Monday, 17 March 2014 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, once again we are exhorted to practice our faith and be genuine and active in living up our faith, through action and devotion, particularly through the act of mercy, by forgiving others who had done wrong to us, and by giving of our love to them, and to those who had hated us and resented us.

Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of St. Patrick, the Bishop and Patron saint of Ireland. Patrick was born in the Roman Britain, and was initially a pagan shepherd, who was captured by Irish raiders and was made a slave. During his slavery, St. Patrick learnt about the faith through missionaries, and he had a change of heart.

St. Patrick learnt much about the faith and spent his time knowing more and more about God. He was released from his captivity after a few years and returned to his homeland, but not before knowing from God that he will one day return to the land of his enslavement to bring it to the hand of God through conversion.

Eventually St. Patrick returned to Ireland and set about doing many good things there, preaching about the faith and teaching the people about God. St. Patrick performed many miracles and great feats, which helped to bring the people to greater understanding of the greatness and the nature of God and faith in Him.

St. Patrick and his works laid the foundation for the faith in the once untamed and pagan land, where all the people worshipped the spirits of the land. He used many methods to teach them how to devote themselves to God, using shamrock leaves with their three lobes to describe the concept of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

And despite all the oppositions and works arrayed against him during his missionary works, St. Patrick prevailed and continued to baptise thousand upon thousands, converting many to the cause of Christ, even among the nobles, lords, and kings and princes. He made the spread of the faith in that godless land possible.

What is most important from St. Patrick and his actions was that he practiced his faith and do the things that he had said. That was why so many people listened to him, and finding the good things that he had taught them, they believed and were saved through baptism. St. Patrick had a solid and living faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called to also be witnesses for the Lord, to be the ones showing God and His teachings to those who had yet to know Him, much as what St. Patrick had done. Shall we follow the example of St. Patrick and did what he had done for the glory of God?

Let us be righteous, loving and merciful as the Lord had taught us through Jesus, that we may truly be seen as the children of God, and through our actions, may other people see the love of God and know Him through us. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 28 February 2014 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 8-9, 11-12

Bless the Lord, my soul; all my being, bless His holy Name! Bless the Lord, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

The Lord is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; He will not always scold nor will He be angry forever.

As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins.

Sunday, 9 February 2014 : 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 111 : 4-5, 6-7, 8a and 9

He is for the righteous a light in darkness, He is kind, merciful and upright. It will be well with Him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty.

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever. He has no fear of evil news, for his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

His heart is confident, he gives generously to the poor, his merits will last forever and his head will be raised in honour.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 85 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Listen, o Lord, and answer me, for I am afflicted and needy. Preserve my life for I am Godfearing; save Your servant who trusts in You.

Have mercy on me, o Lord, for I cry to You all day. Bring joy to the soul of Your servant, for You, o Lord, I lift up my soul.

You are good and forgiving, o Lord, caring for those who call on You. Listen, o Lord, to my prayer, hear the voice of my pleading.

Sunday, 13 October 2013 : 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Thanksgiving, especially giving thanks on what is due for us to give thanks for, is what is truly lacking in many of us. We do not give thanks to those who had done good things for us. Worse still, we often seek glory for ourselves, even for things that we do not do on our own, claiming honour and glory for ourselves, even of it is not rightful for us to do so.

That is the essence of the readings that we listened to today, brethren in Christ. A thanksgiving for the Lord who had shown us His care and love, and His dedication, one which we often overlook or simply forget, in the joy of the moment, after we had received the goodness of God.

The readings highlighted one of our major shortcomings throughout life, that is to forget the role of God in our lives, and to overlook Him and His role in favour of our own achievements and glory. That is what happened to the lepers who were healed from their afflictions, which out of ten, only one returned to the Lord to give Him thanks for His mercy and love.

We contrast this to the behaviour of Naaman, the Syrian, and one of the leper who is a Samaritan, who showed their affection to those who had done good unto them, thanking them sincerely on the love shown to them. They have done what is right in the eyes of the Lord, and therefore were made righteous.

Why use the example of a Syrian and a Samaritan? Firstly, I want to highlight the importance of understanding the true desire of the Lord in promoting the right attitude and mindset to His people. He did not intend the examples to highlight the differences between the people of Israel and the ‘pagan’ peoples around them.

