(Holy Week) Sunday, 16 April 2017 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection, Easter Vigil and Easter Day (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Alleluia! The Lord is risen! He is indeed risen from the dead, and darkness has been dispelled, and sin has lost its sting, for death no longer hold any dominion over all those who believe in the Risen Lord, our Saviour and Master. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we rejoice greatly because of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was indeed witnessed and proved to be triumphant against death, that not even the gates of hell were able to hold Him back.

We have gone through the entire celebrations of the Holy Week, beginning with Jesus our Lord’s triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, in order to begin His Passion and complete the mission for which He had been sent into this world, for the salvation of all mankind. We have gone through how the Lord had His Last Supper with His disciples, giving His own Precious Body and Blood to them, establishing a new Covenant which will never be broken again, for on the next day, He took up the cross and died for the sake of all mankind, sealing the new Covenant with His Blood.

But all of these would have been meaningless, and our faith would indeed be nothing if Jesus just died on the cross, and then stayed dead. What made our faith so remarkable is that we believed in the One Who had suffered and died for our sake, and yet, on the third day counting from the day of His death, He reappeared in this world in glory, no longer dead, but filled with life, as the Risen Lord and Triumphant Saviour.

Without Easter, our whole faith and belief would be meaningless, and without the resurrection from the dead, all that we believe in and all that we do are without any purpose. For if Jesus died on the cross and stayed dead, what good would that do for us? Does not other men and women also encounter death at the end of their life on earth, and then death claimed us? But Jesus had shown us that death will not have the final say over us.

All of us mankind, whom God had created out of His great love for us were never meant to perish and die. We were all created to share the love which God had in Himself. He created us so that we can love Him and He can love us, and by sharing together the love we have, we may live forever in bliss and harmony, instead of suffering and die. But because we have disobeyed God and sinned against Him, then because of those sins we have received our just punishment, and sin took hold over us and had dominion over us.

Yes, sin enslaved each and every one of us ever since our first forefathers disobeyed the Lord and His will. Sin chained us and death dominated over us, just as much as the people of Israel was enslaved by the Egyptians and came under the domination of the Pharaohs, the king of Egypt. And we suffered grievously, just as the people of Israel had once suffered from persecution and oppression. Yet, while the Pharaoh and the Egyptians could only inflict bodily and physical harm over the Israelites, sin is an even more dangerous as it inflicts harm on our souls.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, during the Easter Vigil, we heard the long series of readings, seven in total, from the Old Testament, revealing to all of us throughout history, just how God had endeavoured to bring His people back to Him, that is all of us, by His wonderful works and grace. We heard how He had again and again brought respite and help for His people, and promised that He would bring them salvation and liberation, through the Messiah or Saviour He told them about, the One Who would save all of them from their sins.

We heard how God also brought His people out of the land of Egypt, walking through the Red Sea, which He opened before them, so that they could walk through them on dry land. He crushed their enemies, their oppressors, the Egyptians and their chariots. That was the old Passover. Now, we all no longer celebrate the old Passover but a new one, which God had brought upon all of mankind, through Easter.

For all of us who have received our baptism, we have been washed with the holy water in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. We have passed through the water just as the Israelites have walked through the Red Sea by the grace of God. And if we looked back a bit, we remembered how the Israelites were saved from a great disaster and catastrophe, by the blood of the lamb they slaughtered, and put as a mark on their houses, and we remember now, how Christ our Lord, the Lamb of God had been sacrificed for our sake.

Through baptism, all of us have received a share in the death of Christ, and we have become partakers in His salvation and in His loving works. Through baptism, we have received the reassurance and the promise that will never, ever be broken, the promise of life everlasting with God, in grace and eternal joy. And just as Christ had died and then rose again in glory, defeating death, therefore all of us who believe will also triumph together against death and evil, and rose in glory as our Lord had risen.

This is the true meaning of Easter, and why we rejoice so greatly in this season. It is a joy so great that it is truly indescribable. We should indeed be joyful and be thankful of God’s great love for us, that He was willing to do so much for our sake, and on our behalf, just so that all of us may be saved. This is our Easter joy, far surpassing even the joy of the Israelites when they were rescued from the tyranny and slavery of Egypt.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what are we all then ought to do from now on, even as we share together this Easter joy? We now need to truly be children of the Light that we are, and act as those whom God had chosen from the world to be His disciples. And how do we do this? It is by abandoning our past way of life, our sins and our wickedness. In Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses we celebrate, we all make our renewal of the baptismal promises, for all those who had been baptised, and a new vow of baptism for those who are just baptised.

