Law, that is love. We should indeed follow their examples and do the same.

Indeed, God did not give us the Law to torture us or to make our lives more difficult. The Law was intended to guide us, and guide us back from our waywardness and our rebellious tendencies, back to His loving embrace. And God also gave us a new chance through Christ, whose death and resurrection renewed for us a new covenant which He established with us. And remember that Jesus came not to destroy the Law but to perfect it, by revealing the true intention of the Law, which is indeed Love!

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, we all have a choice today. We can choose to continue our lives as usual, and we can do things as we like and as we wished it. We can also choose to live our lives following the rules and regulations as established by the Church and our Faith, following them just for the sake of following those laws and rules. But what will all these bring us? Nothing! Nothing indeed, other than harm and destruction.

So what is the other choice that we have? We can choose to understand the Law, as what we have heard and discussed here, that is to know the love in the Law of God. Indeed, the Law is very simple, as at the heart of it is love, and first, the first three commandments are all about loving God, and loving Him from the very bottom and depth of our hearts, with the whole might of our minds and with the full attention of our souls. That means we should not be partial in our faith, and we either accept the fullness of faith in God or we reject it, as we cannot believe in just parts of what we need to believe, and remember that we cannot serve God and another master.

But we must also love one another, in the same way that we have loved God and in the same way as we have loved ourselves. It is easier for us to love ourselves than to love others, and indeed we have often serve ourselves and our own purposes often at the expense of others around us. Thus, shall we learn from what God had taught us, that we need to put away our ego and begin to learn to love one another sincerely and earnestly, loving them just as we love ourselves?

Let us all pray to our Almighty God and Father, that He will continue to guide us in our lives, so that we may not lose sight on the true goal of our life, that is to reach Him and be reconciled with Him in love, through the love we show to Him and also through the love and the mercy we have shown to our brothers and sisters, following the examples of the saints of the past, and to exercise love and mercy in all of our judgments and actions. God bless us all. Amen.

 

First Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/24/sunday-26-october-2014-30th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-first-reading/

Second Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/24/sunday-26-october-2014-30th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-second-reading/

Gospel Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/24/sunday-26-october-2014-30th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-gospel-reading/

Sunday, 26 October 2014 : 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 22 : 34-40

At that time, when the Pharisees heard how Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. One of them, a teacher of the Law, tried to test Him with this question, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the Law?”

Jesus answered, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and the most important of the commandments. But after this there is another one similar to it : ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ The whole Law and the prophets are founded on these two commandments.”

 

Reflections and Homily : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/25/sunday-26-october-2014-30th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-homily-and-scripture-reflections/