Tuesday, 16 August 2016 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White

Ezekiel 28 : 1-10

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre : You are very proud and self-satisfied : ‘I am a god, I sit like a god in the heart of the sea.’ Yet you are man and not a god; would you hold yourself as wise as God?”

“You consider yourself wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you. Your wisdom and know-how have earned you a fortune, gold and silver flowed to your treasury. Clever in trade, you became wealthy and as your fortune increased, your heart became prouder.”

“But now YHVH has spoken to you, to the one who is like God : I am bringing foreigners against you, the most feared of all the nations. Their sword will challenge your wisdom and debase your refined culture. They will bring you down to the pit and you will die in the depths of the sea.”

“Will you be able to say ‘I am a god’ when your murderers are killing you? You are a man and not a god. You will die the death of the uncircumcised snd perish at the hands of aliens, for I have spoken – word of YHVH.”

Wednesday, 29 October 2014 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s most important message and lesson from the Scriptures to us is the nature of our faith and how important it is to our salvation and to the salvation of our souls. Few would be saved indeed, just as Christ had mentioned it, but not because they are not faithful in the Lord. Many indeed among the people did not have faith in God and even despise His offer of salvation, however there are equally many of those who do have the faith in them, and yet this faith is dead or not living.

Why is this so? That is because faith cannot be just mere statement or creed. It cannot be limited to just reciting the Creed as we always do during the Sunday or major celebrations of the Holy Mass, as mere recitation and saying of the words that we believe in God and in His laws and commandments without being accompanied by true and complete devotion to that faith through our concrete action in life, is meaningless and empty. And an empty faith does not lead to salvation, but instead to condemnation.

That is because the faith that is empty, is no better and in fact is the same as the faith of hypocrites, namely like the faith of the Pharisees, the elders of Israel, the teachers and scribes of the Law, who promoted external and superficial devotions to the Law and the ways of the Lord, but without fully understanding the purpose and meaning, as well as the potential use for the Law, and therefore their faith remained just as that, empty and superficial.

This is the same as what Jesus said to the people, in His parable of the master of the house and the guests, when He said that the door is narrow and that it will be difficult for many if not most people to pass through it to enter into the promised kingdom of heaven and everlasting life. That is because we are unable to enter the door because of the desire and the pride that made us all bloated, filled with self-righteousness and self-praise, our desire and greed, our jealousy and all the negativities that prevent us from truly reaching out to the Lord our God.

This is also similar to the story and parable which Jesus had told the people as well, on how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God compared to that of a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Somewhere in Jerusalem there was actually this gate where the gate is so low that whoever pass through it, humans and camels alike have to lower their heads or else they would knock their heads over the gate and would not be able to enter the gate.

The rich and proud man was unable to enter because for him it was humiliating and demeaning that he should lower and bow his head while he enter through the low gate, and meanwhile, the camel had no problem passing through it, because what it did is simply that it lowered its head and body, so that it was able to pass through the gate readily, even though it was larger in size than the rich and proud man.

The same therefore applies to the case of why it was so difficult for many people to pass through the narrow gate into the house. That is because the narrow gate represents the challenges that we need to face in life in order for us to follow the Lord and to obtain salvation in Him. We do not like it difficult or when challenges come our way, and we prefer to have the path to be smoothened for us, and yet there is no such thing when we decide to follow the Lord.

Many people professed to have the faith, just like the people who professed that they have seen the works of the Lord and even ate and drank with Him, but when we asked again, on whether they truly have faith in the Lord, can we say with confidence that they have such love for God? Most of us stay on with something or someone only when things are favourable for us, but when things start to go downhill, it is our human nature to abandon the things and go to seek greener pastures.

