(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 26 March 2016 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Sixth Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Baruch 3 : 9-15, 32 – Baruch 4 : 4

Listen, Israel, to the commands of life, give ear so as to learn prudence. Why, Israel! Why are you in the land of your foes? Why are you growing old in a foreign country, contaminated by pagans, counted among those who go to the pit?

You have abandoned the source of Wisdom. If you had walked in the way of God, peace would be your dwelling place forever. Learn where is Wisdom, where is Strength and Understanding, that you may know, at the same time, where are length of days and life, light of the eyes and Peace.

Who will find Wisdom’s dwelling? Who will enter her storage rooms? But He who knows everything recognises her. He has found her in His own intellect. He who created the earth, for all time, and has filled it with four-footed beings.

He who sends the light, and it goes, who recalls it, and trembling it obeys. The stars shine, full of joy, to keep their night watches. He calls them and they answer, “Here we are.” They shine with joy for their Creator.

It is He who is our God, no other can be compared with Him. He has found the way of understanding and has given her to Jacob His servant and to Israel His well-beloved.

Then Wisdom was seen on earth and lived among humans. She herself is the book of the commands of God, the law which endures forever. All who hold fast to her will have life, but those who abandon her will die.

Come back, Jacob, and embrace her, walk towards brightness under her light. Do not give up what is your glory or sell your privileges to any strange nation. We are fortunate, o Israel, for we know what pleases the Lord!

Monday, 1 December 2014 : First Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple or Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s readings talk about us as the people of God, ought to go and seek the Lord, to find Him and follow His ways. Thus, we are urged to live according to what the Lord had taught us, and there are many ways to do this. But I would like to bring to your attention, our Gospel of today, which is about the faith of an army centurion or captain, whose faith in Jesus was so great that it was truly amazing for him to exhibit such a faith and Jesus praised him for such faith.

It is in fact also the kind of faith which all of us should have, a faith that is strong, genuine and sincere, and yet at the same time, it is humble, unassuming and also undeterred. What the centurion did was exactly what we always say to the Lord at the celebration of the Holy Mass, every time the priest shows us the Most Precious Body and Blood of Christ after the singing of the Agnus Dei. Remember the words? ‘I am not worthy, that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.’

These words are almost a direct representation from the words of the centurion, who said to Jesus, that he was unworthy to have Jesus to come to his house, sinful as he was, and he asked only that for the Lord to give the word, and then his servant shall be healed, by the power of Jesus. That is a true, sincere and genuine faith, the kind which our Lord seeks from all of us.

It is important then that we understand the circumstances, the background and the reality behind the story of the Gospel today. Judea at that time was under the rule of the descendants of king Herod the Great, but in reality their role and power was mostly just honorary. The real power and authority lie with the Romans. The military at the time was also dominated by the Romans, with some local and Temple guards, but the army were mostly Roman, the legions stationed in Judea as a garrison army.

Therefore, the army centurion was likely not a Jew in origin, and even most likely might have been a Roman, and to the Jews, the Romans, as with the other Gentiles or the non-Jewish people were considered pagan, unclean and unworthy of God. And the army centurion was likely fully aware of this fact. Thus, even though he was truly desperate to have his servant healed and brought from the brink of death, he was aware that inviting Jesus to his house might have dire implication for himself, and even more so, for Jesus.

He likely did not want Jesus to be harassed and badmouthed by the Pharisees and the Temple authorities for associating with one such as himself. These people had already made it difficult for the Lord by slandering Him for His associations with the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the Gentiles and many other people, whom the Pharisees and the Temple authorities deemed to be sinners and unworthy of salvation.

But did Jesus care about what they thought of Him? No, not at all! That is because He is solely concerned about the salvation of the souls of mankind, of sinners who has no one else to turn to but God. This concern is what made our Lord to go out and seek the sinners and the condemned, in order to bring them back from the precipice of darkness and damnation, and to return them into the light and the grace of God.

