Saturday, 4 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 10 : 17-24

The seventy-two disciples returned full of joy. They said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we called on Your Name.”

Then Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. You see, I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the Enemy, so that nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the evil spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.”

At that time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will. I have been given all things by My Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

Then Jesus turned to His disciples and said to them privately, “Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see, but did not see it; and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Saturday, 3 May 2014 : Feast of Sts. Philip and James, Apostles (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. James and St. Philip, two of the Twelve Apostles of Christ, who brought the faith to faraway lands, dedicating themselves to the Lord and His mission that He had entrusted to them. Today we learn from the readings that we ought to be firm in our faith, and to proclaim the truth about the Christ, that is Jesus our Lord.

For Jesus is the Son of God, anointed with power, and through Him the salvation of all had come. Through Jesus, God worked His great miracles and brought His mercy to all peoples, bringing them closer to the embrace and eternal life He had offered freely to us. Yes, freely through Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. Jesus is the bridge that connects us to God our Father, as the only way through which we can return to the Father who loves us and wishes nothing more for us other than that we all may be saved.

Brethren, we have to preach Christ our Lord and the Good News He bore to all the nations, beginning from those who are around us. How do we do so? Remember what Christ told us in the Gospel today, that those who believe in Him, will do even greater things than He had done, but doing similar works nonetheless, for we are the extensions of God’s good works which He began when He came into our world through Jesus.

This means that we have to carry out the teachings of our faith and practice it concretely in our communities and in our surroundings, that having our actions and deeds based closely on Christ and His teachings, we become the reflection and living manifestations of that teaching, and thus show the truth about Christ to all those who see us, and therefore they may believe in Him too, through us and our works.

Therefore, just as Jesus had reflected the will and nature of the Father, we too should reflect the nature of Jesus and be like the Father in all things, that we be worthy of Him. We have to open our hearts and minds to listen and understand the will of the Father, through Jesus and His teachings, that we may walk in His ways and hence remain in His grace.

The holy Apostles had laboured hard for the sake of the Gospel, and they encountered enormous difficulties and challenges as they went on their ministries to the people of God. They went on delivering the words of God’s salvation to all the peoples regardless of these, and they persevered despite the oppositions.

They passed on the truth that had been revealed to them by Christ Himself. From them they passed on this truth which is kept for generations as a deposit of the faith and is kept in the teachings of the Church. And this is why we must uphold with the greatest care and devotion what the Church had taught us and kept the faith we have with greatest effort. We cannot be complacent in this, just as the Apostles were not complacent in their works to evangelise the people of God.

St. James the Apostle, also known as St. James the Lesser, went on to spread the Good News in the western parts of the Roman Empire, evangelising the people where none had heard the Word of God before. He was eventually martyred in Hispania, the place known as Spain today. His most important shrine and place of remembrance is at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the well-known and famous pilgrimage site of our faith.

Meanwhile St. Philip the Apostle was known for his conversion of the attendant or official of the ruler of Ethiopia as he made his way through Judea in a carriage. This is a well-known story in the New Testament, in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, telling us how the Ethiopian official discussed the faith with Philip, and in the process, convincing him of the truth about Jesus who came as the Messiah and Saviour of the world. Philip baptised the official and from him came the seed of faith that is preserved even until today in Ethiopia.

He went on to spread the Good News to areas of Greece, the province of Roman Asia and other areas, until he too was martyred for his faith and missionary works. St. Philip even in his suffering and death managed to do good works for the people of God, converting many to the cause of the Lord. Together with St. James, both these Apostles are truly role models for all of us the faithful ones in Christ.

Yes, brethren, we are also called in this modern era to be the Apostles and disciples of Christ of our times. We should not be afraid or reluctant to proclaim the truth about the Lord just as the Apostles had done before. This world lies in darkness, and many languished in that great darkness, bereft of the opportunity to see the Lord and His light, having been barred by the darkness itself. It is often up to us, to be the ones to bring them into the light and therefore show them the path towards eternal life.

