Saturday, 20 April 2019 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! On this most blessed night, the greatest of all nights and the greatest of all days in the entire liturgical year, we celebrate the long awaited moment of when the Lord Jesus Christ has been risen from the dead, the coming of Easter after the long wait during our Lenten observance for more than forty days including the sacred Holy Week observances. On this day we mark the great culmination of the work of the Lord’s salvation, the triumph of the Cross and the Resurrection of Our Lord in glory.

The Resurrection completed the Passion of Our Lord, the suffering, pain and trials He had suffered as He endured the pain of the Cross, which would have all been meaningless and fruitless had He not risen from the dead, and therefore remained dead as all other men were. He rose from the dead by His own glorious might and power, to show that not even death had the power and dominion over Him, as He is truly the Master over life and death.

On this night, we celebrate that very moment when Christ overcome the tyranny of death, which is caused by sin. Death is the sting of sin, and all of us have been freed from its power by the Lord’s own action, His selfless offering on the Cross, by which He united us all to His death, in dying to our own sinful selves, and through which He then united us all to His resurrection, as we enter into the new life blessed and filled with God’s grace.

In the many Scripture passages and readings we heard on this blessed Easter Vigil, seven from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament, we are constantly reminded of the Lord’s many good works, providence and love for each and every one of us mankind, throughout the history of our world, from the beginning of time and creation, and leading through the ages to the culmination of God’s saving works in the glorious resurrection.

We are reminded first of all, of the creation of the world, when God imposed order on chaos that existed before then, and the first thing that God did, was to bring forth Light into the world, into a world that was once filled with darkness. And then, He created all things, all creatures that were all made good and perfect, just as their Creator Himself is all good and perfect. And in the same manner, all of us mankind, were made as the culmination of God’s work of creation, created in His own image and likeness.

Thus, that was how God created the whole world, and all of us mankind, created good and perfect in all that God had intended. But unfortunately, through our disobedience and by our refusal to obey the Lord’s commands, and by our choice to side with the devil and follow his tempting words, we have been made unclean and unworthy, sundered from God’s grace and separated from His love. That was how we have fallen into sin and into our unfortunate state.

Yet, the Lord continued to love each and every one of us regardless of the sins we have committed. Indeed He despised all of the sins we have committed in life, but He did not despise us all, those whom He Himself had created with His hands, made out of His love for each and every one of us. If God has not loved us so dearly, He would have destroyed us outright the very moment we chose to abandon Him and to commit abominable sins in our lives, and cast us immediately into hell.

It was God’s enduring love for all of us that we have come to celebrate throughout the entirety of this Holy Week and Paschal Triduum, as we recall the love that He has for every one of us, so great that He willingly emptied Himself of all glory and honour, and humbled Himself to bring about the salvation of all the world, of all mankind. And He did all these by assuming the flesh of Man, that He might share with us our humanity, and therefore, uniting ourselves to His suffering and death, He might bring us through the journey to embrace the fullness of His redemption and mercy, and receive from Him, the fullness of grace and eternal life.

And through the mysteries celebrated this Holy Week and Paschal Triduum, we saw how God restored to us all, the graces He has intended for us all mankind since the beginning of time. We may have been deterred temporarily through sin, and we probably had faced this obstacle in our journey due to the many temptations present in our respective lives, but God is calling on us to embrace the new life that He is now calling us into, a new life and existence in Him.

We heard from the second reading today, how God established His Covenant with Abraham, promising him that his descendants would be numerous and would form many nations, and Abraham promised to be faithful to God and to His Covenant, and that his descendants would do so as well. This is the Covenant that the people of Israel upheld, and which they carried with them as they went through what we heard in our third reading passage today, of the time of the salvation of Israel from the hands of their oppressors.

And on this day, on the occasion of the Easter Vigil, the third reading from the Book of Exodus invites us to reflect on the moment of our own baptism, and on those who are going to be baptised in the Rite of the Christian Initiation later on in today’s liturgy. We heard how the Israelites were fleeing from their former masters and oppressors, the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, who hardened their hearts and changed their minds about letting the Israelites to go free to the land promised to them by God.

The Egyptians chased them to the edge of the Red Sea, when the Israelites despaired having seen themselves pressed between the sea and their enemies. But God reassured them and stood between them and death, and through Moses, opened the sea itself before their eyes. They walked through the dry seabed, and crossed to the other side safely, while their oppressors were destroyed by the same waters, when the Lord crushed them all with the rushing waves as they tried to pursue God’s people.

And this is a reminder to each and every one of us, how God has brought us through the water of baptism, as we have all been sealed by the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, in the Name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and for those who are about to be baptised tonight, this moment was just about to come, like the Israelites who were once frightened and fearful for their lives at the edge of the Red Sea, and yet, God made them to walk safely through the water.

Water is capable of both destruction and of nurturing lives. Water in its destructiveness can cause such harm that led to the loss of much property and human lives, and how it destroyed the armies and chariots of Pharaoh was ample proof of how water was capable of destruction. Yet, water is also capable of bringing life to us, for without water, nothing can live and survive, and water nourishes and nurtures life.

