Friday, 13 November 2015 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we hear about the Lord who will choose the righteous and reject the wicked and the damned, on the day which He decides to be the day of judgment, when He will separate all those whom He deemed to be good and righteous, from those that He deems to not have been capable of achieving what He had looked for in us, that is love, devotion, and commitment to His ways.

We may think that we have led a good life, and we may think that everything we have in this life is all pleasant and happy. Yet, many of us usually overlook the fact that there are shortcomings in our life that we may not be aware of. And in many things, many of us have this tendency to be distracted in our lives by the many goodness and the many temptations that Satan and this world had offered to us.

And very importantly, as shown in our first reading today, from the Book of Wisdom, many of us are often distracted by the many great things in this world, which we enjoy and even praise, but yet in the end, we did not give glory to the One Who had made all of these possible, the One Who had created all of us and all of the things present in the universe.

Instead, as history had shown us, we have endeavoured to make into deities and gods the many wonders of the nature and this world. Thus, it was why many of our ancestors worshipped beings like the sun, moon, stars, mountains, and even idols and statues made from stone, marble, gold, silver, wood and other precious elements and materials. We settle on all these as idols and gods, instead of the one and only true God.

If we think that this was what happened in the past and that now we are already free from this, then we are mistaken in our beliefs. As it is evident that even though we may no longer worship these pagan idols and gods, the gods of nature and of precious elements, but we remain attached to wealth and possessions of this world, especially in our world today that is ever increasingly growing more and more attached to worldliness and worldly goods.

We just have to look at the way in which our world works and functions today. There are so many emphasis at materialism and commercialism in everything today, and all these help to fuel our greed and desires ever further, and as a result, we become ever more distracted from our true goal in God. There are too many things that draw us away from following what is good that we should have done in the Lord and in accordance with His ways.

This is what differentiates those who are following the Lord and stay true to His ways, and those who succumbed to the distractions of the world, and on the last day, when the time comes for us all to be judged, then we will find out our fate, where even those who are close to each other can have an entirely different fate, one who is saved and blessed, while the other is condemned to hell.

Do we all want to end up like those who have been rejected by God? Do we want to end up in the eternal suffering of hell? Certainly, none of us want this fate for ourselves, but sadly many of us had the problem that we did not know what to do or how to find the correct path to reach out to our Lord. And then the way is also not going to be an easy one, as challenges, temptations and all the various difficulties and obstacles lie on that path.

But if we have the will and desire to follow the Lord, nothing is impossible, as long as we stay committed to our path and destination, that is salvation and eternal joy and happiness in God alone. Courage and dedication are needed, and we have to be brave to live up to our faith, and if necessary, turn our back against all the temptations that the devil has lined up against us.

Let us all lead a more wholesome and meaningful life by dedicating ourselves more to God, by loving Him ever more through all the things we do, especially by loving one another, our fellow brethren in the Lord. Let us all be loving and dedicated children of our Lord, our Father, Who will bless us forevermore for our faith and endless commitment. God be with us all. Amen.

Thursday, 12 November 2015 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Holy Scriptures which spoke to us about the Wisdom of God, and how that Wisdom is far superior to the wisdom and the intellect of men. The combined might of our intelligence and power, the greatness of our minds and achievements are nothing compared to what God can do.

Many of us think that we are capable of great things and achievements, and indeed we are able to, but lest that we think we accomplished all of them on our own accord and abilities, let us all take a step back to remember that our life is not ours to command, but it has been granted and been given to us by the One who had created us, and it was by His will and desire that we are able to live such a life in this world.

And yet, many of us conveniently forgot about this fact, and many of us thought that our glory and greatness is ours alone. We like to think in this way because for us men, it is often not in our priority to think about the Lord, and even less so to give Him thanks for all the goodness that we have received. We only remember Him when we are in trouble and in need of help, when we beg Him to help us, but otherwise, on other occasions, we forget entirely about Him.

In God lies everything that we will ever need in life, and in Him we will have everlasting and true joy. Yet, many of us are unable to find this joy or see the truth about the Lord beyond the veil of lies and untruths that Satan has placed between us and the Lord. Satan placed many temptations and good things of this world, and he played into our sense of glory and desire, so that he may seize our hearts’ focus and attention, and thus rather than glorifying God, we glorify ourselves.

Satan himself was once a great angel who fell from grace because of his vanity and pride. He was unable to restrain his pride and arrogance, and because he thought of himself as having power and majesty far greater than all the other creatures of the Lord, then he was worthy of the throne of the Creator. Thus, in his pride, Lucifer fell from grace, and instead of greatness, it was damnation and eternal suffering and shame that awaited him.

And in our pride too, and succumbing to our own desires, our ancestors have been fooled and allowed themselves to be tempted by the devil, who played along their sense of greatness and hubris, and by claiming that if they disobeyed the Lord and ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would not die but instead would gain glory and greatness by becoming like God.

