Sunday, 17 April 2022 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, after a long period of forty days and the six Sundays of Lent that we have spent before this night, we have finally come to the culmination of all of our preparations for this most important event in all the history of mankind and in the history of our salvation. For this very night we commemorate that time when Christ Our Lord, our Crucified Saviour, rose gloriously from the dead, overcoming sin and death, and therefore barring open the gates of hell, showing the triumphant victory of God and His faithful ones against the forces of evil and darkness, against sin and death.

Tonight as we gather together to celebrate the coming of Easter, we rejoice greatly as we finally see the great Hope and Light that Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour had shown us by His glorious Resurrection, that we know that sin no longer has its hold on us, and death no longer has the final say over us. There is life and existence after death, when our physical bodies meet its end in this world, because we shall rise and join our Risen Lord in a new and blissful existence, sharing in the joy of all the Angels and saints in Heaven, to be forever with God and to be in His light and Presence always.

That is why we sing with great joy the Gloria tonight, praising God and singing our joyful heart out, glorifying Our Lord Who has conquered sin and death, and Who has loved us all so much and so dearly that He has done all these things for us, as we look back to our Holy Week journey to remind us of everything that He had done for us. We sing the great Alleluia, the triumphant proclamation of praise and joy, which we have not sung for the entirety of the season of Lent, as we look forward to the true and great joy of seeing God’s light and salvation in our midst, reflecting the joy that the disciples had upon seeing that empty tomb and then later on, seeing the Risen Lord in their midst.

In our many Scripture readings tonight, traditionally numbering seven from the Old Testament, the First to the Seventh Reading, and then two from the New Testament, the Epistle and the Gospel reading, we have heard the long account of God’s plan of salvation for each and every one of us from the beginning of Creation, culminating at the Lord’s Resurrection in our Gospel today where all of God’s plans and promises were accomplished and fulfilled perfectly. Let us look back into those readings to remind ourselves of how beloved we are in God’s eyes that He has done so much for our redemption and liberation from sin and death. We are reminded that He has loved us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son, that through Him we will not perish but have eternal life.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Genesis, we heard of the account of the Creation of the universe, the whole world as know it. Through His will and by His words, all of the universe we created, God creating everything that exists and made everything as He desired it to be, all good and perfect as we heard the Lord Himself saying. He made the firmaments, the Heaven and the Earth, and all the living things, from the smallest to the greatest. The Lord then lastly also made us all mankind, the pinnacle of all His creation, as creatures made in His own image and appearance. He gave us the Spirit of life, and made us all good and perfect.

We may wonder why God had created us all in the first place. After all, is God not perfect and has everything? God has no need or any shortage of anything. He has perfect love shared within Himself in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But the reason why God created us all and everything is indeed that love is not truly full and wholesome unless it is shared with even more people. That is why God created all of us, in order to share His overflowing love with us. We were always destined and meant to live in pure happiness and bliss with God, just as how the Gardens of Eden were described as a blissful and perfect place.

It was by our own failure to resist the temptations to sin, in giving to the desires of our hearts that led us into our downfall. Satan, the great adversary plotted for our destruction and downfall, and he knew well how to tempt us. He tempted Eve and eventually Adam through her to disobey God’s commands by eating the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and as a result sin entered by into the hearts of mankind. Ever since then, sin has reigned over us and we have been made defiled and corrupted, and thus we are no longer able to be hiwith God. That was why Adam and Eve were both cast out of Eden.

God created all things good and perfect, and that includes us all as well, brothers and sisters in Christ. But sin enslaved us all, corrupted us and made us all separated from God. Yet, God did not give up on us, and He still loved us all the same. He could have destroyed and annihilated us by the mere power of His will, or to condemn us all to hellfire just as what happened to Satan and all the fallen angels, but He clearly did not do so. He loves us all mankind beyond anything else, as His own most beloved ones, as His beloved children that He has formed and made His own. Because of this, it is natural that God wants to find us and be reconciled with us.

Hence, He promised us His salvation that He would send into our midst, and He made a Covenant with us through Abraham as His effort to rebuild the relationship that has been broken with us, and this Covenant was meant as a reminder of the great love that He has for each and every one of us, that in the end, He did not desire our destruction but instead our reconciliation with Him. That Covenant serves as a reminder of this love that God has for each and every one of us. And most importantly, a Covenant involves both parties that take part in the Covenant, and just as God has reached out to us with love and mercy, then we have to respond to Him as well.

Then, we ought to remember how the Lord blessed and fulfilled His promises to Abraham, and as He has promised to him, he became the father of many nations and many people. These descendants of Abraham, the Israelites, God’s chosen people was led by God to Egypt during the time of great famine, and then blessed them and made them prosper greatly in the land of Egypt which led to them being enslaved by the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. But God again showed His great love and compassion for His people, in sending Moses, whom He called to be His servant, and then through Moses and his brother Aaron, God performed many great miracles and signs, sending ten Great Plagues to persuade and force the Egyptians to let His people go free.

In our third reading today, we heard that iconic moment in the history of God’s people, recounting to us the moment when the Israelites were pursued all the way to the edge of the sea, out of which there was no where else to go. They were at the threshold of escaping and leaving behind the land of their slavery towards freedom, on their way towards the Promised Land at Canaan, promised to them and their ancestors from the days of Abraham. They were all afraid and fearful seeing all of the armies and the chariots of the Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but God was with His people, and He did not just stop those armies and chariots with a great pillar of fire, but He also opened the sea itself before them.

I am sure all of us are familiar with the story of how the Israelites walked through the sea on the dry seabed, and how they were led to the other side through the water, and then the Lord brought the water and the waves down against the Egyptians who tried to pursue after the people of Israel, crushing their armies and chariots, winning a great victory and triumph for the people He had chosen and loved as His own. And this reading is very symbolic for today in particular especially because this night is typically when the catechumens are baptised and therefore welcomed into the Church, and for all of us who have already been baptised, we are reminded of our baptismal promises.

For just as the Israelites were led through the water of the sea, from the land of their slavery into the land of freedom, therefore the catechumens who have committed themselves to the Lord are led through the water of baptism, to leave behind their past enslaved state under sin and death, and be freed by the grace of God to enter into the freedom and true joy that He has called us all to come towards. When we are immersed in the waters of baptism, we leave behind our past lives and are washed clean, becoming a clean slate, beginning a new stage in our lives and existence, transformed into God’s own adopted children, His sons and daughters. And all of us who have been baptised earlier are reminded of this moment when our lives are transformed forever.

And through the other Scripture readings that we have heard today, in the prophets and how they speak of God and His care and love for His people, reminding them of everything that He has done for them, again and again throughout the ages, and all of us are called to refocus our attention on the Lord, keeping in mind that God has been so loving, kind and merciful that He has always been willing to reach out to us, forgiving us and welcoming us back to Him whenever we sinned. The Lord has given us all the means for us to return to Him, because He loves us so much more than He despises our sins. Nonetheless, as mentioned before, because of sin we have been corrupted and made defiled, and we have been separated from God because of this.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God gave us His only begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to be Our Saviour, and through Him all of us have received the assurance of eternal life, all because of everything that happened that time which we celebrate now, the moment when He overcame sin and death, gloriously triumphant through His Resurrection. By His Passion, His suffering and death, Christ has taken upon Himself all of our sins and faults, our mistakes and all the punishments due to those sins. He redeemed us by offering Himself as the perfect and most worthy offering, the only one by which all of us mankind can be absolved from our many, innumerable sins.