Through these vows and promises, we all renewed our commitment to reject Satan and all of his wicked lies. We are all called to abandon those sinfulness, and embrace a new life blessed by God. Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what all of us Christians need to do, as all those whom God had blessed and called to be His sons and daughters. Yes, by baptism we have been adopted as God’s own children, and therefore, as God is good and just, all of us are called to righteousness too.

Let us all love one another, giving our love, care and concern, especially to all those who have no one else to love them, those who are homeless, those who are ostracised and dejected, all those who are sorrowful and in pain and suffering, all those who are persecuted and troubled. Let us bring love and comfort to these brethren of ours, and help them to see that despite all of their sorrows and difficulties, God will always be with them, through us.

May the Lord awaken in us all a strong faith and heart filled with love in this Easter season and beyond. May the love and joy of Easter continue to burn strongly in our hearts, as we continue to go on with our lives. May the Lord empower us all to become His good disciples, persevering day by day to live out our faith with zeal and through real and genuine actions, to be worthy people and disciples of the Lord, our Risen Lord. Let us all be witnesses of His resurrection and of His love for each and every one of us, and make disciples of all the nations! God bless us all and our endeavours. Amen.

(Holy Week) Friday, 14 April 2017 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Good Friday of our Lord’s Passion, the moment when Jesus our Lord was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate at the instigation of His opponents, and put to suffer and was tortured, made to bear the heavy wooden cross, and eventually was crucified on the cross, and died. This is what we commemorate today, the day when our Lord Himself died for our sake.

And why do we call this day ‘Good Friday’? Should we not be mourning for such a sombre event, when someone died, and all the more, God Himself Who died? That is because, without Good Friday, then all of us mankind, who are all sinners, would have perished and be destroyed, as then we would have had no hope for salvation. As we are sinners, our sins should have caused us to be damned and to be cast out from the grace of God, and endure the same fate as Satan and his angels, that is eternal suffering.

Yet it was God’s love for each and every one of us that had led to the cross. The cross of Christ is first of all the symbol of God’s love, for the Lord Jesus was willing to carry up that heavy cross, not just the burden of the heavy physical wooden cross, but also the even much heavier burdens of our sins, the combined weight of our disobedience, our faults and our failures. It was all these which God had carried upon Himself, bearing on Himself all of our sins and the consequences for those sins.

St. Paul in his Epistle to the faithful and the Church in the city of Rome, spoke of how people would not find it easy to give up his or her life for the sake of another person, even if the person is a close or good friend. They may consider it if the person had been very good and upright in all things. As a result, there might just indeed be people who would give up his life for a righteous person. But usually, there would not be those who want to do anything good for the sake of those who were wicked and evil.

But take note how God showed His great love for His people. He gave up Himself and His life, not only for the righteous or for the just, but for everyone, every single one of us mankind, from the greatest saints to the worst of sinners and wicked people. Indeed, He also died for the sake of His enemies and all those who had put themselves as obstacles in His path!

That is indeed what God had done, just as He had done for the sake of His people Israel in the past. He showed them care and concern, and was truly patient with them, even though when they have constantly rebelled against Him and disobeyed Him. Because of their sins and wickedness however, the Israelites perished in the desert as what was supposed to be their just punishment came up to them.

In one occasion, we heard how the Israelites suffered grievously from fiery serpents that were sent by God Who was furious at their lack of faith, and as punishment for their sins. Indeed, many of them died and there were many among them who were swayed to turn themselves in to the Lord, admit their sins and wickedness. The people came to Moses, asking him to ask the Lord to forgive them, for they would no longer sin before Him.

Therefore God instructed Moses to craft the likeness of a serpent, a bronze serpent, to be placed on a stand so that all the sons and daughters of Israel could see the bronze serpent. And all who had been bitten by the fiery serpents, and who ought to have died, would not die because they had seen the bronze serpent, the symbol of God’s mercy and forgiveness. It is a reminder to all of them, that their sins had brought about their downfall, and should have ended up in them perishing, but God loved each and every one of them, and wanted to forgive them.

Jesus Himself made the direct comparison between that event with His own Passion. He was very specific in His mention of what would happen at the time of His own Passion, when the Son of Man, Himself, would be lifted up high for all to see, just as Moses had raised the bronze serpent in the past. That was when Jesus was crucified, put to death on the cross, a way to die at that time, most humiliating and reserved only to the worst of criminals in accordance to the Roman law.

