Friday, 21 July 2017 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 12 : 1-8

At that time, it happened that, Jesus walking through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry; and they began to pick some heads of wheat, to crush and to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, "Look at Your disciples! They are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!"

Jesus answered, "Have you not read what David did, when he and his men were hungry? He went into the House of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, though neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the law, how, on the Sabbath, the priests in the Temple desecrate the Sabbath, yet they are not guilty?"

"I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words : It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. Besides, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

Sunday, 8 November 2015 : Thirty-Second (32nd) Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 9 : 24-28

Christ did not enter some sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but Heaven itself. He is now in the presence of God on our behalf. He had not to offer Himself many times, as the High Priest does : he who may return every year, because the blood is not his own. Otherwise he would have suffered many times from the creation of the world.

But no; He manifested Himself only now at the end of the ages, to take away sin by sacrifice, and, as humans die only once and afterwards are judged, in the same way Christ sacrificed Himself once to take away the sins of the multitude. There will be no further question of sin when He comes again to save those waiting for Him.

Monday, 2 November 2015 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple

Mark 15 : 33-39 and Mark 16 : 1-6

When noon came, darkness fell over the whole land and lasted until three o’clock; and at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You deserted Me?”

As soon as they heard these words, some of the bystanders said, “Listen! He is calling for Elijah.” And one of them went quickly to fill a sponge with bitter wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to Him to drink, saying, “Now let us see whether Elijah comes to take Him down.”

But Jesus uttered a loud cry and gave up His Spirit. And immediately the curtain that enclosed the Temple sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The captain, who was standing in front of Him, saw how Jesus died and heard the cry He gave, and He said, “Truly, this Man was the Son of God.”

When the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices so that they might go and anoint the body. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb.

They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But as they looked up, they noticed that the stone had already been rolled away. It was a very big stone. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right, and they were amazed.

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified; He has been raised and is not here. This is, however, the place where they laid Him.”

Monday, 2 November 2015 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple

Romans 5 : 5-11

And hope does not disappoint us because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything. Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die.

But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us and we have become just through His blood. With much more reason now He will save us from any condemnation. Once enemies, we have been reconciled with God through the death of His Son; with much more reason now we may be saved through His life.

Not only that; we even boast in God because of Christ Jesus, our Lord, through Whom we have been reconciled.

Sunday, 10 May 2015 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 7-10

My dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Those who do not love have not known God, for God is Love.

How did the love of God appear among us? God sent His only Son into this world that we might have life through Him. This is love : not that we loved God but that He first loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we continue the theme of the readings as we heard yesterday, of the Lord creating the whole world and the entire material universe as we know it now. He made all things good and perfect, all free from the taints of imperfections and evil in the beginning. Then indeed, we may be asking, how come then is it that there is so much evil things in the world now? How come is it that there is so much hatred, violence, jealousy and greed around us?

The answer lies in what mankind had committed in disobedience against the Lord, the sins which they have done in the presence of the Lord and men alike. Sin is a sickness of the soul, a blemish in the otherwise perfect and immaculate creations of God, especially for mankind, the greatest of all God’s creations. That is why there is so much evil in the world, so much sadness, sorrow and conflict that strike us all on daily basis.

And that was why God sent His Son Jesus into the world, in order to bring about the true purification of all mankind from the taints of sin. And today’s readings indeed share the same theme, that is cleansing and purification. However, we can see clearly in the Gospel today, the conflict that existed between Jesus our Lord and the Pharisees in how they approach this.

As I have often mentioned, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are notorious for having adopted an excessively strict and unforgiving stance on the interpretation and application of the Law. As a result, they gave a great burden for the people of God to bear. There are many laws, rules and regulations which the people to obey, from things that are truly important to trivial matters and things such as the cleansing of the hands before meals, just as the one mentioned in the Gospel today.

The hereditary laws and customs of the Jewish people stipulated that each person should undergo ritual cleansing, washing and purification regularly, and this includes the ritual washing before meals, where each person are supposed to wash up to and including their elbows. Indeed, such is the complicated nature of the laws, to the point that obeying them and following them required a great deal of effort, and it is likely also that many would lose the true and real intention behind why they even observed those laws in the first place.

And that was why Jesus criticised the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law so much, because they are focused so much on the external cleansing and the purity of their exteriors, that they completely forgot about their insides, that is their heart and soul. It is useless if we are concerned only about the cleansing of our bodies and the exterior, ignoring the correct alignment of our heart, that is our interior.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? Christ had mentioned in another passage that to be concerned about which food that is worthy or unworthy, clean or unclean does not make sense, for that which brings about sin and corruption comes not from the outside but rather from the inside. External dirt and filth while unappealing do not bring about the corruption of our beings, but the corruption that is within us will eventually corrupt our bodies and externals as well.

Already this can be seen in how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law reacted to the teachings of Jesus. They professed to be faithful to the Lord and liked to show off their piety by public display through prayers and other actions in the public places, and yet they were so judgmental to sinners and all those who genuinely needed God’s help that you truly would not believe at all that they belonged to the Lord in the first place.