May God bless us and guide us, as we walk in this path, that we may follow the footsteps of the Apostles St. James and St. Philip, that we too may be courageous in our lives that we may do our best to bring the people of God ever closer to salvation and perfection in God. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 17 April 2014 : Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this Holy Mass we celebrate the occasion of the Chrism Mass, during which the holy oils used for baptism, confirmation, and the anointing of the sick are blessed. This oil is called chrism, and is the reason why this Mass is called Chrismal Mass.

On this occasion, priests and those who dedicated themselves to God in holy orders renew their vows and devotions to God, and united with the bishop, the shepherd, renew their commitment to the service of God and to the service of His people.

They have been called to be the holy priests of God, the ministers of the Lord Most High as the anointed and ordained ones of God. Through the laying of the hand and the anointing with the holy oils blessed today, the priests share in the same ministry as the priests of Israel of old, and also ultimately in the High Priesthood of Jesus.

Through the ministry of the priests, the ministry of Jesus in this world is continued, just as the Apostles had been charged to carry on the works of Christ and spread the Good News to all the ends of the earth. Hence, the bishops, priests and other servants of the Lord also continue this good work of the Lord.

Much had been entrusted to the servants of the Lord and much had been granted to them. The same that had been given to Christ as the Saviour and Redeemer indeed, as written in the Book of the prophet Isaiah. The authority to forgive sins and to heal the sick and their infirmities, and the authority over spirits has been given to them and they are empowered to be the shepherds of God’s peoples.

But remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we too have been anointed with oil of the chrism on the day of our baptism, and also after we have been confirmed in the faith through the Sacrament of Confirmation. Therefore, we too take part in and share in the same mission that God had appointed His disciples for, to bring renewal and the light of Christ to all mankind.

Brethren, today therefore, as we celebrate the blessing of the chrism, we have to remember that we too have our calling and our mission entrusted by God to us, that is to help guide one another and reach out to those who are lost and away from the salvation in God. This is our mission, which had been given to us since the day of our baptism, when God claimed us as His own.

We do not have to do great things in order to fulfill this mission. What we have to do is simple steps, and things that we can indeed make a difference of, in the life of those around us. Who are these if not for our own families and friends, and all those dear and known to us? Our mission is to bring them to the light of God if they have wandered off into the darkness.

Hence, in order to do that, we have to first be aware of our actions and our deeds, that in whatever we do, we will always do the will of God and remain always in His grace. May the Lord guide us and our acts, that we will be ever faithful and committed to God. Amen.

Monday, 24 March 2014 : 3rd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 4 : 24-30

Jesus added, “No prophet is honoured in His own country. Truly, I say to you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens withheld rain for three years and six months and a great famine came over the whole land.”

“Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow of Zarephath, in the country of Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha, the prophet, and no one was healed except Naaman, the Syrian.”

On hearing these words, the whole assembly became indignant. They rose up and brought Him out of the town, to the edge of the hill on which Nazareth is built, intending to throw Him down the cliff. But He passed through their midst and went His way.

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

Liturgical Colour : Green

We are light of the world and salt of the earth. That is what our Lord had made us all to be, all those who believe in Him and has been welcomed and are now part of His Body, that is His Church. We are all called to be light and salt for all the nations, and to proclaim the kingdom of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the nations, to all the peoples, especially those who live in darkness and those who have no flavour in their lives.

Yes, we are called to bring light to those who had fallen into the darkness and to bring flavour to the blandness of people’s lives in this world. Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear in the first reading, from the book of the prophet Isaiah, of the examples of the things we can do, in order to accomplish this in accordance with God’s will.

In all of us, God has given seeds of faith, hope, and love, and many gifts of various types, which we can use to help one another, and bring indeed the light and flavour to the livelihood of many. Each one of us have different set of skills and abilities, granted to us by God, awaiting for us to use them for the good of our fellow men, our fellow brothers and sisters.

Yet, many of us did not use these gifts God had given us, and let them to be dormant. There are various reasons attributed to this lack of action, but the most important and common of which include, fear of failure and embarrassment, laziness and sloth, and finally, greed and desire for self-aggrandisement and glorification. All of these prevent us from utilising fully God’s gifts for each one of us.