While Our Lord endured death and descended into hell after His passing on Good Friday, He did not remain in death forever, showing us all that death has finally been overcome, for the Master of Life and Death Himself has come to liberate all those who have been awaiting Him to see the hope of their salvation. That was why when the Lord rose gloriously in His Resurrection, many eyewitnesses saw the tombs of the righteous were opened and the souls of the deceased righteous went out and were taken by God to their rightful place in the afterlife.

According to Church tradition and teachings, the Lord went down into hell, in what is known as the harrowing of Hell, as God liberated all those who were deemed worthy of salvation and brought them out of their waiting place, and you can just imagine the kind of joy that those souls of the faithful departed must have upon witnessing the light of the Lord coming into their midst, liberating them, much as how the Israelites were led out of their slavery in Egypt into the freedom, and to the Promised Land. And all of us share in this same joy because through baptism, in fact, we have also shared in the death of Christ, dying to our old ways of life, and striving henceforth, to live lives truly worthy of God.

That is why we rejoice this Easter, brothers and sisters in Christ. We rejoice because through Christ, we have received the assurance of true happiness and we are all made His beloved children, called to be His disciples, and through our common baptism, we have been marked as God’s people. We are now members of God’s Church, His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the one united Body of Christ. However, at the same time, we also have to remember and keep in mind that we cannot be idle in the living of our faith.

That is because although today, the Easter Vigil is the pinnacle of our entire liturgical year, remembering and celebrating the single most important event in our entire human history and existence, but we must remember that Easter and our baptism is not the end journey, but only the beginning of the journey towards God. Just as the Israelites in the past have had to travel for an entire forty years, before they actually reached and entered into the Promised Land, and they fell again and again into sin, the same applies to us all as well. If we allow ourselves to be swayed by worldly temptations and our desires, then we can easily fall back into our old sinful path and way of life again.

We have to keep this in mind as we celebrate the most wonderful and joyous festivities happening today this Easter Vigil. That we must not forget our calling in life as Christians. We have to follow the Lord and walk in His path, having seen the hope of His light and salvation, and the empty tomb showing us hope that there is path beyond sin and death. Through Christ, His loving sacrifice on the Cross and most importantly, His resurrection from the dead, He has shown us the path out of darkness and into the light.

God has established a new Covenant with us, and as we all should be aware of, this Covenant requires us to be actively doing our part of this Covenant, and means that we have to be active in contributing to the Church, in living our lives with faith, dedicating ourselves to serve Our Lord in all times and opportunities. We have to walk this path with faith, and realise that there is still a long path forward for us. Let us all be inspirations and good examples for one another, and be good role models and witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and resurrection in our community and world today. Let us all be true Christians in all things, and proclaim the Lord in all opportunities.

May the joy of Our Risen Lord be with us always, and may He empower us all to remain firm in faith, and that we may always ever be committed to Him, no matter what challenges, trials and temptations may be present in our path. May God bless us always, in everything we do, and may all of us have a blessed Easter season and celebration. Alleluia! Our Lord is Risen! Amen!

Friday, 15 April 2022 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the important occasion of Good Friday, on which day we remember the Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross, as we are surely all familiar with, as He brought His Cross from Jerusalem right up to the hill of Calvary, was nailed on the Cross, raised up and eventually died. Through His death, the Lord has brought us all the salvation and the eternal life that He has promised to each and every one of us. This day we remember that act of supreme love which Our Lord had done for us, remembering His own words, that there is no greater love than for one to lay down his life for a friend.

This Good Friday celebration reminds us of all that God had done for us, out of His persistent and enduring love for each one of us sinners. He loved us all so much that He has given us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Who suffered and died for our sake. This same Christ brought His Cross and placed it firmly on His shoulders, taking upon Himself all of our faults and sins, enduring on our behalf all the sufferings and punishments due for those sins, so that by His sufferings, His wounds, He might become for us a source of sure hope and consolation, bringing upon us redemption and a new life blessed by God, to be reunited with God, our most loving Father and Creator.

His suffering and death has been long foretold before by the prophets, most prominently by Isaiah, as we heard in our first reading today. Through the Servant prophesied by Isaiah, God would bring about the salvation of all mankind. Yet, He would have to endure the worst treatments and the greatest humiliations in order to accomplish His mission. He would be broken and crushed, and all of the sufferings intended for us would be placed squarely on His shoulders. Those were all the things that Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, had willingly accepted upon Himself, in fulfilment of the prophecies made about Him.

And in continuation of yesterday’s discourse from the Mass of Holy Thursday, the Institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Last Supper, I have shared earlier how today’s events cannot be separated from all the events that were commemorated yesterday. I mentioned how the Last Supper is the New Passover and the hallmark of the New Covenant which Our Lord has made and established with us, modelled upon the original Passover which happened in the land of Egypt, when the Lord saved the Israelites from the tyranny of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh.

At the Last Supper, the Lord made a fundamental change to the celebration of the Passover, which while was still essentially similar, He placed Himself as the centre and the focus of the commemoration, and the absence of the usual young, unblemished lamb that were slain and sacrificed, to be shared by everyone. And that is because in the new Passover and the new Covenant, Christ Himself is the Lamb, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. This is important because at the Last Supper, the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist, transforming the bread and wine fully into the essence, substance and reality of His own Precious Body and Blood.

He shared His Precious Body and Blood in the bread He blessed and broke, and in the wine He blessed and shared with the disciples, and through them, He has passed the same Eucharist to us. At every celebration of the Holy Mass, as the priests prayed the prayer of consecration, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine the priests offered on our behalf at the Mass, are also transformed into the same Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord. Yet, at the same time, it is not that a new sacrifice is offered each time the Holy Mass is celebrated, but rather, the same sacrifice of Our Lord that spans the period from the Last Supper to Calvary is brought into our midst, the same loving sacrifice of Our Lord that we remember and celebrate today.

And as I mentioned yesterday night, the Last Supper in fact happened earlier than the typical Passover which happened on the Sabbath. It was mentioned at the end of the Gospel today that after the Lord had died, it was the preparation day for the Sabbath, and He could not be properly buried yet as there was not enough time before the Sabbath began on sunset on the same day of the Lord’s death on the Cross. If we remember what happened on the original Passover, the Lord instructed that the young, unblemished lamb were to be prepared and then slaughtered the day before the Passover. This very day is the day when the Passover lamb was to be slaughtered. When the Lord said from His Cross towards the very end, ‘It is accomplished’, it is a reference to the completion of the offering of the Lord’s sacrifice for the atonement of our sins.

