Monday, 16 June 2014 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Kings 21 : 1-16

Now Naboth, a man from Jezreel, owned a vineyard just beside the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria. Ahab asked Naboth, “Give me your vineyard which is near my house that I may use it for a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange. Or, if you prefer, I will pay you its price.”

But Naboth said to Ahab, “YHVH forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”

So Ahab went home angry and sad because of what Naboth had told him, that he  would not give him the inheritance of his fathers. So he lay down on his bed with his face turned toward the wall and refused to eat.

His wife Jezebel came to him and said, “Why are you so angry that you refuse to eat?” He answered, “I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and asked him to sell me his vineyard or to exchange it for another better one but he answered : I will not give you my vineyard.”

His wife Jezebel said to him, “Are you not king of Israel? Get up and eat and be joyful, for I will give you the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel.” So Jezebel wrote letters using Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and important persons living near Naboth.

This is what she wrote in the letters, “Declare a fast and put Naboth on trial. Get two worthless fellows to accuse him in this way : ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”

The people, the elders and the important persons who lived in his city did as Jezebel had instructed them in the letters she sent to them. They declared a fast and put Naboth on trial. The two worthless fellows came in and sat facing him, accusing Naboth before the people, “Naboth cursed God and the king!”

So the people took him outside the city and stoned him to death. They then sent word to Jezebel that Naboth had been stoned and was dead. As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, she told Ahab, “Now take possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the man of Jezreel who refused to sell it to you, for Naboth is now dead.”

As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he went down to the vineyard of Naboth and took possession of it.

Monday, 27 January 2014 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Angela Merici, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)

Mark 3 : 22-30

Meanwhile the teachers of the Law, who had come from Jerusalem, said, “He is in the power of Beelzebul : the chief of demons helps Him to drive out demons.”

Jesus called them to Him, and began teaching them by means of stories, or parables. “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a nation is divided by civil war, that nation cannot stand. If a family divides itself into groups, that family will not survive.”

“In the same way, if Satan has risen against himself and is divided, he will not stand; he is finished. No one can break into the house of a strong man in order to plunder his goods, unless he first ties up the strong man. Then indeed, he can plunder his house.”

“Truly, I say to you, every sin will be forgiven humankind, even insults to God, however numerous. But whoever slanders the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven : he carries the guilt of his sin forever.”

This was their sin when they said, “He has an unclean spirit in Him.”

Monday, 6 January 2014 : Monday after the Epiphany (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 3 : 22 – 1 John 4 : 6

Then whatever we ask we shall receive, since we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. His command is that we believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another, as He has commanded us.

Whoever keeps His commands remains in God and God in him. It is by the Spirit God has given us that we know He lives in us. My beloved, do not trust every inspiration. Test the spirits to see whether they come from God, because many false prophets are now in the world.

How will you recognise the Spirit of God? Any spirit recognising Jesus as the Christ who has taken our flesh is of God. But any spirit that does not recognise Jesus is not from God, it is the spirit of the antichrist. You have heard of his coming and even now he is in the world.

You, my dear children, are of God and you have already overcome these people, because the One who is in you is more powerful than he who is in the world. They are of the world and the world inspires them and those of the world listen to them.

We are of God and those who know God listen to us, but those who are not of God ignore us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error as well.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013 : Seventh Day of the Christmas Octave, Memorial of Pope St. Silvester I, Pope (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and this Word was made flesh, that it came into the world and dwell among us. Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Gospel proclaimed to us the truth about Christ and His coming into the world, and what the truth is about the Messiah and His ways.

For, as St. John the Evangelist warned us, in his first letter, that there are antichrist and false prophets who came into this world to mislead us and distract us from the true teachings and the way of the Lord, revealed in Jesus His Son. There are those who taught that Jesus is not God, and that even He is not the Holy One of God, or even that He worked with the power of the evil spirit, and many other.

And there were also those who proclaimed themselves as the Messiah and misled the people of God, both before and after the coming of the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh. That is the truth as proclaimed by the Holy Apostles and martyrs who risked their lived to keep true the revelations as we heard today in the Gospel.

The truth about Jesus is that He is God, and therefore He is Love for God is Love. That was why He came down upon us, incarnate into flesh. He was the Word of God, and of the same essence as God. He was one third of the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He was there before time and before all ages, not created, perfect and one in unity, in perfect unity and love as One and only True God with three characteristics.

God the Creator, God the Word, and God the Spirit. These are the persona unified perfectly in God. If you all read the first chapter of the very first book in the Holy Bible, that is the Book of Genesis, you will understand it easily. It was written that once there was nothing and the Spirit of God floats in that nothingness. Then God who was there from the very beginning, and who exists outside of time, spoke and with His Word, made things to be created into existence.

All of those involved are one and the same God, the Creator who is the Father, the Word who is the Son, whom we later know as Jesus, and the Spirit of God, which is the Holy Spirit. That is the reality of our faith, that we believe in One and only One God, but God who in Him exists three distinct yet unified persona, in the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

All three of them cannot be separated from each other and they are One in God. Through His own Word, He decreed the universe and all creations into existence. Thus, through that Word of God, we and all the things around us were created. And because He created us, and because His nature is love, He cannot deny us the love He has for us. We have sinned when our ancestors chose to listen to Satan instead of the Lord, and therefore we should have deserves damnation and destruction as our fate.

