Wednesday, 25 February 2015 : 1st Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 11 : 29-32

At that time, as the crowd increased, Jesus began to speak in this way, “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a Sign for this generation.”

“The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here there is greater than Jonah.”

Monday, 27 October 2014 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 13 : 10-17

At that time, Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath, and a crippled woman was there. An evil spirit had kept her bent for eighteen years, so that she could not straighten up at all.

On seeing her, Jesus called her and said, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” Then He laid His hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight and praised God.

But the ruler of the synagogue was indignant, because Jesus had performed this healing on the Sabbath day, and he said to the people, “There are six days in which to work. Come on those days to be healed, and not on the Sabbath!”

But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Everyone of you unties his ox or his donkey on the Sabbath, and leads it out of the barn to give it water. And here you have a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan had bound for eighteen years. Should she not be freed from her bonds on the Sabbath?”

When Jesus said this, all His opponents felt ashamed. But the people rejoiced at the many wonderful things that happened because of Him.

 

Homily and Reflections : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/26/monday-27-october-2014-30th-week-of-ordinary-time-homily-and-scripture-reflections/

Friday, 24 October 2014 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called to examine our own lives and the actions which we have taken in this life, and to ignore no longer our sinfulness and disobedience against the way and the will of the Lord. Our Lord Jesus Christ had made it very clear in the Gospel that we heard today, on how mankind can see things around them and made accurate prediction of things, but they failed to see what is in their own hearts.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is often indeed that we look at the outside and the exterior, seeing things around us and make a judgment, and we are indeed quick to judge and to come into a conclusion, but we fail to see what is inside us, the phenomena that is inside us, which is sin. And they also failed to see what the Lord had done, and when He came in the form of flesh in Jesus, they failed to recognise Him even though they were so apt and good in recognising everything else.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the major weakness of mankind, as we often fail to recognise our own frailty and weaknesses, just as Jesus said, how we often like to point out the weakness in others and the sins of others, and yet we fail to see our own weakness, and this weakness is our sin and our iniquities. We are quick to point finger to blame others, but whenever we do so, we have to realise that while one finger is pointed at others, the other four fingers are pointed at us.

Sin is dangerous, brothers and sisters in Christ, for sin corrupts many things and sin prevents us from recognising the good that is around us. It covered our hearts in jealousy, pride, arrogance, hatred, desire, doubt and many other negative influences and aspects that prevent us from seeing good in others, seeing the bad in ourselves, seeing the good in ourselves, and ultimately, failing to see God who is ever present with us, and who guide us to the right path.

Do you wonder why the people of God failed to recognise Jesus when He came into the world, even though it was so obvious from what He had done during His life and ministry that He was the promised One, the Holy Anointed One of God whom the prophets had talked about throughout their many ministries among the people of God. The Scriptures and the Law themselves had also spoken about the Messiah who was about to come, and yet the people blinded by their sinfulness failed to realise this.

They persecuted the prophets and servants of God in their refusal to listen to the truth, because the truth was often painful for them, pointing out their shortcomings and inability to look into themselves and realise their sins. Thus in the same way, they too rejected Jesus the Messiah when He came among the people to do the same yet again.

They were too engrossed in themselves and in their own world, just as exemplified by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were adamantly against Jesus and His teachings. This is ironic considering that they were the ones who should know the most about the teachings of Moses, of the prophets and their prophecies, and of course of the Law. Thus, they should be the ones who proclaimed His coming and recognised Him through what He had done.

The sin in their hearts, which they allowed to grow accompanying their human desires and greed prevented them from doing so, and in the same manner, they incited the people of God to avoid following and trusting Jesus, by spreading lies about Him, all because of their jealousy, the jealousy of their hearts and the fear of losing their influence and power, as well as prestige and fame among the people. They feared losing these and put their own human ego ahead of their duty and responsibility of proclaiming the coming of God to His people.

It is indeed easy for us to point our own fingers at them, but are we too totally blameless? That is why it is nigh time for us to start examining our own lives and actions. How many times we actually refused to listen to the Lord speaking in our hearts and instead decide to follow our own desires and greed? How many times is it that in our live we have caused hurt and even harm to others because of our own selfishness?

Thus, if we look at ourselves, we are no better than the people of Jesus’ time and the Pharisees. Although we profess our faith in God, but our actions often said otherwise. Hence, brethren, this is the best time for us to begin to reinspect and reform our lives for the better according to what God had taught us. If we follow His ways, we will surely change and be transformed to better people.

And I would like to share with all of you the life of a saint whose feast we celebrate today, and whose life can also be an inspiration for us in walking in the path of the Lord. He is St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the religious order famously known as the Claretians after their founder. St. Anthony Mary Claret was a bishop who lived in Spain about two centuries ago, who was renowned for his zeal and faith in God, and in the numerous works which he had done as a missionary and later as an Archbishop, establishing many good charitable acts and works for the sake of the least and the lost ones of the society.

