Wednesday, 17 September 2014 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

1 Corinthians 12 : 31 – 1 Corinthians 13 : 13

Be that it may, set your hearts on the most precious gifts, and I will show you a much better way.

If I could speak all the human and angelic tongues, but had no love, I would only be sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, knowing secret things with all kinds of knowledge, and had faith great enough to remove mountains, but had no love, I would be nothing.

If I gave everything I had to the poor, and even give up my body to be burnt, if I am without love, it would be of no value to me. Love is patient, kind, without envy. It is not boastful or arrogant. It is not ill-mannered nor does it seek its own interest. Love overcomes anger and forgets offenses.

It does not take delight in wrong, but rejoices in truth. Love excuses everything, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love will never end. Prophecies may cease, tongues be silent and knowledge disappear. For knowledge grasps something of the truth and prophecy as well.

And when what is perfect comes, everything imperfect will pass away. When I was a child I thought and reasoned like a child, but when I grew up, I gave up childish ways. Likewise, at present we see dimly as in a mirror, but then it shall be face to face. Now we know in part, but then I will know as I am known.

Now we have faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.

Monday, 15 September 2014 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 30 : 2-3a, 3bc-4, 5-6, 15-16, 20

In You, o Lord, I take refuge, may I never be disgraced; deliver Me in Your justice. Give heed to My plea, and make haste to rescue Me.

Be a rock of refuge for Me, a fortress for My safety. For You are My rock and My stronghold, lead me for Your Name’s sake.

Free me from the snare that they have set for Me. Indeed You are My protector. Into Your hands I commend My Spirit; You have redeemed Me, o Lord, faithful God.

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

How great is the goodness which You have stored for those who fear You, which You show, for all to see, to those who take refuge in You!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s readings are the continuation of the messages of the Scripture from yesterday, and we continue to talk about how worldly possessions may hinder us from truly reaching out to the Lord. The difficulty for the rich which Jesus mentioned, for them to enter the kingdom of heaven, is itself not because of the rich status or the fault of the wealth or material possessions, but in fact because of our innate weakness and proneness to the tempting power of those possessions.

Essentially, those possessions keep us away from the Lord because they rob the focus of our hearts, hijacking our hearts and minds which should really be thinking and focusing on the Lord and all of His goodness, and instead we think more and more of our wealth and possession, to the point that we eventually worry more and more about them, on how we can gain more of them and how we can safeguard them.

We mankind are easy to be tempted if we do not take the steps to actively prevent this temptation. Ever since the days of Adam and Eve, when they were tempted with knowledge and greatness by the lies of Satan, we mankind had been exposed to the works of evil in this world, which threaten to pull us deep into the pit of damnation just as our ancestors had been trapped in those lies of Satan that brought us away from our divine inheritance.

The first reading today talked about how God proclaimed His judgment and prediction on the fate of Tyre, which was a great city of the land of Sidon, of the Phoenicians, a great seafaring nation, which built colonies far and wide, and the progenitor of the later Carthaginian Empire. Tyre is the mother city of the Phoenicians who were great navigators, traders and merchants who built their cities strong with wealth, and Tyre the foremost among them. The rich purple dye of the rulers and Emperors of Rome were named Tyrian purple after the wealth of the city in which this dye originally came from.

Tyre had all reasons to be overconfident, as it had a great influence, mighty and powerful over the seas. In addition to that, the city was built on a nature island off the coast of what is today Lebanon, and therefore is naturally protected against any enemies and forces arrayed against it. Nevertheless, it is in this arrogance and power that ended up in their downfall.

What the Lord spoke of, became true when the Greek King, Alexander the Great conquered the city of Tyre after a long siege, and the city never regained its power, prominence and glory. Therefore, it had been cast down and its power was broken, never to recover. And therefore the same will also eventually happen to us, if we depend on our human power, as well as on our desire for wealth, glory and fame.

It is important for us to realise that wealth, possession, fame, achievement in life and greatness are often not the answers for our lives, and they are neither the solutions for which we can live our lives in a better and more meaningful way. It is too often that mankind had been destroyed by all these, as they are unable to resist their greed and desire and end up destroying themselves.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John Eudes, a priest of the Lord who founded a religious congregation, the Congregation of Jesus and Mary. He took a vow of chastity at a young age, and then proceeded to join the religious life fully dedicated to the Lord. Under his actions, numerous good works had been done for the sake of the Lord by St. John Eudes himself, who worked hard to serve the people of God and spread the Word of God to many people around him.

