Wednesday, 16 December 2020 : 3rd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 7 : 19-23

At that time, John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to the Lord with this message, “Are You the One we are expecting, or should we wait for another?” These men came to Jesus and said, “John the Baptist sent us to ask You : Are You the One we are to expect, or should we wait for another?”

At that time Jesus healed many people of their sickness and diseases; He freed them from evil spirits and He gave sight to the blind. Then He answered the messengers, “Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard : the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the poor are given Good News.”

“Now, listen : Fortunate are those who meet Me, and are not offended by Me.”

Monday, 16 December 2019 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Numbers 24 : 2-7, 15-17a

Balaam looked up and saw Israel camping, tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him and he uttered this song : “Word of Balaam, son of Beor, the seer, the one who hears the words of God, and beholds the vision of the Almighty, in ecstasy, with eyes unveiled.”

“How goodly are your tents, Jacob, your encampments, Israel! Like valleys stretching far, like gardens beside a stream, like aloes planted by YHVH, like cedars beside the waters. His buckets are overflowing and His seeds are always watered. His king becomes stronger than Agag, and His kingdom grows.

Then Balaam pronounced his oracle : “Word of Balaam, son of Beor, the seer, the one who hears the words of God, who has the knowledge from the Most High, and sees the vision of the Almighty, in ecstasy, with eyes unveiled. I see a Figure, but not really. I behold Him but not near. A Star shall come forth from Jacob, He rises with a staff in His hand.”

Saturday, 30 November 2019 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 10 : 9-18

You are saved, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and, in your heart, you believe that God raised Him from the dead. By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips, you are saved.

For Scripture says : No one who believes in Him will be ashamed. Here, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; all have the same Lord, Who is very generous with whoever calls on Him. Truly, all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.

But how can they call upon the Name of the Lord without having believed in Him? And how can they believe in Him, without having first heard about Him? And how will they hear about Him, if no one preaches about Him? And how will they preach about Him, if no one sends them?

As Scripture says : How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of Good News. Although, not everyone obeyed the Good News, as Isaiah said : Lord, who has believed in our preaching? So, faith comes from preaching, and preaching is rooted in the word of Christ.

I ask : Have the Jews not heard? But, of course, they have. Because the voice of those preaching resounded all over the earth, and their voice was heard, to the ends of the world.

Friday, 30 November 2018 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 10 : 9-18

You are saved, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and, in your heart, you believe that God raised Him from the dead. By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips, you are saved.

For Scripture says : No one who believes in Him will be ashamed. Here, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; all have the same Lord, Who is very generous with whoever calls on Him. Truly, all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.

But how can they call upon the Name of the Lord without having believed in Him? And how can they believe in Him, without having first heard about Him? And how will they hear about Him, if no one preaches about Him? And how will they preach about Him, if no one sends them?

As Scripture says : How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of Good News. Although, not everyone obeyed the Good News, as Isaiah said : Lord, who has believed in our preaching? So, faith comes from preaching, and preaching is rooted in the word of Christ.

I ask : Have the Jews not heard? But, of course, they have. Because the voice of those preaching resounded all over the earth, and their voice was heard, to the ends of the world.

Thursday, 30 November 2017 : Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 10 : 9-18

You are saved, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and, in your heart, you believe that God raised Him from the dead. By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips, you are saved.

For Scripture says : No one who believes in Him will be ashamed. Here, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; all have the same Lord, Who is very generous with whoever calls on Him. Truly, all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.

But how can they call upon the Name of the Lord without having believed in Him? And how can they believe in Him, without having first heard about Him? And how will they hear about Him, if no one preaches about Him? And how will they preach about Him, if no one sends them?

As Scripture says : How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of Good News. Although, not everyone obeyed the Good News, as Isaiah said : Lord, who has believed in our preaching? So, faith comes from preaching, and preaching is rooted in the word of Christ.

I ask : Have the Jews not heard? But, of course, they have. Because the voice of those preaching resounded all over the earth, and their voice was heard, to the ends of the world.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Romans 10 : 9-18

You are saved if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart you believe that God raised Him from the dead. By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips you are saved.

For the Scripture says : No one who believes in Him will be ashamed. Here there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; all have the same Lord, Who is very generous with whoever calls on Him. Truly, all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.