The army centurion was fully aware of his unworthiness, and he came forth to beg the Lord’s love and mercy, and with complete and full trust in the Lord, he knew that, while he was unworthy to receive the Lord in his own house, but whatever the Lord would do for his sake, would truly come true. This is the kind of great faith which the army centurion had, and which the Pharisees and the Temple authorities did not have.

Do we all remember about the doubting disciple, Thomas, who doubted the resurrection of Christ? Who refused to believe until the Lord Himself showed Himself to him? The same therefore occurred for the Pharisees, the Temple authorities, and to be frank, with many if not most of us. We want physical and visual evidence when we want to believe in something, and if we are not shown what we want to see, then we will not believe.

Yet, we have to notice that the army centurion did not even ask for Jesus to come and heal his servant physically and directly, so that he might see and believe. No, in fact he had already believed even not by seeing, and by his faith and belief in Jesus, he put his trust completely in God, and what he asked for was fulfilled completely. The Pharisees on the other hand, they had frequently seen and witnessed what Jesus had done throughout His ministry, in their futile attempts to discredit and destroy Him in their jealousy. And indeed, they failed to see the truth of God’s works in Jesus and they did not have the faith.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have a choice today, and on this season of Advent, there is indeed no better time to do so, that is to reflect on our own faith and on our own life. Have we been faithful in the way of the Pharisees and the Temple authorities? Is our faith like theirs, that is proud, unbending, arrogant and self-serving? Do we recognise the Lord when He comes again? Or are we too caught up in our own self-preserving attitudes, pride, jealousy and greed that we fail to recognise Him?

Certainly, we want to avoid this. And the way to truly live our lives is to be like the army centurion. Let us truly mean what we always say every time at the Mass, ‘I am not worthy, not worthy’, and not worthy we are indeed of the Lord, for we have sinned before God. Far less worthy we are indeed to even receive Him into ourselves. We have to realise this and be humble, just as the army centurion was, he who had admitted publicly that he was not worthy for Christ to come to his house and heal his servant.

And yet, our Lord Jesus, out of His great and infinite love for us, desires us to be reconciled to Himself, and He has the power and authority to heal us and make us whole, just as He had healed the servant of the army centurion. All that we need to do, is just ask, like the army centurion. He asked in great humility, sincere devotion and genuine faith, and he received his reward.

The Lord had already said to us, that we need to only ask, and we shall receive, and we need to only knock at the door, and the door shall be opened for us. Thus, this Advent season, let us use the opportunity given to us, to respond to God calling deep in our hearts, for us to repent and change our ways, and for us to walk in His ways and follow Him once again. Let us put our complete trust in Lord like the centurion, who have strong and genuine faith, without the need for doubt or proof. Do not be like the Pharisees, who have seen plenty, and yet refused to believe.

May Almighty God be with us all, and guide us all this Advent, that He may bring us all ever closer to His salvation and eternal glory, by making our faith more and more like the faith of the centurion. May we grow stronger and deeper in our humility and in our love for God. Doubt no more but believe! And let us prepare for the Lord who will come again to claim us all His people and bring us into His eternal kingdom. God bless us all. Amen.

 

First Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/30/monday-1-december-2014-first-week-of-advent-first-reading/

 

Psalm :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/30/monday-1-december-2014-first-week-of-advent-psalm/

 

Gospel Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/30/monday-1-december-2014-first-week-of-advent-gospel-reading/

Sunday, 19 October 2014 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mission Sunday and Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs; and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the love of God for us in the Eucharist through which He gave us all His own Body and Blood, so that we who share in them, we may receive salvation in our God, and be freed from the bondage of sin and death. And we are reminded of this fact in the readings from the Holy Scriptures which we read today.

In the first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord revealed to Isaiah His servant, of the coming of salvation for the people of Israel, in the person of Cyrus, the King and Emperor of the Persian Empire, who would deliver the people of God the salvation which they would come to await for. For a background understanding, I will share with you the significance of this passage from the Book of Isaiah by telling you the historical background behind it.