And when this happened, the light that is in us becomes hidden, and the salt that is in us becomes tasteless and bland, and therefore the gifts in us become dormant and useless. We fear failure and embarrassment in the eyes of men, because we are concerned of how others view us and our actions, as we practice our faith in this world. We also have our own desires and temptations, that we use our gifts instead for the benefit of others, but for our own good and our own glory, often at the expense of many others.

We are often to take the first step, and have the initiative to embark on the mission of good works as the Lord had told us to do, because we are often uncertain, what will our actions do to ourselves. We often ask ourselves first many times, whether what we are doing or going to do will impact us in a way that disadvantages us, by making us look embarrassed or less preferable by our society and our friends in any way.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this world has its set of values, many of which do not necessarily agree or correspond to the values which our Lord Jesus Christ and the Lord in the Holy Scriptures had taught us. The world therefore will not necessarily see our actions based on our faith in good light, but our Lord who sees all, will see that whatever we are doing, to be good.

If we continue to be concerned about our image or standing in the society, as well as our friendships and relationships, then it may be difficult for us to be truly the light and salt of the world. To be light of the world, we have to throw far, far away our prejudices, our fears, and our uncertainties. Instead we should put our trust in God, and believe in Him only, trusting that He will guide our way to the truth.

We should also throw far away our desire and our greed, for power, for affluence, for pleasure, and for many other things of the world. If we are to become the true light of the world and salt of the earth, then we have to be truly selfless, that our beings be transformed to be conduits of God’s love and grace, that through us, the world will see the Light of our Lord and the beauty that He brings into this world, which brings flavour to all things.

We should not be worry or fearful, but yet we too should not be showy or seeking attention in any way. We have to make use of what God has given us, in faith, hope and love, and show them through concrete actions, out of pure and unadulterated and unconditional love for our brethren, just as the prophet Isaiah had said.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us from today onwards, resolve to seek out those in need, whether they are in need of material goods, basic survival items, or even as simple as needing love. Let us be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, showing this world that there is much good in God and in following God, that all mankind may be saved in the Lord. God be with us all. Amen.

Thursday, 30 January 2014 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the key takeouts from today’s readings is that, we must not be afraid! And we must not hide the blessings and graces that God had given us, often without us knowing or acknowledging them, and that we should show to all, the faith that we have in us, rather than be fearful, or reluctant, or hiding them because we are shy or ashamed of doing so.

The Lord has given each and every one of us the gift of faith, hope, and love, and like the parable that Jesus had told His disciples and the people, they cannot be hidden in us or they would be useless and meaningless, and they will wither and die. Instead, whatever had been given to us, we should make best use of them and showcase them for all, that all who sees us and what we do in the name of the Lord, may also believe and therefore be saved.

God had blessed us all who had chosen to be with Him. For all of us who had been baptised either as babies or as adults, we have been given the privilege to become the children, the sons and daughters of God, and God has become our loving Father. This is what King David contemplated on in today’s first reading as he prayed to the Lord, thanking Him for all the blessings and graces that He had received.

Each and every one of us have been given different blessings and good things, and all our talents, our abilities, and our skills are gifts entrusted by the Lord unto us. So it is natural that first, we should be thankful and recognise the great favour that God had entrusted us with. God entrusted these gifts to us for a certain purpose, that is to make this world a better place for each one of us.

Sadly, mankind has this tendency to rejoice and forget to give thanks, and to recognise what good had been given to us. We often forget in our celebration and happiness to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. We have to remember that without God and His grace, we are actually nothing. The Lord has given us so much that we cannot possibly exist without Him. To Him we owe our life and our every breath, all that we have and all the wealth we have.

And in the wealth of all these gifts and the wonders of His blessings, lie our mission, and our duty. We are the children of the Light, because the Lord who is Light is our Father and our Creator. As the children of the Light therefore, we too should emulate the light in our actions and in our respective lives. We cannot profess as children of the Light and yet act in the same way as children of darkness.

