Wednesday, 9 July 2014 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 104 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds. Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always. Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

Sunday, 25 May 2014 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 65 : 1-3a, 4-5, 6-7a, 16 and 20

Shout with joy to God, all you on earth; sing to the glory of His Name; proclaim His glorious praise. Say to God, “How great are your deeds!”

All the earth bows down to You, making music in praise of You, singing in honour of Your Name. Come and see God’s wonders, His deeds awesome for humans.

He has turned the sea into dry land, and the river was crossed on foot. Let us, therefore, rejoice in Him. He rules by His might forever.

All you who fear God, come and listen; let me tell you what He has done. May God be blessed! He has not rejected my prayer; nor withheld His love from me.

Friday, 9 May 2014 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 9 : 1-20

Meanwhile Saul considered nothing but violence and death for the disciples of the Lord. He went to the High Priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues of Damascus that would authorise him to arrest and bring to Jerusalem anyone he might find, man or woman, belonging to the Way.

As he travelled along and was approaching Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute Me?” And he asked, “Who are You, Lord?”

The voice replied, “I am Jesus whom you persecute. Now get up and go into the city; there you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were travelling with him stood there speechless : they had heard the sound, but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground and, opening his eyes, he could not see.

They took him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. He was blind and he did not eat or drink for three days. There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, to whom the Lord called in a vision, “Ananias!” He answered, “Here I am, Lord!”

Then the Lord said to him, “Go at once to Straight Street and ask, at the house of Judas, for a man of Tarsus named Saul. You will find him praying, for he has just seen in a vision that a man named Ananias has come in and placed his hands upon him, to restore his sight.”

Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man and all the harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem, and now he is here with authority from the High Priest to arrest all who call upon Your Name.”

But the Lord said to him, “Go! This man is My chosen instrument to bring My Name to the pagan nations and their kings, and the people of Israel as well. I Myself will show him how much He will have to suffer for My Name.”

So Ananias left and went to the house. He laid his hands upon Saul and said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you so that you may receive your sight and be filled with Holy Spirit.”

Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see; he got up and was baptised. Then he took food and was strengthened. For several days Saul stayed with the disciples at Damascus, and he soon began to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God.

Monday, 5 May 2014 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 6 : 8-15

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Some persons then came forward, who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia. They argued with Stephen but they could not match the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.

As they were unable to face the truth, they bribed some men to say, “We heard him speak against Moses and against God.” So they stirred up the people, the elders and the teachers of the Law; they took him by surprise, seized him and brought him before the Council.

Then they produced false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against our Holy Place and the Law. We even heard him say that Jesus the Nazarean will destroy our Holy Place and change the customs which Moses handed down to us.”

And all who sat in the Council fixed their eyes on him, and his face appeared to them like the face of an angel.

Saturday, 19 April 2014 : Easter Vigil of the Lord’s Resurrection, Easter Triduum (Third Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 14 : 15 – Exodus 15 : 1

YHVH said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. You will raise your staff and stretch your hand over the sea and divide it to let the Israelites go dryfoot through the sea. I will so harden the minds of the Egyptians that they will follow you. And I will have glory at the expense of Pharaoh, his army, his chariots and horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am YHVH when I gain glory for Myself at the cost of Pharaoh and his army!”

The Angel of God who had gone ahead of the Israelites now placed himself behind them. The pillar of cloud changed its position from the front to the rear, between the camps of the Israelites and the Egyptians. For one army the cloud provided light, for the other darkness so that throughout the night the armies drew no closer to each other.

Moses stretched his hand over the sea and YHVH made a strong east wind blow all night and dry up the sea. The waters divided and the sons of Israel went on dry ground through the middle of the sea, with the waters forming a wall to their right and to their left. The Egyptians followed them and all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and horsemen moved forward in the middle of the sea.

It happened that in the morning watch, YHVH in the pillar of cloud and fire, looked towards the Egyptian camp and threw it into confusion. He so clogged their chariot wheels that they could hardly move. Then the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites for YHVH is fighting for them against Egypt.”

Then YHVH said to Moses, “Stretch your hand over the sea and let the waters come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. At daybreak the sea returned to its place. As the Egyptians tried to flee, YHVH swept them into the sea.

The waters flowed back and engulfed the chariots and horsemen of the whole army of Pharaoh that had followed Israel into the sea. Not one of them escaped. As for the Israelites they went forward on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the waters forming a wall on their right and their left.

On that day YHVH delivered Israel from the power of the Egyptians and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore. They understood what wonders YHVH had done for them against Egypt, and the people feared YHVH. They believed in YHVH and in Moses, His servant.

Then Moses and the people sang this song to YHVH : “I will sing to YHVH, the Glorious One, horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.”