Thus, it is the same with most of the people, who cared only to be satisfied in body and to have it easy, and to avoid all sorts of difficulties and problems. Once difficulty and challenges come their way, they would evacuate and go to pick other things. Thus their faith in God is likely to be superficial and not real. Their faith and devotion will quickly evaporate once they are faced with challenges in life, the temptations of the flesh and the world, and the opposition of Satan. Thus it is imperative that we reject Satan and have control over our own desires.

So what should we do brothers and sisters in Christ, how do we then pass through that narrow door and into salvation in God? It is by being vigilant at all times against the temptations and the works of Satan, and then in addition by following what St. Paul had suggested in the letter he wrote to the Church and to the faithful in Ephesus.

St. Paul suggested obedience and sincere love for God through the good understanding and observation of the Law, as the way for us to seek God and His salvation. Obeying God as His servant, we cannot be divided in our hearts. We cannot be half-hearted, or even worse if our faith is superficial only. We have to be committed to the Lord and remain true to His path to the end of days.

If we do all these, the Master of the House of God, that is Jesus, will welcome us with His great love, forgiving us from our sins and iniquities and replacing from within us the selfishness and reluctance and doubt that prevented us from truly seeking and reaching out to the Lord. The Lord who sees all these will know that we truly understand His laws and commandments, and thus will justify us in faith.

May the Almighty God bring us into new life and salvation in Him, and give us strength and understanding so that we may always walk in His path, not tempted and not to fall from the path which leads us directly to God. Let us cast away all forms of wickedness and evil, as well as all all doubt from our hearts. This is so that we may believe and love the Lord with all of our strength, with all of our soul and with all of our beings.

May more and more souls come to the Lord to seek His forgiveness and mercy, and to attain salvation and eternal life in God. Let us not end up like those who refused to listen to the Lord and follow His ways, gaining temporary satisfaction at the price of the corruption and sin of their souls, hearts and body. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

 

First Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/28/wednesday-29-october-2014-30th-week-of-ordinary-time-first-reading/

Psalm : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/28/wednesday-29-october-2014-30th-week-of-ordinary-time-psalm/

Gospel Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/28/wednesday-29-october-2014-30th-week-of-ordinary-time-gospel-reading/

Thursday, 25 September 2014 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ecclesiastes 1 : 2-11 (or Qoheleth 1 : 2-11)

All is meaningless – says the Teacher – meaningless, meaningless! What profit is there for a man in all his work for which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, a generation comes and the earth remains forever. The sun rises, the sun sets, hastening towards the place where it again rises.

Blowing to the south, turning to the north, the wind goes round and round and after all its rounds it has to blow again. All rivers go to the sea but the sea is not full; to the place where the rivers come from, there they return again.

All words become weary and speech comes to an end, but the eye has never seen enough nor the ear heard too much. What has happened before will happen again; what has been done before will be done again : there is nothing new under the sun.

If they say to you : “See, it is new!” know that it has already been centuries earlier. There is no remembrance of ancient people, and those to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.

(Usus Antiquior) Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 17 August 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s readings clearly highlighted the need for all of us to have a good and proper way of prayer and living our faith, namely one that is not tainted with our personal and human desires, hubris and sins of our heart. The Pharisee prayed not with the wholeness of his heart, mind and soul, and his being is not entirely focused on the Lord as he prayed, which is truly not the way for us to communicate with our Lord and God.

For prayer is indeed a communication between us and the Lord, and it is important that in prayers, we talk with the Lord from our heart to His heart, but we must also be able to listen, and therefore we may listen to the words of the Lord speaking in our hearts. The Pharisee was engaged in a litany of self-praise and self-aggrandisment, and not only just praising his own goodness, as he also looked down on others and thinking of others as being not as good as himself. This is what we must not do.

We are all sinners, brethren, like that of the tax collector, or the publican. And he knew the full weight of his sins before him, and that was why he was so repentant and felt so unworthy before the Lord. He did not put down others, and he certainly did not boast about his achievements, but rather, he allowed God to work His wonders in him, by opening his heart, mind and soul wide open for the Lord to bring light back into his darkened self.

