Thursday, 31 May 2018 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth, in the mountainous region of Judea, a few months after the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her with the Good News that she would become the mother of the Saviour of the world and the Son of God, hence becoming the great Mother of God.

And today, we celebrate that moment when Mary visited Elizabeth and in that meeting, she recognised her as the Mother of God, as her own son, St. John the Baptist in her womb, leapt and kicked with great joy when Mary came to her house. Through this event, we see the very first time when the coming of the Lord was revealed to the people, as prior to this, only Mary herself was told this truth by the Archangel.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we are called to remember the great joy of Mary, who sang the famous hymn ‘Magnificat’, praising God for all the good things that He has done for His people, especially to Mary, whom God had chosen to be His vessel and His instrument for the salvation of the world. Through Mary, God has made Himself incarnate into the flesh, and became Man.

Through Mary, we have seen the great work of God, and the culmination of the long promised salvation that He has promised to all of us. Mary has also herself showed the example of how we ought to be, as a model Christian. She showed us all how to be obedient to God, and how we should walk in the way of the Lord. She entrusted herself completely to the Lord and gave herself completely to God’s will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we are called to follow in the example of Mary, the mother of Our Lord. Mary showed all of us the way forward in our lives, and she showed us the importance of prayer and of listening to God. In the Magnificat, the hymn that Mary sang, was contained in essence a prayer to God, praising and thanking Him, and remembering all that He had done.

How about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we led a good and prayerful life? Have we walked faithfully in God’s ways? Have we devoted our time, effort and attention to the Lord and put Him as the focus and the centre of our lives? If we have not done all these, then perhaps we should really spend some time to reflect and reevaluate our actions and lives.

Shall we turn ourselves towards God, and shall we learn to focus more on Him? Shall we spend more time in prayer, contemplation and focus on the Lord, that we, in the midst of our busy schedules and activities, will not lose our focus and our way? All of us are called to a holier and more prayerful life. All of us need to be holy just as the Lord is holy, in everything we say and do in our lives.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He empower us all to live worthily and filled with faith, every single days of our life. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 1 January 2018 : Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, Theotokos, World Day of Prayer for Peace (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the very first day of the new year, we always celebrate together with the entire Universal Church, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. On this day we celebrate together for Mary, the holy woman whom God has appointed to become the Mother of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and today’s celebration is very closely linked to a core tenet of our faith, and it was very significant in the development and history of the Church.

As Christians, all of us believe that Jesus Christ, the Messiah or Saviour of the world, is not just mere Man, but is also God Incarnate, united in the person of Jesus. We believe that He is the Son of Man, precisely because He was born of a woman, as do any other men or women. He was born of Mary in Bethlehem, and thus He was a member of humanity, and He did really exist in the flesh, able to experience human sufferings and emotions as hunger, sorrow, and were able to be tempted by the devil, and eventually, suffered pain and anguish, leading up to His death on the cross.

All of these would not have been possible should Jesus Our Lord is only a Divine being, and not Man. That is why there are many of those who cannot comprehend what the Church and our faith teach about the nature of Our Lord and Saviour, as both God and Man at the same time. That also lead them to the lack of faith and belief in the crucifixion of Christ, for if Jesus Christ is merely God and not Man, He could not have suffered or died. God could not have died, for He is omnipotent and omnipresent.

That is why we believe that He is truly a Man, for He was born of Mary, walked in this world, and experienced all the things that we mankind have also experienced, all the challenges and sufferings in life, except for the complete absence of sin, for Jesus is the perfect Man, the New Adam, through Whom God wanted to save us all from our sins. And He is also God, because no Man could have saved us mankind from our sins, and only God can forgive us from our sins. But then, why is it that today’s celebration is actually so important for our faith and for the Church?

That was because, there were so many different opinions and schools of thought in the Church during its early centuries, as well as private interpretations by several groups and charismatic priests and leaders that ended up causing divisions and serious disagreements within the Church at the time, especially the one concerning the nature of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, His nature and truth, His identity and reality, on whether He was just merely Man, or whether He was just God, or whether He was both Man and God, but again some were later divided on whether this humanity and divinity were separate or mixed together and indistinguishable.

