Sunday, 10 April 2022 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the beginning of the Holy Week, the most solemn time and occasion in the entire liturgical year, as rightfully we should turn away from all of our other matters and concerns, and spend more time with the Lord, reflecting and immersing ourselves deeply in the mystery and events surrounding Our Lord’s Passion, His suffering, death and eventual glorious resurrection from the dead. On this Sunday, which we celebrate as the Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, we mark the beginning of this very important series of event in the history of our salvation.

For this Sunday marks the moment when the Lord entered into the moment of His Passion, beginning the final stage of His mission and work in this world. The Lord travelled to Judea and Jerusalem for the last time after approximately three years of His ministry, and this time, He knew that this was the moment of His greatest work, when He would have to suffer for the sake of all mankind. But at the same time, He willingly went through with it, obeying perfectly the will of His heavenly Father, and because all of us are truly beloved by Him, so much so that He was willing to endure all that for our sake.

Today we heard first of all the reading of the Gospel at the beginning, in which the celebration of the Lord’s glorious entry to Jerusalem is celebrated. The palms are blessed and we all gather together to celebrate and glorify the Lord, our Saviour and King, Who has come into our midst, as He came to Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of the prophets, that the King would come to His people on a humble and lowly donkey. The Lord Jesus came into Jerusalem upon the glorious cries and shout of joy, of people praising God, with the words, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Highest!’

The people raised palm fronds and branches, putting their cloaks and clothes on the floor, welcoming the Lord with great pomp and circumstance, a welcome fit for a king. And indeed, the Lord is the King of all, and not just the King of Israel but also the King of Kings, the Lord and Master over all of creation. Yet, He came to His people not as a mighty conqueror or warrior, riding on a warhorse or carried on a golden throne, and instead, He came riding on a mere, lowly donkey, an animal which people at that time often derided and under-appreciate, for its demeanour and lack of majesty unlike that of a great horse.

But that was exactly where the real nature of our Lord’s Kingship is revealed to us. Our Lord is the King Who came not to seek to be served but to serve us. He is a King Who did not need to depend on all the pomps and glamour to boost His credentials and power. He is the true Source of all power and authority, the One true King over all the kings and lords of this world, the true Master of all creation. He came to us revealing the nature of His love for each one of us. Here is our Lord and King, Who has humbled Himself and obeyed His Father’s will so perfectly, that even as He entered Jerusalem with such great pomp and circumstance, it was also a reminder of what would happen within just merely within the same week.

For the very same people who had cheered on the Lord that day would likely be the same people who also cried out just a few days later, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ at the instigation of the members of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council. The same people who welcomed the Lord as their King would also be the same people who denied Him just a few days later and said that they had no king except for Caesar, the Roman Emperor. We can see how quickly everything turned, and all of those things happening within just merely within the span of a week’s time.

That is why today on this Palm Sunday marking the beginning of Holy Week, we celebrate two distinct yet connected events, namely the triumphal entry of the Lord into Jerusalem and the Passion of Our Lord, meaning His suffering and death, the events surrounding the Last Supper and the condemnation of Jesus, and His crucifixion and death on the Cross at Calvary. That is why today we call the celebration as the Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, because by His entry into Jerusalem, the Lord came to finally fulfil the promises He had made to His people, the salvation that He would bring into their midst.

He has already made it known on several prior occasions on what would happen to Him, how He would be rejected and persecuted, condemned to death like a criminal and be raised up before all to see, much like how Moses raised up the bronze serpent that saved many Israelites from the death due to their own sins. Thus, the Lord came to Jerusalem to fulfil everything as foretold and prophesied, that He would, in just a short time after, be raised up on His Cross, at the culmination of His ministry and the Passion He endured for our sake, out of His overflowing love, to save us from certain annihilation and destruction.

For through His death and resurrection, the Lord has established anew the Covenant between us and God, with His Cross as the Bridge that bridges the gap between us sinners and our Lord and Creator. Through sin we have been made unworthy of God and corrupted. We have been separated from God and should have been condemned to eternal damnation. There existed that uncrossable and impassable chasm between God and us, ever since we first fell into the traps of sin. However, God made the impossible into possibility because He Himself built the bridge that helped to reconnect us to God, by His Cross.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the important events celebrated in this Palm Sunday, the glorious and triumphant Entry to Jerusalem and the Passion of Our Lord and the way of His suffering all the way to the Cross, we are all invited to spend more time this week, during this holiest of all weeks, the Holy Week, to be closer to God, to be more attuned to Him and to walk ever more faithfully in His path. All of us are called to make good use of this time of the Holy Week beginning today to prepare ourselves, if we have not yet done so, to be ever more worthy of celebrating the greatest mysteries of our salvation and liberation from sin.