And they fell indeed, because in their shortsightedness, they had allowed themselves to be corrupted by their own desires, uncontrolled and untamed, and having been taken over by pride and by desire, they realised it too late that they have committed sinful things before the Lord. This is what can happen to all of us as well, and all of us must be ever vigilant in this.

We just have to look at how many people among us mankind who have thought of themselves as better than God through their actions, showing disrespect to the Lord through acts such as murder of life, alteration of Church teachings and morality, and even doubting the existence of God Himself just because they could not see Him and thus prove that He exists.

Thus was mankind fooled by their own feeble and limited intellect and capacity, all these while thinking that they were capable of truly great things on their own. Yet, in our pursuit of glory and greatness, many of us had often forgotten that it was because of God, because of His grace and blessings that we were capable of such great feats.

Let us all therefore look into the examples of today’s saint, St. Josaphat the Martyr, also known as St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, the holy martyr of Russia, and the defender of the true Faith. St. Josaphat was born into the Russian Orthodox Church, which is a branch of the Eastern Orthodoxy that split away from the Holy Mother Church about a thousand years ago out of disagreement and the eastern prelates’ desire for worldly authority, and thus they split away from the authority of the Vicar of Christ in Rome.

St. Josaphat became a religious and eventually rose to become a bishop in the Eastern Orthodoxy, and led a very pious and dedicated life to God, until the opportunity came for some of the Eastern Christians to rejoin in a renewed communion with Rome, with the Pope. He led the faithful in joining the new union with the Holy Mother Church.

But there were many oppositions and resistance from all those who refused to see the truth and follow the example of those who have reunited with the Universal Church in Rome. And over time, the opposition grew more and more vocal and even violent, harassing the faithful and even eventually the bishop, St. Josaphat himself, who in the end suffered martyrdom at the hands of these people.

St. Josaphat was murdered in cold blood by those who refused his authority and who rejected the communion with Rome, preferring to remain in heresy and damnation of their rebelliousness instead. But St. Josaphat never faltered till the end, and he continued to faithfully minister to the people of God, completely entrusting himself to the care of the Lord till the end.

In accordance with the examples that St. Josaphat had shown us, let us all also therefore dedicate ourselves more and more to the Lord, and less to ourselves, and rather than trusting solely in our own human thoughts and intellect, let us learn to put our trust in the Lord. May He bless us all always and guide us on our path. May He continue to watch over us and protect us always. Amen.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard the words of our Lord Jesus Christ about the ten lepers who asked for God’s mercy and healing, and after they have been healed from their afflictions, only one of the ten healed lepers went back on his way and sought Jesus, in Whom he knew that he had been healed, and by Whose power he had been made whole once again.

Meanwhile, the other nine lepers went on their way filled with joy, just as the Samaritan leper who sought Jesus. Yet the difference was that, while the Samaritan sought to give thanks to God for having healed him and made him whole again, the other ten were too engrossed in their own happiness and joy, that they forgot entirely to give thanks to God. Either that, or they were too proud to admit that they have begged the Lord to heal them.

That was why the Lord praised the Samaritan for his gratitude and the due honour that he had shown to the Lord. He had genuine and true faith in Jesus, for he knew that it was not by his own power or ability that he had been healed, and it was the Lord Who heard his prayers and petitions, and listening to his pleas and wishes, granted him the wish for healing he had asked for.

Of course we can see here obviously, that God did not rescind the healing which had been given to the other nine lepers. Neither did He curse them or be angry at them for not having thanked Him as they should have done. Rather, He was likely indeed sad for them, as these nine people went back to their old lives and acted as if nothing had happened. And since they did not give God thanks for what He has done for them, then it is likely that they might just return to their old sinfulness.

Why is this important for us all to take note of? It is because of all the diseases and afflictions that affected us or can affect us, the worst and the most dangerous one is sin, which is the affliction and disease of the soul. And unlike the diseases of the flesh that afflicted the body and the flesh, the disease of sin afflicts the very centre of our beings, that is our souls.

Sin separates us mankind from God, and the corruption it caused to our hearts, minds, flesh and whole being is a great harm for us as we may be brought down into eternal damnation because of those sins which made us wicked and unworthy of God’s blessings and grace. And the worst of it all, is that sin also inherently makes us all unwilling to change for the better and to abandon those sins, for just like cancer, sin grows and solidifies its hold on us as we proceed on in our lives, unless we receive the healing and mending by the Lord.

It is often for us to lose track of our path in the Lord, and many of us became too engaged and occupied with our own worldliness, tempted by all the various temptations of this world, be it money, pleasure, or other forms of wickedness and engagements that distract us from our true focus on the Lord and His precepts and laws. This is also why many of us often forget to thank God for all that He had done for us, and for all of His blessings, as we never think about the Lord unless we are in trouble or difficult times.