And the Lord had given us much to build up on during this life we have on earth. Why is this so? Because God had given us the spirit of life and that is why we are living now in this world. However, we who have believed in the Lord and have given ourselves to be baptised in the Most Holy Name of the Most Holy Trinity also received in us the gifts of the Holy Spirit, just as the disciples of Christ had received that day on the occasion of Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit, as we all know have seven cardinal features and seven types of fruits that can be born out of the Spirit in us. And the Holy Spirit also gives us various abilities and endowments, all according to our needs and to the will of the Lord in giving us those gifts and blessings. But there are those among men who claim to be able to get all the numerous gifts of the Spirit, without understanding what they are truly about.

Yes, I am talking about those common practices of ‘speaking in tongues’ practiced often by our heretical and unrepentant brethren in the so-called Evangelical and Pentecostal tradition of the Protestant ‘churches’, who often go so far as to make the practice of tongue-speaking as the mainstream of their worship. They pronounced babbling sounds as if they are speaking in tongues, mimicking the speeches of the Apostles, but this is in vain. In fact, they do not proclaim and praise the Lord in doing that, but instead invoking Satan to be present among them to tempt them.

The way to serve the Lord is not through this method, as when we do that, we have to remember the action of the Pharisee and the publican or the tax collector in their respective prayers. What is the intention of speaking in tongues? This is a dangerous practice that if done without understanding, and it is also already prevalent even among certain sections of the Church, that this will lead the faithful not towards the Lord, but towards the self-aggrandisement of the Pharisee.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I am also talking about those who in the Church, are claiming to represent the will of certain peoples, claiming that they are fighting for equality among different groups, some representing the women and some the laity as a whole themselves. Let me ask you this question, brothers and sisters in Christ, why did the Lord created us men and women in the first place? And why was there the division between the priesthood and the laity in the Church?

The answer to the first question is clear, as we are intended by the Lord to complement each other. Women were born from men, and without men, women are incomplete, and so therefore, men are incomplete without women. That is why, we can never have any equality in literal sense between the males and females in our society and in our Church, because each of us, man and woman are born with a particular purpose in life, and we have been given the specific gift, much like that of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Then regarding the priesthood and the laity, it is also similar. Those who are in the laity are those who choose to have an ordinary life, following the routines of this world that is to have a family and beget children for the love and glory of God, and those in the priesthood dedicated their whole life in devoted service both to God, their Lord, Master and Bride, as well as to the whole mankind.

We cannot stand for this kind of irresponsible movements and notions, and they are tantamount to challenging the Holy Spirit and God Himself, as if they are asking for the wholeness of the gifts that God had given mankind, which is a sign of hubris and human pride, which had once made Satan fall from his place of honour and glory, and which will also bring about our downfall if we are not careful.

Let us all reflect on this, and let us all lay down our pride, our arrogance, our human desire for fame, greatness and glory. Let us instead be like the tax collector, opening our hearts wholly and sincerely to the Lord, so that He may speak to us in the depth and in the silence of our hearts. Let us all build a culture of prayer, and not just any prayer, but prayer deeply rooted in our faith and in our desire to love both mankind and the Lord our God beyond all other things.

May Almighty God bless us and our endeavours, and strengthen the faith within us that we may all be examples for the world, becoming beacons of light in the darkness. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 17 August 2014 : Holy Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke

Luke 18 : 9-14

In illo tempore : Dixit Jesus ad quosdam, qui in se confidebant tamquam justi et aspernabantur ceteros, parabolam istam : Duo homines ascenderunt in templum, ut orarent : unus pharisaeus, et alter publicanus.

Pharisaerus stans, haec apud se orabat : Deus, gratias ago Tibi, quia non sum sicut ceteri hominum : raptores, injusti, adulteri : velut etiam hic publicanus. Jejuno bis in sabbato : decimas do omnium, quae possideo.