Surely, the devil himself would have thought that he had won when Jesus was arrested, condemned to death and brought to the cross at Calvary. Ever since Jesus began His ministry, he had done all of his efforts in order to undermine and stop the works of Jesus, by tempting Him, which did not work, and then, he chose to oppose Him through various people and various means.

But God turned that symbol of ultimate humiliation into the symbol of the ultimate victory and triumph, for as we all know, Jesus Who died on that day at Calvary, did not die for nothing, and neither did He die permanently, for death had no hold or power over Him. Sin and death, darkness and evil fled away when the Lord rose in glory after He had died for three days, showing to all that death is not to be our fate. The fate of all humanity, is instead to share in the cross of Christ and therefore to share in His glorious resurrection as well. And this means that we all ought to have eternal life with God.

Moses raised the bronze serpent, and all who saw it lived, even though they had been bitten by the fiery serpents. In the same way, Jesus our Lord was raised up on the cross for all of us to see, to witness and to realise, that by His death on the cross, He Who took up upon Himself all the multitudes of our sins, had sacrificed Himself out of love for us, so that whoever looked upon Him and believed, will not die but have eternal life from God.

But surely now we can say, we do not see God, for Jesus is no longer here with us. He was there two millennia ago surely, but then He had been crucified and died, and had risen into His glory and ascended to heaven. We no longer see Him, and we were not there during His crucifixion. But yet, we are also saved, brothers and sisters in Christ. Why is this so? That is because in every Holy Mass, and including in today’s service, even though there is no consecration today, the Lord becomes really present in our midst, through the Most Holy Eucharist.

When the priest consecrates the bread and wine brought forth to the Altar, he in fact, reenacts the same sacrifice at Calvary, lifting up both bread and wine, but no longer just mere bread and mere wine, but in substance and essence completely transformed into the Body and Blood of our Lord Himself. Do we all remember the time of our Lord’s crucifixion and death whenever we see these happening? Or are we too busy with ourselves and all of our busy schedules and thoughts to realise just how fortunate we are to have God Who really cares for us and Who loves us deeply?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we may feel sorrowful because the Lord our God Himself had died on the cross. We may feel sorrowful and dejected because indeed, how can we not do so, considering that our God Himself, our Lord, Master and Creator had died for our sake? Indeed, we are sorrowful because every single one of our sins had been borne by Him, without complaint, without objection, but only with the reply of a perfect love.

We are sorrowful because our sins are indeed the wounds that were inflicted on Christ. Every single lacerations, every single wounds are our sins, our slander towards one another, our lack of love, care and concern for the poor and the needy, our action in ostracising others, being unjust and biased against our fellow men, or by our jealousy, hatred and all the other things that had caused us to fall into sin. Do we realise just how much God loved each and every one of us, that He was willing to bear all of these, so that He can forgive us the multitudes of our failures and incompetence? And He never complained at all, as He made His way to Calvary!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today, as we celebrate the Passion and death of our Lord, let us all spend time in prayer and contemplation. Let us remember every single moment that we have sinned, all the faults we have, all the jealousies and unbecoming attitudes we had shown in life, all of our slandering and wicked ways, and reflect on how much we have caused pain and sorrow for our Lord, as He bore that cross of our sins, on His way to save all of us.

Yet, let us also remember that, Good Friday does not stand by itself. Easter comes after Good Friday. And therefore, because we have shared in the death of our Lord, we also will share in His resurrection and receive eternal life, provided that we truly can come to the understanding of the importance of leading a good, just and upright life, sinning no more and turning ourselves and our ways completely to God.

Let us remember that vice versa, Easter does not come about without Good Friday. There will be lots of challenges ahead on our path. Jesus did not have it easy, and indeed He suffered in the most difficult of ways possible. And so, we too will suffer as He has suffered, and we will be tempted just as He had been tempted. Yet, if we do not lose our sight and focus on the light and hope that is to come, the joy of Easter, surely we will then be able to find our way to the Lord, and in the end, receive from Him the crown of everlasting glory.

May the Lord bless us all, forgive us all our sins, and may by His triumphant and victorious cross, reminds us always of our own daily crosses that we need to take up, that we may follow Him towards salvation and the glory of eternal life. Amen.