But how can they call upon the Name of the Lord without having believed in Him? And how can they believe in Him without having first heard about Him? And how will they hear about Him if no one preaches about Him? And how will they preach about Him if no one sends them?

As Scripture says : How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of good news. Although not everyone obeyed the Good News, as Isaiah said : Lord, who has believed in our preaching? So, faith comes from preaching, and preaching is rooted in the word of Christ.

I ask : Have the Jews not heard? But of course they have. Because the voice of those preaching resounded all over the earth and their voice was heard to the ends of the world.

Monday, 10 February 2014 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White (Virgins)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God loves us all so much, and this world so much, that He wanted to be involved with us, and He wanted to enter into our lives, and indeed, He came to dwell among His people in His love. He cannot deny the love He has for us, because the love He has for all of us is pure love, the purest of all love. It is not lust or desire, but a true desire and wish for all of us to be one with Him, and for us to be freed from all the chains and fetters of sin that had separated us from Him.

That was why He sent the people prophets after prophets and messengers after messengers, to reveal both the love He has for us, and the designs He had planned for each one of us. He gave them law to obey and follow, that they may walk always faithfully in His ways, and not be corrupted by the ways of this world ruled by Satan, the father of evil and sin.

And He chose to involve Himself with His own people, first by freeing them from their slavery in Egypt, and delivering them from their oppressors into the Promised Land. Through Moses His servant He gave them the true physical manifestation, in short, a proof of His love for them. He gave them His own laws, the law of love, written by Himself on the two stones as the sign of the Covenant He had made with them, a Covenant of love, that the people of God would love their God and God would love them equally back.

Yet, the people of God did not remain always faithful, and many times they rebelled against Him and His love. They followed other gods, did things wicked in  His eyes and even killed His prophets and messengers sent to remind them of the need for them to love God as part of their Covenant with Him. But God did not give up on His love for the people.

That was why He chose to even dwell among them, to dwell in the Temple which His faithful servant David had planned for Him and his son Solomon built for Him. The Temple marked yet another physical proof of God’s love for all of His people, His beloved children, and a clear proof of His desire that He wanted all of them to be with Him and He, in them.

And as the final proof of love, He gave of Himself, through Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, the Divine made Man. Jesus was the true, perfect, and complete manifestation of God’s love surpassing even the previously mentioned examples of God’s love. After all, who would have abandoned all the glory and power of heaven and all creation, to descend upon this world and become a lowly Man?

Jesus our Lord and God emptied Himself of His divinity and assumed our humanity, that He might dwell among all of us, as one of us. Yes, indeed, God who is Love was manifested in the flesh! In the flesh and blood of Jesus our Lord indeed! Through the intermediary role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, God made clear His love to all mankind.

Jesus showed God’s infinite love for us by ministering to us, being a servant to His people, healing them from their afflictions, and empowering them with the revelations of God’s love. Jesus shared the love of God to His disciples, and from them we receive God’s love as well as the revelation on its nature. Yes, Christ showed His ultimate love for all of God’s creations by becoming the Lamb of sacrifice, hung on the cross and died for the sake of all of us.

There is no love greater than for someone to give up his life for his friend. Indeed, this was what Jesus meant, and He showed it by His own action. He died to save us, and through His glorious resurrection, He picked us up, and made us to stand up again, now on the solid foundation of faith and on the solid foundation of hope of eternal life, and on the solid foundation of love. This is the new Covenant of love that Jesus had made with all of us, sealed with the outpouring of His own Blood.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Scholastica, who was a renowned religious figure, and the twin sister of St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the order of the Benedictines. Together, the siblings founded the order, and helped many to find their way to love God and dedicate themselves to Him. St. Scholastica was known for her great piety and dedication and she often spent long hours in prayer.

The dedication and devotion that St. Scholastica had for the Lord is an example for all of us in how we should respond to the love that God had shown to us. Just as the Lord had loved us so much, then we too should respond in the same way and respond to Him with our own love. We should dedicate ourselves to the Lord following the example of this pious and holy saint.

Brethren in Christ, let us therefore pray for one another, that we all may grow in love, and grow to love our Lord more and more, that we may be able to fulfill our part of the Covenant God had established with us, that we love Him just as He had loved us. May our Lord continue to love us, watch over us, and bless us. Amen.

Thursday, 19 December 2013 : 3rd Week of Advent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the two related stories of how two great men were born, both of them the faithful and great servants of God the Most High, and each entrusted with great missions, to prepare the way for what was to come. They were prepared especially for that, and they were consecrated to God for that purpose.

