Sunday, 4 April 2021 : 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! Today on this holiest of all nights and at the pinnacle of the Lord’s salvation of all mankind, on this Easter Vigil, we mark the moment almost two millennia ago when the Lord brought His salvation to all of us mankind, on a night that was truly extraordinary, a night above all other nights, the Mother of all Holy Vigils just as we have heard in our Easter Proclamations or the Exsultet earlier on. On this night, as we all keep this Vigil faithfully as one Church, we remember the night when God, through Christ, His Son, Our Saviour, delivered us from the tyranny of sin and from the power of death.

That is why, today, all of us are reminded through the many readings and lessons from the Sacred Scriptures, right back from the very beginning of time, detailing all that the Lord had done for us, starting with the time of the Creation of the world in the Book of Genesis, and then followed by the account of the sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah, and most importantly, the story of the Exodus from Egypt, how the Israelites were rescued from the land of Egypt, and how God overthrew their oppressors, and then through to the prophets who promised of God’s salvation for His people.

All of these events throughout history showed us how the Lord loved us so greatly and so wonderfully, that to rescue us all, a people whom He had created and loved, He had guided us throughout all of history, promising to us the liberation from the power of sin and death that had enslaved us since the beginning of Creation, with the fall of man into sin, by the disobedience against God and His will. Yet, God did not abandon us or reject us, and while we have to endure the consequences for those sins, He did not annihilate mankind although He could perfectly have done so.

Instead, He proclaimed right from the very beginning that He would save His people, that He would send His deliverance to them, right before Satan, as well as Adam and Eve in the Gardens of Eden, when He proclaimed that the Woman would come and crush the head of Satan, as the premonition for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, born through the Virgin, Mary, and how He would save all of mankind through His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross, all that we have been celebrating and focusing on in the past one week, and culminating tonight at the celebration of the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord.

Tonight we mark the culmination of the entire Easter Triduum, the period of time spanning three days from the time of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday right up to the Resurrection at the end of the Sabbath. That is rightly celebrated together as such because we should see the entire Easter Triduum, the Last Supper, Our Lord’s Passion, suffering and crucifixion, His death and Resurrection as one single great event, the greatest event in the entire history of all mankind, the moment of our salvation and liberation, just as how the Israelites were saved from the hands of the Egyptians.

Earlier on in the celebration of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, I have been focusing on how the events of the Last Supper and all that happened on Good Friday were one great event of the new Passover of Our Lord, the new Passover and the New Covenant that He was establishing with us all mankind, which He initiated on the Last Supper, offering His own Precious Body and Blood through the bread and wine He blessed, broken and shared among His disciples, as the symbolic giving of Himself to all of us, and then, on Good Friday, He completed everything as He laid there on the Cross, bloodied, bruised and dying.

This was the sacrifice alluded in the reading from the Book of Genesis on the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved and promised son Isaac to Him, on Mount Moriah. When God saw Abraham’s faith and dedication, not holding back even from giving his own son, He told Abraham that He had seen his faith, and spared Isaac, instead placing a ram in Isaac’s place. And how is this related to what we are celebrating? That is because Christ has suffered and died in our place, putting upon Himself all the burdens and blame that were ours, so that we do not perish but live.

God did not spare His own beloved, only begotten Son, giving Him to us as the Source of Life and the Hope of eternal life. He sent us Christ, His Son, that He may become the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice, by Whose Blood all of us have been redeemed, just as the Israelites were saved from death in the original Passover, being ‘passed over’ by death because of the blood of the unblemished lamb that was marked upon the doors and lintels of their houses. Thus, by the shedding of the Body of Christ, our Paschal Lamb and His Precious Blood, we have been marked as God’s beloved ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, then in one of the most important of the readings tonight, that of the crossing of the Red Sea, all of us are brought to attention on what we have been going through this Holy Week and through these events, together with God. As the Israelites were pursued by the Egyptians to the edge of the Red Sea, God opened the Sea before them and they all crossed on the dry seabed to the other side, towards their freedom and the Promised Land, marking the definitive moment when they gained their complete freedom from the rule of the Egyptians, as God crushed the Egyptians right behind them.

Hence, tonight, on this holiest and Mother of all Holy Vigils, we celebrate the moment when the Lord brought us all, who have shared in His humanity and therefore His death on the Cross, into the new life and existence, through His glorious Resurrection that we therefore will also share, and which we have entered through the Sacrament of Baptism when all of us, as Christians, were welcomed into the Church be it as infants or as adults. And we remember therefore this most sacred and wonderful night when the Lord led us through the valleys of darkness and death, and into life everlasting.

For through the waters of baptism, we have passed through death and into new life, just as water is capable both of destruction as well as giving life. For the Lord has, by the authority and the efforts of His Church, gathered all of us from among the nations and brought us into His embrace, that we may not be separated any longer, instead being reconciled and reunited fully with God, cleansed from the taints of our original sin, the sin of disobedience against God, and the corruption which had separated us from the love and grace of God.

Through the waters of baptism, God restored the grace and life to us and our existence, purified and cleansed, ready to start again with God and walking with Him. We have been made whole once again through baptism, and we have received pardon and absolution for those sins we committed or for those things that we failed to do. A new life has been given to us, which is possible thanks to Christ Himself, Who has gone through suffering and death, and finally the Resurrection to overcome death for all of us.

Thus, by His Resurrection, Christ showed us that sin and death do not have the final say over us. For He has conquered death itself by rising gloriously from the dead. Through His Resurrection, the Lord broke free the chains that kept mankind trapped through sin, and led them to a new future, one where sin no longer have any power and dominion over any of us. He proved to all of us that while all of us mortals will experience death and the end of our earthly life one day, but that is not the end of the road for us.

Through baptism, all of us have been gathered into the one Body of Christ, the Church, and have been given the assurance of eternal life, in the world to come, where we shall share in the glory of the Lord, the blissful life and existence of fullness of grace. However, all these will be ours in due time. And if we are wondering why is it that although we have been baptised, that we still need to regularly confess our sins and resist the temptations to sin, it is because through baptism, we have received the assurance of eternal life through Christ and sin no longer has power or dominion over us, but it is also our free will to choose to be enslaved by sin again and to reject God and His love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, hence, tonight as we gather together to celebrate this most holy of all nights, the time of the Lord’s triumph and victory over evil and sin, over the darkness and death, let us all renew our baptismal promises with great vigour and zeal, with renewed desire to love God and to be closer to Him, to be more obedient and committed to Him. Let us make that commitment with genuine intention and the courage to live our lives henceforth as dedicated Christians at all times.