This was just what happened when the lepers sought the Lord to be healed, and once they were healed, save for one, they all forgot about Him and went on joyously to their own lives as if the sickness never happened at all. And this amnesia is dangerous as forgetting our sins and evil, we have the tendency to return to them and fall back into sin. Thus, so many people in the past had fallen because of their lack of commitment to the Lord.

In this matter therefore, we should heed the examples of St. Martin of Tours, whose feast day we are celebrating on this day. St. Martin of Tours as his namesake suggested us, was the Bishop of Tours during the waning days of the Roman Empire, the greatest city in what is now southern France. But he was not always a religious from the start, for indeed he came from a military background. He became a Christian at a young age after he attended the Church sessions in his youth.

During his service in the Roman Army, it was noted that St. Martin of Tours despite of his harsh and rigorous training and life as a soldier, he was a good man at heart and is always caring to others around him, and as an army commander, he always took good care of his soldiers wherever they were, practicing his faith in God through action. And on one occasion, which is now famous, the Lord Himself tested him for his devotion.

It was told that one day, during a cold day, St. Martin of Tours was travelling on the horseback wearing his army commander’s mantle when he passed by a poor man on the street who had little clothing and suffering from the cold and the elements. Without second thoughts, St. Martin of Tours, who was then on the process of being accepted into the Church as a catechumen, cut his own cloak into two pieces, and gave one piece to cover the poor man’s body.

That very night, St. Martin of Tours received a vision of Christ Who came to him and showed how He was that poor man, and wearing the half of the cloak given to Him by St. Martin, He praised him in the presence of the angels, praising him that he was still just a catechumen, but yet his faith and devotion was so strong. After all, do we all remember what Jesus said when He spoke about the final judgment? That whatever we do for the sake of our least and weakest brethren, we are doing it for God? That was what St. Martin of Tours had done.

And throughout the rest of his life, and after he was chosen as bishop by his flock, St. Martin of Tours continued to live his life with zeal and dedication to the Lord, and his many works and devotions continue to be our inspiration even to this day. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we also walk in his footsteps? Let us all remember to thank God for all of His blessings and grace, and let us all remember always all of His goodness.

May we all be able to then share all of our joys and blessings with those who have less or none, emulating what St. Martin of Tours had done in giving generously to the poor and the needy. Let us all devote ourselves on the path to become better children and followers of our Lord, that we may be found truly worthy of God’s everlasting inheritance and joy in His kingdom. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard about our nature as the servants of the Lord, as those whom He had created and blessed with life, and in this world that is our working place, we truly have the responsibility of living a life good and just in the sight of our Lord, following all the teachings and ways that He has shown us through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the prophets and the Holy Scriptures.

We are all creatures and servants of our Lord who have been living well in this world and enjoying all of its goodness and bounties simply because our Lord, God and Master has deemed it such that He allowed us to dwell in this world and have another chance to seek His mercy and salvation. Rightfully and in consideration of justice, He should have wiped us out from the face of the earth and from among all creations, because of our sins and wickedness.

God calls all of us to hearken to Him and to listen to His words and understand His will for us, that is for our repentance and genuine penitence and regret from all the faults that we have committed in this life. God wants us all to be reunited with Him and to receive once again the blessings and graces that should have been ours if not for the sins and disobedience that we have committed against Him.

We spurned His laws, rejected Him, chose the father of lies and wickedness, Satan as our lord and guide instead of the Lord, just because to us, he seems to be offering more and better offerings as compared to what the Lord is offering us. And this is because of that great sin and evil that had begun with him, and which, once we mankind took up his offer, became ours to bear as well.

The sin of pride is truly great, if not the greatest and most dangerous of all forms of sin, evil and wickedness. It was what brought down Satan, once called Lucifer, from his height and glory in heaven, into damnation and eternal revilement by all of creations. He was once the greatest, most brilliant and mightiest angel created by the Lord, with brilliant and large wings, and with beauty unsurpassed by any in creation. And yet, in all these glories, he fell to his own pride, desiring more things for himself.

It was from his pride that greed and desire sprung forth, jealousy and hatred of the Lord, as he aspired to have more things for himself and to get something that is not his due. He wanted to make himself to rise above all angels and seize the throne of God, and sitting upon it, he planned to usurp the Lord and His authority, but in the end, he was beaten up and thrown down into humiliation and darkness.

And the same will also happen to us all if we are not careful with how we live our lives. If we allow our pride, our arrogance and our desires to take over all of us, then it is likely that we will also rise up against the Lord in disobedience and rebellion against His will, and by our actions we will be found wanting on the day of judgment. And I am sure we would not want to hear the verdict and result of that judgment.

Therefore, today, all of us are called to live righteously and in accordance with the will of God, even amidst all the temptations and the challenges of this world that persuaded us not to follow the Lord and His ways. And in this, we ought to look up to the examples of Pope St. Leo the Great, whose feast day we are celebrating today, the feast of this great saint, whose many works and dedications helped the Church and many of the faithful to weather through all the challenges.