They were prepared and destined for a life totally dedicated to God and His purposes, and that was why they were what is called the Nazirites, who did not give themselves to the corrupting influences of the world, and fully gave themselves to God and to His will. They were indeed Samson, one of the later judges of Israel, renowned for his strength and his exploits against the Philistines, and John the Baptist, the one who prepared the way for the coming of the Lord.

Although they lived in different era and time, and had different backgrounds and missions in general, but their missions are truly about the same things, that is about bringing the people of God back towards the Lord and to bring help and succour to the people of God living in the darkness and in the suffering of the world.

Samson used his strength and power given from God to fight against the Philistines who were oppressing the people of God at that time. And just as he wrestled lions and bears, he also wrestled against these pagans who oppressed God’s people. And even though he would later fall into temptation in the woman Delilah, eventually he repented, and with the last of his power, he made a building to crash down on the Philistines just as they were making fun of him, killing even more of them in death than when he still lived.

St. John the Baptist, who baptised many people in the Jordan was both the messenger of God’s Good News, proclaiming to the people of the imminent and impending arrival of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and who brought many people to repentance through his repeated and ceaseless calls to the people to seek God’s forgiveness for their sins. He persevered even despite rejection and ridicule by the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

The examples given in the birth, life, and experiences of these two men of God highlighted to us of the nature of our faith itself. God is with us, and He loves us. He continued to repeat this over and over again to us, sending prophets after prophets and messengers after messengers to show His love for us. In Samson, He made His power manifest and liberate His people from persecution, oppression, and suffering.

In John the Baptist, God made clear His care and love for us, seeking our redemption, through our repentance, that we abandon our sinfulness and our sin-tainted past, and leading a new life dedicated solely to the Lord, just as these two men of God had been dedicated to the Lord. He did not want us to perish because of our sinfulness and our tainted selves, and that was why He sent John to us, to lead the way for Christ.

We all know of this love our Lord has for all of us and we should not spurn it as many of our ancestors had done in the past. They rejected the people He had sent to them, ridiculed them, persecuted them, and even spilled their blood. Should we do the same then, brethren in Christ?

No, we should indeed change our ways, repent and promise that we will turn our back on sin, and from now on follow a way of life acceptable and worthy of the Lord our God. We ought to heed what St. John the Baptist had called the people of his time to do, to repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord. Be liberated and be free from the power of sin, just as Samson broke free the bonds of Israel from their Philistine masters.

And ultimately, we too, brothers and sisters in Christ, who belong to the Church of God, have the same responsibility as these saints and holy men of God, to be the extension of God’s will, hands, and power in this world. We ought to go out and proclaim the Good News to others, and help bring God’s people back towards Him. It is through our mouths and through our hands, that we will bring great glory to God and to His people.

Therefore, today, let us renew our faith and our commitment towards the Lord. May the Lord who empowered John the Baptist and Samson, also empower us to do the same as what they had done, and bring the Lord and the Good News of His salvation closer and closer to many, especially to those who are lost. Amen.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 : 3rd Week of Advent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the day is coming indeed, when the Lord will come again to be with His people, at which time, He will gather all those who remained faithful to Him and to His ways and His laws, rewarding them with the promises He had shown to them.

This coming Christmas, which celebration we are preparing for in this Advent season, celebrates indeed the already past coming of Christ, promised to the people of God through the prophets, which had happened in the birth of Jesus Christ the Messiah, as the Son of the virgin, given with power and authority as the Word of God made flesh. This was the first coming of the Lord, and one which we are most familiar with, but there is yet another dimension for Christmas.

This other dimension, is the awaiting of the promised Second Coming, when Christ will come again to be with His people. Remember that Christ is also called Emmanuel, which means that God is with us. God is indeed always with us, even though He may not be visible physically to us, and many of us indeed question if He even exists at all!

God loves us, brethren, very, very much. He does not abandon His people when they were in need, and He sent them many help along the way, in the form of the prophets, messengers, and many other forms unknown to us. It is mankind who often spurned His love and rejected His help, and yet we complained because we thought that God did not care for us.