Et publicanus a longe stans nolebat nec oculas ad caelum levare : sed percutiebat pectus suum, dicens : Deus, propitius esto mihi peccatori.

Dico vobis : descendit hic justificatus in domum suam ab illo : quia omnis qui se exaltat, humiliabitur : et qui se humiliat, exaltabitur.

English translation

At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves as just, and despised others : Two men went up into the Temple to pray, one was a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

The Pharisee standing prayed thus with himself : “O God, I give You thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also this publican. I fast twice in the week, and I give tithes of all that I possess.”

And the publican standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven, but struck his breast saying, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

I say to You, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other, because every one that exalted himself shall be humbled, and he who humbled himself shall be exalted.

Sunday, 17 August 2014 : 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear a very clear and concerted message from the Lord, on the faith of those who heard the word of God, acted on them and internalised these into their hearts, and became truly faithful to the Lord. And that was what the Lord tried to show the people in the reading taken from the Old Testament, how even foreigners would come and serve the Lord faithfully and became light among the nations, and in how Jesus dealt with the Canaanite woman who showed her genuine faith in God.

If one is to read just literally what Jesus did and said in the Gospel today, then he or she may think that what was Jesus thinking of saying such things? Surely He must know that He was acting arrogantly and totally insulted the poor Canaanite woman whose daughter was in difficulty? Was it what Jesus truly meant? What did He mean to do with those words? Was He not out of His character?

Yes, all these questions, doubts and uncertainties may come into our minds if we do not understand what Jesus wanted to do, and what He wanted to show the world, through both words and actions, in fulfillment of what the Lord had revealed through His prophets long ago. Jesus wanted to show all that the Lord cares not just for a certain group of people or chosen ones to the detriment of others, but instead, He cares for and loves all equally.

For ultimately, all of us had been crafted in the very image of God, and to us He had granted us the breath of life and authority even over the entire creation, and the entirety of this world and all the other creatures God had created. And therefore, all of us are essentially equal before God, and what truly differentiates us is the actions and deeds that we do in this life, on whether they follow or whether they are against God’s ways.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to understand the mentality of the Jews of Jesus’ time, and even that of other times. This will definitely help us to understand why Jesus did what He had done, and why He said things as He had said it to the Canaanite woman. We all know that Abraham had been blessed by God in the days long past, long before the coming of Jesus, and because of his great faith, God chose to bless him and his descendants.

And from among his descendants, God had chosen Isaac, the son whom God promised to Abraham and his wife, Sarah. To Ishmael, the other son of Abraham, whom he had with Hagar, his slave, the blessing of God was upon him and his descendants too, but not that of the same kind or degree as the inheritance given to Isaac, the heir of Abraham and his descendants.

And then, from among the two sons of Isaac, God had chosen Jacob, the younger son, to be Israel, the one whom He had chosen among the sons of Abraham as the progenitor of a people He chose among all the nations. To Esau, the elder son of Isaac, a lesser inheritance was given. This first caused great struggle and enmity between the brothers, but eventually they reconciled themselves.

The people of Israel was born from the twelve sons of Jacob, who eventually became the twelve tribes of Israel, and all of whom migrated to Egypt during the time of Joseph, and who were enslaved by the Pharaoh and the Egyptians until the salvation of the Lord came to them through His servant Moses. God performed His power before His people and their oppressors, liberating them and bringing them to the land He had promised their ancestors, Abraham and his sons.

As ages passed and years went by, the people of God alternated between faithfulness and rebelliousness to God, and as years passed on, they became more and more restless and unfaithful to the Lord who had blessed them so much, to be the examples for the other nations. Yes, this is what God intended for His people, that the ones He had chosen among many may be examples of faith and goodness, like their father Abraham of old, that others may also follow in their footsteps.

Instead, they looked upon their chosen status as a privilege and a sign of elite status, which they interpreted as themselves being the chosen people of God, as those who are superior, greater and better than all others, than all mankind who also dwell on this earth. This is the very root of the problem which the Lord, through His prophets, and through what Jesus did and said to the Canaanite woman, intended to do.