Pope St. Leo the Great lived and reigned as the Vicar of Christ during a time when the Christians were no longer persecuted, but indeed, they have even been privileged to receive the official state religion status in the whole of the Roman Empire. Yet, this did not mean that the Church and the faithful had it easy for them, or that everything was smooth and without any issues or troubles.

At that time, there existed many heresies and errors of the faith, which were espoused by those who thought of themselves as better than the Apostles and the Church fathers who had preserved the wholeness of the Christian faith and teachings as passed down to them from the Lord Himself. Instead, these people, who led many souls to downfall and destruction, acted based on their desires and greed, pride and haughtiness, and in how they want to preserve and perpetuate all these.

At such a time, Pope St. Leo the Great played a very crucial role, by acting as the unshakeable anchor to the Lord, who then through him, he opened the path for many to find the Lord and to repent from their errors and mistakes. He wrote many works and books related to the essentials and necessities of Church teachings and doctrine, and in these, he firmly rejected Satan and all of his lies, while urging the faithful to stay true to the teachings of the Lord.

And when great danger and evil would come upon the people of God, Pope St. Leo the Great would not hesitate to go forth and ride in front of them to protect them from harm. This was evident at the time when Rome itself, the seat of the Apostles and Heart of Christendom was threatened by the Huns led by their infamous king, Attila the Hun. In what was to be the most famous and well-known event of his life, Pope St. Leo the Great went by himself to meet the fearsome and cruel king of the Huns, asking him to turn back to his land and leave the people of God alone, of else God would smite him and crush him for his wickedness.

Awed by the courage and the strength he found in Pope St. Leo the Great, the Hun king Attila had no choice but to retreat and abandon his campaign. If not for the resolute and the courageous attitude and action of Pope St. Leo the Great, so many thousands of people would have suffered terribly and even might lose their lives. Thus, we see how in the actions of this faithful and devoted servant of God, we can also follow in his footsteps to be faithful servants of our Lord.

Let us all throw away all forms of pride and attachments to desires and the pleasures of this world. All the things in this world are merely playing at our vanity and the devil knows it well, so he will certainly manipulate us and tempt us with whatever is in his means to derail us from our path towards salvation. Let us all reject his path and stick faithfully to our Lord, and bless Him forever and glorify Him with all of our actions. Amen.

Monday, 9 November 2015 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate a great feast day, a great solemnity in commemoration of the dedication of the hreatest church in Christendom. For today we celebrate the dedication of the Cathedral of Rome, the seat of authority of the Bishop of Rome who is the Vicar of Christ and the Leader of the Universal Church, and therefore the principal church among all churches in the world.

Then one may think, that is place is the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican. However, that is not the case, for indeed, while the Papal Basilica of St. Peter is also a very important church, dedicated for St. Peter the first Pope and Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ, and built above his place of martyrdom and his tomb, but it is second in preeminence to the Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.

It is in this Archbasilica, that the Pope our Leader has his Cathedra, that is his throne, the throne exceeding all other cathedras, as the primary and chief seat of authority encompassing the whole world and the whole Church of God. This was the very first church that was built after the end of the great persecutions of the faithful, and the sign of the ultimate triumph of the Faith and the Church.

For it was donated to the Pope by the first ever Christian Emperor of the Roman Empire, Emperor Constantine the Great, who enacted the Edict of Milan that ended persecutions against the Faith. This great Archbasilica was thus built, and then dedicated on this day over seventeen centuries ago, and dedicated firstly to our Lord, the Most Holy Saviour, and the saints, St. John the Baptist, His herald, and His Apostle, St. John the Evangelist.

This is reflected in its full official name, as the Papal Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in Lateran, Mother and Head of all churches in Rome and in the world. This designation marks it as the heart of Christendom, and the focal point to which all the faithful in the Church ought to turn themselves to, in obedience to the Pope and the holy traditions and teachings of the Church.

And on this joyous occasion, when we celebrate the dedication of this great Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, we are called to reflect about what is the Temple of God, its significance, the holiness that should be associated with it, and how it is relevant to all of us, as God’s faithful and as He dwell with us, and as we gather and exist in His holy presence. It is important that we take note how we ought to live in accordance to this fact.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? First we have to take note of what Jesus had done in the Gospel today, where He came into the Temple courtyard with His disciples, and seeing how so many merchants, tax collectors, money changers and many other people who performed acts and works contrary to the way of the Lord, where cheating, bribery and love for money were commonplace.

He took a whip and chased out all of the merchants and money changers, and chased their goods and money out with them, that the Temple grounds might be purified from all of the impurities and wickedness that had filled it and defiled it. What Jesus had done, was an example for all of us to follow. He purified the Temple of God, the House of God’s dwelling on earth, so that God who is holy and perfect in all things will dwell in a truly holy edifice without the taints of wickedness of the world.

