Sunday, 26 May 2019 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday which is the sixth in the holy season of Easter, all of us are reminded through the Scripture passages of the need for us all to love God and to be His true disciples, obeying His commandments and all that He has taught us to do, to be filled with love and to be open to His presence in our hearts, minds and in our whole beings, so that we truly can be called, God’s people and God’s children.

In today’s first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the dispute and infighting that arose among the faithful, between those who wanted to impose the Jewish laws and ordinances regarding circumcision and other practices in accordance to the laws of the Old Testament, that is of Moses and the practices as described in the Torah to all of the Christian faithful including the non-Jewish peoples, and those who wanted to relax and prevent the strict imposition of the Law on the Gentiles.

Through the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord received the guidance of wisdom and truth, and not to be misled by pride, greed and all the things that often cause us mankind to be divided and to be filled with jealousy, anger and hatred towards one another. Instead of siding with one faction or the other that could have led to an even greater division and conflict, the Apostles ruled firmly through the wisdom of God that the Gentiles should not be made to obey and to follow the entirety of the Jewish practices and customs, while not ruling out the Jewish followers of Christ from doing so.

Ultimately, we have to understand carefully the context and background behind such a conflict, on why some of the people were so passionately filled with the desire to impose such a law and regulation on all the faithful. First of all, the Law of God was first revealed to His people, the people of Israel through Moses, who received the Ten Commandments as the core of the Law, while also receiving the set of laws and rules, as laid out in the book of Leviticus and the other books of the Torah.

These laws and rules were numerous, governing everything in the society, all sorts of daily living and regulations. And over time, all of these were compounded and added with the unwritten traditions and customs preserved by the elders of the people, which were meant to govern the behaviours of the people, especially because they often went wayward and refused to follow the Lord’s path, even early on in their journey just after they left Egypt.

The Lord Himself said that He had given His people those laws and rules not because He wanted to impose Himself on them, but rather because they had been so unruly, rebellious and filled with disobedience that He had to impose those laws and rules to make sure that they conformed to His ways. For ultimately, God loves each and every single one of His beloved children, and all the more those whom He had chosen from among the nations to be His own first chosen ones.

If God had not loved His people, He could have just destroyed and crushed them by the power of His will alone, and yet He did not do that. Instead, He went through all the trouble to discipline His people, to guide them back to the right path, giving them the right guidance and provide them with the best opportunities for them to seek Him back, to be reconciled and to be forgiven from their sinfulness.

That is because unless they turned back from all those rebellious and wayward actions they have done, they would fall deeper into sin, and therefore became separated ever further from God, their loving Father and Creator. How can any father just let his children to go and fall into such a state? And this is not just any father like any one of us, but God, our ever loving and ever dedicated Father, Who created us out of the perfect love He has for us.

Unfortunately, the people often forgot what it is that they need to do in order to love their heavenly Father and Creator. Instead, as what we have seen in our first reading today, those who have ended up making use of the Law in the wrong way, being overly obsessed in its implementation and workings but failing to realise the intention and the purpose of those laws in the first place. They forgot that the Law of God is the Law of love.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us? Are we going to follow in the footsteps of those who prefer division and conflict, disagreements and infighting among ourselves, just so that we can advance our own selfish agenda, desires and push forward our pride and ego? Or are we instead going to follow the path that the Lord has shown us, the path of love, by first loving Him above everything else, and then loving our fellow brethren in the same way we love God and how we love ourselves?

This is our calling as Christians, to bear witness to the love of God, by practicing this love in our own lives, and we love God first and foremost because He has loved us so much first, that as our second reading passage from the Book of Revelations show us, God Himself has prepared a place for us in the heavens, the heavenly Jerusalem and the place of our true existence, by the side of God, no longer separated from Him and free from the bondage to sin and death.

Let us all therefore from now on seek to love more in our own lives, loving God and loving our fellow men to the best of our abilities. Let us all seek God and His generous love, and strive to love Him to the best of our abilities, from now on, that we may be reconciled with Him and be reunited with Him in His presence, and enjoy forever the glory of His kingdom as He promised to all of us, His beloved and faithful ones. Amen.

Sunday, 19 May 2019 : Fifth Sunday of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this fifth Sunday in the season of Easter all of us are called to be filled with love, for we are God’s people and disciples, and God is love. If God is love Himself, then how can we not be filled with love? All those who genuinely believed and called themselves followers of God must be like Him in all things, and in particular, in the matter of love.

And what is love, brothers and sisters in Christ? Love is something that has often eluded our understanding, as there are really so many different interpretations, meanings, and ways how we exhibit and show love in our daily living. And surely many of us equate love with what we have seen in the popular media, when two starry-eyed lovers fall for each other, doing silly things and happy things together.

Yes, love does cause people to be happy and to be joyful, and it is genuine love that will bring about true joy and happiness. But love endures and remains even when things are gloomy and dark, when we struggle and encounter difficulties in life. It is true love that will persist on amidst these challenges and that is also how we know if love is truly present in our relationships and interactions with one another.