Hence, Good Friday is indeed a commemoration of the moment when Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sinless One and the Lamb of God was slain for us, much as how the Passover lamb was slain and its blood used to mark the houses of the faithful. In the same way, by His death, the offering and sacrifice began at the Last Supper and completed on Good Friday, Our Lord has broken His Body and shed His Blood for us, that on His Cross, the offering and gift of the Eucharist that we all share as Christians, was made complete and perfect. That is why we believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation, that the bread and wine have been fully transformed in essence and reality to the Most Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord Himself.

That is why the Holy Mass itself is the recreation of the events at Calvary, the Lord offering His own Body and Blood, the perfect and worthy Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb slain for our sake. At the Holy Mass we have the unbloodied representation of the same bloody sacrifice of Our Lord at Calvary, on our Altars the same sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Saviour and High Priest on the Altar of His Cross. That is what the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews had spoken about, that Christ is the one true High Priest Who has offered the perfect sacrifice, with Himself as the sacrificial victim as the Lamb of God. That is why the Mass is truly the pinnacle of our worship, the worship of God Who has come down into our midst to dwell with us, and Who has willingly embraced suffering and death for our sake.

For the only sacrificial offering worthy of the redemption of all mankind is Christ Himself, Who as the perfect and unblemished, immaculate Son of God and Son of Man, has offered Himself as the means for us to be reconciled with God. Through His Cross, He has reestablished the connection and path between us and God, a connection that had once been broken by our disobedience and sins. He has shown us the power of God’s love, mercy and compassion. That is why today, even as the whole creation mourns the death of the Son of God, it is a ‘Good’ Friday because this day we who once have no hope of redemption have seen the light of God and the path out of the darkness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we commemorate our Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross, we are all called to remember that through our baptism, we have shared in the death that Christ has gone through, by dying to our sins and our past way of life. Let us all look upon the Lord crucified today and see in Him, our hope and our salvation, and be fearful no more. Christ our Lord has conquered by His Cross, and by His sacrifice which we now commemorate, He has reunited us all to God. Let us all be thankful to all that He had done for our sake, and commit ourselves to Him anew.

Let us all pick up our crosses and follow Him, as He Himself said that no one can become His disciples unless they pick up their crosses and walk with Him. This is what we need to do from now on. Let this Good Friday commemoration is not just a-once a year event and then is quickly forgotten again once the Holy Week is over. As Christians we are all called to be good role models, inspirations and examples for one another, in how we live our lives and in all of our actions. Are we able to do this, brothers and sisters? Are we ready and capable of committing ourselves to be the faithful witnesses of Our Crucified Christ?

May our Lord Jesus, Who was crucified and died for us all out of His boundless love for each one of us, continue to watch over us as we journey in this world. May all of us remain strong in our faith, commitment and dedication to Our Lord, even as we encounter many challenges and trials in our path. May all of us persevere in faith in the same way that Our Lord has persevered through even the worst of sufferings, pain and humiliation that through Him we may have the hope and joy of eternal life, free forever from the bondage and tyranny of sin and evil, from death and damnation in hell. May God bless us all in the remaining Easter Triduum celebrations and henceforth, that we will always grow ever closer to Him, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 14 April 2022 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this night celebration of the Holy Mass, the whole Church celebrates together the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the commemoration of the Last Supper during which time the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist, and told His disciples to commemorate it in His memory. This night is very important as it was the moment when the Lord began the journey of His Passion that ended only on the glorious Resurrection at Easter. Hence, that is why we celebrate them together in the Easter Triduum beginning tonight right up to Easter Sunday of Our Lord’s Resurrection.

This night we remember that night when the Lord had His Last Supper with His disciples when He broke the bread with them and shared to them the bread which He spoke to them is His Body, given to them freely, and also shared the cup of wine that He had blessed, the wine that has turned into His Most Precious Blood. It was at the Last Supper that the Lord revealed what He was going to do in order to bring about the salvation of the whole world, by His Passion, His suffering, death on the Cross and resurrection, through which He would lead us into the new life of true happiness and joy.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account from the Book of Exodus recounting to us of the pivotal moment in the history of the salvation of God’s people, when God was finally about to lead His people, the Israelites out from their enslavement in Egypt. Up to that moment, God had sent nine great plagues against Egypt and its people because of their stubborn refusal to let the Israelites go free after enslaving them and treating them badly without dignity and respect for them, after exploiting them and trying to eliminate them as a people and nation. The Lord was about to bring one last, greatest plague that would free the people at last.

And that plague was the death of all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, every one of them in the land of Egypt except for the ones whom God would mark and then ‘passed over’. Thus, God gave Moses and Aaron the very specific instructions on what they were to do, in preparing for the very first Passover, the original Passover in the land of Egypt. In particular, the people of Israel were told to prepare and set aside a young, unblemished lamb for sacrifice and to be consumed together as family or group of families together on the night of the Passover.

How is this significant for us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is significant because what happened at the original Passover is exactly what was taking place at the Last Supper as well. The Lord was telling His disciples with the message when He asked them to get ready the place for the Last Supper with the words asking where they would have their Passover meal. Therefore, the Last Supper was indeed the same Passover that the descendants of the Israelites have always commemorated every year. However, we should notice that there is something very different in the Last Supper versus the usual Passover celebrations.

And that is the lack of the centrepiece of the Passover meal, which is the sacrificed lamb. Why is that so? That is because Christ Himself, is the Lamb Who was to be sacrificed and offered to God, and He is the centrepiece of the Passover at the Last Supper, representing the new Passover and the New Covenant that He was to establish with everything that took place between the Last Supper and His death on the Cross. For first of all, we must understand that the Last Supper did not actually end on the Last Supper on that night itself, but in fact continued on right up to the last moments of the Lord on the Cross.

Remember that Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper? The bread that He blessed and broke, and shared with the disciples had turned into His own Most Precious Body, not just in symbolic manner but in real substance and nature, and while it may still appear as bread and taste as bread, but that bread has fundamentally been changed into the very essence of God and His Presence, His own Body, to be broken, shared and given up to us. The same happened to the wine as well, which had become the Most Precious Blood, in all substance and nature, shed and poured down to us to share and drink.

Christ, Our Lord and Saviour is the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrificial Lamb Who had allowed Himself to be led to the slaughter, to be the One to both offer and complete the worthy sacrifice for the sake of all of us. That just as how the ancient Passover led the people of God free from their slavery in Egypt, thus, through Christ’s new Passover, the Holy Eucharist, He is bringing all of us mankind, His beloved children, to the freedom from the slavery under sin and death. The Lord is bringing us into the joy of eternal life that He has always intended for us to enjoy, which had been denied to us due to our own disobedience and sins.

And by His Blood we have been marked much as the people of Israel had been saved by the mark of the lamb’s blood on the lintels of their doors, marking them as the houses of the righteous that the Angels of Death passed over and did not harm. That is yet another way how the ancient Passover and the New Passover are so symbolically similar to each other. Therefore, by the Blood of the Lamb of God, we have been marked as His own, and as those who are deserving of life and not death and destruction. Just as the Israelites had been passed over from death, we too share in the new life that God has brought us.

