Sunday, 20 October 2019 : Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Timothy 3 : 14 – 2 Timothy 4 : 2

As for you, continue with what you have learnt, and what has been entrusted to you, knowing from whom you received it. Besides, you have known the Scriptures from childhood; they will give you the wisdom that leads to salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is inspired by God, and is useful for teaching, refuting error, for correcting and training in Christian life. Through Scripture, the man of God is made expert and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In the presence of God and Christ Jesus, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by the hope I have of His coming, and His kingdom, I urge you to preach the Word, in season and out of season, reproving, rebuking, or advising, always with patience, and providing instruction.

Sunday, 30 November 2014 : First Sunday of Advent, Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple or Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the beginning of the season of Advent, the special season in our liturgical year, which we also begin anew today, that marks the season of preparation before the great feast and solemnity of Christmas, which will occur in about four weeks from now. The celebration of Christmas is about the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, commemorating the occasion when He first came into our world, He who is Divine and yet willing to assume the appearance and substance of a humble Man, in order to bring salvation to all of us.

We have two great celebrations in our liturgical year, namely the solemnities of Christmas and Easter, both of which commemorate the most important events in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ on earth. The former celebrates His birth and entry into the world as mentioned, and the latter celebrates the even greater event of His suffering, Passion and way to the cross, death and ultimately His resurrection from the dead. These are the two great celebrations of our Faith, and we put special importance to them.

And that is why for both occasions, we have two special seasons to prepare for them, as a season of penitence and self-introspection, a time for reflection and for us to look deeply into our lives. For our Lord is coming to us, just as He had come before, and like someone who is inviting guests to a party, would it not be fitting for the host to be prepared beforehand?

Thus why those seasons I have mentioned are very important? That is because these two seasons, Advent and Lent are the time for us to be prepared to celebrate with all of our heart, the joy and the truth of our Lord’s life events, in the Christmas and Easter celebrations. If we do not prepare ourselves fully beforehand, then the meaning of the celebrations may be lessened, as what many of us often encountered in our own lives.

The celebrations and festivals which grew around both events, Christmas and Easter had become increasingly more and more distant from their original meaning and purpose, and in this world, which values money and possessions above everything else, the true meaning of the celebration, in particular of Christmas had been lost, in the midst of commercialisation, branding and attempts to sell Christmas for money and profit.

How many of us grow to see Christmas only in terms of the parties and celebrations it brings with it? And how many of us associate it with shopping and gifts? Presents, new clothes and new things for our homes? How many of us associate Christmas with Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, the gift boxes and the various other so-called Christmas apparels and decorations? If we have done so frequently, then do not be afraid brethren, for many of us certainly have done so too.

It is the way of the world, and by extension, the works of Satan, in order to divert us from the true focus of Christmas. It is certainly not wrong for us to celebrate Christmas and be happy with all the celebrations. But are we really celebrating for the right purpose and with the right attitude? This is a question which all of us must ask ourselves, and for us all to be aware of.

Christmas is truly about Christ, the birthday Boy, the One whose birth we are celebrating, and nothing more important than this. We can celebrate and be happy about all the feasts and celebrations, but we must have Christ in our celebrations, and in our hearts we have to understand the significance of His birth and coming into the world. Otherwise, our Christmas celebrations will be empty, meaningless and directionless.

You may be wondering why I am talking so much about Christmas, and even Easter and all the festive and celebration seasons of the Church, even though Christmas itself is still about a month away, and we are just barely beginning the season of Advent. That is because the season of Advent is intimately and very closely related to Christmas itself, and our four weeks of Advent will be meaningless if we do not understand the true meaning of Christmas. It is just necessary that we start this Advent season right.

And in the same way, Christmas and all of its celebrations will be meaningless as I have mentioned, if we have not amply and sufficiently prepared ourselves, and that is why we have this season of Advent to serve as an opportunity and guide for us, to sit back and move away for a while from the busy schedules and activities we have in our lives, and take the opportunity to reflect, and to also confess our sins that as we enter later into the season of Christmas, our hearts, minds, body and souls will be ready for the Lord.

