Monday, 2 March 2015 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 78 : 8, 9, 11, 13

Do not remember against us the sins of our fathers. Let Your compassion hurry to us, for we have been brought very low.

Help us, God, our Saviour, for the glory of Your Name; forgive us for the sake of Your Name.

Listen to the groans of the prisoners; by the strength of Your arm, deliver those doomed to die.

Then we, Your people, the flock of Your pasture, will thank You forever. We will recount Your praise from generation to generation.

Sunday, 12 October 2014 : 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 25 : 6-10a

On this mountain YHVH Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, meat full of marrow, fine wine strained. On this mountain He will destroy the pall cast over all peoples, this very shroud spread over all nations, and death will be no more.

The Lord YHVH will wipe away the tears from all cheeks and eyes; He will take away the humiliation of His people all over the world : For YHVH has spoken. On that day you will say : This is our God. We have waited for Him to save us, let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation. For on this mountain the hand of YHVH rests.

Friday, 8 August 2014 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Nahum 2 : 1, 3 and Nahum 3 : 1-3, 6-7

See, there on the mountains, the feet of One who brings good news, One who proclaims peace. Judah, celebrate your feasts and carry out your vows. For the wicked have been destroyed, they will not attack you any more.

YHVH will now restore Jacob’s magnificence, like Israel’s splendour. For they had been plundered, laid waste as a ravaged vineyard.

Woe to the bloody city, city of lies and booty, o city of unending plunder! But what! Crack of whips, rumble of wheels and clatter of hoofs! See the frenzied chargers, the flashing swords and glittering spears, the heaps of the wounded, the dead and dying – we trip over corpses!

I will pelt you with filth, I will treat you with contempt and make of you a shameful show; so that all who look on you will turn their backs in disgust and say : Nineveh – a city of lust – is in ruins, who will mourn for her? Where can we find one to comfort her?

Sunday, 2 February 2014 : Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today is a great feast day which marks the official end of the Christmas season, forty days after Christmas, when we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, when Jesus Christ our Lord was presented according to the custom of the laws of Moses, at the Temple, as the firstborn of His family, the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

This feast of the Presentation of the Lord has deep symbolic and real meaning in our faith, because Jesus Christ was indeed special in all things, as the Lord divine incarnate into the flesh as Man. As the One who became one of us and dwell among us, He was destined to become the High Priest of all creation, over all of us mankind.

Yes, as the High Priest He was to be the One in between us and our Lord, Our Father and Creator. The high priests of Israel offered the offering of mankind, the people of God to the Lord, as the mediator and intermediate, that the sins of mankind may be absolved and forgiven. The same too therefore happened with Jesus Christ, who was the High Priest, the One and only High Priest, who offered nothing else but Himself as a perfect offering for the absolution of mankind.

And if the high priests and priests of Israel continued to offer animal sacrifices, in the blood of lambs and goats for the temporal absolution of the people’s sins, Christ as the High Priest offered Himself as the only worthy Lamb of sacrifice, to once and for all liberate mankind from the sins of their ancestors, that through Him mankind may have hope once again in salvation and eternal life.

As the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind for all times and ages, therefore Jesus and His death on the cross marked our liberation from the power and tyranny of sin. Never again would death have unchecked power over us, as we have been given a new hope of life through Jesus. His death and sacrifice justified us and we who accept His sacrifice and recognise Him through baptism receive eternal life and redemption.

Then you may ask, if He was to be the Saviour of the world and the High Priest of all, why then He was presented to the Lord at the Temple? Why was Jesus presented to the Lord as the firstborn Son of Mary? That is because Jesus indeed came to this world not to destroy the Law revealed through Moses, but to make it perfect through God’s love.

As all the people of God offered their firstborn son and consecrated them to YHVH, their Lord and God, so was Jesus offered, both as the firstborn Son of Mary, the Son of Man, and as the Son of God, the Word of God incarnate into flesh. The Presentation event that we are celebrating today showed to the world, in a revelation, who Jesus was, and what He was going to bring into this world, that is salvation.

Simeon the seer had been waiting for long, expecting for the coming of the Messiah in Jesus, and he was indeed fortunate among many prophets and servants of God, that he was given the opportunity to see the salvation of the world even a small, little Baby. Many longed to see the Messiah and His coming, and did not see Him, and Simeon as well as Anna was fortunate among them, not only because they were able to witness the coming of the Messiah, but both of them also became the heralds of the Lord’s coming by revealing Him to the people of God.

