Wednesday, 28 June 2017 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard about the false prophets from Jesus our Lord, Who told His disciples to beware of all those people who pretended to be good on the outside, and yet, on the inside, they are truly wicked and evil. This is not what the Lord want from us all Christians, as all of us are called to be good and to devote ourselves to the Lord, both inside and outside, that our whole being truly bring glory to God.

If we truly belong to God, then our actions and deeds must indeed reflect that nature, that we do what the Lord had told us to do, and be genuine in our actions. Otherwise, we will be like the hypocrites, who pretended that they believed, and yet in their actions, showed what was contrary to their faith. All of us must be genuine Christians in actions and deeds, and we must really spend the time and put the effort to live in accordance with what the Lord taught us.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that the Lord Jesus in the Gospel today said how bad trees will produce bad fruits, while good trees will produce good fruits. And all those trees that are bad will be cast out into the fire and given to be burnt away. All those trees are representing us mankind, both with our good and bad deeds, with all of our imperfections, which then ends up in our actions, be it that they are righteous or wicked.

Bad trees will produce bad fruits, which will not be desired or wanted, and the Lord will cast these out on the day of the harvest, or the Day of Judgment, out to the eternal damnation. Do we want to end up with this fate, brethren? Certainly we do not want to end up like that. Yet, that will be our lot, if we do not truly practice our faith and instead doing what is wicked in the sight and presence of God and man alike.

And we cannot hide our intentions and actions, for even though we may be successful in hiding them from others around us, but the Lord will always know all of our intentions and actions. Nothing that we do that we can hide away from the Lord Who knows everything that is in our hearts and in out minds. If we are like the hypocrites, who pretended to do good on the outside but yet having malicious intent in the heart, or for those whose faith is just for show, the Lord will know it all.

We should instead be like the fruitful vine of Abraham, who has devoted himself wholeheartedly to the Lord, and obeyed the will of God with commitment and zeal. We should follow his examples, in how he has devoted himself wholeheartedly and committed himself to God in all that He had asked him to do. And because of the faith of Abraham, countless people who were his descendants have been blessed because of him.

He was sincere in his faith, and no falsehood could be found in him. He is the example of one who has true faith in God, and we ought to look up to him. If our faith can be like that of Abraham, then surely the Lord will find no fault in us, and He will bless us all and welcome us into His eternal glory and happiness. That is what all of us can look forward to, if we follow the Lord faithfully.

Perhaps we all should also heed the examples of St. Irenaeus, a holy bishop and martyr of the Faith, who was the Bishop of Lugdunum, now known as Lyon in Roman Gaul, now France. He was a devout priest and later on bishop, who was determined to root out all heresies among Christians, by his numerous works through which he helped to dispel the falsehood of those heresies, most serious of which is the syncretic and heretical Gnosticism, which had a strong hold among many of the people at the time.

Through his extensive works, St. Irenaeus helped to keep many from falling into heresy, and in his exhortations and evangelisations, he helped to bring many more souls to salvation through the Church. He has given his all for the sake of the Lord and for the people of God. In the end, it was told by some sources, that he suffered martyrdom, but nonetheless, by his life, he has bring glory to God and to His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we walk in the footsteps of Abraham, our father in faith, and St. Irenaeus, the brave and courageous servant of God and defender of the faith? Let us all devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord in the same manner as these holy predecessors of ours had done, shunning all that is evil, all pretensions and be honest in our devotion to God. May the Lord help us in our efforts and endeavours, and may He guide us always in our lives, that we will be able to find our way to His salvation. Amen.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about how difficult it is for us to go to the kingdom of God and receive God’s eternal grace, as Jesus our Lord Himself put it, that the way is narrow, through a narrow gate, which is in fact the reality of our faith and our lives. That may come as a shock to many of us who think that as long as we are Christians, and as long as we belong to the Church, then we are guaranteed our salvation.

No, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is not the reality. Indeed, salvation comes only through the Church, but it does not mean that if we have belonged to the Church and then does nothing or even worse, by committing sin, then we are still assured of our salvation. In one occasion, the prophet Ezekiel mentioned in his book, that the Lord said that if a righteous man should sin before the Lord, then he shall be judged by that sin he had committed.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters? It means that all of us as Christians cannot be ignorant of our obligations to live a good and faithful Christian life, according to the will of God and obeying the commandments which the Lord had given us, the commandments to love God and to love our brethren in the same manner that we have loved ourselves.