And He showed that by making Himself as one of us, He who is divine, almighty, omnipotent and all powerful beyond measure, would lower Himself to be a lowly and weak human like us. That was the proof of our Lord’s love and dedication for all of us. And by doing that, He truly made complete His own promises, that He will be with us, as God who is not distant and uncaring on the conditions and plights of His people. Instead, He became one of us, like one of us, with all of our human weaknesses, emotions, and others, save for sin.

And as mentioned, Jesus came into this world not just for leisure or for holiday, or to enjoy His time with us all. Yes, indeed, He did enjoy the time He had while He was in this world. He was happy, surrounded by all His beloved ones, and even though He faced stiff oppositions from those who hated Him, He continued to seek for their redemption and return to the path towards salvation.

He came so that He can lead us all to be free from sin, our slavery by sins and evil! Yes, just as the people of Israel, the first to be chosen by God, had been liberated from their slavery in Egypt, the Lord too would liberate every men and women from their slavery by sin, ever since sin first entered into the hearts of mankind.

And while He sent Moses to be His tool for the deliverance of Israel, to be His tool and to represent His hand in delivering salvation and freedom to the people of God, He spared no expense in liberating us all, for ever, from the slavery under sin. He gave mankind hope in the words He had revealed to the messengers and prophets He had risen for mankind through the ages. And those words, promises and prophecies were fulfilled perfectly when Jesus came into this world, and when He fulfilled the long drawn plan of salvation.

Jesus is the Lord Himself who came to be our deliverer, to be the shepherd to lead us all out of the darkness of sin into the light of God, just as Moses led the people through the desert. And that is what we are going to celebrate about in Christmas, and what we are rejoicing for. We do not rejoice for the physical gifts, gadgets, and all the good things that we receive from each other during gift exchange at Christmas. We rejoice because of Jesus, who came unto us born as a humble man, which we celebrate as Christmas.

Sadly, just as the people of Israel grumbled and protested against the Lord because of the difficulties they faced along the way, we too often grumble and rebel whenever things do not go our way. We often prefer to choose the easy way out, and disobey God and His will. The people of Israel indulged themselves in the worship of the pagan gods, the golden calf and the gods of the people around them, enjoying the corrupted fruits of the world. So we too often enjoy the corrupted fruits of this world.

As we approach Christmas, brethren, we ought to take some time and reflect. Have we all made our Christmas truly centred on Christ? Have we all made Christ to be the One we celebrate with joy this Christmas? And not just this Christmas but from now on henceforth? It is not an easy path that we will have to take and endure, but if we make the effort, we will be well rewarded.

Let us all make the commitment to seek the Lord Jesus, who came to save us all and liberate us from the slavery under the power of sin. Let us all come and seek Him and follow Him, on the way towards salvation in Him, and let us always be faithful and remain loving towards our God and our Saviour. May the Lord continue to strengthen us, bless us, and watch over us as we walk through this life in this world. God be with us all. Amen.

Saturday, 14 December 2013 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Priests)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard how Elijah, the great prophet of old, came once again into this world, in the form of John the Baptist, the messenger of God and the one who prepared the way for the coming of God. Indeed according to the Scriptures, both of them are likely to be one and the same.

While John the Baptist was not mentioned much in the Holy Scripture, and the details about his life and works are relatively scarce, gathering from what we have in the Holy Gospels, the story about the prophet Elijah, one of the greatest of the prophets, are plentiful. We can read many of his works in the Book of Kings in the Old Testament.

There are many parallels that we can find, between the prophet Elijah and John the Baptist, the last of God’s messengers before the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Elijah was sent to the people of Israel, when the people of God went through times of struggle, of an identity crisis, the crisis of their soul. The people of God had not been faithful to the Lord of their fathers, and they had turned away from His ways.

The people of the northern kingdom of Israel, whom Elijah was sent to, was under a rule of wickedness, under the king Ahab, whom many of you would know as one of the most wicked and unfaithful king of Israel. The people who remained faithful to the Lord suffered and even had to lose their lives. One of them was Nabot, whom the king murdered through false testimonies, and he was killed so that the king could have his land, fertile and rich.

Elijah lived through difficult times, where those who believe in God were persecuted. It was therefore even more difficult for one like the prophet and messenger of the Lord’s will. Elijah was persecuted and had to go from one exile to another, fleeing at times from the persecutioners and the forces of the king. Elijah yet persevered and with the power and guidance of God, he continued to work, calling the people to repent from their sinful ways and returned to the worship of the One, True God.

