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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 41 : 3, 5 and Psalm 42 : 3, 4

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I go and see the face of God?

Now as I pour out my soul, I remember all this – how I used to lead the faithful in procession to the house of God, amid shouts of joy and thanksgiving, among the feasting throng.

Send forth your light and your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre and harp, o God, my God.

 

Alternative Psalm (If there is baptism)

Psalm 50 : 12-15, 18, 19

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it.

O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Baruch 3 : 9-15, 32 – Baruch 4 : 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 1 : 1 – Genesis 2 : 2

In the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth had no form and was void; darkness was over the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.

God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘Day; and the darkness ‘Night’. There was evening and there was morning : the first day.

God said, “Let there be a firm ceiling between the waters and let it separate waters from waters.” So God made the ceiling and separated the waters below it from the waters above it. And so it was. God called the firm ceiling ‘Sky’. There was evening and there was morning : the second day.

God said, “Let the waters below the sky be gathered together in one place and let dry land appear.” And so it was. God called the dry land ‘Earth’ , and the waters gathered together He called ‘Seas’. God saw that it was good.

God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation, seed-bearing plants, fruittrees bearing fruit with seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And so it was. The earth produced vegetation : plants bearing seed according to their kind and trees producing fruit which has seed, according to their kind. God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning : the third day.

God said, “Let there be lights in the ceiling of the sky to separate day from night and to serve as signs for the seasons, days, and years; and let these lights in the sky shine above the earth.” And so it was. God therefore made two great lights, the greater light to govern the day and the smaller light to govern the night; and God made the stars as well. God placed them in the ceiling of the sky to give light on the earth and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning : the fourth day.

God said, “Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth under the ceiling of the sky.” God created the great monsters of the sea and all living animals, those that teem in the waters, according to their kind, and every winged bird, according to its kind. God saw that it was good. God blessed them saying, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the waters of the sea, and let the birds increase on the earth.” There was evening and there was morning : the fifth day.

God said, “Let the earth produce living animals according to their kind : cattle, creatures that move along the ground, wild animals according to their kind.” So it was. God created the wild animals according to their kind, and everything that creeps along the ground according to its kind. God saw that it was good.

God said, “Let us make man in Our image, to Our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over the wild animals, and over all creeping things that crawl along the ground.” So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

God said, “I have given you every seed-bearing plant which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be for your food. To every wild animal, to every bird of the sky, to everything that creeps along the ground, to everything that has the breath of life, I give every green plant for food.” So it was.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. There was evening and there was morning : the sixth day.

That was the way the sky and earth were created and all their vast array. By the seventh day the work God had done was completed, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done.

Saturday, 15 March 2014 : 1st Week of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we all belong to God, just as He had mentioned it in the first reading we heard today. Just as He had claimed Israel to be His chosen ones, to be His chosen people, we too, in the new covenant that Jesus had established with all mankind, have been made to be the people of God, and consecrated to Him in His love.

And as He Himself mentioned, that those who belong to Him ought to be like Him in our actions, words and deeds, that we may reflect Him in all the things that we do. And therefore, we should follow all of His commandments and laws He had revealed to us through the prophets as written in the Scriptures, and through Jesus His Son.

We are God’s children, and like all children do, we ought to follow what our parents are doing, imitating them in their actions, deeds and thoughts. And as God our Father and Lord is Love Himself, we too have to love then, and love just as God loved us. And the commandments of God itself is love, designed to help us to be able to better love one another and to love and dedicate ourselves to God.

And in love, this love is not the kind of love that we often know in this world. There are many kinds and forms of love, but true and genuine love does not equate with lust and desire for pleasure, and neither can it be associated entirely with the love that someone express for another, between a man and a woman, or love that exists between those who had already loved one another in the first place.

Instead, true and genuine love means to love without discrimination and conditions. It is an unconditional love which we offer to all. Genuine love means to do what Christ had told us to do, that is to love even our enemies and pray for them, that they too may know love through the power of our prayer and the example of our unconditional and genuine love.

Yes, brethren, too often we have tried to fight fire with fire, and adding even more fuel to the fire, which ends up in everything being destroyed. And that is what usually happens, when we try to confront hatred and violence with even more violence. Everything will be destroyed and crushed in the end. That is what will happen if we response to someone’s hatred and enmity with even more enmity and hatred from our side.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why it is important for us to instead fight the fire with water, to cool down the fire and let it die down, that in the end everything may be calm again, and through the water, the barren and burnt ground may once again hold life in it. The same therefore, we should practice in our own faith. We have to confront hatred and enmity with love, even if the other side does not yet love us.

Counter their curses with blessings, and show them that we can bring to them a valuable piece of truth, that hatred and violence does not solve everything, and instead will bring things to complete disarray and destruction. Love is the way out of things, as well as peace. We have to always remember this whenever we act.

Make peace with one another and love, and let us all come together in devotion to God in love. Let us show those who still linger in darkness and in the shadow of hatred, that love is the way, and may our actions based in love and forgiveness, help them to get out of the darkness and into the light that together, we may be saved. God be with us all, to the end of time. Amen.