St. John Eudes was especially intrigued by those around him who lived in sin and in the darkness of the world, particularly prostitutes who were common in that age. Therefore, St. John Eudes worked hard to help those who were destitute and weak in faith, and through his religious congregation, he endeavoured to advance the preparation and education of priests and all those who devoted themselves to the Lord, that they may do better works for the sake of God and His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, people like St. John Eudes and many others who had given up everything, all glory, wealth and fame that they may be true servants of the Lord are our role models. They have resisted the temptations of the flesh and that of the world, so that they are no longer governed by the whim of their desire, but instead by the will of God speaking inside them, guiding them in life to bear much fruits of their good works in the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, is it not right indeed, that we should truly follow in their footsteps? We should all use these opportunities given to us, so that we may free ourselves from the unending pull of desires and human greed, and instead begin to live wholly and completely in the grace and love of God. Let us all ask St. John Eudes for his prayers and intercession, that we too may serve God and His people just as he had once done.

May Almighty God be with us all, in our lives, that we may do good works for the sake of all those around us, particularly those who are weak, destitute and downtrodden. Amen.

Monday, 18 August 2014 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ezekiel 24 : 15-24

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, I am about to suddenly take from you the delight of your eyes, but you are not to lament or weep or let your tears flow. Groan in silence and do not mourn for the dead; wear your turban, put on your sandals, do not cover your beard or eat the customary food of mourners.”

I spoke to the people in the morning and my wife died that evening. The next morning I did as I had been commanded. Then the people said to me : “Explain to us the meaning of your actions.”

I said to them, “The word of YHVH came to me in these terms : ‘Say to Israel : I am about to profane My sanctuary, your pride, the delight of your eyes for which you long.'”

“‘The sons and daughters you left behind will also fall by the sword, but you will do as I have done : you will not cover your beard or eat the customary food of mourners; you will keep your turbans on your heads and sandals on your feet. You will not lament or weep. Instead, because of your sin, you will waste away and groan among yourselves.'”

“‘Ezekiel will be a sign for you. Do as he did and when this happens you will know that I am YHVH.'”

Wednesday, 23 July 2014 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded again of the need for us to grow in our faith, and learn to trust God in all the things He had planned and willed for each one of us in our respective lives. The Gospel today told us about the parable of the sower and the how various fates of the seeds were told, telling us in fact what happens to the faith within us if we respond or do not respond to it in a proper way.

Then in the first reading today we heard about the calling of the prophet Jeremiah, whom the Lord had chosen to be His prophet and His messenger to the errant and disobedient people of God. The tasks facing Jeremiah were truly massive and difficult, and it was a great undertaking and responsibility which God had entrusted him to do. Jeremiah was right to be hesitant and to be uncertain about himself, as most men will do, but God showed how He will take care of him and guide him along the way.

We too, brothers and sisters in Christ, should expect the same kind of things to happen to us in our own lives. We should not be so concerned about our lives, and about what will happen to us on daily basis, to the point that we forget the various wonderful things that we may be able to do with all of our abilities and time that we have on our hands.

Each of us had been entrusted with the gift of faith, hope and love by God. All of us who are His children have been given these great gifts within us. Yes, these are the seeds, the very same seeds that Jesus had figuratively mentioned in His parable of the seeds and the sower. What happens to these gifts, and whether they languish in misuse and abandonment, or whether they grow mightily and wonderfully to become inspiration for all to see, is truly depending on our own actions in life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we make good use of our faith in us, it will only grow. Then, if we share the hope in us and use it to bring hope to others, and if we love one another, and show others how to love, we all may only grow in standing before our Lord and God. This is exactly what happened when the seeds fell on the rich and fertile soil, where the seeds grow mighty and produce a great bounty beyond all expectations.

Yes, if we are truly faithful and practice that faith in our lives, then we shall reap rich rewards at the end of our lives. However, that is not an easy feat to do. There are numerous challenges that we will face in our lives. There are difficulties that are laid on our paths, if we choose the path of the Lord. But as we all know, and especially as all farmers and sowers should be familiar with, there is no easy way out or shortcut to get a bountiful harvest. Hard work and effort is required.

We have to make the effort to put out the weeds and all those that threaten to kill the progress and growth of the seed and the plant. Those weeds are the temptations of the flesh, and the pleasures of this world which seek to corrupt is and turn us away from the true and correct path in life. We have to destroy and cast away all these weeds from our lives, that they may not choke us with worries and selfishness.

Then we also have to grow deep roots, that we may avoid being crushed by the challenges and problems of this world. The deep roots of our faith will be necessary for us to draw strength from God, that our faith may not stumble and fall against the forces of darkness and evil arrayed against us. If our roots are not deep, that we will be easily swayed by Satan and his sweet lies.

