(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 26 March 2016 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Seventh Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 36 : 16-17a, 18-28

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, when Israel occupied her own land and defiled it by her way of life and her actions. I poured out My fury on them because of the blood they shed in the land and because they defiled it with their filthy idols.”

“Then I scattered them among the nations  and dispersed them in other lands. I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. But when they were brought to other nations, My Holy Name was profane because others said of them : ‘The people of YHVH had to be exiled from His land!'”

“Then I was concerned for My Holy Name, profaned by Israel among the nations where she had been dispersed. Now you shall say to the people of Israel : ‘It is not for your sake that I am about to act, but because of My Holy Name that you have profaned in the places where you have gone.'”

“‘I will make known the holiness of My great Name, profaned among the nations because of you, and they will know that I am YHVH when I show them My holiness among you. For I will gather you from all the nations and bring you back to your own land.'”

“‘Then I shall pour pure water over you and you shall be made clean – cleansed from the defilement of all your idols. I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I shall remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.'”

“‘I shall put  My spirit within you and move you to follow My decrees and keep My laws. You will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you shall be My people and I will be Your God.'”

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 26 March 2016 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Psalm after Fourth Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 29 : 2, 4-6, 11-13

I extol You, o Lord, for You have rescued me; my enemies will not gloat over me.

O Lord, You have brought me up from the grave, You gave me life when I was going to the pit. Sing to the Lord, o you His saints, give thanks and praise to His Holy Name.

For His anger lasts but a little while, and His kindness all through life. Weeping may tarry for the night, but rejoicing comes with the dawn.

Hear, o Lord, and have mercy on me; o Lord, be my protector. But now, You have turned my mourning into rejoicing; You have taken off my sackcloth and wrapped me in the garments of gladness.

And so, my soul, no longer silent, now sings praise without ceasing, o Lord, my God, forever will I give You thanks.

Sunday, 20 March 2016 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Holy Week (Passion Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 22 : 14 – Luke 23 : 56 (Palm Sunday Year C)

When the hour came, Jesus took His place at the table and the Apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I was eager to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”

Then they passed Him a cup, and when He had given thanks, He said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves; for I tell you that, from now on, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.” Jesus also took bread, and after giving thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My Body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

And after the supper, He did the same with the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant, sealed in My Blood, which is poured out for you. Yet the hand of the traitor is with Me on the table. Know that the Son of Man is going the way marked out for Him. But alas for that one who betrays Him!”

They began to ask one another which of them could do such a thing. They also began to argue among themselves which of them should be considered the most important. And Jesus said, “The kings of the pagan nations rule over them as lords, and the most hard-hearted rulers claim the title, ‘Gracious Lord.'”

“But not so with you; let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is the greatest, he who sits at the table or he who serves? He who is seated, isn’t it? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

“You are the ones who have been with Me, and stood by Me, through My troubles; because of this, just as the kingship has been given to Me by My Father, so I give it to you. You will eat and drink at My table at My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones and govern the twelve tribes of Israel.”

“Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you like grain, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have recovered, you shall strengthen your brothers.” Then Peter said, “Lord, with You I am ready to go even to prison and death.” But Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day before you have denied three times that you know Me.”

Jesus also said to them, “When I sent you without purse or bag or sandals, were you short of anything?” They answered, “No.” And Jesus said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and a bag as well. And if anyone is without a sword, let hm sell his cloak to buy one. For Scripture says : ‘He was numbered among criminals.’ These words have to be fulfilled in Me, and now everything written about Me is taking place.”

Then they said, “See, Lord, here are two swords!” But He answered, “That is enough.”

After this, Jesus left to go as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him. When He came to the place, He told them, “Pray that you may not be put to the test.” Then He went a little further, about a stone’s throw, and kneeling down He prayed, “Father, if it is You will, remove this cup from Me; however, not My will but Yours be done.” And an angel from heaven appeared to give Him strength.

As He was in agony, He prayed even more earnestly, and great drops of blood formed like sweat and fell to the ground. When He rose from prayer, He went to His disciples, but found them worn out with grief, and asleep. And He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Get up and pray, so that you may not be put to the test.”