Thursday, 24 October 2013 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Christ warns us today, of the implications of following Him and dedicating ourselves to Him. He highlighted that it will not be an easy path for us, if we choose to follow Him, and oppositions will likely always stand in our way. The other path, that is the alternative path, is easier to take, but it is also a path that leads to ruin and eternal damnation.

The Lord our God had rescued us from the hands of the devil, and rescued us from the depth of our sinfulness, lifting us up to a new life in holiness and glory. He had done that, none other through the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus, on the cross. This event of salvation, through the Passion of Christ, highlights the very purpose of the coming of Christ into this world. Christ did not come into this world just for nothing. He came into this world to save it, and save it by no other means other than through the shedding of His blood, and the laying down of His life.

This event also highlights the kind of reception the people have on Jesus, how throughout the ministry of Jesus, while there are many who were glad of His coming, and praised Him as their King, there are also many of those who opposed Him and placed many obstacles in His path, blocking His good works and slandered against Him.

Particularly, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were among the most vicious and stubborn of all of God’s enemies. They rejected God and His ways, preferring their own human and worldly strengths and power. The Lord came into the world, and ever since He began His ministry, He had been faced with all kinds of rejection and even sometimes violent, opposition. Many tested Him and asked Him all sorts of questions doubting His authority as the Messiah and the Son of God.

That is because Satan sowed the seed of distrust and lack of faith in the hearts of these men, because he did not wish to lose his grip on us, which he had once had in complete dominion. The Lord Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross had broken us free from that deadly grip, and set us well on the path towards salvation. Ever since that, Satan no longer has any power over us, for we have been freed from the slavery he had imposed on us.

Yet, do not be mistaken, brothers and sisters, because the Lord our God is a loving God and the Lord of peace. One may easily be misled by the reading today, especially that of the Gospel, that the Lord brings about division and discord. That is a lie that Satan has for us, especially those among us whose faith are weak. The devil himself is the one who sowed those discords and divisions among the people of God, by planting his agents and his seeds of evil, even within the people whom we know well, even within our families and circles of friends.

This again does not mean that we should respond to the discord and divisions with equally great passion for such discords and divisions. It is in our human nature for us to be angry and to hate others, and it is easy for us to take part in that discord, and therefore creating even greater divisions and suffering for one another. Do not give Satan the satisfaction of seeing us being divided against one another and hating one another, even as we have faith in God.

That is why, it is important that we put the Lord’s commandments into practice, and by following His examples. This is done through love and forgiveness. We have to be able to love and commit ourselves to love, especially those who had caused us pain, suffering, and hurt, and be ready to forgive them for what they had done. In this way, our love will flow out from us, and then shared with our fellow brethren, and therefore, with love we can change the state of ourselves, our family, and our brethren around us, ending the division Satan had caused, and bring everyone together with God, in love and perfect harmony.

Remember that our Lord Himself forgave those who had handed Him over to His executors and jailors. He had prayed that the Father would forgive all those who had done such terrible deeds towards Him, that He will not take into account their sins. If our Lord Himself had shown us the example, then we too ought to follow in His footsteps.

Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret, a bishop and religious who founded the religious order of the Claretians. St. Anthony Mary Claret was a man who joined the priesthood and then went on to do many good works for the sake of the faith. He did many charitable works, and was particularly caring for the poor and the abandoned in the society, and during his ministry, he visited and founded hospitals and other charitable organisations dedicated to the care of these least among us.

Even after being chosen and made as an Archbishop in an important see in the New World, that is of Cuba, St. Anthony Mary Claret remained dedicated to his works and to the cause of the poor, the weak, and the less fortunate. He founded a religious congregation, known well as the Claretians, whose aims and works conform to that of St. Anthony Mary Claret, and his focus on service to the people of God.

After he chose to retire from his position, he preached widely and worked hard to maintain the adherence of many to the true faith, and was very successful in this manner, especially through his extensive writing and publications. He even helped the Pope himself to convene and plan for the First Vatican Council, which was designed to deal with errors and heresies within the Church and affirm the obedience to the true and orthodox Christian faith.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us show the world, the love of God given to mankind, that through our words, our deeds, and our actions, just as those of St. Anthony Mary Claret and those who followed in his footsteps can be the beacons of light, hope, and love, piercing through the dark veil spread by Satan over all of us, in attempt to divide us through lies and fabrications, that we will hurt one another and therefore sin before God.

Let us ask St. Anthony Mary Claret for his intercession, and may the Lord too strengthen us in our devotion and love for Him, that we may love Him greatly and tenderly at all times, until the end of our days and until we are reunited again with Him in the glory of heaven. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013 : Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 5-6, 9

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right are His throne.

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

For You are the Master of the universe, exalted far above all gods.

Saturday, 27 July 2013 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we who believe in Christ had been marked by the Lord our God, with a special mark, for each one of us, to distinguish us from those who do not believe and do not have faith and love for the Lord. That mark is none other than His own Precious Blood, the Blood of the Lamb of God, which He gave to us to mark His faithfulness and love for us, to mark the New Covenant He has established with all of us, with all mankind, a covenant that will never be broken.

