Thursday, 6 August 2020 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we mark and celebrate the great Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, marking the moment when the Lord was transfigured and changed before three of His disciples at the summit of Mount Tabor in northern part of the land of Israel, and being present there in heavenly glory together with the servant of God, Moses, and with the prophet Elijah.

The word Transfiguration comes from the words ‘trans’ meaning change, and ‘figure’ means appearance and outlook of our body. That is why in this Feast we remember when the Lord Jesus was suddenly transformed before the witnesses, revealing His true nature as the Divine Son of God, shining forth from His humanity, unveiling that He was not just a Man, but more than a Man, He was also the great Son of God incarnate in the flesh.

At that moment of the Transfiguration, the Lord met with two of the greatest and most renowned figures from the Old Testament, namely Moses and the prophet Elijah. Moses was the leader of the people of Israel who led them all from the land of Egypt in the Exodus, bringing by God’s power, Ten Great Plagues and freed the people from their oppressors, leading them through the Red Sea and then leading them for forty years through the desert to the Promised Land.

Meanwhile, the prophet Elijah was perhaps the most remembered and active among the prophets of God. His many works and dedications were recorded throughout the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, as the prophet laboured hard in his efforts to bring the people of the northern kingdom of Israel to return to God and abandon their sinful ways. He encountered many trials and difficulties during his ministry, facing persecution from the kings and the nobles, the pagan priests and many of the people who refused to believe in God.

Each of these magnificent servants of God symbolically represent the Law and the Prophets, Moses being the one who received the Law of God and the Ten Commandments, while the prophet Elijah was the epitome and representative of the many prophets and messengers of God. Their appearance on Mount Tabor before the Lord Jesus serve to highlight the fact that Jesus was indeed the perfect fulfilment of God’s Law and the promises that He had made through His prophets.

And it also highlighted how the Lord would also bring His truth to the people as He had done through the prophets, revealing to them the fullness of truth, by His teachings, complemented with the gift and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to the disciples and the Church. And He would also make a new Covenant with His people just as Moses had led the people in making the Covenant between God and them. Through the Lord Jesus, God would be reunited and reconciled with His people.

All of these were made possible because Christ was both fully Man and fully God, two distinct natures, Man and Divine but completely and inseparably united in the one Person of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man and Son of God. Through Him, Man would be reunited with God, by the establishment of the New Covenant and the fulfilment of the Law, on the moment of the Crucifixion, the ultimate and most loving sacrifice of the Lord on the Altar of His Cross.

The Lord revealed His divinity that day before the few witnesses, His disciples, St. Peter, St. James and St. John, as the precursor and prior revelation that through Him alone, mankind’s salvation would finally come from. He would suffer and be offered as a worthy sacrifice on the Altar of the Cross, as if He was just like any other Man, then His sacrifice and offering would have amounted to nothing. But the spilling of His divine Blood and the breaking of His divine Body became for us the source of redemption and eternal life.

And if He was just Divine without any shards of humanity, then His suffering would not be tangible, for it was by our shared humanity with Christ, that Christ united all of us to His suffering and death, that by the death of His Body, all of us are united to His death, and by His glorious Resurrection, all of us are brought into new life and risen to this new life and existence through Him and this unity we have with Him.

How have we been united with Him, then, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is by our baptism when we have received this unity with Christ, as we were immersed in the holy water of baptism, that we symbolically passed from death into life, from oppression and slavery into freedom, just as the Israelites have been freed from their slavery in Egypt by God through Moses, His servant as mentioned earlier. And all of us emerged into new life through our unity with Christ and His Church, receiving His Spirit and this gift of new life.

And the Lord’s Transfiguration is also symbolic of what we are going to experience, as we eventually will be reunited completely with God at the passing from this mortal existence and life, when we pass from this world into the world that is to come, the eternity of glory and happiness with God, no longer chained and troubled by sin and evil. The glorious Transfiguration of Christ is the revelation of what we will be, if we keep our lives holy and dedicated to God, as St. Paul said in his Epistle to the Corinthians, that ‘We will all not die, but we will all be transformed!’ and ‘those who have died, in the end of days, will be raised to live forever.’