We must be faithful as Abraham, our forefather in faith, had been faithful to the Lord. In these days, the first readings of the Liturgical Year cycle are taken from the Book of Genesis, telling of the story of God’s work and grace among His people, and particularly we are now focusing on the example of Abraham, the forefather of many nations and one of the great servants of God.

Abraham himself did not have it easy in life, as did the many other servants of God, as many of them had to endure persecution and challenges in their life, because of their righteousness and commitment to the way of the Lord. But nevertheless, they remained faithful, and Abraham in particular, remained faithful to God’s promise to him, that He will bless him and his descendants, because of his commitment to the Covenant which He had made with Abraham and his descendants.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the path of the Lord is not an easy one for us to take, for it is often that when we choose to follow Him, there will be opposition and challenges, even coming from those who are close to us, from even our families, relatives and from the society. But are we ready to stand up for our faith and truly defend it, not with violence, but through genuine living of our faith, by the outpouring of the Christian love which we ought to show our fellow brethren.

Perhaps all of us should follow in the example of St. Cyril of Alexandria, the holy bishop and Patriarch of Alexandria, who lived and worked during the difficult time in the history of the Church, during its early days, when the Church, especially in Alexandria in Egypt, were divided against each other, splintered due to the many competing teachings and heresies.

St. Cyril of Alexandria was involved in great dispute against prelates and leaders in the Church who advocated heresies against the true and orthodox faith. He rebuked and opposed the heresy of Nestorianism, led by the powerful Archbishop and Patriarch of Constantinople, who enjoyed the backing of the Imperial family. He was involved in quite a number of tensions because all of these, and had to even face persecution and rejection for a while.

But St. Cyril of Alexandria did not give up despite all the difficulties and challenges, and he continued to fight for the sake of the true faith, which eventually prevailed over the falsehood of the heresies. Had he not done what he could to stop the spread of the prevailing heresies, countless souls would have fallen away from salvation, and many more people would not have been able to go through the narrow gate to God’s salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we strive to help one another to reach out to the Lord? Indeed, it is not an easy path for us to tread, but it is thus also very important for us to help one another, for if we work together, as fellow brethren in the Lord, as fellow disciples of God, then we will have a better path for us forward, as we shoulder one another on our journey towards God.

Let us all be exemplary in all of our words, actions and deeds, so that through all of these we may inspire more and more people to turn away from their sins. Remember, that while the Lord is ever loving and ever merciful, but at the same time, He is always despising our sins and wickedness. And should our sins remain with us without repentance, we shall be rejected and our lot will be suffering in the eternal darkness.

Let us all turn towards the Lord, and inspired by the zeal and examples of St. Cyril of Alexandria, the faithful defender of the faith, let us live genuine and active Christian lives from now on. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 26 June 2017 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are called to heed the words of the Lord which He spoke to His disciples in our Gospel today. He spoke of the hypocrisy of those who judged others and yet failed to realise that the same faults and mistakes could be found in them too. He warned against such hypocrisy in the faith, where one preaches one thing and yet act in a different way.

Unfortunately, that is in fact what the reality is among us Christians in our world today. Many of us call ourselves as Christians, and yet we do not do as what the Lord had taught us to do in our lives. For example, there are many of us Christians who hold grudges against one another, getting angry against each other, sometimes just because of minor disagreements and disputes over trivial things.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, did the Lord ask us to be angry one against the other? Did He ask us to hold grudges or hate those who have caused us to suffer and hated us? No, what He asked us to do, is for us to love one another with genuine intention from our hearts. He called us to love each other and to forgive those who have slighted us and caused us discomfort or suffering.

How many of us are capable of forgiving our brethren? How many of us are able to let go of all the anger and the negative emotions that are in our hearts? And how many of us are able to follow the Lord sincerely through all of our actions, by the total giving and commitment of ourselves? Are we able to obey the Lord with our hearts, minds and indeed with our whole bodies? Or are we only able to provide Him with lip service and false promises?

These are the important questions that we need to ask ourselves and which we need to reflect on. We have to internalise all of the experiences of our life, and make sure that we really live according to our faith, to what we believe in. Otherwise, we really are hypocrites, who do not act according to what we believe in, and we are no better therefore than the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law whom Jesus criticised severely for their hypocrisy in faith.