Our baptism is just the beginning of a great and new journey, just as the Israelites began their journey through the desert after crossing the Red Sea and after making the Covenant with God at Mount Sinai. They fell many times and they were tempted many times, disobeying God and fell into the darkness again and again. But God patiently continued to love them and tried to bring them back from the wrong path. The same therefore applies to us as well, brothers and sisters. Our Christian life is one of struggle and also filled with challenges, often daily, in which we often may have to choose between following and obeying God, or following the norms of the world and the society, among others.

As we enter into this season of Easter, let us all pass through this night as a renewed person, in each and every one of us. For those who are baptised this night, it is a momentous event, when they accept God fully as their Lord and Saviour, and enter into this new life, the Christian life blessed by God. And for all of us otherwise, we are renewing our baptismal promises tonight as mentioned, in this Easter Vigil Mass, and it should also be a momentous event in our lives, as we are reminded yet again, year after year, to keep ourselves holy and devoted to God, and not to fall again into the temptations of sin.

Let us all pray for one another that we may persevere ever more in the struggle against evil, and that we may always be faithful and find the courage in us to stand up for the truth and for our faith. Let us all pray for all those around the world, our fellow brethren who are unable to celebrate the Easter joy properly due to various reasons, either because of persecution, civil unrest and disturbances, war and conflict, among many other reasons. We pray that God will continue to watch over them, and if there are things that we can do to help, let us contribute in whatever way we can.

Most importantly, let us all live our lives henceforth as a liberated people, free from sin, if our past have been often troubled and filled with the darkness. Let us reject Satan, his many temptations, and sin in all of its forms, and let us be exemplary in our way of living from now on, that we may become truly an Easter people, a people who truly belong to the Lord, and everyone will know that we are Christians because of our actions, words and deeds in life, that is centred on Christ, Our Risen Lord and Saviour, upholding His truth and living virtuously according to His Law and teachings.

Let us be inspiration for one another, and help support each other especially if we see our brothers or sisters who are struggling, either in the worldly matters or even more importantly, in their spiritual matters and their faith. There have already been enough troubles in the past few months and years, and we should be the bearers of the Light of Christ in this world, bearing forth that Light by which Christ, Our Lord and Saviour triumphed over the darkness of evil and sin. By our lives and our faith, let us bring Christ’s light and truth to the nations, that more and more may come to believe in Him and become His disciples and followers.

May God bless us all, and may He guide us in our journey, particularly through this blessed season of Easter, so that all of us may grow ever stronger in our faith and dedication, and that we may be ever better examples to our fellow men and women, and together as one Church, let us all bear witness to Our Lord’s Resurrection, and do what we can to glorify His Name, through our daily lives and actions. May all of us have a most blessed and wonderful Easter, and may God, Our Risen Lord and Saviour be with us all. Amen.

Friday, 2 April 2021 : Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the very important day of the Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord, the day when Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was crucified for our sake, when He took up His Cross up the hill of Calvary and died for all. It was all these that made today truly a ‘Good Friday’ because without the offering and selfless sacrifice of Our Lord, there would not have been any hope for us, and it was because of Him that we have seen the light of hope and salvation once again.

Today, on Good Friday we remember the Lord Who willingly emptied Himself of all glory, in obeying the will of His heavenly Father, stripping Himself of all dignity and glory so that He may bear the punishment for all of our sins, and by taking up all those with Him, He might offer a most perfect sacrifice, worthy for the redemption of all of us mankind, and for the atonement of our multitudes of sins. Today we remember God’s love that has manifested in the crucifixion, in a love so wonderful and selfless that He willingly endured all humiliation for us.

Through what the Lord had done that day, He has completed what He had begun the day earlier, in the Last Supper when He instituted the Holy Eucharist, giving His own Precious Body and Blood to be shared by the disciples. As we all just celebrated and remembered yesterday in the events of Holy Thursday, the Lord had the Passover meal with His disciples, in which He instituted the New Passover, one that no longer remembered the past event of how God rescued the people of Israel from the slavery in Egypt, but an even much greater event, that God has come to rescue all of His people from the slavery of sin.

At that Passover meal, we may have noticed yesterday that unlike the usual Passover meal of the Jewish Passover, where a lamb is slaughtered and eaten by the household, at the new Passover, the Lord offered Himself as the sacrificial Lamb, the Lamb of God to be slaughtered for all of us, to be the source of forgiveness for all of our sins and iniquities. This has been prophesied by many of the prophets, particularly that of the prophet Isaiah who spoke at length about the Messiah or Saviour Who would come into the world and Who would suffer persecution, rejection and death.

In comparison with the old Jewish Passover, the significance of the events of Good Friday together with the preceding events at the Last Supper cannot be underestimated or ignored. For at the old Passover, at the beginning of the meal, represented by the Last Supper, is the moment when the first of the four cups of wine is drunk, led by the father and head of the house, where the unleavened bread is taken out and eaten with the lamb as mentioned earlier, which is what the Lord Himself had done, offering His Body and Blood to His disciples in the bread and wine at the Last Supper.

Then, the second cup, the Cup of Proclamations and third, the Cup of Blessings was drunk afterwards, at the moment when the family spoke of the significance of the Passover, reminding the people and especially the young children on why the Passover was so important, for God has saved His people in the past through such great deeds from their certain destruction and annihilation. As indicated from the Scriptures and the accounts of the Last Supper, the last and fourth cup, the cup of Praise had not been drunk yet when the Lord and His three disciples went out of the meal and headed to the Gardens of Gethsemane.

That last cup, also known as the Cup of Consummation, was the cup that the Lord referred to in the Last Supper as of why He would not drink the fruits of the vine again until the coming of the kingdom of God, referring specifically to how the Passover meal, the New Passover He was bringing into this world, had not ended yet as of that night of the Last Supper, and instead would culminate on the Cross at Good Friday, with the death of the Lord as the completion of the New Passover. That was why at the Gardens of Gethsemane, when the Lord was in agony, He prayed that the ‘cup may pass Him by’ and yet, He remained firm in His obedience and dedication to His mission, no matter how tough and painful it would be.

When at the ancient, first Passover the lamb was slaughtered on the day of preparation for the Passover, it was on Good Friday that was the day before the Sabbath day, as has been noted in the Scriptures, that the Lord died on the day of the preparation for the Passover. Thus, indeed it was very symbolic and real how the Lord had chosen that very day to highlight how He was truly the Paschal Lamb, the One to be sacrificed for the salvation of all, the Lamb of the New Passover. While in Egypt, the Israelites used the blood of the lamb to mark the doors of their houses that they were spared the great plague of death coming upon Egypt, thus all of us have been marked by the Blood of the Lamb of God.