Then, why did I mention that the Last Supper was not yet completed on that very night? That is because if we pay attention carefully, the Last Supper actually took place before the date of the actual Passover, which happened on the day of the Sabbath, after the Lord’s death on Good Friday. If we see the chronology of events carefully, we will see that the day that the Lord died on the Cross marked the day before the Passover day, the day when the Passover lamb was slaughtered and sacrificed, had its blood poured so that on the day of the Passover, the blood of the lamb saved the people from destruction and death.

Hence, in the same manner, by the Blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, poured forth from His Cross, as He laid dying between the heaven and the earth, the slain Lamb of God, all of us are marked for salvation and eternal life, all of us who believe in Him and put our faith in Him receive from Him the assurance of true joy and happiness with Him and through Him. The offering and sacrifice begun on the Last Supper is completed on the Cross at Good Friday, which was marked by the Lord’s own words on the Cross, ‘It is accomplished.’

That is why, at every celebration of the Holy Mass, we are actually commemorating again the very same sacrifice and offering made by the Lord on His Cross at Calvary. At every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the priests, by the faculty and authority granted to them by the Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, received by them through the Apostles, those same Apostles to whom the Lord entrusted the Eucharist, changed the bread and wine into the essence, substance and reality of Our Lord’s own Most Precious Body and Blood. They may still retain the appearance of bread and wine, but in truth, they are no longer just bread and wine.

And that is the centre of our faith, brothers and sisters in Christ, that in the doctrine of Transubstantiation, we believe that in the Holy Mass, the bread and wine has been completely transformed barring their appearance, into the Most Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord Himself, the Holy Eucharist. That is why today we celebrate the Institution of this great Sacrament, by which God made Himself available for us. And we remember Him, our Bread of Life, Who have shared with us this same Precious Body and Blood, that as He Himself said, that whoever partake of Him, shall have eternal life.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we remember the Last Supper in today’s Mass, we also prepare ourselves for the events surrounding Our Lord’s crucifixion and death which we shall celebrate tomorrow on Good Friday. The two events cannot be separated from each other, and tonight, as we enter into the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we should really appreciate the importance of the Eucharist even more if we have not yet done so, realising that the Eucharist is the pinnacle of our worship and also the same sacrifice of Our Lord that began on the Last Supper and continuing all throughout the events of Good Friday up to the Lord’s death on the Cross. On the Altar, are the same Precious Body and Blood of the Lamb of God, that had been slain and sacrificed for us.

These were all the things that God had done for us, with such love that He willingly braved even the worst of sufferings and death for our sake. And as we heard in the Gospel passage today, He has shown us true humility of humbling Himself and wearing the clothes of a slave, to wipe the feet of His own disciples, an act performed only by slaves. He made Himself like a slave, just like how He has humbly accepted His Cross, to be treated worse that a slave, as a criminal and to be humiliated and rejected, all so that by His obedience, He may save us from our sins and from the certainty of death.

He told His disciples to do the same as He had done, to love one another and to serve each other with love to the best of our abilities. This is our Christian calling, to be the true disciples of Christ in all things, but in particular in reaching out to our fellow brothers and sisters with genuine love and care, in putting others and their needs before ourselves and our selfish desires. We are all called to remember this, how the Lord has done all for our sake and how He even humbled Himself for our sake. He died for us out of love and to save us from the depth of darkness. Are we able to emulate that same love in us too, brothers and sisters?

As we enter into this celebration of the Easter Triduum, let us all immerse ourselves deeply in the events surrounding Our Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death, and strive to love Him ever more and to live our lives ever more in accordance with His truth. Let us focus our attention on Him and spend good and precious quality time with Him as we commemorate these important events in the history of our salvation. May God, our most loving Lord and Creator, be with us in our journey of faith and help us to make our Easter Triduum journey a most blessed and fruitful one. Amen.

Thursday, 14 April 2022 : Holy Thursday, Chrism Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we celebrate and gather together in the occasion of this Chrism Mass, all of us are called to remember the gift of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit that He has given to each and every one of us through the laying of hands and through anointing with the sacred oils which are going to be blessed today for the various uses they have in the many aspects of the Church and its liturgies. Holy oils have been used for a very long time and in our Christian usage, they have a lot of symbolic and real meaning and uses, especially to mark that one is holy and as belonging to God.

This Chrism Mass is an annual event during which time the bishop of the diocese, the local ordinary gathers together with all the members of the clergy, the priests and all those who have been consecrated to God as His servants. In this Mass not only that the holy oils are blessed, but the priests together with the bishop also renew their priestly vows and promises, as a reminder that they have been called and set aside, consecrated to God by the same holy oils in the Sacrament of the Holy Orders, whether it is to the diaconate, presbyterate or the episcopate.

There are three holy oils used by the Church that are blessed today in the Chrism Mass. They are namely the Sacred Chrism, the Oil of the Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick. Each of them mark Christians through different moments and stages in their lives, with the Oil of the Catechumens used first to mark the catechumens or those who seek to be baptised and welcomed into the Church. All of them are reminders of how the holy oils mark one as sacred and holy, in the same way of how the kings of Israel like Saul, David, Solomon and others were anointed by God through His servants.

The Sacred Chrism, also known as Sanctum Chrisma is usually the one most frequently used as it is used to anoint the newly baptised Christians, as well as during the Sacrament of Confirmation, and also during the dedication and consecration of churches and altars, the ordination of deacons, priests and bishops. The Oil of the Catechumens, also known as Oleum Catechumenorum, as mentioned marks those who have expressed their willingness to embrace the Christian faith and the Lord as their God and Saviour. Lastly, the Oil of the Sick, also known as Oleum Infirmorum, as its name suggests, is used for the anointing of the sick in the Sacrament of the Sick, for those who are in the danger of death.

Each of these holy oils as mentioned mark us Christians at various stages of our faith and life, and all of them are very significant as they are also reminders of our own vocations, our calling as Christians. As Christians, we are all marked by God as His own, as partakers of the Covenant that He has made with us through Christ, His Son. By all that He had done throughout His Passion, which we focus and reflect on this Holy Week, God has established a new and everlasting Covenant with us, a Covenant that is founded on His enduring and patient, wonderful love for every one of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, while today the clergy, the bishops and the priests all around the world are renewing their vows and promises, the whole Church especially the laity are also involved. This day is not a celebration or reminder just for the clergy but also for everyone, as we must not forget that even the laity have all also been anointed with the sacred oils before and after their baptism, and most of us who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation have also been anointed further and given the affirmation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit entrusted to us all. Each and every one of us have been called and chosen, and some of us have been called to a higher calling to give their whole lives to God, but all are called all the same.

Today all of us are reminded to follow Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Whose life itself is an example for us all to follow, in His obedience to the Father’s will, in His love for each and every one of us, even to the worst of sinners and to the most despised ones among everyone. As Christians, we can no longer be idle in living our faith in our lives. We cannot and should not pay mere lip service to the Lord and pretend to be faithful to Him when in fact we do not have faith in Him. The Lord has always been patient in loving us and in wanting to be reconciled with us, but often it is us who refused to listen to Him and resist His efforts to bring us closer to Him.

