Tuesday, 3 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church marks the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, just as we continue to progress through this Christmas season. On this day we recall the very Name of the Lord that He has been given and revealed to us through the Archangel Gabriel. The Archangel Gabriel told Mary, the Mother of the Lord that she would bear within her the Son of God Himself, and that this Son ought to be named Jesus. Through this Name, Jesus or roughly Yeshua in the old Hebrew and Aramaic, we come to know the Name of the Lord Himself, made approachable and utterable for us, so that by His coming into our midst, He might restore us all and renew us, just as He had done with His loving sacrifice on the Cross.

We may be wandering, why is it that we celebrate the Name of the Lord with a Feast like this day? A person’s name is very important, as first of all, it marks that we are building a genuine relationship with someone whose name is known to us and vice versa. While strangers and acquaintances are mostly not known to us by name, and most of us do not bother to know them by their names, knowing a person’s name is often the first step in the often long and complicated process of establishing relationship. Hence, as the Lord revealed His Name to us, it shows us that He is willing to come close to us and to know us personally, just as He has chosen to come down into this world, becoming Incarnate as the Son of Man. Thus just as we celebrate Christmas season, we should also spend more time reflecting on the mystery of God’s Incarnation, that He has become tangible and approachable by us, with a Name that we can call and speak of.

We also have to understand that in the past, among the first chosen people of God, the Israelites, the Holy Name of God was considered so sacred and holy that this Name cannot be mentioned or uttered at all. Hence, while His Name is usually written as the Tetragrammaton of YHVH, which leads to what is mentioned as Yahweh in some of our contemporary worship music, it cannot and should not be pronounced in any normal occasion, as this added on to the mystical nature of the Holy Name of God and meant to highlight just how infinitely great God is beyond our ability to fathom Him, just as in the Old Testament God is considered as being mighty and unapproachable by any of the mortal beings. It is in fact a taboo for anyone to utter or try to say the Name of the Lord, and only the High Priest was allowed to do so, and even only at a particular time in the year.

Therefore, the fact that the Lord has provided us with a Name that is approachable and utterable, Jesus, the Name that is above every other names as we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians in our first reading today, revealed that He truly wants to make us to be able to approach Him, and for Him to be with us, and that God is no longer One Who is distant and infinitely beyond our reach. He has became one like us, assuming our humble human reality and existence, so that He truly becomes Emmanuel, God Who is with us. He is no longer a distant God Who reigns over His people with impunity and only punishes all who disobey Him. He has become God that is manifested and personified in all of His love for us, in the person of Jesus Christ, and through this same Name, we have been saved.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard again of the salvation which has come into our midst through Jesus Christ, that by His Name and His works, we have been reconciled with God. Through His Name, we have received the fullness of God’s grace and love, and we know of that God and Man united in the same person of Jesus, by Whom we have been redeemed from the precipice of destruction and death, because He obeyed His Father’s will so perfectly that He became for us all the source of hope and the assurance of eternal life. In the Name of Jesus, which we hang on to with faith and hope, we know that God is truly with us, knowing us and understanding us. He made Himself available and accessible to us so that we may reach out to Him as well, and turn towards Him with hope and confidence, that through Him there is path to light and eternal life.

Yet, at the same time we are also reminded that while we have received great graces and favour through the Name of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, but we also must still not take the Name of the Lord in vain, even after He has made Himself approachable to us. It is one of the Ten Commandments that stated to us, ‘Keep holy the Name of the Lord’ or ‘Do not take the Lord’s Name in vain’. This same commandment and Law still applies to us, and we have to hold His Name with the highest regard. There had been quite a few instances when people have been misusing the Lord’s Name and treated His Name with disdain and utter disrespect, even using them with expletives and vulgarities among other things most unbecoming of our attitudes with regards to the Lord’s Holy Name. The sad thing is that even many of us Christians have done that as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all heed what St. Paul mentioned in the first reading today again as he spoke regarding the Holy Name of Jesus. The Name of the Lord is the Name above every other names, to which all knees shall bend, be it in Heaven, on earth, or below the earth, that is in hell and in the underworld. It means that this Name, while indeed approachable to us, is still the Most Holy Name of our Sovereign and Almighty God, to which the Angels and all of us ought to obey and bend our knee in worship, and even Satan in all of his power has no authority before the Name of the Lord, and had to bend his knee as well. After all, the Lord has a Universal dominion and authority, and even Satan has to obey Him. That is why, we must never (again) take the Lord’s Name in vain or disrespect Him in that manner.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to celebrate the joyful season and time of Christmas, let us all reflect carefully upon the role that our Saviour, Jesus Christ has in the history of our salvation that by His coming into this world which we celebrate at this Christmas season, He had made Himself approachable and tangible for us, to make God’s love within our reach, dwelling in our midst as God Who is always ever present among His people, Emmanuel. This Christmas we are reminded yet again that Christ has manifested Himself before us, and give us His Name as the assurance for a new hope and light that illuminates our path towards the future with Him. Let us not forget about Christ in our Christmas joy and festivities, and let us return Him to the rightful position at the heart of our every celebrations, and also enthrone Him within our hearts, always ever keeping His Holy Name with the utmost honour and respect.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, in Whose Name we have been saved, be with us always, and may He continue to guide us and strengthen us in our journey of faith, so that we may continue to persevere in faith and do our very best to commit ourselves to a life fully dedicated to Him and worthy of His love and grace. Let us all invoke His Name from now on with faith, and strive to be ever more worthy of uttering His Name, at all times. May God bless us always, in all of our efforts and endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 29-34