That is also the essence of the Scripture Readings which we heard today, from the first reading, to the second reading and the Gospel itself. The Lord Jesus who has come once before, will come again one day to judge all the living and the dead, and this is what we believe. And it is necessary that we begin the preparations for what is to come. For Advent itself means to prepare and to welcome in expectation for, from the Latin, ‘Adventus’ which literally means ‘coming’, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The first reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah focuses on the nature of our Lord as our Redeemer, who will wash away our sins and iniquities, providing that we want to change our ways and repent all of our sinfulness. Isaiah the prophet had indeed acknowledged our sinfulness, and how wicked we have been, but he also showed that while our Lord is angry with our sins and attitudes in life, but He also opens the way for our salvation and repentance.

The psalm spoke of our Lord as our Shepherd, and this relates to how Isaiah the prophet said that the Lord is like our Potter, who shaped us all like a potter shaped the clay jugs and items. He guides us and leads us like a shepherd guiding his sheep from places to places. But it is also easy for the clay to lose its structure and shape, and for the sheep to be lost to the shepherd, if the condition of the clay is not satisfactory, or if the sheep is misled and misguided by other things other than the shepherd.

Thus, as I have elaborated earlier on, it is easy for us to lose our path in life, and to lose focus in our faith, that we forget the true meaning of our faith, of all the celebrations we have and why we even call ourselves a Christian and come to celebrate the Holy Mass together as the Church. We have to therefore be vigilant and strong, and seek help from whatever source available, to strengthen our faith and be ready, for when the Lord comes again.

The second reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians and the Gospel from the Gospel according to St. Mark truly spoke of one thing, that our Lord is coming again, and the time of His coming will not be known to us. But we have no need to fear if we put our trust and faith in Jesus completely, for He will guide us and show us the way. Thus, it is of great importance for us, to use this perfect opportunity of the Advent season now, to prepare thoroughly, for the eventual and inevitable coming of our Lord and Saviour.

On this day, we also celebrate the feast of one of the great holy Apostles, the feast of St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter, the chief of all the Apostles and Vicar of Christ. St. Andrew was the first to be called among all the Apostles, at the shore of the lake of Galilee by Jesus, who then called his brother Simon, then to be named Peter by the Lord. As he was the first to be called among the Apostles, and also the first to believe in the Lord Jesus as the Messiah who came into the world, he is also known widely as St. Andrew the First-Called.

And it happens also that as the brother of St. Peter, he was also the founder of the brother of the premier see and diocese in Christendom. He was the founder of the See and Diocese of Constantinople, then known as Byzantium, a quiet city at the edge of Europe at the boundary between Europe and Asia, which is at the site now known as the city of Istanbul. However, it is truly still known by its true name, Constantinople or New Rome or Second Rome.

The city of Constantinople was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great who was the first Christian Emperor and who ended the great persecutions of the faithful and convoked the first Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in the year 325. The city of Constantinople therefore became a second capital of the Roman Empire, and as such, in the next few decades, the See founded by St. Andrew would grow to a great importance, as the second most important in Christendom after Rome, the See of St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ.

Thus, today we see that among our separated brethren in the Eastern Orthodox Communion, the Archbishop of Constantinople is the most important among all the bishops, and styled himself the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Our Holy Father and Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis is visiting Constantinople today to celebrate this occasion of the feast of St. Andrew, and to foster unity between the Church established by the Apostles, and rediscover the close bond and brotherhood between the Apostles St. Peter and St. Andrew.

But what is truly the significance of this feast of St. Andrew for us? And how is it relevant to our celebration of the First Sunday of Advent? Truly, we have to know first what St. Andrew had done for the Lord and for the faithful. St. Andrew was one of the Twelve Apostles, and although details about him other than his calling by Jesus were scant in the Gospels and also in the rest of the New Testament, it was known by Tradition that he also did what the other Apostles did, in spreading the Good News to many lands and helped to establish many dioceses and structures of the Church.

