Sunday, 1 February 2015 : Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Septuagesima Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 7 : 32-35

I would like you to be free from anxieties. He who is not married is concerned about the things of the Lord and how to please the Lord. While he who is married is taken up with the things of the world and how to please his wife, and he is divided in his interests.

Likewise, the unmarried woman and the virgin are concerned with the service of the Lord, to be holy in body and spirit. The married woman, instead, worries about the things of the world and how to please their husband.

I say this for your own good. I do not wish to lay traps for you but to lead you to a beautiful life, entirely united with the Lord.

Alternative reading (Epistle for Septuagesima Sunday – Usus Antiquior)

1 Corinthians 9 : 24-27 and 1 Corinthians 10 : 1-5

Brethren, do you not know that those who run in the race, all run indeed, but only one received the prize? So run, that you may obtain. And everyone who strives for the mastery, refrains himself from all things, and they indeed so that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we receive an incorruptible one.

I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty, I so fight, not as one beating the air but I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.

For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all in Moses were baptised, in the cloud and in the sea, and all did eat the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, (and they drank of the spiritual drink that followed them, and the Rock was Christ). But with the most of them God was not well pleased.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 7 : 25-31

With regard to those who remain virgins, I have no special commandment from the Lord, but I give some advice, hoping that I am worthy of trust by the mercy of the Lord.

I think this is good in these hard times in which we live. It is good for someone to remain as he is. If you are married, do not try to divorce your wife; if you are not married, do not marry. He who marries does not sin, nor does the young girl sin who marries. Yet they will face disturbing experiences, and I would like to spare you.

I say this, brothers and sisters : time is running out, and those who are married must live as if not married; those who weep as if not weeping; those who are happy as if they were not happy; those buying something as if they had not bought it, and those enjoying the present life as if they were not enjoying it. For the order of this world is vanishing.

Friday, 31 January 2014 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White (Priests)

2 Samuel 11 : 1-4a, 5-10a, 13-17

In the spring of that year, when kings usually set out to fight, David sent out Joab, his officers and all the Israelite troops. They slaughtered the Ammonites and attacked Rabbah, while David remained in Jerusalem.

One afternoon, David got up from his siesta and took a walk on the roof of the royal house. From the rooftop, he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful. David sent to inquire about the woman, and was told, “She is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah, the Hittite.” So David sent messengers to have her brought to him.

As the woman saw she was with child, she sent word to David, “I am with child.” David then sent a message to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came, David asked him about Joab, how the people were and how the war was proceeding; then he told Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.”

Uriah left the palace and the king had a portion from his table sent to him. Uriah, however, did not go down to his house but slept by the door of the king’s palace with all the servants of his lord. David was told that Uriah did not go down to his house. David invited him to table and he ate and drank until he was drunk. When evening fell, however, he went to lie down on his couch with the guards of his lord instead of going down to his house.

The next morning, David wrote Joab a letter to be taken by hand by Uriah, in which he said, “Place Uriah in the front row where the fighting is very fierce and then withdraw from him so that he may be struck down and die.”

When Joab was attacking the city, he assigned Uriah to a place which he knew was being defended by strong warriors. And the defenders attacked the men of Joab. Some of David’s soldiers and officers were killed; Uriah the Hittite also died.

Sunday, 22 December 2013 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 1 : 18-24

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her. While he was pondering over this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet : ‘The virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means : God-with-us.’

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do, and he took his wife to his home.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 : 3rd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 1 : 18-24

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her. While he was pondering over this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet : ‘The virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means : God-with-us.’

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do, and he took his wife to his home.

Saturday, 23 November 2013 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbot and Mass of our Lady)

Luke 20 : 27-40

Then some Sadducees arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection, and they asked Jesus this question, “Master, in the Law Moses told us, ‘If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and any child born to them will be regarded as the child of the deceased.'”

“Now, there were seven brothers; the first married a wife, but he died without children; and the second and the third took the wife; in fact, all seven died leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be a wife? For all seven had her as a wife.”

And Jesus replied, “Taking a husband or a wife is proper to people of this world, but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come, and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die, for they are like the angels. They are sons and daughters of God, because they are born of the resurrection.”

“Yes, the dead will be raised, as Moses revealed at the burning bush, when he called the Lord, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For God is God of the living, and not of the dead, for to Him everyone is alive.”

Some teachers of the Law then agreed with Jesus, “Master, You have spoken well.” They did not dare to ask Him anything else.

Sunday, 10 November 2013 : 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brethren in Christ! Today we revisit and reiterate again a centre component of our faith, that is the faith in the resurrection of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, who died for our sake and rose up on the third day after His death. This concept of thr resurrection is so crucial and central for all of us, firstly because without the resurrection of Christ, we have no hope for salvation, and death will claim us all, as our eternal fate and punishment.

