(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, 11 November 2013 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters, today it is revealed and explained to us all, the nature and the power of faith, that is the faith that we have in God. Faith is truly powerful, and it is also revealed what we ought to do as the children of God, that is to reflect God’s love in all of our actions, and in all that we do. We cannot be truly faithful to God, if we do not do what He asks us to do, and if we do not listen to His words or obey His will.

In the Lord lies all wisdom, knowledge, power, and authority, because He is the Lord and Creator of all things and all in this universe. That is why, we who are mere humans ought to look at Him, believe in Him, His words and His love for us. Unfortunately, many of us took great pride in our own wisdom and intelligence. Not that this is bad, but the way we often do this is by excluding God from our lives and indulging in self-glorification, the glorification of our deeds and achievements and we do not give glory to God.

Through Jesus His Son, our Lord made it clear to us, that we need to know how to love one another, to show love to one another, and to let love govern all our words, actions, and deeds. We cannot belong to God and be faithful to God, if our actions contradict what we believe in. We must walk the talk and not just believe in rhetorics, because such is the faith of the Pharisees, the hypocrites.

Brethren, we are role models for one another, shepherds to one another, and as such, we have to help make sure that each of us, all of us are truly faithful to the Lord our God. We cannot lead our brethren into damnation instead. As the Lord Himself mentioned in today’s Gospel, that great is the sin of those who had misled others, especially so for those who misled the innocent ones. The greater is our sins then, if we do so, and the greater is the punishment due for us.

Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of St. Martin of Tours, one of the greatest saints and builders of the early Church. St. Martin of Tours lived during the waning years of the Roman Empire in the West, and he was once a Roman soldier turned into a general. Yet, he remained faithful in God and was truly exemplary in his practice of the faith.

St. Martin of Tours was truly a role model for the other Christians of his time. He was loving, just, and charitable, renowned especially for his care and love for the poor and unloved ones in the society. St. Martin of Tours devotedly give his life in dedication to the Lord, even as he continued his career as a Roman soldier. He did not have an empty faith, or faith based on mere words. His faith is truly a living one, and one that is based on love, for God and for his fellow men.

In one instance, it was told that St. Martin of Tours was passing by a road, when he saw a poor man suffering from cold, without any clothing to cover and protect him from the cold. St. Martin was moved by the sight, and true to his faith in God, he cut off a part of his soldier’s cape, and gave it to the poor man as a cloak. Later that night, St. Martin saw an apparition of our Lord Jesus, who showed to him that the old man he helped was none other than Jesus Himself!

Truly, at this juncture we ought to remember what Jesus Himself has told us, that whatever we do for our brethren, to the least of them, the poorest, the least loved, and those whose sufferings are the greatest, we do it for God Himself. That was the true virtues and righteousness of St. Martin, which we all can follow too.

St. Martin was chosen later in his life to be the Bishop of Tours, and he carried on his duties faithfully, as the shepherd of God’s people, till the end of his life, well-known by many in Christendom as a holy, humble, and faithful servant of God. We too can follow in his footsteps, if we choose to do so, and take concrete steps in following after his examples. Nothing is impossible for God, and therefore nothing too should be impossible for us.

Therefore, brethren, from now on, let us be conscious to our own sins, to our own weaknesses and vulnerabilities to sin, and let sin not hinder us on our way towards the Lord. Let us be a reflection of our Lord and His love, in our own actions and deeds, through forgiving and loving one another, committing ourselves in love to our brethren in need, just as St. Martin of Tours himself had once done.

May the Lord guide us and continue to watch over us, as we grow in faith and love, that we will always ever draw closer to His presence and to His loving embrace. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 11 November 2013 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 4-6, 7-8, 9-10

O Lord, You know me : You have scrutinised me. You know when I sit and when I rise; beforehand You discern my thoughts. You observe my activities and times of rest; You are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is formed in my mouth, You know what it is all about, o Lord. From front to back You hedge me round, shielding me with Your protecting hand. Your knowledge leaves me astounded, it is too high for me to reach.