They also rejected Jesus and His teachings and they spat upon His actions, which were clearly the actions of God made real in this world, the manifestation of God’s love and mercy. Instead, they were so blinded by their pride and their hubris, that these eventually led to their eventual downfall. Just as they have rejected the Lord, so will the Lord reject them.

Today, we also celebrate the feast day of St. Scholastica, a holy virgin and saint of God. St. Scholastica by tradition was the twin sister of St. Benedict of Nursia, another great and renowned saint well known for his holiness and dedication to the Lord. Both St. Scholastica and St. Benedict were devoted servants of the Lord who made monastic lifestyle an appealing way of life to the people of God.

Monastic lifestyle is for those who have decided to give all of their lives in complete and total dedication to the Lord. They withdrew from the world and from all forms of worldliness and instead, dedicate themselves in a life of prayer. As such, they commit themselves to a life of contemplation, of looking into themselves and the emptying of oneself of personal ego, but seeking the cultivation of individuals filled with the love of God.

In that way, rather than seeking the purification of the externals first, we focus on the purification of our interiors first, that is to shun all forms of temptations of sin, the lies and sweet words of Satan designed to bring about our downfall. That is what the Lord wants from us, that we all genuinely reject sin and all forms of wickedness and instead follow Him with all of our heart.

May all of us be awakened and see in Christ and all He had done, the abundance of love and mercy which God wants to shower us with, if only that we can listen to Him and learn to practice the faith we have by action and real dedication from the heart. Let us not lose our focus as the Pharisees had lost theirs and let us all be truly faithful, not just in external appearances, but truly love God from the deepest depth of our hearts. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 23 January 2015 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard two main things in the readings from the Holy Scriptures. The first, from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews spoke about the new covenant which Christ brought with Him and sealed with mankind, superseding the old covenant of God with Abraham and the people of God. And them the second, from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark, is the calling of the Twelve Apostles, whom Jesus made as the chiefs of His disciples.

Today’s readings talk about the change brought about by Christ, to establish at last the promises which He had made to His people over the millennia. After long ages and years of difficulty, conflict and disobedience by the people of God, finally He came to straighten things out and remade things anew. And this is to remind us also that while we are ever disobedient and unfaithful, but our Lord is ever faithful to us, to the point of coming down Himself to seal the covenant, the new covenant with all of us.

The old covenant of Abraham and God was set after he obeyed the Lord’s call, who called him from his ancestral lands, to follow where the Lord instructed him to go to. Abraham was faithful, and he followed the Lord throughout his life, and he was even willing to sacrifice his own son, as a sign of that undying and ultimate faith which he had to the Lord. And for that faith, God rewarded him and promised him the great and rich inheritance and blessings which He would provide him and his descendants if they remained true to their part of the promise and the covenant.

The covenant which God established with Abraham and His descendants had been broken many, many times, and just as their ancestors had done, they disobeyed the Lord and broke their part of the covenant. They forgot about the Lord, abandoned Him, found and worshipped other gods instead of the one true God. The people of God had been rescued and protected from various harm and liberated even from the Egyptians, and yet still they had the nerve to complain against God and rebel against Him.

That was why the wrath of God was against them, and He scattered them over the nations. But this does not mean that He wanted their destruction or annihilation, but rather that they may return to Him and turn back on the evils that they have committed. And that covenant, having been broken by the disobedience of the people of God, had become a useful and empty covenant, without use or benefit, and that is why He sent us our Lord Jesus Christ, to be the Mediator and the bearer of the New Covenant.

And what is this new covenant? If we look at the first covenant, God established that covenant following the faithfulness of Abraham in following His will, and upon the sacrifices of animals, lambs and goats, the blood of those animals, He established the first covenant, but being based on imperfect offering of animal blood, it is not a steady and firm covenant, and it is dependent on both sides of those involved in the covenant, and if one party does not fulfill their part of the covenant, then it would be null and void.

That is why our Lord Jesus Christ established the new covenant with us all, which was sealed not by a mere offering of bull’s blood and lamb’s blood, but by the very blood of the Lamb of God, Christ Himself, who let Himself to be led to the slaughterhouse by His enemies, and allowed Himself to be humiliated and scourged, to be wounded for our sins, and thus to die for the sins we have committed, for all the rebelliousness and disobedience which we have committed through all time.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we have to realise that we have all been given a second chance by our loving God. He has given us this new chance through the sacrifice of His Son, who died on the cross for us. Are we grateful for the wonderful gifts which He had given us? Have we been thankful for all the love and mercy He had shown us all?

If our answers for all these are no, then we should really rethink our lives and reflect deep in our lives. Do we see the Lord as our loving Father, and as the One who has provided us with all that we need? Do we see the Lord as our Saviour who had freed us from the debts of sin which weighed us down and prevented us from being liberated from the bonds of Satan?

Therefore, brethren, let us all from today on, renew our commitment to the Lord our God, be faithful to Him and no longer commit anything that is wicked in the eyes of the Lord. Let us all realise that with every sin we committed, we brought great pain and sorrow for our Lord who desires nothing else but our salvation and liberation from death, which is caused by our sins.

Let us all change our ways for the better, sinning no more and following what our Lord had shown us. May Almighty God be with us all, and may He guide us all to life eternal, through the loving sacrifice which He had shown to all of us. Amen.