Therefore, by reflecting on the salvation of Israel at the crossing of the Red Sea, we recall our own baptism, and prepare ourselves to witness our brethren who are going to have theirs this very night. Through baptism, we have been united to the Lord’s own Passion, suffering, death and most important of all, His glorious resurrection. By the water of baptism, we have entered into death, just as Christ truly died on the cross, and we die to our past, sinful and unworthy lives.

But we did not remain in death, just as the Lord did not remain in death, but rose in glory, the glory of His Easter Resurrection. And thus, just as the Israelites emerged from the Red Sea unharmed, into a new life of freedom from slavery, we too have left behind our old slavery to sin, and enter into a new life, resurrected from our sinful selves, and become sharers in the new Covenant that the Lord Himself had made with each and every one of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as mentioned in the beginning of this homily, the occasion of Easter Vigil celebrates the culmination of our Lord’s Passion and work of salvation, completing perfectly what He had begun, by the offering of His own Body and Blood, which He shared with His disciples on the Last Supper, as we share in His own Real Presence in us. Through our sharing of His Most Precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist, we enter into the New, True and Everlasting Covenant that He Himself established with us, the children of Abraham, our father in faith.

And this Covenant is the restoration of the grace and the goodness that are ours at the beginning of time, as God Himself has become the bridge by which all of us pass through safely through the danger of death. Between us and God, there had been a chasm that separated us all because of our sins, but Jesus Christ, Our Lord, through His sacrifice on the Cross, has offered His own Precious Body and Blood, to be the atonement for our sins, and by that sacrifice, restored to us the grace that we have lost through sin.

On this day, the day of most wonderful Easter joy, we rejoice because we have been freed from sin, and through the water of baptism, either as the newly baptised or as those who have been baptised earlier on, we have received the promise of eternal life and glory from God. And we have also received the wonderful Light of Christ, reminding us of the moment of Creation, when God brought order to all chaos and created everything good and perfect. The Light of Christ has penetrated through the darkness that surrounded us, casting out from us the sins and all things that have kept us enslaved, that is our sins and wickedness.

On this day, we recall the promises which we made at baptism, when we resoundingly and resolutely reject Satan’s false promises and shows, all of his temptations, and abandon all the darkness of this world, and instead, embrace wholeheartedly the Light of Christ, our Lord and Saviour. On this day, Light has triumphed over darkness, Christ has triumphed over sin and death, our enemies and all those who sought our downfall and destruction.

On this day, we rejoice together as the whole entire Universal Church, as God has renewed in us again and again, the hope of His salvation, reminding us of the love which He has given us through the Passion of His own Beloved Son, Who suffered so grievously all of the persecutions and pains He had received, but which He endured willingly, out of His love for us. It was this enduring love and His liberation of each and every one of us from our sins that we rejoice for today.

Let us all now carry on this Easter joy in our own respective lives, and have that courage and faith in us, to bring forth the Light of Christ to the whole world. And this is our calling and responsibility as baptised Christians, to be the witnesses for the Lord, and proclaim His Risen glory to all, through our own lives, by living the message of the Good News of the Lord, by practicing in our own lives, fundamentally the love for God and the love for our fellow men.

May the Lord bless each and every one of us, that all of us will grow ever closer to God and be more attuned to His ways and be more obedient to His commandments and laws. Let us all bear the joy of Easter to all of our brethren, especially all those who are probably unable to rejoice in the same way as we do because of various reasons, either because of persecutions or because of the many distractions of the world. And let us also bear this joy of Easter to encourage all those who have not yet received or seen the light of Christ, by showing that Light in our own lives and actions.

Let us all be joyful bearers of Christ’s truth, and let us all share this Easter joy, living fully our lives with faith from now on, being role models to one another, inspiring each other to be closer to God and to be more faithful to Him. May the grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Risen Lord and Saviour be with us always. Amen.

Friday, 19 April 2019 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we gather together to celebrate the occasion of Good Friday, the day which commemorates the moment when Our Lord Jesus Christ bore His Cross and suffered for each and every one of us, and died on the Cross at Calvary, a pivotal and very important moment in the whole history of our salvation. That is why, despite the sufferings, pains and sorrows that are often associated with this day because of the Crucifixion, but we call this day Good Friday, because the Lord has truly brought us true goodness on this day.

And in order to understand this better, we have to understand and appreciate the significance of what happened on Good Friday, and know how Good Friday has changed our history and our lives forever. Before Good Friday, there was no hope yet for our salvation, and all of us mankind were still enslaved by sin, and there was no escape from our fate of death, for our disobedience and refusal to believe in God.

But after Good Friday, there is a fundamental transformation, as dramatically shown to us as the Lord’s death on the cross, and as the veil of the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem was torn open into two. For through the crucifixion, our Lord’s death and resurrection, the Lord has fulfilled completely all that He has promised to all of us from the very beginning, that is from the moment when we mankind first fell into sin.