At the time the revelation was made to the prophet Isaiah, it was at the time just as the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the conquering power of the Assyrian Empire. The people of the northern kingdom was unfaithful and were engrossed in wickedness and in the worship of the pagan gods. As such, they were handed over to the hands of their enemies and brought away as slaves and exiles from the lands promised and given to their ancestors.

Meanwhile, in the kingdom of Judah, the southern kingdom, the people of God there were also not always faithful. They also from time to time rebelled against the will of God, preferring to follow their own ways and disobeyed the Lord’s instructions. At the time of the prophet Isaiah, during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judea, the consequences for these were not so apparent yet, but then soon they too would suffer the same fate as their northern brethren, the kingdom of Israel.

They too would be defeated, conquered and exiled, as well as into slavery by the rising power of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, under the famous king Nebuchadnezzar, who brought siege to Jerusalem, the Holy City of God, and brought it to ruin. The Temple of Solomon was destroyed and the Ark of the Covenant was lost in the chaos. This represented the end of the southern kingdom of Judah and the rule of the kings as a whole, and also marked the beginning of what would be called the Babylonian exile.

During this period of exile, the people of Judah were also uprooted and cast away from the land promised and given to their ancestors, and brought in chains to the foreign lands. There they suffered indignation and much humiliation, and they were made to work hard and experienced the bitter pills of difficulties of the world for a period of time, when, according to the word of God through the prophets, that they were humbled among the nations.

Yet, God did not leave them alone with that fate for long. He promised them deliverance, precisely through the prophet Isaiah, that the King of Persia, Cyrus the Great, who conquered many kingdoms in the known world at that time, would conquer Babylon and then liberated all the people of God from their bondage and slavery, allowing them to return home to their ancestral lands of Israel, freed at last from their bonds and exile.

God called Cyrus from among the nations, and gave him His blessings and grace, even though he did not know Him. Such was the Lord’s will and plan, and how He put all of His desires and will into effect. He never retracted His promises, nor is He ever being unfaithful. He fulfilled His promises through Cyrus, who just like Moses, brought the people of God out of suffering, bondage and slavery into freedom and God’s renewed promise and covenant.

But at the time of Jesus, the nation of the Jews have endured many cycles of persecutions, oppressions and enslavement by other, more powerful nations, and the latest to be added to the list at the time was the Roman Empire, which ruled over most of the known world, and was known for the first regular and organised ruling imperium in the world, with a meticulous system of taxation, both to maintain control and to obtain revenue for the Roman state.

However, the imposition of taxes also represented the symbol of Roman dominance and mastery over the world, and over the peoples of the Mediterranean at the time, including the Jews, who lived in the Roman province of Judea, which constituted roughly the old Promised Land which they had been given, together with the provinces of Galilee and Decapolis.

The imposition of the taxes were hated and disliked by the people, who viewed them as first the symbol of their submission to the Romans and their Emperor, the Caesar in Rome, as well as the symbol of their renewed enslavement and the end of their freedom which they had often fought hard for and gained for. It also burdened them economically, and thus they were resented by the people as a whole. This was also why the tax collectors were so hated by the people, and they were considered outcasts and traitors, as they were seen as serving the hated Romans in imposing their hated taxes.

The Roman taxes were paid with the Roman currency, that is the Roman coins, most commonly the silver variant, the denarius. On the denarius, just as all the other Roman coins, the face portrait of the Emperor were printed, such that to the extent of the Romans and the peoples of the Empire recognised their Emperor by the coins they released.

This represented a problem, and a rather serious one, in the view of the Jews, as the Roman Emperors at the time, beginning with the Emperor Augustus, and even his pre-Imperial predecessor, Julius Caesar, were deified and worshipped in the Empire as gods or descendants of the gods. Thus, for the Jews, particularly to the Pharisees, the act of paying the taxes with the Roman coins represent a potentially dangerous and serious sin.

