Saturday, 18 January 2014 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Psalm 20 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

The king rejoices in Your strength, o Lord, and exults in Your saving help. You have granted him his desire; you have not rejected his request.

You have come to him with rich blessings; You have placed a golden crown upon his head. When he asked, You gave him life – length of days forever and ever.

He glories in the victory You gave him; You shall bestow on him splendour and majesty. You have given him eternal blessings, and gladdened him with the joy of Your presence.

Friday, 29 November 2013 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the kingdom of God is near, and it is approaching! Yes, that is the key message of the readings, especially that of the Gospel we heard today. And indeed, the kingdom of God is already here, with us, and dwelling in us. This is precisely as Christ had proclaimed to the people of the coming of His kingdom.

In the first reading, we heard about how Daniel showed his vision of the end of times, in which the Lord revealed to him of the difficult times that would come to the people of God. The beast was known to be the infamous Greek king, Antiochus Epiphanes, ruler of the Seleucid Empire, about one and a half centuries before the birth of Christ.

And that beast, king Antiochus, persecuted the people of God, those who still keep up their faith and devotion to the One, True God. The evil king enforced pagan rules and rites on the people, and many people apostatised their faith out of fear for punishment and death. The Temple and House of the Lord in Jerusalem was desecrated and made into a house of pagans.

Suffering was great at that time, under the reign and tyranny of the evil king, the loathsome beast on the horn, the one seen by Daniel. The people who kept their faith were tortured, imprison, and met their end in painful death. They were forced by the king to disobey the laws of God and to commit acts profane in the Lord’s eyes. Yet, there are many who resisted, and preferred death to disobedience.

But the Lord did not just leave His people in suffering without help or hope. For He raised the deliverance of the people through the Maccabees, who fought empowered by God’s providence and eventually liberated the people from the tyranny of the evil king Antiochus. The king himself was punished with painful death, with excruciating pain and endless suffering till the end of his life. That was when the beast in the vision of Daniel was punished and destroyed by the power of God.

That is a foreshadowing of the events that is to come, and I am sure you are all familiar with the Book of Revelation by St. John the Evangelist. For the devil too will, in much the same way, persecute the faithful ones, swaying many people to his side in rebellion against the Lord, in one final and futile attempt to defy the Lord’s will.

Jesus, the Messiah and Saviour of all mankind, will come at the end of time, in order to bring all creation towards Himself, and make everything good once again. The devil and all his followers, and all the filths and taints of sin He will destroy and cast into the lake of eternal fire, in damnation. Jesus who had once come into this world as the Son of Man, to suffer and die for our sins, will come again at the end of time as a victorious and triumphant King.

Jesus is the Son of Man seen by Daniel in His vision, the promised One who is given dominion over all things, including over us mankind. For, ever since we have rebelled against God through our forefathers’ sins, the devil who is lord of all evil has dominion, power and authority over us. In order to free us from our bondage to the evil one, a pure and unblemished sacrifice for the purification of our sins.

That is when Jesus came, as the Son of Man, the long promised Messiah. He was prophesied by the many prophets and servants of God throughout the ages. The Lord Jesus brought forth with Him, the salvation of mankind. Jesus revealed the great plan that God had crafted for the sake of our salvation. And He too revealed the imminent coming of the kingdom of God as I had mentioned.

Why did Jesus say that the kingdom is coming soon? And why did He mention that the generation would not pass before the coming of the kingdom? That is because, the kingdom of God was ushered into the world, and to all of us, precisely by a single important moment in the history of our world. That is none other than the sacrifice, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Himself. Through this singular event, the kingdom of God appears and is present to all of us, even today.

It is through the selfless and perfect sacrifice of our Lord that we receive this new life and the hope of salvation. Before the death and resurrection of Jesus, there is no hope for us mankind, but with the death and resurrection of Jesus, a new hope had dawned. That is the kingdom of God made manifest into this world. And, the Lord Himself gave freely to all of us, His own flesh and blood, just as He gave them to His disciples at the Last Supper.

Remember the words of Jesus, that all those who eat the bread that is the Body of the Lord, and drink the wine that is the Blood of the Lord, will not die but live forever. That is because the Lord Himself, in His Most Holy Presence in the bread and wine we partake, comes and dwells in each one of us. Each of us essentially become the House of the Most High God, and consequently, we are all experiencing the kingdom of God, even now, in ourselves.