And on the very first Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, the heresy of Arianism was condemned officially by the Church. This heresy, based on the teaching of the popular priest Arian, taught that while Jesus is the Son of God, but He is not equal to God the Father because He was created by the Father and not existing with Him from before the beginning of time. This heresy was officially condemned, and the Church stood by the truth that Jesus is the Son of God, and as the Divine Word incarnate, He is equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity.

Then dispute quickly arose again regarding the nature of His divinity and humanity. While as we discussed just earlier, that Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour is both equally Man and God, but at that time, people disagree on whether the person Jesus Christ we see in the Gospels is just a Man, and distinct and separate from the divinity of the Son of God, a position which was championed by another heretic, Nestorius, or whether Jesus Christ is both Man and God, united in the person of Jesus.

This is the very reason for the Church to officially declare Mary as the Mother of God, or in Greek, Theotokos, as the one who bore God into the world, as His mother. The supporters of Nestorius preferred to call Mary as Christotokos, or the one who bears Christ. And they preferred this title because it suited their false theology separating the divinity from the humanity of Christ, by saying that Mary is merely just the mother of the human Jesus and not the divine Son of God.

We may think that such a squabble and conflict was unnecessary and meaningless, but in reality, it is very important, as if the wrong teachings about the nature of Mary as the Mother of God managed to triumph over the truth, it would definitely also affect the truth and the teaching about the nature of Our Lord and Saviour as well. Those who denied that Mary is the Mother of God naturally also denied the fact and truth that Jesus Christ Our Lord is God and Divine.

In the end, those who defended the truth triumphed, and until today, the Church preserved the truth, and now we celebrate this very important feast day, on the very first day of the year based on the ancient tradition that the first day of the month of January is dedicated to honour the motherhood of Mary. She is indeed the mother who gave birth to Jesus the Messiah, and because Jesus is both God and Man, having human and divine natures united in the person of Jesus, Mary is therefore also the mother of God.

And that is exactly why we honour Mary such as we exalt her above all that of the other saints. Yet, we also do not worship her as if she is a divinity. After all, even though she was conceived without sin by God’s will in order to be a worthy and perfect vessel for His Son, but she is still a human being just like us. Yet, she is the perfect role model for each and every one of us, as she obeyed the Lord faithfully and followed His commandments, surrendering herself completely to His designs and plans.

While our first ancestors Adam and Eve said no to the Lord by their disobedience, and even though many of us mankind refused to listen to Him and preferred to go on our own way and follow our own desires and designs, but Mary said yes to the Lord when He revealed to her the divine plan of salvation through the Archangel Gabriel. She lived righteously and devoted herself entirely to love her Son Jesus.

Thus again, we honour her such, because of her extraordinary faith, on top of her motherhood of God. And we are all indeed very fortunate to have this greatest among all saints and intercessors, who is constantly praying for our sake and interceding for us, as she is indeed the closest one to her Son, Our God, at the side of His heavenly throne and glory. And just like at the wedding of Cana, when Jesus listened to His mother, even though He was reluctant to perform a miracle there, He performed it because He also listened to His mother’s petition on behalf of the wedding couple in distress.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we begin a new year, which will be filled with its own unique challenges and opportunities, let us all seek to imitate the examples of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, in her faith and commitment to God. Let us all strive to become like her in our own respective lives. We have to be thankful that God has given her to us, as a great gift. When she was entrusted by her Son from the cross to St. John, He also entrusted us to her. We are her adopted children as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all pray that we may always live faithfully from now on, inspired by the faith of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and we remember always this important tenet of our faith, and keep it faithfully with us, so that we may not fall into the temptation of false teachings which had so much divided the Church and our faith in the past.