That is why as we celebrate this great Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, we also reflect on the matter of our lives and how we ought to look forward to the life that we are to have in God. The Lord has shown us what we are to experience when we are glorified in body and soul, as we enter into the eternal kingdom of God. We look forward to this joyous and momentous occasion, but at the same time, we must also realise that if we are to rise in glory with Christ, we also must share in His death.

And as we have done at our baptism, when we reject sin and all of evil and its advances, we are reminded today that sin has been the great obstacle that lies in between us and God. As we continue to live our lives in this world, we are all called to die to ourselves, to die to our pride and ego, our greed and worldly desires, our attachments to worldly pleasures and all things that kept us away from reaching true holiness in God.

That is why, even though we have not yet attained the fullness of heavenly glory as shown to us by the Lord through His Transfiguration, but we ought to look forward to it, and prepare ourselves thoroughly by keeping ourselves holy and filled with faith and love for God, that when the time comes, we will be worthy to share in the true happiness and eternal glory in God. And the path forward for us will not be easy, yet we have to trust in God, for everything we do in God, will turn out good in the end.

Let the hope of the Lord’s Transfiguration fill us with hope for the future, that despite the plenty of challenges and trials we have to face in life, the various trials and difficulties that we have to endure, if we have faith in God, put our trust in Him and love Him with all of our hearts, then we will surely be blessed and received what He has promised us, as after all, He has given everything for us as He offered Himself as a worthy loving sacrifice on the Cross for us.

May Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Whose glorious Transfiguration we remember today, help us in our journey of life that hopefully one day, we may share fully in His glorious kingdom, and in the New Covenant that He has made with each and every one of us. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 6 August 2020 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 17 : 1-9

At that time, six days after Jesus predicted His own death, He took with Him Peter and James and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain, where they were alone. Jesus’ appearance was changed before them : His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became bright as light. Just then Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus.

Peter spoke and said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. If You wish, I will make three tents : one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Peter was still speaking, when a bright cloud covered them with its shadow, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My Son, the Beloved, My Chosen One. Listen to Him.”

On hearing the voice, the disciples fell to the ground, full of fear. But Jesus came, touched them and said, “Stand up, do not be afraid.” When they raised their eyes, they no longer saw anyone except Jesus. And as they came down the mountain, Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone what they had just seen, until the Son of Man be raised from the dead.

Thursday, 6 August 2020 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 5-6, 9

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right, are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before YHVH, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

For You are the Master of the universe, exalted far above all gods.

Thursday, 6 August 2020 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Daniel 7 : 9-10, 13-14

I looked and saw the following : Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took His seat. His robe was white, as snow, His hair, white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before Him. Thousands upon thousands served Him and a countless multitude stood before Him.

Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book. I continued watching the nocturnal vision : One like a Son of Man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into His presence. Dominion, honour and kingship were given Him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served Him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; His kingdom will never be destroyed.

Alternative reading

2 Peter 1 : 16-19

Indeed, what we taught you about the power, and the return of Christ Jesus our Lord, was not drawn from myths or formulated theories. We, ourselves, were eyewitnesses of His majesty, when He received glory and honour from God, the Father, when, from the magnificent glory, this most extraordinary word came upon Him : “This is My beloved Son, this is My Chosen One.”

We, ourselves, heard this voice from heaven, when we were with Him on the holy mountain. Therefore, we believe most firmly in the message of the prophets, which you should consider rightly, as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the break of day, when the Morning Star shines in your hearts.

Monday, 13 May 2019 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 10 : 1-10

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. But the shepherd of the sheep enters by the gate. The keeper opens the gate to him and the sheep hear his voice; he calls each of his sheep by name and leads them out.”

“When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but rather they will run away from him, because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this comparison, but they did not understand what He was saying to them.

So Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, I am the Gate of the sheep. All who came were thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not hear them. I am the Gate. Whoever enters through Me will be saved; he will go in and out freely and find food. The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, life in all its fullness.”

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Fatima)

Luke 11 : 27-28

At that time, as Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to Him, “Blessed is the one who gave You birth and nursed You!”

Jesus replied, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”

Sunday, 10 February 2019 : Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 6 : 1-2a, 3-8

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted; the train of His robe filled the Temple. Above Him were Seraphs, each with six wings.

They were calling to one another : “Holy, Holy, Holy is YHVH Sabaoth. All the earth is filled with His glory!” At the sound of their voices the foundations of the threshold shook and the Temple was filled with smoke. I said, “Poor me! I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips, and yet I have seen the King, YHVH Sabaoth.”