They told the people that the Baby being offered to God at the Temple, as frail and fragile and weak He was, Jesus was destined to be the One who was to bring liberation to a world immersed in darkness. He was offered as the unblemished and perfect sacrifice, that would free mankind from their slavery to sin and evil.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is imperative for all of us to take note of this occasion and rejoice for the gift of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom God our Father had given us all as the gift for our salvation. He offered Himself to redeem us from our sins, and despite our constant rebellion and disobedience, He wants equally constantly for us to be reunited with Him in faith and love.

Today we also commemorate, fittingly, the Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, that is we pray for the sake of all those who had dedicated and consecrated themselves to the Lord, be it as priests, religious, or consecrated people, who forsook the world and all its goodness, to be with God, and to serve Him and His people.

Just as Jesus had been dedicated to the Lord, to be the Saviour of the world, and the liberator of mankind, therefore, the priests and the religious also dedicated themselves to God their Lord and Master, professing solemnly their faith and dedication to Him, till the end of their lives. They become our intermediary with the Lord, much in the same way as how Jesus, as our High Priest, is the mediator between God and all of us.

The works of our consecrated priests and the other servants of the Lord are heavy and burdensome. They have many challenges and trials to go through daily, especially opposition to their works and rejections to their teachings. Many also do not appreciate their works, and even put themselves in the way of their ministries.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today, as we recall the Presentation of our Lord Jesus, let us also pray for our priests and religious brothers and sisters, that they may stay faithful and dedicated to the flock and the works they have been entrusted with. May they persevere despite the increasing opposition against their works and persecutions against the faithful in general.

And we too, brothers and sisters in Christ, also have our own roles to play. We are also called by the Lord in baptism, to be the messengers of His Good News. Even though we do not dedicate ourselves as closely as that of our priests and religious, we can also take part in the Lord’s work aimed at the salvation of all mankind. In order to do that, we need to love and love tenderly.

Yes, through our actions and deeds, we can show God’s love to everyone, and make them to understand God’s love for them and so that they may believe in Jesus, in the love He had shown to all of us that He did not even mind to doe a humiliating and painful death on the cross for our lives and salvation. He turned that cross of shame into a triumphant cross of victory.

May the Lord Jesus deepen the faith within our hearts, that we too may commit ourselves, our lives and all our actions, for the sake of our Lord, and out of love for our brothers and sisters who are still separated from God’s love. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013 : 1st Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Priests)

Isaiah 25 : 6-10a

On this mountain YHVH Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, meat full of marrow, fine wine strained. On this mountain He will destroy the pall cast over all peoples, this very shroud spread over all nations, and death will be no more.

The Lord YHVH will wipe away the tears from all cheeks and eyes; He will take away the humiliation of His people all over the world : for YHVH has spoken. On that day you will say : This is our God. We have waited for Him to save us, let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation. For on this mountain, the hand of YHVH rests.

Saturday, 2 November 2013 : Solemnity of All Souls (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Violet or Black

Brothers and sisters in Christ, after we celebrated the feast of all saints yesterday, today we also remember all of our faithful departed, the souls of the dead, those who departed before us, some of which are known to us, as our own relatives, brothers and sisters in Christ. They have departed from us, but certainly they are not forgotten, as they remain with us, united in God.

Just like all saints, those who had departed this world are also our intercessors. They pray for us who are still in this world, this sinful world, immersed in our sinfulness. At the same time we also pray for them, that the Lord will welcome them into the kingdom of God, opening the gates of heaven for them, forgiving their sins, and purifying them that they will be able to join the company of saints and angels.

The Lord had given all of us and the souls departed a new and great hope, that they may receive salvation in Him, and be freed from the bondage of sin and evil. Previously, mankind had no hope for salvation, as the gates of heaven was closed shut tight before them, as the consequence and punishment for their rebellion and sinfulness.