(Holy Week) Thursday, 13 April 2017 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we begin the three days of the holiest moments in the whole liturgical year, the Easter Triduum, celebrating the centrepiece of our faith, beginning with today when we celebrate the occasion of Maundy or Holy Thursday, the Last Supper which the Lord Jesus had with His disciples on the night before He suffered and died, and then tomorrow’s Good Friday, commemorating the moment when Jesus died on the cross, and finally the Easter Vigil celebrations, on the triumph of the Risen Christ over sin and death.

Today therefore we begin that very solemn occasion, the time when the Lord began His Passion, the time of the fulfilment of His earthly ministry, the time when He completed the journey He started, in bringing all the people of God back to the embrace of God, and in declaring to all of them the Good News of God. On this day we also mark the time when He revealed to all the ultimate gift which He had given to all of us mankind, that is the gift of none other than that of His own Body and Blood, the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God, the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of our sins.

For the Lord had His Last Supper with His disciples as we celebrate the occasion this evening, in the imitation and indeed perfection of the original Jewish Passover feast, which was celebrated year after year as the most important of all feasts and festivals, because on that day, God showed forth His might and power, in order to bring His enslaved people out of the tyranny and slavery in Egypt. Even though they had been marked for death by the Pharaoh, but God provided for them salvation beyond even their despair.

God made them to keep a young lamb without blemish, to be slaughtered on the time He had appointed to them. That was the very first Passover, the time when the Israelites slaughtered the lamb and used its blood to mark their houses, by putting it on their houses, on the lintels and doorposts, so that when God sent His Angels to scour through the whole Egypt, to kill the firstborn sons of Egypt, the sons of Israel would not be harmed and thus would be ‘passed over’.

And thus, by His grace and by His power, God had liberated His people through the pouring of the blood of the lamb of sacrifice, the unblemished lamb which was slaughtered, and consumed by the Israelites together with the unleavened bread, during the very first Passover. Ever since, the people of Israel continued to remember that important event, by repeating it again and again, year after year, to remember the moment that God brought them all to freedom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what the Lord Jesus had done on that day, the Last Supper which He had with His disciples was also a Passover meal, the new Passover which Jesus instituted that very night and which today we remember, as well as at every time we celebrate the Holy Mass. That is because, just as the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites and made them to suffer, all of us mankind had also been enslaved by sin, and sin is what the Lord was liberating us all from, as He went forth through His Passion and ultimately, death.

And this time, God also brought forth a lamb of sacrifice, a worthy lamb, and a spotless and unblemished lamb. However, unlike any earthly lambs, which blood could do nothing more than temporary respite and absolution from sin, which the priests ever since the time of Aaron and his sons would need to continue to offer and sacrifice again and again, on that day, that night of the Last Supper, Christ Himself is the Lamb, the Lamb of God.

Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God, as we always remember saying during the Holy Mass, as the One Who takes away the sins of the world. He gave His disciples His own Body, through the bread He blessed and broke, and then His own Blood, by the blessed wine He had passed to them. And God therefore had redeemed and liberated His people by the offering of the Blood of the Lamb, which we all have received and shared, and by that mark of our faith, we have been ‘passed over’ from our fate of eternal death and damnation.

We should have perished and be damned for eternity for our sins, for all the wickedness that we have committed in life. And yet, because we have our Lord and Master Who did not give up on us, and Who in fact willingly sought to forgive us and redeem us from our sins, we have a new hope and the opportunity of having a new life in Him, abandoning our past ways of sin and embracing a new life blessed and filled with the grace of God.

Jesus is our High Priest, Who had come upon us, offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the oblation and for the forgiveness of our sins. On all those who are willing to accept God’s forgiveness, He has offered all of them, the direct pathway to salvation. He has, once and for all, by offering His Body and Blood as the Lamb of sacrifice on the cross at Calvary, redeemed the whole race of mankind from the taints of their sins.

And what is important is that, through His disciples, Jesus our Lord had passed on and continued that sacred priesthood by what He had done and commanded them to do on the night of that Last Supper. Jesus washed the hands of His disciples, and told them all to do the same. And He also, while breaking up the bread and passing the wine around, commanded the disciples to do the same as what He had done at that time.