How then, should we live our lives? We should heed the example presented in our first reading today, from the story of how Abraham, then known as Abram, obeyed the Lord and all of His will and words, that he was willing to follow the Lord to wherever that He led him to, and listened to His every will, in one occasion which, as we know, he did not even hesitate to give the Lord his own beloved son Isaac, when the Lord tested Abraham for his faith.

Abraham, then known as Abram, had no reason to listen to the Lord and follow Him, for he had a comfortable and good life in the land of his ancestors, having all the wealth and worldly goods he needed, for he was a truly rich man with all sorts of properties and possessions. He had nothing lacking in his life, save for the presence of a son, which he and Sarai, his wife, had not been able to conceive.

But Abram listened to God when He called him, and he left his countrymen and land of birth behind, choosing to follow the Lord to the land which He promised that He would give to Abram and all of his descendants. He placed his complete trust in the Lord and obeyed His will wholeheartedly without reservations. As a result, God gave Abram, whom He named Abraham, great blessings and graces, and promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of the heavens and the grains of sand on the shores.

This is, brothers and sisters in Christ, how we ought to live our lives as Christians, by following the examples and the life of our father in faith, Abraham, who had placed His complete trust in God, and gave his whole being to the service of God. He did not shirk his duties or walk away from his responsibilities and need to obey the will of God, even despite temptations and challenges he faced.

Let us all look at our own lives, brethren, and ask ourselves, how often was it that we have abandoned the Lord, or disobeyed Him, or refusing to do what He had asked us and told us to do in our lives, just because we have been tempted to do otherwise? Or because we have been pressured and bore such challenges that we gave up or pretend that we do not know what is our obligation as Christians, to live in accordance with the will of God?

May the Lord help us to remain true and faithful to Him, and may He guide us through this life, so that by our actions, words and deeds we will grow ever closer to the Lord and to His salvation. May He bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 24 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the solemnity of the nativity or the birth of one of the greatest of the saints, which the Lord Himself had mentioned to be among the greatest of the sons and daughters of man. St. John the Baptist was the relative of the Lord, for he was the son of Elizabeth, a relative of Mary, the Mother of God.

But more importantly, St. John the Baptist was the one who would announce to the world, the coming of the Messiah of God, the one who became the Herald to announce and proclaim the Messiah to mankind, and the one who would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. And that was why, his conception in the womb of Elizabeth, his mother, was nothing less than a miracle, by the will of God that his old mother was able to conceive a child, St. John the Baptist, God’s great and faithful servant.

St. John the Baptist devoted his whole life to the Lord, fulfilling the calling which he had been given, to be the one to prepare the coming of the Lord to His people. He went about preaching repentance and penitence to the people, and called them to be baptised and be forgiven from their sins. Many people flocked to him and listened to his teachings, and through all of these, many became prepared in their hearts and minds to welcome the Lord Jesus when He came.

He was the one who baptised Jesus our Lord, which marked the moment when His earthly ministry began, heralding the start of the works of God’s mercy. And even then, he continued on to preach and to baptise people, calling them to repentance and to be ready for the Lord and His ways. Thus, today, as we rejoice and celebrate the moment of the nativity or the birth of St. John the Baptist, we also rejoice because of his life and all of his works and devotions.

St. John the Baptist, as one of the greatest saints of God is our great role model, as his exemplary life and activities should become examples for all of us to follow. He was not just devoted and committed to his mission, in preparing the way for the Lord and His works, but all the more, he was committed to the point of even being ready to face suffering and martyrdom in the face of opposition from the world. He faced king Herod and rebuked him, and was imprisoned as a result, and later he was martyred.

And then, we should also follow his examples, in how he laid down his life’s work and yielded himself to the Lord completely and thoroughly. When his disciples complained to him that Jesus was becoming more famous and popular than him, he welcomed it readily and mentioned that, while the Lord continued to rise, he himself must decrease. This is a very important example for us to follow, in being humble and dedicated to our mission as the disciples and followers of the Lord.

St. John the Baptist gave his all to serve the Lord, with all of his heart, mind and soul. He showed us all the example of how we ought to be acting as faithful servants of God. Let us all now ask ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ, whether we have shown our faith in the same or similar manner as St. John the Baptist had devoted his life for the sake of the Lord?