And the Lord, Our Saviour and Liberator, became the New Adam, as the Son of Man and Son of God, in overturning all the old sins and faults of the old Adam, by which all of us mankind have been brought into sin, and separation from God, our loving Father and Creator. The New Adam brought with Him instead, reconciliation and new life blessed by the grace of God, and countered all that the devil had put in place to bring about our downfall.

The old Adam represents the old life of sin, which we too have had a share in, in our own sinful existence, in our disobedience and refusal to be wholly devoted and committed to God. While the New Adam, Christ was the revelation of the new life that we have been called to embrace, a life wholly dedicated to God, and marked by the love which Christ Himself has shown us, a perfect and selfless love for God and for our fellow men.

Let us begin the comparison and appreciate just how the Lord has overturned all the barriers and traps by which the devil had enslaved us with. In the Book of Genesis, Satan tempted both Adam and Eve, tempting them with the temptations of power and knowledge, embracing their ego and desires, that as Satan himself said, that if they took and ate of the fruits of the tree that God had forbidden them to eat, they would not die, but rather, became like God because they would come to know of all things good and evil, to be equal to God.

Eve succumbed to the temptation, and in turn, tempted Adam to do the same, and as a result, both sinned against God because of their disobedience, and Satan won his first victory against us, God’s beloved people. But almost immediately, God countered with a solemn promise and prophecy that Satan would be defeated and all of his wicked designs would be broken and defeated by His Saviour, the One Who was promised, and was fulfilled in Jesus, the Saviour of the whole world.

Jesus was born of Mary, His mother, and although He is the Divine Word Incarnate, the Son of God Who embraced the flesh of humanity, but He is also fully Man, just as He is fully Divine. And it is through Jesus, His Passion, suffering and crucifixion that Satan was handed the definitive and decisive blow, that completely countered and negated all the evil designs he had had for us mankind from the foundations of the world.

While Jesus is the New Adam, Mary is the New Eve. And both acted in ways that rebuked Satan’s attempts to bring about our downfall. While Eve was disobedient and persuaded Adam to disobey, Mary was faithful and committed totally to God, and in fact, faithfully stayed by the side of her Son, all the way through the Way of Suffering, following Him and remaining close by His side even when all of His disciples fled and ran in fear, right down to the feet of the Cross.

And this is the reflection of the ultimate faith, obedience and commitment that the Lord Jesus Himself showed, as He willingly obeyed His Father’s will, in taking up His Cross, despite of knowing fully what was awaiting Him, all the trials, torture, pain and suffering, challenges and difficulties, and the most humiliating and painful death He was to suffer from. He could have rejected it and abandoned His mission, and yet, He gave Himself so completely and obeyed so well that His prayers for our sake were heard and fulfilled.

While Adam was filled with greed and pride, and fell because of that pride, the Lord Jesus willingly emptied Himself from all glory, emptying Himself from the glory of His Kingship and Divinity, and accepted the most humiliating, inhumane and painful death, death of a criminal on the Cross, reserved for the worst of criminals and rebels at the time of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, while through pride and greed, Adam as well as Eve fell into sin, the Lord Jesus, together with His mother Mary through humility and faith regained for us our heavenly grace.

And last of all, while the old Adam and the first men fell because of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the forbidden tree, the Lord Jesus was crucified on another tree, the tree of the combination of all the sins and wickedness that we have committed because of our pride, our ego, our desire, all of the wicked things within us. And that tree, on which Our Lord and Saviour was hung, is none other than the Cross of our salvation.

Therefore, as we have seen and heard for ourselves, the Lord opposed the works of the devil on every front, and while men had faltered and fell into sin, the Lord showed that sin did not have the final say. For He is much more powerful than even sin and death, and His death on the Cross proved that He can conquer sin and death, and broke the hold that sin and death had over us all mankind, who believe and trust in Him. And we see the proof of this at the Resurrection.

And He also did this, by doing what the Father has willed Him to do, as mentioned by the second reading passage today, in the Epistle to the Hebrews. In that passage, we heard of how the Lord Jesus was described as a High Priest, and not just as any other High Priests, but the one and true, Eternal High Priest, Who has offered His offerings with tears and pain, with sorrow and suffering, for the offering He offered was not of animals and the blood of lambs, but of His own Flesh and His own Blood, He Who is our Paschal Lamb, making a new, Eternal and unbreakable Covenant with us.

A priest in the time of the Old Testament acted as the intermediary between God and man, as the bridge between God and man, linking what had been separated by sin. The priests offered on the altar, the blood of lambs to be the temporary atonement and source of consolation for the sins and rebelliousness of the people of God. But the priests themselves were sinners, and they had to offer sacrifices to atone for their own sins first as well. On the other hand, Christ, Who is the Sinless One, willingly took up upon Himself, both the role of the High Priest as well as the Paschal Lamb to be sacrificed.

We have to realise, brothers and sisters in Christ, that the Cross of Christ, is the Altar upon which our Eternal and True High Priest, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, has offered Himself as the only perfect and worthy offering and sacrifice, by which He brought upon us, healing, pardon and complete reconciliation with God, bringing on us the promised salvation, grace and everlasting life and glory.