How is that then significant for us? It is significant because the Precious Blood that the Lord has shed sealed the New Covenant between us and God, reconciling us to Him, and bridging the gap that had once existed between us and Him. Through the Cross, by His Passion, His suffering and death, and importantly through His Resurrection, Christ has showed that there is hope beyond death, and there is the assurance of eternal life with God.

He has perfectly obeyed the will of the Father, to be the Mediator of the New Covenant between all of us and God. And as the New Adam, according to St. Paul the Apostle, Christ became the source of new life in God, bringing all mankind to a renewed life in grace. Just as the first Adam fell into sin by eating the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, out of desire and disobedience against God, falling into the temptations of Satan. Christ, the New Adam, persevered to the very end, nailed to another ‘tree’, that is the Cross, in full and perfect obedience to God, His Father.

Thus just as the first Adam led all mankind into sin, the New Adam, Christ, led all of us into the path out of the tyranny of sin, showing us that sin and death do not have the final say over us. For through His death and Resurrection, He proved that He truly is the Lord and Master of life and death, and that His grace is greater than sin and death. And that is why, He has willingly suffered for us that by uniting our humanity to Himself, we share in His death, death to our old, sinful selves, and then share in His glorious Resurrection, entering a new life and existence, with the promise of eternal life.

Hence, we should not treat the events that happened during this Easter Triduum as separate, unrelated events, but rather as one great event, the New Passover and the New Covenant that the Lord has established with us, beginning at the Last Supper, through Our Lord’s suffering and persecution, right through His crucifixion and completed through His death on the Cross. Through all these, right up to the events on Good Friday that we commemorate today, the Lord showed His mighty hands in delivering all of us His people from the tyranny of sin and the darkness of evil.

This is why on the Cross, as He was about to die, the Lord said, ‘I thirst’, and a mixture of sour and bitter wine was given to Him, symbolically showing the drinking of the Cup of Consummation, and the completion of the New Passover, which Christ spoke of as He said, ‘It is finished.’ Right after that very moment, the Lord gave up His Spirit and died, with the words, ‘Father, into Your hands, I commend My Spirit’ completing the sacrifice and offerings of the New Covenant and the New Passover.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all now look to the crucifix, to the Cross of Our Lord, bearing our Saviour Who had suffered and died for all of us. He is the Lamb of God, sacrificed and offered for us, as the perfect and worthy atonement for our sins. And He is also our High Priest, the Mediator of the New Covenant, just as Moses and Aaron once sealed the Covenant between God and Israel with the blood of the sacrificial lamb on the Altar. And thus, Christ, Our High Priest and the Lamb at the same time, offered Himself on the Altar of the Cross, to seal the New Covenant between us and God, and to be the source of healing and absolution for our many sins.

There, on the Cross, lies a reminder of the bloody and sorrowful offering of the Lamb of God, of God Who loved us so much that He is willing to suffer and die for us. And every time we celebrate the Holy Mass, brothers and sisters, we remember this very same sacrifice, for as I mentioned yesterday, on Holy Thursday, that the whole liturgy of the Eucharist in the Holy Mass is no less than the same sacrifice and offering, the same thing that happened two millennia ago, from the Last Supper to the Cross, from the moment that the Lord offered the bread and wine and turned them into His own Precious Body and Blood, and up to the completion of that Passover sacrifice on the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we focus ourselves on the very important events that happened on that day at Calvary, let us all bear in mind always how God loves us so much, that everything He had done and which we remember today, are for our sake and nothing else. Every time we sin and disobey God, let us remember that all those sins are what our Lord Himself bore on His Cross, the wounds He endured, and all the bitterness and humiliations He suffered, so that we may be forgiven and enter into a new life of grace through Him.

Let us all therefore unite our sufferings and ourselves to the Lord, through His crucifixion, His suffering and death. Let us all be truly ashamed of our many sins and all the things that we have done in contradiction to our Christian faith and calling, and in rebellion against God and His will. Let us not harden our hearts any longer, but seek our Lord, the Mediator of the New Covenant, that He may heal us through His Cross, and allow His outpoured Precious Blood to wash us clean and to purify us just as the saints and martyrs had purified themselves in the Blood of the Lamb.

As we all share and partake in the Holy Communion today, let us remember that we receive none other than the Lord Himself, the same Lord and the same sacrifice He made at Calvary, on the Altar of the Cross. The Eucharist we receive is the same crucified Lord and Saviour Who have marked us by His Blood, and bring us forth from the slavery to sin and bring unto us the New Passover, that we are ‘passed over’ from death into new life, which we will be further reminded on as we enter into the time of the glorious Resurrection in Easter.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all move forward in life, no longer looking back at sin and at all the wicked ways of the world, and instead, fill ourselves with the resolve and renewed conviction to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and to glorify Him through our lives, our actions and deeds. May the Lord, our Crucified Messiah, Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, be with us always, and bless us all, His beloved ones, on this most good and wonderful day of our salvation, the salvation of His Cross. Amen.

Thursday, 1 April 2021 : Holy Thursday, Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this evening we celebrate the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, marking the beginning of the most solemn and sacred time of the Easter Triduum, the three sacred days during which the climax of the Lord’s salvific mission took place, as He passed through His Passion, the suffering, the pains and sorrows, the trials and scourges, to His nailing and death on the Cross, and finally, on the third day, He rose gloriously from the dead, conquering death itself and overthrowing the bondage of sin from mankind by His Resurrection.

Tonight, we recall the beginning of that Passion of the Lord by commemorating the Last Supper that the Lord had with His disciples, just before He was about to be arrested, condemned, humiliated and scourged, then finally suffer and die for all mankind. In the Last Supper which we commemorate today, there are truly very significant things that we ought to pay attention to, as we recall what happened that night in Jerusalem about two millennia ago.

That night, on the time of preparation for the Passover, the Lord chose to have the Passover meal with His disciples just as how all the Jewish people, the descendants of the Israelites have been celebrating the Passover ever since the first Passover in Egypt. The Passover was truly the most important event in the entire year, remembering the very moment that God Himself saved His people from death, intervening for the last time in the Ten Plagues He inflicted on the Egyptians, and with that last blow, He removed from His people the chains of tyranny and slavery.

Following that tradition, the Lord had the Passover with His disciples on the date He has chosen, and at a place He has shown His disciples, where He began the Passover meal that would change the world forever. For at that very moment, the Lord made a new Passover that was no longer about the old moment when He rescued the Israelites from their enslavement in Egypt, but a new Passover which is the salvation of all mankind from their enslavement to sin. God would rescue all of His people from the tyranny of sin and lead them to freedom.

