(Easter Sunday) Sunday, 27 March 2016 : Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Week, Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-9

Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken our Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have laid Him.”

Peter then set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter.

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too saw the linen cloths lying flat. The napkin, which had been around His head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place.

Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed. Scripture clearly said that He must rise from the dead, but they had not yet understood that.

 

Alternative reading

Luke 24 : 1-12

On the Sabbath the women rested according to the commandment, but the first day of the week, at dawn, they went to the tomb with the perfumes and ointments they had prepared. Seeing the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb, they entered, and were amazed to find that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there.

As they stood there wondering about this, two men in dazzling garments suddenly appeared beside them. In fright the women bowed to the ground. But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You won’t find Him here. He is risen. Remember what He told you in Galilee, that the Son of Man had to be given into the hands of sinners, to be crucified, and to rise on the third day.” And they remembered Jesus’ words.

Returning from the tomb, they told the Eleven and all the others about these things. Among the women, who brought the news, were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. But however much they insisted, those who heard did not believe the seemingly nonsensical story.

Then Peter got up and ran to the tomb. All he saw, when he bent down and looked into the tomb, were the linen cloths, laid by themselves. He went home wondering.

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 26 March 2016 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 1-12

On the Sabbath the women rested according to the commandment, but the first day of the week, at dawn, they went to the tomb with the perfumes and ointments they had prepared. Seeing the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb, they entered, and were amazed to find that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there.

As they stood there wondering about this, two men in dazzling garments suddenly appeared beside them. In fright the women bowed to the ground. But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You won’t find Him here. He is risen. Remember what He told you in Galilee, that the Son of Man had to be given into the hands of sinners, to be crucified, and to rise on the third day.” And they remembered Jesus’ words.

Returning from the tomb, they told the Eleven and all the others about these things. Among the women, who brought the news, were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. But however much they insisted, those who heard did not believe the seemingly nonsensical story.

Then Peter got up and ran to the tomb. All he saw, when he bent down and looked into the tomb, were the linen cloths, laid by themselves. He went home wondering.

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 26 March 2016 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Seventh Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 36 : 16-17a, 18-28

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, when Israel occupied her own land and defiled it by her way of life and her actions. I poured out My fury on them because of the blood they shed in the land and because they defiled it with their filthy idols.”

“Then I scattered them among the nations  and dispersed them in other lands. I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. But when they were brought to other nations, My Holy Name was profane because others said of them : ‘The people of YHVH had to be exiled from His land!'”

“Then I was concerned for My Holy Name, profaned by Israel among the nations where she had been dispersed. Now you shall say to the people of Israel : ‘It is not for your sake that I am about to act, but because of My Holy Name that you have profaned in the places where you have gone.'”

“‘I will make known the holiness of My great Name, profaned among the nations because of you, and they will know that I am YHVH when I show them My holiness among you. For I will gather you from all the nations and bring you back to your own land.'”

“‘Then I shall pour pure water over you and you shall be made clean – cleansed from the defilement of all your idols. I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I shall remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.'”

“‘I shall put  My spirit within you and move you to follow My decrees and keep My laws. You will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be My people and I will be Your God.'”

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 26 March 2016 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Sixth Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Baruch 3 : 9-15, 32 – Baruch 4 : 4

Listen, Israel, to the commands of life, give ear so as to learn prudence. Why, Israel! Why are you in the land of your foes? Why are you growing old in a foreign country, contaminated by pagans, counted among those who go to the pit?

You have abandoned the source of Wisdom. If you had walked in the way of God, peace would be your dwelling place forever. Learn where is Wisdom, where is Strength and Understanding, that you may know, at the same time, where are length of days and life, light of the eyes and Peace.

Who will find Wisdom’s dwelling? Who will enter her storage rooms? But He who knows everything recognises her. He has found her in His own intellect. He who created the earth, for all time, and has filled it with four-footed beings.

He who sends the light, and it goes, who recalls it, and trembling it obeys. The stars shine, full of joy, to keep their night watches. He calls them and they answer, “Here we are.” They shine with joy for their Creator.

It is He who is our God, no other can be compared with Him. He has found the way of understanding and has given her to Jacob His servant and to Israel His well-beloved.

Then Wisdom was seen on earth and lived among humans. She herself is the book of the commands of God, the law which endures forever. All who hold fast to her will have life, but those who abandon her will die.

Come back, Jacob, and embrace her, walk towards brightness under her light. Do not give up what is your glory or sell your privileges to any strange nation. We are fortunate, o Israel, for we know what pleases the Lord!

Saturday, 7 September 2013 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White

Luke 6 : 1-5

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the corn fields, and His disciples began to pick heads of grain, crushing them in their hands for food. Some of the Pharisees asked them, “Why do you do what is forbidden on the Sabbath?”

Then Jesus spoke up and asked them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his men were hungry? He entered the house of God, took and ate the bread of the offering, and even gave some to his men, though only priests are allowed to eat that bread.”

And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord and rules over the sabbath.”

Monday, 12 August 2013 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear about the obligations we have in our lives, the obligations we have to this world, to our nations and our states, and most importantly, the obligation we have to the One True God, our Lord in heaven. Today’s Gospel reading is related to the similar case when the chief priests and the Pharisees attempted to trap Jesus in His own words, by asking whether the people should or should not pay tax to Caesar as the Romans imposed on all their subject peoples.

Christ answered the Pharisees aptly, and similarly in this case, when He showed His great wisdom and understanding, which shows the same kind of answer presented to the challenge and test made by the Pharisees aimed at trapping Jesus in His own words. Christ showed that we should obey the law be it divine law or the law of the world, by respectively paying what is due to us to each of these laws and fulfill our obligations respectively.