Have we as Christians been truly devoted to the Lord in all of His ways? Have we walked in His path? Let us all think about this, and reflect sincerely on our life’s actions, and think of how we can devote ourselves better to the Lord. Let us follow the examples of St. John the Baptist, and realise that we are needed to do the same tasks and missions which the Lord had entrusted to St. John the Baptist and to all of His Apostles and disciples.

May the Lord bless us and continue to guide us in our path. And may He empower all of us to become ever better and more devoted disciples of His, in the same manner as St. John the Baptist had lived his life. May God be with us always, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 23 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate a great solemnity in honour of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, a devotion and tradition which had deep roots in our faith in the Church, beginning from an ancient tradition of devotion to the great love which the Lord Jesus had shown us all His people, through His most loving and merciful Sacred Heart, a devotion which was given in its modern form through the visions which was received by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque approximately four centuries ago.

In many of the icons of the Most Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus, we often see Jesus our Lord revealing His Sacred Heart, which is crowned with thorns and pierced with a lance, and with a flaming fire above the Heart, showing the great love and the intensity of which love, through which, our Lord resolved to redeem us from our sins and save us from the disaster that was about to be our fate. It was by this love, that He was willing to go through all sorts of persecutions and sufferings, for our sake and for our salvation.

In His appearance to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the Lord Jesus showed His Most Sacred Heart to her, and spoke to her, saying that while His love for mankind had been great and magnificent, but most of mankind had rejected Him and His love, and spurned His love. We have rejected God’s love for us by our disobedience and refusal to follow His ways, and by continuing therefore to live in sin.

That is why it is important for us to devote ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, by understanding and knowing that great love which God in His heart has shown us all. There are indeed those who refused to believe in the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, because they deemed that it was idolatry and false to worship the supposedly physical heart of Jesus, but that was because of a misunderstanding of what the devotion to the Sacred Heart is really about.

In essence, our devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is a devotion to the physical or human Heart and the Divine Heart of our Lord and Saviour, Who has two natures, God and Man, which are yet united in perfection of love, in one singular Divinity. If the Lord had assumed the flesh of Man, then surely His whole entire Body is a reflection of both His humanity and divinity, including His Most Sacred Heart.

All of us know that the heart is among the most important organs in our body, without which the blood which provides our body cells and other organs with nutrients and oxygen cannot flow. And in figurative terms, the heart is the centre of our emotions and is often associated with love. That is why as I have mentioned earlier on, and in what our Lord Jesus Himself had told all those to whom He revealed His Most Sacred Heart, He told them how He loved all mankind, and yet His people rejected Him and His love.

At the moment of His crucifixion and death, the soldier named Longinus was tasked to attest the fact of His death. He took up his lance and pierced the side of Jesus, which hit towards His heart. Immediately from the Most Sacred Heart came forth blood and water, which poured down upon all who saw it, and those who saw it, including Longinus, believed in Jesus.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through all of these, we have seen how Jesus our Lord has loved us so much, that because of that love, poured out freely from His Most Sacred Heart, He was willing to endure suffering, pain, rejection, ridicule and all sorts of punishments, all of which were meant to be ours. Because of our sins, all of us ought to have been crushed and be destroyed due to them, but the Lord willingly shouldered all those sins, and were wounded for our sake.

Do we all realise just how much it was that the Lord had done for us? His Most Sacred Heart and all the love He had within has made everything possible for us, including our salvation and liberation from our fated destruction because of our sins. Every single wounds inflicted on Him, every single pain, be it physical or mental, from all the rejection, ridicule and mockery, are our sins, caused by our sins, and made by our disobedience.

Let us all therefore do our best, in order to seek to be closer to God, by relying and depending on His Most Sacred Heart, and all the love which He had kept in His Sacred Heart. Let us all remember that whenever we sin and whenever we turn away from His ways, we are taking part in ridiculing and persecuting the Lord, Who had borne all of our sins upon Himself.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians therefore, all of us need to become role models in our devotion and commitment to the Lord, particularly today in the aspect of His Most Sacred Heart, remembering the great love and compassion which He had shown us, poured out from His ever loving Heart, filled with genuine love and mercy for us all mankind. Let us all turn wholeheartedly to Him and be good for the rest of our lives. May the Lord, in His Most Sacred Heart, bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 22 June 2017 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paulinus of Nola, Bishop, St. John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Thomas More, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops) or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the Lord Jesus teaching His disciples how to pray. He told them and taught them what we now know as the Lord’s Prayer, the perfect prayer composed by none other than our Lord Jesus Himself. It was a prayer of pure intention and faith showing obedience, the desire to glorify God and to thank Him for all the blessings and graces He had given to us His beloved ones.