Much is expected from us who have been given a lot, and as Jesus said, that those who are unproductive will be pruned away. Yes, much like that of a fruit tree indeed. A fruit tree is planted to bear fruit and not just for ornamental purposes. If it produces many fruits and if it is also healthy and strong, then the farmer will put even more effort into that tree, to make it produce even more fruits.

Will we then become a fruit tree that is fruitful? Or will we become a fruit tree that is barren? A barren fruit tree has no use at all. It has no fruit that can be sold and make profit from, and therefore there is only something that the farmer would logically do, that is to cut off the tree. If we are like these barren trees, we would therefore also be cast out, and will have no part of God’s grace.

We all have been given a mission by our Lord, that is to spread the love of God among mankind. In each of us had been planted the seeds of faith and love, and if we do not utilise them, they will remain just that, as seeds, dormant and dead. But if we use whatever gifts God had given us, then we will be bountiful and produce much fruits, that is the fruits of love and happiness. The Lord who sees all will see our works and our products, and He will richly bless us.

Brethren, let us therefore from now on, follow the example shown by David, and by the teachings made clear through Jesus, that we will first of all be ever grateful for all the blessings God had given us, that we may have this life. And let us also show our thanks and love to the Lord, through concrete actions and dedication of love to our brethren around us.

Let us all bear fruits, fruits of faith, fruits of hope, and fruits of love. May the Lord who sees our robustness and productivity bless us forever. Amen.

Thursday, 26 December 2013 : Feast of St. Stephen, Protomartyr (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of the first martyr of the faith, that is St. Stephen, known also as the Protomartyr or simply the first martyr in Greek. We celebrate today the memory of this great and zealous defender of the faith, the very first one to gave up his life for the sake of Jesus the Lord.

Many of you may ask, why do we suddenly and so quickly jump from the joyous celebrations of Christmas into the sombre celebration of one’s death, a martyr of the faith no less? That is because St. Stephen died not for nothing, but because he gave up his life as an example to the faithful, that we should never ever leave behind or abandon the true joy of Christmas in Jesus.

St. Stephen met his death because he rebuked harshly the Pharisees and the chief priests who were judging him, because of their lack of faith in Jesus, and because of their compliance in killing the very One sent by God to deliver everyone from sin and death, themselves included. He met his death because he spoke the truth, about the Lord who came to save His people in Jesus, the joy and glory we celebrate on Christmas day.

Therefore it is no less fitting that we celebrate in honour of this saint who had courageously defended the Christ who was reviled, rejected, and cast out by His own beloved people. He did not fear man but God alone. And he truly followed the way of the Lord, imitating even Jesus in death. Remember that Jesus forgave His executioners and those who condemned Him, asking the Father not to punish them for what they had done? What St. Stephen had done was essentially the same thing.

We rejoice in the Lord at Christmas, and we celebrate with great joy and festivities, but have we put Christ at the centre of our joy and our celebrations? Or have we forgotten entirely about Him in our festivities? We cannot be Christians if we do not put Christ at the centre of our lives, just as we cannot have Christmas if we do not put Christ at the heart of what we are celebrating.

To be Christian is to follow what St. Stephen had done, maybe not into martyrdom as what had happened to him, but in terms of zealous and unchanging faith, even in the midst of persecution and societal pressure for us to do otherwise. It is sad to see how many of the faithful have changed their views of the faith, and even the faith that they have itself, to accommodate to the currently popular ways of the world.

Many of them did these because they fear persecution, opposition, ridicule, and many other similar reasons. Many did them because of the pressure to conform to the societal ‘norms’, especially the socially acceptable ones. Many did so because they do not want to look weird or unacceptable to their peers and friends. And some did so because they craved power and popularity, which they could not have gained if they keep faithfully the faith in the Lord in its completeness.

And Christmas too have often become none other than just another party time or shopping and holiday season. Christmas had become so commercialised and infused with the greed and the values of the world that we have often forgotten about Christ. Between Christmas and how we live our lives according to our faith, both are no different, assailed at all sides by the forces of the evil one seeking our destruction.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important that in this Christmas season that we look at, and emulate the examples that St. Stephen had presented to us, and what he had shown to his opponents in that judging session. St. Stephen proudly and without fear, proclaimed his faith in God aloud, without compromise and without seeking for acceptance at the price of his faith.