Let us all ask Mary, the mother of God for her constant intercession, that she will continue to watch over us, her beloved children, that all of us will be able to eventually find our way towards the Lord, our loving God, her Son. Let us all draw closer to God, through Mary, through whom we can find the best and straightest path to His salvation and grace. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, in which we honour the Mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, Mary the ever-blessed Virgin, through whom the Saviour of this world has been born to us. And today we celebrate the aspect of her name, which is second only to her own Son, in majesty and power, for even the devil will tremble at the holy name of Mary.

Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because, just as the devil and his forces fear the Lord greatly, and at the Name of Jesus, as St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Philippi mentioned, all knees shall bend and bow down before the Lord, and not even the devil can resist that, for after all, for all of his fearsome appearances and attempts to scare us, he is still a mere creature of God, and God has decreed his final defeat.

And the devil also rightly fears Mary, and at the mere uttering of her name, because he knows perfectly that through Mary, his final defeat had come. Through Mary, all of his devices and plans to ruin mankind and to drag many souls into hell have been thwarted, for through her, the world and all mankind have seen their salvation in Jesus Christ, Who came through Mary, born through her.

It was also not just that fact that Mary is the Mother of God that terrorised the devil and his demonic forces, as it was also her faith and dedication to the Lord, as shown in her devotion to her Son Jesus, throughout His whole life and ministry that the devil had seen the failure of all his well-developed plans. Just as the devil was unable to tempt Jesus as shown in his failure to tempt Him three times in the desert, he was also unable to bring down Mary in the same manner.

That is all the more reason for Satan to be terrified at the mere utterance of the holy name of Mary, as is the case for the Name of Jesus our Lord. And he knows just how active and involved Mary is in the salvation of all mankind, for she continues to remind us all, whom Jesus her Son had entrusted to her own care, to be her own adopted children, represented by the entrusting of the Apostle St. John to her as He laid dying on the cross.

Mary had appeared numerous times to the people of God, in various occasions and at various times, especially at times of war, of wickedness and great sins. She appeared to various people, calling them to repentance and to turn away from their sinfulness. She did this so that, through what she had told them, for example in Fatima, which centenary of her apparition there we celebrate this year, she told the three Fatima children of the horrors of hell, and how mankind would end up there should they continue to walk the same path as they had done.

Through her intercession and works among her children, Mary has brought forth many souls who were lost to God and under the clutches of Satan, and freed them so that they might return to the loving embrace of her Son. If only we can have faith in the Lord Jesus through His mother, and love Him wholeheartedly through our love for His mother, surely many of us would not have been lost, and would have been saved.

Therefore, let us all from now on entrust ourselves to the loving care of Mary, our mother, and when challenges and difficulties come our way, let us not be hesitant to ask her for help, that she may intercede for us, and pray for our sake, asking her Son to help us and to provide for us. And when Satan and his temptations, all of his forces come to assail us, let us not worry, but with the fullness of faith, call upon Mary and utter her holy name before all.

For she will come down hard upon Satan, and by the will of her Son, Satan will not have his way, for his final defeat has been affirmed, and he will have absolutely no power or control over any one of us. Let us all therefore, dedicate ourselves ever more to the Lord Jesus, through our devotion to His mother, and loving her all the more, just as she has loved us all and prayed for us all the time. O Blessed Mother Mary, pray for us sinners. Amen.

Friday, 8 September 2017 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the day when our Blessed Mother Mary, the Mother of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, was born from the womb of St. Anne, her mother, without any taints of sin just as she had been conceived without sin. This is a day when we rejoice because the Mother of our Lord and Saviour has been born to us.

Some may be wondering why is it that we as Catholics and Christians give so great an honour to Mary, and still yet some may even and has indeed already accused us of idolatry towards Mary and had the very wrong idea and preconceptions that we worship Mary as if she is a goddess. No, this is not the case, brothers and sisters, for there is indeed a very clear dividing line between our worship of God and the honour which we gave to Mary and the other holy saints.

Mary is honoured even more than other saints because of the very simple reason that she is the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, and One of the Holy Trinity of God, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. By the power of the Holy Spirit, and upon the obedience of Mary to the will of God, God Himself came in the flesh, and was conceived in the holy womb of Mary. And through the dogma and traditions of our faith since time immemorial, we have believed that because of this, Mary herself had been set aside by God.