At that time, the next day John saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! It is He of Whom I said : A Man comes after me, Who is already ahead of me, for He was before me. I myself did not know Him, but I came baptising to prepare for Him, so that He might be revealed in Israel.”

And John also gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit coming down on Him like a dove from heaven, and resting on Him. I myself did not know Him, but God, Who sent me to baptise, told me, “You will see the Spirit coming down, and resting, on the One Who baptises with the Holy Spirit.’ Yes, I have seen! And I declare that this is the Chosen One of God!”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

Luke 2 : 21-24

On the eighth day, the circumcision of the Baby had to be performed; He was named Jesus, the Name the Angel had given Him before He was conceived. When the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God.

And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the Law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Tuesday, 3 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 3cd-4, 5-6

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, the Lord!

Alternative Psalm (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

Psalm 8 : 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

When I observe the heavens, the work of Your hands, the moon, and the stars You set in their place – what is man, that You be mindful of him; the Son of Man, that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little less than a god; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number, and even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and all that swim the paths of the ocean.

Tuesday, 3 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 2 : 29 – 1 John 3 : 6

You know that He is the Just One : know then that anyone living justly is born of God. See what singular love the Father has for us : we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Beloved, we are God’s children and what we shall be has not yet been shown. Yet when He appears in His glory, we know that we shall be like Him, for then we shall see Him as He is. All who have such a hope try to be pure as He is pure. Anyone who commits a sin acts as an enemy of the law of God; any sin acts wickedly, because all sin is wickedness.

You know that He came to take away our sins, and that there is no sin in Him. Whoever remains in Him has no sin, whoever sins has not seen or known Him.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

Philippians 2 : 1-11

If I may advise you, in the Name of Christ, and if you can hear it, as the voice of love; if we share the same Spirit, and are capable of mercy and compassion, then I beg of you, make me very happy : have one love, one spirit, one feeling, do nothing through rivalry or vain conceit.

On the contrary, let each of you gently consider the others, as more important than yourselves. Do not seek your own interest, but, rather, that of others. Your attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ had :

Though He was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in His appearance found as a Man.

He humbled Himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross. That is why God exalted Him and gave Him the Name which outshines all names, so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Monday, 3 January 2022 : Monday after the Epiphany, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Lord in which we are reminded of the works that the Lord had done in our midst through His Son, as we celebrate the Feast in honour of His Most Holy Name, the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. On this day as we still celebrate the glorious feast of Christmas, we remind ourselves constantly of the great deeds that Our Lord had done for our sake. Through His Incarnation, He has been given a name like any other, and yet, because He is at the same time the Almighty God, His Name is the Name above every other names.

In order to appreciate the importance of this Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, all of us must understand how important and sacred the Name of God is to the people of Israel, as by the Law and customs of the Israelites dictated that the Holy Name of God was not to be misused or even spoken in vain. In fact, the Name of God was so holy and sacrosanct that it was not to be uttered at all. The Name of God, often transliterated as YHVH, was not meant to be spoken, as holy as it was deemed to be, and hence, usually other honorific such as Adonai or ‘My Lord’ was used instead.

The Lord has therefore made His Name utterable and approachable to us, as through the Archangel Gabriel who brought the Good News of His coming to Mary, God told us His very own Name, through the words, ‘And you shall name Him, Jesus’. Through this act, God’s Name that was unutterable and unapproachable had become tangible just as He has appeared before us all in the flesh, coming to dwell in our midst and to grace us with His Presence. Yet, this does not mean that we can then treat His Name with disdain and with ignorance as many of us have often done.