The Jews of Jesus’ time were the descendants of the returned exiles from Babylon, the survivors of the exile from the destruction of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. They took pride of themselves as the guardians of the faith in the Lord, and many of them zealously looked down upon the others, especially those whom they considered as different from themselves, and who dwelled in the land with them. This was exactly why they looked down so much on the Samaritans and the Gentiles, namely the Canaanites and the Greeks.

The Canaanites were the descendants of those people who lived in the land of Israel since before the people of Israel received that promised land from the Lord. They were conquered and enslaved and treated badly by the people of Israel, but they managed to persevere throughout many ages and many years, and in today’s Gospel, one of them, a woman with a sickly daughter, sought help not from anyone else, but from the Lord Himself.

What Jesus said to the woman was in essence, intentionally trying to show the typical prejudice, stereotype and judgmental attitudes that many of the Jews of Jesus’ time had on these others, whom they deemed to be inferior than themselves and worthy of hellfire, just as much as they thought that their ‘devoutness’ is worthy of heaven. The disciples exhibited this attitude, and the Pharisees and the elders exhibited it to an even greater degree, even to the point of judging the Jews themselves of not being worthy if certain so and so fail to fulfill their ‘criteria’ of faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is the message and the aim that God desires from us in this Sunday’s readings? That we realise that our faith is faith, and our love is love, and our hope is hope, no matter who we are, what blood we have, or whose descendant we are. We are all the same human beings, sinners descended from Adam and Eve, whose disobedience brought us out of the glory of heaven, like those Israelites of the past who disobeyed God and be destroyed.

We have to throw away all forms of prejudices and judgments on others, regardless of who we are and what we have done in this life. We should never, ever look down on others who also sincerely look towards the Lord and especially those who are trying hard to reach out to God. Instead of looking down on them or scoffing at them, thinking that we are better than them, we should rather offer them a helping hand and a friendly hug, to welcome them into the kingdom of God together with us.

Jesus taught us that if we are faithful and devoted to God with true sincerity, we will all be called the chosen ones of the Lord, and become His beloved children. That was why He praised the Canaanite woman’s great faith, as example for all others who followed and listened to Him. It is because that woman had such a faith not even possessed by many among the supposedly chosen people of God, many of whom ended up betraying the Lord and persecuted Him and His disciples.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we use this opportunity today to renew our faith in the Lord? And renew our love for Him and also for our brothers and sisters around us? Much has been given to us, and much is expected from us. We should help one another to reach out to the Lord and not to be judgmental on others, be it by appearance, action or anything.

Let us rather redirect all our efforts and attentions towards loving God and loving each other with true love and sincerity, that all who sees us, sees and experiences the love of God and may also therefore come towards the salvation in God. God bless us all and be with us in all of our endeavours. Amen.

Friday, 18 July 2014 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we should grow to appreciate more the tenets of our faith, and not just to know and understand them, but also to put them into the deepest parts of our hearts and minds. It is only if we had done this that we may truly be good and faithful servants of our Lord, who follow Him not out of blind faith, but out of true understanding and appreciation of His precepts and laws.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ time are hardliners and ultra-orthodox purists who took up a very conservative and strict stance on how the people ought to live out their lives in accordance to the faith and to the laws of God as revealed to the people of God via Moses and the prophets who came after him. They criticised Jesus and His followers, and were constantly at their heels, trying to disturb and harass them at every opportunity because they failed to understand the true meaning of the law of God, and in doing so, they believed in God through blind faith and ended up causing greater harm than good.

Jesus today in the Gospel advocated and taught us the importance of understanding the words of the Lord found in the Holy Scriptures, and finding the true meaning of what our faith, and indeed of what our God is all truly about. And He highlighted that using the example of His own servant David, who out of hunger, were allowed to eat the bread of offerings in the Temple, normally reserved only for the consumption of the priests. David and his companions ate the bread.