We may think that it is kind of unnecessary for the Lord to teach His disciples how to pray, but this is in fact His way to show us all, His people, how to truly pray from the heart, to be able to communicate with the Lord, that is the essence of what a prayer is. That is important because, many of us Christians, might have forgotten what it truly means for us to pray.

At that time, the people of God followed the ways that were shown to them by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in the way they themselves prayed before the Lord. Those people prayed long prayers in the public places, making themselves seen by everyone, who praised them for their piety and devotion. Yet, their long prayers were empty and meaningless, since the focus of their prayers were upon themselves, upon their own vanity, and not upon God.

That is how we ourselves also might have often done with our prayers. We pray for the purpose of our own selfish desires, wishing to gain something for our own benefit. And many of us have that mistaken concept that God is One Who we can depend on for everything, and that whatever we ask of Him, He will give them to us. But that in fact is making God as if He is a servant to us, and we are demanding Him to do something for us, which is not right.

That is exactly why many people in fact had turned away from the Lord, because they were unable to get rid of their human ego, their desires which they had allowed to lead their way. When they prayed, they said litany of requests, desires and even demands, asking God to grant them what they wanted. I am sure that many of us had done something similar to this, at one or more points in our respective lives. And when He did not grant what we wanted, we became angry at Him and turned our back from Him.

How many of us will be able to realise that what many of us had done might not have been right? Many of us have placed ourselves, our desired and our selfish wants above that of our obligation to love and to serve the Lord our God. It is often that we are not able to let go of our desires, or to lie down our human pride, and as a result, we ended up doing what is disgraceful and sinful in the sight of God and men alike.

That was what the actions and examples of the holy saints and martyrs whose feast we celebrate on this day ought to show us the way forward. St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More were the saints and martyrs of the English reformation, at which time, the persecution was against all the faithful when the faithless king of England, Henry VIII, for his own personal reasons and refusal to obey the will of God through His Church, broke the communion between the churches in England from the Holy Mother Church.

St. Thomas More was the Chancellor of the King, the position akin to that of Prime Minister in our present day world. He was a person of great influence and power, having a position of great prestige and honour. And yet, when the king asked for all of his officials, advisers, and members of the English Church to declare their oath of obedience to him and break away from the obedience to the Holy Mother Church, St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, who was one of the holy bishops of the Church, refused to do so.

Even though the king lavished worldly honour and privileges on all those who would recant their faith and devotion to the Church, and especially on St. Thomas More, who was the trusted Chancellor and chief adviser to the king himself, but St. Thomas More chose to remain true to his faith and did not get swayed by all the temptations and pressured heaped on him to make him change his mind.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the saints and martyrs had given us their examples for us to follow, in their devotion and zeal, and in how they lived their lives in accordance with the will of God, and not according to their own human desires. Had they succumbed to their desires, their pride and ego, they would have given up their faith and betrayed the Lord for worldly happiness instead.

This is what all of us Christians must do, from now on, that all of us become true disciples and followers of the Lord, not just in name or formality only, but through real action, commitment and work. Let us all follow in the footsteps of our good and holy predecessors, and strive to do our best in our everyday life, to be good and worthy children of our God. Let us all have a genuine and healthy prayerful life, that we are always in constant communication with God, knowing what it is that He wants us to do in our respective lives. May the Lord bless us all in our endeavours. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture, which in essence is calling us to be sincere and true in our faith, that is not by putting a farce or falsehood in our devotion to God in our life. It is telling us that unless we are sincere in our devotion, by genuine actions that came from the heart, we cannot call ourselves as true Christians.

In the Gospel today, Jesus told the people to do their good deeds for the right intentions, that is to really serve the people of God, our fellow brethren, and therefore to glorify God and serve Him, and not our own personal desires and interests. He used the examples of prayers and fasting, which the Jewish people according to the laws of Moses were obliged to do, especially during certain times and periods in the year.

However, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who strictly enforced the application of the rules on prayers and fasting, they themselves did so not because they truly do them for the sake of God, but instead, it was to fulfil their own vanity, their own desire to be praised and adored for their piety and commitment to the laws of Moses. They showed their prayers and fasting in order to be looked favourably upon by other men and women.

That was why Jesus rebuked them and were angry at these people, who made their faith as if they were showpieces for their own personal benefits. He was angry because the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were not doing what they preached, and yet, they burdened the people to obey the same rules to the suffering of the people. They misled the people by their actions, and were not showing true discipleship as those whom the Lord had entrusted with the leadership and guidance over His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, the same response of the Lord will be ours if we ourselves do not love Him, serve Him and be faithful to Him in a way that is much more than the way the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done. That is, if we live our lives in this world, but we do not do what we believe, we do not act in the manner that we have preached and claimed to have faith in.

What are some of the examples, brethren? First of all, many of us Christians go to the Mass in the Church, not because we want to really be with the Lord and spend our time with Him. Rather, some of us wanted to outdo each other in piety, and showing our fellow friends or relatives just how devout we are, by our prayers and devotions. We turn our focus inwards upon ourselves, upon our ego and desires instead of what we need to focus on, that is our love and devotion for the Lord our God.

And then, we grumble and we put up grumpy faces when we fast, because we do not truly understand what it is that we fast for, or that as the Pharisees had done, we wanted to be praised for our piety. This is not what the Lord wants from us, brothers and sisters in Christ. What He wants from us is our sincere and genuine love, devotion and commitment, through our prayers and fasting, as well as through many other ways of how we can love Him, but which must be done with true desire from our hearts.

Let us all look at the examples of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the holy saint whose feast we are commemorating today. St. Aloysius Gonzaga was born into a noble, rich and powerful family of the Gonzagas in the late Renaissance era Italy, a few hundred years ago. He was born as the firstborn of the noble family, a position of extreme honour, as the rule was that he was to inherit all the titles, prestige, wealth and properties that his father as an influential nobleman had possessed.

But as he grew up, even though he received numerous education and preparation of a typical nobleman of his era, St. Aloysius Gonzaga slowly grew to seek and long for the Lord, by all the experiences and the readings he had done, especially on the missionary activities of the Jesuits in the faraway lands. As his desire to serve the Lord grew, eventually, things came to the point when he openly declared his intention to become a Jesuit and thus, had to renounce all that he stood to inherit.

He encountered stiff opposition from his family, particularly from his father, who tried all he could to dissuade him and stop him from joining the religious order. Nevertheless, St. Aloysius Gonzaga remained firm in his commitment and was adamant in his desire to serve the Lord through what He had called him to be. In the end, he prevailed and he became a Jesuit.

He lived his life with devotion and commitment, serving the people of God through words and action, caring for the poor, the sick and the dying, even in the midst of a deadly plague which eventually took his life. St. Aloysius Gonzaga, his strong devotion and desire to love the Lord and to serve Him by serving His people, as well as his ability to resist the temptation of human glory, desire and all the other obstacles should be our inspiration in how we ourselves ought to live our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all now therefore renew our commitment to live our lives full of faith, genuine faith to the Lord, just in the same manner as St. Aloysius Gonzaga and the many other holy saints and martyrs of God had done. May the Lord help us in our journey, so that we will be able to give our all to serve Him with all of our lives, with all of our might and all of our commitment. May the Lord bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard from the Lord Jesus Himself, urging us and exhorting us to love, for love is the true mission and command which the Lord had given to us to do, to be loving and to be graced with love, and not one that is conditional or selfish, but instead, love that is selfless and perfect, unconditional just as He has loved us first in the same manner.

Everyone can love themselves, for it is in our human nature to look first to ourselves and to satisfy our own needs and desires first. It is easy to love ourselves for we are always filled with pride, pride for our own human achievements and capabilities, pride for our talents and endowments. But are we able to love others in the same manner as how we have loved ourselves?

And then, it is easier for us to love others who also love us or have loved us first. For we know that if we show our love to them, then they will show their love for sure, or even have loved us first. In that manner, however, let ask ourselves, if our love is truly sincere? Is it love that we have shown? Or was it rather selfishness and our human desire showing themselves instead of love?