Many of us have also not lived our lives as Christians in the way that we should have. We spent a lot of time worrying and caring about our own personal matters, concerns and ambitions, but we barely spent any time with the Lord, and let us ask ourselves if we even thought of having to attend Masses on Sundays as a chore? How many of us cannot wait until the Mass is over so that we can continue with our own daily activities, our own worldly pursuits, the pursuit for money, power, glory, fame and many others? Have we even spent good, precious and quality time with the Lord? Remember, brothers and sisters, this Holy Week is a call for us to recall God’s great love for us, that He willingly took up His Cross to redeem us, because He loved us more than He despised our sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reflect on the importance of answering God’s call in our lives. Let us all turn towards God with faith, with renewed zeal and commitment, that each and every one of us may draw ever closer to God and be His true disciples and followers. Through the anointing with the holy oils we have been marked and made holy for God, and it is time for us to answer His call for us, and embracing Him wholeheartedly from now on. May God be with us always and may He empower us to live ever faithfully in His presence from now on, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in our Scripture passages today we heard of the sufferings that the Lord would receive at the hands of His oppressors, as well as everything that would happen to Him in the moment of His Passion, His suffering and death. He would be abandoned by His disciples, betrayed by one of His closest collaborators, and He would have to endure the punishments and sufferings for mistakes, crimes and sins that He Himself did not commit.

Through Christ, our Lord and Saviour, God has willed to redeem us all from our sins, and through Him, He has called us out of the darkness, bringing His light of hope and truth into our midst, as He revealed His perfect and ever-enduring love and kindness, His compassion and mercy through Christ, the manifestation of His love in the flesh. God has become Man so that through this act of supreme love, He can be reconciled with us, and that we may find our way back to Him, and will not perish but have eternal life, as He has always intended for us.

Yet, in order to do that, He had to suffer, and suffer most grievously because the consequence and punishment for sin is rightly death. We have disobeyed and abandoned the Lord and Master of all life, the Source of our life and the One from Whom we gained our existence, and therefore, we deserve death and destruction. We should all have been condemned to hell and the eternity of sufferings, as what the devil and his fellow fallen angels had been sentenced to.

But God loved us all above everything else. For He created us out of love, making us all in His own image, as the most perfect and beloved of all of His creations. He gave us life because He loved us all and wanted us all to enjoy forever with Him the goodness and the bounty of His wonderful works, with the Gardens of Eden, the paradise that existed at the beginning of time supposedly where we should have been, if not for our downfall into sin.

Through sin we have been defiled and therefore separated from God, and yet, God did not condemn us, destroy us or annihilate us when He could perfectly and easily have done so. Instead, He still loved us all very much, and His love for us all surpassed the disgust and the anger He has against our sinfulness. He despised not us, the sinners, but our sins and wickedness. His love for us endures and even grows stronger, as He continued to watch over us and wanted to be reconciled with us.

God has loved us so much that He gave us all His one and only begotten Son, that through Him we may not perish, but have eternal life. He has reached out to us through His Son, Who willingly endured that betrayal and rejection, all the insults and humiliations, the worst of all pains and sufferings imaginable, as He shouldered His Cross and endured countless blows and wounds to His Body. That is why today we heard all of these from the Scriptures as a reminder for us of how much beloved we are by God that He has willingly done all these for our sake, to go through all the worst sufferings for us.

Today we also heard how Judas Iscariot betrayed the Lord for the mere price of thirty silver coins, which contextually was the price of a slave. Therefore, God allowed Himself to be treated like a slave, to be punished for us, so that like what He had once done to the Israelites in leading them out of their slavery in Egypt, He may also lead all of us out of our slavery to sin. Judas Iscariot showed us how our greed and desire can be our great undoing and lead us down the path towards ruin. We can end up doing things that we regret, just as Judas was swayed by Satan and overwhelmed by his desire for money and lack of faith to betray his own Lord and Master.

Then, this Holy Week as we draw closer to the beginning of Easter Triduum tomorrow, have we prepared ourselves worthily in our hearts, minds and indeed in our whole entire beings? Have we prepared ourselves so that we may physically, spiritually and mentally celebrate the upcoming greatest events and mysteries surrounding our Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death, His Resurrection by which all of us have received the guarantee of eternal life and true happiness? We are all called to put our faith in Him and spend this time to reflect on our own lives. Have we lived our lives in accordance with God’s ways or not?

May the Lord continue to guide us and help us, so that in everything we do, we will always be exemplary in all things, and be good role models and examples for our fellow men and women. Let us all make good use of our time and the opportunities given to us so that we may be ever better disciples and followers of Our Lord. Let us all not be like Judas Iscariot who easily gave in to temptations and betrayed the Lord for money. May all of us be ever closer to God and be ever more reflective of His love and truth in our lives and actions, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022 : Tuesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us regarding the works of the Lord in redeeming His beloved ones. All of us have been reminded of everything that the Lord had done for our sake, by the sending of His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to this world to be our Lord and Saviour. Through Christ we have received the assurance of eternal life and true happiness, and as we draw ever closer to the pinnacle of the Holy Week at the Easter Triduum, we are all called to draw close to God and live our lives more worthily of Him from now on.

In our first reading today, from the book of the prophet Isaiah we heard of the words of the Lord speaking to His people, again on the prophecy of the Messiah or the Saviour from God that Isaiah was well-known for. The Lord reminded His people that He would come into their midst and provide for them all that they needed, and that He would gather them back once again into His embrace and presence, and they will never be separated from Him again, for through Christ, His Son, He has shown us the path to light and eternal life.

Isaiah spoke clearly about Christ and His coming into this world, and how He would gather all of God’s people back to Him, and what Isaiah also spoke of was how this same Saviour would have to suffer rejection, humiliation and persecution from those who refused to believe in Him and remained stubborn in their ways. The Lord would nonetheless labour and work hard to achieve all of that because He truly loved all of us without reservations. He wants us to be reunited to Him and not be lost forever to Him.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, He willingly accepted His Passion, knowing everything that would happen to Him. He knew that He had to endure the worst of sufferings, the worst of humiliations, having to endure harsh words and castigations, opposition and the worst of treatment, to be treated as less than a human being, and marked as a criminal for the crimes that He did not commit, and to be betrayed by one of His own closest disciples, Judas Iscariot the traitor.

In our Gospel passage today, that was what we heard, as we listened to how the Lord revealed what He would have to endure, and revealing the betrayal of Judas Iscariot, who at that time had already possessed the intention to betray the Lord and already had Satan inside him, tempting him and pushing him to betray his Lord and Master. Judas Iscariot gave in to his temptations and desires, and having selfishly pocketed the monies from his own group’s treasury which was under his charge, it would not probably be difficult for him to be tempted to betray the Lord for the sum of money provided by the chief priests and elders.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter deeper into the mysteries of the Holy Week, all of us should spend some time to reflect on our actions throughout life all these while. Have we been living our lives in opposition to God’s will and truth? Have we lived in opposition to God and His consistent patience in always reaching out to us? Have we been like prodigal children who have often refused to listen to our parents? God has always been kind to us and yet we have always spurned and rejected His generous offer of love.