In essence, at that occasion, Jesus instituted the priesthood of the Church, which He Himself had established, and gave them the authority to be in persona Christi, that is in the person of Christ, acting on His behalf as the priests celebrate the Holy Mass, transforming the offering of bread and wine, into the real and true Holy Presence of our God, Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

Therefore, today we remember our priests and bishops, and all those who have consecrated themselves to God through holy ordination. We pray for all of them, and ask God to strengthen each and every one of them, so that through the difficult challenges and troubles that often await them on their path, they may continue to persevere and remain strong amidst all of those obstacles. Let us pray that they may continue to dedicate and serve the people of God, in the same manner as Christ had loved and served His people.

Let us all also remember the sacrifice by which Christ had lovingly protected ourselves and brought us all from the brink of annihilation into a new hope, by establishing a new Covenant with us sealed with none other than His Most Precious Blood. Let us all remember that we were once enslaved to sin, and by God’s grace we have been given the forgiveness and reconciliation which many of us are seeking for.

Let us ponder and reflect on all these, as we progress through our celebration of the Easter Triduum occasions, and let us all prepare our hearts and minds, to remember the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself willingly as our sacrifice instead of ourselves, that all of us may live. May the Lord be with us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

(Holy Week) Thursday, 13 April 2017 : Holy Thursday, Chrism Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this occasion we celebrate together the Chrism Mass, the moment when all of the priests and all those who had committed themselves to a life of sanctity to God renew their commitment and vow to the Lord, and it is also the occasion when the holy oils are blessed and sanctified for use in the anointing of the catechumens, the sick and also for the ordination to the holy orders.

Since ages past, oils have been used to signify an inauguration and sanctification, and they were used since those times to bless and inaugurate the rule of kings and princes, and also for the worship of the divine, being used in temples and in rituals of worship for the pagan gods and idols. And in the Scriptures, in the tradition of our faith, the holy oil has been used to anoint God’s chosen ones, on those whom God had placed His favour on, as a sign of sanctification and grace.

Therefore, when all the people who have accepted the faith come forward to receive the Sacrament of Baptism, they are also anointed with the holy oil as a sign of their anointment as the people who have been made priest, prophet and king as mentioned in the Scripture. These are the three callings which are brought upon all the people of God, the calling to be priestly, prophetic and kingly as our Lord is a Priest, a Prophet and a King.

The Lord is a Priest, the High Priest of all the people of God, for He offered sacrifice to the Lord for the sake of all of us sinners, for the oblation of our sins. He however offered not the imperfect sacrifice of animals, bulls, rams or birds. He offered Himself, His own Precious Body and Blood as a perfect offering for the absolution of all of our sins and faults.

And He is also a Prophet, for He declared the truth about Himself, about the salvation which He had brought into this world. He came declaring the Good News, to all mankind, fulfilling completely and perfectly all that the earlier prophets were speaking about Him. He brought the truth which many people refused to believe in, including all those who have persecuted Him and rejected Him.

He is also a King, for He comes into this world as the Son and Heir of David, the king whom God had placed over His people Israel. He came as a king, as the King over all other kings, for He is the Lord and Master of all, and reign as the Almighty and All-Powerful King, Whose reign was told to be never-ending, and He will bless us all His people, and love us all to the end of time.

Yet, He is also humble even though He was mighty and great. He did not boast of His greatness and glory, and instead choosing to come in humility, being born of His mother in a simple stable, and lived a lowly and humble life. He is the epitome of all priests, the One Who is the model for all of us faithful ones. We have to walk in His ways, obey Him and do as what He had done in His earthly life.

And thus, in particular, on this day and occasion we remember our holy priests, all those who have given themselves completely to the service of God, giving themselves to be the ones who are the representatives of Christ in this world. Our priests are all acting in persona Christi as they reenact the same sacrifice at Calvary, when the bread and wine are offered and blessed, transformed by the power of the Lord acting through our priests, into the very essence and substance of the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord.

They have consecrated themselves to the Lord, and have been offered and chosen from among us all to be those who will become the go-between between us and God. They have a difficult task ahead of them, and many of them had met various challenges, even slander and opposition. Yet, many of them courageously continued on regardless, doing the best they could to fulfil the calling and vocation to which they have been called by God.

Let us all support our priests and all those who have consecrated themselves to God, that they may be able to continue to be faithful to the vows which they had made before the Lord. Let us pray also for more vocations as we all know just how increasingly difficult the situation is for our Church, with the declining vocations to priesthood and also with the ever more and ever greater challenges to our faith due to our contemporary culture and societal norms.