The Blood of the covenant of Christ reminds us of the first reading today, when Moses sealed the covenant between the people of Israel and the Lord their God with the blood of animals, the blood of lambs and goats sacrificed on the altar made to God. The blood sealed the promise that God had made with their father Abraham, that his descendants would prosper and enjoy God’s blessing and be led to the Land of Promise.

On the other hand, the covenant involve a two-way promise and vow, and therefore, just as the Lord has vowed to bless His people and care for them, so the people too must keep their part of the covenant, to obey the laws of the Lord, and live according to His will. If they remain faithful to their part in the covenant, their lives will truly be happy and blessed, and they will receive the fullness of their covenant with God.

But if they break their part of the covenant, by disobeying the Lord and doing wicked things not in conjunction with the Lord’s will, then they will not receive the blessings that the Lord had promised them, and instead, they will truly suffer for having turned their back on the Lord and His covenant, the covenant of love He had offered freely to Abraham and his descendants that they will be blessed.

That was exactly what many of the people of Israel did, even just after Moses had sprinkled the blood of the covenant on them, as they complained against Moses and the Lord for having brought them in the journey through the desert to the Promised Land.

They complained because they did not keep themselves strong enough in the faith that the devil could come to them and sow the seeds of discord and evil in their hearts, and the seeds of desire and greed, desiring ever more things from the Lord, complaining to the Lord when they did not receive enough, even though the Lord had fed them with bread from heaven, the manna, and with quails and birds for them to eat, and also provide them with sweet and clear spring water to drink.

No, brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not the way that we should follow, the rebelliousness and the hard-hearted people of Israel during their sojourn in the desert. We must instead follow the path of Christ, of love and dedication, which we should give to the Lord and to our fellow men, and also thanksgiving to the Lord when it is due. That is because the Lord had given us much, very much indeed, that He gave us nothing else more precious, nor that there will ever be anything that is to be more precious, than His own Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour, and new hope of life eternal.

We must fortify ourselves, brethren, in our hearts and minds, that we will not succumb to the evil one. Prevent the sower of evil from sowing seeds of evil and sin within our hearts. Do not let him to reign free over us, and enslave us to the chains of sin and death. The devil will always try and utilise everything that is within his power to corrupt us and turn us from the path of the Lord, that is salvation, towards the path to hell and eternal damnation.

We must have a strong and healthy prayer life, that our heart will be defended from the assaults of the evil one. In doing so, our faith and dedication to the Lord will be complete.” But remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that faith cannot stand on its own, and without good and positive acts in our words, deeds, and actions, our faith will be dead and empty. Yes, as empty as that of the people of Israel in the desert. They had been given manna, the bread from heaven and quails as food during their desert journey, and yet they still complained and blasphemed against His Name.

Our Lord is faithful, just as He is loving, brothers and sisters in Christ. He loves us all so much, that He shed His own Body and His own Blood, through the cross, that all of us be redeemed in a new covenant that He established by His own sacrifice, for our sake. This is no blood of the lambs and goats that die, brothers and sisters, but here is the Blood of the Lamb of God who lives, the Lamb who has triumphed and conquered Satan and evil. This Blood, the divine blood given to us out of the Lord’s own will, is the blood that purifies and cleanses, washing our beings white and pure again from all the filth and darkness of sin within us.

We receive this Blood and the Body, in the Eucharist, which the priests turned from the humble bread and wine, into the very Being of our Lord and Saviour, who died as the lamb of sacrifice, the True Lamb, who is the only one worthy to redeem us from all the weights of our faults and evil, all the horrible things we had committed, things abhorred by the Lord our God. He established this new covenant, a covenant not only with the people of Israel of old, but with all mankind, without exception. He established this new covenant, especially for sinners. The greater the sin that a sinner has, the more the Lord wants to come to redeem him or her from their fate that is death and hell.

He paid for this new covenant and sealed it with His own Blood, not blood of any animals, but the most precious Blood possible, the divine blood of the Lord, poured down on us from the cross, given to us to drink in the Eucharist, in the form of wine transubstantiated into His Blood. We who partake in this divine gift is sealed in the new covenant with God, through Christ, and as long as we remain faithful to God, we will ever be in God’s grace, and we will receive the gift of eternal life Christ had promised all those who believe in Him.

Our Lord loves us so much and He wants all of us saved, from our fate of certain death in sin. He has given His best and His all in His part on the covenant. But as I have mentioned, a covenant is made between two parties, in which both parties have to commit to the covenant that it is made valid and true. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we ready to commit ourselves to Christ, to His love? Are we ready to take up our own crosses and follow Christ, so that we will make whole the new covenant of the Lord?

Are we ready to commit ourselves to the Lord present in the Most Holy Eucharist? In His Body and Blood that He gave us that He may be in us and we in Him? Let us from now on strive to be the loving partner of our God in that holy covenant, and play our part, that is following the Lord’s commandments that is love. Love our God and love our fellow brethren as we love ourselves. For God is love! Amen.