We have been made unworthy of God because of our rebelliousness, and we who have been tainted by sin should have had no place in the kingdom of God. But God being God, and loving us deeply, gave us a new chance, that is the only way out of the predicament that we were in. That way is in Jesus, who came into this world, the Word who was God and was with God, but emptied Himself of all His glory and descend into this world as one of us.

This is the truth about the Lord, our Christ, the Saviour, the Messiah of the world. Satan certainly did not stay quiet or idle during the works of Christ, but he worked hard to undermine the works of the Lord, and as a result, sent many deceivers to deceive and distract the people of God from the true salvation in Jesus Christ.

Today we celebrate a saint whose feast is the last we have on the year. Pope St. Silvester I or Sylvester I was the leader of the Universal Church as the Bishop of Rome at the time of the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine during the late Roman Empire period. He succeeded the Pope Miltiades, during whose reign as Pope the Edict of Milan was signed by the Emperor, which ended the state persecution against Christians.

Pope St. Silvester I worked hard to strengthen the Church and rebuilt the faith after centuries and past decades of persecution against Christians. He oversaw the period of great revival of the fortunes of the faith, from one that is constantly persecuted and chased by the state authorities and the pagans, into one that is eventually becoming the state faith of the Empire.

His piety and hard work to consolidate the position of the faith as the guiding beacon for many people, and for helping the pious Emperor Constantine to build up the foundations for the Universal Church in converting millions and more to the cause of the Lord made him a great saint of the Church. Yet, as we celebrate what he had achieved, we must remain wary of the devices and works of the devil aimed at disturbing the good works that Pope St. Silvester I and the other saints had initiated.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we end this year of our Lord 2013, let us look forward to the new year with a new and rejuvenated faith, that we will continue to remain faithful to the Lord and His ways, and not be swayed by the temptations of evil, no matter how attractive they are. Reject the devil as firmly as Jesus had rejected him and cast him away from His side. Reject any false prophet bearing the lies and falsehoods of Satan.

May the Lord strengthen our faith and empower us, to be better able to resist Satan and his temptations on us. That we will remain ever faithful in Jesus, our Lord, the true, one and only Saviour of the world. Amen.

Monday, 9 November 2013 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 3 : 9-15, 20

YHVH God called the man saying to him, “Where are you?”

He said, “I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I ordered you not to eat?”

The man answered, “The woman You put with me gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it.”

God said to the woman, “What have you done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”

YHVH God said to the serpent, “Since you have done that, be cursed among all the cattle and wild beasts! You will crawl on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will make you enemies, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”

The man called his wife by the name of Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.

Thursday, 5 December 2013 : 1st Week of Advent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/ Violet

Brethren, those who trust in the Lord shall not fail, but those who trust only in themselves, and in their own feeble human power, shall fail. Those who places their trust in the Lord shall not be disappointed. After all, have God ever disappointed us thus far? If we think that God did disappoint us at some point of time in the past, let us take some time and reflect.

We often say or think that the Lord does nothing for us, or that we became angry when we asked God for something, and yet we did not get it. We became disappointed in God and no longer put our trust in Him. Many in our world today certainly think so. That is why they prefer their own intellect and reason to the trust and faith in the Lord.

They prefer to believe in their own achievements and glories, shutting themselves from the Lord. This is just as how many people in our world becoming proud of their life achievements. I am sure you have met in your lives, people who boast of their wealth, the number of cars and credit cards that they possess, and the countless amenities they have in their homes, the comfortable lifestyle that they lead in life.

And they do not give thanks to the Lord who had blessed them with these kindness and graces. Thus, the Lord forsakes them and they have no part in the salvation that the Lord grants to all who believe in Him. If we want to be part of the Lord’s glory at the end of time, then we ought to follow Him, obey Him, and show Him our love and dedication, just as He had loved us and dedicated Himself to us.

But this is not all that is there to it. Even among us who believe and trust in the Lord, we cannot just be idle and be ignorant of the laws and precepts of the Lord. We cannot proclaim that we are the disciples and children of the Lord and yet our actions show otherwise. We cannot be hypocrites who only keep our faith in words and yet no concrete actions to support our faith.

Yes, brethren, for a faith made only with the profession of the mouth is like that of a house without firm foundations, built on the shaky sand. Once a storm and flood comes by, the weakly built home will fall down and stumble. Such are also the things that happened to many people in the world today. Their faith in God is not supported by firm and concrete actions. Their faith can even be said as to be only on paper.

That is why, many of our brethren in faith, while they confess the Lord as their God, they do not practice their faith in their daily actions. They believe in things contrary to the faith and to the laws of God. I can give you many examples of such hypocrisy. There are many who belong to the Church, and do things such as abortion, murder, lies, and many other things against the teachings of the Lord.