Let us remind ourselves of the great love that God has constantly shown us, all these while, that He has always willingly reached out to us, embracing us with genuine love and ever-patient compassion and mercy, that despite our constant stubbornness and disobedience, He has come to be with us, dwelling with us and to gather us back to Himself, to be our Lord and King forever. And now, let us also ask ourselves, if we have responded to His love with the same love and the same commitment to the Covenant that He has established with each and every one of us. If we have not done so, then we have to ask ourselves, why we have not done so yet.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, one aspect of the Palm Sunday celebrations that we may easily overlook is the symbolic representation of the Lord riding on the donkey, in which the Lord specifically told His disciples to bring a tied colt that had not been ridden before to be His ride. It was this colt that would become His donkey as mentioned earlier. The tied colt represent the attitude of the people of Israel, who had tied themselves to the old ways, their past sinfulness and refusal to obey the will of God. Meanwhile, the untying of the colt represent the freedom that the Lord brought to them, and a reminder of how He had freed their ancestors from the tyranny of the Egyptians.

At the same time, the colt that had not been ridden before also serves as a the representation of the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people, who had not been burdened by the Law as interpreted by the Pharisees and the generations of the additions that burdened the Jewish people. The Lord taking this colt as His ride itself is according to the Church tradition and understanding serves to remind us that He came into this world to gather us all, His beloved people, to gather all His children, be it Jews or Gentiles. All are beloved equally by God, whether they belong to the race of the people called earlier by God and bound by the Law of Moses, or whether they were outside this chosen race. Everyone through Christ has become one united people in faith, not bound by blood, race, or any other artificial constructs or divisions that we often placed to divide us into ‘us’ and ‘them’.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and King has brought us the assurance of hope and eternal life. All of us who believe in Him shall experience the fullness of His love and grace, the fullness of His inheritance and glory. All that remains is for us to answer His call and commit ourselves to follow Him. As we raise our blessed palms and praising the Lord, let us ask ourselves, ‘Is the Lord Jesus truly the King of our hearts, our minds, and indeed, the King of our whole entire beings?’ And if we consider Him as our Lord and King, then naturally we have to live our lives in accordance with His ways. Otherwise then we are behaving like hypocrites, who pretend to believe in something and yet act in an entirely different way in life.

As we enter into this solemn occasion of the Holy Week, let us all renew our commitment to the Lord that we may deepen our relationship with Him and spend more quality time with Him. Let us all turn away from our sinful paths and our stubborn attitudes, and let us truly recognise Him as our Lord and King, and welcome Him into our hearts and beings, into our houses and families. Let our Holy Week observance and actions be filled with rich faith and true desire to love the Lord more and more with each and every passing moments. We have to follow the examples set by Our Lord Himself, Who obeyed His Father’s will so perfectly and humbled Himself such that through Him, all of us have gained the assurance of eternal life. Follow Christ, and we will follow Him to eternal life.

Let us all be inspiration for one another in how we live our lives righteously and faithfully from now on, not only for the duration of Holy Week and Easter, but all through to the end of our lives. May God be with us all, and may He strengthen us in our desire to love Him and walk in His path, now and evermore. Amen.

Sunday, 28 March 2021 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we mark the occasion of the Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, and on this day we begin the solemn celebrations of the Holy Week. This marks the last week in which the culmination of the Lord’s mission in this world. Throughout this season of Lent, we have been preparing ourselves physically and spiritually to celebrate this most important moment in the history of the world and all mankind, the moment when God Himself came to save us.

This day we remember the moment when the Lord came down to Jerusalem hailed as a King, cheered on and praised by many who were there to welcome Him, just as prophesied in the Scriptures by the prophets of the Lord, as the King riding on a donkey entering into His city mentioned by the prophet Zechariah, ‘See Jerusalem, your King is coming to you, righteous and bringing salvation, riding on a humble donkey.’