St. Andrew worked hard and zealously to bring the Good News of the Lord to the people who have yet to hear of it, and he and his fellow servants of God faced difficulties and challenges, until eventually, he was martyred in what is now Greece, as he went about spreading the Gospel. He was crucified like that of his brother, St. Peter in Rome. While St. Peter chose to be crucified upside-down, St. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross, which we are now familiar with as the cross of St. Andrew.

The lesson from the life of St. Andrew, how he was called and how he carried on his faith is very relevant to us, on this very occasion of the very first day of this season of Advent. The Lord Jesus is coming soon, and when He comes again, in sudden and unannounced arrival, He will proceed to measure the worth of us all, in whether we have been faithful and devoted to Him. He Himself had told His disciples and all of us many times of what will happen.

The signs are clear, brethren, and the evidence is clear. If we have faith in God, then why hesitate anymore? We have to use whatever opportunity we have now, and this Advent is a perfect reminder to all of us, that we have to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. This Advent is more than just a preparation for Christmas and Christmas is more than just festivities and celebrations. They are all part of our larger preparation in expectation of the coming again of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ into this world as King, and this time to bring us all into the eternal glory and happiness He had promised all of us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us use this opportunity to the maximum, and let us be proactive in our faith. Just as St. Andrew believed in John the Baptist when he said about the Christ, ‘there is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’ and immediately set about following Him as the first-called among many, we too should follow his example and set about following the Lord now.

Do not wait until the last minute, lest we may be like the foolish and unwise women who were not prepared with oil in their lamps as told in the parable of the five wise women and the five unwise women. When the Lord comes again suddenly, they will be caught unprepared and no goodness will come to them. Instead, be ready and be vigilant, be prepared with all things, that is our heart, mind, body and soul, that we are ever ready to welcome the Lord our God in His glory.

May Almighty God bless us all and guide us all in this season of Advent, that all of us may come to greater realisation of the need to prepare for the coming of Christ, and therefore to prepare ourselves thoroughly and fully, that when He comes again in glory, reminiscing His first coming at Christmas, we may be found ready and worthy, as like St. Andrew, be made worthy of the kingdom of God. God bless us all. Amen.


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Epistle (Usus Antiquior) :


Gospel (Usus Antiquior) :

Sunday, 16 November 2014 : 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come together to celebrate this occasion of the holy day of our Lord, and we listened to the good words of the Sacred Scriptures. In today’s readings, the theme is all about who we are, and what we are supposed to do in this life of ours. For we are all the children of God, and therefore we are expected to life according to who the children of God are.

The first reading taken from the Book of Proverbs detailed how a good woman should behave, in the ways and actions she should do in life, and in how she should carry herself in the society of the people of God. However, this does not mean that this applies only to the females, but also to all of us. It is the kind of life that we all should lead, to be upright and just, to be careful in how we use our words, and in loving one another. Do you all remember that these were precisely what Jesus told us to do?

Then the psalm refers to blessings which God will bestow on those who fear the Lord and obey Him, and most importantly, those who do not just fear the Lord but also do His will and walk in His ways. This is a promise which He gave us, and if we are faithful, certainly we will not be disappointed. If we are faithful, then certainly we will need to do something to justify that faith, and not just merely staying idle or being so fearful of the Lord that we do not dare to do anything.

In the second reading, taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the faithful in Thessalonica, a frequent reminder to us is once again uttered. It is to remind us that the coming of the Lord will be totally unpredictable and will catch us all unprepared unless we have taken the necessary steps to make sure that when He comes again into this world as He had promised, He will not find us asleep, and instead find us all worthy, awake and filled with the fruits of our goodness to the brim.