Jesus was still speaking when a group appeared, and the man named Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss Him, and Jesus said to him, “Judas, with a kiss do you betray the Son of Man?”

Those with Jesus, seeing what would happen, said to Him, “Master, shall we use the sword?” And one of them struck the HIgh Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus stopped him, “No more of this!” He touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus spoke to those coming against Him, the chief priests, officers of the Temple and elders; and He said to them, “Did you really set out against a robber? Do you need swords and clubs to arrest Me? Day after day I was among you, teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest Me. But this is the hour of the power of darkness; this is your hour.”

Then they seized Him and took Him away, bringing Him to the High Priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance. A fire was kindled in the middle of the courtyard, where people were gathered, and Peter sat among them. A maidservant noticed him. Looking at him intently in the light if the fire, she exclaimed, “This man also was with Him!” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

A little later, someone who saw Him said, “You are also one of them!” Peter replied, “My friend, I am not!” After about an hour another asserted, “Surely this man was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”

Again Peter denied, “My friend, I don’t know what you are talking about.” He had not finished saying this, when a cock crowed. The Lord turned around and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the word that the Lord had spoken, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter went outside, weeping bitterly.

And the guards, who had arrested Jesus, mocked and beat Him. They blindfolded Him, struck Him, and then asked, “Who hit You? Tell us, prophet!” And they hurled many other insulting words at him.

At daybreak, the council of the elders of the people, among whom were the chief priests and the scribes, assembled again. Then they had Jesus brought before them, and they began questioning Him, “Tell us, are You the Christ?” Jesus replied, “You will not believe, if I tell you, and neither will you answer, if I ask you. Yet from now on, the Son of Man will have His seat at the right hand of the MIghty God.”

In chorus they asked, “So you are the Son of God?” And Jesus said to them, “You are right, I am.” Then they said, “What need have we of witnesses? We have heard it from His own lips.

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claming to be Christ the King.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up with His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him now; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while, the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence, I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

On the Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner. Therefore, shouting as one man, they protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder.

Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “To the cross with Him! To the cross!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes.

When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the fields, and laid the cross on him, to carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!'”

“And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the king of the Jews? Free Yourself!”

Above Jesus there was a inscription in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your Kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts.

But those who knew Jesus remained there, at a distance, especially the women, who had followed Him from Galilee; they witnessed all this.

Then intervened a member of the Jewish supreme council, a good and righteous man named Joseph, from the Judean town of Arimathea. He had not agreed with the decision and action of his fellow members, and he lived uprightly in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God. Joseph went to Pilate, and asked for Jesus’ body. He then took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a yet unused tomb, cut out of a rock.

It was Preparation Day, and the star which marks the beginning of the Sabbath was shining. So the women, who had come with Jesus from Galilee, followed Joseph to see the tomb, and how His body was laid. And returning home, they prepared perfumes and ointments. And on the Sabbath day, they rested, as the Law required.

 

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 23 : 1-49

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claming to be Christ the King.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up with His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him now; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while, the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence, I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

On the Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner. Therefore, shouting as one man, they protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder.

Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “To the cross with Him! To the cross!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes.

When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the fields, and laid the cross on him, to carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!'”

“And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the king of the Jews? Free Yourself!”

Above Jesus there was a inscription in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your Kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts.

But those who knew Jesus remained there, at a distance, especially the women, who had followed Him from Galilee; they witnessed all this.

(Usus Antiquior) Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (II Classis) – Sunday, 7 September 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Holy Gospel in which we heard about how Jesus Christ our Lord have made full ten lepers who were cast out from the society of their time because of their leprosy, and yet only one out of the ten healed lepers, a Samaritan, returned to Lord Jesus and gave thanks to Him, showing the faith that he had.

And in the Epistle we heard how St. Paul reminded the faithful in the Church in Galata on the inheritance of Abraham, and what God had in store for mankind, the descendants of Abraham, the father of nations, and who are also the children of God. St. Paul mentioned how the Lord tried to bring mankind back to His grace and love, and how He cared for these wayward children of His, that He desires to heal them from their afflictions, that is none other than sin.