This was not Jesus’ first time entering Jerusalem, as evidenced from the Gospels that He had been in Jerusalem a few times before, not least when He was consecrated to God at His circumcision and presentation to God, and when He was just twelve years old and was left at the Temple, and on other occasions during His ministry when He came and taught the people at the Temple and other places throughout Jerusalem and Judea.

However, that time, the Lord came to Jerusalem for the one last and final time, when He would embark on the final part of His mission in fulfilling what the Lord had promised us all mankind, His beloved ones, to save us and to rescue us from the bondage of sin and death, from the tyranny and the enslavement of the devil, which He had done by His Passion, that is His suffering and His death on the Cross.

The word Passion itself came from the Latin ‘passus sum’, which means to endure and persevere through something, and in this case, it is the sufferings, the trials and pain that the Lord has suffered and endured, all the humiliation and horrible treatment He experienced at the hands of His enemies and tormentors. All of these He had willingly done, because of the great love that He has, for each and every single one of us, without exception.

We remember that the Lord so loved the world, all of us mankind, that He sent us His only begotten Son, according to the Gospel of St. John, that through Him we are to find salvation and not perish, and through Christ, God’s own Son, we have been brought to the hope of a new and graceful existence, a way to eternal life, and to be reconciled with God, our loving Father, Lord and Creator.

In this we have seen the most wonderful love of God, presented to us through Christ, the One proclaimed as King and Holy One of God by the crowd of people in Jerusalem, welcomed with much festivities and with palm branches, the Son and Heir of David Who has come to claim the kingdom of His forefather David, king of all Israel. Yet, do we all realise that the same crowd who hailed Jesus as King and praised Him wonderfully with palm branches in hand were perhaps the same ones who then cried out, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ in just a few days afterwards?

For those who followed the Lord Jesus, like His disciples and others, it might seem that the moment of the entry to Jerusalem was indeed a triumphant moment as the Lord was hailed as King and many saw Him as someone who could liberate them from the rule of the Romans. But, the moment that they saw the Lord being accused of blasphemy and of sin against God and nation, they turned against Him and became His accusers instead. Those who remained faithful, like the Apostles, hid themselves in fear and were scattered.

The Lord knew exactly what would happen to Him, and He had already mentioned it on several occasions, how He would be betrayed even by those close to Him, one of His own Twelve would be the one to hand Him over to the Sanhedrin, be arrested and then condemned to death, suffering a most painful and humiliating death on the Cross. Knowing all these, the Lord Himself did agonise over it at the Gardens of Gethsemane just prior to His arrest, the weight of the whole responsibility that He was to bear, and yet, He obeyed completely to the will of His heavenly Father.

It is St. Paul spoke of in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Philippi, the Epistle to the Philippians, when he spoke of Christ, obedient unto death on the Cross, humbling Himself and emptying Himself of His divinity and glory, allowing Himself to be scourged, punished and to endure the greatest of pain, sorrow and suffering, bearing all the consequences and punishments that we should have suffered instead because of our many sins.

Christ, Our Lord, is the New Adam, the New Man, Who obeyed God so completely and dedicated Himself so thoroughly, in contrast with the old Adam, and thus, won for us all the victory against sin. While Adam fell into sin and corruption from that sin because he was unable to resist the temptations to sin, and thus fell by his disobedience, it was Christ’s obedience, emptying Himself of all glory, that led to our salvation.

For He offered Himself, as a worthy and perfect sacrifice, both as the High Priest of all, and as the Paschal Lamb to be sacrificed Himself, on the Altar of the Cross. And indeed, the Cross is also the Throne of our King, just as the title placed on the Cross, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, and also thus, King of all of us, King of Kings. There He is, on the Cross, suffering and dying for us, for as our King, He desires nothing less than our happiness and freedom from the tyranny of sin.

It was this that brings us to the Passion of Our Lord, as this Passion, the sufferings Christ suffered for us, shows us all His compassionate love. The word compassion itself again came from the root word of Passion, cum passus sum, meaning to endure and persevere together with us, to be with us through our sufferings, to sympathise with us not just through words but also through concrete action, as He was there up on the Cross, bloody and bruised, shedding His Blood and rending His Body for us all.