Yes, that is the offering to the idols, as equated by the ‘offering’ of the Roman coins with the Emperor’s portrait to the Empire, and thus to the Emperor himself, the deified entity, the pagan god patron of the Empire. Thus, the Pharisees and the elders of Israel wanted to trap Jesus with the question, and had He answered that they should pay the taxes, then they could whip up the masses’ opinion against Jesus and accuse Him of collaboration with the Romans, essentially a traitor to the nation.

On the other hand, if He had answered that they should not pay the taxes, then the Pharisees and the elders, with their links to the Roman establishment could claim that Jesus wanted to lead the people in rebellion against the Roman rule, by refusing to pay the taxes due for them. But Jesus knew all that they had plotted against Him with, and He gave them the answer which none of them had predicted.

Give to God what belongs to God, and give to the Caesar, the Emperor of Rome, what belongs to him, namely the coins and the wealth of the world. Jesus wanted to remind us, just as He wanted to rebuke His opponents, that the wealth and the materials of this world belong to the world and ought to be returned back to them. Thus, money and possessions that we have and gained in this life, is no more than the means for us to live a good and sufficient life, enough for us to sustain ourselves, but they should not be the focus of our life.

Yes, for God is the Creator of all of us, the most beloved ones of all His creations. We were made by God with love, given life by His Spirit and intended for greatness and goodness, and despite our waywardness and disobedience, in the end, we still belong to God, and nothing and noone can deny this very fact. Hence, whatever we are and whoever we are, we ought to give it to the Lord, as we truly belong to God and not to this world.

And hence, we should avoid all the evils of this world and keep ourselves pure, and the Lord had already warned against these sinful ways, namely the sins of the Pharisees, who preached what they believed in, but they did not practice what they had preached. That is why they were called hypocrites, and rightly so, for their faith in the Lord was superficial, and all that they cared about was their own vanity and pride.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what God wants from us is our love, that is what we ought to give to Him, after He Himself had loved us all first. We should also keep ourselves away from the vices and evils of the Pharisees. Think not about bringing harm and plotting against others, but think rather of love, and how we can better love one another, as well as forgiving those who had sinned against us, as Jesus Himself had taught us.

And today in our world, as it had been in the past, there are still many people who live in the darkness of the world, following the ways of the Pharisees and have yet to see the love of the Lord and have yet to understand His ways. And thus, today, in which we also celebrate the occasion of the Mission Sunday, we have to remind ourselves of the responsibilities and the obligations which we have been given by the Lord when we became the member of His Church.

God desires not the destruction of mankind, just as He did not desire the condemnation of His people, Israel. This was why He sent them deliverers, beginning from Moses and then Cyrus, and finally Jesus Himself, His own Son, the One who would deliver not just the Jews but all mankind from the greatest of their bondage and slavery.

Yes, all of us who have sinned and under the whim of sin are enslaved and bonded to sin. And the chains of sin that bind us will eventually and inevitably lead to death, the punishment and ultimate consequence for sin. And not just any death, but eternal death, which will separate us from the love of God, the suffering of hell for eternity, where we are completely and entirely devoid of that love which God lavishes on us.

We can just begin to imagine the kind of suffering when we lack and are denied the wonderful love which God has for us. The pain and suffering far dwarfs the kind of physical and mental suffering which the people in exile and slavery had suffered. And this is exactly what God does not want to happen to us, and thus He also sent His people more deliverers, and who are they? They are none other than each one of us, who have been received into His Church, and have been endowed with the faith.

Let me share with you the inspiring lives of the saints who we also commemorate today, that is St. Jacques Chastan and St. Isaac Jogues, as well as St. Paul of the Cross. For the case of St. Jacques Chastan and St. Isaac Jogues, they were French martyrs, who were part of the French missionaries, the Mission Estrangeres de Paris, the M.E.P. priests who were specialised in the missions to the far ends of the world, spreading the word of God to those who have yet to hear the Good News of the Lord.

