Sunday, 30 March 2014 : 4th Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Laetare Sunday)

Ephesians 5 : 8-14

You were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Behave as children of light; the fruits of light are kindness, justice and truth in every form.

You yourselves search out what pleases the Lord, and take no part in works of darkness that are of no benefit; expose them instead. Indeed it is a shame even to speak of what those people do in secret, but as soon as it is exposed to the light, everything becomes clear; and what is unmasked, becomes clear through light.

Therefore it is said : “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead that the light of Christ may shine on you.”

Saturday, 29 March 2014 : 3rd Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

The love and mercy of God know no bounds, and there is no limit to His grace for us. He determined that He wants to see us saved and blessed, freed from the chains of sin that had bound us since the time of Adam and Eve, our ancestors. That was why He sent so much help towards our way, that we may find a way to return to His blessing, love and mercy.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important to remember that God loves us, and despite our transgressions, He is willing to overlook them and welcome us back to His embrace, so that we will not perish in the destruction destined for us because of our sins. But, there is a limit to God’s patience and mercy, and we should not test Him by continuously defying Him.

Yet, sadly many of us are blinded by our own sense of pride and human arrogance that we refuse to listen to God and to His call for us to repent from our sins. We assume that we are able to take charge of our own lives and our destiny, that we disregard His love and reject His care. We immerse ourselves in our stubbornness and carry on with our life, no matter how debauched it is.

Even among us the faithful, we often forget that we ought to be humble before God, for we have sinned. Instead we boasted about our achievements and what we did in the favour of the Lord. We even become judgmental and condemning those whom we deem as less worthy than us for grace and salvation. That was exactly what the Pharisees had done.

Jesus reminded us that the prayer of the proud and haughty worth less than the prayer made by the humble in genuine humility. The humble seeks the Lord with all of their heart and strength, because they know of their fragility and weaknesses, seeking God to help them rectify that issue and reunite them with Him. Brethren, again it is important for us not to judge others and be haughty over others just because of our achievements.

Instead we should assist one another, giving a helping hand to those in need. Particularly those who are lost in sin and darkness are of the greatest priority for us to help with. We cannot ignore or pretend to not see or hear their plight, for this kind of ignorance show the lack of true love and faith within us.

Do not be judgmental and do not think of anyone less than ourselves, just because we think that we are better or more righteous than they are. Let us not praise our own achievements, less still use them to put down others like what the Pharisee had done. We have to be more like the tax collector, understanding the sins we have and committing ourselves to change our own ways.

Never think that we are always worthy of salvation, but we have to continue to work hard and not be complacent. We have to continue to be vigilant and avoid being consumed by our own human insecurities and emotions. Seek the Lord who will definitely help us, and ask Him for His help and protection, that we will always be strong as we walk in His ways.

Let us never be separated from Him, and let us be able to see our own sinfulness, understanding the limitations and fragilities of our own selves, and humbly asking God for forgiveness for all our trespasses, and that we may always remain in God’s grace. God bless us all. Amen.

 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to trust in the Lord and put all of our attention to fulfill whatever He has come upon this world to do. He came into this world to bring goodness into it, and to bring the light of God to unveil the darkness that has been in this world and close our eyes from the truth. He brought to us the salvation in God, to free us from the depredations of evil.

And in today’s Gospel, Jesus wanted to show His disciples, and all of us, that we should never be exclusive in our work for the Lord, but we must be inclusive. That is because all good works ultimately have their source in God, and all good works have their meaning in serving the purposes of the Lord. Doing good can never mean doing the purpose of the devil.

All said, in this matter, we cannot separate and distinguish between good actions and faith. As St. James has often stressed in his letter, that faith cannot be good without concrete actions, which are good actions, and neither can actions be truly good without faith. Both faith and works are related closely to each other, and indeed, when someone does a good work, we should not stop him, especially without knowing first his or her background. He may be just one of the faithful like ourselves!

What Jesus is trying to tell us today is that we must neither be judgmental or be exclusivist in our attitude. We have to try our best to incorporate others in our good services to the Lord, and that means, rather than condemn others or see them as a competition with our own works, we should instead seek to reach out to them and bring them to our fold, that we may work together as one, and achieve even greater things.

One example which we can use in this world today is the works of the various Christian churches and followers of the Lord, many of whom are separated from the unity that is in the Church, the One and only, and yet at the same time, these people, in their separated state, do still do good things for the sake of the faithful. They did good things just as we do.

We should not outright condemn them for what they do and try to stop what they are doing. If any, if we want to condemn them at all, condemn them only if they persist in their separation from the One Church of God, and role in perpetuating that division. Yes, we should all, first above all, seek and work towards unity, and we must make sure that whatever we do are in tandem with each others’ works.

Let us therefore unite our efforts and bring all of our good works as one, to serve the Lord and His people. Bar not the good works of those who do them, even outside of our Church, but focus instead our effort on bringing them back into the fold, that our efforts may be more united than ever before, and all our works may transcend all the evils of division that had wracked our Church all this while.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all seek to do good always in our lives, changing our ways that we may do good for the sake of God and His people. Open our hearts to the Lord and welcome Him into our hearts, walk graciously in His ways and may our examples be a shining example to all others as well. Do good, be humble, and remain faithful, brothers and sisters in Christ. Be inclusive and never be judgmental, seek reunion and unity rather than condemnation and rejection. Amen.