Yes, brethren, for we have received the Lord in the Eucharist, and consequently, our lives too have been transformed to mirror that of the kingdom of God. We are experiencing the kingdom even as we live day by day. And that is also the reason, why even though our lives will be difficult, and challenges scattered on our path, we should not be worried. The Lord Himself guides us along the way, and we ought to follow Him all the way to the end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why, today onwards, let us uphold our faith in Christ and proudly walk forth as the children of God, and as His disciples. Do not fear evil and his forces, and rather, let us do our best to obey the will of God. May the Lord continue to guide us, provide for us, and help us so that we will eventually reach the glory of heaven, when the Lord Jesus comes again in His glorious Second Coming. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear on the importance of being ready, being prepared at all times, and most importantly to plan before anything. How is this then relevant to our faith? It is everything! This is because we cannot be idle nor should we be ignorant and lazy in our faith, that we neglect to do what the Lord expects from all of us, from each one of us.

The commandments and the laws that God had given us mankind, are what. He wants from us, not to be mere relics and symbolisms, but in fact as living laws that we all obey and follow with every actions, with every words, and with every deeds we do. Indeed, with every breath we take, we ought to be obedient to God and His laws.

We cannot ignore these laws, and we cannot dismiss them, as they are our guide so that we will not lose our way in this world, and through the obstacles and difficulties that bar our path towards the Lord our God. The laws can be likened to the strategies that one should take, in dealing with the troubles and the enemies that lay themselves on our path.

Without a good plan, as Jesus said in His parable on the houses and the king’s war to the people, there can be no success or good outcome. Such reckless actions without planning will only bring about failure or even getting lost in the way, being without any guidance. Good planning will ensure that we truly know what we are to do, or expect what will come about in the future.

These laws and commandments God has given us, and revealed in its completeness in Christ, are the laws of love, which guide us on our expected behaviours. That we ought to love one another just as we love and care for ourselves, that we truly reflect the Lord as God’s beloved children. Yes, brethren, just as God is Love, so we too should be children of love, expressing through our own actions, words, and deeds, the acts of love, kindness, and compassion.

Jesus today urged all of us, as He urged His disciples and the people who followed Him, to be more proactive in our faith, that we take the responsibility to plan and prepare for our salvation in Him. That we do not take it easy and become complacent in this world. That we are prepared for any contingencies, and any kind of trouble that may come in our way.

Why so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because there are, as I mentioned, many obstacles and enemies that lay themselves on our path to God, and that this path will not be an easy path, but a path filled with sorrow and challenges. We who have been made righteous in God, through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, are not automatically out of danger. For as long as we remain in this world, we are always under threat from the evil one, Satan, the deceiver, and his forces of darkness.

The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross has broken Satan’s hold and dominion over all of us. Ever since our Lord bared all, suffered and died for the sake of us all, and redeemed us from our original sins, Satan no longer has any authority over us. Nevertheless, he is loath to allow all of us to be lost to God forever. That is why, just as He had tempted Jesus in the desert in a vain attempt to prevent his defeat at the hands of God, he will definitely also tempt all of us with all the things in his disposal.

This can be likened to how a house without preparation will end up in disrepair, and a king without preparation will likely to lose his war. We are the builders of that house, and we are like that king. We have to plan ahead and be prepared, so that we will not end up in the situations I had just mentioned. To achieve this, we precisely need to follow what the Lord Himself urged us to, that is to be obedient to His laws, that is to love!

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to love, and not just any love, but love tenderly. It is not easy to love, but it is indeed what we need to do, to prepare us and to ensure that we have a well-planned journey towards the Lord and the eternal reward and glory He has prepared for us all. Hence, brethren, let us then resolve from now on, that we will strive to love, first our God with all of our strengths, and then to love our neighbours, all our fellow brothers and sisters, children of the same God, also with all of our heart.

May the Lord guide us and continue to watch over us, as we progress through this path towards salvation. God be with us all. Amen.

Monday, 15 July 2013 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Exodus 1 : 8-14, 22

Then a new king who had not known Joseph came to power and said to his people, “The Israelites are numerous and stronger than we are. Let us deal warily with them lest they increase still more and, in case of war, side with our enemy, fight against us and escape from the land.”

So they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labour.  In that way they built the storage towns of Pithom and Rameses. But the more they oppressed the Hebrews the more they increased and spread, until the Egyptians dreaded the Israelites and became ruthless in making them work.

They made life bitter for them in hard labour with bricks and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields. In all their work the Egyptians treated them harshly.

Pharaoh then gave this order to all the people : “Every infant boy born to the Hebrews must be thrown into the Nile, but every girl may live.”