And in all these, the Lord’s role is central, as if we see the parallel between the old Passover and the new Passover, what is notable is that, while in the old Passover, the centrepiece is the lamb, pure and blameless was prepared, set aside and slaughtered, its blood taken up and used to mark the lintels of the doors of the Israelites’ houses, while its flesh was roasted on fire and eaten up on the night of the Passover by the whole people of Israel, in the new Passover, there was no lamb in the same traditional sense.

Instead, the Lord Himself is the Sacrificial Lamb, the Lamb of God and our Paschal Lamb, as shown how the centrepiece of the entire Last Supper, the beginning of the New Passover is the Lord Himself, offering His own Precious Body and Precious Blood in the bread and wine that He has blessed and offered, given to the disciples to share and eat. And when He has blessed the bread, He said, ‘This is My Body, given up for you’, and the wine, ‘This is the cup of My Blood, the Blood of the New Covenant, poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins’.

The Lord would then go on to complete this at Good Friday, the offering of His sacrifice that began at the Last Supper. As He later on would take up His Cross, bloodied and bruised, wounded and in pain for our sins, He is that sacrificial Lamb, by Whose Blood we have been redeemed, and at the same time, He is also the High Priest offering the gift of sacrifice, as a worthy offering for the redemption of all. In this case, what He offered was Himself, His own Precious Blood, which alone is worthy to redeem us all, unlike the blood of mere lambs, which though pure and blameless, cannot be compared to the Lamb of God.

And do we all realise that the whole Liturgy of the Eucharist at each celebration of the Holy Mass is the journey of the Lord’s Passion, from the night of the Last Supper right up to the crucifixion and death of Our Lord? When the Lord Jesus lay dying on the Cross, He said a very important phrase that we often overlook, namely ‘It is finished’. Through those words, the Lord wants us to know that His offering as the Paschal Lamb has been completed, and right after that, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit’, completing the New Covenant that He established with us through His suffering and death, sealed by His Blood.

Thus, the Lord instituted on that very night the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Mass as we know it today, the celebration of the Divine Liturgy our brethren in the Eastern traditions. For that night, He offered the bread and wine that He has transformed into the very essence and reality of His own Body and Blood, shared and taken up by all the disciples, that they are all part of the new Communion of the faithful. Just as the Israelites of old partake at the table and be sharers of the Covenant of God sealed with the blood of the lamb, thus the disciples became the first partakers and sharers of the New Covenant sealed by the Lord with His own Blood.

And that very night, the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist, thus the Holy Mass came to be that very moment of the Last Supper, and the Lord authorised His disciples with the power and authority to do what He Himself had done, consecrating them to be the priests of His New Covenant and Church. That is why, from that moment on, the Apostles have the power and authority to turn the bread and wine into the same Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord, remembering the commandment the Lord spoke of, to ‘do this in the memory of Me’

Brothers and sisters in Christ, tonight as we recall that very first night when the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist on the Last Supper, we are called to reflect on the great and wonderful love that God has for each and every one of us, that He wants to rescue us all from the depth of our troubles and misery, offering Himself as the Lamb of sacrifice, to be crushed and destroyed for our sake, bruised, wounded and crucified for us, to die in our place so that we may be delivered from eternal death and into the everlasting life.

As we enter into this mystery of the Easter Triduum, all the solemn celebrations and moments we are going to have up to the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, let us all keep ourselves focused on the Lord, our Saviour and Crucified Messiah, Who have allowed Himself to take up the condition of a slave and the punishments for us. Let us all remember just how much He has endured for our sake. If we have had a difficult and challenging time this year and the past year due to the pandemic, its effects and other reasons, then do not forget that the Lord is enduring all those together with us.

We are never alone, brothers and sisters in Christ, for by sharing and partaking in His Body and Blood through the Eucharist, all of us have shared in His humanity and His death, and having been marked by His Blood just as the Israelites had their houses marked with the lamb’s blood, they had been passed over from death. Thus, in the same way, united to Christ, we have gone through the death of our past selves, and enter into a new existence as Christians, as those whom God had called and chosen, to be His own people, and share in the glorious Resurrection into a new life of grace.

The Lord is journeying with us together through these difficult moments, and by what He has done in the Gospel today, as He came to serve the disciples by washing their feet, a job usually done by a servant or slave, He wants us all to journey together as one people and one Church, all hand in hand together, serving one another and showing care and concern for one another. What the Lord had mandated His disciples to do was to do what He had taught and shown them to do, and it is to show love and concern towards our fellow brethren.

Let us all therefore play our active parts as Christians, called and chosen to be the Lord’s disciples and followers, that in our every words, deeds and actions, we will always show Christian love and faith, showing love for our fellow brothers and sisters, all sharing in this same Communion and in the same New Covenant that God has established through Christ, all of us the members of this same One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

From now on, let us renew our faith in the Lord and learn to appreciate the Holy Mass and particularly the wonderful gift of the Holy Eucharist, Our Lord’s own Most Precious Body and Blood, which He had shed and poured out of love for us, for our salvation. And as we enter into this most solemn and sacred Easter Triduum let us all commit ourselves and our time to the Lord, refocusing our attention to Him, and reflecting on all that He had done for us, all the love that He has shown us, and how fortunate we all have been to be beloved in such a manner.

May God be with us always, brothers and sisters in Christ, and may He strengthen us especially through the Easter Triduum that we may grow ever stronger in faith and commitment to Him, and also in our belief and devotion to the Holy Eucharist, to Our Lord’s Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood, as the centrepoint of every celebration of the Holy Mass and Divine worship. May He guide us all, through these solemn and holy days, that we may benefit most wonderfully from the experience of faith. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 1 April 2021 : Holy Thursday, Chrism Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Chrism Mass, the celebration of the Holy Mass in which the holy oils are blessed, for use in various purposes. There are three types of holy oils that are to be blessed today, namely the Sacred Chrism, the Oil of the Catechumens as well as the Oil of the Sick. These oils are blessed today by the bishops of each diocese in communion and conjunction with all the priests of the respective dioceses, and in which occasion the priests and the bishop together renew their priestly vows and promises.

Let us go through the oils that are to be blessed today, one by one. First of all, the Sacred Chrism is the holy oil used for various purposes, most particularly in the Sacraments of Initiation, those of Baptism and Confirmation, to anoint the newly baptised and to confirm those who are receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is distinct from the Oil of the Catechumens which is used to anoint the catechumens or those aspiring for Christian Baptism before they are to be baptised.

The Sacred Chrism is then also used for the consecration of the Altars and the dedication of the churches to God, as a mark of holiness and sanctity present in the House of God and in the Altar dedicated solely for the purpose of divine worship and the Holy Mass, as a representation of the Altar of the Lord, the Cross at Calvary. It is also reminiscent of the oil used by the prophet Samuel to anoint king David as the king of Israel, and the oils used to anoint the priests of the old Israel, as it is still also used today in the anointing of the priests and bishops of the Church.