By His own loving sacrifice, His own selfless offering and love for God His heavenly Father and for each and every one of us, Our Lord Jesus has brought upon us the salvation that God has long promised to us, and He has brought upon us a new hope and the Light that pierced through the darkness that is in our lives. With Christ, a new Light has dawned, and a new Hope has come into our midst, that with Him, there is hope for each and every one of us sinners.

Today, on this blessed Good Friday, let us fix our attention on the One Who is hung on the Cross. Let us all gaze upon His wounded face, and look at all the wounds that cover His Precious Body. Let us realise that each and every one of those wounds are the very sins that we have committed each and every days of our life, even to the smallest and what is seemingly most trivial of sins. All of these are wounds that we have inflicted on the Lord, and yet, which He willingly took up on Himself because of the love He has for each and every one of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do we all know why is it that Christ suffered so dearly and so painfully? That is because of His love, His great and amazing love for all of us, even to the greatest of sinners. And it is because of this love that He experienced such great pain and sorrow, such suffering and agony, because He knows that unless we get rid from ourselves these sins, He will be separated from us eternally, as we fall into the eternal darkness, out of which there is no escape.

His agony on the Cross, as we continue to gaze on Him Who is hung on the Cross, is caused by all of our refusal to be faithful and to obey the will of God. His pain and sorrow are caused by our own pride, our own greed and jealousy, our ambition and selfishness, all of the wicked things we have done towards one another, every moments we have caused hurt on others, when we trample on the rights and dignity of our fellow brethren, and every time we fail to act with love, when there are people who are suffering and unloved in our midst.

Yet, He endured them all, because of His love for each and every one of us. His love and compassion for us so great that He even forgave His enemies and persecutors from the Cross, praying that their sins would not be held against them. Thus in the same way, God has also willingly loved us and desired to forgive us from our sins, and He extends His hands to us, to embrace us and to welcome us back, that we may be fully reconciled with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on the love of Christ made evident in the Cross today, on this Good Friday and beyond. Let us all bear our own cross with love, following the examples of Christ, that we accept His ever generous offer of mercy and embrace His compassionate heart. Let us all turn wholeheartedly to Him and abandon all things that have separated us from Him, all things that have caused Him to be wounded, our sins and rebelliousness.

Let us from now on, endeavour and do our best to love God, Who has loved us first so much that He endured all those sufferings for us. And let us all also love one another, that we truly become the beacons and bearers of Christ’s Light and love in this world of darkness, that through our love, many more will come to believe in the Lord and in the salvation He has brought to us through His Cross. Let us follow the example of the Christ, the New Adam, and abandon the past sins we have, the life of the old Adam, who fell into sin.

May the glorious Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ be our guide always, that each and every one of us will grow ever deeper in faith and in our love for God, remembering at each and every moments of our life, the boundless love that He has shown us through the Cross. May He continue to be present within our hearts, that the love of Christ Crucified will fill us to the brim, and allow us to be loving to one another and towards God in the same way that Christ has loved us, all the way to the Cross. Amen.

Thursday, 18 April 2019 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this evening we celebrate together the first day of the Paschal or Easter Triduum, the three most important days in the entire liturgical year, marking the beginning of the events that marked the very crucial moment in our human history and existence, the moment when God Himself intervened to save us all from our fated destruction, by His own Passion, suffering and death on the cross, and by His glorious resurrection, through which He conquered sin and death.

On this night we gather to celebrate the moment of Our Lord’s Last Supper with His disciples, which marked the beginning of the long sequence of events that led to His death on the cross, and on that night, when the Last Supper happened, the Lord instituted not just one, but two of the most important Sacraments of the Church, that is of the Eucharist, as well as the Holy Orders of the sacred priesthood.

First of all, with regards to the Eucharist, on this night, through the Scripture passages we heard, we are reminded of the Last Supper being the new and true Passover, which fulfilled and completed the Passover as known to the Jewish people, the one that celebrated the moment of the liberation of the people of Israel from their slavery in the land of Egypt, when God brought them out by His own power, and freed them from the tyranny of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh.

The details were mentioned in our first reading passage today, in which the Israelites were told to take a lamb for each household, and in which the lamb was to be slaughtered and to be eaten after being roasted on the fire for each of the members of the household. Meanwhile, the blood of the lamb was to be marked on the doorposts of the houses of the people of Israel, so that the Angel of God bearing the plague of death on the Egyptians would not harm them.

And this is where the new, Christian Passover of Our Lord Jesus Christ, represented in the Last Supper, was truly significant when we understand the importance of the first, old Jewish Passover of the time of the Exodus. At the new Christian Passover, that is at the Last Supper, there is also lamb to be sacrificed and shared by the people, but that is not the usual Passover as known to the Jewish people at the time. For the Lord Himself is the Lamb, and He offered Himself, His own Flesh and Blood, to be the Lamb of Sacrifice.