Then one of the Seraphs flew to me; in his hands was a live coal which he had taken with tongs from the Altar. He touched my mouth with it and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us?” I answered, “Here I am. Send me!”

Friday, 18 January 2019 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 2 : 1-12

At that time, after some days, Jesus returned to Capernaum. As the news spread that He was in the house, so many people gathered, that there was no longer room even outside the door. While Jesus was preaching the Word to them, some people brought a paralysed man to Him.

The four men who carried him could not get near Jesus because of the crowd, so they opened the roof above the room where Jesus was and, through the hole, lowered the man on his mat. When Jesus saw the faith of these people, He said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the Law, who were sitting there, wondered within themselves, “How can He speak like this, insulting God? Who can forgive sins except God?”

At once Jesus knew in His Spirit what they were thinking, and asked, “Why do you wonder? Is it easier to say to this paralysed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Rise, take up your mat and walk?’ But now you shall know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

And He said to the paralytic, “Stand up, take up your mat and go home.” The man rose and, in the sight of all those people, he took up his mat and went out. All of them were astonished and praised God, saying, “Never have we seen anything like this!”

Sunday, 13 January 2019 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which is liturgically marking the last day of the current season of Christmas before we enter the Ordinary Time prior to the coming of the season of Lent in early March this year. On this day we commemorate the moment when the Lord Jesus was baptised at the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist, marking the occasion when the Lord finally began His ministry in this world after approximately thirty years since His birth.

St. John the Baptist was apprehensive at first when the Lord came up tp him asking to be baptised by him. He recognised Jesus as the One Whom he had been working all the while for, in order to prepare a straight path for His coming, and of Whom he had testified before the people, that not even he was worthy of untying the straps of His sandals, and how although he baptised with water, but the Lord would baptise them with the fire and the Holy Spirit.

But the Lord insisted despite St. John the Baptist’s reluctance, for everything was to be done in accordance with God’s will. The baptism of Our Lord Jesus was a momentous occasion, in which, the Lord Himself, God Incarnate in the flesh of Man, went through the same rite of passage as all of us the faithful people of God, just as by Him assuming His humanity has united His humanity to our own human existence.

The act of baptism itself, as St. John the Baptist performed it at the Jordan River, is a powerful symbol and reminder, that the people of God have been saved and liberated from slavery, as the Israelites in the ancient times were brought out of the land of Egypt where they were enslaved by the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. When the Pharaoh sent his army and chariots to chase after the Israelites, God opened the Red Sea before them and allowed them to pass through the sea unharmed.

Therefore, by the passing through the waters of the Red Sea, God’s people had been brought by the great power of God from slavery into freedom. And this is linked to another slavery by which not just the sons of Israel, but all mankind suffer from, that is the slavery to our sins. Sin is born out of disobedience and unwillingness to obey the will of God, and its consequence for us is death. Unless we are freed from the slavery of sin, we will surely perish.

This is where God revealed the great wonders of His love for each and every one of us, that even when we have sinned against Him, disobeyed His commandments and disregarded His will, but because God still loves us regardless of these wicked things we have done, He gives us a new hope and deliverance, just as He has once liberated His people from the tyranny of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh.

This time, He is liberating us from the greatest slavery that has enslaved all of us mankind, that is sin and death. And the symbolism of water that is used at baptism is indeed very profound, for water is both the symbol of death and life, as it can cause destruction by its powerful force, and yet, it is also necessary for the presence and propagation of life. Without water, life cannot exist, and water is essential for the maintenance of life.

By this symbolism of water, which is both used at the baptism of the Lord at the River Jordan, and in our own Christian baptism, the Holy Sacrament of Baptism, the Lord unites us all who have received this blessed and holy Sacrament, to His own experience of suffering and death, as well as to His glorious resurrection and triumph over sin and death itself. We share in the same redemptive experience that the people of Israel had experienced by the Red Sea and throughout the Exodus, and now we have even much more than that.

For God Himself has willingly endeavoured to save us, by His mighty deeds, in leading us out of the tyranny and enslavement by sin, through none other than His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Who is God incarnate, the Word of God made Man, through Whom God has given us our salvation. The Lord unites our own mortality to His own humanity, and gathers all of our unworthiness, our sufferings and pains, our sins and all the defilements present in us, and placing them upon Himself on the cross He bore, He became the source of our salvation and eternal life.