Let us all spend the time this Holy Week to rediscover our love for God, and do our best to embrace His compassionate love and mercy. Let us no longer harden our hearts or allow the devil to mislead us down the path of rebellion and sin. Let us turn away from the wicked ways of this world and all that had kept us from fully embracing God and His love. This Holy Week we are again and again being reminded of everything that God had done for our sake, because He truly loved us so dearly, that He was willing to shoulder His Cross, to take upon Himself the burdens of our sins.

May all of us distance ourselves from the wickedness of our world and strive to be better and more faithful disciples and followers of God in all of our lives, in all of our actions. May we be good role models and inspirations for each other in how we conduct ourselves. Let our Holy Week observances and actions help us to deepen our relationship with God and follow Him from now on with ever greater zeal and dedication. Have a blessed and most enriching Holy Week, brothers and sisters in Christ! Amen.

Monday, 11 April 2022 : Monday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to our Scripture passages detailing to us more about the actions that the Lord had taken for the sake of our salvation, as He entered into His Passion, the culmination of His ministry in this world. The Lord has come into our midst to bring unto us the liberation and the promises that He has made to us since the very beginning. He has never abandoned us even in our most rebellious and delinquent moments. We will never be disappointed or found wanting should we put our faith and trust in God. In the end, we all shall triumph together with Him and we shall be victorious in our struggle with evil and sin, with death and the battle against damnation.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in which the Lord spoke through Isaiah the prophecy of the Messiah or Saviour that God has promised. He spoke of how the Messiah would come to bring all of His people back to Him, to proclaim the Good News of the salvation of God, ushering the blessed time of new life with God. The beloved people of God would no longer be separated from Him, and He will gather all of them into His Presence, reconciling each and every one of us to Himself, through none other than the very same Saviour, Jesus Christ, the One Whom Isaiah had spoken about.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the account of the moment when the Lord Jesus, just shortly before His suffering and death, had His feet anointed by Mary, likely referring to Mary Magdalene, who used a precious and expensive jar of perfume to anoint the Lord’s feet and then wipe His feet clean with her tears and her hair. As the Lord Himself mentioned, this act was very symbolic of everything that He was to go through in order to secure for us the assurance of eternal life, that He has to go through death in order to save us all, and the anointing was reminiscent of what the dead bodies experienced, as they were usually anointed with perfumes and precious spices before they were to be buried.

We also heard how Judas Iscariot, the same one who would betray the Lord, immediately criticised Mary and her actions, saying that what she had done and spent in anointing the Lord with such expensive perfume could have been better used when sold and then the proceeds given to the poor. However, as we all heard in the same passage, the apparently noble facade of Judas Iscariot hid the true most malicious intent of the man, who had always dishonestly taken from the common fund of the Lord and His disciples, for his own personal benefits, and worse still, as we heard today, he acted as the ultimate hypocrite in saying such words.

The Lord certainly knew all that Judas had done, and He also immediately rebuked him for his words, and instead explained that what Mary did was indeed right, in preparing Him and His Body for the upcoming suffering and death that He would endure. Essentially, the Lord praised Mary for her humility and faith, that she would humble herself so, humbling herself before everyone and wiping the Lord’s feet with her hair, the crown of her beauty, symbolising her submission to God and her abandonment of worldly glory and desires in pursuit of the Lord and His truth. Contrast this with the prideful and haughty attitude of Judas Iscariot, who though sinner, must have thought of himself as being better and morally more upright than Mary.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, reflecting on all that we have heard from the Scripture passages today, we are all reminded that we are all sinners who have been so fortunate to be beloved by God so wonderfully that He has given each and every one of us the sure path out of the darkness through His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. The Lord has come into our midst and He has dwelled among us, that He may bring to us the fullness of His love, and that He may bring us back to His embrace. And though we are sinners, He loves us much greater than He despises our sins, and should we be like Mary, in humbling ourselves and seeking to love and serve the Lord once again, we shall be justified, be pardoned from our sins, and be fully reconciled with Him.

Now, as we proceed through this holiest time of the Holy Week, let us all reflect carefully on our lives and actions. Let us all ponder in what way we can better live our lives that we may walk ever more courageously and with dedication in the path that the Lord has shown to us. All of us have been called and invited to return to the Lord with faith, and we recall all that the Lord, our most loving God and Saviour, by Whose suffering, death and resurrection we have been made whole again, and given once again the new hope and sure assurance of eternal life of true happiness with Him. All of us should have deserved death and eternal damnation for our sins, and yet, God in His infinite mercy and compassion wants us to repent from those sins and to return to Him.

Let us all therefore make great use of the time and opportunities that have been given to us so we may not fall into the path of sin and damnation, but instead, enter into the Lord’s presence worthy and justified by our faith. Let us have a most fruitful Holy Week and be filled with renewed conviction from now on to live our lives in the path of the Lord and be courageous and committed disciples, not imitating the examples of Judas Iscariot, but rather the piety and humility as shown by Mary as we heard in our Gospel passage today. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 10 April 2022 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the beginning of the Holy Week, the most solemn time and occasion in the entire liturgical year, as rightfully we should turn away from all of our other matters and concerns, and spend more time with the Lord, reflecting and immersing ourselves deeply in the mystery and events surrounding Our Lord’s Passion, His suffering, death and eventual glorious resurrection from the dead. On this Sunday, which we celebrate as the Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, we mark the beginning of this very important series of event in the history of our salvation.

For this Sunday marks the moment when the Lord entered into the moment of His Passion, beginning the final stage of His mission and work in this world. The Lord travelled to Judea and Jerusalem for the last time after approximately three years of His ministry, and this time, He knew that this was the moment of His greatest work, when He would have to suffer for the sake of all mankind. But at the same time, He willingly went through with it, obeying perfectly the will of His heavenly Father, and because all of us are truly beloved by Him, so much so that He was willing to endure all that for our sake.

Today we heard first of all the reading of the Gospel at the beginning, in which the celebration of the Lord’s glorious entry to Jerusalem is celebrated. The palms are blessed and we all gather together to celebrate and glorify the Lord, our Saviour and King, Who has come into our midst, as He came to Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of the prophets, that the King would come to His people on a humble and lowly donkey. The Lord Jesus came into Jerusalem upon the glorious cries and shout of joy, of people praising God, with the words, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Highest!’

The people raised palm fronds and branches, putting their cloaks and clothes on the floor, welcoming the Lord with great pomp and circumstance, a welcome fit for a king. And indeed, the Lord is the King of all, and not just the King of Israel but also the King of Kings, the Lord and Master over all of creation. Yet, He came to His people not as a mighty conqueror or warrior, riding on a warhorse or carried on a golden throne, and instead, He came riding on a mere, lowly donkey, an animal which people at that time often derided and under-appreciate, for its demeanour and lack of majesty unlike that of a great horse.