For if the Gospel today talked about the healing of the ten lepers, who suffered from the physical condition called leprosy, then all mankind are also afflicted with leprosy, namely the leprosy of the soul, the corruption of our beings by sin and evil. These sins and darkness in the world are blemishes that keep us away from the goodness and perfection in the Lord, and prevent us from truly seeking Him and finding our way to Him.

We have to first understand, the importance and how leprosy was a serious condition and affliction for the people of Israel at the time. It was a contagious disease, one that caused someone to feel numb in the extremities of the organ, and eventually lose those limbs, be it fingers, toes, or even limbs without feeling the pain. And the leprosy disease also caused a visible change to the appearance of the parts that it infected, which allow others to tell of someone suffer from leprosy.

We now know that this condition is caused by a virus that affects and attacks the nervous system and the skin, which caused the symptoms shown above. And as such, this is also why this disease is contagious, as it can spread from one person to another. This disease was therefore seen by the society as a sign that someone is unclean and that these people should be cast out from the society to prevent them from infecting others.

Thus, if we look at the laws of Moses, in which the Lord made evident His Law and precepts to the people through Moses His servant, one dealt specifically with the issue of leprosy and what to do with those who were afflicted with them, the lepers. These people ought to leave their homes and their communities, and wonder away in the wilderness and the desert until they are healed, that is until when they no longer show a symptom of the disease.

If we look at it further, the purpose of the Law may seem to be quite harsh on the people, although indeed we can see how it is useful and beneficial for the society as a whole, as if not for this law and regulation, then more people might be affected and more lives might be lost, and thus the whole society itself might be affected. It is therefore there for a practical reason.

However, it over time led to the persecution and total rejection of these people afflicted with the disease, that even after they have been healed, the stigma would remain. In essence, this is no different from when in other societies, those who suffer from infectious diseases, some of them sexually transmitted, became a stigma in the society, and this stigma remains with them even if they are to be cured. They are ostracised and cast out of the society.

Thus, what Jesus today wanted to tell us is that all of the children of God are beloved by the Lord, as St. Paul mentioned, that everyone are the descendants of Abraham, and just as God had made the covenant with the faithful Abraham and his descendants, we too will enjoy the fruits of that covenant as long as we remain faithful to the Lord. And therefore, we should not be judgmental or be proud of our own achievements and goodness over others’ apparent lack or disabilities.

Lepers were highly looked down upon by the Jews of Jesus’ time, and the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in particular had very low opinion on them. They were not welcome at the Temples and people fled in fear when a leper came towards them or even when a leper was merely in the vicinity. But Jesus did things differently, and He did not mind at all to be approached by the ten lepers, who openly asked the Lord for mercy and healing, and that He granted them, making them whole once again.

He blessed them and made them whole, for indeed He had authority over all things, even all diseases and afflictions of the body and soul. But what is interesting is what came next after Jesus told them to go and present themselves to the priests. They were not immediately made clean and whole by Jesus, but they were made clean as they proceeded to the priests. Yet, as they realised their wholeness and healing, only one out of the ten turned back and give thanks to the Lord, to Jesus, who is Lord and God.

How many times is it in our lives that we are given goodness and blessings by the Lord, and we did not give Him thanks? And instead we spite Him and became angry at Him whenever we did not get what we wanted. We always demanded the Lord to listen to our pleas, and even to our desires and wants, and yet we never stopped to listen and to give thanks to Him whenever He did something good to us.

In this, the ten lepers were different, in that only one of them were truly made clean and whole by Jesus our Lord, that is the Samaritan. The Samaritan recognised what God had done for him, and consequently, returned to give thanks first in joy to the Lord, and rejoice together with Him, while the other nine lepers went happily on their way, thinking that they have been made clean.

The other nine lepers represented many of us in this world, who are still often plagued not by the leprosy of the body and the skin, but by the leprosy of the soul, that is sin! And indeed, mankind are truly vulnerable to this leprosy of the soul, which is equally if not more contagious than the physical leprosy. Desire, greed, pride, arrogance, anger, wroth and other negative emotions and things in life are only some of the aspects of this leprosy.