St. Anthony Mary Claret served in many functions as a servant of God and His Church, zealously spreading the word of God to many people, especially to those who have yet to listen to the word and the Good News. He established many works and institutions of charity to help the poor and the marginalised in the society, and through his preaching, calling many of them to embrace the love and faith in God.

St. Anthony Mary Claret also wrote extensively on many aspects of the faith, and which writings become inspiration for many of the faithful in the years to come, including up to our generation, where his works and dedications for the people of God is truly a model for us all to follow. He reminded us indeed that in order for us to be true disciples of Christ, we cannot allow our personal and human vulnerabilities to come in the way of our faith.

That means we have to restrain ourselves, our human desire and emotions, and make the effort not to be controlled by these, as the people of the past and the Pharisees had done. We have to break free from the slavery and tyranny of sin, and thus we should really understand our own sinfulness, and seek ways to handle what had made us sin in the first place. Therefore, the key lies in humility and willingness to listen to the Lord and to walk in His ways, as well as our persistence and perseverance to resist the temptations that will always come our way.

Therefore, as St. Paul mentioned in the letter he wrote to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, let us all be true servants of God and give ourselves completely and wholly to the Holy Spirit of God, which unites us in one Body of the Church of God, and in that unity, may we together find our way towards the Lord, avoiding all forms of fornications and corruptions.

May Almighty God strengthen our faith and help us to grow in our love and devotion towards Him, and with the inspiration by St. Anthony Mary Claret and the other holy saints, may we be able to find our way to the Lord, by doing what is right and just in the eyes of God, and by being able to look deep within ourselves, seeking the Lord’s mercy with humility for all the iniquities and sins we have committed. God bless us all. Amen.

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

Liturgical Colour : Green

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 4 July 2014 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Matthew 9 : 9-13

As Jesus moved on from there, He saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom-house, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And Matthew got up and followed Him.

Now it happened, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is it that your Master eats with sinners and tax collectors?”

When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and find out what this means : ‘What I want is mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Monday, 23 June 2014 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are brought to an important lesson in life which our Lord wants us to remember at all times. Before we judge or think badly about someone, let us first take a look at our own selves and judge ourselves, that we know the fact, how all of us are in fact equally sinful, equally guilty, and equally wicked, and that we have no right to judge anyone else for we too can be judged in the same way that we have been judged.

In that way, therefore, we should not judge the people of Israel and Judah that we heard in the first reading either. The kingdom of Israel and Judah fell because of the disobedience and the wickedness of their people, who had left behind the Law of God and followed their own ways, committing evil at every turn. But if we judge them for such, will we not be judged similarly as well? We too, at different moments of our lives, failed to live up to our faith and commit things wicked in the sight of God.

But the first reading today is a vivid reminder of what happened if we remain persistent in our faith and not be repentant. The northern kingdom of Israel in particular had been very wicked and unrepentant, that despite the many prophets sent to them, they continued to engage in their rebellion against God, and as a result, they were exiled from the Land given to them and scattered among the nations.

The kingdom of Judah too did not escape the repercussions of their sinfulness and disobedience, since although prophets had been sent to them, as Israel had been, the people refused to listen to these prophets and instead of judging themselves first and repenting from their sins, they judged the prophets, hunting them down and killing them in cold blood. In this, they persisted in their rebelliousness and perish.

Thus, that too, will be our fate, if we remain in our obstinate behaviour and insistence on keeping our sinful ways and our wickedness. We must realise that we have sinned and we are unworthy of the Lord, but instead of blaming others and ourselves, and worse, instead of blaming God, we should really reflect on our own actions, on our own deeds and on our own words, whether in them, we have lived our faith really well, or whether our slander and our actions have hurt others and cause wicked things to occur before God and men.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let this day be a day of reminder for us, that we may begin on a committed path of life, one that is no longer judgmental and critical for others, but instead, one that is committed to help one another and strengthen one another in faith, and affirm each other in love. May our actions always be based on love, and let us always be with one another, to help each other to reach the Lord together as one. God be with us all. Amen.

Monday, 9 June 2014 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today in the readings, we heard the famous Beatitudes or meaning, Blesseds, which is also known as the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus to the people. In that discourse and teaching, Jesus showed the people how people who do the will of God are blessed by Him for obeying His will. Through the Beatitudes, Jesus encouraged us all to carry out what we should be doing, to be truly blessed in the presence of God.

The Beatitudes showed us the criteria and the expectations that God kind of requires from His children, as they all embody the nature of God, that is love and mercy. However, in this world today we have often forgotten these things and be preoccupied by much concerns for the world and many other factors, that we fail to carry out what the Lord wants from us, as He laid them out in the Beatitudes.

