Sunday, 12 May 2019 : Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, Vocation Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 7 : 9, 14b-17

After this, I saw a great crowd, impossible to count, from every nation, race, people and tongue, standing before the Throne, and the Lamb, clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands.

The elder replied, “They, are those who have come out of the great persecution; they have washed, and made their clothes white, in the Blood of the Lamb. This is why they stand before the Throne of God, and serve Him, day and night, in His sanctuary.”

“He, Who sits on the throne, will spread His tent over them. Never again, will they suffer hunger or thirst, or be burnt by the sun, or any scorching wind. For the Lamb, near the Throne, will be their Shepherd, and He will bring them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away their tears.”

Monday, 9 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and 119 Companions, Chinese Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the messages of hope mentioned in the Scriptures, both from the prophet Hosea in the Old Testament, as well as from the Gospel passage showing us the healing of the woman with the haemorrhage or bleeding issue and the returning of the dead daughter of the synagogue official to life by the Lord Jesus.

In the first reading, the prophet Hosea was speaking in the context of the time, when the northern kingdom of Israel to whom he had been sent to by God, was beset by its enemies and was on the verge of destruction and annihilation. And the people living there had nothing else to depend on, for their pagan idols and gods did nothing to help them, for those were merely handicrafts of man’s hands, and no earthly power could help them.

But the Lord promised His people through His prophet Hosea, that if only that they would turn away from their sinful ways and repent sincerely from those wickedness and disobedience, then they would once again become His people and receive the fullness of His protection, love and grace as they once had before. Ultimately, the Lord loves us all, and by no means that He wants to see us destroyed.

That is why, in the Gospel passage today, He showed compassion to the old woman suffering from the bleeding problem. He had pity on her, and seeing her great faith, and the perseverance and the courage she mustered, despite the dangers she might have to face in order to reach out to the Lord, and the doubts and fears on her heart. She had faith and trusted in the Lord while many of her fellow countrymen did not have the same faith.

Similarly, while many people laughed at the Lord Jesus and mocked Him when He said that the little girl, the synagogue official’s daughter was only sleeping, Jairus, the official, remained faithful and trusted in the Lord’s ability to raise up his daughter, even back from the death. Indeed, as we have heard from the Gospel, the Lord Jesus did indeed restore his daughter to life, and the Lord’s promise to His people was upheld.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in all of these, we can easily witness how we mankind have both the capacity to doubt as well as to be faithful. We have been given free will and wisdom by God, to discern carefully and to make choices and decisions, whether we want to follow Him and love Him, or whether we prefer to walk on our own path and distance ourselves from Him.

Are we therefore taking the concrete steps necessary for us to seek the Lord and find His healing, mercy and forgiveness? Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that each and every one of us have to make a decision in our lives, and before it is too late, let us all wholeheartedly and sincerely turn ourselves towards the Lord, following the examples of the woman with bleeding and the synagogue official.

And today, we also celebrate the feast of the Holy Chinese Martyrs, those who have been persecuted because of their Christian faith in China, particularly those who were martyred during the late era of the Qing Dynasty China and the vicious Boxer Rebellion just over a century ago. It was indeed very difficult for one to be a Christian at that time, since the government was not in favour of Christianity, and looked at the Christian missionaries with great suspicion.

Many of the Christians, both the local converts and the missionaries, both local and foreign ones, had to endure difficult trials, go into hiding and practicing their faith amidst persecution, enduring prison and even summary execution at the hands of their enemies. They lived in a particularly troubled and difficult time, and yet, many of them persevered in their faith, regardless of the challenges they faced.

Many of them were martyred, but they died with courage and conviction, knowing that they were sinners who were trying to seek the Lord with all of their hearts, like the woman with haemorrhage and like Jairus, the synagogue official. They had faith in God, and they remained true and anchored on that faith which they had, to the very end. And although they suffered, but as the Lord promised all of His faithful ones in our first reading today, their rewards will be great.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we follow in their footsteps and walk from now on, faithfully in Christ’s ways? May the Lord be with us, and may He continue to guide us towards Him, that we may embrace Him fully and continue to grow closer in our relationship with Him. Let us always remember God’s love and His everlasting providence, every moment of our lives. May God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 9 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and 119 Companions, Chinese Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 9 : 18-26

At that time, while Jesus was speaking to the disciples of John and the Pharisees, an official of the synagogue came up to Him, bowed before Him and said, “My daughter has just died, but come and place Your hands on her, and she will live.”

Jesus stood up and followed him with His disciples. Then a woman, who had suffered from a severe bleeding for twelve years, came up from behind and touched the edge of His cloak; for she thought, “If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed.”

Jesus turned, saw her and said, “Courage, my daughter, your faith has saved you.” And from that moment, the woman was cured. When Jesus arrived at the official’s house and saw the flute players and the excited crowd, He said, “Get out of here! The girl is not dead. She is only sleeping!” And they laughed at Him.

But once the crowd had been turned out, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up. The news of this spread through the whole area.

Monday, 9 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and 119 Companions, Chinese Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 144 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

I will praise You, day after day; and exalt Your Name forever. Great is YHVH, most worthy of praise; and His deeds are beyond measure.

Parents commend Your works to their children and tell them Your feats. They proclaim the splendour of Your majesty and recall Your wondrous works.

People will proclaim Your mighty deeds; and I will declare Your greatness. They will celebrate Your abundant kindness, and rejoice in singing of Your justice.

Compassionate and gracious is YHVH, slow to anger and abounding in love. YHVH is good to everyone; His mercy embraces all His creation.

Monday, 9 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and 119 Companions, Chinese Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Hosea 2 : 16, 17b-18, 21-22

So I am going to allure her, lead her once more into the desert, where I can speak to her tenderly. There, she will answer Me, as in her youth, as when she came out of the land of Egypt.

