Thursday, 6 February 2014 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Martyrs)

1 Chronicles 29 : 10, 11ab, 11d-12a, 12bcd

May You be blessed, YHVH God of Israel our ancestor, forever and ever!

Yours, YHVH, is the greatness, the power, the splendour, length of days, glory, for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is Yours.

You are supreme ruler over all. Riches and honour go before You.

You are ruler of all, in Your hand lie strength and power; You are the One who gives greatness and strength to all.

Thursday, 16 January 2014 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

It was said indeed, that the people of Israel were fortunate, for among the many nations of this world, they had been chosen to be the people of God, after the Lord chose Abraham their forefather, for his upright life and righteousness. To his descendants therefore God promised many things that He fulfilled, giving them great numbers that spread throughout the world, and to Israel, the descendants of Jacob the grandson of Abraham, He chose to be a chosen people.

God chose His people among the many nations, and deliver them out of their suffering and slavery in Egypt with strong power and miraculous glory. He smote those who tried to destroy His people, by sending a deliverer to them in the person of Moses, who with his brother Aaron performed great miracles, that were plagues to smite the Egyptians, as well as to provide for the people of God with sustenance while they were in the desert.

God Himself set His commandments and laws before His people, through Moses, in the form of the Ten Commandments, written by God on two pieces of stone, which were then placed in a great container called the Ark of the Covenant. It was holy because the two stones inside bearing the words of the Commandments had been forged by God Himself. The Ark was to represent the divine presence in this world, God who walked among His people.

To the Promised Land He led them, into the land of overflowing milk and honey, where they were to enjoy endless happiness and joy, much like the glory allotted for our first ancestors Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, before they fell into sin. And yet, the people of God too did not remain faithful, but was even worse, by falling for the false gods and idols, first by worshipping the golden calf which they made, blaspheming that it was the golden calf that brought them out of Egypt.

And even though they were disciplined many, many times by the Lord, through plagues and attacks by their enemies, the people of God remained in their stubbornness. They rebelled against the Lord again and again, even complaining that they had much better life back in slavery in Egypt, and made complaints after complaints of their difficult journey that God made them wonder around the desert for forty years, until all the generation of rebels save for some who remained faithful would perish and not receive the reward of the Land of Promise.

However, as angry and wrathful as God was for the sins and the disobedience of His people, He still loved them beyond His wrath and anger. Yes, just as He still loves all of us despite His hatred for sins and our sinfulness. He did not abandon them or ignore them, when the enemies of His people came hard on them and made them suffer. He sent them judge after judge to lead His people and deliver them from their enemies.

Nevertheless, just as before, the people went back again to their rebellious and sinful ways right after they had been saved. They were like children given gifts by their parents without even showing gratitude. They spurned God’s love and persisted in their opposition against God’s will. They often did not listen to the words of the Lord or His judges, and did things evil and wicked in the eyes of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that was why God showed that He would abandon them and let them be destroyed if they continued in their rebellious way. The sons of the judge and priest Eli had led the people in their disobedience and wicked acts against God. The people of Israel was defeated in their battle against the Philistines, and the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the enemy.

This did not mean that God purposely wanted to destroy His people, but in His love for His children and His people, He wanted to remind them, a kind of shock therapy, reminding them how it would be like to have the Lord absent from their midst, marked with the loss of the Ark of the Covenant. God also punished the Philistines and they were terrified by the Ark among them, and therefore they were obliged to return the Ark to the people of Israel.

And in today’s Gospel we heard about Jesus our Lord went about healing the sick, those who fell ill with the abominable leprosy. He made the man clean and pure again from his leprosy. Jesus is the new Ark of the Covenant, one that is eternal and absolute. If the first Ark of the Covenant was the earthly Ark and which was lost when the First Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC.

Jesus is the new Ark as He made the new covenant between God and mankind, sealed by the sacrifice of Himself, with the outpouring of His Body and Blood on the cross, the perfect sacrifice and offering which He offered for the purification and our redemption of our sins, making us whole once again in God. And from the lessons learnt from the First Ark, we can understand more about the Eternal Ark that is Jesus, as well.

If we remain faithful to the Lord and keep Him always close to our hearts, then He will also bless us with His grace, and He will make our fortunes to grow plentiful. But, as with the First Ark, if we remain persistent and adamant in our rebellion against Him and refuse to acknowledge Him as our Lord and refuse His love, then He will leave us to our fate, that is destruction and eternal suffering, to suffer forever with Satan and his fellow fallen angels who were destined to suffer in the lake of fire.