St. Jacques Chastan was sent to the missions in Asia, to Thailand, then called Siam, and to Macao, and finally to Korea, where he met his death with faith, in a holy martyrdom. Through his works there and with the collaboration of many other missionaries, many souls were called to the Lord, and heeding the call of conversion, they gave themselves to be baptised and to be part of the Church of God.

The Korean authorities were strongly opposed to the efforts of the missionaries, and they did everything they could to prevent the spread of the faith. Many people, including St. Jacques Chastan were martyred in the defense of their true faith, refusing to renounce the faith and salvation which they had received. After all, when one had been liberated and delivered from slavery, who would want to be enslaved again? To do so would condemn oneself to an eternity of suffering.

Meanwhile, St. Isaac Jogues was a French missionary who was sent to the wild and undiscovered regions of North America, then known as the New World. He worked for the Lord among the many tribes of the North American indigenous populations. Life was indeed difficult for him, and the wars and conflicts between the tribes made it even more difficult. Nevertheless, St. Isaac Jogues persevered and continued to minister to them, spreading the Good News and converting many of them, urging them to abandon their old ways and learn the ways of the Lord.

St. Isaac Jogues was also martyred for his faith, while he was on his mission. He never gave up until the end, and as a result, together with him, many people who were enslaved by sin and darkness, were made free and gain salvation together in God. Such was the role model which actions we can and that we indeed should follow in life.

Lastly, St. Paul of the Cross, the Italian priest of the early modern era who was particularly devoted to the memory of the Holy Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the remembrance of that singular act of ultimate love of God, through which mankind were delivered from the chains and the tyranny of sin into true freedom. Through his works and devotion to the Holy Passion of our Lord, St. Paul of the Cross bring many of the faithful into greater and deeper understanding of their faith, and how all of us too have our own roles to play in helping one another to reach out to God’s salvation.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, heeding the call of the Lord which He had made through the Scriptures and the Gospels which we had heard today, let us all be renewed in our faith and zeal for the Lord. Let us all realise the great love which God has for all of us, that He does not want to see us remain chained to sin and darkness, and for that He had sent us Jesus, to be the One true Saviour of all, in the mould of Moses and Cyrus, but He did even greater things than these two had done.

Why so, brethren? That is because sin is a greater slavery than anything else that may affect our body. Sin enslaves both our body and soul, our heart and mind, and all that comprise us. And thus, through Christ, by believing in Him and in His love, and in His death on the cross, through which He showed us the act of ultimate love, offering Himself in exchange for us as a ransom for death, the consequence of our sins, we have been made free.

Hence, on this occasion of Mission Sunday, inspired by the examples of the saints whom we remember today, let us all also imitate the love which Christ had shown us, and let us imitate this love and show the same love in our own actions and deeds in life, that we may come to realise the great potential within us, and also in the many others who still live in darkness and sin.

May Almighty God bless us and our efforts, the missionary works which we ought to take on, in order to spread the Word of God and the Good News of the Gospels to all the nations, especially those still under the thrall of sin, so that we may truly be what Jesus had asked of us, to give to the Lord what belongs to Him, that is all of us, our hearts and our minds, our entire being. May God bring more and more souls to Him and rescue them, and free them from the shackles of sin and into the everlasting life in true joy which He had promised us all. God be with us, forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/17/sunday-19-october-2014-29th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-mission-sunday-and-memorial-of-st-john-de-brebeuf-and-st-isaac-jogues-priests-and-martyrs-and-st-paul-of-the-cross-priest-gospel-reading/

Second Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/17/sunday-19-october-2014-29th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-mission-sunday-and-memorial-of-st-john-de-brebeuf-and-st-isaac-jogues-priests-and-martyrs-and-st-paul-of-the-cross-priest-second-reading/

First Reading : https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/10/17/sunday-19-october-2014-29th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-mission-sunday-and-memorial-of-st-john-de-brebeuf-and-st-isaac-jogues-priests-and-martyrs-and-st-paul-of-the-cross-priest-first-reading/

Sunday, 19 October 2014 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mission Sunday and Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs; and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 22 : 15-21

At that time, the Pharisees went out and considered how they could trap Jesus by His own words. They then sent out their disciples, with members of Herod’s party, for this purpose.