Yes, that means, as in Christ’s own words, what is due to Caesar, give it to the Caesar, and what is due to the Lord, give it to the Lord. If the people of Jesus’ time are obliged to pay taxes to the Romans because of their position as subject of the Roman Empire, then so be it. But even more importantly, they are also at the same time, the subjects, the servants, and the people of the One, True God, and therefore, they too, should serve the Lord their God and give to Him what is expected by the Lord from all of them.

If we pay taxes to our world authorities, our nations and our governments, the analogues we have today with the Roman Empire of Jesus’ time, with money, with gold and silver, with worldly possession, then how do we pay our due to the Lord our God? We pay our God with our love, with the love that we pour out of our hearts towards Him, and towards our fellow brothers and sisters, the same children of God. That is what He truly wants from us, the love and dedication from us, and not just mere sacrifice or words.

Our nation, our government had given us much, through money, goods, security, care, and many other ways that they can make our lives in this world more comfortable, more convenient, and more relaxed. Through their works and services we had benefited much, just as what had happened during the time of the Roman Empire. Indeed, the Jews did suffer under the rule of the Romans, but they also enjoyed much from the rule by the Romans.

The Romans brought stability to the region and better livelihood to the Jews, who had been living in a turbulent time, in a region fought between the successor kingdoms of Alexander the Great’s Empire. Those who read the Book of the Maccabees will certainly know of the difficulties and struggles faced by the people before the time of Jesus, when the region of Judea was under constant warfare and conflicts. The Romans gave stable livelihood and relative peace to the people that the society of the Jews during the time of Jesus was roughly at peace.

Then, without delving too much into the history of the land, why then do we pay tribute to our Lord and God, the way that we had given tribute to the secular and worldly authorities? That was because just as the governments, authorities, and nations had taken care of us and done good things for us, the Lord our God had done even greater things for our sake, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Yes, He had given much to mankind, and He had poured out His love and grace to His beloved people, and not least of all, the descendants of Abraham His servants, that is the people of Israel themselves, whom He cared for and watched from generations to generations. He gave them all that they needed, and He delivered their enemies into their hands to be destroyed, as well as bringing them from the land of their slavery into the land He had promised their fathers. And even when they disobeyed Him and rebelled against His will, He remained faithful and loving to them, and even gave then a new hope, the long-awaited Messiah, the Saviour of the world.

It is therefore to this wonderful and ever-loving God that we give thanks and our wholehearted dedication. It is truly to The Lord that we must give our true allegiance and obedience, to His laws and commandments, superceding any other laws even those of this world. However, this does not mean that we should disobey any kind of worldly authorities that our governments and nations have over us. Instead, just as Christ had done Himself, in advocating to pay taxes to the Emperor and to the Temple, He taught all of us to obey our caretakers in this world as well as our Lord, as long as those caretakers do the duties entrusted to them by God dutifully and do not veer away from the path of the Lord.

Today, brethren, we commemorate the feast of a wonderful and holy saint, that is St. Jane Frances de Chantal. She left all that she had after the death of her husband at the end of the sixteenth century France, and joined the religious life, eventually setting up a religious order on her own, and opened many chapters and branches which works extended to the poor and the unloved ones of the society, giving them love, care, and compassion.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal gave her all in loving her fellow brethren in faith, and she wholeheartedly gave her full dedication to them, and therefore, at the same time, showing her own love and dedication to the Lord our God. That is her way of showing her gratitude and ‘paying her due’ to the Lord. She gave the Lord the wonderful offering of her love, both for Him and for His children, particularly the least of all of them. Yet, she was also dutiful to her own dedication to the society, remaining faithful to the laws of the land, that is the laws of the world.

Through the example set by St. Jane Frances de Chantal, let us be more inspired to do more for the Lord, for our fellow brethren, and for our society, giving our heart, our love, and our dedication to all of them, and in the process making sure that we always put the Lord our God before everything, and always keep Him in our hearts as we proceed with our daily lives and activities. May the Lord who bless us daily and protect us with the power of His hands strengthen us, and renew our faith, our hope, and our love for Him and for all of His people, that is all of us. God bless us all. Amen.

My Prayer Intention for 7 and 8 August 2013

1. To all of us the people of God. That we will learn to obey our Lord and God, and does not harden our hearts against His love. Let us not be like the people of Israel when they were in the desert, complaining against God when they have been given enough and plenty, and therefore suffered the punishment of the Lord. May we put our full trust and faith in God at all times, obeying His will, and most importantly, love Him more than any other things, even ourselves.

2. For religious harmony and peace in the world. May the Lord plant the seeds of love in the hearts of men, that they will learn to respect the differences between them, and also strive to achieve peace and harmony in all the things that they do. That all men and women may live together in harmony and peace, filled with love for one another, despite their differences, and learn to put aside their differences for the greater glory of God, and to help serve others who are in need, for our love and for our support instead of fighting with one another.

3. For all people working and involved with legal careers and justice system. May the Lord put the love for His Law and the law of justice in their hearts. May He remind them that their first priority is to make sure that justice is upheld and ensure that those who are wrong be punished, and those who are right be absolved from any false accusations. May He instill in them the love for justice and the love for both God and His people at all times.

Let us bring forth these prayers we have, and all the things we keep in secret in our hearts, to the Lord with great humility and with a contrite heart. May He forgive us our sins and listen to our prayers, and comes to make His power manifest in this world, for our sake and for His love for us. God bless us all. Amen.