And finally in the Gospel Reading, Jesus our Lord when He first came into this world told His disciples of the parable of the talents. A master of the house gave his ten servants five talents of silver, two talents, one talents and so on and so forth, before he embarked on a journey to become king in another country, and he would return one day to his house to settle matters, especially what he had given and invested in his servants.

The Gospel essentially summarised everything that the entirety of our myriads of readings today. In it, the parable of the silver talents represented exactly what had happened, what is happening now, and what will happen in the near, unpredictable future. The parable’s characters themselves represent the many characters that are present in this world, and who are those servants, to whom the master of the house had entrusted his silver? They are all of us, brothers and sisters.

The house itself is the world, and just as the servants lived in the house, entrusted with the care of the house while the master is gone, we have all been entrusted with this world as its stewards. Remember what the Lord had charged mankind with, at the beginning of time in the Book of Genesis. He made mankind the custodians of creation, giving all things and all creation to be under our stewardship, blessing us to multiply and fill all the earth.

He gave us many things, and for each of us, we are all different and unique. Each of us have different set of skills and abilities, and that is the wonders of our Lord and such is the grace of His creation of all of us, the most precious and beloved of all others He had crafted with His hands. He gave us life and even more, and all these are the food and drink with which the master of the house gave to his servants to sustain them.

The master of the house, is the Lord our God, for He is the Owner of the house that is this world, and He is also our Owner and Lord. And He came to us to grant us His gifts, like the master gave the silver talents to his servants. What are these gifts, brothers and sisters? It is the seeds of faith, the seeds of hope, and the seeds of love which He had planted in each one of us who believe.

Through baptism, we have been born anew and received new life in Christ. However, to all of us also have been given a task, a very important one indeed, that is to sow those seeds on fertile soil and allow them to grow healthy and strong, producing rich and plentiful fruits that will serve as our justification when the Lord comes back to this world at the end of time, at the time of His own choosing.

And the master left the house, to go into the kingdom where he was made the king of. The same happened to our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was in fact speaking of what would happen in the immediate future at that time. Remember that Jesus went on to suffer in Jerusalem, enduring through His Passion and eventually was crucified at Golgotha and died for our sins?

Remember that after that He was risen from the dead on the third day, appearing to His disciples, and while reaffirming His promises and telling of His coming again at the end of time, He then ascended to heaven in glory? He went there to prepare the places for His servants and His faithful ones, but also to reclaim the Kingship which He had left behind when He chose to come down as a lowly human, to save us.

Thus, like the master of the house who left to be a king in a distant country, Jesus also went to be the King of all kings. Next week, on next Sunday to be precise, we will celebrate the Solemnity of Jesus Christ our Lord, King of the Universe. Therefore, the readings this Sunday, we can see as a prelude leading towards that great feast, the last one of this liturgical year. After that we will begin a new year cycle with the season of Advent.

And the readings for the ending of the liturgical year all have the same theme, that is about the future arrival of our Saviour and Lord, who will come again for the second time, at the end of time, which is a time that we do not know of, to judge all the people living and the dead. And this also ties in perfectly with the parable of the talents in our Gospel reading today.

Remember, that the master came back to the house after a long time for a reckoning. And was there anywhere mentioned that he trumpeted his return or announced it to the servants beforehand? Was there anywhere mentioned that the master sent a message announcing his coming to them? No, and that is indeed what will happen at the end of time for us.

Yes, we do not know when the Lord will come again. And St. Paul warned us in his letter, our second reading, that the Lord’s coming will be like a thief, unannounced, sudden and unexpected. He will come at a time when we least expect it, and whatever we have done in this life, and whatever we have not done in this life, and whatever just things or wicked things we have committed, all have been finalised and set in the book when He comes again.

Thus it is a good time for us to look back into our life, to all what we have done and what we have said. And it is a good time for us to begin to inspect our relationships with others around us, and most importantly, our relationship with our Lord and Master. Why is this so? So that when the time comes suddenly, and the Lord asks us of what we have done, we can proudly show Him and present Him with all the things we have done.