And the Last Supper was merely part of a larger celebration and event, which is why, we celebrate it all together as part of the most sacred Paschal Triduum, where if we carefully look through the entirety of the liturgical celebrations, is one large and extended celebration of the Holy Mass, because the same Eucharist consecrated on this night, at the celebration of the Last Supper, will also be used tomorrow on Good Friday, the day when we celebrate the Lord’s crucifixion and death.

As such, the Last Supper cannot be separated from the Crucifixion, for both of them are part of the one and same sacrifice of Our Lord. Jesus Our Lord is the Lamb of the Passover, the Paschal Lamb Who has been sacrificed for us all, just as how the priests of the ancient Israel offered the sacrificial lamb for the atonement of the sins of the people, and the sacrificial lamb’s blood was spilled on the altar as a reminder of how the blood of the lamb marked Israel’s salvation and liberation at the time of the Exodus.

Significantly, the Lamb of God, our Paschal Lamb is none other than the Lord Jesus Himself, willingly embraced to be slaughtered for all of our sins, and spilled His own Most Precious Blood on the Altar of the Cross. Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, Calvary or Golgotha, the place where the Lord was crucified, is the Altar on which the Lord offered Himself both as the High Priest of all of us mankind, and offering Himself as the perfect offering by which God reconciled us all to Himself.

When the Lord at the Last Supper took the bread, blessed the bread and said the words of the Institution, “Take this all of you and eat of it, for this is My Body… which shall be given up for you…” and when He took the chalice, filled with wine, blessed it and gave it to His disciples to drink, “Take this, all of you and drink from it… for this is the chalice of My Blood… the Blood of the New and Eternal Covenant…” He did not just symbolically just mentioned the bread and wine being His Body and Blood.

On the contrary, Jesus was very clear, that the bread and wine, through His own Divine Power and united to His own crucifixion that would soon to happen at the time, that the bread He gave to His disciples was His Real Body and the wine He gave to them was His Real Blood. And to all of His disciples, He has given them the commandment and the mandate, to do what He has done, in His memory.

And when He passed His Body and Blood to His disciples, it was just as the old Jewish Passover, when everyone shared in the lamb that has been slaughtered, by which blood they have been ‘passed over’ by the Angel of Death, and were saved. The Israelites were saved and liberated from the slavery of sin by the blood of the unblemished lamb, and now, all of us who believe in Christ, are saved by the Blood of the Lamb of God, the true and perfect unblemished Lamb, worthy to save us all from our sins.

That was why, just as the Lord instituted the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist, He also instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Orders at that occasion of the Last Supper, which we are celebrating tonight. Each of those whom God has called and chosen to be His holy priests, are the successors of the Apostles, to whom the Lord has given the power and the authority, to unite their own offerings at every celebrations of the Holy Mass, to His own sacrificial offering on the Cross at Calvary.

That is why, every single celebrations of the Mass is properly known as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, instituted by the Lord Himself, as the same sacrifice that the Lord has performed at Calvary. The Lord is not sacrificed again and again, but only once and for all, and this is the same sacrifice which is reenacted again and again at every celebration of the Holy Mass, when the priests, ordained by the successors of the Apostles, and become successors of the Apostles themselves.

The responsibilities that our priests have accepted to bear are enormous, as they are entrusted with the role to be in persona Christi, to represent Christ Himself in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and therefore, to bring forth and unite all the people of God to the same sacrifice that the Lord Jesus has done on the Cross. Through His suffering and death on the Cross, Christ has become the ultimate servant of all, the servant of all the people of God, humbling Himself and emptying Himself of all glory, that He may save us all through His perfect and selfless offering of love.

Thus, let us all pray, brothers and sisters in Christ, that each and every one of us will deepen our faith in God, especially as we enter into the sacred mysteries of the Paschal Triduum, and reflect on our belief and faith in the Real Presence of God in the Eucharist, and unite our prayers together with all those whom God had called to be His servants, to be those called to the Holy Orders, to be like Christ and to be His representatives on this world.

Let us all pray that our priests will be filled with love, and also a spirit of humility and selflessness, that they may offer their own loving self and give themselves in sacrifice for the good of all the people of God, just as the Lord Himself has done. Let us all pray that they all will be faithful to the calling and to the mission which God has entrusted to them, that just as He commanded them as He washed the feet of His disciples, that they will be filled with a spirit of faithful servanthood, of courageous faith to serve all of God’s people.

And finally, let us also be inspired by the examples set by our priests and all those who have given themselves to the service of God, that we too, may follow the example of the Lord and obey the commandment that He has mandated to His disciples, that we love one another, and be humble in all things, becoming servant to one another in love.

Let us all recall that infinite and boundless love that Christ has shown us, by His willing sacrifice in becoming our Paschal Lamb of sacrifice, so that each and every one of us who partake in Him in the Eucharist, will share in His death, by dying to our own past, sinful selves, and then share in His glorious resurrection, to a new life filled with God’s grace. Let us all then prepare ourselves to celebrate meaningfully the most important events in the history of our salvation, by focusing our attention on this Paschal Triduum on Our Lord Jesus Christ, His love for us, and His selfless sacrifice, by which all of us have been saved, by the power of the Cross. Amen.