Why so? That is because, the people of Israel, having been chosen as the people of God through the covenant God had renewed with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants, they have always thought of themselves to be special. That they are always the good ones, the upright, and the ones ensured salvation as their birthright.

They have always looked at the pagans in disgust and contempt, considering them damned and evil, while in fact, as we all know, as written throughout the Old Testament and even the New, as they had rebelled against God, tested Him, doubted Him, and even abandoned Him for other gods, the golden calf, and the false gods of the people of Canaan who lived around them. They had done what is wicked in the eyes of God and did not repent, but grew to be ever worse and deeper in their wickedness

Thus, in line with their stubbornness and God’s love for all mankind, without exception, He had sent Jesus His Son, to reveal the true nature of His love for all. He wanted to show Israel their wickedness and the need for them to repent, as well as for them to realise that being the first chosen people of God does not give them an excuse for their sinfulness, and that they in fact, should welcome all mankind as fellow brothers and sisters in God.

It is important for us to be warm and welcoming, as well as open to others around us, not to be quick to judge and condemn us, but instead seek on what is good within us, and embrace one another with love. That, is what the Lord truly desires from us, not our length prayers of the mouth, nor our empty obedience, but the love and commitment from our heart, for the sake of one another, and for God Himself.

Jesus our Lord, the Son of God had been sent into this world that through Him we may gain healing and new life, that we abandon the darkness of evil and this world, for the light of Jesus who is the light of the world, healing us from our afflictions that are sins and wickedness of the evil one. He had been sent to heal us from the sickness that engulf us, be it physically or spiritually, just as He healed the ten lepers who came to Him for healing and mercy.

That is why, I have to reiterate again of the importance of thanksgiving and gratitude, for there is no greater thing that we have ever observed in the history of creation, other than the ultimate sacrifice Christ had went through for us, for our sake, that we will not die an eternal death but live a life eternal, and live through not an eternal punishment but an eternal joy with God.

We have to beware of this leprosy, the true leprosy of the soul, that is our pride, arrogance and lack of gratitude for the Lord and His love and instead trusting our own feeble human power. We tend to think good of ourselves and do not give thanks and glory to God. We are often ignorant of the love that God has shown to all of us, not least of which, in the giving of Himself through Jesus Christ His Son, He had made us all whole and worthy once again, rescued from hell and given the promise of eternal life, as long as we remain faithful and true to His ways.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us commit ourselves to cast far, far away this leprosy, the sickness of our soul, away from us, that we cast away the evils and sins from ourselves, purifying our heart, body, and soul in the light of Christ, the light that cast away all the illusions of Satan, the impurities and corruptions of this world, and made ourselves whole and pure again in God.

Today, Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ on this world, will consecrate this world, the entire world, to the care of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in our Lady of Fatima, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Mother of God, through whom Jesus Christ our Lord is born into this world. And therefore, just as she had cared and loved her Son Jesus with all of her heart and all of her love, she too will from now on take care and love our world and all those who live in it, that is all of us, brothers and sisters, all mankind as one.

This world, brothers and sisters, is in great darkness, under the power of evil and Satan, where brothers hurt brothers, where sisters slander sisters, and where mankind slay one another in hatred. It is where violence and injustice are the common order of the day. It is where mankind dwells in their pride, and disobeys God’s commandments and spurns His love on daily basis. It is the perfect example of leprosy of the soul that I have mentioned earlier on.

That is why, through entrusting this world to the care and intercession of Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus, we hope that this world can become a better world, and be healed of this sickness, the leprosy of sin and evil that had infected us all for way too long. It is time for us all, with the help and assistance of Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, and through her, with the power and might of God Himself, to break free entirely from the chains of slavery that had bound us for all these times.

May the Lord our loving and merciful God look away from the sins we had committed, and as we approach His throne of love and mercy, may He welcome us back into His embrace, and bless us with His eternal love and grace. May Mary, His Mother also continue to pray for us and care for us in the same way that she had shown Jesus her love, while He was on earth. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Denis, Bishop and Companions, Martyrs, and St. John Leonardi, Priest (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priest)

Forgive and you shall be forgiven. Have mercy and mercy will be shown to you. Show love and love will be shown to you. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heed the readings today, this is the common theme that we all can and should certainly be able to pick up and identify, as a common virtue of our faith in Christ. Christ in today’s Gospel taught His disciples how to pray to God, and that prayer, as we are all familiar with, is the Lord’s Prayer, Pater Noster, or our Father.