Let us begin by living good and honest Christian lives, role modelling for one another, and helping each other to live in accordance to how the Lord wants us to live. Let us all strive to be a priestly people, a prophetic people and a kingly people, loving one another and giving ourselves to care for those who are in need of our help. If we all can do this and cultivate true Christian values in our lives, before long, certainly the vocations to the priesthood will bloom and flourish again.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all gather together in prayer on the occasion of this Chrism Mass, that the holy oils blessed by the Bishop will bring strength and power to all those to whom it will be given, be it to the catechumens, that they may be continuously firmed and strengthened in their faith as they journey towards baptism, and to those who are to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, that the Holy Spirit will enter into their hearts and inflame their faith.

And last of all, let us all pray that all those who have given themselves in total commitment to the Lord as His priests will be blessed with faith and strength in their commitment to lead a life devoted to Him. Let us all pray that the holy oils blessed today will bring them the power and strength to devote themselves to their calling as it is applied on their foreheads and palms, that they will be ever ready to take up the cross of Christ at all times and follow Him.

And now that our priests had done so, let us all the laity also follow in their footsteps and walk in the way that God had shown to us. May the Lord bless us all and keep us all in His grace. May He awaken in each and every one of us the love which we ought to have for Him. God bless us all. Amen.

(Holy Week) Wednesday, 12 April 2017 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard again the story of the betrayal of Judas, because especially in the tradition of our faith handed down from the Apostles, today, as Holy Wednesday, the day before the Last Supper was to happen, was the day when Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus and plotted to hand Him over to them for a monetary sum.

And Judas sold Jesus out to the chief priests for a sum of thirty silver pieces. This may seem a lot to us, but in fact at that time, that price was roughly how much a slave would be worth in the slave market, at a time when slavery was still widely practiced. Thus, Judas sold his Lord and Master out for the price of a mere slave, as foretold in the Scriptures, that the One Whom God sent into the world would be betrayed and priced at the worth of a mere slave.

We may think that this is insignificant to us, but in fact, all of us should really pay very close attention to what Judas had done, and what the Lord wants to remind us with, as we all listen to the way that Judas had betrayed Him. Judas was a greedy man, and he was always helping himself to the common funds of the disciples of the Lord, as we read in the Gospels. He was a thief, and concerned more about money and benefits of following the Lord rather than truly believing in Him.

He was with the Lord Jesus so long as it benefitted him to do so. The moment that he saw an opportunity to betray Him for something more lucrative, he would do so at the first opportunity. He saw that opportunity when he saw Mary, the sister of Lazarus, the man whom Jesus raised from the dead, poured expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus and anointed it. He could not understand why it was done, because in his mind, money and his desire for money took the first place before the Lord.

Thus, he betrayed the Lord, because ultimately, as Jesus said in another occasion, that man cannot serve two masters, be it God or money. Man will love one and hate the other. So, eventually Judas made his choice, and it was not God’s side that he took up. We may think that this is what he had done, and it had no significance on us. But we are truly very wrong if we think that it is the case.

In fact, let us ponder on our own lives and actions. Let us all remember all the times when the Lord called upon us and wanted us to follow Him, and yet, we always say ‘no’ to Him, or ‘later’ or ‘do not disturb me, for I am busy now’ or ‘I will do it later’. Surely each and every one of us, at some point of time in our lives have done all these, have said all these to the Lord as our response to His call.

And let us remember whenever we are saying, ‘I have given donations and money to the Church, I have attended the Mass every Sunday, so I have done my obligations, therefore, let me be and allow me to continue with my daily business, for I have done what was asked of me.’ This is often the attitude which quite a few of had done, or indeed are doing all the time, whenever we are called by the Lord.

Are we not making excuses before the Lord? And are we not doing just exactly what Judas had done? We treated the Lord as if He is insignificant compared to whatever things that we are pursuing in life, be it wealth, be it possession, fame or renown, or power or authority, or other things that we mankind often seek for in life. We are so busy with all these things and all of these pursuits that we have neglected our main duty in life, to serve the Lord with all of our strength.

Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? For in reality, we are all nothing without God! God is the source of all our lives, and all the breath we take, every single one of them are blessings from the Lord. But we often do not appreciate this fact. We treated Him just like how Judas sold Him out for just a mere thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave.

Remember, brothers and sisters, that as we progress through this Holy Week, we should realise just how much it is that God has loved each and every one of us, even though we are all sinners and rebels before Him. He wants us all to be redeemed and to be reconciled with Him, and to that extent, He has endeavoured to give it all for our sake, by sending none other than His own begotten Son, the Divine Word made flesh, to be the Saviour of us all.