It is through Jesus then, that we are made righteous again. It is because Christ took unto Himself all of our sins and defects, suffering for all the consequences of our sins in place of us, and die a humiliating death, all that so we can have a new hope in Him, the hope of a life eternal in glory with God in the afterlife. Through His resurrection, we then too share the hope of the same resurrection, that we will be brought body and soul, purified and made worthy by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

But this salvation is only offered to all those who receive and accept Christ as their Lord, their God, and their Saviour. In accepting the Lord Jesus as their Saviour and Lord, they receive the fullness of the salvation promised to all of us. But those who rejected Him and spurned His love will have no part in the glory promised to them. Instead, they shall perish and suffer everlasting death in the eternal darkness of hell.

If we are saved, then why do we need to pray for our departed ones, the souls of the dead? That is because, we believe that, in our faith, as a central dogma, is the presence of the purgatory, as a temporary place where souls transit on their way towards heaven. These souls have been found worthy by the Lord, worthy of heaven and therefore, they did not deserve hell and the devil’s fate for their destination. Yet, for them, they still have venial and small sins that prevented them from truly being with the Lord. This is why we have the souls in purgatory.

In purgatory, the souls are being purified of their sins, through suffering that they are not yet able to be with God. Nevertheless, this is unlike hell, which is a state of total and complete separation from God, in which there is no hope, an eternal suffering without end. In the purgatory are good souls who deserve to be with God, but they need to be rid of these little imperfections first before they can enter heaven. God is so great and perfect, and so perfectly good that no evil can hope to stand in His presence and survive. That is why, we have souls in purgatory.

Through our prayers, we help the souls departed in purgatory, that the Lord will pardon them completely, and allow them to be completely reunited with His love. Our prayers do help, brothers and sisters, if we are sincere. These souls, suffering the temporal separation from God, also pray for us, that we can grow more faithful and evade damnation, together with the saints, who intercede for us daily and at all times without cease.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, today, as we pray for the souls departed and the souls in purgatory, let us also take some time to reflect on our own actions, that we may seek to rectify any errors and unworthiness that we still maintain before the Lord, which distanced us from the embrace and love of God. Let us from now on, seek to be righteous and to be worthy, loving God’s children and He who is our Father Himself, with all of our hearts, our minds, and our souls. Amen.

Sunday, 1 September 2013 : 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today Christ taught us the value of humility, of doing things in humility, and seeking not human glory in all our dealings. The prophet Sirach in the first reading today also put the emphasis on the relations between greatness and humility, that the greater someone is, the more that he or she should be humble, and to seek not things that lie beyond our capabilities and our reach.

Brethren, too many times have we heard about mankind trying to reach things beyond what they can do, that they became too absorbed in that pursuit and forget about anything else. It is very often that we even sacrificed much in order to get to that destination, to that desire that we seek to achieve. More often than not, this involved sacrificing even those dear to us. What makes mankind so desperate for such aims and targets that they devote so much for them?

That is because we often become immersed in our pride and in our desire, so much that we simply cannot let go when things do not go the way we wanted it. We always want to be the first in everything, the first in getting new items from the store, the first in our academic, economic, and other performances, that we fear so much from losing out to another people. In our deep pride, we cannot bear to lose to another person, because to us, there is often no consideration for being the second place.

It is in our human nature that we want to be preeminent, and first in all things, and that is our pride, that we ought to stand alone at the top without rivals. Yet remember, brothers and sisters, it is exactly the same sin that had brought down the greatest angel and the mightiest angel of all the angelic host of heaven. Who is that? Precisely, it is Lucifer, the false lightbringer, now known as Satan, the evil one, the devil, the deceiver, and the great enemy.

Lucifer was created as the most brilliant of all of God’s angels, the most perfect and beautiful of all God’s angels. It was told that he was created with twelve wings of a seraph, with incredibly bright light illuminating his figure, and hence his name, Lucifer, the lightbringer and the morning star. To him had been given power, glory, and might in addition to his beauty and wonder, by the Lord the Creator of all.

Yet, in his heart, due to his seemingly perfect beauty, power, and glory, he began to form dissensions and dissatisfactions with being a servant of God, and instead, in his great pride, he wanted to rise above all things, and take over the throne of God, as the ruler of all the creation and over all of heaven, as written in the Book of the prophet Isaiah. That he will raise his throne above the stars of heaven and ascend to the heights of heaven, seated on the throne of God, such are the things in his heart, the schemes that he plotted against God.