Therefore, brethren, let us continue our efforts to remain faithful in the Lord, that we will continue to persevere to walk in His ways despite the temptations and challenges from the world. Through Jesus, God had made Himself available to all, and He dwells among us, for God is with us, and we will never be separated again from Him, if we ourselves keep our faith in Him alive and well.

May our Lord Jesus Christ, God who dwells among us, keep us in His love and embrace, that we will always belong to Him, and never have to fear again the consequences of our evils, that is death. May the Lord bless us and be with us all, forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Daniel 2 : 31-45

Daniel said to king Nebuchadnezzar : “In your vision you saw a statue – very large, very bright, terrible to look at. Its head was of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.”

“As you watched, a rock cut from a mountain but not by human hands, struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, smashing them. All at once the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold crumbled into pieces as fine as chaff on the threshing floor in summer. The wind swept them off and not a trace was left. But the rock that struck the statue became a great mountain that filled the whole earth.”

“That was the dream. Now the interpretation. You, o king, are king of kings, to whom God of heaven has given dominion, strength, power, and glory, and into whose hand He has placed humankind, the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, making you ruler over them. You are that head of gold.”

“After you, another kingdom inferior to yours will rise. Then a third kingdom of bronze will rule the whole world. Last shall be a fourth kingdom strong as iron and just as iron breaks and crushes everything else, so will it break and smash all the others.”

“The partly-clay and partly-iron feet and toes mean that it will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some strength of iron, just as you saw iron mixed with clay. And as the toes were partly iron and partly clay, the kingdom will be partly strong and partly weak. Just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, the people will be a mixture but will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.”

“In the time of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom never to be destroyed or delivered up to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and put an end to them. And it will endure forever. This is the meaning of your vision of a rock cut from a mountain not by human hands, the rock which struck the statue and broke into pieces the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God has shown the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation reliable.”

Sunday, 24 November 2013 : Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Christ the King (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the last great feast in our Liturgical Year, that is the great solemnity of Christ the King, or in full, of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This is the last Sunday of our Liturgical Year, and from next Sunday onwards we will be entering into the season of Advent, in preparation for Christmas.

This is the feast, the great solemnity which marked the end of the year of our liturgy, but this year, it is even more glorious. Why so? Because on this year’s solemnity of Christ the King, we also celebrate the closing of the Year of the Faith, which Pope Benedict XVI had initiated on 12 October of last year and ran for a whole year until today. Indeed, today is a great occasion, to celebrate our faith, the faith we have in Jesus, our King and our Saviour.

Today, we glorify Jesus Christ our Lord, the divine Word of God incarnated into flesh in Jesus. He is King, and He is the Lord of all the universe, of all creation, whom He had created at the beginning of time. And yet, He chose to lower Himself, as the proof of His dedication, to those whom He had been king for. As He is the king of all creations, including all of us, we are all His people. And to show His love and dedication for us, bound to death that is our fate for sin, He came down to us, and for us, giving Himself for us that we can be saved.

Yes, Jesus although He was not obliged to help us, He still gave Himself to us, opening to us the floodgates of His mercy and love. In order to do so, He came to us, to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. And He did not do so in a manner so as to dazzle or amaze people. Instead, He came in silence, in the quiet night, that night in Bethlehem. No inn or lodging was made available for the king, and the king of kings made His entry into this world in a humble and dirty stable, fit for animals but not for men.

That is because, brothers and sisters in Christ, our Lord’s kingship is not a kingship of this world. He is the true king of all things, and His kingdom is not a kingdom of this world. That is why, if kings of this world are usually rich, privileged, and powerful, the Lord as the king of all kings is instead humble, gentle, and benevolent. He did not flaunt His power and authority, and instead He worked with complete obedience and devotion to the Lord His Father.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the desert as He fasted, he was unable to convince Him with the allures of glory, which are human glory, worldly glories, which would have tempted most if not all of us. All of these were the worldly glories that Jesus as King would have done, if He is a king of this world. He would have taken it easy, as after all, what is mankind, so sinful and rebellious that they are worth saving? Such would be the thoughts of the devil to Jesus. Yet, Jesus would have none of that and rebuked the devil.

In Jesus lies the salvation of this world, that is the redemption of all mankind. He did so by offering Himself, the perfect and unblemished lamb of sacrifice, exchanging for us our fated deaths, into the new life He had prepared for us. He paid the price in full to ransom us, a price He paid with none other than His own flesh and blood, shed from the cross as He hung above it between the heavens and the earth.

The kingship of Jesus is not for Him to enjoy being a king, and neither it is for Him to enjoy good life, as many of the kings and leaders of our world had done. The kingship of Jesus is one of service, dedication, and love, in which, He as king, is our shepherd, the leader of all in our way towards complete and perfect reunion with God. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, leads us in our way towards the Lord.