Yes, we all know about how she was conceived without any taints of original sin, unlike that of any other human beings, who were tainted as the descendants of the first sinners, Adam and Eve. That is because Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, bearing within her the New Covenant of God made through Jesus Christ, her Son, Whom she bore within her womb for an entire nine months. But this at the same time did not elevate her to the status of a divine, unlike what some would like to charge upon us and our faith.

We honour Mary, firstly because we honour her Son and worship Him as our God and King. As it was in the olden days, the mother of a king was highly regarded and respected, honoured and given the same honour as what was accorded to the king, by the virtue of the mother having bore forth the king and took care of him in his early days until he came of age and was capable of taking over and exercising his own authority as a king.

If that was therefore how the kings of this world brought honour upon their mothers and parents, and if that is how we mankind honour the mothers of our rulers, then should we not have done the same with the Mother of our one and only True King, Jesus Christ? Should we not have done the same with the Mother of our God Himself? For His Kingship is greater than any of those of the worldly kings and rulers, and therefore, we honour Mary rightly and justly because of this.

And in Mary, we see a living and vibrant faith, based on total surrender and commitment to the will of God. She is the greatest among all the saints not just because she is the one closest to the throne of her Son in heaven, but also because of her very own exemplary life, filled with love for God, and with devotion to her Son, by following Him throughout His life, throughout His worldly ministries, and even unto the foot of the cross.

Therefore, on this day, on the celebration of the nativity or the birth of the Mother of our Lord and God, Mary, most Blessed Virgin and loving Mother, let us all reflect on the life which Mary had led, her commitment and total surrender to God’s will, and how she has shown us the way forward, that through her we may reach out to her Son, and find our salvation in Him. Let us all rejoice together, that the birth of Mary has brought the new hope of all of us, that as we gaze on her, we see through her, the coming of our salvation in her Son.

Mary, blessed Mother of God, pray for us sinners, and intercede for us before your beloved Son Jesus, our Lord. Be with us through our times of distress, and guide us on our way, so that we may be able to find our path, and walk along that way through your help, to Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This is exactly one week after the great Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, and is a reaffirmation of the special status which Mary has in the history of salvation and in the history of this world and mankind.

For there is no greater human being than Mary, as although she remained a mere human being, but because of her great piety and her great humility, and ultimately because she has allowed herself to become the vessel of God’s salvation, obediently allowing God to perform His great works through her, she has become the mother of our God and Saviour.

As I have mentioned during the Solemnity of the Assumption, Mary was granted the singular honour amongst all other men and women, for she was lifted up bodily and soul into the glory of heaven, for she has borne the Saviour of the world, Who saved all mankind from sin and death, and therefore, it is only right that He would also save her as well.

And we all believe that Mary is now in the glory of heaven, seated at the side of her Son, the King and ruler of Heaven and all the universe. And if in the history long past, the mother of a king is considered a queen, by the virtue of the kingship of her son, even if she herself was not a royalty or noble by birth, then the same should have also applied for the case of Mary.

If she is the mother of the King of Heaven and all the Universe, then by that virtue also, she has been made a queen. And therefore rightly she had been granted the following titles by the Church, that of the Queen of Heaven, the Queen of Angels, the Queen of All Saints and the Queen of Peace, amongst many others. We honour her because of her Son, our Lord and King, and certainly just as when a king’s mother is honoured, the king is also honoured, then it is the same case with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

And to us, Mary has a special place in our faith, because she is the greatest and first among all the saints, the holy men and women of God. She is the one closest to her Son in heaven, and as she has proven from time to time, in her various apparitions, she is always constantly thinking about each and every one of us, mankind, as she is our mother who cares for us, just as she cared for her Son, Jesus. Jesus our Lord Himself has entrusted us to her from the cross, as He laid there dying to fulfil the salvation He promised to us mankind.