Thus the nine other lepers did not return to give thanks, because in the leprotic state of their hearts and souls, their pride and selfishness grew strong, and therefore they were loath to lower themselves to give thanks to God for their healing. Instead, they gave in to their joy and pleasure, and forgot about God, just as many of us often did. We often became so engrossed in our joy and in the pleasures of the world, so as to forget the love of God, who so generously gave us everything we need.

And lastly, why the Samaritans are always portrayed on the good side? If we remember last Sunday’s readings on the Good Samaritan helping the man attacked by bandits on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho, while the priest and the Levite walked pass him by, and then link it to today’s readings on the grateful Samaritan, then we can see indeed, that Jesus wanted to make an example to others.

As we all should know, the nation of the Samaritans, known as the region of Samaria, was once the heart of the northern kingdom of Israel. It was where the ten tribes of Israel, the lost ones of the Lord were plucked out of their homes and cast into exile by the King of the Assyrians, who destroyed the northern kingdom seven centuries before the birth of Christ.

In their place, many nations conquered by the Assyrians were resettled on the area, together with some leftovers of the ten lost tribes of Israel. They intermingled and eventually became known as the Samaritans, based on where they resided in, in the land of Samaria. The Jews were the descendants of the exiles of the kingdom of Judah, the southern kingdom, who were jealously and proudly proud of their orthodoxy and in their vigilance in maintaining the faith of their fathers.

As such, they despised heavily the Samaritans to the point that no one ought to talk to them, and they were considered as pagans, barbarians and lesser than humans, to the point that they were seemingly condemned to oblivion and damnation, while the Jews thought of themselves as the chosen race of God and thus the only ones worthy of salvation. What Jesus did and what the example of the Samaritan served to break all that prejudice and false ideas.

As St. Paul put it clearly, that transgressions and sin had caused our separation from the Lord and His love, and it is this love that made God to send no one else other than Jesus, His own Son to be the Saviour of all mankind, to make whole again an entire people tainted by sin. It was stressed that salvation comes through the Mediator, who is Jesus Christ our Lord, who through His sacrifice on the cross had made us worthy, but only to those who believe in Him.

And the Samaritan believed, and he returned to give thanks, acknowledging what God had done for him, and in that he was saved. The others did not believe what God had done to them through Jesus, and as many others, including many of us whose actions do not represent our status as the children and servants of God, and therefore we are in danger of being cast out of salvation which God reserved only for those who truly believed and those who truly loved the Lord with the fullness of their heart and soul.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we gather together and celebrate with the Lord His sacrifice on the cross, let us all examine our own actions and deeds in this life. We have to ask ourselves, on whether we have lived according to the way the Lord had pointed to us, or whether we acted more like the nine other lepers who gave in to their carnal desires and to the temptations of the world? Shall we not rather do our best to resist the corruption of this leprosy of the soul that is sin?

Remember brethren, that this world is full of challenges, and although our divine inheritance is waiting for us, the covenant which God had established with us through Jesus, but we cannot be complacent. We must be ever vigilant, that our faith should remain strong and that we remain closely guarded against all the lies and temptations of the evil one, that we may not fall into damnation. Remember the Lord always in all things, giving Him thanks when it is due, for all the goodness He had showered us with.

May Almighty God clean us and make us whole once again, casting out the leprosy of our soul, that is sin which tainted our heart and mind, so that our body and soul cleansed, we may together rejoice in the Lord and be accepted with fullness of gladness and joy at the end of our road, when the Lord welcomes us back into His loving embrace, to enjoy the inheritance He had promised us through Jesus. Let us all do our best to live righteously and courageously, and to proactively protect ourselves and avoid committing any forms of sin that mag corrupt our soul. May God bless us forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue what we had heard from the previous day’s theme on the sins and corruptions of the Pharisees and the elders of the people of Israel. The seven woes of the Pharisees as they are known, are highlighted in today’s Gospel, with Jesus continuing to rebuke these vile and corrupt leaders who brought their people into destruction.

It was greatly stressed, the importance of walking and doing the faith, and not just merely concerned about the externalities and the formalities of the Law, but also the teachings and the ways of the Lord must be lived within the soul, heart and mind, so that in all things, we may truly be representing the Lord to all those who see us, who hear us and who witness our actions and deeds in all things.