They said to Jesus, “Master, we know that You are an honest Man and truly teach God’s way. You are not influenced by others nor are You afraid of anyone. So tell us what You think : is it against the Law to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus understood their bad intentions, and said to them, “Hypocrites, why are you testing Me? Show Me the coin with which you pay the taxes.” They showed Him a silver coin, and Jesus said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose name?”

They answered, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus replied, “So give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.”

Sunday, 19 October 2014 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mission Sunday and Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs; and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Thessalonians 1 : 1-5b

From Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy to the church of Thessalonica which is in God the Father and in Christ Jesus, the Lord. May the peace and grace of God be with you.

We give thanks to God at all times for you and remember you in our prayers. We constantly recall before God our Father the work of your faith, the labours of your love and your endurance in waiting for Christ Jesus our Lord.

We remember, brothers and sisters, the circumstances of your being called. The Gospel we brought you was such not only in words. Miracles, Holy Spirit and plenty of everything were given to you.

Sunday, 19 October 2014 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mission Sunday and Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs; and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 95 : 1 and 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10a, 10c

Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth! Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds.

How great is the Lord and worthy of praise! Above all gods He is to be feared. For all other gods are worthless idols, but YHVH is the One who made the heavens.

Give to the Lord, you families of nations, give to the Lord glory and strength. Give to the Lord the glory due His Name; bring gifts and enter His courts.

Worship the Lord with holy celebrations; stand in awe of Him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

He will judge the peoples with justice.

Sunday, 19 October 2014 : 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mission Sunday and Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs; and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Isaiah 45 : 1, 4-6

Thus says YHVH to His anointed, to Cyrus : “I have taken you by the right hand to subdue nations before you and strip kings of their armour, to open the gateways before you so that they will be closed no more.”

“For the sake of Jacob My servant, of Israel My chosen one, I have called you by your name and given you your mission although you do not know Me. I am YHVH, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me. I armed you when you did not know Me, so that, from the rising to the setting of the sun, all may know that there is no one besides Me; I am YHVH, and there is no other.”

Saturday, 18 October 2014 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Timothy 4 : 10-17b

You must know that Demas has deserted me for the love of this world : he returned to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke remains with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is a useful helper in my work. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.

Bring with you the cloak I left at Troas, in Carpos’ house and also the scrolls, especially the parchments. Alexander the metalworker has caused me great harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. Distrust him for he has been very much opposed to our preaching.

At my first hearing in court no one supported me; all deserted me. May the Lord not hold it against them. But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength to proclaim the Word fully, and let all the pagans hear it.

Friday, 3 October 2014 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today in the Scriptures we heard about how Jesus sent His curses and warnings against the cities of Galilee, that of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, on their lack of faith and refusal to listen to the truth which Jesus had brought into the world, into their very midst, while at the same time, saying how in Tyre and Sidon, if such truth was delivered, they would have believed.

Then in the Psalms we heard how God is so great and powerful, and how in all things within our lives, He had His role to guide and lead us into the ways of the righteous, to lead us so that we may find our way to Him and not to be lost to the darkness of the world, and how indeed we ought to recognise Him and what He had done for us, to deliver us from certain destruction.

And lastly, in the first reading taken from the Book of Job, was the reply which God gave in the end, after the long series of lamentations, complaints and words from the suffering Job, who suffered tremendously at the works of Satan to test his faith in the Lord, and God reminded Job how the vastness of the Lord and His wonders, as well as the infinite nature of His thoughts and plans, could not possibly be understood by Job and his human mind and intellect. And Job realised how God did not abandon him and in fact was about to bless him for his constant faith, and through his repentance, he gained blessings and graces.