Thursday, 10 April 2014 : 5th Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 104 : 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always. Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

Monday, 7 April 2014 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John Baptist de la Salle, Priest (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s scripture readings very clearly highlight the truth, how in our lives in this world, we often forsake the Lord and His ways for the temporary pleasures of the flesh and of the world. We let our emotions and sin to cloud our judgments and to affect our actions and deeds. In that way we preferred the ways of Satan and his rebelliousness rather than the truth and love that is in God.

In today’s first reading, we see how the two most respected people among the entirety of the people of God, the two appointed elders of the people of God, were actually the ones who brought sin and destruction upon the people, by judging as guilty an innocent woman, all because so that they could hide the sin that they had planned to commit with her. If the Spirit of God had not acted through Daniel, the young prophet, an innocent life would have been lost.

And in today’s Gospel reading, we heard the well-known story how Jesus dealt with the woman caught in adulterous behaviour, how He did not condemn her for her sins, and in fact called upon the people who wanted her dead, to reflect upon their own sinfulness and not to be judgmental, for they themselves were subjects to the same judgment of God for they all have sinned.

Today we are all called to holiness and new life, that is a life filled with the love of God, and blessed by God’s presence, that we no longer indulge ourselves in our sinful ways and manners of life, and instead commit ourselves to do the will of God and immerse ourselves in the way of the Lord, as Jesus had told the sinful woman, ‘Do not sin anymore.’

The key to salvation is for us all to be able to recognise first that we are sinners, and we are all faulty at one point in our lives, and we are imperfect, and therefore, flawed as we are, we are bound to commit sin and other acts displeasing to God. But it is also equally important that we realise how loving our God is towards us all, the most beloved ones of His creations.

It is indeed true that God hates sin, and He hates all forms of darkness and evils, that were born out of disobedience to His will. Nevertheless, He loves us even more than the hatred He has for our sins. But this love will not manifest itself if we keep ourselves locked and separated from His love, if we refuse to acknowledge that we are sinners, and that we need to repent. Only through the understanding of one’s sinfulness and accepting that we need God’s mercy that we can get closer to God and towards salvation in Him.

Sin keeps us away from the goodness of God and it even deviates us in our path, that we veer off the path towards God and instead we walk on towards doom and destruction. That was what happened to the two elders who tried to commit sin with Susanna, the faithful woman, and ended up sinning even greater by committing themselves ever deeper into their sinfulness.

They sin because they keep themselves in their sinfulness, and instead of acknowledging that they were sinners and committing themselves to repentance and new life, they became fearful and selfish, and they committed even greater sins in the process, condemning the innocent to death, while seeking freedom for themselves who had sinned, at the price of the blood of the innocent.

The same the Pharisees and the chief priests had done to the Holy and Innocent One of God, none other than Jesus, who was condemned to the death because of their jealousy and insecurity. They themselves said that it would be better for one man, that is Jesus, to die rather than the whole nation. In reality, they are concerned not for the nation, but only for themselves, for the wealth and the position that they had enjoyed as the leaders of the people, corrupted by their own power.

This is what we should not do, and we should not be like them. We should not be swayed by the allures of power and we should not give in to our selfishness and pride, that we become like the Pharisees. We have to be humble and be open to the love of God as I have often mentioned. Jesus called us to be loving children of God, and He wanted us to be saved. That is why, He forgave the adulterous woman, not just because He loves us, but because He also sees the hope in us.

Yes, the Lord sees the hope in us, and He desires for us all to be reunited with Him. Even the greatest of sinners have hope of salvation, again providing that they open up themselves to accept the Lord’s infinite mercy. That is the key ingredient of salvation, that we too should be receptive to God’s mercy and love. We cannot harden our hearts and refuse to allow the Lord to enter our hearts.

God offered us His salvation, if we want to accept Him and listen to Him. And today we have a role model whose model we can follow and aspire to, as what he has done in this life is to show us, how to be like Christ and to follow Christ in His ways. Yes, that person is St. John Baptist de la Salle, the missionary priest and patron saint of Christian schools and education.

St. John Baptist de la Salle is particularly dear and known to me, because he is the patron saint of my Alma Mater, and when I was in that school, I learnt a lot about who St. John Baptist de la Salle was. He is the main patron of the Lasallian congregation, consisting of brothers and community of devoted religious called the Brothers of Christian Schools. What is the significance?

This is because St. John Baptist de la Salle dedicated himself to the poor children, the last, the lost and the least of the society. He emulated and followed what Jesus had taught us and His disciples. St. John Baptist de la Salle shows that we have to be merciful and loving to others, especially to those who lack love in them, and to those who have sinned. That was what Jesus had done to the prostitute, forgiving her from what she had done.

St. John Baptist de la Salle shows us that we need to be genuine in loving and giving of ourselves to others if we are to be truly good disciples of the Lord. We cannot be hypocrites who look highly upon ourselves and look down on others when we ourselves too are lowly sinners. Let us not be like the Pharisees who condemned others whom they deem to be unworthy of salvation.