The master asked for all of his ten servants to give an account of what they have done with the silver talents they have been entrusted with. The first two servants gladly showed that they have doubled the silver talents they had been given, and they gave their master the amount they have gained. The master was happy and pleased, and showed his grace and favour upon them.

But the third servant feared his master and hid the silver talent rather than investing it and letting it to grow with profits. It clearly betrayed his contempt for his master and the gift of talent which had been given to him, allowing it to slumber and be hidden in a hiding place. And the master was angry, and casting him out into the darkness, he rebuked that unfaithful and lazy servant, and took what he had, and gave it to those who deserved it more.

It is therefore precisely what will happen when we come to face the Lord in the final judgment. Everything we have said or done in our life on earth will be placed spread out in front of God with nothing that we can hide. After all He knows everything we do, everything we ever thought of, and He can see deep into our hearts. Remember that He has placed the seeds of faith, hope and love within us? He will then ask us to account for those.

If we can show Him that we have allowed those seeds to germinate within us, and to allow them to grow on a rich and fertile soil, then our Lord will certainly praise us, and say to us, ‘Blessed of My Father, welcome into the kingdom which I have prepared for you.’ And we will enjoy the gifts which He had prepared for us. For we have been entrusted with life, and with love and all things, and we have been found worthy, and thus our reward is an immortality in perfect love and harmony with our God, an eternal bliss and happiness.

And some may ask, how do we do this? It is by knowing our faith, learning and understanding what it is about, by listening to the teachings of the Church faithfully and internalise them, so that from there, our understanding may be turned into action, and those actions will then, if we truly understand our faith and commit ourselves to it, represent faith, hope and love.

If we fail to do this, and instead, allow those gifts of God to remain dormant, or worse, to even wither and die, because of our wickedness and our persistence to remain in sin and darkness, then our Lord Jesus will say to us, ‘Begone, cursed and wicked ones! Be forever with Satan and his angels in the lake of eternal fire prepared for them!’ And we shall be forever sundered from the love of God, to suffer for eternity a life without faith, hope and love, an eternal suffering and agony in despair. And that is true hell.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is imperative that all of us do not leave this day behind without realising that if we have not done what we ought to do, then we should better start now. Never delay and never postpone anything! For all we know that, the Lord may come anytime, and if He comes when we are not ready, regret will not save us. Do not think that there is still a lot of time, but act as if He may come at this very moment.

How do we then, live our lives? We have to practice our faith as taught by Jesus concretely. First, we should look beyond ourselves and shatter the prison of our ego and selfishness. Look around us! There are many who needs our help, and most importantly our love and attention. Not all those who need help needs money or possessions. Many people remain unloved, ostracised, and hated in the society, and what we can do, is to offer our love for them.

Today’s two saints, St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Gertrude were both very pious and dedicated servants of God whose life examples we can emulate in our own. St. Margaret of Scotland was the Queen of Scotland, and yet she was renowned for her extensive charitable works and activities, and she was also very devoted in prayer, communicating frequently with God.

Meanwhile, St. Gertrude was devoted in her works and writings, through which her faith in the Lord became an inspiration for many who witnessed her life and read those works. Their examples should inspire us to do more for the sake of those around us, leading them ever closer to God through our own actions.

And lastly, of course, after we have loved one another, having hope in one another’s salvation, by knowing that we have done what is right, then we have to love our Lord and God beyond everything else. Yes, we have to love Him even more than we love ourselves. Then, our Lord and Master, at the day of reckoning, the Day of Judgment, will congratulate us, and lead us into His eternal kingdom, for us all to enjoy and be happy forever.

Let us all realise that each of us have been given different gifts, each according to our own abilities. And let us not let these gifts go dormant but rather that may all these benefit one another, through our actions of love. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.


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Sunday, 1 December 2013 : First Sunday of Advent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord is coming soon, and He made it clear again to us today, as we hear the words of the Gospel. Christ will come again in His glorious Second Coming, and He will judge all creations, all mankind. There will be a scourging and separation of the righteous from the wicked, and the faithful from the apostates.