The Second Commandment stated that ‘you shall not take or speak the Lord’s Name in vain’, and this is very significant as if we truly believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly our Lord and God, appearing before us and dwelling with us in the flesh, truly Human yet truly Divine, then we should treat His Name with the same honour, respect, and adoration as the manner of how the Name of God, YHVH, had been treated by the people of God in the past. The Holy Name of Jesus is truly the Name above every other names as although His Name is now approachable to us, yet, as the Name of the One Almighty God, it has power over all things.

As the Scriptures mentioned, through His coming into this world, the Lord has manifested His truth and love, and in the Person of Jesus Christ, God has shown us all the perfect manifestation of the love and all that He has prepared for us, for the purpose of our salvation and liberation from the tyranny of sin and the bondage to death. Through His Name, He has made Himself approachable to us and by invoking His Name with faith, even the devil and all others will submit to His will, and that is why when a priest exorcised the demons, at the mention of the Name of the Lord Jesus, they would tremble and succumb.

But we have seen how we tend to make light of the use of the Lord’s Name, even in expletives and in many situations where we should not have uttered His Name in vain. We treated His Holy Name like a plaything and did not take His Name seriously, and even used His Name to do bad things instead. Such a blatant misuse and disregard for the sacredness and sanctity of Our Lord’s Holy Name is something that we really need to address, especially if we ourselves have done that from that time to time in the past.

Whenever the Holy Name of Jesus is mentioned, we should remind ourselves that this Name is the One by which we have been saved and received the promise of eternal life and true happiness. We should respect it and pay attention to it, and as commanded by the laws of the Church, at every mention of the Holy Name of Our Lord at the Mass, we ought to make a bow to show our respect to His Name, and not only a bow of our head, but also a bow from our heart. It is easy for us to make the gesture of a bow, but it is often more difficult to honour Him from our hearts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all from now on make use of the Holy Name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, in the right and respectful way while always remembering all that He had done for our sake, in reaching out to us with His most generous love. By His coming into this world, He has shown us His love and the commitment He made to the Covenant He had created with us. In honouring His Name with genuine faith, love and devotion, we are responding to His call and to His outreach to us, answering the great love that He has always shown us all these while.

Let us all therefore continue to remind ourselves of all the love God has shown us as we still progress through this current Christmas season. Let us inspire one another to live our lives with Christ ever at the centre and as the focus of our daily living, and honour His Holy Name at every opportunity. Let us remember Him through His Name, for all the wonderful things He had done for us and for all the blessings, particularly the love with which He has offered Himself for our sake, shedding His Most Precious Body and Blood as the worthy offerings for the atonement of our sins.

May Our Lord Jesus Christ, Whose Holy Name we glorify and praise today, be with us always, and may He bless us all in our every good works and endeavours, now and always. May all of us draw ever closer to Him and trust ever more in the power of His Holy Name. Amen.

Monday, 3 January 2022 : Monday after the Epiphany, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 4 : 12-17, 23-25

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum, a town by the lake of Galilee, at the border of Zebulun and Naphtali.

In this way the word of the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled : Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, crossed by the Road of the Sea, and you who live beyond the Jordan, Galilee, land of pagans : The people who lived in darkness have seen a great Light; on those who live in the land of the shadow of death, a Light has shone.

From that time on, Jesus began to proclaim His message, “Change your ways : the kingdom of heaven is near.” Jesus went around all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and curing all kinds of sickness and disease among the people.

The news about Him spread through the whole of Syria, and the people brought all their sick to Him, and all those who suffered : the possessed, the deranged, the paralysed, and He healed them all. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Ten Cities, from Jerusalem, Judea and from across the Jordan.

Monday, 3 January 2022 : Monday after the Epiphany, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 2 : 7-8, 10-11

I will proclaim the decree of the Lord. He said to Me : “You are My Son. This day I have begotten You. Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, the ends of the earth for Your possession.”

Now therefore, learn wisdom, o kings; be warned, o rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and fall at His feet; lest He be angry and you perish when His anger suddenly flares. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Monday, 3 January 2022 : Monday after the Epiphany, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 3 : 22 – 1 John 4 : 6

Then whatever we ask we shall receive, since we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. His command is that we believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another, as He has commanded us. Whoever keeps His commands remains in God and God in him. It is by the Spirit God has given us that we know He lives in us.