We have to preach love and forgiveness that Jesus had taught His disciples, keeping in mind that it is important for the neglected and the lost ones, including all of us, to be able to get in touch with God and His generous offer of forgiveness. No one is beyond God’s salvation and mercy, and especially to those who are the last, the lost and the least.

Let us therefore help one another and open the path for others to also reach out to God. Let us not be prideful, hate-filled and jealous, but instead love one another genuinely and tenderly. May the Lord bless us all, for all eternity. God bless us all with His love, and that we too may love sincerely and with all of our hearts. Amen.

 

Sunday, 6 April 2014 : 5th Sunday of Lent (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we celebrate the fifth and last Sunday of Lent, we come ever closer to the holy season of Easter and to the Week when we will celebrate the most important mysteries and features of our faith, when Jesus Christ our Lord gave Himself for us and died for us. And today that is why if we notice the readings, they all drew the same conclusion, that deliverance is upon us, and God has prepared deliverance for all of us without exception.

Yes, we are all God’s beloved children and people, and therefore it is just natural that God would intend good things for us. He did not intend us any harm or let destruction be our fate, because He created us in His love, and He wanted only good things and blessings for us. It was we ourselves, mankind, who cursed ourselves and turned our back on the love of God, that we were headed into doom and eternal destruction.

Yet, we are truly special in the sight of the Lord, for unlike Satan and his fellow fallen angels who rebelled against God, we were all given a second chance of eternal life and salvation, because God loved us so much, so much so that He gave us that love in the form of Himself, in Jesus His Son, the Word made flesh and born into this world through the Virgin that He might save us all.

That is why Jesus our Lord is the hope for all lives, for all of us in this world, past, present and the future. That is because through Him, mankind were given hope once again, a light which pierced through the darkness of our souls and the darkness of the world around us. He breathed new life into us, and through His teachings, He showed us how to love God and be in His eternal grace.

Today we heard the very well-known story on the Resurrection of Lazarus, who was brought back into life by Jesus after he had died of an illness for a few days. Through this wondrous miracle, we were shown that Jesus is Lord and He is all powerful, being God, having absolute and complete power over life and death. And as He is the Master of life, life is His to bestow, and on Lazarus, man among whom He loved, He gave that life so that all who saw it may also believe in Him and therefore themselves gained life for themselves.

Yet it is also important that today we make a clear distinction so that we will not be confused later on. Lazarus was resurrected and was returned to life, but not by His own power or will, but by the grace and power of God through Jesus. The same also happened during the time of the prophet Elijah, who returned the life to the son of a suffering widow whom he was staying with.

Jesus, on the other hand, who is God and who was with God as His Word, rose from the dead by the power of His own will and might, as the Lord over life and death. That was the key difference between Christ and Lazarus in their respective resurrections. And this is also to show that Christ is the Saviour, the new hope for all mankind, that all who believe in Him and in the Father who sent Him, He will raise up to new life like that of Lazarus, and even more.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have often forgotten about Christ in our own busy schedule in life, and in all our occupations and works, that we have turned away from the Lord and in the life and salvation that He offered us all. That is why, we have to constantly remind ourselves of the fact of our frailty and weakness, that we are predisposed to sin and vulnerable to committing trespasses to God.

It is why this Lent is the perfect time and opportunity for all of us to repent and commit ourselves to change our ways. This Lenten season is the time for renewal and rejuvenation of our souls, in which we can reorientate ourselves that we may forsake what is evil and harmful for our salvation and seek the love and mercy of God.

We should not waste this perfect opportunity, and make best use of it, so that we will be able to reach out for the Lord and His salvation, and we should humbly ask the Lord for His mercy and forgiveness rather than hardening our hearts as what the people of God had once done, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. God is rich with His mercy and love and He will not forsake us, providing that we ourselves are open to accepting His love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus is the life, and the bringer of the new life in salvation that He freely offers us all. We should all take the time from now on to make concrete our love and devotion for the Lord, that we may commit to changing our ways for the better and dedicate ourselves to God without reservations. We should be like the two sisters Mary and Martha, who loved the Lord, who had faith in Him and believed in Him.

Let us all now resolve to seek God and to have Him always in our heart, committing ourselves to total change of self, abandoning all things that are evil in the sight of God, washing ourselves clean from these taints, and commit to doing good from now on. May the Lord our God and Father, see always the good that is in us, and our desire to be reunited with Him, and thus forgive us our trespasses and welcome us back into the grace and blessings He had prepared for all of us. God bless us all. Amen.

 

Sunday, 6 April 2014 : 5th Sunday of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Ezekiel 37 : 12-14

So prophesy! Say to them : This is what YHVH says : I am going to open your tombs, I shall bring you out of your tombs, My people, and lead you back to the land of Israel.

You will know that I am YHVH, o My people! When I open your graves and bring you out of your graves, when I put My Spirit in you and you live. I shall settle you in your land and you will know that I, YHVH, have done what I said I would do.”

 

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.