That prayer is a simple and yet perfect prayer, and indeed how all prayers should be. Prayers is less about glorifying ourselves before God, and even less still a litany of wishes and desires that we often request or even demand from God. How many of us have been angry at God for not fulfilling our wishes, which we constantly include in our prayers?

Prayer is truly about opening oneself to God and to His eternal love, that is to let Him embrace us with the warmth of His love, that we are made perfect once again in love. That is the essence of prayer and the essence of our loving dedication to God who is our Father. Prayer is a line of communication between Him and us, as a medium through which we do not just speak, but also listen, to the words of the Lord being spoken within our hearts.

Too often the noise of this world prevents us from being able to listen to the word of God, and we become preoccupied in our own worldly dealings, in our own emotions and prejudices, in that we end up trusting our own judgments more than we trust or believe in the wise judgments of the Lord. That is also the essence of today’s readings, in that, we need to be able to overcome those personal prejudices and ill emotions within our hearts, that we will be able to make a reasonable judgment.

Indeed, remember that in fact we are not in a proper place to judge, not even ourselves, since as many sins as we can see in others around us, there are often in fact even more sins within us that we cannot see. To judge others for their sins and to condemn them for those sins is not right, for if we judge them for those, surely we will be judged too, for our own, equally if not more numerous sins.

That is why the Lord reminded Jonah of this fact, of the need for one to be merciful and forgiving, for the virtue of mercy and forgiveness is abundant, and out of them, love will be born. Love cannot exist if we do not first show mercy and forgiveness, especially to those who had wronged us, and to those who had caused us pain and suffering.

It is important that we as the followers and children of the Lord, to be chain-breakers. Why so? Which chains are we talking about? It is the chain that binds our heart and shut it tight, hardening it against the love of God and preventing us from sharing our love with our brethren around us. These chains are sin and worldly temptations that bind us to themselves and to hell, preventing us from being saved.

Indeed, we need to be loving and forgiving at the same time in our lives in this world, in our calling as the disciples of Christ, the One who is Love. We cannot remain bound to those chains we had talked about, and rather, we must break free, both from our own chains of sin, or break free the chains that bound others, that all of us will be loved by God for eternity.

Today we commemorate the feast of St. Denis, the bishop of Paris in the Roman province of Gaul, at where is now known as France. He was a zealous servant of God who lived upright and just life, during the time of great persecutions against the Church and the faithful. The Emperor Decius reigned at the time St. Denis was martyred for his faith. Decius was known to be strongly opposed to the Church and to the faith in God, and ordered one of the most vicious and brutal of all the persecutions of Christians by the state.

St. Denis and some people who were condemned to die with him were beheaded on a hill in what is today Paris, and yet, a miracle happened. It was told that St. Denis did not die even though his head had been cut off from his body. St. Denis picked up his head and walked for several miles, preaching and testifying the greatness of the Lord, made evident in the miraculous occasion of St. Denis himself. He only died when he reached a spot where he was then buried, and where now stands a basilica erected in the honour of his name, that is the Basilica Cathedral of St. Denis in Paris.

Today we also honour St. John Leonardi, an Italian priest living during a time of trouble for the Church and for Christendom, at a time when the Reformation rebels were spreading wildly their heresies and teachings across Europe and gained sizable following. St. John Leonardi was devoted to the people of God, especially the weak and the poor, and did many charitable acts to help and love them.

He also spread the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and promoted the observation of the Liturgy of the Hours, a dedication of one’s prayer in daily basis, as well as the Adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist. Not limited to that, St. John Leonardi also established the religious order of the Clerks, who took part in and contributed to the effort in stemming the Protestant heresies.

Both these saints and their companions had been devoted to their cause, their calling, and committed themselves fully to both the Lord and His beloved people. Therefore, should we then not do the same? Our calling in life is to love, that is to love both the Lord and to love one another, that in love, we truly become worthy of being called the children of God, who is Love. If we instill love in one another, that love will grow to encompass us, and we will grow to love even more, and then, we will truly be worthy to be called God’s children, of God who is love.

