Wednesday, 1 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, Patroness of Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s readings, is truly all about children, as in the first reading, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, mentioned how we are like children to the Lord, whom the Lord will send His love, care and providence, and how the Lord will bring gladness to us, like that of a father who loves his children with all of his heart, protecting and providing for the wellbeing of the children.

And in the Gospel, as written by St. Matthew, showed us the bickering and competition among the Apostles and the disciples of Christ, on who would be considered the greatest among them, in the kingdom of heaven. And Jesus brought to Himself a child, whom He made into a model for the Apostles, chiding and rebuking their childish ways of fighting amongst themselves for meaningless purpose.

Rather, Jesus mentioned to His Apostles, that if they want to be found worthy of the kingdom of heaven, they must be like children in their faith. Not childish in their faith and in their way of life, but instead to be as innocent and pure in their faith in life as those possessed by the young children. Those who know children and how they are like would immediately know how pure they are, untainted by the ways, the concerns, and ultimately the corruptions that exist in the world.

And when a child believe in something, they really hold on to it very strongly, and they believe without a single grain of doubt, such purity it is within their hearts, before the corruption of the world and the darkness of the world taint them. And indeed, the Apostles and disciples of Christ who bickered and quarrelled over who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven exactly showed us what kind of corruption that the world and the darkness of evil can have on us.

Human desire, that is desire for fame, wealth, possessions, glory and many other things, as well as human pride, hubris, jealousy, arrogance, and greed, as well as many other negativity that exist in us are what had caused a great gap and indeed, a rift to develop between us and the Lord, our loving Father. Our Lord and God loves us dearly, as we clearly heard in the way He proclaimed it to the prophet Isaiah.

But that rift of our pride, of our greed, of the darkness that is in us separate us from the love and grace of God. And that is truly dangerous and harmful, for we have just two choices, either life and glory in God or death and eternal damnation in hell, away forever from God. If we choose to cling on to our disobedience and our way of violence and evil, the taints of darkness within our hearts, then we move dangerously closer and closer towards damnation awaits us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of a great and holy woman, a renowned saint, known as the Little Flower, and more appropriately, the Little Flower of Jesus in full. She is St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, a Discalced Carmelite religious nun, who devoted her entire life and work to the cause of the Lord and His people.

St. Therese of Lisieux was very renowned both during and after her life in her piety and her spirituality, and she was truly devoted and dedicated in complete faith to her Lord and God, and ever since her mother passed away very early in her life, she had been alone in the world, and in her loneliness as well in her constant sickness, she suffered greatly, in silence and in sorrow.

St. Therese of Lisieux encountered a divine experience as she grew older, and she experience a complete transformation of herself, where once she felt sorrow and suffering, the love and joy of Christ had entered her and made her anew. She entered the religious life following the example of her older sister before her. She took on the name of Therese in honour of St. Teresa of Avila, the founder and the great saint of the order of the Discalced Carmelites.

She persevered through the difficult life of a religious sister, despite her weakness and constant sickness, and even amidst the persecution and ridicule from her fellow sisters, who ridiculed her apparent lack of talent in doing the many things which the sisters committed themselves to do at that time. And eventually she discovered what she named as the ‘Little Way’, which is the way of surrendering all to God, and putting all our trust in God, just like that of a child.

In this, St. Therese Lisieux proposed the idea that in order for us to attain salvation, we who are mere men and sinners have great difficulties in our effort and our way to reach the Lord and His salvation. Instead, rather than boasting and fighting our way to become greater and mightier, as what the Apostles had done, she proposed that instead we should become smaller and little, and our Lord and loving Father will raise us up to Himself, just like a father who raises up his children.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, following the examples of St. Therese of Lisieux, through her amazing thoughts and wisdom, and as well as through what our Lord Jesus Christ had taught us Himself, let us all become ever more faithful to our Lord and devote ourselves ever more strongly to Him. Let our faith and our lives be pure and sincere, like that of little children, and cast away all pride, jealousy, hatred, desire and other negativity, the taints of darkness from our hearts.

May our loving God and Father continue to love us tenderly and provide for us, that all of us His children may come to a greater understanding and appreciation of the love He had shown to us, and may draw ever closer to His merciful and loving heart. God bless us all, forever and ever. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Feast of Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel (I Classis) – Monday, 29 September 2014 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great feast of a great protector, our great defense against the assaults of the evil one, Satan, the prince and progenitor of all evils. We celebrate today the feast of the chief of all the angelic hosts of heaven, that is St. Michael the Archangel, prince of all the angels, and chief of the seven Archangels who served before the throne of God.

The angels were created by the Lord to be His servants, that is to be the ones who carry out His will throughout the world, to be His messengers and the bearers of His good works, to exercise His power throughout the universe He had created. He created angels of many forms and kinds, and they have various tasks and functions, depending on how they were created.

Just like men, when we were first created, the angels were initially pure and blameless, free from what is now called as sin, the impurities and imperfections that blemished the purity of creation, through disobedience against the will of God. The angels too, were granted free will just like us, so that, just as we are able to choose our path and destination in life, then they too were able to choose.