When we love, we do not seek for returns or rewards, and when we show our love to each other, we do not desire or seek for recognition or affirmation. For if we seek all these when we love, then our love is not perfect and neither it is fulfilling for us. For this kind of love is selfish love, and the more we show this kind of love, the more we expect to be loved back. Otherwise, we end up angry, or becoming jealous and unhappy.

That is precisely why there are many people in this world today, and even many among us as Christians, who did not show true love in our life, in our actions and deeds. We are selfish when we love, and that is why many of us ended up with ruined marriages, with adultery and lack of faithfulness in our families. That is because we treat our relationship, particularly that of marriage, family life, and often even friendships as transactions.

When we look at our relationships, we tend to look at everything and try to find values in each of them for ourselves. When things do not go the way we want them, or when we do not get the reward or recognition that we wanted, then we became angry, agitated, and unhappy. Then, let us ask ourselves, is this the kind of love which the Lord had taught us to do in life? Or is it something else?

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, God showed us all the way forward, by showing us His unconditional love. Even though we have rebelled against Him, many times in life, and even though we have disobeyed Him on many occasions, but the Lord still continues to love us, and He is ever willing to welcome us back through reconciliation. It was His love that made Him to even be willing to die on the cross for us.

Are we able to love unconditionally and show that love to one another? Are we able to commit ourselves to that love? It is our calling and also challenge as Christians to be loving towards one another, even towards our enemies and all those who have hurt and brought pain to us. It is by forgiving the faults of others that we will grow stronger in the love of God.

Remember, brethren, that the Lord Himself has forgiven us our sins. Whenever we pray the Lord’s Prayer, do we really mean it when we say, ‘Forgive us our sins just as we forgive those who have sinned against us?’ Let us be generous with love and mercy, compassion and understanding for one another. Let us shun all forms of hatred, anger and jealousy, all forms of negativities against each other.

May the Lord be gracious to us, and may He continue to love us as He has always been. May His love be found in us, and grow ever stronger, as we continue to care and love for our fellow brethren, showing genuine Christian love and charity to one another, that we may draw ever closer to God and be worthy of Him because of the love we have for Him, and also for our fellow men. Amen.

Monday, 19 June 2017 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Romuald, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Abbots)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the Lord Who spoke to His disciples on the matter of how they ought to deal with one another, particularly should anyone cause any harm or pain, be it physical or mental, on them. He was saying how it was under the old laws of Moses, that those who inflicted suffering upon others must also suffer themselves equally in the same manner.

This was called the law of vengeance, where justice was meted upon the condemned by the same degree of punishment as what the sufferer or victim has suffered. Should one cause another to lose an arm, then he or she must also lose an arm. If he or she caused another person to lose an eye, then he or she must also lose an eye. It is a law of proportional justice, which the people of Israel followed strictly and enforced by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not what we all as Christians believe, as the Lord Himself made it clear that we must not do what the Israelites had done. It was not however that He was overturning or replacing the old Law, but instead revealing the true nature of the Law that is Love. The old laws given to Moses and which was expanded throughout the history of the Israelites was modified because of the rebelliousness of the people of Israel.

Why is that so? That is because the Israelites constantly rebelled and complained against God, and they hardened their hearts against Him. They did not truly love Him despite all that He had done for them, by delivering them from their oppressors in Egypt, and by lovingly providing for all that they needed throughout their journey. Therefore, like a father who disciplines his children whenever they are not doing things in the right manner and yet still loving them, God also wanted to discipline them in the same manner.

But they misunderstood His intentions, and thought that God was being a very fearsome God, Who did not want to see any mistake from His people, and Who would punish any forms of misconduct with harsh punishments. They ended up fearing Him and distancing themselves from Him. That was why He came to dispel the falsehood and reveal to them the real truth about His everlasting love for them.

God wants to show us that love is what He wants from each and every one of us, just as He has loved us all so tenderly from the very beginning. And it is because of His love that all of us have existed, solely because of His love for us. If He had not loved us, He would have exterminated us by the might of His will alone, if He had not loved us and seen that we have been unfaithful to Him by our sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is His intention that all of us Christians ought to learn how to love each other. We must realise that much of the sorrows and troubles in this world were caused by our inability to love each other, and our refusal to love the Lord our God, as much as we love ourselves. It is in our human nature and habit for us to think of ourselves first, and others as secondary.