And yet, he failed. In his great pride he had sought to be like the proud guest who seek to reach the first place in the banquet, and he failed, badly. He was struck down and cast down from the heavens, as we read in the Book of the Revelation, when the Archangel Michael and the angels of heaven fought with the dragon, that is Lucifer, and defeated him with the power of God, and cast him away from heaven. The Book of the prophet Isaiah continued with the lamentation on the fate of Lucifer, as the fallen morning star, that had fallen and would never rise again as he had once boasted.

Indeed, as Christ had said to the Pharisees in the feast, that the one who seek to be the first will be made last, and will be relegated to the last position in great shame and humiliation. Truly, Lucifer, once the brightest, most brilliant, and mightiest angel of heaven, is now a shadow of his former self, known to us as the great enemy and the evil one, twisted, broken, and marred in his beauty, all because of his pride and lack of humility before God.

On the other hand, the Archangel Michael, whom we know as the chief of the angelic host and the leader of the angels of God, is made such not because of his pride, his power, or his might. Instead, the Archangel Michael was known for his great humility and obedience to the will of God, and it was indeed told that he always trembled before the presence of the Lord. That humility made the Lord to choose him as the leader of His angelic host, in the same way as the humble guest who seek the worst and last seat, is invited by the host to a position of honour.

After quoting the example of the archangels, of Lucifer and Michael and the comparison between them, and how it relates to the lessons we learn today from our readings and the Lord Himself, of the importance of humility in our lives, let us take some time to reflect on our own lives, whether we have always let our pride get in our way, and whether we have let our pride to take over us, as it had done to Lucifer.

To be humble is not easy, as temptations will certainly be great. We tend to compete with one another, not least in this increasingly more fast-moving and competitive world, where everyone’s success in life is measured by their achievements and by the things that they are able to do better than others, fueling even more and more competition in a vicious cycle, that if not controlled may result in excessive competition and everyone sought to overcome one another, at the expense of others as best as possible.

Yet, the Lord challenged us today to be different, to dare to be different from others, to be humble in our increasingly prideful world, in a world where people increasingly care less about one another, in a world where everyone vies to be the first ahead of others, and to achieve things that they are not able to do. The Lord challenged us to know the meaning of humility and the value of satisfaction, of knowing that we truly have enough in our lives, that all that we need have truly been taken care of by the Lord our God in various ways.

Christ had taught us the meaning of humility, and also teach us love, how to love one another, and how to love God. He has shown us all that through His own actions, that He, who is God, and who is divine and all-powerful, is willing to take the last seat of all, the most humiliating seat of all, to be born into a poor family of a carpenter and born in a dirty stable, even though He is indeed a King, King of all kings no less, the Master of all the Universe.

It does not just stop at that, as He lived humbly and did not seek glory for Himself. Many times the people who were amazed at His miracles and powers sought to force Him and to make Him their king, as the king of a renewed Israel, and yet, Jesus walked away from all that, and not only that, He even willingly walked towards His own death.

Yes, brethren, in His great humility, He who is God, let Himself be captured, tortured, mocked and spat at. He was given many lashes and eventually after carrying His own cross, was nailed to that cross on Calvary. Such is His great humility that He endured all sufferings intended for us, and took them all upon Himself. His wounds marked all the sufferings He had to suffer in our place, that we may live. He died, and died a humiliating death, a criminal’s death on the cross.

And yet? He who has died for all of us has risen from the dead! He has triumphed and conquered over the prideful one, Satan, the old Lucifer, whose pride had brought him from glory to humiliation. Christ had risen to His glory and made the greatest and most prominent of all. The Lord Himself had proven His own words today through His own actions, which He made out of pure love for all of us, that we all may live, that He had humbled Himself to die a humiliating death, despite being the Master of all, for our sake.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the very example of our Lord Jesus, let us today heed His call, that we be humble in all our words, in all our deeds, and in all our actions. Let us be humble in all our dealings with one another, caring and loving for one another, just as the Lord had commanded us. Let us be truly brothers and sisters to one another, and do not seek the downfall of others or the failure of others for our own success. Let us throw away our pride and don humility instead, just as our Lord Himself had once done for us.

May the Lord continue to watch over us, protect us, and bless us, and that may He remind us at all times that we ought to be humble and loving in all our actions, and in all our dealings to our brethren, remembering the very life He had given us, through His own humble death. God bless us all, forever and ever. Amen.