Let us remember this as we are about to commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross this Good Friday. He has paid the ultimate price for His love for us. He has held nothing back, even to the extent of giving up His own life for our sake, so that by His death, we may also die to our past sins, and also to be able to share in His glorious resurrection, that each and every one of us will be cleansed thoroughly from all the unworthy things that had kept us away from God’s grace and love.

Let us remember therefore, that all of us who are Christians, as those who believe in Him as our Lord and Saviour, have our respective obligations in life, to be fully committed to follow the Lord and His ways in all things, by the generous and selfless giving of ourselves to one another. Let us all imitate the great love which God had poured down on us, and share the same love to our fellow brethren, to one another.

If we do all of these, then surely our faith will become stronger, and we will draw closer to God, and we will not suffer the same fate as Judas, who had rejected the Lord and chose the tempting hold of wealth and worldly possessions instead of the Lord. Let us all enter the most holy of all times and seasons with heart filled with love and also with understanding, of the ultimate loving sacrifice that Jesus our Lord had given us from the cross, and thus strive to show the same love to all, to God and to our brethren alike. May God bless us all, and be with us, now and forevermore. Amen.

(Holy Week) Tuesday, 11 April 2017 : Tuesday of Holy Week, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about how Jesus said that one of His own disciples would betray Him and surrendered Him to the hands of the chief priests and the elders. He was speaking of the time of His own suffering and death, which at that time was indeed about to occur. We heard of the betrayal of Judas who left to inform the chief priests and the elders on how and when to arrest Jesus in exchange for monetary compensation of thirty silver pieces.

Then we also heard how Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him three times before others, even as he said that he would give his life for the sake of the Lord. This is what we are certainly quite well aware of, how during the time when Jesus had been arrested, out of fear and doubt, Peter denied three times knowing Jesus and had wanted nothing to do with Him when the bystanders at the trial of Jesus asked him.

In what we have heard thus far, what the Lord wants us to know is that all of us mankind have sinned, committed acts out of disobedience to Him, and we are easily tempted by various things, from money, to pleasures of the body, to desire, to lust and greed for power, human ambition, to fame and renown, and all other things that have caused us to doubt, to falter and to fall into sin, as the disciples had done when the Lord was arrested. They all abandoned Him and hid themselves out of fear.

Yet, we must be wondering why then did God call such weak and easily tempted men to be His disciples? Then, we should also think then that the Lord called people who were sinners like the tax collectors, prostitutes and all others whom the general public considered to be the dregs and the lowest of them all, outcasts and unworthy people, who should have been condemned because of all the wickedness that they had done.

But God called them and made them turn away from their past sinfulness and He made them to abandon their old ways of wickedness. He had transformed all of them from the beings of darkness and sin, into the children of the light, and therefore, we have to realise that even all saints were once themselves sinners too, just like each and every one of us.

What is it that differentiate between saints and all those who have fallen into damnation? Since all of them were once the same in what they had done, in whatever sins they have committed, we may not realise the answer for this question. But truly, it is because while saints turned away from their sins and made the commitment to sin no more, those who have been condemned ended up with such a fate because they continued to live in the state of sin.

As we progress through the Holy Week, and approach the time when we will commemorate again the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord, let us all ponder upon these matters and reflect on our actions in life thus far. How have we made use of this life and opportunity given to us by our Lord? Have we used it in accordance with what He wanted us and willed for us? Or have we instead ignored His will and decided to follow our own path, by turning into sin and debauchery?

We should look upon the examples set by St. Stanislas or St. Stanislaus the Bishop and Martyr, who was a renowned saint and martyr from Poland, who lived almost a millennia ago, as the Bishop of Krakow in Poland. St. Stanislas was a just and upright man, who committed himself wholeheartedly to the mission to which he had been called to. He spent much of his time to help guide the people of God through difficulties, challenges and temptations in life to seek God and His ways.

And he was very courageous in standing up to his faith and to the truth that could be found in the Lord alone, as he even stood up against the king of Poland, king Boleslav who was told to be immoral in his life and in his activities. He was chastised by the courageous saint, who ended up excommunicating the king when he refused to change his ways and continued to commit scandalous acts before God and men alike.