But that was exactly where the real nature of our Lord’s Kingship is revealed to us. Our Lord is the King Who came not to seek to be served but to serve us. He is a King Who did not need to depend on all the pomps and glamour to boost His credentials and power. He is the true Source of all power and authority, the One true King over all the kings and lords of this world, the true Master of all creation. He came to us revealing the nature of His love for each one of us. Here is our Lord and King, Who has humbled Himself and obeyed His Father’s will so perfectly, that even as He entered Jerusalem with such great pomp and circumstance, it was also a reminder of what would happen within just merely within the same week.

For the very same people who had cheered on the Lord that day would likely be the same people who also cried out just a few days later, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ at the instigation of the members of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council. The same people who welcomed the Lord as their King would also be the same people who denied Him just a few days later and said that they had no king except for Caesar, the Roman Emperor. We can see how quickly everything turned, and all of those things happening within just merely within the span of a week’s time.

That is why today on this Palm Sunday marking the beginning of Holy Week, we celebrate two distinct yet connected events, namely the triumphal entry of the Lord into Jerusalem and the Passion of Our Lord, meaning His suffering and death, the events surrounding the Last Supper and the condemnation of Jesus, and His crucifixion and death on the Cross at Calvary. That is why today we call the celebration as the Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, because by His entry into Jerusalem, the Lord came to finally fulfil the promises He had made to His people, the salvation that He would bring into their midst.

He has already made it known on several prior occasions on what would happen to Him, how He would be rejected and persecuted, condemned to death like a criminal and be raised up before all to see, much like how Moses raised up the bronze serpent that saved many Israelites from the death due to their own sins. Thus, the Lord came to Jerusalem to fulfil everything as foretold and prophesied, that He would, in just a short time after, be raised up on His Cross, at the culmination of His ministry and the Passion He endured for our sake, out of His overflowing love, to save us from certain annihilation and destruction.

For through His death and resurrection, the Lord has established anew the Covenant between us and God, with His Cross as the Bridge that bridges the gap between us sinners and our Lord and Creator. Through sin we have been made unworthy of God and corrupted. We have been separated from God and should have been condemned to eternal damnation. There existed that uncrossable and impassable chasm between God and us, ever since we first fell into the traps of sin. However, God made the impossible into possibility because He Himself built the bridge that helped to reconnect us to God, by His Cross.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the important events celebrated in this Palm Sunday, the glorious and triumphant Entry to Jerusalem and the Passion of Our Lord and the way of His suffering all the way to the Cross, we are all invited to spend more time this week, during this holiest of all weeks, the Holy Week, to be closer to God, to be more attuned to Him and to walk ever more faithfully in His path. All of us are called to make good use of this time of the Holy Week beginning today to prepare ourselves, if we have not yet done so, to be ever more worthy of celebrating the greatest mysteries of our salvation and liberation from sin.

Let us remind ourselves of the great love that God has constantly shown us, all these while, that He has always willingly reached out to us, embracing us with genuine love and ever-patient compassion and mercy, that despite our constant stubbornness and disobedience, He has come to be with us, dwelling with us and to gather us back to Himself, to be our Lord and King forever. And now, let us also ask ourselves, if we have responded to His love with the same love and the same commitment to the Covenant that He has established with each and every one of us. If we have not done so, then we have to ask ourselves, why we have not done so yet.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, one aspect of the Palm Sunday celebrations that we may easily overlook is the symbolic representation of the Lord riding on the donkey, in which the Lord specifically told His disciples to bring a tied colt that had not been ridden before to be His ride. It was this colt that would become His donkey as mentioned earlier. The tied colt represent the attitude of the people of Israel, who had tied themselves to the old ways, their past sinfulness and refusal to obey the will of God. Meanwhile, the untying of the colt represent the freedom that the Lord brought to them, and a reminder of how He had freed their ancestors from the tyranny of the Egyptians.

At the same time, the colt that had not been ridden before also serves as a the representation of the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people, who had not been burdened by the Law as interpreted by the Pharisees and the generations of the additions that burdened the Jewish people. The Lord taking this colt as His ride itself is according to the Church tradition and understanding serves to remind us that He came into this world to gather us all, His beloved people, to gather all His children, be it Jews or Gentiles. All are beloved equally by God, whether they belong to the race of the people called earlier by God and bound by the Law of Moses, or whether they were outside this chosen race. Everyone through Christ has become one united people in faith, not bound by blood, race, or any other artificial constructs or divisions that we often placed to divide us into ‘us’ and ‘them’.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and King has brought us the assurance of hope and eternal life. All of us who believe in Him shall experience the fullness of His love and grace, the fullness of His inheritance and glory. All that remains is for us to answer His call and commit ourselves to follow Him. As we raise our blessed palms and praising the Lord, let us ask ourselves, ‘Is the Lord Jesus truly the King of our hearts, our minds, and indeed, the King of our whole entire beings?’ And if we consider Him as our Lord and King, then naturally we have to live our lives in accordance with His ways. Otherwise then we are behaving like hypocrites, who pretend to believe in something and yet act in an entirely different way in life.

As we enter into this solemn occasion of the Holy Week, let us all renew our commitment to the Lord that we may deepen our relationship with Him and spend more quality time with Him. Let us all turn away from our sinful paths and our stubborn attitudes, and let us truly recognise Him as our Lord and King, and welcome Him into our hearts and beings, into our houses and families. Let our Holy Week observance and actions be filled with rich faith and true desire to love the Lord more and more with each and every passing moments. We have to follow the examples set by Our Lord Himself, Who obeyed His Father’s will so perfectly and humbled Himself such that through Him, all of us have gained the assurance of eternal life. Follow Christ, and we will follow Him to eternal life.

Let us all be inspiration for one another in how we live our lives righteously and faithfully from now on, not only for the duration of Holy Week and Easter, but all through to the end of our lives. May God be with us all, and may He strengthen us in our desire to love Him and walk in His path, now and evermore. Amen.

Saturday, 9 April 2022 : 5th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded to prepare ourselves for the beginning of the Holy Week, which as its name suggest is the holiest of all weeks in the entire liturgical year, seven days of celebration of Our Lord’s Passion, beginning tomorrow on Palm Sunday and which ends on the glorious resurrection at Easter Sunday. We ought to prepare ourselves in heart and mind to enter into this solemn occasion and period of time so that we may better appreciate the works and all that the Lord, our most loving God has done for us, for our sake and salvation.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, we heard the words of the Lord concerning His people, Israel and his descendants, the people of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah that had been scattered throughout the nations as they were defeated and conquered by the Assyrians and the Babylonians respectively, and they had been uprooted from the lands of their ancestors, brought off into exile in those far-odd lands where they had to endure the humiliation of losing their homeland and as a people that had brought ruin upon themselves because of their lack of faith in God.

God has always been patient with His people, and He has always reached out to them with a lot of love and compassion. However, it has always been us who have resisted His love and kindness. We have always been stubborn, just as the people of Israel and Judah had been stubborn in their rebellious attitude, in their refusal to listen to the prophets and messengers that God had placed in their midst to remind them. The Lord has always patiently reached out to His beloved ones despite of their attitudes, but it is indeed shameful to see the way that many if not most of us have behaved.