Elijah challenged the four hundred and fifty priests of Baal on Mount Carmel, and won against them, showing the people of God who is the One and only True God. He did many other works of wonders across the land, and even went to the land of the pagans, and found truly great faith there. He brought back to life the son of the widow, and feed them with oil when the land was in famine.

Elijah ended his works in this world and found in Elisha, a successor to his works. It was unique that he among the others, did not die, but was taken up on flaming chariots into heaven. Such was a spectacular and dramatic end for this great prophet of God. But no, that was not the end. Elijah was taken up into heaven to be at God’s side so that the Lord can entrust him to do an even greater work.

Yes, that is to be the one to prepare the way for the Lord, who would come as the Saviour of all, the long promised Messiah. As John the Baptist, what he did, were truly not different from what he had done as Elijah. He proclaimed to the people the need for repentance, and to change their ways, so as to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Himself.

And just as Elijah had to suffer rejection and persecution, John the Baptist too faced mockery and rejection from the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who were too self-righteous to listen to the calling of John to repent and change their sinful ways. John the Baptist led the way for Christ, the Messiah, who came in Jesus, the One who finally came to liberate the people of God from sin. And finally both great servants did not hesitate to rebuke even worldly authorities, when they were faced with wickedness. Elijah rebuked king Ahab for his actions in causing the death of Nabot

And those who persecuted Elijah and John the Baptist, as opposed as they were against the Lord and His ways, would also be against the Lord, as was evident, when they opposed the Lord Jesus and all of His works during His earthly ministry. And if they persecuted Elijah, seeking to end his life, and which they succeeded in John, when through Herodias’ daughter, they ended the life of the servant of God. The Lord too, was rejected, reviled, mocked, and finally condemned to death, a death most shameful on the cross.

Yet, did the Lord give up on us? Did He turn away from us even after we have rejected so many of His prophets, and even murdered them? Did He give up the cross so that He no longer needed to suffer for the sake of our rebellious and sinful selves? No, He did not! And that is most important, for the actions of the two great servants of God, Elijah and John the Baptist, were ultimately designed after the examples of God Himself, who in His great love for us, was willing to lower Himself and die as slaves did, so that we can be liberated from our own slavery to sin.

And today, we celebrate a saint whose life has been dedicated to the Lord in much the same way. St. John of the Cross was born in Spain in the sixteenth century and joined the Carmelite order, and went on to be a famous preacher and teacher of the faith to many across Spain. And St. John of the Cross was known for his many works together with St. Teresa of Jesus, also known as St. Teresa of Avila, and both of them were declared Doctors of the Church for their numerous contributions.

St. John of the Cross took part in what was known to be the Reform of Avila, commenced by St. Teresa of Jesus herself, aimed at restoring the purity within the Carmelite order, restoring the venerable and holy traditions designed to keep disciplined and holy, dedicated lifestyle in those who had dedicated themselves to the service of the Lord.

And this was just one of the many contributions that St. John of the Cross had given to the Church. He has written many writings and books that helped greatly in the rediscovery of the purity of the faith among many people during the Counter-Reformation period. And just as many other holy people before him, as were Elijah and John the Baptist, he faced opposition, and even persecution and imprisonment.

There were many who were disgruntled and vehemently against the reforms initiated by both St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, and yet, regardless of all these, St. John of the Cross continued his hard work and did not give up despite the difficulties. He continued to labour for the Lord’s sake until his death.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is easy and often even inevitable for us to act like those who persecuted and condemned these holy people and messengers of God’s will, because simply they speak in a way that truly pierced us to the very depths of our souls.

We have grown decadent and complacent, and we have grown accustomed to the ways of this world. We find comfort in the ways of the world, no matter how wicked they actually are. We prefer to keep to our wicked ways rather than listening to the words of God that these holy people and messengers have brought with them.

That is why we persecuted these people appointed by God to be our help and our guide. Instead of persecuting them, should we not then begin to take this opportunity to reflect on what we had done? Should we not use this chance to begin our path towards salvation by taking even small steps but steps that are certain. We can no longer be ignorant of the faith we have in God. We have to embrace that faith and listen to what the saints and the holy people of God had done and preached, and suffered for in God’s Name.

May the Lord with the help of His saints, and through their intercession, help us to keep on track, on the path towards the Lord, that we will remain faithful, and will be blessed by the faith we have, that on the last day, the Lord will reward us together with His saints. Amen.