First of all, what is love? Love is, in its essence and core, consist of sacrifice and giving of oneself, of commitment and dedication, of care and concern, not for oneself but for another person. If love is based first and foremost on our own desires and wants, then I am afraid that this kind of love is not truly a genuine love, for there are ulterior motives driving behind the facade of love, that will easily fall away in the moment of difficulties and challenges.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, in our community today and in our whole world today, there are so many different tragedies and difficulties that people of various backgrounds experience because there is a lack of love or true, genuine love in our interaction and relationship with each other. We show love that is not real love, but one that is basically a transactional relationship where we want things to go our way, and for us to benefit from this love we show.

But that is not love, for real love is something that is giving and not taking away, a sharing and not an exclusion. And there has been no better example of love than indeed, God Himself, He Who is Love, Incarnate in the flesh, in the form of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who came down into this world bearing the love of God not just in words but in action, as He showed us all what God’s love truly is like.

He Himself has shown us what real, genuine and unconditional love is like. He laid down His own life on the cross, bearing all the sufferings and difficulties, the pains and sorrows of our humanity’s innumerable sins. He took up all those without complaints or the desire to gain anything for Himself. He gave Himself so completely to us that He even shed His Body and Blood for our sake, that we may all be saved.

Thus, when the Lord Jesus spoke of His new commandment, the commandment of love that He has brought into this world, He Himself became the first to fulfil that commandment, as He loved His heavenly Father so completely that He obeyed His will that He had to bear the burden of the Cross, and at the same time also loving all of us so much that to bear such a painful burden and going through a most humiliating death of a criminal on the Cross was something that Christ did for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are called to follow the example of Our Lord Himself, in how we should live our lives, in how we interact with one another and in how we should love our friends and families, all those who are dear and precious to us. We are called to bear true love in all of our actions, that instead of being people who are selfish and seeking for only our own benefits, we can be people who are self-giving and compassionate, as Christ had done for us.

That is why, each and every one of us must commit ourselves to the path of love, to die to our pride and desire within us, the two things that often become the ruin of many friendships and relationships, as conflicting desires and human pride cause pain, hurt, jealousy, anger and many other forms of sufferings for us. Instead, we should be role models of our loving faith, so that in everything we do, love and indeed, genuine, compassionate love will be in everything we do and become the foundation of our very existence.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to progress through this blessed season of Easter, let us make it our commitment to be more loving and be more compassionate in all things, and learn to share God’s many blessings and graces He has given us with our brethren who have not been so fortunate. Let us all reach out to them with love, and let the love of God be in everything we do and fill the whole world with the wonders of this love.

May God bless us all and may He empower us all to live courageously with faith, with hope and with love from now on, each and every days of our lives, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 12 May 2019 : Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, Vocation Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, the fourth in the season of Easter we celebrate the special occasion of the Good Shepherd Sunday, alluding to the Gospel passage today in which the Lord Jesus revealed Himself as the one and true Good Shepherd of all, as the One Who leads all the people, the flock of God’s faithful ones, to Himself and into salvation and eternal glory.

And this Sunday is also known as the Vocation Sunday, as we are all reminded of the role of those who have been called by God to be His priests, that is to be called to be shepherds, shepherds for the flock of the people of God. They have all been called to be shepherds in the image of the one and true Good Shepherd, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in their service and ministry to the faithful.

The Lord used the imagery of a shepherd in delivering the truth about His own ministry and work to the people because at that time, many of the people were shepherds and those who dealt with the flock of sheep and goats, cattle and all animals reared for their meat, or fleece or for milk. And by making the use of allegory and approximation to the role of shepherd in managing the flocks of animals, He wanted to show us how truly He is leading us down the right path, while at the same time loving each and every one of us so tenderly and dearly.

In the Scripture readings today the meaning and significance of this Good Shepherd and Vocation Sunday are brought forth to us, beginning with the Good Shepherd Himself, our Lord Jesus, Who is the model of all the shepherds of God’s people, as He came into this world, calling upon all of His sheep to come to Himself. In another occasion in the Gospel, the Lord used the example of a shepherd and his sheep again to bring across this point, in the parable of the lost sheep.

In that parable, He mentioned how the Good Shepherd, one who is truly loving and caring towards the sheep will leave behind for a while all the ninety-nine sheep that he has shepherded, and go to search for the one sheep that was lost from him. He will not rest until the lost sheep has been found, and when he manages to find the lost sheep, the joy he has is far greater than the joy of having the other ninety-nine. This does not mean that the ninety-nine sheep worth less than the one lost sheep. But rather, without the one sheep, the joy of the shepherd is not complete.

And that is what He has called His Apostles and disciples to do, to be the shepherds in His image and following His example, to gather all the people of God, those who have been lost and scattered away from Him. In the first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard how the Apostles, St. Paul and St. Barnabas travelled from place to place proclaiming the Good News of God and preaching the Lord’s truth to the people.

The people listened to them and many became believers, leaving behind their pagan ways. This is what it means by the shepherds going out of their way to find the lost sheep. The lost sheep themselves are the people of God who have become lost in the darkness of this world, tempted by sin and by the darkness of this world. By calling upon them, the Apostles gathered the Lord’s flock and prevented them from being lost forever to the Lord.