But many of us openly mocked Jesus and His kingship, often not recognising what He has done for our sake, and rejecting His offers of goodness through salvation of souls. We are indeed often like the prodigal thief crucified with Jesus, as well as the Roman soldiers and those who had crucified Him, mocking Him openly of His kingship, questioning His power and authority.

Let us all reflect, how often do we all, even in our daily actions, that we have rejected Jesus, that we have rebuked Him, and even made a mockery of Him in front of His enemies. And yet, if you all noticed, He did not care. After all, He is the Lord and King of all creations, of all things that were, that are, and that will ever be. He is omnipotent beyond any imagination, and He could just destroy us with a single thought, and yet He did not do that.

He cared for us and loved us, to the point of coming down for us. Remember what Jesus told us about the parable of the shepherd. How a good shepherd will leave his good flock and go out all the way in search of the one that is lost. That was precisely what Jesus had done, our Good Shepherd. He went all the way to save us, the lost ones, that we can be reunited again with the flock of Christ, destined for eternal salvation.

Such a good king we have, don’t you all think? Yes, that is Christ our Lord and King, a king who does not just demand obedience and service from his subjects, but instead as a king who serves and loves his people. But many of us refuse to acknowledge His kingship and reject Him, just as His own people rejected Him as He hung on the cross to save them.

Whenever we sin and commit things against the laws of God, and in violation of the Lord’s love for us, we refuse to admit the kingship of Jesus our Lord. Whenever we sin and commit things evil in the eyes of God and refuse to admit them and change from our sinful ways, we act in the same way as the unrepentant thief, who mocked Jesus for His kingship.

Instead, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be like the repentant thief. Let us be like him in that he openly acknowledged not only that Jesus is truly king and Lord, but also that he reveals and admits the depth of his own sin and his unworthiness before the same king, asking in deep humility and shame for forgiveness by the Lord.

And he was forgiven, and given a place in heaven, literally being the first one that Jesus saved through His death and resurrection. We too can follow in the repentant thief’s footsteps, provided that we realise and reflect on the depth of our own sinfulness, and resolve that from now on, we will change our attitude and truly accept the Lord our God as our Lord and Saviour.

So today, as we also celebrate together, the end of the holy Year of the Faith, as well as the great solemnity of Christ the King, let us together with the entire Church, all the same children of God, renew our profession of faith before our Lord and King, taking our vows that we will, from now on, live an upright and righteous life, in accordance with the will of God, and open ourselves to His infinite love.

Let us proclaim that Jesus is the king of all kings, our king and our Saviour. And let us also usher in this era of mercy and love. Surrender ourselves to the Lord’s mercy and love as the repentant sinner had done, and keep our faith strong and burning in God! God bless us all with His Son, Jesus, our King. Amen.

Monday, 11 November 2013 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Wisdom 1 : 1-7

Love justice, you who rule over the world. Think rightly of God, seek Him with simplicity of heart, for He reveals Himself to those who do not challenge Him and is found by those who do not distrust Him.

Crooked thinking distances you from God, and His Omnipotence, put to the test, confounds the foolish. Wisdom does not enter the wicked nor remain in a body that is enslaved to sin. The Holy Spirit who instructs us shuns deceit; It keeps aloof from foolishness and is ill at ease when injustice is done.

Wisdom is a spirit, a friend to man, and will not leave the blasphemous unpunished, because God knows His innermost feelings, truly sees His thoughts and hears what He says. For God’s Spirit has filled the whole world and He who holds together all things, knows each word that is spoken.

Thursday, 31 October 2013 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Romans 8 : 31b-39

If God is with us, who shall be against us? If He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not give us all things with Him? Who shall accuse those chosen by God : ‘He takes away their guilt.’ Who will dare to condemn them? Christ who died, and better still, rose and is seated at the right hand of God, interceding for us?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Will it be trials, or anguish, persecution or hunger, lack of clothing, or dangers or sword? As the Scripture says : ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; they treat us like sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all of this we are more than conquerors, thanks to Him who has loved us. I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor spiritual powers, neither the present nor the future, nor cosmic powers, were they from heaven or from the deep world below, nor any creature whatsoever will separate us from the love of God, which we have in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Friday, 6 September 2013 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Colossians 1 : 15-20

He is the image of the unseen God, and for all creation He is the firstborn, for in Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible : thrones, rules, authorities, powers… All was made through Him and for Him.

He is before all and all things hold together in Him. And He is the head of the body, that is the Church, for He is the first, the first raised from the dead that He may be the first in everything, for God was pleased to let fullness dwell in Him.

Through Him God willed to reconcile all things to Himself, and through Him, through His blood shed on the cross, God established peace, on earth as in heaven.