They are those who built their house on unstable and shaky grounds, those who are heading towards doom instead of salvation in the Lord. That is because their faith is essentially dead. We have to truly believe in what we believe, that we have a truly living and concrete faith. In that way, our house will be built on secure ground, strong and secure against any kind of obstructions or distractions.

Today, I also would like to recall something which had happened two years ago. A fellow schoolmate from my Alma Mater passed away today, exactly two years ago, at a young age of a teenager. He was a victim of violent acts, which rightly still ravage many parts of our world today. He was a good and loving person, a child of God no less. That he was taken from us because of unfortunate occurrence, served as a reminder, how, even though we have our faith in God, there are still so many things that we can do, and we need to do.

Taking the example of violence, which took away this young person’s life prematurely, we have to see that violence is a failure to achieve peace, and hatred is likewise a failure to love. We may think that, oh, that is another’s actions, why should I be bothered? And why should it have any impact on me? No, brethren, this is not the way we should think or act. That is because, any act of violence or hatred means that we have partially failed in acting and living out our faith.

I would also like to relate this to the story of Nelson Mandela, the great fighter for human rights in South Africa, who passed away just today at the age of 95. Nelson Mandela is an inspiration for all of us, brothers and sisters, because he did not condone violence and hatred, even in order to achieve his agenda, to bring equality to the African people in South Africa. He preferred ways of peace and love, that is the way of the Lord, and even though he languished for more than two decades in prison, he did not give up his ways.

Had Nelson Mandela resorted to violence and hatred, the South Africa as we know today may have been very different. Civil war, killing fields, and all others, which we saw too commonly happening in many countries, which history had been marred by violence and hatred. Instead, Nelson Mandela was respected, firstly because of his stand against the discriminatory and racist policy of Apartheid, but also because he championed the way of peace and love, exactly how we should do as well, if we are truly faithful in God. Our faith cannot remain as mere words, but have to be translated into our actions as well.

Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we pray for the souls of these departed ones, and remembering how many people in the past had faithfully been following the ways of the Lord, not only in words but also in concrete actions, let us today heed from the warnings of the Lord, on the need for us to re-orientate our lives, so that we will conform more to the teachings of the Lord. We cannot be half-hearted in our faith in God. We have to dedicate ourselves, through none other than exercising love, both for God and for our fellow mankind, in all of our actions, words, and deeds.

Profess our faith in the Lord, and show it with real action. Be wise like those who built their house on solid ground. Yes, build our house with the foundation of strong faith in God. With God as our base and foundation, we shall never falter. God is always with us. May God shine His graces upon us, bless us, and make us prosper beyond our imagination, and strengthen our faith in Him, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 8 November 2013 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Today, we listened to the words of the Gospel, in which the Lord told His disciples on the parable of the dishonest steward, in which the steward was accused of making dishonest acts with his master’s accounts, and in his fear of his own future, he committed even more dishonesty, all to save himself and provide for himself.

It may seem to some who reads this passage at a face value, that the Lord endorses the actions of the steward, by saying that the master of the steward praises him for his astuteness and crafty nature. In truth, the Lord says that while the methods used by the steward is a good method and a smart move, but that is for this world, and not for the world of the next, that is eternal. It is either eternity in suffering or glory and joy.

We like to trust in our own strength, power, and ability, and we like to follow in the ways of this world, that is deceit, dishonesty, pride, arrogance, that we become over time, more and more like that of the dishonest steward. To be worthy servant of God, then we must break free from the entanglement of the evils of this world. The lures of this world’s pleasures are great indeed. It is up to us to cast out those habits.

We all have been made the stewards of creation, given to all of us as our charge, at the time when God created all of us. We have been entrusted this world as our dominion, that we would divide, multiply, and ultimately be responsible for all those who had been granted to us as our rightful possessions. It is in our power and dominion, to choose whether to do what is good or what is bad and deceitful, on our duty as stewards of God and His creation.

Be honest, be faithful, and be true to God and to our fellow men. We should not let our ego or our desire to affect our actions and our deeds. We ought to rise from the depth of our sinfulness and egoistic nature, thinking and caring only for ourselves, and rise up to love and commit ourselves towards caring for our brothers and sisters in Christ. That is the way that we should follow, indeed as the Lord asked of us, to die to ourselves, and to die to our ego. That we cast away this veil of ego and embrace humility.

The root of corruption and evil is truly when one succumbs to his or her own ego, and allow that ego to take over themselves and their actions. When we begin to put ourselves and our own interests ahead of that of the others, then we begin our path to downfall and destruction. But this does not mean that we cannot escape from that path. It requires great effort and dedication to the cause, for us to reorientate ourselves to the path of righteousness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, much is expected from us, as we have been given much. We have been given our skills, abilities, and talents, that we are indeed expected to utilise them, for good and for the benefit of all those around us. We cannot be negligent and ignorant of what has been entrusted to us. Let us therefore, from now on, resolve to become, truly better stewards and caretakers of God’s creations.

May the Lord who is love and mercy, and may He who grant us His gifts and goodness, empower us with His Spirit, that we will always be strong, against temptations and assaults by the evil one. Be with us Lord and strengthen us, that we, Your children, will be always loving as You are. God bless us all. Amen.