And the works of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord are far from being complete, as there are still always a lot of the Lord’s lost sheep in this world, all the time, even to this present day and world. In fact, in our present day and world, there are even more and more difficulties and challenges that the world is presenting us, as the threat of secularism and indifference towards God and faith are ever growing, and those who advocate the end of the faith and belief in God are growing ever more vocal and influential.

This is also compounded by the fact that fewer and fewer people are willing and interested to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles, as those whom God had called and chosen to be His priests, all those who are the forefront of the Church’s mission and work among the people, the shepherds whom the Lord send out to gather the lost sheep of His flock. And in our present day world today, we are aware of the many challenges faced not just by our priests and all the ordained, but also by the lack of vocation in many places all around the world.

That is why on this Sunday, all of us remember both Christ, our loving Good Shepherd, Who knows each and every one of us, His beloved sheep, that He wants to gather us all and keep us away from the dangers of this world. He has done exactly what He Himself said the good shepherd would do, that is to lay down His life for the sake of His sheep. He laid down His life on the cross, enduring all the bitter suffering, pain and punishment for our sins, that all of us may live and not perish.

And then we also remember all of our priests, all those whom God had called to follow His examples, to the ministry of being shepherds of the Church. They have enormous task awaiting them, as well as many difficult challenges that often become great obstacles in their path, and which surely often make them sorrowful, sad, and even stressed. Our priests and all those whom God had appointed to be shepherds, including our bishops and the Pope need our support and our prayers.

Let us also last of all remember to pray for all those whom God had called, those who have embraced the call and entered the seminary formation, studying and preparing themselves to become one of the Lord’s shepherds, as well as those other young and courageous men of all kinds who have been stirred by God in their hearts and minds to follow Him. Let us all pray that they will be able to discern their path in life, and that they will have the courage to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles.

May the Lord be with our shepherds, that all of them will be like Him, our one and true, and loving Good Shepherd, that in all things, they will give their all to love the flock of God’s faithful, and bring us all closer to Him and His salvation. Amen.

Sunday, 5 May 2019 : Third Sunday of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, the third in the season of Easter, we are all reminded of the calling that the Lord has called us all Christians to do, as part of the whole Universal Church that He has established in this world. All of us as Christians are called to be the witnesses of the Lord’s truth and resurrection, to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and all those who have courageously stood by their faith as shown in our Scripture passages today.

In our first reading today, we heard of the courage of the Apostles, led by St. Peter, when they were faced with opposition and heavy persecution by the Sanhedrin, the powerful and influential High Council of the Jewish people. The Sanhedrin were filled with many of those who opposed the truth of Christ and who have also been among those who ordered the arrest and condemned the Lord Jesus to death, handing Him over to the Roman authorities to be crucified.

When the Apostles were told harshly and specifically under threat of torture and imprisonment by the authority of the Sanhedrin to stop preaching the truth of Christ, His resurrection and the salvation He has brought into this world, the Apostles, filled with the power and the courage of the Holy Spirit refused to back down and continued to be adamant in their commitment to bear witness for the Risen Lord. None of the Sanhedrin were able to stop the Apostles, and from then on, the Apostles continued their work among the people despite the heavy opposition from many groups.

What they were doing, was basically fulfilling what the Lord had called them to be, to be the fishers of men, when He first called some among them, especially St. Peter the Apostle, leader of the Apostles, who was called with his brother, St. Andrew the Apostle, and the two brothers, St. James the Apostle and St. John the Apostle, from being mere unknown and poor fishermen of Galilee, to be God’s own servants in calling His people to Himself.

In our Gospel passage today, God again called the Apostles, harking back to the first time He called them, as He appeared before them by the lake of Galilee right after His resurrection. The disciples were told to go to Galilee and to wait for the Lord there, and there, they spent their time fishing for fish without managing to make any catch at all despite having spent all the time on the boat all night long.

And in this symbolism laden Gospel passage, we can see the summary of what the Lord has called all of us to do, just as He called His Apostles to do what He had entrusted to them and commanded them to do. He told the Apostles to cast their nets to the side of their boat, and immediately, as they did what the Lord told them to do, an immense number of fishes were caught into their fishing nets, so many that the boat almost could not contain all of them.

In this, we see how the Lord truly guides His Church, and the Church is represented by the boat in which the Apostles worked in. The Church is indeed often represented with the imagery of a boat, sailing through the turbulent and dark waters. And the Apostles who helmed the boat are those who steered the Church through the times of opposition, persecution and challenge, just as what we have just heard in our first reading today, the persecution and opposition of the Sanhedrin among many others the Church had to endure.

The multitudes of fishes represent the multitudes of nations and peoples to whom the Apostles had been sent to proclaim the truth of the Lord and His Good News. Without the Lord to guide them, the Church and the Apostles could do nothing, just as they did not manage to get any fishes despite having laboured all night long and not catching any fish at all. But through the Lord’s works, which He performed through His Apostles, the Church and all those who succeeded the Apostles, the works of the Church came to present rich results and bounties.

And brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all the successors of the Apostles and those disciples to whom the Lord has entrusted the mission which He has bestowed upon His Church, with the clear words of instruction, “Go to all the nations and baptise all in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” And that is the Great Commission which Our Lord has given to His Church, to all of us who believe in Him, as our mission and responsibility.

We may think that what the Lord has called us to do is impossible to be done, or that it is too difficult, too daunting or too challenging. We may think that the Apostles and those disciples mentioned in the Scriptures were kind of superhuman who were given power beyond our normal human means and abilities. No, brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not true at all. For indeed, they were truly superheroes and are great role models for us, but they are equally just man just like us all.

It is a dangerous fallacy to think of the Apostles as people who are fundamentally different from us. They have been given the same ability as we have been blessed by God, and they are not more human or less human than we are. They are no less mortal than we are, lest we think of them as supernatural or even, as some misunderstood them in the early days of the Church, as divine beings. When the Apostles St. Paul and St. Barnabas went to the Greek areas of the Eastern Mediterranean, some of the people there worshipped the Apostles as if they were gods, to their great consternation.

No, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Apostles are just like us all, for they were too once sinners who were weak and easily tempted, who were ignorant and resistant to the faith and to the love of God. We must not forget that the Lord called them from various origins, some from among the educated, while others were poor peasants, uncouth, uneducated and even uncivilised. People looked down and despised some of them, like St. Matthew, a former tax collector.

The Apostles were also once cowards and doubters, who lost their faith the moment the Lord was arrested, and all of them abandoned the Lord and ran away. St. Peter in fact, as we all know, denied knowing the Lord not just once, but three times so that he could save himself and prevent himself from being arrested together with the Lord, and all these happened after the Apostle swore that he would even lay down his life for the Lord’s sake.

But the Lord empowered them and gave them a new strength and courage, by the granting of His Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the Lord Jesus Who gave them the power and the authority of His own power, to be the bearers of His truth and His champions in this darkened world, to be those who would bear the burden of being the ones to be at the forefront of the Church’s effort to seek the salvation of souls.

And the same St. Peter, who had denied knowing the Lord three times out of cowardice, in our Gospel passage today publicly and resolutely declared his obedience, love and commitment towards God, as the Lord Jesus asked him, not just once but thrice, “Peter, do you love Me?” This action is very symbolic and significant as it is the clear sign that not only that God had perfectly forgiven St. Peter for his threefold rejection of Him, three being a number often used throughout the Scripture to represent completeness and perfection, but also that He has indeed entrusted and bestowed on St. Peter and through him, the other Apostles, the very important responsibility and the authority that comes with that responsibility, to carry out the mission which He has entrusted to His Church.

The Apostles were imperfect, mortal and unworthy men, who embraced God’s love and grace, and by the Holy Spirit of God, received the strength and courage that allowed them to perform all that God had done through them. They allowed God to work His miracles and wonders, His merciful and compassionate works through them, by changing their lives and turning them from sinners and people belonging to the darkness, into the people of the light.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the very reason why many of us have not been able to experience this same experience as what the Apostles had witnessed and felt, and why we have not been able to walk in their footsteps is nothing less than our own refusal in refusing to allow God to make His works evident in our lives and through us. This requires us to overcome the challenges of the ego and pride within us, which are obstacles that often prevented us from being able to reach out to God.

Are we willing and are we able to allow God entering into our lives and making a difference not just in our own lives but also in the lives of all those who are around us, through our renewed and transformed lives, by the power and grace of God as He has done through His Apostles? Let us all spend some time to reflect on how we can make this happen, and that is by making ourselves willing and collaborative vessels of the Lord’s grace.

The Apostles and all our holy predecessors, all those who have dedicated themselves to the Lord could not have done so without the Lord being present in their midst and directing their efforts and actions. God made everything possible and He guided them all through the darkest and most difficult moments as was evident throughout the history of the Church. It was God Who made everything possible, and the Apostles and the holy disciples and martyrs allowed Him to guide them in their path and in their actions.

Let us all, as Christians, meaning that we are the successors and the inheritors of the ministry and the works of the Apostles, gather together and commit ourselves anew to the Lord, to the mission which He has entrusted to His Church. Let us all be the bearers of God’s truth and be the workers of God, in everything we say and do that many more people may come to believe in God and be saved, by following our examples and by being faithful in the way that we have been faithful. May God be with us all, and may He bless all of our good works and endeavours. Amen.

Sunday, 28 April 2019 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, the second one in the entire season of Easter, we celebrate also the occasion of the Divine Mercy Sunday, which was instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in the year of 2001, after many years since the vision of St. Faustina Kowalska, to whom the Lord appeared in His aspect of Mercy, instructing her to celebrate the Feast of the Divine Mercy on the Second Sunday of Easter.

And she was also instructed to spread the practice of the Divine Mercy Novena, a nine days devotion which lasts in the period between Good Friday, the day when Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died for us on the Cross, and that of the Feast of the Divine Mercy itself on this day, the second Sunday of the Easter season. Therefore, we can clearly see the link between what we celebrate on this day with the moment of the Lord’s Crucifixion and death, the hour of which, at about 3 pm, is called as the ‘Hour of Mercy’.