St. Stephen served God’s people as one of the first seven deacons, and even though his service might have been very short indeed, but his holiness and exemplary actions show that, being a Christian, and in the celebration of Christmas, firstly Christ must always be at the centre of everything, be it our lives, how we live our daily lives, in our words and actions, and in everything. We cannot be half-hearted Christians, who believed in only what we like to believe in, or what is often called to be “market” or “cafetaria” Christians.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue our celebration of Christmas, and as we rejoice in the great saint, Stephen the martyr, let us always remember to devote ourselves wholly and without distractions to the Lord, keeping the faith we have for Him devoutly, without compromising anything for the sake of the world. Both St. Stephen and Jesus Himself did not compromise anything, for the sake of what they are called to do in this world. For St. Stephen, it is for the glory of God, and for Jesus, it is for the salvation of all.

May St. Stephen pray for us, that the Lord will send His help to us, to strengthen our faith, and to be ready to stand up for our faith in the same way as St. Stephen had done, fearing not the powers of this world and proclaim our faith in its entirety. May we all have a blessed time this Christmas season and may God be with us all always. Amen.

Monday, 18 November 2013 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of Basilica)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we listen today to the beginnings of a great tragedy, where the people of Israel, was subjected to the attempts of acculturation and Hellenisation, which happened during the years after Alexander the Great conquered much of the known world. They suffered persecution and ridicule, subjected into attempts to corrupt them from the one and true faith in God.

In the second reading, the same happened, with St. Paul being led into custody of the Romans, brought to Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, to be judged by the Emperor for his supposed crimes. St. Paul was charged by his Jewish opponents, who resisted his attempts to bring the Good News to them. Rather than being killed at Jerusalem, St. Paul chose to appeal to the Emperor, and in doing so, as we listened, he gained a chance to evangelise yet one last time, at the city of Rome, where the centre of our Church now lies.

Today we listened to the tale of both St. Paul and St. Peter, the earlier as mentioned, and the latter, as we listened to the story of Jesus performing the miracle of walking on the water in the middle of the storm. St. Peter took the scene, as he tried to walk on the water and as he doubted, he almost sank into the water. Jesus rescued him and chided him about his lack of faith in Him. So we heard today about both St. Paul and St. Peter, who at the end of their lives, went to Rome to be martyred there.

Yes, in that old and venerable city, the Eternal City, as many would call it. It is where the two greatest saints and pillars of the Church were welcomed into the hands of the Lord through holy martyrdom. Today we mark the commemoration of the dedication of two great basilicas, namely the Papal Basilica of St. Peter, where most of the Pope’s celebrations take place, and the Papal Basilica of St. Paul, also known as St. Paul Outside the Walls, because it was located outside the walls of the ancient city of Rome. It was also where St. Paul stayed during his two year stay in Rome, prior to his martyrdom by the Emperor Nero.

These two saints were exemplary in their actions, just as what some brave people of Israel, God’s first chosen people had done at the time of persecution under the Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes. They stood up bravely and courageously for their faith without being corrupted or tempted by the offers of worldly pleasures and temporary glories offered to them, if they just would betray the Lord and their faith.

Yet these people were also pretty much ordinary people like ourselves, and they too were much like us sinful and weak, as St. Peter himself had shown in that storm in the lake, where his lack of faith to God made him almost sink as he walked on the water towards Jesus. St. Paul was once a great enemy of the faith, and he hounded many hundreds if not thousands of the early believers of the Lord, sending them to their deaths. We too lacked the faith at times, brothers and sisters, and doubt is always in our mind.

And yet, through Christ and His love, they have been transformed into powerful tools of His presence and love. God made them to be the bearers of the Good News and they went on faithfully with their missions to the end. And through their hard and dedicated works, many people were saved. Their works of salvation continues even today, through their successors, our bishops and their priests, and primarily, the Bishop of Rome, our Pope, now Pope Francis, the leader of the entire Universal Church.