Thus, before a church, or a cathedral or a basilica can be utilised for the purpose of the Holy Mass and divine worship, they must first be consecrated and made holy first. No Mass can be said on the altar and in the Church before these have been consecrated to God and prepared in holiness. This is how the celebration of today’s memorial of the dedication of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is very important, as this greatest, mother and head of all churches in the world was consecrated on this very day.

And even more importantly for each and every one of us, do we realise that each one of us is also a holy Temple of the Lord, the place of His dwelling on earth? This is because all of us who have been made a member of the Church have been welcomed into the unity in the Lord, cleansed by our baptism, the Sacrament of Baptism, when the holy water and holy oils anointed us and purified us from all of our past sins. We have also been claimed as the children of God, by the seal of the Most Holy Name of the Trinity.

And by the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Holy Spirit Himself dwells in us. And the Spirit dwells in our hearts, and we become the Temple of the Holy Spirit, God Who dwells in us, as St. Paul have elaborated in his letter to the faithful and the Church in Corinth, where he exhorted that all of the faithful should keep themselves pure and holy, for God Himself dwells in us, and if we are unworthy and allow wickedness, darkness and sins to corrupt this Temple, then we are accountable for that.

For we cannot forget that the third of the three important Sacraments of Initiation, namely Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, is God Himself Who had made Himself to take up the flesh of Man, so that by this act, He may dwell in us and be united with us, by the giving of His own Body and Blood, the Flesh that has become His very essence, that God now dwells in all of us who have worthily received Him in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

By this, we are even more affirmed in our status as the Holy Temple and the Holy Dwelling and Place of our God, the dwelling He has on this earth, that is in the heart, mind, soul and bodies of all those who are faithful to God and keep themselves holy and pure. If we do not keep ourselves worthy, holy and pure, then we just have to look at the Gospel today of what God will do to us.

He will drive all those who are wicked and unrepentant away from His presence, just as He had done the same towards the money changers and merchants who tainted His House with vile, wickedness in all its various forms and sin. God will not tolerate sin in His presence, and unless we repent and purify ourselves from all of our past wickedness, we will not have a share in His everlasting glory and life.

Therefore today, as we celebrate this great solemnity of the dedication of the greatest Church of Christendom, let us all also remember ourselves as God’s Holy Temples on earth, and how we need to preserve our state of sanctity and purity or else we are actually blaspheming and disrespecting God, for we spurn His Name and holiness by our wicked actions, and we are a scandal to Him.

Therefore, let us remind ourselves and discipline ourselves, so that just as Jesus used a whip to cast out all of the merchants, the money lenders and changers, and all of their animals and vile money, let us all also keep our lives holy, that our Body, the Temple of God and His Residence may remain holy and worthy of our Lord, so that we may always receive God’s grace and blessings, and not instead curses and damnation.

May Almighty God bless us all, strengthen us all in our resolve to live our lives with true faith and devotion. May He bless us in all of our endeavours and shine upon us on our way at all times. God be with us all. Amen.

Sunday, 8 November 2015 : Thirty-Second (32nd) Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this sacred and holy day of the Lord, we heard about the Lord our God Who shows great love and concern for us, the providence which He will give to all those who clung themselves strongly to Him, and He will bless all those who have given their all and devoted their all for the sake of the Lord their God.

And we heard about the story of two poor and suffering woman in both the first reading today from the Book of Kings, and in the poor woman from the Gospel of St. Mark, who gave all the possessions she had, despite herself having difficulties to persevere in her own difficult life. But what Jesus wanted to tell us is that, her gifts and offerings, being given out through times of difficulty is truly a genuine gift pleasing to the Lord.

For Jesus showed rightly that those who are rich, when they gave to the poor or donated money to the Temple treasury, they tried to outdo the other man in our giving to all those who needed them. While they gave what they had, they gave from their plenty and had no concerns or qualms about giving what they had, whereas the woman who had so little, still yet gave from her own pocket, whatever she could give to help the Temple building at that time.

In trying to glorify the Lord by her actions and by her dedication, she has shown all of us true and genuine faith, and a courageous and real commitment to the Lord, by giving all she had without worry or concerns for this world and for whatever she had in this world. She placed her trust completely and entirely in the Lord, and in doing so, she will indeed receive eternal and glorious reward of heaven.

But yet, at the same time, we have to take note that Jesus was not condemning the rich and those who have many possessions and things of this world. For we know of the rich people and those who have much with them, who have generously given from their own coffers to help others who are in need, and for various other good purposes and deeds.

The key here is that when we give to others, and we give something that belongs to us to help other who are around us, we have to be sincere and devoted in our giving, and we cannot give with the expectation that whoever we gave to, we demand them to return the gift in the same manner. And when we give something, let us not be too concerned about the loss we incur because of our giving.

Why is this so, brethren? This is important as it is our tendency to grow too attached to what we have, and we do not like it when we need to lose them or to part ways with them, because it is in our human nature to always desire for more things, to accumulate what we already have to get even more of them. It is this attachment that is so harmful and so dangerous for us, as unchecked, they can bring about ruin to our souls.