May the Lord continue to bless us and strengthen us with His love, caring for us and providing for us, that we will always ever be covered by His grace and blessings. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 27 September 2013 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today Christ revealed His identity to His disciples, after asking them whether they know who He truly was. And the prophet Haggai in the first reading, comforted the people of God who laid in ruins after they returned to the land the Lord had given them after a long exile in Babylon.

In Christ, the Son of God, the world has been given the salvation that God had promised for them. In Christ, who is not mere man but a divine made man, the world achieve a fullness of glory in the Lord, the perfection that has been taken from us when we became lost after our rebellion at the beginning of Creation.

Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promise to mankind over time which He renewed through the prophets, and finally perfected in Jesus. God resolved to rebuild the destroyed mankind that they once again become His beloved ones, freed from sins and slavery to the worldly pleasures and sins.

Yet, although He is a conquering King who comes to destroy death and sin, and be triumphant over all evils, but He came as a humble King, One who is destined to suffer and die. Yes, death for our sake, that through the death, we may not die but live eternal with Him. He is the Lamb of God, the One to be slaughtered and whose Blood is to be shed, for the sake of all of us, for our salvation.

Although He is great and mighty, He faced suffering, persecution, and death, that He took in into Himself all the sins and sufferings of mankind, that we do not have to suffer them for eternity, and instead enjoy life everlasting in happiness with God. This is the renewal the Lord promised to the returned exiles of Israel through the prophet Haggai and the other leaders of the people. The renewal God had sent through His own Son, Jesus Christ.

The Lord loves us so much, that He was not willing to see us to suffer with the devil in eternal fire, to suffer for the consequences of our sins and faults. That was why He sent us Jesus, to be our Help, our Hope, and our Way, to return to Him, to reclaim the true joy, happiness, and the inheritance that we had forsaken when we disobeyed Him in the garden of Eden.

All that, and He was ready to endure lashes, torture, nails, and the cross itself.  The Lord Jesus walked that arduous path towards Calvary, enduring the weight of that cross, bleeding from His wounds, to die a criminal’s death on the cross, in Calvary, for our sake. Imagine the combined weight of the world’s sins, that is the sins of all mankind. That was the weight of the burden which caused Christ much pain and suffering, and He endured it.

At the same time, through that sacrifice of Himself, God had made His love for His people evident, by the giving of Himself for out sake. He gave us all new hope and light in life. Remember, before the glorious cross, the cross of Christ resurrected from the dead, there is always the cross of suffering, that is the cross taken up by the Christ suffering for our sins.

We cannot abandon the Christ, both in His glory and in His time of greatest humiliation on the cross, the humiliation that he turned into glory. That is why, brethren, we have a mission that has been given to all of us and that is to proclaim the crucified Christ to all people, to all the nations, especially to those who have yet to hear about the wondrous Christ and His works of salvation.

Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, one of the great saints in the Church, who was well known for his commitment to the Lord, especially to the weak, the poor, and the unloved. St. Vincent de Paul was born in France and was educated to be a faithful and good follower of Christ, when he was captured among many by the Algerian pirates running rampant in the region during his time, and was made into a slave.

St. Vincent de Paul was enslaved and sold to a renegade Catholic owner, until he managed to convince him to return to the faith, who then helped to get St. Vincent to be released from his slavery. He then committed the rest of his life as a worker of the Lord, caring for the last, the lost, and the least in the society, emphasizing on the need to give love to these people, and not abandon them to the darkness.

St. Vincent de Paul was particularly caring about those who were enslaved, being once a slave himself, and showed them the true nature of Christian love, that is dedication and the giving of oneself for the sake of others in need. He was truly the embodiment of who we all Christians ought to become, to be people for others, to be faithful disciples of the Lord who is Love.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us follow the examples of St. Vincent de Paul, making real our faith in this world, through our dedication and service to our brethren in need. We do not have to do big things, but what we can do is, to do even simple things to those around us, to those whom we meet along the way, giving them simple acts of love.

Even these small acts are significant, brethren, and we must not discount them for bigger and more ambitious acts of charity, as it is in these small acts that we can do daily that truly make the difference, and truly bring out the love that we have in us, and sharing it with one another. St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us always, that in all the things we do, we may be more inspired to be charitable and loving. God bless us all, always. Amen.