It is often that times are truly hard for our Church, especially in the recent times. The ways of the world are increasingly becoming more and more antithesis to what our Church stands up for, that is our faith in God, true and just. The corruptions of this world threaten to sink many people in the storm of this turbulent world. Remember what had happened to St. Peter in that stormy night.

The Lord picked him up by the hand and strengthened his faith. Indeed, St. Peter was to abandon his faith yet another time, when he denied knowing the Lord, not just once, but three times in total! He did so, because his faith in God is wavering, having seen Jesus, the one hope that he and the other apostles had had, captured, tortured, and mocked like a lowly criminal. He abandoned the Lord for the security of the world.

St. Paul too was a leading Jew, who was a Pharisee and very strict in his observation of the Law, and was particularly hostile to the followers of Jesus in the early days of the Church. He hunted them without mercy, and caused the death of many people of the Lord. He took part in the stoning and murder is St. Stephen, the first martyr, and was a great scourge to the faithful.

Then what differentiates them from the people of Israel, who abandoned their faith in God, for the sake of their own security and to secure the favour of the king? And how was St. Peter even different from Judas Iscariot, the traitor? Did they both not betray the Lord? One through direct betrayal and the other by abandoning Him at the time of His greatest sorrow?

That is because, St. Peter professed his true and undying faith in the Lord, and he repented from his past mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, as is common to us because of our humanity, for we are predisposed to sin ever since we were exposed to it. What is important is that, we learn from those mistakes, face them with courage and faith, and repent, that is change our ways, to conform again to that of God! That was what St. Peter, as well as St. Paul had done.

Judas Iscariot felt the guilt after he had betrayed the Lord, but instead of learning from his mistakes, and accepting the chance of repentance the Lord gave him, he chose the quick way out, that is suicide. He did not repent, and therefore was counted among the lost ones. He also stole the money of the Lord and His disciples and was unrepentant about it, even to the end.

St. Peter professed his love and dedication to the Lord, and he showed it with true sincerity, knowing fully the guilt and the faults he had done, and yet, he still professed that love he has for God, and the Lord gave him, the stewardship over this world, over all of the faithful ones in God, as His Vicar on earth. St. Paul too met a life-changing experience, after the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus. He received the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and the truth about all things were revealed to him in its entirety.

Ever since, both Apostles, as well as the other apostles and disciples of Christ, tirelessly laboured for the sake of God and His kingdom, without end going from one end of the earth to the other, as witnesses to God and His saving power. They laboured hard and the fruits grew aplenty, as the faith spread among many, converting many to the cause of Christ. And despite the storm that threatened to engulf all the faithful, they stabilised the ship, and made it last to the present day.

St. Peter was crucified upside down in Rome, at the site now where the Basilica of St. Peter now stood. He chose to do so because he found himself unworthy to be crucified in the same way the Lord had done. St. Paul too was beheaded in Rome, after the burning of Rome was blamed by the reigning Emperor, Nero, on the followers of Christ. See the dedication, faith, and love that these two saints have for our Lord!

Today, therefore, as we commemorate the two great Basilicas dedicated in their honour, that of St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ, and St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, let us take this opportunity to reflect, on whether we have taken the same choice or whether we will be ready to commit ourselves to the same choice that both saints had chosen. Remember that saints too were called from sinners. We can opt to choose the easy way, that is what Judas and the people of Israel had done, or take the difficult and challenge-ridden path that the Apostles had once taken, all the way to the end, where the glory of heaven awaits them.

May our Lord Jesus, who helped St. Peter out of the water in his doubt, also help us to overcome our doubts and empower us with love, hope, and faith, that we will be able to make a commitment towards reaching out to the Lord, choosing the right path in the end. May He continue to love us and watch over us. Amen.

Sunday, 20 October 2013 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mission Sunday (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord is our guardian, and He is our fortress. He will cover us with the power of His wings. He will not let harm to come upon us, and we will not know suffering or pain. All these, if we remain righteous and stay true on His ways, and do not stray into the path of evil. The Lord will listen to our call and our needs, because He loves us so much, that He certainly cannot ignore the suffering of His children.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have in fact no need at all to fear about ourselves, or about our wellbeing and safety. That is because the Lord our God, as the readings today assert, is a great and loving God, and He will stand by us at all times, especially when we are in our most difficult times. God does not wish to see His children suffering, be it temporal or eternal, as how it is in hell for those who did not repent their sinful ways.