The wealth and possessions that we have, they are in themselves not evil or wicked in nature, for they are just objects and tools that can indeed be used for the purpose of evil, as well as for good purposes and for the benefit of all those who are around us. It is in how we use them, that we can effect either good or bad things upon others, and it is in how we look at them and treat these that we can use them for good or evil, and in doing so bringing either blessings or disgrace and condemnation upon our souls.

The Lord wanted us all to know that if we want to love Him and if we want to be truly faithful to Him, then there is truly no greater price to pay than our total devotion and commitment, and the full trust that we all should place in Him, our Lord, Master and Saviour. Just like the widow of Zarephath who suffered greatly from the famine that came over Israel because of their disobedience, she had less and less food, and soon enough, her food stock would run out and she and her son would perish.

But the prophet Elijah came to her seeking for help and food, and when she voiced her concerns, Elijah told her not to worry, for the Lord Who is loving and kind to all those who put their trust in Him will provide all that is needed for sustenance and survival, as well as joy and happiness for His people. He will not abandon them to suffer in need without what they need, and He will in His own ways, bless His people and grant them help.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God proved His love and commitment to help His people, by showing His everlasting providence through the flour jar that never finished, and the jug of oil that never ran out. In this, He wanted the widow of Zarephath and all of us to know that if we put our trust and complete faith in Him, then we truly have nothing to be worried about.

Remember on another occasion Jesus told His disciples and the people about how God blessed the beautiful flowers in the field and the birds with colourful feathers and various raiments of colour with much blessings, and how if He has blessed these with such great blessings then we should not need to worry if we put our trust in Him. In one way or another, in His own way, He will take very good care of us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us make use of the opportunities that God has given us, and let us use whatever blessings He has graced us with, we may share the goods and the joys we have with one another. Let us not be greedy or be selfish, in selfishly keeping all the wealth, goods and blessings of God to ourselves. May God awaken in all of our hearts the desire to love one another, so that we may realise that even if we are in unfortunate condition, there are always those who are poorer and who are in greater suffering than us.

Let us all act now, and from now on let us all devote ourselves completely to serve the Lord in all the things we do, and let us all commit ourselves to care about each other, and sharing the joys we have received from the Lord. May Almighty God, our Lord bless our endeavours and keep us always in His grace. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 7 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day in continuation from yesterday’s readings, we are faced yet again with the stark reality and truth about living in this world full of temptations and challenges, and how we ought to make a stand and a clear choice on our conscience and actions, so that we will fully and completely submit ourselves to the will of God and seek to do all of His will.

It was highlighted yet once again, that we cannot be servants to both God and to money. If we serve one and try to please one, then we are very likely going to anger and displease the other. We cannot please and satisfy both God and worldly possessions, just as we cannot please God and Satan at the same time. Either we walk in the path of the Lord and be saved, or we walk in the path of sin with Satan and be together condemned with him for eternity.

Yet, as I have discussed yesterday, many of us are ambivalent and without a clear stand or without the courage to stand up for our faith. Rather than following our Lord and God with zeal and with total devotion, we allow ourselves to be bought over by the world and all of its temptations, all of which are designed, and have indeed been designed by the devil and his angels to lure us away from the salvation in God.

And many of us do not take this seriously, for we think that in small matters or in small faults and sins can be let go and tolerated, for after all those things are indeed small matter, are they not? Unfortunately, Jesus made it very clear through today’s Gospel passage, that those who cannot be trusted with small matters, cannot be entrusted with large matters.

This means that we must not overlook or be ignorant even about small sins and faults that we often do and commit in our daily lives. Even opening ourselves a little to the taste of sin and wickedness would allow the devil to come in and seize an even greater opportunity to corrupt us and our souls. As a result, we commit even more and greater sins, that eventually will threaten to destroy us.

Therefore, it is imperative that we remain vigilant and strong at all times. It is important that we should commit ourselves ever more to the protection of our Lord, and strengthening our own spiritual defences against the assaults of the evil one, his temptations and lies. In order to do so, then we have to really make the effort to bring up the habit of prayer, charity and love in our own respective lives.

Yes, let us all commit ourselves to a life devoted to the Lord, obeying His laws and precepts, and walking faithfully in His path, and showing that faith we have for Him through real and concrete dedication to our fellow brethren. That means if someone is in despair and in condition without hope, let us be the bearers of hope, and when someone is unloved, ostracised and suffering, let us share with them our love.

It is this sharing of love, joy and hope with one another that is the essence of our Christian faith, which requires us to show that love which we ought to have for our Lord, and the same love that we also need to show each other, at least as great as the love, care and concern which we show towards ourselves. And if we have love in us, then we have no need to worry, for that love and genuine faith will shield us from the temptations and challenges presented to us by the devil.