Lastly, the Oil of the Sick is an important holy oil used in the anointing of the sick, during their Last Rites and the prayers with the hope of either a speedy recovery or a most blessed entry into the eternal life with God at the end of one’s earthly journey. The Oil of the Sick is truly a very important part of the Church and its liturgical rites, as well as its ministry to the people of God and the community. Together with all the other holy oils, they represent the holy presence of God in our midst, as we all have been marked in baptism, and some others also in priesthood, as God’s holy people, consecrated and dedicated to Him.

Today, we are all therefore called to remember our promises of faith to God, either in our Christian baptism, the promises we made at baptism to be faithful to God and to be committed to Him, to put our trust in Him as our Lord and Saviour, and to seek Him before anything else, and for some among us who have been called to the Sacred Order of Priesthood and the Episcopate, we renew also the vow of priesthood, of dedication and holiness in life in the image of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the High Priest of all creation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through today’s Scripture readings we have been reminded of the salvation which has come to us through Christ, by His coming into the world, as He Himself has proclaimed it. The Lord has graced us with His presence, and showed us His enduring love through the gift of His Son, to be Our Saviour and to rescue us from our distress and troubles. Through Him, we mankind who had once been condemned to destruction through sin, we have received the assurance of a new hope and light.

For by His sacrifice on the Cross, by willingly enduring His Passion, His suffering and death, through His wounds and His outpoured Precious Blood, He healed us from the dreadful plague of sin, and lifted us up out of the darkness. He has done so much for us, brothers and sisters in Christ, and yet, often times we still refuse to commit ourselves to Him, and we allow many temptations of this world to turn us away from His path, and causing us to slide back down into sin and darkness.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, as the holy oils are blessed today and as we all renew our vows, especially for the priests and the bishops all around the world, let us all pray for each other, that we may be strengthened in faith and be more courageous to live a more Christ-like life, a more genuine Christian existence and living so that in everything that we say and do, we will always proclaim God and His truth, and glorify His Name. And especially for our priests and bishops, that they will always remain faithful to their calling and ministry.

May the Lord be with us all, and as we enter into the most sacred moments of the Easter Triduum beginning tonight, may He give us the strength and faith to live our lives wholeheartedly as Christians, dedicating ourselves to be better Christians at all times. Let us all have a blessed and most wonderful celebration of the Easter Triduum, brothers and sisters in Christ, and may God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is traditionally called Spy Wednesday, in the belief that since it is the day before the celebration of the Last Supper of the Lord with His disciples, it was the day that Judas Iscariot went secretly to the chief priests and the Sanhedrin to seek to betray the Lord, colluding with them for a sum of thirty pieces of silver, and therefore set the sequence of events that would led to the Lord’s arrest in the Gardens of Gethsemane, His trial and condemnation to death, and finally crucifixion.

In our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Isaiah we heard of the suffering Servant of God, which in fact was the prophecy made by Isaiah regarding the Saviour, Who would be bruised, mocked and beaten, humiliated and crushed for our sins and punishments, and all of these would happen for the Lord, just as He has predicted and revealed to His disciples, how He would be betrayed by one of His own, condemned by the chief priests and the Sanhedrin.

It is worth noting today that the Lord was ‘sold’ out by Judas Iscariot for a sum of thirty pieces of silver. This sum is significant as that was the usual sum required at that time to purchase a slave, and therefore it was very symbolic of how the Lord allowed Himself to be like a slave for us, humiliated and crushed, treated like the worst of criminals and destroyed, so that through all of His sufferings, we may be spared from those punishments that should have been due for us, and gain eternal life through Him.

The Lord loved us all so much that He was willing to go through all these for our sake. If not for the great and amazing love He had for us, all of us would have perished and be crushed for our sins. That is why we ought to be thankful that He willingly took up all the burdens of our sins and punishments upon Himself, that by His sufferings and trials, He has led us out of the darkness and into the light, freeing us from the bondage to sin and death.

As we listened to all of these, do we all realise just how fortunate we are to have been beloved in such a way? And yet, we continue to sin, disobeying God and refusing to follow Him wholeheartedly. If we think what Judas Iscariot had done was terrible and evil, and we also often laid the blame on him for having betrayed the Lord, we must not forget that in our actions and behaviour we have also often acted like Judas, choosing to prioritise other things beside God, to put others before Him.

In fact, we often forget about the Lord and we only remembered Him when we had a need and wanted the Lord to give us help for what we wanted. And it is often that we forget about the Lord again when we have already gotten what we needed, and often not even being grateful for all that we have received and what we have been blessed with. We continue to live in a state of sin and refusing to repent or change our ways. And this is why, we are no better than Judas Iscariot.

What is different however, is that Judas despaired and committed suicide in grief and regret for all of his actions, while we are still living and still having the opportunities and chances to make amends for our faults and mistakes. We are all called to embrace God’s forgiveness and mercy, and we should appreciate this time and opportunity that God has given us. This Holy Week we are given this strong reminder of God’s love for us, His compassionate love and mercy, with which He wants us to be reconciled with Him.

Are we willing to make the commitment to follow the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing and capable of dedicating ourselves to respond to God’s call? Let us all turn towards Him with a renewed faith, and rediscover that love and zeal we ought to have for Him, as we approach the great Easter Triduum beginning tomorrow, that we may grow ever stronger in faith and be ever closer to God. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021 : Tuesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures and as we move even closer to the beginning of the sacred Easter Triduum, we are reminded of the important events that had happened when the Lord went through His Passion, betrayed by one of His own, persecuted and rejected by His own people, and condemned to suffer and die like a terrible criminal, nailed to the Cross, all for our sake and for our salvation.

In our first reading today, we continue to hear the discourse of the Servant of God in which we are brought to focus our attention on the Servant Whom God had sent into this world, to be the One through Whom God would deliver all of His people, all of mankind and reconcile with them, gathering them all back in from being scattered throughout the world. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Son of God Most High, therefore God endeavoured to bring His salvation to us, fulfilling all the promises He had made to us through the prophets.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard then of the moments of the Last Supper when the Lord had the Passover meal with His disciples, and a mention was made of the moment earlier on when Judas Iscariot, the disciple who were to betray the Lord, plotted with the chief priests to hand Him over to them, on the price of thirty pieces of silver. This happened before the Last Supper as on the day of the Last Supper itself, the deed had been done, and that very night of the Last Supper, the Lord was arrested at the Gardens of Gethsemane.