In this season of Easter, it is most fitting indeed for us to focus our attention of the Lord, the Divine Mercy, as in truth it was the boundless, enduring and ever-present love that God has for each and every one of us sinners and unworthy people, that has allowed Him to extend such a wonderful and gracious mercy towards us. He does not want us to be destroyed and annihilated because of our sinfulness, and therefore, wanted to give us another chance.

That is why there is an emphasis on the work of mercy that Our Lord has done on Good Friday, on the very day when He willingly laid down His life, by bearing the heavy burden of the Cross, so that each and every one of us may be saved from damnation for those sins that we have committed. He loved us all so much that He was willing to lay down His life, as the sacrificial Victim, by Whose death we have been reconciled with God, our loving Father.

The Lord has shown us such great love and mercy, in reaching out to all of us, who are sinners and wicked, and He wants to heal us from all of our brokenness and unworthiness. He Himself showed us all throughout His life and ministry, in how He reached out to the worst of sinners, to those whom the rest of the community had dismissed as being hopeless and unworthy to be saved, like the tax collectors and prostitutes.

And that was what the disciples in our first reading today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles had done, continuing the good works of the Lord’s merciful love, by ministering to the poor, the sick and the dying, providing them with both physical and spiritual care, and healing those who were sick by the virtue of the power granted to them by the Lord. And they ministered to the people in various places.

It is what all of us have also been called to do, to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Himself and His disciples, in doing the works of mercy in our daily living. Why is this important, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because, after all, we must not forget that God has forgiven us all and shown mercy to all of us, despite of our countless and enormous, unimaginably wicked and despicable sins born out of our disobedience against Him.

And if God is willing to forgive us all these wickedness and all the countless wicked things we have done, then we too should show this same mercy towards one another, to all those whom we encounter in our own lives, following what God has first done for us. Otherwise, our faith and our love for God is not complete, as if we do not do what He Himself has done, then how can we truly call ourselves as those who believe in Him?

But many of us have not been able to show mercy in our own actions and deeds in life, especially because we acted in the manner as how St. Thomas the Apostle had done, as mentioned in our Gospel passage today. St. Thomas has shown us all in our Gospel today, his lack of faith and doubt in the Lord’s resurrection, and he has always been the skeptical one, to the point of sarcastically commenting before the other disciples that the Lord was leading them all to their death when He was about to go to Jerusalem for His Passion.

And when the disciples saw the Lord and witnessed His resurrection, St. Thomas doubted and refused to believe the words of the other disciples, to the point that he publicly mentioned that he would not believe unless he was able to prove it by his own hands, that the Lord Jesus truly rose from the dead and not just an apparition or a ghost. He wanted to see if the One Who appeared was truly the crucified Christ.

This is exactly what many of us are suffering from as well, this inability to have that genuine faith in God, in His love and in His mercy. And the main reason for this is exactly because of the pride and the hubris, the ego and ambition that are within each and every one of us. It was ego and pride that prevented St. Thomas from acknowledging the truth and the reality of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead as he could not accept what might seem to be improbable and illogical to him.

That was how many among the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Council also refused to believe in the Lord and in His teachings even though they should have been the ones who would have recognised Him first as the Saviour and Holy One of God. Pride and ego, their refusal to admit their mistakes and shortcomings, caused them to harden their hearts and to close their minds to the Lord.

That was how many of us also refused to accept God’s mercy and love in our lives, thinking that we have no need for healing or that we are all good and perfect. But this is where we are exactly very, very wrong brothers and sisters in Christ. All of us are wounded by sin, and by sin we have been corrupted and made unworthy, and unless God’s mercy and healing grace come upon us and heal us, we will have no part in God.

And if we close ourselves to God’s mercy and love, we will also likely have no mercy and love in ourselves, and our lives will end up very miserable, for to us, everything around us will become filled with fear, with hatred, with jealousy, ego and pride. And we will be drawn even deeper into sin, into defilement and corruption, and eventually, unless God’s mercy come towards us and we accept His mercy, we will face nothing else but annihilation.

That is why, all of us on this day, on the great Feast of Our Lord, the Divine Mercy, first of all we must lay ourselves humbly before God, humbling ourselves and dying to our pride and ego, and casting out from ourselves all these stumbling blocks and obstacles that can prevent us from seeking and from receiving God’s mercy and forgiveness. And when we have opened ourselves and given ourselves to God’s loving mercy, it is when God will complete His merciful works in us.

And then, having received God’s mercy and understood the truth and the meaning of His mercy, I am sure that we will be able to appreciate how we should also be loving and be merciful in our lives. Let us not forget that all of us mankind are equally sinful before God, equally wicked and unworthy, and we should show God’s mercy and love through our own actions, that more and more people will come to see God, the Divine Mercy through us all.