For example, the Beatitudes blesses those who seeks peace and are peacemakers, and yet our world today is filled with hatred and violence, where brothers can fight against brothers, sisters fight against sisters, and quarrels are frequent among ourselves, which truly does not represent the peacemakers that we are supposed to be.

We too often find it difficult to show mercy to others and to forgive others for the mistakes, the wrongs, injustices and any other negative actions that they had done unto us. Indeed the Beatitudes blesses those who are merciful, but how many of us give mercy voluntarily to those who have hurt us? How many of us can genuinely forgive those who had wronged us? It is not easy, and it is in our human nature to seek vengeance and retribution rather than being merciful.

We often become judgmental of others, and we thought of ourselves as being the best, often in the disadvantage of others, that we get further and further from fulfilling the words of Christ in the Beatitudes. All these are because of our bad habits, tendencies and vulnerabilities in dealing with others and in our natural vulnerability to sin and evil.

Today we celebrate the feast of a saint, whose life has been dedicated to do the will of God, and in committing all that God has mentioned through the Beatitudes in his life. Today we commemorate St. Ephrem, also known as Ephrem the Syrian, who was a great inspiration source of many faithful during his lifetime, and a very faithful and hardworking servant of the Church and the people of God through his various ministries and roles in the Church.

St. Ephrem served the people of God dutifully and faithfully, and most importantly, he was very dedicated to the Lord, like the ones poor in spirit, as he sought the Lord for guidance. He received great graces and blessings, just as the Lord had pointed out in the Beatitudes. He also acted as mediator and communicator between many peoples, and between different ideas, providing important mediation between them and therefore promote unity and peace among the faithful.

As such, he was truly blessed by God, and he was made worthy of heaven, and recognised as such by the Church, in addition to the recognition of the vast amounts of work that he has done. He is our inspiration, and he should be our role model, someone who we aim to become, and perhaps even more, practising what the Lord Himself had recommended, as He stated in the Beatitudes.

Let us all ask for the intercession of St. Ephrem, that in our lives, we will always strive to become a good and responsible person, one who fear God, and yet love Him and who carry out His works dutifully. Let us all be like the persons whom the Lord described in the Beatitudes, beginning with small things, and gradually do all that the Lord asks of us.

May God remain with us, and through the intercession of His saints, let us all continue to profess and renew our faith, that we may truly be blessed by God, and be worthy of Him at the end of all times. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 12 May 2014 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs, and St. Pancras, Martyr (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are affirmed with the love of the Lord, who had given us that love through His gift of Jesus, His only beloved Son to us, as a fitting sacrificial victim and the intermediary between us sinners to He who is perfect in heaven. Through Christ all were made worthy of the Lord and were promised the glorious eternal life in heaven.

Yes, and this promise was extended to all mankind, to all the beloved creations of the Lord Most High, and not just to a certain group of people. If we read the Old Testament, it is very easy for us to have the misconception that the people of Israel, or the Jews, are the chosen people of God, whom the Lord chose over all the other nations.

God did choose the descendants of Jacob, and therefore, the descendants of Abraham, to be His first chosen, to be the ones to whom He first revealed Himself to, and the ones to whom He revealed His will and His love. But this does not mean that God excludes all the other nations from His love. He loved them equally just the same, just as we have our breath of life every single moments of our lives.

The shepherd, Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of all the people of God, did not choose favourites among His people. Indeed, He came first to the Jews, just as His Father had first chosen them to be His people. But this does not mean that His salvation is intended only for them to the exclusion and damnation of all the other nations.

He loves us all, and wishes us all to be saved, and therefore, that is why He commended the disciples to go and spread the Good News to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. That is His intention, and He desires that we all be reunited with God in eternal bliss of splendour and happiness. And thus, He sanctifies all mankind through His death and resurrection.

We must never be haughty and judge ourselves, just like the Jews who thought themselves of being worthy of salvation, because they misunderstood the intentions and actions of the Lord as one of favouritism, particularly the chief priests and the Pharisees. They judged themselves worthy and condemned others who did not share their opinions, to the point of persecuting Jesus and His followers in their ministry.

God showed His mercy to mankind, and He forgave them all, on the account of His love and dedication for them. The Lord is loving to all, and He readily shows His love for us all. He comforts us when we suffer and when we are sad, and He lifts us up when we fall down into despair and hopelessness. He shows His care for us without any discrimination.

Today we celebrate the feast of many saints, namely St. Nereus and Achilles, as well as St. Pancras, all of whom were slaves and servants of the Empress or Augusta of the early era Roman Empire. They were the servants of the wife of the Emperor Domitian or Domitianus, who was infamous for his great persecutions against the faithful and the Church, who carried out the one of the great persecution against the Church.