My beloved, do not trust every inspiration. Test the spirits to see whether they come from God, because many false prophets are now in the world. How will you recognise the Spirit of God? Any spirit recognising Jesus as the Christ Who has taken our flesh is of God. But any spirit that does not recognise Jesus is not from God, it is the spirit of the antichrist. You have heard of his coming and even now he is in the world.

You, my dear children, are of God and you have already overcome these people, because the One Who is in you is more powerful than he who is in the world. They are of the world and the world inspires them and those of the world listen to them. We are of God and those who know God listen to us, but those who are not of God ignore us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error as well.

Friday, 23 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate a great solemnity in honour of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, a devotion and tradition which had deep roots in our faith in the Church, beginning from an ancient tradition of devotion to the great love which the Lord Jesus had shown us all His people, through His most loving and merciful Sacred Heart, a devotion which was given in its modern form through the visions which was received by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque approximately four centuries ago.

In many of the icons of the Most Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus, we often see Jesus our Lord revealing His Sacred Heart, which is crowned with thorns and pierced with a lance, and with a flaming fire above the Heart, showing the great love and the intensity of which love, through which, our Lord resolved to redeem us from our sins and save us from the disaster that was about to be our fate. It was by this love, that He was willing to go through all sorts of persecutions and sufferings, for our sake and for our salvation.

In His appearance to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the Lord Jesus showed His Most Sacred Heart to her, and spoke to her, saying that while His love for mankind had been great and magnificent, but most of mankind had rejected Him and His love, and spurned His love. We have rejected God’s love for us by our disobedience and refusal to follow His ways, and by continuing therefore to live in sin.

That is why it is important for us to devote ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, by understanding and knowing that great love which God in His heart has shown us all. There are indeed those who refused to believe in the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, because they deemed that it was idolatry and false to worship the supposedly physical heart of Jesus, but that was because of a misunderstanding of what the devotion to the Sacred Heart is really about.

In essence, our devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is a devotion to the physical or human Heart and the Divine Heart of our Lord and Saviour, Who has two natures, God and Man, which are yet united in perfection of love, in one singular Divinity. If the Lord had assumed the flesh of Man, then surely His whole entire Body is a reflection of both His humanity and divinity, including His Most Sacred Heart.

All of us know that the heart is among the most important organs in our body, without which the blood which provides our body cells and other organs with nutrients and oxygen cannot flow. And in figurative terms, the heart is the centre of our emotions and is often associated with love. That is why as I have mentioned earlier on, and in what our Lord Jesus Himself had told all those to whom He revealed His Most Sacred Heart, He told them how He loved all mankind, and yet His people rejected Him and His love.

At the moment of His crucifixion and death, the soldier named Longinus was tasked to attest the fact of His death. He took up his lance and pierced the side of Jesus, which hit towards His heart. Immediately from the Most Sacred Heart came forth blood and water, which poured down upon all who saw it, and those who saw it, including Longinus, believed in Jesus.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through all of these, we have seen how Jesus our Lord has loved us so much, that because of that love, poured out freely from His Most Sacred Heart, He was willing to endure suffering, pain, rejection, ridicule and all sorts of punishments, all of which were meant to be ours. Because of our sins, all of us ought to have been crushed and be destroyed due to them, but the Lord willingly shouldered all those sins, and were wounded for our sake.

Do we all realise just how much it was that the Lord had done for us? His Most Sacred Heart and all the love He had within has made everything possible for us, including our salvation and liberation from our fated destruction because of our sins. Every single wounds inflicted on Him, every single pain, be it physical or mental, from all the rejection, ridicule and mockery, are our sins, caused by our sins, and made by our disobedience.

Let us all therefore do our best, in order to seek to be closer to God, by relying and depending on His Most Sacred Heart, and all the love which He had kept in His Sacred Heart. Let us all remember that whenever we sin and whenever we turn away from His ways, we are taking part in ridiculing and persecuting the Lord, Who had borne all of our sins upon Himself.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians therefore, all of us need to become role models in our devotion and commitment to the Lord, particularly today in the aspect of His Most Sacred Heart, remembering the great love and compassion which He had shown us, poured out from His ever loving Heart, filled with genuine love and mercy for us all mankind. Let us all turn wholeheartedly to Him and be good for the rest of our lives. May the Lord, in His Most Sacred Heart, bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 23 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Matthew 11 : 25-30

On that occasion, Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise You; because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this was Your gracious will.”

“Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”