Friday, 21 February 2014 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

Wealth and riches are for his family, there his integrity will remain. He is for the righteous a light in darkness, he is kind, merciful and upright.

It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 8 : 22-26

When they came to Bethsaida, Jesus was asked to touch a blind man who was brought to Him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When He had put spittle on his eyes and laid His hands upon him, He asked, “Can you see anything?”

The man, who was beginning to see, replied, “I see people! They look like trees, but they move around.” Then Jesus laid His hands on his eyes again and the man could see perfectly. His sight was restored and He could see everything clearly.

Then Jesus sent him home, saying, “Do not return to the village.”

Sunday, 26 January 2014 : 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

God came unto us, to be our Light, the guiding light that enlighten our paths, that we may walk true and upright on His way, that we will not fall into temptation or walk towards the wrong ends. The Light of the world Himself had come in Jesus, that through Him, we who once were aimless and lived in darkness, may now know which direction to go, and how to reach towards salvation in God.

And in order to do so, it is important, as rightfully highlighted by St. Paul in his letter to the Church in Corinth, which was bitterly divided into factions at that time, that they stay united and strong in faith, rather than being divided by petty differences and human ambitions. Yes, this ties in perfectly with how the last week was the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, when we prayed sincerely for the Lord to help His Church to reunite once more, as One and only Church.

We have been divided far too often, ever since the time of the Apostles and the early Church fathers. Brothers and sisters in faith were divided against each other and could not agree on what the faith constitute, and resulting sometimes even in violence and bitter divisions, which sadly endured until this day. Indeed, it can be said that, many times, the Light of the world had come into this world to save it, but mankind continued to rebel against Him, and prefer to dwell in the false light that is Lucifer, Satan! The Devil!

It is important therefore that we all remember that our faith is all about Christ, and is all about devoting ourselves without division or distraction towards He who came to be our Saviour, and who liberated us from the chains of death. Our faith cannot be separated from Christ, or it may risk division as St. Paul had rightly warned the people.

The devil can easily corrupt mankind, and he can easily come into our hearts and sow the seeds of dissension and divisions, that we argue and hate one another, with the goal of separating us from Christ, and veil from us the truth represented by the light of God. That was how many of the divisions in the Church originated from, that is from human ambitions, from human arrogance and pride, and from human stubbornness, much like the stubbornness of the people of Israel of old.

God came to this world to be its Saviour, but His coming was not a leisurely walk in the park. Instead, it was filled with rejection and suffering. Mankind preferred to stay in their state of ignorance and darkness, rather than repenting their sins and walk once again with their God. And yet, Jesus continued to love them, and taught them the truth about Himself and about what God had put in place for all of them.

And lastly, He gave up Himself, and shedding His own Body and Blood, He offered Himself as the perfect Lamb of sacrifice, in atonement for our sins, that we all are made worthy and pure again through that sacrifice. And through His glorious resurrection, He defeated death forever, and released mankind from their bond and slavery to death and evil. It was this fact and this truth, which St. Paul tried very hard to project and spread to all peoples, together with the other disciples and apostles of Christ.

And many still refused to truly believe in the message of salvation. Many of them believed but many also did so halfheartedly. They did not give their total devotion to God, but instead keeping themselves at a distance from truly reaching out towards the Lord. That was why Satan was able to come and influence them, and as a result divisions, hatred, and conflict easily arose among the people of God.

And this had happened many times in the long history of the Church and the faith. Many, lured by the temptations of worldly power and corrupted by the sin of ambition, greed and pride, tore apart the unity of the Church, and spread false teachings that came not from God but from Satan, the false lightbringer. They spread chaos and confusion among the faithful, and often even taking advantage of the chaotic situation of the time, to spread their seeds of heresy.

Many examples of such dissension and heresies as we all know happen throughout the history of the Church, and they remain a very serious problem even today, and even as it will be in the future. Many people think that they are even better than God and His truth, and end up becoming false Messiah, bearing false news and false teachings that misled many and condemned many to damnation together with them.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, amid this increasingly difficult times, we should always hold firm our faith in God, that is in Jesus, the one and only true Light of the world, from whom we gain light and revelation of the truth, against all the falsehoods that Satan had placed in all of us. Jesus is our beacon of light, and the One who guides our way towards God the Father. If we do not turn to Him and devote ourselves entirely, seriously, and completely to Him, then we too may fall.

It is also our duty, brethren, to bring the Light of Christ to all peoples, especially to those who had been lost in darkness of this world and to those who had turned their back on Him. But we cannot do so, if we ourselves are divided against each other, and if we hate one another, because of the divisions and dissensions that separated us.

Even though the week of prayer for Christian unity is over, but we should not stop praying and working just there. Instead, day after day, month after month, and year after year we should continue to work hard for the unity of the faithful, and then, after that had been achieved, to bring the Light of Christ to the hearts of many, opening them to the Light, and hope that they may be redeemed in Christ, rejecting their past lives of sin and embracing new life in God.

May our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, and continue to bless us and shine upon our way with His light, that we will be able to continue to proceed on the way towards salvation, until the end when we reach Him, and together, we will enjoy forever the fruits of eternal glory with God. Amen.

Sunday, 26 January 2014 : 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 4 : 12-23

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.”

As Jesus walked by the lake of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed Him.

He went on from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them. At once they left the boat and their father and followed Him.

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.

 

Alternative Reading (shorter version)

 

Matthew 4 : 12-17

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.”