They were martyred in the defense of their faith, and they refused to recant their devotion and commitment to the Lord. They stayed faithful to the end and received holy martyrdom, and now they are revered by us in the Church as saints of the holy Church, worthy of heaven and interceding for our sake daily before the Lord.

In their example, we see how even the people considered to be unworthy by many in Jesus’ time can become saints and holy martyrs, by their following of the teachings of the Lord and by walking faithfully in His ways. Thus, we too should not be afraid and instead, walk courageously in the footsteps of these holy men to be also faithful disciples of the Lord and be courageous in our works, that we may bring even more souls to salvation.

May the Lord open our minds and hearts today, that we will learn to be inclusive and not to exclude others or be judgmental, and instead be humble in seeking the Lord’s forgiveness and love. May He guide us always that we may approach ever closer to His throne of mercy and to His loving embrace. Amen.

Saturday, 26 April 2014 : Saturday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 4 : 13-21

The chief priests and the elders were astonished at the boldness of Peter and John, considering that they were uneducated and untrained men. They recognised also, that they had been with Jesus, but, as the man who had been cured stood beside them, they could make no reply.

So they ordered them to leave the council room while they consulted with one another. They asked, “What shall we do with these men? Everyone who lives in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign has been given through them, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this from spreading any further among the people, let us warn them never again to speak to anyone in the Name of Jesus.”

So they called them back and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the Name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s eyes for us to obey you rather than God. We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Then the council threatened them once more and let them go. They could find no way of punishing them because of the people who glorified God for what had happened.

Saturday, 12 April 2014 : 5th Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

God desires the love of mankind, and He loves them very much. That is why He gave us all of His attention and focus, and He offered Himself to them to open for them the pathway to salvation. In a sense, He had granted them great favour, only for them to refuse Him and reject Him, and even reject the salvation which He had freely offered them.

In today’s first reading God promised His beloved people that He will love them and care for them, freeing them from the grip of death and sin, and will provide for them once again as He had once had. We can see indeed how great is God’s love for us, that He gave us chance after chance, and opportunity after opportunity. He gave us hope even when we are in the greatest darkness.

Yet mankind were selfish, and are still indeed selfish even today. We thought only for ourselves and for our own benefits and we complain when things do not go our way. That is our nature, and we often succumb to it. The Pharisees rejected Jesus because of His teachings and ways that oppose their own authority and positions of privilege and honour within the society.

How about the people then? They also rejected Christ because they were reluctant to abandon their former way of life and follow what Christ taught them, and they were also easily swayed by the offer of money and goods of the world, that we can easily see in tomorrow’s Palm Sunday Gospel and Passion readings, how the same people who cheered for Jesus as King when He proceeded into Jerusalem, within less than one week would be condemned to death by the same people. Yes, the same people who acclaimed Jesus as King also cried out for His death.

And it is a fault that we have as we tend to blame the Jews on what happened to Jesus, in how they condemned Him to death and rejected Him and His offer of salvation, because it is always convenient and easy to blame someone else. We think of the Jews to be the ones to blame for the death of Christ, but we conveniently forgot that Jesus Himself was and is a Jew, born son of David, the heir of David and the descendant of Abraham.

And Jesus when He suffered and died on the cross, He did so for all of us, and also including the Jews, both those who had no part in His death and those who had hated Him and condemned Him. He Himself remembered them even in His suffering, asking the Father to forgive them and overlook their sins for their ignorance and lack of knowledge of who He truly was.

God Himself had forgiven them, and He had forgiven us. So for those among us who thought to blame the Jews, the very people the Lord had chosen to be born into, and to those of us who like to put the blame on others, let us from now on reflect on our own actions first. Before we even judge or condemn others, have we been sufficiently pure and worthy in our own actions that we will not be judged? We often forget that when we judge others, we therefore also open the door for us to be judged ourselves.

God did not wish to punish anyone, as indeed, He wanted all of us to be reunited with Him in love. He wishes for us to be perfected in love, that we may leave behind our past sinfulness and wicked behaviour, and become more like Him and be more loving as He is. That was why He sent Jesus to be with us, to be both our Saviour, to break the chains of sin and death, and at the same time also show us how to love, like God has loved us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we approach the pinnacle of our preparation, as we proceed towards the holiest week of all our celebrations, the Holy Week of Jesus’ Passion, let us resolve to be more like God, in becoming more loving and forgiving, in being more inclusive and compassionate, helping one another to approach the Lord rather than condemning or judging each other. Let us reserve no place for Satan in our hearts! For it is in a darkened heart that Satan is happy to dwell in. Let the light of God instead be within us, that He may also guide our ways, that our ways will always be pleasing to God.

May the Lord forgive us our sins and show us how to love Him just as He had loved us first. Let us never be separated again from You, o Lord our God. Be with us always, till the end of time. Amen.