All of this is to show that God is love, and all about love. He loves all of His creations, and in particular all mankind, the most beloved of all His creations. And the laws which He had given to them through His prophets, is just another form of His love and dedication which He showed them. Through the Law, He hoped that mankind would be able to find their way to Him and ensure that these beloved ones of Him did not fall along the way as they seek the way to reach out to Him.

Sadly, throughout the history of mankind, and the history of the people of Israel, the chosen people of God, they had grown corrupt in their ways, and even with the prophets to remind them about the love of God espoused and enshrined in the Law, they still chose to ignore the pleadings of the prophets even to the point of rejecting and murdering them to shut them up for good.

And even after God had rescued His people when He showed His mercy to the exiled ones of Israel, they still persisted in their unruly behaviour, as shown in the occasions of the apostasies during the time of the Maccabees, when many of the people of God chose to honour their own safety and well-being in exchange for abandoning their Lord and their faith. But the worst of all was indeed not the ways of the people who veered away from the Law of God, but the rise of those who took the Law for granted and used it for their own selfish and self-aggrandising desires.

The Pharisees and the Scribes were among these, and they used the Law to impose on the people a very strict and unbending set of rules and obligations that ended up mocking and ridiculing the Law itself, causing the people to forget the true meaning and intention of the Law, in exchange for a blind observation of the faith which they truly did not understand and misinterpreted, to the point that the Pharisees regarded themselves as being superior to others and casually condemned all those who were against them.

Jesus our Lord came as the Saviour of the world, and of all His beloved people. Therefore, as part of His great mission, He came to clarify all doubts and remove the layers of untruths and distortions which the people had made with the Law. He came to bring the Law into its perfection, the Scriptures and the prophecies of the prophets and servants of God into their complete fulfillment, and to bring love, the love of God Himself, into the world once again.

And to show that love, which God had shown mankind and all creations since the beginning of time, He showed that through His ultimate act of love, the sacrifice on the cross on Calvary, when He bared Himself and opened His own heart to all of His beloved creations. In that, He made the Law perfect and revealed the entirety of the meaning of God’s love and precepts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, even today there are still those who refuse to listen to God’s loving words and His calls for us to repent and to follow Him and instead, trusting in their own human wisdom and intellect and thinking that they know it all better than anyone else, walk on their own paths towards their own doom.

We must not end up being focused so much on ourselves, that we forget or ignore everything else, especially God and His love for us. Our fear of losing things precious to us and our attachments to the world can often stand in the way of truly becoming faithful disciples of the Lord. The concerns and worries of king Hezekiah of Judah, although a faithful servant of the Lord, was to become his taint and the blotch of ink that spanned through his otherwise immaculate record.

King Hezekiah was so distraught that he was to die young, that he begged the Lord for mercy, and kindly, the Lord heard him and extended his life. But later on, we found that if we read the Holy Scriptures, that King Hezekiah showed off his wealth and glory to the Babylonian ambassadors, priding in his own greatness and human power, all these while rejecting and refusing to listen to the word of God which He had spoken through His prophet.

King Hezekiah is an example of how attachments to worldly things and all other distractions that exist in this world may lead to our detachment from the Lord and His way, and end up being too caught up in our own concerns, worries and others, that we do not glorify God in our works and actions, but instead glorify ourselves and the evil one.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be mindful of all these, and let us be careful, lest our worldly attachments bring us into ruin. Let us all have a good and healthy relationship with our God, through devout prayer and obedience to the teachings of the Church, through which Jesus our Lord had made clear the purpose of the Laws of God, purified from all the corruptions of men, the Pharisees and others.

May Almighty God bless us and be with us always, that He may guide us to Him, and straighten our path and make it secure, that we may not fall into the darkness, but remain always in the light. Amen.