Indeed, the fundamentals of the Law of God are justice, mercy and faith as Jesus had said. The Pharisees, the scribes and the teachers of the Law are too preoccupied on the external applications and details of the Law so as to forget the true meaning and purpose of those laws in the first place. Rather than trusting in God and His truth revealed in Jesus, they persecuted the faithful and rejected He who came to save His people, preferring to trust in men, in their own power and wisdom than in the wisdom and truth of the Lord.

Why justice? Because the Law of God is indeed just, and it was not crafted to torture or make the lives of men difficult. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law continued on the expansions and the increasingly difficult application of the Law of God as revealed through Moses. In the Torah, the first Book of our Bible, also known as the Pentateuch, scattered through the Book of the Exodus, Leviticus, Number and Deuteronomy, are the laws of God given to Moses.

However, over the centuries and over time, the interpretation of these laws had become very rigid and extremely punitive in nature. The Lord Himself did not intend for these to be punitive and harmful in nature, but instead these were meant to lead the people of God to have a good discipline in life, particularly in the matter of their faith, so that they would always stick to the right paths in life. We know from our reading of those same Books, how unfaithful and difficult the people of Israel could be, both during their forty years journey and when they were already dwelling in the Promised Land.

But this should not become the kind of interpretation which the Pharisees had done to the laws, which ended up as a kind of leash and prison to the faithful who were forced to endure the numerous observations which apparently numbered as many as six hundred and thirteen laws, rules and regulations. Many of these observations ended up in the Pharisees abusing their authority and oppressing the people, losing the true meaning and intention of the Law.

And then, the Law is also about mercy. The Pharisees were so utterly convinced in their actions and deeds, that they believed that they were alone the most righteous and greatest among the people of God, as the only ones on whom the Lord cast His favour on. They believed that because they did as they had done, they were allowed to do what they thought was right on others, to the point of abusing others and casting judgments on others.

Remember what they did when the faced the man who was born blind and then was cured by Jesus? The Pharisees and elders of Israel tried to discredit the good works and miracles of Jesus, and when they failed to do so, they cursed and blamed the man who was born blind and healed, and they called him cursed and sinner, since the day he was born, a truly preposterous and horrible action indeed, one that is unworthy of these supposedly pious servants of God.

The Pharisees also condemned the woman who committed adultery, arguing that because she committed sin she deserved to die according to the Law. However, Jesus thought otherwise, and He highlighted the important of forgiveness and mercy, as the way for salvation. The Law was truly intended to guide mankind back to the Lord, so that the Lord might exercise His mercy, rather than punishing them.

And lastly, the Law is also about faith. This is not superficial and superfluous faith of the Pharisees who were concerned mostly with their own faith and their own piety, for the praise of the people rather than to help one another into salvation through faith. The Law must be obeyed with understanding and true sincerity and desire, or otherwise, it will do no good to us at all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect together on this, let us all together help one another to grow in our faith and devotion to the Lord, and also in our love towards our fellow men, which also means love among ourselves. Let us not be discouraged or be distracted by the devil and his tricks and lies. Rather, let us all continue to believe in God and seek to understand further the power of His love. God bless us all and may we continue to obey His love with full understanding. Amen.

Monday, 23 June 2014 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 59 : 3, 4-5, 12-13

O God, You have rejected us and have broken our defenses; You have been angry, but now turn back to us.

You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its cracks for it totters. You have made Your people suffer; You have given us wine that makes us stagger.

Have You not rejected us, o God? You no longer go with our armies. Give us aid against the foe, for human help is not worth a straw.

Friday, 18 April 2014 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, Easter Triduum (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 30 : 2 and 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17 and 25

In You, o Lord, I take refuge, may I never be disgraced; deliver Me in Your justice. Into Your hands I commend My Spirit; You have redeemed Me, o Lord, faithful God.

I have become an object of reproach for My foes, a horror for My neighbours, a fear to My friends. Those who see Me in the streets flee from Me. I am like the dead, unremembered; I have become like a broken pot, thrown away, discarded.

But I put My trust in You, o Lord, I said : “You are My God;” My days are in Your hand. Deliver Me from the hand of My enemies, from those after My skin.

Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save Me in Your love. Be strong and take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.