Let us all therefore renew our faith in the Lord, and commit ourselves completely to His love, and from now on, let our every actions and every moments of our lives, we use them for the good of one another, and for the benefit of all mankind, that by our actions, we may bring each other ever closer to the salvation in our God. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 6 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the parable that Jesus our Lord taught His disciples on the wicked and dishonest servant that cheated his master of some money through his works. And we listened to how the master who knew and found out about the dishonesty fired the wicked and untrustworthy steward, who then resorted yet again to dishonesty in order to save himself from trouble.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Gospel passage indeed can intrigue us, as the Lord seemingly approved what the wicked steward was doing, by stating how the master commended the steward for the actions he had done, in securing for himself a security and safety by his master’s debtors, by making themselves indebted to him for his assistance in reducing their debts unilaterally.

But the fact and truth is that the Lord stated clearly that those who walked and followed in the path of the world, will also act in ways that also suit and follow the ways and norms of this world. And on the other hand, those who devote themselves to the Lord, will walk in His ways and act in ways that conform to His will and His desires.

This is a reminder for all of us, on choosing whether we should live righteously according to the will of God our Lord, or to live in accordance with ways acceptable and suitable to the world and to our society. The choice is ours, and we ought to ask ourselves, shall we obey the call of the Lord and His teachings, even though this world may reject them and ridicule us for following God and for remaining obedient to Him?

The way of the Lord is mostly and very often is diagonally opposed and contrasted to the ways acceptable to the world. And St. Paul reiterated this in his letter to the Church and the faithful in Rome, a reminder to them that as those who belong to the Lord and His Church ought to do what is righteous and just in the sight of God, and thus show forth His righteousness and truth to others, to all mankind.

This is important, as we should realise how scandal can easily rock the Church and shake its pillars and foundations if the faithful people of God were to commit and act in ways that are contrary to the ways of the Lord. And yet, this is what we have seen and what we are now also seeing in the Church and among the faithful. Regrettably, there are many faithful who proclaim themselves as Christians and yet did nothing that the Church had taught them.

For example, there are many Christians who participate in heinous acts such as adultery, divorce and remarriage, all which showed the disrespect and contempt for the holiness and sanctity of marriage, the holy union blessed by God. And many showed lack of understanding and knowledge of what the truth is about what God had taught us through His Church.

And there are also many of those who engaged in the culture of death, disrespecting life and its sanctity, showing no mercy and care for life, and also engaging in acts such as murder, abortion and torture, that result in pain, suffering and death, the loss of life, where many of us succumb to our own desire and greed for more at the cost of others, and to protect ourselves and satisfy our own needs over and above that of the rest and others around us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we cannot be servants to both the world and its ways, and as servants of the Lord. Indeed, we may try to please and satisfy both, but sooner or later, there will come a time where our actions and deeds will satisfy one and displease the other. For the opposition and the contrasts between both sides are truly great.

Therefore, let us all, beloved and blessed children of God, His beloved people and members of His Church, devote ourselves anew to commit deeds and to embark on actions and works that declare the glory of our Lord, and let us shun our own personal pride and desire for glory and pleasures of the world. Let us discipline ourselves and resist the temptation of this world, that is none other than the lies of the devil.

May Almighty God bless us all, forgive us all our sins and lead us into His eternal glory. May He reunite us all and bring all of us back from all the ends and corners of the world, and gather us just like a shepherd gathering his sheep. May He be with us always and guide us in all of our endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 5 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard about the important message that we all should take heed of, that we must not judge or condemn others around us, and thinking that we are more worthy, just or righteous as compared to another one beside us. We must not fall into this trap of pride and arrogance, which had brought so many to fall and perish in their own pride and hubris.

Condemning others for their actions and shortcomings, and judging others based on their background, attitude or any other parameters does not bring us any good, but instead damnation and destruction, for it is often that those who judges and condemns the most, are unaware of their own shortcomings, misdeeds and wickedness, and as a result, they too fell the most and they perish in the most ignoble manner.

Yet, this does not mean that we should then just mind our own business and care nothing about the rest and all others who are around us. If we do this, then we too are to be blamed, and now not because of our pride and arrogance, but because of our own refusal to act when it is in our power and ability to bring good and grace to others who are around us.

We are all once lost to the Lord, He Who is our Shepherd, Guide and Master. That is because we preferred to follow our own path, even though knowing that such a path would have led us to our downfall and to suffering. It is through disobedience of men that sin entered into the world, and darkness shrouded this world, so that many of God’s flock, God’s own beloved people, became lost in that encompassing darkness.

And rather than condemning others whom we thought as those who had been lost, let us all help one another, following the examples of our Lord, Who had told us of His love for us all, as our Lord and Shepherd. If He, as our one and only Good Shepherd, went out all the way and gave His very best to look for even one lost sheep, to bring that sheep back from the brink of disaster into a renewed and blessed life, then truly, all of us should also do the same.