We must be ready for that time, because the Lord will come like a vengeful conqueror, to harvest the good wheat that He had planted and get rid of the weeds of darkness. He will not show mercy to those which have repeatedly showed rebelliousness and challenged His will at all times and did not change. He will gather those He regards as His own and discard those who are against Him or those who are not worthy.

We are like the people at the time of Noah, if you realised it. What happened during the time of Noah? You all know who Noah was. He was the one saved by the Lord by building an ark as the Lord instructed him to, in order to avoid the great Flood which covered the entire earth and destroyed all lives except all those which had been saved through the ark.

Why did the Lord do all this? Did He not love all of His children with all of His loving heart? Is He not love personified Himself? Yes, these are all true, and God is indeed Love that He is. However, mankind at the time of Noah had grown proud of themselves, and not just proud and filled with ego, but they also had grown to be very wicked. They disregarded all the laws of the Lord and lead a life entirely in abandon of the Lord.

The Lord grew angry at them and tried to bring them back to righteousness, and yet they did not listen, they turned deaf ears to His calling. And in that wicked world before the Flood, only Noah and his family remained righteous and obedient to the Lord. That was why the Lord called him to save him, by commissioning him to build a massive ark, to safeguard the righteous from the coming catastrophe and punishment that would befall the wicked ones.

The people of Noah’s time mocked him as he built the ark, and did not repent until it was too late. After the door of the ark had been closed, there was no hope left for them. They were left behind to perish, and perish they did. Noah was saved, as a righteous one, while the wicked were destroyed. And indeed, the same can be drawn as a parallel on the present day situation.

For our world today is also growing increasingly wicked. Wickedness does not necessarily mean doing things clearly defined as evil, such as murder, stealing, or adultery. Wickedness can also come about in even things such as greed and desire. Yes, for our world today increasingly distance itself away from the Lord and from the ways of the Lord. We are increasingly more and more engulfed in the corruption of evil and sin.

And the coming of the Lord is like the Flood, which came unexpected to those who ignore the warnings and heedings of the Lord. That is because many of us, like the people of Noah’s time, are hard-hearted and hardened our hearts towards the Lord and His love. We grew proud and arrogant, trusting in our power and achievements, and blasphemed more and more against the Lord our God. We had forgotten His love and the promise He has made for us.

The Lord comes at a time when we are most unprepared, when we are most deceived by the lies of the evil one through the world. He will come and judge us, for our actions and deeds, whether we are worthy of Him or not. And He will judge us not only based on our actions and deeds, be it good or bad, but also our failures, the failures to do things in accordance with His will and His ways.

Will we then choose to be like Noah? Or to be like those others who mocked and ridiculed Noah as he built that ark? We have a choice, brethren, and we have indeed been given the instruction on how to built our own ark of salvation, and the materials to do so. We have been well equipped by the Lord, with all these materials, that is none other than love, hope, and faith, and alas, many of us remain ignorant of our gifts and did not use them.

Hence, brethren, if we have not begun to work on towards our salvation in God, do not wait, and begin now. For the Lord does not wait on us to execute His will. He may come again any time, even in the next year, next month, tomorrow, or even in the next hour and even now! If He comes and we are caught wanting and unworthy, that is the end for all of us.

Do not fear, brethren, if we have done lots of bad and evil things in our lives. Our Lord hates sin and evil, but He is also rich in mercy and love. If we are truly sincere in our dedication to Him, to change our sinful ways and turn over a new page in our respective lives, the Lord will forgive us, and we will be well on our way towards salvation. Remember that many of the greatest and holiest saints were themselves once great sinners. What differentiated them from the condemned ones is that they change and were committed to changing their lives, to be in accordance with the will of God.

May the Lord our God, show us His everlasting mercy and love, giving us a new lease of life, one where we will once again walk in His ways, and be righteous and faithful. Amen.