On that day, YHVH says, “You will call Me my Husband, and never again : my Baal. You will be My spouse forever, betrothed in justice and integrity; we will be united in love and tenderness. I will espouse you in faithfulness; and you will come to know YHVH.”

Monday, 14 August 2017 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day first listened to the words of God, telling us in the first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, that all of the people of God ought to believe in the Lord wholeheartedly and obey Him in all of His Laws. That is because He is truly good, and His ways are righteousness and justice. He is the source of all good in this world, and everyone who follows the Lord should live in accordance with His will.

Then, all of us heard about the Gospel passage today, from the Gospel of St. Matthew, in which the disciple of Jesus, St. Peter was asked by the temple tax collectors on whether his Master paid the temple tax or not. Then Jesus told him that those who are the sons and daughters of the kings of the earth, namely the lords and royalties of the worldly kingdoms do not pay taxes, but instead, the strangers and aliens that live in those kingdoms.

But at the same time, He also told St. Peter to obey the laws of the earth, the laws of the worldly kings and rulers, by asking him to obtain a gold coin miraculously from a fish he caught at the lake. Then He asked St. Peter to pay that gold coin as the due for Him and His disciples to the temple tax collectors. This resonates with what the Lord also said in another occasion in the Gospels, namely when He said, "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God."

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that as good Christians, all of us must first of all of course be obedient to God and follow all His laws and precepts without exceptions. But at the same time, we must also be good citizens and members of the community. While the Lord did mention that the ways of this world are often contrary to His ways, it does not mean that we should oppose each and every works of the states and countries we belong to in this world.

Rather, as long as the actions and the works of the states and countries we belong to are just and righteous, and working for the good of the common people and everyone, then by all means all of us Christians must be obedient and active in our participation in the world community and amongst our neighbours in our societies as well. However, having said that, we must also be vigilant lest what the world demands from us has become something that departed from righteousness and justice, as in this world, states and countries can indeed become corrupted by the power and the wickedness found in this world.

This is why, all the more that each and every one of us as Christians must not be lukewarm or passive in our faith life, but instead we must be truly devoted and be active in our faith, or else that is when we will end up being swayed away from the path of the Lord's righteousness and justice, into the path of selfishness, wickedness and injustice.

That also means that as Christians, all of us must stand up for the sake of justice. We must defend the rights of the poor and the weak, be loving and compassionate in our dealings to each other, showing care and concern for those who are sorrowful and suffering. And we must be true followers of Christ in all things we say and do, in the footsteps of the saints and martyrs who have predeceased us and gone before us.

Particularly, on this day, what we have heard in the Scripture passage is very apt, as today we mark the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the famous saint and martyr of the Holocaust during the Second World War. St. Maximilian Kolbe was a devout and committed Polish missionary and priest, who worked hard among the people to spread the faith and strong devotion to the Lord and His blessed mother Mary.

He went to many places as a missionary, spreading the faith to the people in faraway places. His commitment and devotion won him many converts who followed the faith because of his preachings among them. But, his most renowned act came about at the time of the Second World War, when the NAZI German government invaded most of Europe, conquering most of Europe and bringing many people, especially the Jews into the terrible concentration camps.

Surely we have heard the great sufferings that those people have endured in those concentration camps, especially in Auschwitz concentration camp, where the worst atrocities happened. It was one of the worst displays of worldly wickedness, evil and entirely selfish desire of mankind, their pride and ambition, arrogance and hatred, in the genocide that had happened in those places.

Yet, the actions of St. Maximilian Kolbe became a great light that become an inspiration to many others in the midst of the great darkness. He was arrested and eventually ended up in the Auschwitz concentration camp as his monastery was closed down due to its publications standing up faithfully for the Lord, speaking out against the great atrocities of the NAZI Germany.

At a place where death awaited people living there daily, St. Maximilian Kolbe helped to encourage many of the prisoners through his preachings and exemplary actions among them. However, his greatest act lies in the moment when he offered himself in exchange of another prisoner who was condemned to death due to the escape of some prisoners. He offered his own life willingly to save his fellow inmate, who was crying out for his family.

And thus it was how St. Maximilian Kolbe showed the love of Christ, in its perfect and ultimate form, in obeying with complete faith, the law and the will of God, over that of his obligations to any worldly rulers and powers. He gave up his own life as the sign of the love of God, which as the Lord Jesus Himself said, that there is no greater love than for someone to give up his life for a friend.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of St. Maximilian Kolbe and his commitment to the Lord should become our inspiration to live our faith ever more devoutly, in true commitment and with sincerity, to seek out righteousness and justice through our actions and deeds, and by standing up for our faith, for the goodness that God had taught us to do in our lives, and by the selfless giving of ourselves.

Let us thus live righteously from now on, remembering always the examples of the holy saints, men and women who have walked before us in faith. Let us emulate their actions and examples in our own living and actions, and may God bless us all in our endeavours, so that through us, His Name will ever be glorified, and we will always be able to live according to His will. Amen.

Monday, 14 August 2017 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 17 : 22-27

At that time, when Jesus was in Galilee with the Twelve, He said to them, "The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. But He will rise on the third day." The Twelve were deeply grieved.

When they returned to Capernaum, the temple tax collectors came to Peter and asked him, "Does your Master pay the temple tax?" He answered, "Yes." Peter then entered the house; and immediately, Jesus asked him, "What do you think, Simon? Who pay taxes or tribute to the kings of the earth : their sons or strangers and aliens?"

Peter replied, "Strangers and aliens." And Jesus told him, "The sons, then, are tax-free. But, so as not to offend these people, go to the sea, throw in a hook, and open the mouth of the first fish you catch. You will find a coin in it. Take the coin and give it to them for you and for Me."