Through Christ’s obedience, and by bearing all of our sins to Himself, by uniting us all in our humanity to His own humanity, Christ suffered and died, so that by His death, we may gain access to new and everlasting life. And thus, today this Palm Sunday we mark the beginning of this intense culmination of the Lord’s ministry, the beginning of this great Passion of Our Lord, as we witness and are reminded yet again of all that the Lord had done for our sake, out of enduring love for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we now enter into this Holy Week proper, are we going to celebrate it solemnly and properly, with clear understanding and appreciation? Or are we going to treat it just like any other week without any distinction? Let us think of how we can make our Holy Week meaningful and good, that we may benefit as much as possible, and become ever closer to God, being more faithful and dedicated to Him.

Let us all focus our attention on the Christ Crucified, and remind ourselves of what a wonderful grace and privilege we have received, to be beloved by God so much that He was willing to do all these for our sake. As we look on our Lord crucified, let us remember that His every wounds are our sins, our transgressions, our wickedness, and all that we have done which were in contradiction to the way of the Lord.

Christ endured all that pain and suffering, brothers and sisters in Christ. Are we still insisting on following the wrong path in life, in doing what is against God, and inflicting those wounds that we have seen on our Lord? The Lord did indeed suffer, in His humanity, and He did indeed die, suffering all these so that we may live. Let us all appreciate everything that He had done for us, and strive to do our best in life to be more and more committed, to be closer to God and to love Him more.

Let us all enter into this most solemn time of the Holy Week with clear focus on the Lord, on His Passion and suffering, His love and the great compassion He has shown to each and every one of us. Let us all be exemplary in our faith and be good role model to one another so that we may help our fellow brothers and sisters to find our way together to the salvation and eternal life in God. May God, our Crucified Christ, Our most loving Saviour, be with us all as we journey through this Holy Week, that we may come to share ever more deeply in the mysteries of His Passion, His suffering, death and Resurrection. Amen.

Sunday, 5 April 2020 : Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers ands sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we begin the observation of the Holy Week, the holiest and pinnacle of the liturgical celebrations of the entire year, as we enter into the most solemn and important moments in the history of the salvation of mankind and the world. On this day we enter and experience together this very moment when the Lord finally put into place everything that He has promised to us, His people, heading to Jerusalem where He knew that the moments His Passion, suffering and death would come.

On this Palm Sunday, we heard two very discordant accounts from the time of the Lord’s triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem, as well as from the time when He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, arrested, put on trial, handed over to the Romans, condemned to death and was crucified as a criminal. This represents a very distinct extremes between the glory and triumphant nature of the entrance procession into Jerusalem and the humiliating and painful nature of the crucifixion of the Lord at Calvary. And all these happened within just the span of a few days.

In our Gospel today read just before the Procession with the blessed palms, we heard of the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of the prophet Zechariah, speaking of the coming of the King on a donkey into His city. The people welcomed the Lord and sang praises, putting their garments and clothes on the ground for the Lord and His donkey to pass through on, and waving palm branches and leaves, a welcome truly fit for a great King.

The crowds sang ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ loudly, referring to the descent of the Lord Jesus from the much revered King David of Israel, the glorious kingdom and time of his kingship of old. The Lord Jesus had His descent as the Heir of David, through St. Joseph, His foster-father and also legal father, and therefore, Jesus is the One Whom God had promised to David that through Him, the kingdom and house of David would be glorious and strong forever. The Lord came to Jerusalem, the city of the King to claim His place as the one true King of Israel.

Certainly at that time, some people must have thought that Jesus would restore the old kingdom of Israel, defeat and drive out the Romans who were the overlords of Judea, and reign in a new era of glorious kingdom like that of the old kingdom of David and Solomon. Some of the people had tried to make Jesus as their King on several occasions, riding on the popular sentiment and the Lord’s immense following and popularity, only for the Lord to rebuff them by withdrawing every time they attempted to do so.

But as we then proceed into our first reading taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the prophecy of the Suffering Servant, of Whom the prophet Isaiah spoke about as One Who would bear the suffering and the punishments for our sins and faults. This is the revelation of the true purpose and mission of the Messiah’s coming, that His Kingship is achieved through not the glory of the world but through the glory of the Cross. He would have to suffer as part of God’s plan to save us mankind.

And this is what St. Paul spoke about in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Philippi, in our second reading today, as he spoke of the Christ, the Son of God Who humbled Himself completely and entirely, emptying Himself of His divinity and wonders, and willingly took up the Cross of suffering, filled with the mighty burdens and punishments due for our many and innumerable sins. He bore all of these on His own shoulders, and endured all of the pain, bitterness, rejections and ridicules because of His great and enduring love for each and every one of us.