But when our desires and interests clashed with each other’s, that is the moment when division and strive came about, and that is when we end up squabbling and conflicting with one another, trying to protect our own interests in the act of self-preservation. In the end, everyone suffered, and everyone felt angry and dissatisfied, due to all the bitterness, pains and all the struggles.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps we should model ourselves after the examples of the holy saints, all the righteous men and women who had preceded us in their just and holy life, with the example of St. Romuald, who was once apparently in his youth, a renegade and a sinner, who indulged in all forms of earthly pleasures and vices, as much as he could commit himself to. However, eventually, St. Romuald came to his senses and sought to exonerate himself by pious deeds.

He devoted his whole life from then on in asceticism and fervent prayer, becoming a monk who dedicated his life to the service of God, calling and inspiring many others who also had the desire to serve the Lord, by committing themselves to a life of prayer and devotion. He founded the Camaldolese order in that manner, and many more people came to be saved by their dedication to the Lord, abandoning their past and sinful lives behind them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps that is what all of us should do as well? Perhaps we should reevaluate how we have lived our lives thus far? Let us ask ourselves, what is our real purpose and intention in life? What is it that we seek in our daily living? Do we have any objective in living this earthly life? Or are we merely enjoying all the pleasures that this world offers us?

It is time for us all as Christians to renew our commitment to the Lord, in order for us to live faithfully according to His laws and commandments. It is time for us to be His true disciples and followers, in body, heart, mind and soul, indeed in our whole and entire being. May the Lord bless us always, and may He continue to guide us in our path, so that in everything we say and do, we will always glorify Him and become ever closer to Him. Amen.

Saturday, 17 June 2017 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, speaking to us about how we have been saved by the Lord, Who had reconciled us to Himself. And all of us as Christians are called to live our lives henceforth for the sake of the Lord, and to bring glory to the Lord, and no longer seeking glory for ourselves.

All of us have been called to serve the Lord with faith, zeal and real commitment, and this is what all of us Christians must do, that we are truly worthy of being called Christians. The essence of what we heard in the Gospel passage today is the same. When the Lord said to the people and to His disciples, that they should not swear by the heavens or the earth, or by Jerusalem, or by God Himself, He was not prohibiting them from making oaths or swearing, but rather, what He wanted to say is, that all Christians must really mean what they say and show it through real action.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves, how many of us made promises upon each other, with many words and persuasions, only to renege on those promises later on? It cannot be the case for our faith, for in reality, there are many Christians who have made their baptismal vows and promises during their baptism, and which are renewed every year at Easter, who then committed what is evil and wicked before the Lord.

And this is because the lack of faith among those who have not obeyed the Lord in His ways and commandments. If we have a strong and genuine faith, certainly then we will try our best to fulfil what the Lord has required us all to do in our respective lives. But when our faith is not solid, when it is shaky and we easily stumble on temptations and persuasions to do what is evil, then we end up failing in fulfilling what we have promised to do before the Lord. And thus we commit sin.

The Lord is calling all of us to live our faith with sincerity and zeal. We can no longer be complacent or be ignorant of what our faith requires from us. We can no longer treat our faith as if it is merely just a formality and nothing else. Nothing good can come from having Christian listed as our identity or religion, if we then do nothing at all about it in our lives, or worse still, doing what is contrary to our Christian faith.

In all of this, we may think that we need to do a lot of things in our life. But in reality, it is indeed just our commitment and desire to do what the Lord wants us to do is required. If we cannot even give our heart’s commitment in small matters, how then can we give it for matters that are complicated and difficult? We have to begin from ourselves, by reexamining the way we have lived our lives.

Have we given our time daily for the Lord and spending that time with Him? Many of us have forgotten to pray to Him. And if you think that prayer is a matter of saying sets of pre-crafted prayers, then that is not good enough. Our prayers must be sincere and genuine communication with God, in which we ought to open our hearts and let the Lord to speak in the depths of our hearts, and we can then have a good conversation with Him, knowing what it is that He wants us to do.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we therefore from now on renew our commitment to the Lord? Shall we seek to love Him with ever greater zeal and desire to love Him with all of our hearts, minds, bodies and souls? Let us all be true Christians who have genuine faith in God, and not just as mere formality or showing a fake and empty faith.

Let us all devote ourselves through our every words, actions and deeds, that all of them will declare the glory of God, and therefore, all of us will be worthy before the Lord, Who will bless us all, His faithful ones, forevermore. Amen.