But everything was good and perfect, just as our ancestors once lived in perfect peace and harmony in the gardens of Eden, the angels were all pure and immaculate, free from all evil and taints of sin, that is until the corruption and fall of Lucifer, the greatest, brightest and the mightiest of all the angels, and unfortunately, his pride too was the greatest of all the angels, his vanity and sense of superiority over others, which proved to be his greatest undoing.

While now we speak of St. Michael the Archangel as the chief of all the heavenly hosts, he was not made such because of his greatness and his power or might, neither it was because he was the most beautiful or splendid among the angels of God. It was rather because of St. Michael’s great obedience and faith in the Lord, which made him to be the greatest defender of the Lord and His beloved people against the forces of evil.

For as mentioned, that Lucifer was once the greatest and the mightiest among the angels, but this made him proud beyond any pride, and he began to plot his rise among the angels, and eventually even boasted that he would make his throne rise above the stars of God, namely the angels, to be the ruler of them, and displacing God as the ruler over all creations.

Lucifer was proud and haughty, and he was brought down, because he was thinking too highly of himself, aspiring to be the ruler of all surpassing the Creator, while he is merely a creation, albeit a glorious and great one at that. On the contrary, St. Michael was known for his great faith and piety, and the complete trust he has for the Lord. And in addition to this, he was also told to be trembling at always before the presence of God.

This does not mean that St. Michael was fearful or weak, but rather, in doing so, he actually by himself acknowledging the superiority of God, and how great God is as compared to himself. It is his humility, courage and piety which made the Lord to choose him and honour him to be the great commander of His heavenly forces. And he courageously led the forces of the faithful against the deceiver and the evil one, the fallen Lucifer, who was struck down and cast out of heaven, to suffer for eternity the fate prepared for him.

The examples of St. Michael’s faith, piety, dedication and courage therefore should become guiding lights for us to follow, that in our actions and deeds, we may model them after what St. Michael had once done, and what he is doing now, that is leading the hosts of the Lord in a constant and regular battle for the salvation of our souls, against Satan, the fallen Lucifer, and his allies, those angels who were also ensnared in his pride and vanity, and ended up rebelling against God.

We mankind are special indeed, for we are the greatest of God’s creations, including even the angels, and we are the most beloved ones of all the things which God had created. As such, while the angels who rebelled were given no second chance to turn back to the Lord, and receive forgiveness, we mankind alone had been given this gift of forgiveness, that as long as we repent our sins and rebelliousness, and if we are willing to follow the way of the Lord, we will be saved.

That is why, even though our ancestors had disobeyed the Lord, through the instigation of the snake, the form assumed by the fallen Lucifer, who wanted mankind to also follow into his rebellion, God gave us a second chance, and by no other means than to send His very own Son, part of Himself, Jesus Christ our Lord, to assume our own form, and through what He had done, He gave up His life and through His sacrifice, gained for us a new hope and a new justification in Himself.

And we also have to note that the Lord is thoroughly concerned with us, brothers and sisters in Christ. He is truly concerned about our fate, and whether we will share the fate of the devil, that is to suffer in the hell fire, or to be reunited with Himself in perfect love and harmony, just as what He intended for us at the very beginning when He first created us.

That is why, He sent us Jesus His Son, so that through what He taught His disciples, and from them passed down to us, we may all know what we need to do in order to avoid the dark fate which awaits us if we remain in our life of sin. But we need to be aware that, what Jesus said today in the Gospels, we should not interpret or take it literally, which means that if a part of our body made us to sin, then we should not chop it off just like that.

There is indeed wisdom and thought put into that kind of decision, to cut off the part that corrupts the entire body and soul, but that also means that we can no longer do good with the same part of the body, which God had given us. This is where we need to truly understand, that what the Lord means is that, we have to really do our best to excise from ourselves any actions or parts which have been great hindrances to our salvation, beginning from within ourselves.

Sin corrupts everything it touches, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and it is caused by the accumulation of the negativity in our hearts, of which things such as pride, jealousy, hatred, greed and many others consist of. And it was this same thing that had corrupted even the greatest and the brightest of the angels into rebellion against God and therefore sinned against Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore let us renew our faith in the Lord, not by just mere empty words and promises, but also through real action and devotions, that is by following the examples of St. Michael the Archangel. Let us excise from our hearts, all evils and darkness, that we may truly become pure and worthy of the Lord once again. We can do this by sincere love and devotion to the Lord, and by listening to what He had said to us through Jesus.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all sharpen the edges of our humility and obedience to God, that we may always listen to Him and follow Him, obeying Him in His will for us rather than to listen to our own desires and pride, as Lucifer had done. Let us all not be enslaved by our emotions and pride, that we may truly rebuke Satan and let him to suffer alone the fate which he had earned for himself. Do not let him to drag us into hellfire, brethren!

Let us pray and ask for the help and intercession of St. Michael the Archangel and the holy angels, so that they may help us and protect us from all the harm which the evil one and his allies, the fallen angels had intended for us. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, so that by the power of God, you who are the prince and leader of all the heavenly hosts, may smite down Satan and all his lies, and all those who are working their evils in our world, seeking after the ruination of all the souls of the faithful. Amen.