Mary is our greatest intercessor, and she is always pleading for our sake, that God may have mercy on us. She has shown us all the examples of how to be faithful and obedient to the will of God, and by following her examples, we will be able to draw closer to her Son, and thus will be worthy to receive His salvation and eternal glory. And through her various apparitions, Mary always reminded us mankind to seek her Son and to repent from our sinful ways.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as today we rejoice in Mary, our mother and Queen, let us all ask for her intercession, that she will continue to pray for our sake, and implore her Son to forgive us our trespasses, that through her words and intercession, God may be moved to guide us to the path towards righteousness. And then, let us also strive to do our best to imitate the examples of Mary in faith, that we may learn to give ourselves completely and dedicate our whole being to the Lord.

May the Lord bless us always, and remain with us, and may through the intercession of His blessed mother Mary, Queen of Heaven, Queen of All Saints, Queen of Angels, Queen of Peace, and through the intercession of all the other holy saints and martyrs, all of us may be brought ever closer to God’s love and grace, and be forgiven from our sins when we repent with sincerity and commitment to live a new life filled with faith. Amen.

Sunday, 1 January 2017 : Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, Theotokos, World Day of Prayer for Peace (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the first one in the Gregorian calendar, the year 2017 of our Lord Jesus Christ, two millennia after He was born into the world as our Saviour, we celebrate together the New Year’s Day, but even more importantly as Christians, we also honour and glorify Mary, the blessed Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been honoured by many titles, but all of which stemmed from the very one title that made her deserved all the others.

And it is this title which we all celebrate today, that Mary as the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ is the Mother of God, or Theotokos in the Greek language, coming from the word Theos or God in Greek, and also Tokos or Mother in Greek. The equivalent term in Latin is Dei Genetrix, both terms of which have been in use since the earliest days of the Church. It is this very special role that Mary played in the history of our salvation that made her so venerable throughout the history of the Church.

If we want to understand the significance of today’s celebration of Mary as the Mother of God, then we must look back long ago into the early days of the Church, up to the time of the first Ecumenical Council of the Church held in the city of Nicaea in the year 325 AD. During that time and in the earlier days of the Church, there were many people proclaiming different teachings from what the Church had passed down through the Apostles and the saints, the bishops and the priests who were their successors.

In that Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, the successors of the Apostles all worked and discussed together guided by the Holy Spirit, and most of them but a few rejected soundly the heresy of Arianism, as propagated by the heretic Arius, claiming that Jesus as Son of God was not equal with the Father, and was a mere creation by the Father. And there were also more extreme heresies that claimed that Jesus was mere Man, and not God.

The Nicene Creed that we recite at every celebration of the Holy Mass is a reminder of the strong stance that the faithful servants of God took against all these false teachings. And because Jesus is the Son of God, the One Who is God, and Who was with God from before the beginning of time, His mother can therefore also be called as the Mother of God.

And Mary was formally accorded with that most honourable title at the Third Ecumenical Council held in Ephesus in the year 431 AD, a century after the Ecumenical Council at Nicaea. There were the heresies of Nestorianism and others who claimed that the natures of God and Man in Jesus our Lord was separate, and that Jesus Christ as Man Who walked in this world is existentially and really distinct from the Divine Word of God He claimed to be.

Our faith taught us that Jesus is both God and Man at the same time, possessing the two distinct natures of God and Man, and yet they were united in the person of Christ, and cannot be separated one from the other, although distinct. Those who upheld the heresy claimed that because Jesus Christ was merely a Man and not God, then Mary is merely just the mother of a Man, no different from any other people, or from any other mothers.

This was what was rejected by the Church fathers and the faithful bishops and priests, who honoured Mary formally as the Theotokos, Dei Genetrix, the Mother of God and Lord of all the Universe. It was a sound and complete rejection of the false teachings of those who proposed that Jesus Christ was merely Man and not God. Thus Mary as the Theotokos, as the Mother of God is closely tied to our faith itself, for if we believe that Mary is the Mother of God, then we also believe in the divinity of Christ.

But then one might ask, why then the great honour we have given to Mary? Why is it that the Church had devoted so much time and effort in order to venerate her and glorify her? There are indeed some who criticised and even opposed the Church and our faith because they thought that we as Catholics and as Christians worship Mary just as if she is a goddess. But this was exactly where they got it wrong, for Mary is not a deity in her own right, and we honour her above all other created beings because of the virtue of her Son.