In this occasion, as we heard of the account of the Last Supper, where the Lord again revealed how He would very soon suffer and endure bitter persecution and torture at the hands of His enemies, and how His own disciples and followers would abandon Him and all be scattered, we heard the disciples then saying that they all would never abandon Him and some like St. Peter even said to the extent that they would give their lives for Him.

But the reality was that all those same disciples were shaken deeply when the Lord was betrayed by none other than one of their own, all the more because Judas the betrayer was counted among the Lord’s inner circle. They were all overcome with fear and their courage left them, and even St. Peter wavered, denying the Lord publicly not just once, but a total of three times before the dawn broke, and St. Peter was overcome with regret, sorrow and anguish.

The Lord has shown us that when we try to depend on our own human strength, or depend on the many worldly things we possess, from money to material possessions, to our connections and various other resources in life, we will not be able to sustain ourselves, and eventually will break and fall apart, just as what had happened to Judas Iscariot, who allowed himself to be tempted by money and Satan’s false promises and lies.

Or like that of St. Peter, who thought that his strength was enough for him to persevere on his own, just as he militantly tried to show strength by saying that he would even give his life for the Lord, and even later on, cutting the ears of the High Priest’s servant Malchus. But when everything fell apart all around him, and seeing his Lord and Master being arrested, humiliated and condemned, he lost his courage and wavered in faith, leading to his thrice denial of the Lord.

That is why we are all called today to turn our attention towards the Lord, to entrust ourselves to the Lord and to have faith in Him, just as the Lord Jesus Himself prayed to His heavenly Father, while He was in full agony in the Gardens of Gethsemane. He did not give in to despair and temptations to abandon His Passion, and instead, went on full ahead, willingly bearing the Cross for our sake, and even after being scourged, humiliated and fell three times, He kept on going up again and again, all for the love of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should look upon the Lord’s own example, and be inspired to hold faith firmly in Him, entrusting ourselves to Him because we all know that while everything else, material and any other worldly things, and even people and relationship, power and worldly glory may fail, but the Lord and His love for us will never fail. This is the love that stood the test of time, and which allowed Him to suffer even unto His death on the Cross.

Let us all therefore strive to be ever more dedicated and faithful in this Holy Week, the time of reconciliation and rediscovery of our faith and love for God. Let us all turn towards God with a new heart, no longer filled by greed and worldly desires, by pride and ego, but by real and genuine desire to love the Lord with all of our strength, and by our desire to be reconciled with Him through repentance from our sinful ways.

May God bless us all, now and always, and may He guide us through life, and help us to grow ever more in faith, and be ever closer to Him, that one day we may be truly worthy to walk with Him together in His heavenly grace. Amen.

Monday, 29 March 2021 : Monday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures we are called to focus our attention to the Lord and to turn our hearts and minds to Him. As we enter into this most solemn time of the Holy Week, we attune ourselves to the Lord and His truth, and seek Him with renewed faith and conviction. This Holy Week we are called to prepare ourselves to enter into the deepest mysteries of our faith, that of Our Lord’s Passion, His suffering, death and Resurrection.

In our first reading today, the Lord spoke to His people through the prophet Isaiah, speaking about the coming of His Servant Whom He would send into this world in order to do His will, and this Servant would be the One to do His will, to proclaim the glory of God and His salvation to the people, and all these would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all and the Son of God, born through Mary as the Son of Man. Through Christ, all that the Lord had promised His people would come to fruition.

That is why we all have hope, because Christ has entered into this world and brought with Him the assurance of eternal life for us. He has shown us the genuine love of God for us all His beloved ones, and by what He was about to do then, He gave us all the concrete evidence of His love, as He emptied Himself of all glory and power, and humbled Himself to take the condition of a slave, to be the One to bear the punishment and the sufferings due for us, bearing all of these upon Himself and dying on the Cross.

And in our Gospel passage today we heard of an interesting conversation that happened just as the Lord was about to embark into this final part of His earthly mission, when Mary, the sister of Lazarus, poured an expensive perfume of spikenard on the feet of the Lord, and then dried the Lord’s feet with her hair. This was truly an unusual circumstance, that must have surprised all who witnessed it, the disciples who were gathered at the house.

Judas Iscariot, the disciple, one of Twelve who would betray the Lord then criticised Mary for having wasted the good perfume in that way, and said that the perfume could have been sold for a good sum of money to be given to the poor. Of course it was mentioned that Judas had been helping himself to the money as one entrusted with the common fund of the Lord and His disciples.

As we can probably deduce, Judas Iscariot was not an uneducated person. On the contrary, he might be one of the most qualified among the disciples, being one who knew his way with money and other things, and the fact that he could later go on to the chief priests and plotted with them to hand over the Lord, and how he arranged with them in showing the One that had to be arrested, by kissing the Lord, were proofs of Judas Iscariot’s intelligence and capabilities.

However, Judas Iscariot ended up being tempted by all those desires of the world and sought more worldly pleasures and pursuits. One might have thought that the Lord’s revelation that He would suffer at the hands of His enemies and be crucified as the reason why Judas Iscariot chose to betray Him, and thinking that he would be better of to profit from the occasion, he ended up doing the unthinkable, selling off his own Lord and Master for a mere thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave at that time.

We can see here how Judas Iscariot threw everything for worldly possession, as limited, futile and terrible as those things can be. Meanwhile, on the other hand, Mary threw away everything for the Lord, and by using her hair to wipe the feet of the Lord clean, she humbled herself before all others, as the hair is the crown of a woman’s glory and by using that to wipe the feet, the dirtiest part of a person, she threw aside all worldly glory and honour, for the Lord.

And by rebuking Judas and praising what Mary had done, the Lord Himself showed how eventually, in a short while, He Himself would do the same, stripping Himself of all glory and taking up the position of a slave and a criminal, punished for all the multitudes of our sins, nailed to the Cross, and raised up high, scourged, bruised and wounded, in full obedience to the will of His Father.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard all of these, we are all called to distance ourselves from the distractions of the world, the temptations of worldly desires, so that we may be like Mary, and like Our Lord Himself, focusing our attention on the Lord alone and not on all sorts of temptations that will distract us and lead to our downfall just as Judas Iscariot had fallen. We must not allow our desires and those temptations from leading us down the wrong path.

Let us make the best use of this Holy Week as a time to reconnect ourselves with God, to refocus ourselves on Him, and to turn towards Him with renewed faith and zeal, and to rediscover that love and devotion that we should have for Him. Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that He still loves us all even after all of our disobedience and sins, and gave us His only begotten Son, to be our Saviour and Hope. He endured all the worst sufferings and rejections, so that we may live.