Where else could I go from Your Spirit? Where could I flee from Your presence? You are there if I ascend the heavens; You are there if I descend to the depths.

If I ride on the wings of the dawn and settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand shall guide me and Your right hand shall hold me safely.

Saturday, 9 November 2013 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 2 : 13-22

As the Passover of the Jews was at hand, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple court He found merchants selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the Temple court, together with the oxen and sheep.

He knocked over the tables of the money-changers, scattering the coins, and ordered the people selling doves, “Take all this away, and stop turning My Father’s house into a marketplace!”

His disciples recalled the words of Scripture : “Zeal for Your House devours me like fire.”

The Jews then questioned Jesus, “Where are the miraculous signs which give you the right to do this?” And Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Jews then replied, “The building of this temple has already taken forty-six years, and will You raise it up in three days?” Actually Jesus was referring to the Temple of His Body. Only when He had risen from the dead did His disciples remember these words; then they believed both the Scripture and the words Jesus had spoken.

Sunday, 27 October 2013 : 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brethren, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. What right do we have to be proud and judgmental before God and before others? What right do we have to condemn others because we think that we are better than them? And what right do we have to boast of ourselves and the good things that we do, before the Lord our God? None, we have none of these rights, because we truly are all sinners without exception, all equal before the Lord.

The Lord loves all those who are humble, and those who are in deep realisation of their own sins. They are truly beloved by God, because they are those who are more likely to have God in their hearts, and also those who are more likely to put the Lord at the centre of their hearts and at the centre of their very being. It does not mean that the proud and the mighty do not have the Lord in their hearts, but they are predisposed to put less importance to the Lord compared to those who are meek and humble.

This is because, due to our nature, our pride very often stands in the way of salvation in God, as well as blocking the love of God from reaching us. When pride masters our hearts, it grows to arrogance, and a feeling of superiority that tends to shut out anything that points out our inadequacies and mistakes, because we tend to put ever more and more trust in our own strengths and abilities.

We must not therefore, be like the Pharisee, who basked in his own glory, and praising his own goodness. He even went on to look down upon those whom he considered to be not as good as him, particularly the tax collector. He thought of himself as being pious and saved, but in fact he is truly empty within him, and without God as the centre of his life.

In doing what he had done, the Pharisee had highlighted the pride he has in him, and how he gave in to that pride, and finally, in his prayers, he gave glory to himself and did not give glory to God. The Lord who sees all and knows all will give what the Pharisee and other people like him, what they deserved. They deserved neither praise nor honour, because in their pride, they gave no glory to God, and in a prayer full of hubris, they revealed the darkness of their souls.

Brethren, although Jesus used the example of the Pharisees to depict the bad seed in the society, in many different occasions and conditions, that is mainly because at that time, the Pharisees were well known for their very strict adherence to the laws of Moses, as well as the other, numerous Jewish laws and customs.

This is in fact good, as indeed, we all need to obey and follow God’s rules and laws. However, in the way that this was done by the Pharisees, they had not done what the Lord truly wanted them to do, and in fact, the Pharisees obeyed mostly the laws of men, that is the numerous rules, regulations, and rituals created by the people over many generations.

They have lost the understanding of the true meaning of the law of God, as well as how it should be implemented. They had become obsessed at the observation of the laws derived from the true law, that they did those rules without true understanding of why they did so. Even worse, as the leaders of the people and role model of the people, they have misguided the people of God, and also exploited them, by imposing on them the crushing weight of such rules and regulations.

What the Lord truly wants from us, His children, is the love and dedication that we can give Him, genuinely and sincerely, from the depth of our hearts. This kind of love is not easy for us to achieve, as it means the total giving of ourselves, the opening of our hearts to the Lord and His love. In the same way, the Lord also wants us to love one another just as we have loved ourselves, and just as we have loved Him. These are the essence of the true desire of the Lord for us, through which He guided us via His laws and commandments.