In the kingdom of Israel, as with many other kingdoms, while the king or the monarch is the highest authority in the entire realm, whose authority is absolute and great, but there was also another person whose presence, authority and advice were respected by the entire kingdom, and also by the king himself. And that person is the queen mother, the mother of the king.

And therefore, since Jesus our Lord, as both a Man born from His earthly mother by the power of the Holy Spirit, and also God as the Divine Word incarnate, and because of that, He is God, so as God is the King of all kings, Ruler and Master of the entire universe, hence His own mother is honoured as the Queen Mother of heaven and earth, of all creation. It was not by her own virtue, but because of the virtue of her Son, Christ the King of kings.

The fourth commandment in the Law of God or the Ten Commandments says, “Honour your father and mother.” And Jesus our Lord honours His mother and father, obeying them in all they had taught him, from the guidance of St. Joseph, the foster-father of our Lord, to the love and care of Mary, His mother, whom He had then elevated above every other men and women, and in our faith, we believe that He even granted her the singular exception that she would not suffer death.

And that is what we believe in the Blessed Virgin Mary, assumed into the glory of heaven, and we believe that she is there now seated at the right hand of her Son, as the great advisor and intercessor for our sake, at the head of the company of saints and martyrs, all of whom are our intercessors before God. They all pray for our sake and intercede on our behalf, beseeching that God will show mercy on us sinners still living and walking in this world.

That is precisely why we venerate Mary, we praise and glorify her, as because of her, her obedience and commitment to fulfilling to completion the Lord’s plan of salvation for us mankind, she had brought upon us the Saviour of the world. And our Lord Himself from the cross had entrusted her to us, just as at the same time, He has also entrusted all of us to her care, when He entrusted her to the care of His Apostle John, and vice versa.

Mary also loves each and every one of us like a mother, for indeed she is our mother. If Jesus has counted us among His brethren, as His brothers and sisters, then should we not then receive the same care, love and tenderness that our Lord has received from Mary? She is our greatest intercessor before her Son, and that is why we often ask her to intercede for our sake. We do not pray to her or ask her to perform miracles for our sake. Instead, we ask her to petition her Son that He will help us in our time of need.

Take for example the time when Jesus performed His first miracle in Cana, during a wedding when the bride and bridegroom had run out of wine for the guests. Mary was told of the situation, and she told her Son Jesus to help the wedding couple from embarrassment. Jesus was reluctant but His mother still wanted to help them, and therefore, she told the assistants to follow exactly as Jesus told them. In the end, He did listen to her plea for help, and thus performed His first miracle there at Cana. Jesus will listen to His own loving mother.

At the same time, not only that she intercedes for us, but she is also our role model in faith, for it was her obedience to the will of God despite all the uncertainties and fears she had, which had allowed her to persevere on throughout her life and throughout the time when she had Jesus with her. Otherwise, she would not have been able to endure the great pain of having to witness her own Son condemned to die like a criminal on the cross, rejected and humiliated by all. She never left the side of her Son, no matter what.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as all of us gather together to celebrate the Mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, Mary most holy and blessed among all women, and indeed among all creation, let us all spend some time to reflect within ourselves, within our hearts. Are we able to follow in her footsteps and live our lives as Mary had lived hers? Are we able to commit ourselves to the Lord in the same manner as Mary had committed her whole life to her Son?

Today, each and every one of us Christians are challenged, just as embark and begin on this New Year, to make that important resolution. For many of us, we often think that resolution means that we want to desire for success, glory and fame in the year to come. But what about aiming to be a better disciple and follower of our Lord? Should we not rather seek the true treasure of our life rather than what is temporary and perishable?

We should be resolved to devote ourselves more as we open this new year. We should begin the new year not with excessive parties and celebrations, but with stronger resolve and faith, and to live every day of our lives from now on, that in all the things we say, act and do, we will always proclaim the Lord to all those who see us, witness us and hear our works.