Thursday, 18 April 2019 : Chrism Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this occasion of the Chrism Mass celebrated on the morning hours of the Holy Thursday, at the beginning of Paschal Triduum, when the holy oils to be used for the entire liturgical year will be presented and blessed, in the presence of the entire presbyterate, all the priests of each dioceses united to their respective bishops, in the sign of unity and service to God, and a renewal of their commitment to serve God and His people.

That is why today’s Scripture passages for the Chrism Mass showed us all the true nature and importance of the consecrated and priestly vocation, those who have been called and chosen by God, to be His own servants, to be the ones through whom God wants to bring us all together again, as the intermediary between Him and all of us via their role as the representatives of Our Lord Jesus Christ, acting ‘in Persona Christi’ during the celebration of the Holy Mass and in the administration of the Sacraments.

And every year, at this occasion of the Chrism Mass, the whole diocese, the bishop and his priests, gather together to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to renew their commitment to serve the Lord faithfully despite all the challenges, difficulties and the many obstacles that each and every one of them must have encountered along their journey and throughout their respective ministries among the people of God.

In the first reading and in the Gospel passage today, we heard of the important roles that each of the priests and all those who have dedicated themselves to the Lord’s service are required to do, in administering to the people of God, and in obeying God’s will and bringing good deeds to the people, in reaching out to the poor and the needy, in extending their hands and efforts to help those who are marginalised, ostracised, and even more importantly, those who have fallen into sin.

Unfortunately, many of the priests today have often fallen into a state of laxity and complacency in carrying out their missions to which they have been called to do. And sadly, some among them even succumbed to the temptations of the world, and as widely reported in various occasions recently, they caused scandal to rock the whole foundation of the Church, and caused many others to lose their faith in God, because of the most unbecoming attitudes of these priests.

And this is what happens when those who have embraced the calling to priesthood failed or forgot to realise what it is that they have been called to do, that is to be the very image and representation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the one true High Priest of all, and the model of all of our priests. When they instead behave with pride, desiring attention and fame, putting themselves at the limelight and become the focus of personal attention during the celebrations of the Mass and in other occasions instead of putting the Lord first, these are the causes of the downfall of many of our priests.

The Lord Himself has shown all of us, what true priesthood is all about. It is about loving service rendered faithfully and selflessly to God, and by extension, to all of fellow mankind. The Lord Jesus loved His heavenly Father, obeyed Him and listened to Him in all things, and fulfilled the most important mission He has been entrusted to, the focus of our sacred Paschal Triduum celebrations, that is to suffer for our sins, to bear the burden of the cross of our iniquities, and to die for our sake on that same cross.

The Lord was not prideful, but instead was humble, so humble that even though He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, yet, He stripped Himself of all glory, honour and power, of all prestige and even human dignity, lowering Himself to the condition of a servant and slave. When at the Last Supper, that we are all going to celebrate later tonight at the Mass of Our Lord’s Supper, He took off His garment, and wearing the vesture of a servant, washed the feet of each of His disciples, a work that only servants did.

He became a servant to all, so that He might show us all, how each and every one of us, and especially our priests and all those who have been called to the sacred, consecrated life, ought to act in their own lives and in their own respective calling. And if each and every one of us has kept steady focus on the examples and the inspiration that the Lord Himself has shown us, it would have been much more difficult for the devil to cause us to stumble and create scandal among the faithful.

Today, let us all put our prayers together for our priests, for our bishops, for all those who have been entrusted with the governance and guidance of the entire Universal Church in their various capacities, and for our Pope, the leader of the Universal Church. Let us all pray that many of them, who remain truly faithful to the calling of their ministry of priesthood, will continue to remain faithful and devoted to the same calling that they have received, that they will be able to commit themselves wholeheartedly and resist the temptations to sin.

And for us all, let us all also make the same commitment to live righteous and God-abiding lives from now on, and do our best in our various capacities, as the members of the Body of Christ the Church, that we support the works and the efforts of the priesthood, so that each and every one of us will be able to join our efforts and contribute enormously to the many good works of the Church, supporting those who are at the forefront of the spiritual warfare of this world, namely, our holy priests.

May the Lord continue to guide and bless them, and may He grant them the strength and the courage to carry out their missions faithfully, that they will continue to show us the examples of Christ and inspire us with their own selfless service and love, that we too may follow in their examples and be people worthy of God and His love. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the Wednesday of the blessed Holy Week, we focus on the betrayal of our Lord Jesus by one of His own disciples, the infamous Judas Iscariot. As such, traditionally today is also known as ‘Spy Wednesday’ for it was told that Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests and the elders to sell out his own Lord and Master on this day, which was done in utter secrecy that none of the other disciples knew about his betrayal until the very end.

We heard of how Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests and the elders asking them for an offer of money in exchange for the betrayal that he himself put on the discussion table. And they agreed on a sum of thirty pieces of silver. This may seem to be a lot, but in fact, as compared to the value of other things, this is a merely very small amount, and in fact, historical research and records showed that the price was the rough average price of a slave in the market.