Then, secondly, without resurrection, we will also have no hope. Why so? This is because, to all of us, Christ has promised all who believe in Him, and those who accept Him as their Lord and Saviour and profess His death and resurrection from the dead. This is why the belief and faith in the resurrection is essential to all of us, for if we do not believe in it, we can never have a part in God and in His salvation.

The Sadducees in today’s Gospel reading was a group of highly educated people in the Jewish society, who were adamantly against any notion or idea of resurrection. They believed that resurrection is a myth, and resurrection is impossible, in their highly ‘educated’ and logical mind. That was why they, besides the Pharisees, were one of the two major opponents against Jesus.

The Sadducees used the example of seven brothers to highlight the issue of resurrection, and how for them it does not make sense, and even linked it to the Law of God itself, given through Moses. They did not believe in anything spiritual and otherworldly, and they prefer to believe what they can see and what they can reason or use their logic in. They did not believe in angels, spirits, and the resurrection itself. It was a very nihilistic viewpoint and a belief where human existence is nothingness.

The Lord rebuked them hard, by pointing to them the nature of salvation and the promised eternal life He had promised to all those who believe in Him. The world of the afterlife is not a world of pleasure and worldly desires. We will receive and experience eternal joy and happiness in heaven, but this joy is not expressed in the physical terms, and neither will we have joy as in our human and worldly understanding.

In the afterlife, in our eternal bliss and happiness, we are happy and we rejoice because the Lord is with us, and we are with the Lord. The barrier that once had separated us from His love and presence had been completely removed. Upon our resurrection, we are reunited with God in perfection. No more shall sin have any power over us. The Lord is in us and we are in God.

Nowadays, we too see the same phenomenon happening around us. How our society has gradually been transformed, from one that is truly faithful and devoted in God, into one that is increasingly skeptical and unbelieving in God. Mankind prefer to trust what they see and observe more than the faith that is in their hearts. And over time, they grow to even doubt the existence of God Himself, who has loved us all these while.

Many people would like to try to contradict the faith in God and things like science and knowledge, making it as if faith in God is exclusive of wisdom, knowledge, and science itself. They try to make it as if, if you are to believe in God, that you are backwards, that you are against the betterment of mankind through science, and so on and so forth.

Yet, they got it all wrong, just as the Sadducees had in the past, during the time of Jesus. They who preferred reason and sense over faith failed to realise that their very wisdom, their very ability to deduce and sense things around them, came from God Himself, as gifts to all of us. It is the Lord who is the font of all wisdom and truth, and by believing in Him, we are taken away from all falsehoods and remain in the truth.

There are things in this world that is beyond, and indeed far beyond our comprehension, and our ability to understand them. That is why we need faith in us. We cannot always depend on our thinking ability to deduce things around us. Our human ability is limited, and we cannot always think that we are always right, if we think that something is so and so. Worse still is that many of us, just because we lack faith, and we based our judgments on flawed human observations, dismiss the greatness of our God wholesale, refusing to believe in our Lord, much like the Sadducees of old.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our Lord has chosen to come down to us in human form, in Jesus Christ. He did that so that through His own death and resurrection, He can bring mankind out of the chasm they have led themselves into. It is because of sin that mankind has fallen and were distanced from eternal glory and the life destined for us.

Resurrection, my dear friends, is a powerful statement against sin and death. Just as Adam’s sin had brought mankind from eternity into a life conquered by death, and where the devil and sin had authority over us once, with the coming, the death, and the resurrection of Christ as the new Adam, He showed all creation that death does not have the final say. Definitely not the final say over us.

If we do not believe in the resurrection, then what is our life about? We have no hope beyond death, since to us, death is the end to all things. That is why, many of us today fear death so much, and tried our best to avoid it, through various means, seeking to avoid death as best as possible. We fear death, but in the end the irony is that for those who fear death, death will claim them ever more.

We should not fear death, because death is not the end of all things. Many of us fear death, because we are too happy with what we have in this world now, in our material possessions and our exposure to worldly pleasures. We do not realise that true joy and happiness can only lie in the glory of the resurrection, and the promised new and eternal life with God.

This is what the seven brothers martyred for their faith, in the Book of the Maccabees fought for. They sought not the glory of this world, which they could have easily gained from the king if they abandoned their faith. Instead, they persevered and suffered, and fought for the everlasting gift of heaven.

Hence, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all not be doubtful as the Sadducees and many of us today had done. Let us deepen our faith in God and do not fear to proclaim Him as our Lord and rejoice in His resurrection, just as we are made worthy and promised resurrection for ourselves. God be with us all, watch over us, till the day when He calls us back to Him, raising us up from this world, body and soul, in glorious resurrection. Amen.