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Bridget of Sweden, also known as St. Brigitta, who was a Swedish lady who was a mother and dedicated family woman, who bore many children, and eventually, after the death of her husband, with the support of her daughter, she joined holy and devoted life to God. She established several religious vocations and orders, inspiring many to follow her examples.

St. Bridget of Sweden herself was very devoted to God, not just in words but also through concrete action. She devoted herself to love her neighbours and others around her, giving herself into charitable acts and works. She also inspired many by her pilgrimages, in which eventually she went to Rome and settled in the city of the Holy Apostles.

St. Bridget of Sweden faced many difficulties in her life, and she experienced rejection and refusal from many people, including accusations and harassment. However, she remained steadfast in her faith and in her total dedication to the Lord. And that was why, today, she was the perfect example for all of us in how we should live out our lives, and how we carry out ourselves that we may grow stronger in faith, hope and love.

Therefore, let us pray and hope devotedly to God, that He may bless us with strength and guidance, that the seeds of faith that God had sown in us will flourish and grow great, that in the end, we may be all found worthy of our Lord. May Almighty God bless us and guide us on our way. May He strengthen our faith always. Amen.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded yet again that we need to forsake and abandon sin and all its ways, and embrace the Lord and His ways in our respective lives. And it is also important that we rebuke Satan and all of his attempts to convert us to his rebellious cause, as Israel had once done and repeatedly done during their time in the Promised Land, disobeying their Lord and God.

But we cannot do this alone, brothers and sisters. We need guidance and help, and we cannot face the threat of the evil one and all the forces he had arrayed against us all alone. We need support and strength, which our Lord provides us through none other than our holy priests, and also all those who had committed and surrendered themselves to a life wholly dedicated to God and His people.

Today Jesus called on all of us to consider His words, how that the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. And let us also discern on the words of the prayer He said, that the Lord would send more and more labourers to work and gain the harvest of the faith for the Lord, and for the good of all of us in this world. This is reflecting exactly the reality of the faith, both in that era, and in the era that had come after that, all the way to this modern time.

For the harvest that Jesus mentioned is the world, and all the people who lives in that world. There is indeed rich harvest to be reaped, and there are truly many souls who long and yearn for the word of God and for salvation to grace them. Many are still in the darkness, and many of them even had been baptised in the Church! Yes, brethren, that is the reality of our Church and the reality of our world today.

In the years and decades after the Second Vatican Council, which happened just about fifty years ago, due to gross misinterpretations of the true meaning and purpose of the Council, many had been misled by the errors and this also unfortunately led to a great decline in the vocations to the priesthood, which resulted in less and less priests, especially young priests, available to help with the needs of the many faithful all over the world, which numbers continue to grow unabated.

In our world today, unlike those times in the past, taking up a religious and consecrated life to God is no longer considered an honour, and in our rapidly changing world, there are increasingly more and more benchmarks of life and successes in life. Mankind as a whole are growing more and more attached to the goodness and the pleasures offered by the world, and coupled with the expectations and prejudices of the society, this led to even graver problems with vocations, and therefore, with the well-being of many of the faithful who are not cared of by the dwindling number of priests.

There are those who seek shortcuts by attempting to ‘adjust’ to the demands of the changing world, but they truly failed to understand the gravity and the reality of the matter. They seek to run away from the problem and from the issue, by proposing to take shortcuts that harm the life of the faithful, in particular the priests, their shepherds. I do not need to elaborate further on this issue, on the matter of ordination of women and allowing priests to have a married life. These are not of our faith, brethren, but these are the suggestions of Satan trying to divide us and destroy us.

The misinterpretations of the Second Vatican Council led to the diluting and loss of the true values and morale integrity in the faith within our society and our Church as a whole. More and more people became lost on their way to God, being disturbed and tempted by the ‘better offers’ of Satan in various means through the world. And this in particular affected many young men, who were then led away from their calling to be servants of God. And this also affected some who had decided to follow the Lord, and then reneged on the decision.

These are the hard truths and realities of our faith and our world, brothers and sisters in Christ. We lose out so many good men to the evil one, and he even tried to corrupt those whom God had made His labourers in faith. And through their fall, many too, would end up falling on their way to the Lord, which can then explain the troubles and the great challenges facing us today.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important that we all gather our strength and work together to help one another to overcome those challenges, rediscovering the purity and the truths of our faith, long forsaken by many who chose to reconcile with the ways of the world, and the ways of those who were wayward, over maintaining without fail, the deposit of faith in the Holy Mother Church.