And this is a very significant and meaningful thing to think about, that the Lord, God and King, Master of the entire Universe, was betrayed and sold to His enemies at the price of a mere slave, a most worthless and indeed, a mere commodity to be traded at the time, when slaves were not even treated as a human being should have been treated. And that was exactly what the Lord willingly accepted, the role of a faithful Servant and a suffering slave to all of us mankind.

As written in the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, God sent His Saviour into this world, a Servant Who would obediently fulfilled the mission which has been entrusted to Him, even though it would require Him to go through enormous suffering, persecution, rejection, ridicule and humiliation, to endure all that the worst of the world could raise up against Him. And that was exactly what the Lord Jesus had to suffer from.

He was willing to endure all of that sufferings, because of nothing less than His pure, selfless and enduring desire to love each and every one of us sinners, all those whom He loved from the beginning of time, but because of our sins, we have been sundered and separated from His love. Without the love of God, there would have been no hope for us all. And that is precisely because of the love that He has for us, that He was willing to forgive us our sins and be reconciled with us.

God could have destroyed us outright with His will alone. Our sins are despicable to Him, and our refusal to obey Him and our continued sinful actions are truly hurtful to Him. And yet, He was ever patient and forgiving, knowing that there are still good in us, as He created us all good and perfect before sin came and corrupted us. He wants to be reconciled with us, and that desire and compassion in Him allowed Him to do what He has willingly undertook for our sake.

And that is to humble Himself and empty Himself, humbling Himself before God and man alike, to obey the will of the Father so perfectly and be filled with so much love for Him and for His fellow men, that He bore that cross upon His shoulders, as the perfect Man, the New Adam, by which God made a new Covenant with the whole race of man. The first Adam had sinned because he chose to side with the devil and believe in the devil’s lies, and submitted to his greed and pride, and Christ as the New Adam showed us all how each and every one of us ought to be like in our own lives.

Judas fell into sin because he was selfish, and so did the chief priests and all those who plotted with Judas against the Lord. The former cared about his own desire for money, which he had done earlier as he helped himself corruptly to the group’s own treasure money, a wicked act to serve his own greed, while the latter wanted to preserve their own status, prestige and standing in the society, and could not bear to have the opposition from the Lord Jesus, His authority and His teachings.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how should we choose to proceed with our lives from now on? Do we follow the example of Judas Iscariot, the chief priests and the elders in their prideful and haughty attitudes, in their greed and desires for power, glory and worldly satisfactions? Or should we instead follow the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His humility before all, and His love for His heavenly Father and for us all, as the perfect example for all of us to follow?

Let us all reflect on all these things as we prepare ourselves to enter the most sacred Paschal Triduum beginning tomorrow on Holy Thursday, that we may truly reflect and ponder on our own lives, our every words and actions, so that in everything we say and do, we will grow ever more devoted to the Lord, and shunning behind all of our past wicked ways, that we do not follow the path of sin any longer, and be true disciples of the Lord from now on.

Let us all have a wonderful time celebrating together the sacred Paschal Triduum, and allow the Lord to enter into our lives, that He may transform each and every one of us to be true children of light and to be worthy recipients of God’s everlasting inheritance and wonders. Amen.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 : Tuesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this blessed Tuesday of the Holy Week, we listened to the coming of God’s salvation as promised to His people, in our first reading which was taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah. The Lord sent His deliverance to all of us through the Lord Jesus Christ, His own Son, as prophesied by the prophets, the One Who would deliver us from our troubles and liberate us from our sins.

He was the One promised to be the salvation to all the people of God, to reconcile all of the people to God Himself. And yet, many of the people did not even believe in Him and refused to follow Him, and in today’s Gospel passage, we heard the moment when the Lord was having the meal with His disciples at the Last Supper, just before He was to be betrayed by one of His own and handed over to His enemies.

In that occasion, we heard how even many among the disciples of the Lord did not have a strong faith in Him. First, the Lord Himself mentioned openly how one among the disciples themselves would betray Him to His enemies, and they all wondered who among them would be the one to do such a thing. And Judas Iscariot was the one revealed to be the betrayer, as the Lord Himself already knew what he was about to do. Yet, the other disciples at that time still did not know that Judas was about to betray their Lord.

And then the Lord mentioned to St. Peter and the other disciples, when he said that he would readily give his life for Him, that before the cock crowed the next morning, St. Peter would have denied Him three times, a reference to the moment when St. Peter was asked by the bystanders at the time of the Lord’s trial, and he denied ever knowing Him three times, most likely out of fear of being arrested and suffer the same fate as the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of these passages from the Scripture ought to remind each and every one of us that we are all sinners before God, and all of us, like the disciples, are weak creatures who are often afflicted and tempted by sin, with the various temptations and pressures present in our lives, which made it difficult for us to live a life that is truly faithful to the Lord. But this is where we need to seek God’s help, for we are not able to free ourselves from our sins. Only God is capable of forgiving us our sins.