Thursday, 11 July 2013 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Psalm)

Psalm 104 : 16-17, 18-19, 20-21

Then the Lord sent a famine and ruined the crop that sustained the land; He sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

His feet in shackles, his neck in irons till what he foretold came to pass, and the Lord’s word proved him true.

The king sent for him, set him free, the ruler of the peoples released him. He put him in charge of his household and made him ruler of all his possessions.

Sunday, 16 June 2013 : 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

2 Samuel 12 : 7-10, 13

Nathan said to David, “You are this man! It is YHVH, God of Israel, who speaks : ‘I anointed you king over Israel and saved you from Saul’s hands; I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives; I also gave you the nations of Israel and Judah. But if these were not enough, I would have given you even more.'”

“‘Why did you despise YHVH by doing what displeases Him? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife for yourself. Yes, you killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now the sword will never be far from your family because you have despised Me and taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite for yourself.'”

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against YHVH.” Nathan answered him, “YHVH has forgiven your sin; you shall not die.”

Monday, 27 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God is our Lord, and He is our Creator. He is everything to us, for without Him, we cannot live, and we cannot survive. Only by being with God can we be saved, and only by staying in His presence and favour, we can gain eternal life, which He rewards to all those who remain faithful in Him and who prove that they love Him with all their hearts, their minds, and their souls, with their entire beings.

If we want to follow the Lord, and become His disciples, we cannot be half-hearted, and we cannot be hesitant. Instead, we must be very certain in our hearts, and be very conscious that we choose the Lord over everything else in this world. We have to put God foremost in our hearts and in all our daily dealings, before other things that may corrupt our hearts and sway our attention away from the Lord.

Wealth and worldly material possessions are some of such things that most easily turn the hearts of mankind away from God who loves them. Countless people across the different ages had spurned the love of God, and the salvation which He had offered freely to all, all just for the sake of money and possessions.

But be careful brothers and sisters, because we cannot misinterpret the Lord’s true intention and desire for us. The Lord is not hostile against wealth or His children having worldly possessions and material goods, but what He warned us all against is the danger of excessive wealth and the corrupting influence such things can have on us, that it turn us away from the Lord and bring us damnation in the end.

Wealth itself is not evil, brothers and sisters in Christ, and when wealth is used correctly, it can be indeed a great tool for love and for the advancement of the cause of Christ in this world. For wealth can feed many who hunger for basic nutrition and food, and those who lack basic needs required for survival. Wealth also can sponsor many of our Church’s charitable actions spread throughout the world, dedicated to the service of the poor, the ones who hunger, both physically and spiritually.

The true evil itself lies in our weakness, ever since the day of our rebellion against God’s will and our disobedience since the day of Adam. We had been exposed to sin ever since in our hearts. Greed in particular is our weakness, and desire to have more goods, more money had caused mankind to do much evil in the history of mankind, even within the Church.

That is why brothers and sisters in Christ, do not shun wealth! and do not hate the rich! but instead do our own part to help those who are less fortunate, especially those among us who have more, in terms of goods, money, or even if we have particular skills or even love, which we can indeed share to those around us who need them more. Indeed, this world has many people who does not just need the food for our stomach, but also food for the heart, that is love. For there remains many who are unloved in this world.

Today, we commemorate the feast of a great saint, Saint Augustine of Canterbury, who first established the Church hierarchy in the chaotic England of the Dark Ages. He established the first diocese in that country, what is to be known as the Archdiocese of Canterbury, and Saint Augustine was its first bishop

Saint Augustine converted many of the Anglo-Saxons who ruled England and much of the rest of Britannia at the time, in the region we know now as the United Kingdom. He established the Church in England. He served the Lord with zeal and strong faith, and through dedicated service, especially to the weak and to the poor. He convinced the rich and the powerful to follow Christ and abandon their old pagan and sinful ways, including even the king, whom he converted to Christianity.

Sadly, now the Church in England had been divided, by irresponsible act of men throughout history, which had brought division in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I am certain that Saint Augustine is sad that his successors have not kept the faith of the Apostles. Let us pray that the Church in England will be reunited once more, and be one with the Universal Church, keeping alive the faith of the Apostles, and fall not into the evils of the world.

Then for all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all strive to do our own best in giving our all to our less fortunate brethren, be it through material donations, skill donations, and even more importantly, by donating the love that is within us. Not that it will lessen the love that is within us. On the contrary, if we share our love to others who lack them and long for love, our own love will grow and strengthen us. May God be with us, in all our deeds, and strengthen our resolve, to do good for the sake of all mankind. Amen.