This is why, the Lord loves the prayer of the tax collector mentioned in Jesus’ teaching, where He mentioned that the prayer of the tax collector was heard and he had his sins forgiven for him. The tax collector did not only distance himself from the Holy Presence of God, feeling so unworthy because he realised the depth of his faults and iniquities, but he even lowered himself humbly before God’s presence, kneeling in great shame before God.

And yet, it is this tax collector who are more capable of understanding his own sins, being in greater realisation of the faults he had committed. As I would like to highlight again what the late, saintly Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen had said, that the greater the sin one has, the closer is one to the throne of mercy. The darker one’s sins are, the more shame they should experience before the Lord their God.

Yet, the problem lies in that, many of us today are desensitised to sin. We are no longer feeling that shame whenever we commit sinful deeds. We instead even find sin to be good things and things that we enjoy. Hence we begin our path to downfall, by not realising the gravity of our sinfulness, and putting our pride ahead of us. In essence, we are becoming more and more like the Pharisee instead of the remorseful tax collector.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, lastly, the Lord also taught us the importance of prayer through the same parable, that we ought to pray, but not just any prayer. A prayer that is truly genuine and from the heart, made in complete submission to the will of God, and also complete willingness to listen to the word of God being spoken in our hearts.

Prayer is not just about us talking all the time, and neither it is a litany of demands and wishes for us to send to the Lord. Instead, a prayer is ought to be how it is intended, that is as a two-way communication channel between us and the Lord. That is what prayer truly is, brothers and sisters! Talk less and listen more! The Lord who knows all certainly knows what we truly need. It is often that what we desire is not what we need. In our greed it is likely for us to desire even things that we do not truly need.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, today all of us are called to a life of greater holiness, deeper spirituality, and greater commitment to the Lord. We need a deeper faith, a healthier prayer life, and ultimately, greater dedication and love for our fellow mankind, and especially, for the Lord Himself. May we grow ever stronger in our faith, our hope and love in God. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 4 May 2013 : 5th Week of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we who believe in Christ, and put our trust in His words, and place ourselves in His great love, do not belong to this world, which is owned by the evil one, with the sole intention of steering all of us away from the true path, that is the way of Christ. This they have done together by tempting the faithful ones in Christ, God’s sheep with the false promise of earthly pleasures and false joy and happiness.

Do not fear though, my brethren in faith, for Christ, our Lord Himself had also suffered such temptations and yet He won, because of His obedience to God His Father, and His unshakeable faith. We too ought to have that kind of faith and love for God, that we can deny the evil one, a passage into our hearts. Do not let the devil dwell inside us, but rather, let us put God at the centre of our very being, making our own body into a Holy Temple of His Presence.

God has made all of us His own, and gave Himself freely for our sake, giving His own flesh and blood that we can live eternally with Him in eternal joy and bliss. Not the temporary and false joy and happiness that this world can offer, but the lasting happiness of heaven. True happiness, and true joy, that the world cannot give, for there is only true joy when we are together and united with Christ our Lord and God, never again to be separated from Him.

The world hates the Lord, because it belongs to the devil, and therefore it will hate all of us too, who keep the faith in God strong. But if we remain faithful to the Lord, the devil and this world will have no power over us. We must keep our faith in God strong, and how to do this? By constant and healthy prayer life, to anchor ourselves in God, by being in constant direct line to God, we can keep ourselves from the power of evil. We also should receive the Lord regularly in deep devotion during the Mass, by attending Mass frequently, and devoutly receiving the Lord in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist, that is our Lord’s Precious Body and Blood will transform us into a Holy Temple of His divine Presence, as He enters our own unworthy bodies, and from the inside, He would transform us and made us worthy of Him, but only if our minds, our hearts, and our soul are open to Him and willing to accept Him.

Let us put our trust in God, who is our divine Master and Lord, who had triumphed over death, and who had won for us the fight against evil, and banish evil forever into the ultimate fate that awaits him, that is the lake of fire. Let us not fear evil and the world anymore, but continue to put our trust in God and love both Him and our fellow men. Keep our guard up, that the evil one will not ‘steal’ us from under God’s watch, but we need not fear if we stay in our faith in Him. God bless us all. Amen.

(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.