All of us as Christians are called to follow in the footsteps of Our Lord and His Apostles, who have shown mercy in all things. Let us all be humble, be merciful in everything we say and do, and let us all be role models and guides for each other that we may grow in mercy and love, and draw ever closer to Him, Our Lord, the Divine Mercy, by Whose love we have all been saved. May the grace of God, the Most Divine Mercy remain with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 21 April 2019 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! The Lord Jesus has risen in glory! As the time of Easter finally comes, we celebrate after the long wait and expectation during the season of Lent, because we have had true joy in Christ, Our Lord and Saviour by all that He has done for us. He has released us from the tyranny of sin and the bondage of death, and showed us all the path to eternal life.

On this day Christ showed His power and might, revealing His victory over even sin and death, two things that have kept us under their dominion all these while. He has fulfilled completely all that the Lord has promised His people from the beginning of time, their liberation and reconciliation, which He has done by His loving sacrifice on the cross, and bringing the souls of the faithful to God, their loving Father and Creator.

On this day, the despair of man gives way to hope, as the veil of darkness that have blinded and surrounded us all these while has been pierced by the Light that Christ has brought into our midst. He renewed us and made our existence meaningful again by His Passion, His suffering, death on the cross and ultimately, His resurrection from the dead. He is in fact showing all of us the glory that is to come, if we remain steadfast in our faith and love for Him.

As we enter into this holy and blessed season of Easter, it is therefore important that we understand its significance and also what is expected of us all as Christians, through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today. We must remember that the celebration of Easter does not last just for this day only, as the liturgical celebration of the Easter season lasts for a total of fifty days until the Solemnity of the Pentecost.

But even more importantly, we must also realise that the celebration of Easter does not also last just until Pentecost Sunday, but also through the rest of the days of our life. It means that the spirit and celebration of Easter must extend so completely and pervades so well into our lives that we exhibit that spirit of Easter, that joy and passion to live out our calling as Christians at every moments of our respective lives.

The most important aspect of Easter that we must realise is one of transformation of our lives. Through Easter, by Our Lord’s resurrection, and earlier on through His suffering and death, God has united us all to Himself, and we have been called to share in His suffering and death, to endure the pain and suffering, the challenges and difficulties of denying our own selves, our prideful, our egoistic, our greedy, our lustful and our sinful selves, and embrace the new existence in Christ.

It is not easy to change ourselves, and to resist the many temptations of this world that are ever present and ever pervasive around us. And we will indeed face many opposition, hurdles and obstacles, rejection and refusal even from those whom we deem to be close to us and dear to us. And it will be difficult and challenging for us to endure the physical, mental and even spiritual sufferings of committing ourselves to the way of the Lord.

It is because Satan, that is the devil and all of his allies, the forces of darkness, are unwilling to let us go away into our freedom. They will do whatever is within their power, in order to tempt us, to persuade us, and even to force and pressure us into bowing once again to sin. They were once our slavemasters, as they enslaved us through sin, and they wanted nothing less than our own ruin and downfall.

But the Lord is always with us, even when we do not realise it. Even in the moments of our greatest sufferings and pain, we must remember that Christ, Who Himself has endured suffering and pain far greater than any one of us have ever suffered, as He bore down the enormous weight of the cross of our sins, is by our side and He will not abandon us to those who seek our destruction and annihilation.

In the Gospel passage often used for the Evening Mass of Easter Sunday today, we heard the famous story of the encounter between the Lord and the two disciples who were on their way to the neighbouring town of Emmaus showed us, that the Lord is always there to encourage us and to give us strength, and a lot of times we did not even know that He was there, just as the two disciples did not recognise Jesus even as He was walking with them. They only recognised Him when He broke the bread before them and their eyes and minds were opened.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard all of these and having spent some time discussing about what Easter truly means and how it is filled with joy that each and every one of us must carry on in our own lives, now we should reflect on how we can follow the examples of the Apostles and the followers of the Lord, who carried with them the knowledge and witness of the Lord’s truth, His Passion, death and resurrection.

We heard how in our first reading today, St. Peter the Apostle was very passionate and spirited in his testimony of faith before the people, and this was made when he went to the house of Cornelius, a Roman who became a believer of Jesus and His truth, and by the testimony of faith which St. Peter spoke before him and his family, they all became firmer in their conviction of faith, and the Holy Spirit Himself came down upon all of them, encouraging them and strengthening them in their commitment and faith.

And this represents what we all need to do as Christians, in how we live out our lives with faith, in how we dedicate ourselves as the witnesses and as the bearers of God’s truth as presented in the wholeness of our Christian faith and teachings. Each and every one of us must be bearers of God’s truth and dedicate ourselves to live up to our faith in our daily living, so that all of those who see us and all that we do, will recognise the presence of God in our midst, for through our actions, filled with faith and love for God, God Himself will be present in our midst through them.

What does that mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? And how do we then carry on with our lives from now on as Christians? It means that first of all, we must have the resolve to live our lives with righteousness and dedication to God, we must keep away from ourselves all actions and thoughts, all things that lead us to sin and disobedience against God. We must be role models of faith for our fellow brethren, and show in us, the Light of God as He has revealed to us this Easter.