May the Lord be with us all and guide us in our journey, so that may come ever closer to Him and be ready to immerse ourselves deeply in the mysteries of His Passion, His suffering, death and Resurrection, and be filled with true grace and faith. May God bless us all and our good efforts, and help us to remain firm in faith. Amen.

Sunday, 28 March 2021 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we mark the occasion of the Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, and on this day we begin the solemn celebrations of the Holy Week. This marks the last week in which the culmination of the Lord’s mission in this world. Throughout this season of Lent, we have been preparing ourselves physically and spiritually to celebrate this most important moment in the history of the world and all mankind, the moment when God Himself came to save us.

This day we remember the moment when the Lord came down to Jerusalem hailed as a King, cheered on and praised by many who were there to welcome Him, just as prophesied in the Scriptures by the prophets of the Lord, as the King riding on a donkey entering into His city mentioned by the prophet Zechariah, ‘See Jerusalem, your King is coming to you, righteous and bringing salvation, riding on a humble donkey.’

This was not Jesus’ first time entering Jerusalem, as evidenced from the Gospels that He had been in Jerusalem a few times before, not least when He was consecrated to God at His circumcision and presentation to God, and when He was just twelve years old and was left at the Temple, and on other occasions during His ministry when He came and taught the people at the Temple and other places throughout Jerusalem and Judea.

However, that time, the Lord came to Jerusalem for the one last and final time, when He would embark on the final part of His mission in fulfilling what the Lord had promised us all mankind, His beloved ones, to save us and to rescue us from the bondage of sin and death, from the tyranny and the enslavement of the devil, which He had done by His Passion, that is His suffering and His death on the Cross.

The word Passion itself came from the Latin ‘passus sum’, which means to endure and persevere through something, and in this case, it is the sufferings, the trials and pain that the Lord has suffered and endured, all the humiliation and horrible treatment He experienced at the hands of His enemies and tormentors. All of these He had willingly done, because of the great love that He has, for each and every single one of us, without exception.

We remember that the Lord so loved the world, all of us mankind, that He sent us His only begotten Son, according to the Gospel of St. John, that through Him we are to find salvation and not perish, and through Christ, God’s own Son, we have been brought to the hope of a new and graceful existence, a way to eternal life, and to be reconciled with God, our loving Father, Lord and Creator.

In this we have seen the most wonderful love of God, presented to us through Christ, the One proclaimed as King and Holy One of God by the crowd of people in Jerusalem, welcomed with much festivities and with palm branches, the Son and Heir of David Who has come to claim the kingdom of His forefather David, king of all Israel. Yet, do we all realise that the same crowd who hailed Jesus as King and praised Him wonderfully with palm branches in hand were perhaps the same ones who then cried out, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ in just a few days afterwards?

For those who followed the Lord Jesus, like His disciples and others, it might seem that the moment of the entry to Jerusalem was indeed a triumphant moment as the Lord was hailed as King and many saw Him as someone who could liberate them from the rule of the Romans. But, the moment that they saw the Lord being accused of blasphemy and of sin against God and nation, they turned against Him and became His accusers instead. Those who remained faithful, like the Apostles, hid themselves in fear and were scattered.

The Lord knew exactly what would happen to Him, and He had already mentioned it on several occasions, how He would be betrayed even by those close to Him, one of His own Twelve would be the one to hand Him over to the Sanhedrin, be arrested and then condemned to death, suffering a most painful and humiliating death on the Cross. Knowing all these, the Lord Himself did agonise over it at the Gardens of Gethsemane just prior to His arrest, the weight of the whole responsibility that He was to bear, and yet, He obeyed completely to the will of His heavenly Father.

It is St. Paul spoke of in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Philippi, the Epistle to the Philippians, when he spoke of Christ, obedient unto death on the Cross, humbling Himself and emptying Himself of His divinity and glory, allowing Himself to be scourged, punished and to endure the greatest of pain, sorrow and suffering, bearing all the consequences and punishments that we should have suffered instead because of our many sins.

Christ, Our Lord, is the New Adam, the New Man, Who obeyed God so completely and dedicated Himself so thoroughly, in contrast with the old Adam, and thus, won for us all the victory against sin. While Adam fell into sin and corruption from that sin because he was unable to resist the temptations to sin, and thus fell by his disobedience, it was Christ’s obedience, emptying Himself of all glory, that led to our salvation.

For He offered Himself, as a worthy and perfect sacrifice, both as the High Priest of all, and as the Paschal Lamb to be sacrificed Himself, on the Altar of the Cross. And indeed, the Cross is also the Throne of our King, just as the title placed on the Cross, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, and also thus, King of all of us, King of Kings. There He is, on the Cross, suffering and dying for us, for as our King, He desires nothing less than our happiness and freedom from the tyranny of sin.

It was this that brings us to the Passion of Our Lord, as this Passion, the sufferings Christ suffered for us, shows us all His compassionate love. The word compassion itself again came from the root word of Passion, cum passus sum, meaning to endure and persevere together with us, to be with us through our sufferings, to sympathise with us not just through words but also through concrete action, as He was there up on the Cross, bloody and bruised, shedding His Blood and rending His Body for us all.

Through Christ’s obedience, and by bearing all of our sins to Himself, by uniting us all in our humanity to His own humanity, Christ suffered and died, so that by His death, we may gain access to new and everlasting life. And thus, today this Palm Sunday we mark the beginning of this intense culmination of the Lord’s ministry, the beginning of this great Passion of Our Lord, as we witness and are reminded yet again of all that the Lord had done for our sake, out of enduring love for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we now enter into this Holy Week proper, are we going to celebrate it solemnly and properly, with clear understanding and appreciation? Or are we going to treat it just like any other week without any distinction? Let us think of how we can make our Holy Week meaningful and good, that we may benefit as much as possible, and become ever closer to God, being more faithful and dedicated to Him.

Let us all focus our attention on the Christ Crucified, and remind ourselves of what a wonderful grace and privilege we have received, to be beloved by God so much that He was willing to do all these for our sake. As we look on our Lord crucified, let us remember that His every wounds are our sins, our transgressions, our wickedness, and all that we have done which were in contradiction to the way of the Lord.

Christ endured all that pain and suffering, brothers and sisters in Christ. Are we still insisting on following the wrong path in life, in doing what is against God, and inflicting those wounds that we have seen on our Lord? The Lord did indeed suffer, in His humanity, and He did indeed die, suffering all these so that we may live. Let us all appreciate everything that He had done for us, and strive to do our best in life to be more and more committed, to be closer to God and to love Him more.