God has loved us all so much that He was willing to do all these for our sake, and He endured all the humiliations as described throughout our Passion reading today, detailing how He was treated, ridiculed, condemned by His enemies and all those who sought to denounce and sentence Him to death. He was handed to the Romans, and rejected by the whole people who chose a criminal instead of Him to be freed. He was tortured and made to suffer such indignity, and endured the excruciating pain of nails driven into His hands and feet.

All these were what the Lord had been willing to go through for our sake. He has always been so patient and been so loving towards us. That is why today, at the beginning of this Holy Week, we are brought to focus our attention to the Lord’s Passion, His ever so great and wonderful love for each and every one of us that He was willing to go through all the sufferings for us. His love is so great that although He is King, but He desires not His own glory but instead, our own glorification, through His sacrifice on the Cross.

For through the Cross, by His obedience in His Father’s will, the Lord our Saviour has restored us to the glory that was ours before we fell into sin. He wants us to be reconciled to Him and to receive His saving grace. Unfortunately, it is often us who have been stubborn and rejected His generous offer for mercy and love. We have been like those who enthusiastically welcomed the Lord on Palm Sunday, and yet, shouted ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ on Good Friday just a few days later. We are also often like Judas Iscariot, who outwardly had faith in the Lord and yet, betrayed Him in the end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we begin this solemn celebration of the Holy Week, let us make good use of this time and opportunities provided to us that we may redirect our lives and our focus and attention back towards God. This Holy Week, let us all spend more time with God in prayer, deepening our devotion through works of charity and through reading the Scriptures with greater clarity of purpose in mind. Let us all also spend some thoughts for all those who are suffering, sick and dying during these days, unable to rejoice and celebrate as how they have usually done.

Many of us these days are unable to celebrate as we usually do, and in many parts of the world, due to the current pandemic, the celebrations of the Masses publicly have been suspended, extending through to the Holy Week and possibly even through the Easter season. And even for some of us and our communities, much of this season of Lent had indeed been a time of spiritual desolation and sadness, as we have been in many ways deprived either the regular celebration of the Mass or access to the Eucharist.

However, this is probably a good time and reminder for us all that amidst all these darkness and uncertainties, all the despairs and terrible things all around us, we still have that very one hope, the hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, our King and Saviour. That is why we should still celebrate this Holy Week with much enthusiasm and faith, and we should try our best to bring forth this spirit of faith and enthusiasm to our fellow brothers and sisters. For we all should know that sin and darkness mo longer have permanent hold on us, as Christ has promised us freedom and liberation from these through His own suffering and death on the Cross.

Let us therefore enter into the Holy Week with an open heart and mind, welcoming the Lord to enter into our hearts and into our beings as gloriously and joyfully as the people of Jerusalem had welcomed Him with branches of palms and with great rejoicing and reverence. Let us all welcome the Lord into our beings that from now on, He may truly dwell in us, and be enthroned in our hearts, in our minds and in our whole beings, and that we may focus ourselves on Him from now on.

May God bless us all, and may He guide us through this blessed and most wonderful time of the Holy Week, that we may be filled with much faith and we may make good use of the time provided to us, to help us to draw ever closer to God, and to receive the fullness of God’s saving grace, forgiven from our sins and trespasses. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 14 April 2019 : Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, after going through five weeks and more of the season of Lent, a time of preparation and rediscovery of our faith, we finally come to the beginning of the Holy Week, when we celebrate the most important moments and mysteries of our faith, commemorating that very moment when salvation came into our midst, through none other than Our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Saviour of all.

Christ was the Saviour promised by God to all His people, the culmination of the grand plan He has revealed to man, ever since the beginning of time, when man first fell into sin and because of that, sundered from the fullness of God’s love and grace. And God fulfilled His promises perfectly and completely in Christ, the One He sent into this world, bringing the salvation and true hope into our midst, that we may all be saved.

And this Holy Week, we enter into the most crucial moment in all the history of the whole world and our whole existence, the moment when God completed His plan of salvation, by none other than the Passion, suffering and death of His own Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. And on this Palm Sunday, the day that marks the beginning of Holy Week, we enter and immerse ourselves into the very important events that mark that moment of our salvation through Christ.