And then, we should also have that firm hope in the Lord and strong trust in Him, knowing that He is always there with us, even when at times it may be difficult for us to feel and to know of His presence. That is why we often need to spend more time with God, as many of us are frequently distracted by numerous worldly temptations and pressures, that prevented us from truly being able to know God’s presence in our midst.

We need to deepen our relationship with God, by spending more time with God in prayer. And when we pray, we are actually opening up our minds, hearts and senses to be more attuned with God, and that is when, we will be better able to sense God’s presence in our midst, and thus, we will remain close to Him no matter whatever troubles and challenges we may face in life. And by our faith, many more will come to believe in God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this joyous and blessed season of Easter, let us all no longer despair or be doubtful, for God Himself has shown His faithfulness through the cross, and by His resurrection He has shown us the path forward towards eternal life. Let us all be ever closer to God and realise that He is always with us, guiding us along the journey of our lives.

Let us all turn wholeheartedly towards Him from now on, and be truly filled with the spirit of Easter joy, that we may be committed to share this joy with one another, especially with those who are doubting, those who are unsure about their faith, and those who are faltering in their dedication to God. And let us also bring the light of Christ to more people, to all those who are still enslaved by sin and by the darkness of this world. May the Risen Lord bless us and all of our endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 20 April 2019 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! On this most blessed night, the greatest of all nights and the greatest of all days in the entire liturgical year, we celebrate the long awaited moment of when the Lord Jesus Christ has been risen from the dead, the coming of Easter after the long wait during our Lenten observance for more than forty days including the sacred Holy Week observances. On this day we mark the great culmination of the work of the Lord’s salvation, the triumph of the Cross and the Resurrection of Our Lord in glory.

The Resurrection completed the Passion of Our Lord, the suffering, pain and trials He had suffered as He endured the pain of the Cross, which would have all been meaningless and fruitless had He not risen from the dead, and therefore remained dead as all other men were. He rose from the dead by His own glorious might and power, to show that not even death had the power and dominion over Him, as He is truly the Master over life and death.

On this night, we celebrate that very moment when Christ overcome the tyranny of death, which is caused by sin. Death is the sting of sin, and all of us have been freed from its power by the Lord’s own action, His selfless offering on the Cross, by which He united us all to His death, in dying to our own sinful selves, and through which He then united us all to His resurrection, as we enter into the new life blessed and filled with God’s grace.

In the many Scripture passages and readings we heard on this blessed Easter Vigil, seven from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament, we are constantly reminded of the Lord’s many good works, providence and love for each and every one of us mankind, throughout the history of our world, from the beginning of time and creation, and leading through the ages to the culmination of God’s saving works in the glorious resurrection.

We are reminded first of all, of the creation of the world, when God imposed order on chaos that existed before then, and the first thing that God did, was to bring forth Light into the world, into a world that was once filled with darkness. And then, He created all things, all creatures that were all made good and perfect, just as their Creator Himself is all good and perfect. And in the same manner, all of us mankind, were made as the culmination of God’s work of creation, created in His own image and likeness.

Thus, that was how God created the whole world, and all of us mankind, created good and perfect in all that God had intended. But unfortunately, through our disobedience and by our refusal to obey the Lord’s commands, and by our choice to side with the devil and follow his tempting words, we have been made unclean and unworthy, sundered from God’s grace and separated from His love. That was how we have fallen into sin and into our unfortunate state.

Yet, the Lord continued to love each and every one of us regardless of the sins we have committed. Indeed He despised all of the sins we have committed in life, but He did not despise us all, those whom He Himself had created with His hands, made out of His love for each and every one of us. If God has not loved us so dearly, He would have destroyed us outright the very moment we chose to abandon Him and to commit abominable sins in our lives, and cast us immediately into hell.

It was God’s enduring love for all of us that we have come to celebrate throughout the entirety of this Holy Week and Paschal Triduum, as we recall the love that He has for every one of us, so great that He willingly emptied Himself of all glory and honour, and humbled Himself to bring about the salvation of all the world, of all mankind. And He did all these by assuming the flesh of Man, that He might share with us our humanity, and therefore, uniting ourselves to His suffering and death, He might bring us through the journey to embrace the fullness of His redemption and mercy, and receive from Him, the fullness of grace and eternal life.

And through the mysteries celebrated this Holy Week and Paschal Triduum, we saw how God restored to us all, the graces He has intended for us all mankind since the beginning of time. We may have been deterred temporarily through sin, and we probably had faced this obstacle in our journey due to the many temptations present in our respective lives, but God is calling on us to embrace the new life that He is now calling us into, a new life and existence in Him.

We heard from the second reading today, how God established His Covenant with Abraham, promising him that his descendants would be numerous and would form many nations, and Abraham promised to be faithful to God and to His Covenant, and that his descendants would do so as well. This is the Covenant that the people of Israel upheld, and which they carried with them as they went through what we heard in our third reading passage today, of the time of the salvation of Israel from the hands of their oppressors.