The Lord had protected all of His beloved all this time, and today we heard now the Lord gave the people of Israel a complete victory against those who opposed them, namely the vicious and pagan Amalekites. The Lord fought with His people and triumphed against the forces of evil arrayed against them, no matter how powerful they were. Thus God loved and provided for His children throughout generations, one after another.

Yet, the people of God were not faithful, and as fast as the Lord had made them a great nation, blessed in terms of all things imaginable, they too forgot about the Lord and all of His might and love for them. They began to sin again and hurt the Lord with the depth of their sinfulness and transgressions. This is what the Lord wanted us to emulate.

Today, brethren, the Lord reminds us and highlights the nature of our salvation, in Jesus. He promised to all of us, life eternal in God. We are preoccupied with our own lives and our joy in this world, that we fail to see the great role that God had played in the lives of each and every one of us. We often demand many things from God and want Him to immediately answer our prayers and our demands, as unreasonable as they are.

To us has been revealed the full nature of God’s saving power, the love that God had for us, and yet many of us still have little faith in God. It is very often that we trust more of our own strengths and material possessions rather than trusting in God and in His divine providence. That was why when He indeed came into this world in Jesus Christ, He was disappointed at how little faith mankind had for Him, especially that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who, out of all people, should have had the greatest faith.

That is because those people had a high sense of pride and self-righteousness. They may be seen as pious and holy externally, through their actions and devotions, but inside, they had no real and true love for the Lord, and that was what the Lord rebuked them for, for their false uprightness and righteousness. They were truly wicked and yet tried hard to justify themselves.

It is not that we cannot devote ourselves the way they had done, brothers and sisters, that is through prayers and dedications, and sacrifices. They are important, and indeed we are expected to keep a good and healthy prayer life at all times. What is important, however, is that we must keep the Lord at the centre of our lives, and we must uphold the love He has and He preached to all of us, at all times.

We cannot become empty Christians, by merely saying prayers and devotions without meaning, by attending the Mass without participation and understanding.  Then, we cannot be charitable and loving without first anchoring ourselves in the Lord first. This then shows that, in all the things we say, in all the things we do, and in all the things we believe in, we must always have the Lord and His love at the centre of them all.

Brethren, let us therefore, seek the Lord, with all our heart, with all of our strength and understanding, that we will be able to find Him despite the devil’s temptations and all the distractions provided by the world. Let us open wide our hearts, to allow God to enter us, and transform us with His love. What we need is indeed simply to ask for the Lord and His assistance, and He will definitely provide for us in His own way.

All we need is indeed to ask, and if what we need are what we truly need, the Lord will grant it to us. He is after all just, just as He is loving. The problem is indeed often with us, because too often we are so engaged in our own pride and sense of ‘greatness’, that we ourselves turn away the Lord’s offers to us, trusting more in ourselves and our ‘power’. We judge ourselves better than others, and in there lies our fall. In the same way indeed, as how Satan fell from grace, that is because of his irreconcilable pride in himself.

Therefore, beloved brethren, from today on, let us first doubt no longer the love and dedication that God has for all of us. His care for us is genuine, and He wants us to be with Him again, and that is why, He often knocked at our door, the door of our hearts. Yet often, He knocked, only to be turned away.  We are too immersed and engaged in our pride and worldly desires, that we ignore the calling of the Lord, who whispered softly within our hearts.

Let us hence, commit to deepen our understanding of the faith we have, and resolve to bring ourselves ever closer to God through prayer. May we be able to pray, speak to God, and allow His gentle words to enter into our hearts. That we will become more and more loving children of our God, and be blessed forevermore. God bless and protect us always. Amen!

Friday, 18 October 2013 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 10 : 1-9

After this, the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples, and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place, where He Himself was to go. And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest.”

“Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know. Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you.”

“Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house. When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick, who are there, and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God has drawn near to you.