Just as St. Peter was afflicted with fear and doubt, and how Judas Iscariot was swayed with greed for money and perhaps other desires, we too have often experienced the many temptations often present in our daily lives that brought us into disobedience and therefore sin against God. The Lord indeed did not call perfect people to become His disciples, and all of them had shortcomings and weaknesses, just as we are.

Neither was it that saints had no weakness or exposure to the temptations to sim. But the most important difference between them and those sinners who have been condemned is that they willingly turned their back to sin and abandon their wicked ways behind them. They were sinners who sought the Lord for forgiveness, and they allowed the Lord to guide them in their path of life, their words, actions and deeds.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, as we continue to progress through this blessed Holy Week, let us all rediscover our faith for God, and commit ourselves anew, to make ourselves once again to be righteous, just and good in all of our actions and deeds in life. Let us all turn to God from now on, with all of our hearts and with all of our might, that He, the Perfect One, may enter into our lives and transform our imperfections and weaknesses into strength and courage through His love and mercy. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 15 April 2019 : Monday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into the Holy Week, on this blessed Monday, we are presented with God Who is loving and forgiving, filled with mercy and compassion, Who wants to forgive us from our sins and shortcomings, from our disobedience and rebelliousness. And this is important because the whole reason for the celebration of this Holy Week is based on God’s love for each and every one of us.

For as we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in our first reading today, the Lord has sent us His salvation in the Messiah and Servant He has brought into this world, and this One He has sent, was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God and Son of Man, the One Who revealed God’s infinite and boundless love for all of us, and Who sought sinners and those who have fallen into sin, to heal them and liberate them from their bondage to sin.

That was what we have also heard in our Gospel passage today, when we heard of the moment when the Lord Jesus was with His disciples and Mary, likely Mary Magdalene, whom in many accounts was a former prostitute that the Lord had redeemed and saved from the possession of demons and evil spirits. Mary took out an alabaster jar filled with expensive pure nard perfume, and anointed the feet of the Lord with it.

And not only that she anointed the Lord’s feet with the rich and fragrant perfume, but she also wiped the Lord’s feet dry with her own hair. And if we understand the gestures and the importance of one’s actions and appearances at the time, we should appreciate even better how significant this event is for each and every one of us. What Mary had done, was a representation and symbol of her total love, surrender, humility and commitment to the Lord.

A woman’s hair is her glory and her crown, and the beauty of a woman is often linked to her hair. And even more so during Jesus’ time, a woman’s hair is so precious, that it is ought to be covered with veil, as St. Paul mentioned in his Epistles, that a woman ought to cover her glory in the presence of the Lord. Yet, Mary used those very hair, her own glory, to do what seemed to be the most humiliating of tasks, that is to wipe another person’s feet, which in contrast to the hair, is associated with filth, humiliation and dishonour.

Mary therefore gave her best to the Lord, not just in using the expensive pure nard perfume, which was a really expensive aromatic matter at the time, but in using her own pride and glory to humble herself before the Lord such, not just in front of a few but many who witnessed what she has done. And some misunderstood her intentions, such as Judas Iscariot, the one who was about to betray the Lord, because he was already then having dishonest and wicked intentions in his heart.

That was why he was quick in criticising Mary before everyone who was present and rightfully was immediately rebuked by the Lord for that unjust and completely improper criticism. By contrasting the actions and words of Mary and Judas Iscariot, we can see how while the former was filled with faith and humility before God, recognising her own sinfulness and unworthiness before God, she gave her best to serve Him and to seek Him for His love, mercy and forgiveness.

And in contrast, Judas Iscariot, whom in some accounts was one of the most brilliant and most qualified among the disciples of the Lord, on account of his role as some sort of treasurer of the Lord’s company, which definitely required some intelligence and skills in accounting and the handling of finances, this one was not filled with love and faith for God, but instead with selfishness, greed and pride. And that eventually led to his downfall in his betrayal of the Lord.

And if we look through the first reading again and reflect on the whole events of this Holy Week, we will realise that the Lord Himself did what Mary had done. The Lord, Who is King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Master of all the Universe certainly had no need to humble Himself, and yet, He assumed the flesh of Man, and humbled Himself such that, He took up even the condition of a slave, and burdened Himself with the punishment for our sins, so that, each and every one of us may be reconciled with God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to journey through this blessed time of the Holy Week, let us all deepen our relationship with God, and reflect more on the Lord’s love for each and every one of us, His loving heart and compassionate mercy, by which He has willingly humbled Himself, and gave Himself the burden of the cross, that is all of our sins and unworthiness, our shortcomings and rebelliousness, so that by His suffering and death on the cross, He brings us all together to share in His resurrection, so that we all receive a new life, one that is no longer bound and enslaved to sin.

May the Lord continue to guide us and may He strengthen our faith and our commitment to serve Him and to love Him each and every days of our life. May He also inspire us all to live our lives following the good examples of the humility of Mary, who gave her all in her service to God, in her humility and dedication to Our Lord and Saviour. Amen.