And on this day, on the occasion of the Easter Vigil, the third reading from the Book of Exodus invites us to reflect on the moment of our own baptism, and on those who are going to be baptised in the Rite of the Christian Initiation later on in today’s liturgy. We heard how the Israelites were fleeing from their former masters and oppressors, the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, who hardened their hearts and changed their minds about letting the Israelites to go free to the land promised to them by God.

The Egyptians chased them to the edge of the Red Sea, when the Israelites despaired having seen themselves pressed between the sea and their enemies. But God reassured them and stood between them and death, and through Moses, opened the sea itself before their eyes. They walked through the dry seabed, and crossed to the other side safely, while their oppressors were destroyed by the same waters, when the Lord crushed them all with the rushing waves as they tried to pursue God’s people.

And this is a reminder to each and every one of us, how God has brought us through the water of baptism, as we have all been sealed by the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, in the Name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and for those who are about to be baptised tonight, this moment was just about to come, like the Israelites who were once frightened and fearful for their lives at the edge of the Red Sea, and yet, God made them to walk safely through the water.

Water is capable of both destruction and of nurturing lives. Water in its destructiveness can cause such harm that led to the loss of much property and human lives, and how it destroyed the armies and chariots of Pharaoh was ample proof of how water was capable of destruction. Yet, water is also capable of bringing life to us, for without water, nothing can live and survive, and water nourishes and nurtures life.

Therefore, by reflecting on the salvation of Israel at the crossing of the Red Sea, we recall our own baptism, and prepare ourselves to witness our brethren who are going to have theirs this very night. Through baptism, we have been united to the Lord’s own Passion, suffering, death and most important of all, His glorious resurrection. By the water of baptism, we have entered into death, just as Christ truly died on the cross, and we die to our past, sinful and unworthy lives.

But we did not remain in death, just as the Lord did not remain in death, but rose in glory, the glory of His Easter Resurrection. And thus, just as the Israelites emerged from the Red Sea unharmed, into a new life of freedom from slavery, we too have left behind our old slavery to sin, and enter into a new life, resurrected from our sinful selves, and become sharers in the new Covenant that the Lord Himself had made with each and every one of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as mentioned in the beginning of this homily, the occasion of Easter Vigil celebrates the culmination of our Lord’s Passion and work of salvation, completing perfectly what He had begun, by the offering of His own Body and Blood, which He shared with His disciples on the Last Supper, as we share in His own Real Presence in us. Through our sharing of His Most Precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist, we enter into the New, True and Everlasting Covenant that He Himself established with us, the children of Abraham, our father in faith.

And this Covenant is the restoration of the grace and the goodness that are ours at the beginning of time, as God Himself has become the bridge by which all of us pass through safely through the danger of death. Between us and God, there had been a chasm that separated us all because of our sins, but Jesus Christ, Our Lord, through His sacrifice on the Cross, has offered His own Precious Body and Blood, to be the atonement for our sins, and by that sacrifice, restored to us the grace that we have lost through sin.

On this day, the day of most wonderful Easter joy, we rejoice because we have been freed from sin, and through the water of baptism, either as the newly baptised or as those who have been baptised earlier on, we have received the promise of eternal life and glory from God. And we have also received the wonderful Light of Christ, reminding us of the moment of Creation, when God brought order to all chaos and created everything good and perfect. The Light of Christ has penetrated through the darkness that surrounded us, casting out from us the sins and all things that have kept us enslaved, that is our sins and wickedness.

On this day, we recall the promises which we made at baptism, when we resoundingly and resolutely reject Satan’s false promises and shows, all of his temptations, and abandon all the darkness of this world, and instead, embrace wholeheartedly the Light of Christ, our Lord and Saviour. On this day, Light has triumphed over darkness, Christ has triumphed over sin and death, our enemies and all those who sought our downfall and destruction.

On this day, we rejoice together as the whole entire Universal Church, as God has renewed in us again and again, the hope of His salvation, reminding us of the love which He has given us through the Passion of His own Beloved Son, Who suffered so grievously all of the persecutions and pains He had received, but which He endured willingly, out of His love for us. It was this enduring love and His liberation of each and every one of us from our sins that we rejoice for today.

Let us all now carry on this Easter joy in our own respective lives, and have that courage and faith in us, to bring forth the Light of Christ to the whole world. And this is our calling and responsibility as baptised Christians, to be the witnesses for the Lord, and proclaim His Risen glory to all, through our own lives, by living the message of the Good News of the Lord, by practicing in our own lives, fundamentally the love for God and the love for our fellow men.

May the Lord bless each and every one of us, that all of us will grow ever closer to God and be more attuned to His ways and be more obedient to His commandments and laws. Let us all bear the joy of Easter to all of our brethren, especially all those who are probably unable to rejoice in the same way as we do because of various reasons, either because of persecutions or because of the many distractions of the world. And let us also bear this joy of Easter to encourage all those who have not yet received or seen the light of Christ, by showing that Light in our own lives and actions.

Let us all be joyful bearers of Christ’s truth, and let us all share this Easter joy, living fully our lives with faith from now on, being role models to one another, inspiring each other to be closer to God and to be more faithful to Him. May the grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Risen Lord and Saviour be with us always. Amen.