Let us all pray especially for our priests, that in everything they do, and in living their difficult but enriching lives, they may commit to always stay pure and totally dedicated to the Lord, as on the day of their sacred ordination. Let us pray, that there will also be many more vocations to the priesthood, that many more young men would open their hearts to God, and allowing Him to do with them according with His will. Let us pray also for more vocations to the religious life, that all those who are called may respond positively and with confidence, for the sake of God and for the love of His people.

May God bless us all with love, hope and faith, that we may rediscover the zeal of faith that we had lost, in the confusion over the misinterpretations of the Second Vatican Council’s true intentions. God bless our priests too, and may He guide them all the days of their life. Amen.

Monday, 7 July 2014 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through Jesus, we have been granted healing and renewal, just as He had once brought the daughter of the synagogue official from death and healed the afflictions of the woman with haemorrhage. The same healing and renewal He also therefore offers us if we are to put our trust and faith in Him, just in the same way as the woman had done.

Our world today lacks the faith that the woman had, and many of us had lost faith in the Lord and chose to walk on their own path, and more often than not, this led them to be lost forever into eternal damnation. We prefer to trust in ourselves and in the desires and wants of our hearts rather than trusting in the wisdom and love of our God, which He offered to us freely to help us on our way to Himself.

Our attitude is often like those mourners who mourned the departure of the daughter of the official, thinking that we have absolutely no hope, and therefore that all is lost, hence we submit ourselves into doing things evil in the eyes of God. Or our attitude is like those who refuse to seek the Lord and prefer to keep things to ourselves, fearing His wrath and retribution for our sinfulness.

We cannot remain like this, brothers and sisters in Christ, for it is imperative that we seek the Lord with the faith like the woman with the bleeding problem. She had so much faith that she said to herself, that if only that she touched the fringe of the cloak of our Lord, she would be healed, and indeed, because of her faith, she was healed. If only that this world and all the people living in it has such a faith! Yes, this world would have been a much better place.

Faith is what is often lacking in this world today, and it is more urgently so, because we live today in a time when there is an ever greater need for true piety and faith in the Lord. Our world is growing deeper and deeper in darkness and evil, and the ways of this world is increasingly more and more wayward and distanced from the Lord and His ways. And many increasingly lose their way in the dark tangles of the devil’s works.

Many resigned themselves to a seemingly dark and hopeless despair, not knowing that there is indeed hope, and one indeed that we cannot lose sight in. And there are also those who willingly gave themselves up to the allures of the pleasures of the world, giving in to the demands of their hearts’ desires and greed. And the devil rightly uses that opportunity to snare these people deeper and deeper into his hands.

We often conveniently forget that we have hope, and that hope will not fail us if we do not give in first to despair and hopelessness. Yes, and we have that hope in Jesus Christ, the hope of all creations, whom God had sent into the world in order to bring hope and healing to all of us, who had been under the poison of sin and the slavery of death ever since the days of Adam and Eve, our ancestors.

Death, sickness and despair had been our staple ever since the beginning of mankind’s days. We cannot really separate the realities of life from all these occurrences. That was what happened to the daughter of the official, who was sick and then died, and many despaired in sorrow for her seemingly unfortunate fate. But Jesus came to show that death does not have the final say over things.

Mankind are often too preoccupied with their own self-preservation, always thinking of ways to prolong their lives and make their lives better with various treatments and other things, which all are really born of one thing, that is our fear of death and our despair over the lack of hope for our future after that death. And all these are again because we have little to no faith in Jesus our Lord and our only Hope.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, is it too difficult for us all to put our hope in Jesus our Lord? Is it too difficult for us to trust Him with all our concerns and desires? If history and experience had justified all things past, then we know that trusting ourselves with all these unnecessary desires did not work well for us, and we ended up ruining ourselves more often than not.

Our Lord knows all that we need, and He will provide for us in His own way. In that way we need not worry any longer. Indeed, as He said, that worrying over our future or having more concerns, desires and wants do not increase the length and happiness of our lives a single bit. In fact, those things will likely speed up our descent into damnation and eternal despair.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us from now on change our perspectives in life. Let us begin to put our hope and trust in Christ, and cast away all worries and all unnecessary desires, greed and wants from our lives, so that gradually we may become more and more like the children of God, whom we are supposed to be.

Let us also help one another to grow in faith, hope and love, that in all the things we do, we always do it in the loving embrace of God, and keep ourselves close to Him and to His most loving heart. May Almighty God continue to keep us close to Him and bless us and our works in this world, bringing more and more souls back to Him. Amen.