In this we see the very importance for us to put our trust in God, and to listen to Him in all of His words. We should not put forward our pride or our ego, which are indeed great obstacles to our ability to reach the Lord and all His goodness. Pride and human ego lay in the path towards of our salvation, especially because they lead us to believe that we are saved, because of our greatness, our superiority and others that separate us from the love of God.

In order to fully understand and discern the meaning of the Gospel today, we have to understand the kind of prejudice and opinion prevailing in the society of the people of God at Jesus’ time. The Jews lived in the land once given to their ancestors, but they did not live there alone. Just as their ancestors once had lived among the nations, they also lived among many nations, the Samaritans, the Nabataeans, to which King Herod the Great and their descendants belonged to, and the people of the region of Tyre and Sidon, north from Judea, the land where the Jews lived in.

Some Jews also lived in Galilee, occupying cities such as Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin among many others, including the village of Nazareth where Jesus lived with His parents on earth early in His life. And the Jews at the time, particularly among the caste of the Pharisees, were very puritan and fanatical in their faith and lives, to the point that they disdained all the foreigners living in their midst.

They thought highly of themselves, thinking that they alone among all the races and peoples of the world who deserved salvation and grace in the Lord, and that all others were condemned to hellfire. They thought of that because they considered themselves being the people chosen by God, they deserved that salvation, and they looked down on the ways of those who lived in their midst.

But they failed to understand that God does not desire the destruction of the righteous, just as He did not desire the destruction and the suffering of Job, His faithful servant. God therefore did not act with prejudice against those whom He did not choose first, and He will also save them if they are indeed righteous and just, and walk in His path.

This is why, God Himself had spoken through His prophets, through Isaiah and others, that even the Gentiles would come and see the light of God, and revel in its wonder. This is to presage the flock and throngs of the non-Jewish peoples coming to seek salvation in God by following Christ and His teachings. Isaiah at the same time also mentioned, how a new light has dawned in the land of Issachar and Zebulun, which is exactly at the place where Jesus lived, in the land of Galilee.

But we have to take note indeed, that no matter what the Lord had done, and even when the light of God has arrived in the world, if those to whom the Lord had intended it to, never paid attention and ignored it, then it will be of no use to them. And this was exact what had happened. The people of God saw the miracles which Jesus had performed in the areas around His hometown of Nazareth, including the three cities mentioned in the Gospel.

Yet, they would not believe in Him, although they were awed by what He had done, and those who knew who He was in life even rejected and ridiculed Him, and none worse than His own hometown relatives and acquaintances, who ridiculed Him as they thought that He was a mere carpenter’s Son. The people of God refused to listen to the Lord and believe in what He had done, and that is why, He bypassed them for those who truly are worthy of Him.

Many of the non-Jewish populations, including a widow from the region of Tyre and Sidon, the Samaritans and others believed in Jesus and His truth, despite them being looked down and ridiculed by the people of God, especially by the Pharisees. Yet, their actions were clear, and they were faithful not just in words but also deeds, and as such, they would indeed receive the promised salvation of God.

Those who only believed superficially and gave only lip-service to the Lord, such as the Pharisees and those who refused even after Jesus revealed to them the truth about Himself through His actions, were doomed to oblivion and suffering. They did not understand that, in their own little minds, they thought they have everything and they were able to do as they please, but of course they were wrong.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all come to reflect about these words of the Lord which we should ponder within our hearts. That we should aim to be closer and closer to our Lord, seeking always His mercy and love, that in all things, we may grow to be more like Him, and be found righteous and just in all our ways, and thus merit the salvation which God had promised to all those who walk in His ways, not just by mere words, but also with actions. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 29 June 2014 : Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles and Feast Day of the Church of Rome (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Timothy 4 : 6-8, 17-18

As for me, I am already poured out as a libation, and the moment of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness with which the Lord, the just Judge, will reward me on that day; and not only me, but all those who have longed for His glorious coming.

But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength to proclaim the Word fully, and let all the pagans hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will save me from all evil, bringing me to His heavenly kingdom. Glory to Him forever and ever. Amen!