Let us all enter into this most solemn time of the Holy Week with clear focus on the Lord, on His Passion and suffering, His love and the great compassion He has shown to each and every one of us. Let us all be exemplary in our faith and be good role model to one another so that we may help our fellow brothers and sisters to find our way together to the salvation and eternal life in God. May God, our Crucified Christ, Our most loving Saviour, be with us all as we journey through this Holy Week, that we may come to share ever more deeply in the mysteries of His Passion, His suffering, death and Resurrection. Amen.

Saturday, 27 March 2021 : 5th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we are about to begin the Holy Week of the Passion of Our Lord tomorrow on Palm Sunday, today we are reminded through the Scripture passages of the coming of God’s salvation and all of His loving promises as the prophet Ezekiel has revealed to the people of Israel in exile as we heard in our first reading today, and then we also heard of the coming of the time of the Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death as we heard of the meeting of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish high council in the Gospel today, plotting the end of the Lord.

Beginning with our first reading today, we all heard of the Lord speaking to His people through the prophet Ezekiel at the time when most of the descendants of the Israelites had been scattered away from their homeland, without a home to return to, without a nation and king to rule over them, without the Temple around and within which they could worship the Lord their God, for they have been defeated and crushed by the Babylonians. Their cities were destroyed, the kingdom destroyed and the Temple of God was also destroyed.

But God reassured His people through Ezekiel that He did not forget about them, and neither did He desire for them all to continue to suffer. On the contrary, He revealed that He would save all of them in due time, sending His salvation into the world, to gather all of His scattered children and call everyone to Himself through His Saviour, Who is none other than Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, the Son of God and Son of Man, the Divine Word Incarnate.

It was therefore by the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ into this world that we have seen the light and salvation of God, the hope and enlightenment through which we shall find our liberation and freedom from the tyranny of sin and death that had reigned over us all these while. Just as the Lord reassuring His people through Ezekiel that the dark and difficult times of their exile in Babylon and elsewhere would not last forever, thus the Lord through Christ, His own beloved Son, He would liberate all of His beloved ones and gather them all into His loving presence and grace.

Unfortunately, as we can see many people refused to believe in the Lord when He came to them bringing the revelations of God’s truth. This is likely because those chief priests, elders and the members of the Pharisees were to proud to admit that they had been wrong, and they did not want the good situation, prestige and respect they had garnered from the people to wane and disappear. That was why the High Priest Caiaphas discussed among the chief priests and elders, and mentioned the need to bring an end to Christ so that their whole nation could be saved, when in fact they meant that their own livelihood and status could be preserved.

Thus, as we heard, the Lord went in hiding and did not openly show Himself anymore in public until when He was arrested and put on trial before the Sanhedrin and later on eventually by Pontius Pilate, to be condemned like a criminal and to die a most painful and humiliating death on the Cross. But through all that, God had brought salvation unto us, that by the selfless, perfect and most loving sacrifice He had made, Christ reconciled us with God, our loving Father and Creator.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, we are therefore reminded first of all of the Lord’s ever gracious and generous mercy, the great patience by which He awaits us and is still waiting for us to return to His righteous embrace. We are all called to seek Him and to rend our hearts, minds and souls before Him, allowing Him to touch us with His love, compassion and mercy.

Let us all not harden our hearts or be swayed by our ego or pride. Instead, let us all humble ourselves and be inspired by Christ’s own humility and obedience to the will of His Father, that as we enter into the most solemn celebrations of Holy Week beginning tomorrow with Palm Sunday, we may reflect well on the great sufferings that Christ has suffered for our sake, in His willingness to endure the worst of humiliations, sufferings and pains for our salvation.

May the Lord be our guide, and may He strengthen each and every one of us, that we may find our way to Him, and be ever more committed and willing to live our lives as good and dedicated Christians from now on if we have not already done so. May all of us have a blessed Holy Week celebration beginning tomorrow, and become ever closer to the Lord, our God, through Jesus Christ, His Son. Amen.

Friday, 26 March 2021 : 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 called to focus our attention to the Lord and His truth, humble ourselves and accept that truth which He has brought to us. We should not harden our hearts and minds against Him, and instead we should allow Him to enter into our hearts and minds and transform us.

In our first reading today, we heard of the persecution and the trials faced by the prophet Jeremiah, who was sent by God to the people of the southern kingdom of Judah in is twilight days. Jeremiah often called the people to repent from their sins and to turn away from their wicked ways. He laboured hard to speak God’s truth and His will among the stubborn people, and this brought him much opposition and many enemies.

But Jeremiah remained firm in his faith and conviction, and while he did grumble and complain over all that he had to suffer, which was understandable given the very tough circumstance he was in, nonetheless, he held firmly to his belief and trust in the Lord. He trusted that the Lord is always by His side, guiding Him and protecting Him, and would remember all that he had done for His sake, rewarding His faithful ones while exacting just punishment on those who continued stubbornly to resist.

In our Gospel passage today then we heard about the Lord Jesus and how He proclaimed the truth of God to the people of Judea, the descendants of the same people to whom the prophet Jeremiah had ministered to many centuries previously. Many of those people also refused to believe in the Lord, doubted Him and opposed Him, particularly many from among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

They were angry when the Lord openly referred to Himself as the Son of God, and God as His own Father. They wanted to arrest Him for having blasphemed against God, and eventually, during the Passion of the Lord, not long after this encounter between the Lord and the people in Jerusalem and Judea, those opponents of the Lord managed to charge Him on this same accusation after they had Him arrested and tried before the whole Sanhedrin, the Jewish high council.

But had they read and understand the Scriptures and the words of the prophets more carefully, they would have realised from all the truth that the Lord Jesus had spoken, from all the miraculous deeds and wonders that He had performed before so many of them, that He could only be the Messiah, or the Saviour of the whole world, Who had been prophesied by the prophets and Whose coming had been long anticipated and awaited.

Yet, many among the people refused to accept the truth, and among those who did this were those who held on to their pride and ego, their worldly desires for power, influence and status, refusing to allow the Lord to shine over them as He gained more and more followers throughout His ministry. They saw Him as a threat to their power and status within the society, and thus worked and plotted against the Lord, inciting the people with false leads in the process.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in these readings from the Scripture, we are therefore reminded that we must really be careful with our ego, with the desires in our hearts and minds, and with the many temptations by which the devil is constantly and consistently trying to tempt us with into disobedience against God’s will, to oppose the Lord as those people had once done against Him, and their ancestors also rose up against the prophet Jeremiah.

Let us all during this season of Lent be filled with remorse and regret for our sins, sincerely desiring to be forgiven from all the things we have committed that were against the will of God. Let us all be reconciled with God, seeking for His mercy and kindness, through true and genuine repentance. May God be with us always, and may He bless us and guide us in our journey towards righteousness. May God bless our many good works and endeavours for His greater glory. Amen.