That is why, on the celebration of the Easter Vigil, on which day most people who are baptised as adults receive this blessed Sacrament of Baptism, we have the reading of the passage from Exodus on the salvation of Israel crossing through the Red Sea. Just as the Israelites passed on from their old life of slavery and suffering into a new life of blessing and grace with God, thus, we too, have passed on from our old life of sin and disobedience against God, into a new existence and life that is blessed and holy.

That is why, the Sacrament of Baptism is the first of the Sacraments to be received by any Christians. We received it either as a small infant, if we had been born into faithful, Christian families, or as someone who have desired and sought conversion to the true faith, and went through a period of instruction, after which we were baptised just as the Lord Himself was baptised in the Jordan.

At the moment of baptism, our old life and our old iniquities and sins are washed away and cleansed, and our existence is renewed and made blessed by God. Our old life and sin have been destroyed just as we share in the death of Christ on the cross. And through baptism, God made us all His adopted sons and daughters, just as at Baptism of the Lord Jesus, the voice of the Father was heard, “This is My Son, My Beloved. My favour rests on Him.”

This is why we have also been made the sons and daughters of God, by virtue of our shared humanity with Christ. If Christ is the Son of God, and if we are His brothers and sisters by our shared humanity, then we too can be called children of God. And because God has taken us to be His children, the fullness of His love and grace are slated to be ours. But we must also remember at the same time, that baptism is not the end of the journey for us.

Although baptism has erased the taints of original sin and the sins we have committed previous to our baptism, but this does not mean that we cannot sin anymore after our baptism. We are surely aware how many of us Christians keep on falling back again and again into sin, not listening to the will of God, our loving Father, and instead, preferring to follow the lies and falsehoods of Satan, the deceiver.

Satan knows that through baptism, he has lost his hold on us, and sin and death no longer has their grip on us. But, he still does not want to let us go, and as long as we still continue living in this world, our earthly existence, our bodies and our beings are still vulnerable to sin, and this is where the devil is trying very hard to try to pull us back into sin. And we must be careful lest we fall back into the same predicament, for if we live in a state of sin, we may yet fall into eternal damnation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, as we commemorate the glorious and wonderful moment of the baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ, let us all remember the moment of our own baptism. If we cannot remember it because we have been baptised as infants, then the least we can do is, try to remember the date and time of our baptism, by asking our godparents or parents, who surely can remember the time of that very crucial event in our life.

Let us today give thanks to God for the gift of baptism, in His willingness to take us as His adopted sons and daughters, and for the love which He has shown us, day after day. Baptism is only the beginning of a new journey in which we must make sure that we listen to the will of God. Baptism is the beginning of the time of grace and yet also struggle in which we must often face divisions and even persecutions for standing up to our faith.

May the Lord bless each and every one of us always, and may He allow us to remember the joy of our baptism, and that we may know what we need to do in our lives now that we have been made God’s own beloved children. Let us love Him more and more, each and every days of our life. Let our life and existence glorify God and let us proclaim the wonders of His love by our own loving actions to our fellow brethren. Amen.

Sunday, 13 January 2019 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 3 : 15-16, 21-22

At that time, the people were wondering about John’s identity, “Could he be the Messiah?” Then John answered them, “I baptise you with water, but the One Who is coming will do much more : He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. As for me, I am not worthy to untie His sandal.”

Now, with all the people who came to be baptised, Jesus, too, was baptised. Then, while He was praying, the heavens opened : the Holy Spirit came down upon Him in the bodily form of a Dove, and a voice from Heaven was heard, “You are My Son, in Whom I am well pleased.”

Sunday, 13 January 2019 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Titus 2 : 11-14 and Titus 3 : 4-7

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, teaching us to reject an irreligious way of life and worldly greed, and to live in this world as responsible persons, upright and serving God, while we await our blessed Hope – the glorious manifestation of our great God and Saviour Christ Jesus.

He gave Himself for us, to redeem us from every evil and to purify a people He wanted to be His own and dedicated to what is good. But God our Saviour revealed His eminent goodness and love for humankind and saved us, not because of good deeds we may have done but for the sake of His own mercy, to the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit poured over us through Christ Jesus our Saviour, so that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs in hope of eternal life.