In our Gospel passage today, we have heard how the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council and most of its members had gathered together and plotted against the Lord Jesus because they had disagreed with Him constantly and even found Him as a great threat to their own legitimacy, authority and power. The Sanhedrin was made from the most influential members of the Jewish community, including the elders and the chief priests, the members of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Many among these people had found issues against the Lord, and mostly they were afraid that the great popularity that the Lord Jesus managed to gain would end up resulting in them losing their privileges, power and status.

That was why they discussed what to do with Him, and they resolved to crush Him, even if they had to resort to using backhanded methods such as false accusations and others, and even plotted to hand Him over to the Romans to be condemned and punished to death. They justified themselves, as Caiaphas, the High Priest at that time, argued that they were doing it all for the good of their whole nation. As they argued that if the Lord continued to gain popularity, eventually the Romans would remove the privileges and relative independence that they had granted the Jewish elite, the very same members of the Sanhedrin that were persecuting the Lord Jesus.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we heard today the reminder of just how difficult the Lord’s tasks were, as He had to go against those who refused to even open their hearts and minds to His truth and love. Yet, He did not give up on us, and He fulfilled the promises He had made to all of us since the very beginning. Just as He had promised to Adam and Eve, that Satan would eventually be defeated, and that the deliverance for mankind would come from the Lord, thus, Jesus our Lord came into our midst to fulfil all those promises, the promises God had made with each and every one of us mankind, all throughout time.

And He revealed that He would do all that by offering His own life on the Altar of the Cross. Through the Cross, He will claim all of us, as our Lord and King, Whom God had promised to us, that He will be King over all of us, as prophesied by Ezekiel and the other prophets. He has always been faithful and kind to us, always ever compassionate and patient in everything, and He gave us His own life, offering His Most Precious Body and Blood so that we can be saved from eternal damnation and destruction. Tomorrow we will commemorate the moment when He entered in triumph to Jerusalem, as the King Who has come to be with His people, and began the moments of His Passion.

The Lord knew well what He had to do and what He had to endure for the sake of His beloved ones. He had to be rejected, betrayed, and then made to suffer the worst sufferings and punishments for our sake, in atonement for our sins. Yet, He willingly endured all of them, because He truly loved us so very much, so much that He was willing to endure those humiliations, persecutions, the worst of pain and to go through the gates of hell and death for us, through His crucifixion. All these are what we will commemorate and remember throughout the Holy Week that will start tomorrow.

Let us ask ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ, if we are ready to commemorate Holy Week and the upcoming Easter season with faith and true understanding of their significance for us. And are our ways of life in accordance with what the Lord had taught and shown us? Or are we still living our lives in the state of sin? If the latter is the case, then that means we have to remind ourselves of everything that Our Lord has done for us, His constant and enduring love for each one of us sinners. And as long as we are still living and breathing air in this world, we still have the opportunity to make amends and return to Him for forgiveness.

Let us all wait no longer and tarry no more, and instead, make the conscious effort to find our way back to the Lord with faith. May all of us draw ever closer to God and do our very best to be good examples to one another in how we live our lives, with exemplary actions and good attitude, inspiring each other to be good disciples and followers of our Lord and Saviour. May God bless us always and remain with us throughout our journey of life, and may all of us have a blessed and wonderful Holy Week observance starting tomorrow. Amen.

Friday, 8 April 2022 : 5th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Gospels yet another account of the confrontations that happened between the Lord and those who opposed Him, all those who refused to listen to Him and continued to stubbornly hardened their hearts and minds. The same thing had happened to the prophet Jeremiah in the past as well, and we heard the plots and the things that people had done to the prophet and servant of God. But God has always stood by His faithful ones and He would not let those who are dear to Him to suffer and be crushed. Even if they were to suffer, in the end, those who remain faithful to God shall triumph together with Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah regarding the time when persecutions faced by Jeremiah at the hands of his enemies, which at that time opposed Jeremiah and his works among the people of Judah, calling on all the people to return back towards God with faith. God had sent him to His obstinate and stubborn people to remind them of His ever generous mercy, which He has always made available to them, but which they had frequently ignored and spurned.

Jeremiah had to go through a lot of troubles for the sake of the Lord, and yet, He endured all of it patiently, and entrusted himself and his works to the Lord. Of course there were moments when he was exhausted and tired of facing all the oppositions, and which he spoke to the Lord about, but in the end, he believed that God sent him for a good reason, and no matter what, in the end, those who believe in Him and trust in Him will never be disappointed. Jeremiah, just as many other prophets who came before him and those who came after him, might have to endure all those bitterness and hardships, but through their faith and dedication, they had done a lot of good works for the sake of the Lord.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord were opposed by the Jewish people in Jerusalem and Judea who were against Him and were incensed and angry when He spoke of His truth, that He is indeed the Son of God, the Messiah or Saviour sent into this world. The people were stubborn and refused to believe in Him, because they refused to admit that the Man they saw before Him, a mere Son of a carpenter from Galilee, could have been the Saviour of the world. They refused to listen to Him because they were prideful and filled with ego and hubris, particularly those who saw themselves as more righteous than others.

Yet, the Lord kept on speaking the truth and would not be deterred by the opposition He had faced, just as Jeremiah had once done his best and continued to carry out the mission entrusted to him despite the challenges and oppositions he encountered. The Lord Jesus spoke the truth and revealed more and more of what the Lord, the Almighty God, would very soon be doing for the sake of the whole world, through Him, the One Who had been sent into this world as its Saviour and Hope. The Lord would soon enter into His Passion and He was prepared to carry out the mission entrusted to Him to the very end, even though He would have to endure the bitter sufferings for that.

Through our Scripture readings today continue to prepare us for the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, His suffering, death and resurrection which we will all focus on throughout the Holy Week next week. Now, we have heard all the trials and challenges that the faithful servants of the Lord had to endure in their works of faith, and ultimately, the Lord Himself would face the ultimate trial in His Passion, His crucifixion and death. All of us as Christians must remember the Lord’s words, that He had told us, how if we are to be His disciples, we have to carry our crosses and follow Him.

Are we ready to enter into the mystery of the Lord’s Passion, the most important events happening throughout the Holy Week leading to Easter? Are we able to focus our attention on Him and all that He had done for the sake of our salvation? Or are we going to remain stubborn and obstinate in the manner of how the Jewish people, especially the members of the Sanhedrin, the High Council of the Jewish people, the elders and the Pharisees had done, in opposing the Lord and His truth? Are we going to continue living in the state of sin, and walking down the path towards our destruction and death?

Let us all reflect on all these things carefully as we ponder the mystery of the Lord’s Passion, and let us focus our attention on Him as we remember everything that He had done for our sake, as He reached out to us with love, mercy and compassion, to be reconciled with us and to help us to return to Him. Let us all do our best to walk the path of this journey of faith, and do our best to endure whatever trials, challenges and obstacles that we may have to face in this journey, and not be afraid, following in the footsteps of Jeremiah and many other of God’s most faithful servants.

May God be with us all, and may He empower us all to live ever more faithfully in His Presence, now and always, evermore. Let us all be good inspiration for one another, and be role models of faith, at all times. Amen.