There is indeed much rejoicing in heaven, among the angels and the saints for one soul that was lost, and then repented and was found again. That is because the alternative would have been eternal damnation and hell, and forever, that soul will be lost to God, and to all of God’s beloved ones. But if that soul is found, then it will have the chance to receive the fullness of God’s redemption and salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how is this then relevant to all of us? It is very relevant because all of us are essentially the ones who have been entrusted by our Lord to be shepherds for one another, to keep each other together and to prevent anyone from being lost. If any of us fall into the darkness and into the trap of sin, then truly it is our responsibility and duty to guide one another, just like a shepherds guiding their sheep.

Therefore, while we do not condone the sins and wickedness that others had done, and rightfully, we should censure them for these, but let us not prevent them or discourage them from seeking God’s mercy and salvation through our judgmental attitude or condemnation. Rather, we should try our best to call them to repentance and to change.

Do take note, that we do not subscribe to what is called false mercy, as what some in the Church today propose that we adopt this stance. This means that the sinners and those who have erred cannot be allowed to continue in their sinfulness and wickedness, and we do not tolerate these sins to continue. Rather, we welcome them back, and help guide them on the path of true and genuine repentance, that in the end, the lost sheep truly finds their way back to the Lord, their Shepherd.

May Almighty God be with us in all these endeavours, and may He bless us in all of our works and efforts, and may He gather all of us, His flock, together as one people, into the eternal life and glory He has prepared for us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we commemorate the life and the examples of St. Charles Borromeo, also known as San Carlo Borromeo, a great saint and reformer of the faith and the Church, who was the Metropolitan Archbishop of Milan, one of the principal and most important sees of Christendom, and a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church.

At that time, the Church and the faithful were assailed greatly and terribly by the forces of the so-called Protestant ‘reformation’ where misguided people and their leaders took it into their hands to change and alter the teachings and traditions of the Church as they pleased and wished, and many people went astray following their own path and their own wishes.

And so many people, so many souls were lost forever as a result of such an unfortunate turn of events, and many people were misguided to follow the path of their error and worldliness into the damnation of hell. However, that is not all, as even within the Church, many people did not truly serve the Lord and rather than dutifully carrying out their responsibilities as members and ministers of the Lord’s Church and community, these people served their own interest first.

All these were the works of the devil and his agents, who sowed the seeds of obstinate behaviour, pride, greed, stubbornness and the seeds of sin into the hearts of men, and by tempting many with the temptation of money, pleasures of the world and other things, he succeeded in luring many away, and brought about much confusion in which he thrived and managed to lure away even more souls away.

He also contributed immensely to the Council of Trent, the very important and crucial gathering of the Church designed to reform the Church, condemn the falsehoods of the Protestant heresy and to help bring back many souls into God’s grace and salvation. He proposed many disciplines and practices that could help purify the Faith and the Church so as to make it much more resilient against future heresies and threats from both outside and inside the Church.

In the end, many people returned to the Holy Mother Church, and many of them repented from their sins. What St. Charles Borromeo and many other holy men and women, servants of God had done at that time was truly beneficial and good, and because of their great efforts and dedication, they helped restore the hope to countless people who would otherwise have fallen into eternal damnation of hell.

Today we heard St. Paul exhorting the faithful on how to fulfil completely the Law and commandments of God, that is by showing love and care for one another. The Law of God is truly about loving our God, and not just that, but also loving one another in the same way as we have loved ourselves and God. And this was exactly what St. Charles Borromeo and his contemporaries had done, for the love of their fellow men, fallen and lost to the darkness, they worked their best to save them from their fate.

In the Gospel today, we heard Jesus our Lord speaking about readiness to give it all to the Lord, and readiness to leave behind everything that have severed us and kept us away from truly being able to call ourselves the children of God. And He also spoke of wisdom, of the need for us all to think and reflect of the consequences of our actions and the need to be ready for everything that is to come.

And thus, we have to think of the consequences of our actions and how these will impact the state of our souls in the end of time. Have we made ample preparations for the day of judgment that is to come? If we sit still and do nothing, then I fear all of us are headed for a sure and certain destruction and damnation in hell. It is just like what Jesus told the people, like a king who did not consult with his advisers and went to war against another stronger than him, and in the end, only defeat and misery awaited him.

What do we need to do then, brothers and sisters in Christ? We all need to devote ourselves to help our brethren in need, those who are less fortunate than us, and just as St. Charles Borromeo had shown us, also by helping those who have been misled and misguided by heresy and by the lies of Satan, so that all of us may find our way out of the trap of sin and destruction, and eventually proceed to eternal glory of heaven, and receiving the whole eternal inheritance meant for us.

Let us all therefore from now on work together as one people, as one Church, by working together to achieve the common goal of justification and sanctification for the eternal life. May God bless us and guide us in our endeavours and efforts, and may He bring us to eternal glory in Him. Amen.