Are we ready to do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Today we also mark the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for Peace, and we should indeed reflect on the state of our world today. In the past year there had been many acts of injustice, of greed, of hatred upon one another, all of which had caused great pain and sufferings among us.

Can we be resolved to champion peace, harmony, forgiveness and mercy among ourselves, within our own respective communities and societies? Are we able to make a difference in the lives of our brethren? We do not have to make ambitious plans, but what we really need is to begin from our own lives, and from our own families. Let us devote more time this year to do acts of love and mercy, especially to our brethren in need.

Let us all look upon Mary as our example, as our guide, for the saying is indeed true, “To Jesus through Mary,” which highlights to us that through Mary, the mother of our Lord, and who is also our own loving mother, she will guide us all to reach out to her Son, and therefore through her, the Co-Redemptrix of us mankind, God her Son may exercise His mercy on us, and we may be forgiven from our trespasses, and one day be found worthy to be together with Mary and all the saints, in the holy presence of God forevermore. May God be with us and guide us through all of our endeavours. Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, pray for us now and to the hour of our death. Amen.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and our Lady of Sheshen in China, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Marian Feasts)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we commemorate the feast of our Lady of Sheshan or Sheshen, a major Marian devotion in China, as well as the feast of Mary herself as the Help of all Christians. This is of a particular importance as on this day, we commit ourselves together as the whole Church, to pray for our brethren, the faithful people of God now suffering persecution, whether legally or subtly, because they are faithful to the Lord and to His teachings.

Before we go on with regards to this matter, we have to first understand about the condition and the background of the situation of the Church and the faithful in China itself. The Church and the faithful in China had endured a long and difficult period of persecution and challenges ever since the Communists won the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and took over the control over mainland China.

At first, the officially atheistic and anti-Christian Communist government and officials openly persecuted the Church of God and the faithful people of God. They were harassed, attacked at every turn and opportunity, and their persecution took a nationalistic and political perspective, as the faithful Christians were deemed to have been influenced by the foreign influences, or even worse, by accusing them as traitors to the nation.

In what is similar to persecution of Christians in the earlier ages, even as the early Church was persecuted by the Roman Empire and by the Jewish authorities, many of the faithful suffered greatly for having kept their faith in God alive. Their properties and possessions were seized, their families and children were threatened, tortured or even brought to judgment and were killed unjustly.

Priests and bishops were sent to concentration and reeducation camp, where many suffered for many years. Some died in prison and for some the fact about their suffering was only known much later on. Such grievous things indeed which the faithful people of God in China had suffered for staying true to the Lord and for keeping the faith in their God alive.

The situation may seem to be much better these days as compared to how it was decades ago. And yet, we should not let ourselves be deceived. Persecution still continues upon the Church and upon our brethren the faithful ones in China. The Communists established the so-called ‘official church’ where all the faithful, the priests, the bishops and all must belong to, or else be persecuted.

But in reality, it is a means through which the people in power were trying to control the Church, and by requiring the faithful to obey the imposed rules and regulations, they were trying to sap the power of the Church and to prevent it from rising up against them. And if we have paid attention to the news, recently we have heard about the forced removal of crosses from many church buildings. It is a clear sign of the opposition which the government still accorded to the Christian faith.

And as we all reflect on these occasions today, let us all be mindful of the other persecutions and the sufferings that the faithful people of God are suffering even today in many parts of the world. Christians are persecuted in the Middle East where they even had to lose their lives just because they believe in the one and only true God. And in other places, the faithful are ridiculed because of their faith, and they are enduring ever greater difficulties in this world where God is gradually and increasingly becomes forgotten in the minds of men.

Therefore, let us all today devote our time to pray to God and ask for His help to be given to these brethren of ours, so that they may be given strength and courage to live their lives even under persecution and difficulty, that they will not give up or abandon their God for the sake of their own safety. May God help them and preserve them, particularly our brethren, the faithful people of God in China. May He bless them and keep them, and may He soon end the suffering that the Church in China faces today. God be with them all. Amen.