The king took matter to his own hands and personally killed the Bishop as he was celebrating the Holy Mass outside the city. The uproar over the killing of such a holy and pious man forced the king off from his throne, and it was told that he had to go into exile, and some accounts placed him as a penitent who went about trying to be forgiven from his grievous sin of murdering a holy man of God. Nevertheless, the faith of St. Stanislas were widely noted and many venerated him after his death.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us should also walk in the footsteps of St. Stanislas. We should emulate his commitment to live a pious and worthy life, rejecting all forms of sins and wickedness. We should turn our way back from our sins, and reject all those things that had led us to sin. Let us all devote ourselves and our time from now on to serve the Lord with all of our hearts, with all of our strength, so that we may join the company of the saints, all the sinners whom God had forgiven and welcomed back into His embrace, and now enjoy the eternal glory of heaven. May the Lord bless us all. Amen.

(Holy Week) Monday, 10 April 2017 : Monday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue our journey through the Holy Week, the holiest moment in our whole liturgical year. We progress on from what we celebrate yesterday in Palm Sunday of our Lord’s Passion, when we celebrate the coming of the King of glory into His city, praised and welcomed by the people crying out, “Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!”

And as we progress towards the celebrations of the Easter Triduum, when we commemorate the same King, Who was abandoned by His people, condemned to death and put to death on the cross, and later to rise from the dead, through these few days in between these two important events, all of us are called to reflect on what our Lord had done for our sake through His Passion, death and resurrection.

God has allowed Himself to assume the human flesh, taking up our form to share with us the suffering we have received because of our sins and wickedness. And while we sinned and disobeyed Him, He was willing to forgive us, as He wanted us all to be reconciled to Him, because He loved each one of us. And therefore, because of this great love which our God had shown us, definitely we want to thank Him and to glorify Him for all He had done for us.

In the Gospel today, that was what Mary, the sister of Lazarus had done onto Jesus. Imagine, brothers and sisters in Christ, the joy that she must have had, when she saw her brother Lazarus, who was very sick and whom once thought to be dead, rose from the dead because of what Jesus had done for him. We can just imagine just how great the joy is in the heart of Mary, of having received such a great grace from God, the gift of a new life.

Therefore, she anointed His feet with expensive perfume, told to be from pure spikenard, among the most expensive and highest quality of perfumes, honouring Him and glorifying Him. In another account from the Gospels, Mary also wet His feet with her tears and dried them all with her hair. Such was the adoration and worship that she had given to Him, entrusting Him with all of her attention and her heart, and yet, Judas judged her and complained on what she had done.

Judas, under the pretext that Mary was wasting the perfume that was so expensive that it could have been sold to provide money to be given to the poor had judged Mary in front of others, pretending to care for the poor. But as mentioned in the Gospel passage itself, he was not concerned at the least for the poor, but because when Mary did that to Jesus, Judas was filled with jealousy and desire, greed and anger, because he was not able to help himself to the money which thus far he had taken from the common funds of the disciples.

In all this, we encounter the situation that often happens in our world today, when there are many who accuse us in the Church as being removed from the reality of our world, and many who slandered and attacked the Church because they thought that the Church had been an elitist institution who could have done all the things that Jesus had asked us to do, if they were to strip down all of their churches and properties and sell off everything, giving them all to the poor.

But they did not realise just how much the Church had done for the sake of the poor and the needy. The Church is the greatest and the most active contributor to charity and good works anywhere in the world. It has done so much for the sake of those who need assistance, but of course there are always more to be done to help. And the help from each and every one of us is needed.

Many perceived the Church as being ignorant of the plight of the poor, because they saw the actions of many Christians who are indifferent and selfish, greedy and filled with corruption just like Judas Iscariot. Many of us are putting our own wants and desires ahead of our obligations to serve the Lord with faith, and that is why many people found the Church scandalised, because of our own actions, all of us who called ourselves Christians and yet we did not act as how Christians should have acted and lived.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all learn from the example of Mary, and not from the examples shown by Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus. Let us all leave behind our greed, our attachments to worldly pleasures and all the things that had corrupted our hearts, our minds and our entire being, as how they had turned Judas into betraying Jesus. All of us had indeed once erred, but there is always the opportunity to turn ourselves into a new life.

Let us all therefore seek to be humble and to act as Mary, the sister of Lazarus had done. Let us all devote our time and effort from now on to give our best to the Lord, putting our complete trust in Him and not in worldly matters and goods. Let us not fall into the same temptation as Judas had fallen into, so that we may not fall into damnation but may instead receive eternal life. May God be with all of us, always. Amen.