On this day, we heard from the readings of the Scripture, two very opposing and contradictory accounts, of what happened on the actual day when the Lord Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem in glory, which we commemorate with the blessing of palms and procession on this day, with the account of the suffering and death, the crucifixion of the same Lord Jesus on the cross, which happened just merely a few days apart.

In the Gospel passage which related to us what happened when the Lord Jesus came to Jerusalem for the time of the Passover, we heard how the people gathered to welcome the Lord Jesus as if He was a glorious and conquering King, entering the city of His reign, with palms raised and garments spread along the way on which He would enter on a donkey, as prophesied by the prophets. This event reminded us all that indeed, Jesus Christ is our Lord and King, the One Who has been promised to us, as our one and true Master.

But His kingship is not like any other kingship. He Himself mentioned on a few occasions throughout the accounts of the Gospels on the events of the Holy Week. He mentioned before His disciples, when they wanted to defend Him as He was being betrayed by Judas Iscariot and was about to be arrested, that had His heavenly Father wished it, He could have sent legions of Angels to protect Him. And before Pilate, Jesus Himself said that His kingdom was not of this world.

And this is why, many of the people abandoned Him, betrayed Him and rejected Him. And do we all realise that it was the very same people who welcomed, praised, glorified and sung ‘Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!’ that just a few days later cried out before Pilate, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ and ‘We have no king but Caesar?’. This is because many among them did not have true faith in God, but were following their own selfish, wicked and sinful desires.

Some certainly followed the Lord to be famous, while others misunderstood and thought of Christ and His kingdom as one like of this world, and therefore, hoped to gain popularity, power, prestige, and all sorts of other worldly recognitions and pleasures, as what two of His own disciples showed us, when St. James and St. John, the sons of Zebedee came up to Him with their mother asking for special favours over that of the other disciples.

And the others had various other reasons, many of whom were motivated by the desire of self-advancement, self-praise, self-gratification and other forms of worldly desires, that indeed quickly turned from one of apparent faith and dedication, into one of betrayal, as Judas did, and into apathy and lack of conviction to defend their faith, as what many of the people did, easily following the popular sentiment, of what was first the popularity of Christ in acclaiming Him as King and then condemning Him when the tide of events turned against Him.

Even Christ’s own disciples fled in fear and abandoned Him. And in the accounts, we heard how this King of ours, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, turned from complete glory into utter humiliation, that He was not just stripped from His dignity as even a human person, but even treated in the worst manner possible, and made to suffer the worst of the worst of injustices and treated as the worst and lowliest of criminals for sins and mistakes He did not commit.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, before we continue further, we ought to spend some time now to reflect on our own lives, on our own actions, on our own faith in God, on our own way of following the Lord and how we have lived our faith life all these while, especially as Christians, as those who profess to have faith in God. And we ought to remember that we are truly perhaps, just as terrible as those same people whom we just talked about earlier, all those who betrayed, abandoned and left the Lord behind for our own selfish desires, gain and purposes.

Many of us seek the Lord only to feel good and high, and perhaps seeking that spiritual satisfaction and fulfilment, or any other means to satisfy ourselves and to make ourselves feel good. And we often only remember the Lord when we have a vested interest, a desire that we want Him to fulfil, in our wishes and prayers, that when all those things have been fulfilled, or in the case when they were not fulfilled, we left the Lord behind and abandoned Him.

Many of us live our Christian life in most un-Christian like manner. Many of us only thought of fulfilling the barest minimum of our obligations as Christians, in coming for and attending the celebrations of the Holy Mass every Sundays of the year, and not more than that. And in this case, many of us even struggled to fulfil this barest minimum of what the Lord has called us all to do. We only hoped and wished what was best for ourselves, and not wanting to make the sacrifices for the Lord.

And even though we call ourselves Christians, how many of us continue to do what is wicked, sinful and unbecoming of ourselves as Christians? How many of us continue to act in manner that is selfish, greedy, condescending towards others, and being ignorant of the sufferings and troubles that others experience, often because of our own actions? How many of us continue to succumb to the temptations of the flesh and acted immorally, causing scandal within our own families and communities?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the sad and unfortunate reality of our world, and especially our Christian world today. Many of us profess to be faithful to God, and yet, our hearts and minds are not completely attuned and focused on Him. We are still so easily swayed by the many temptations of the world, of desire for power, glory, fame, renown, human praise and the pleasures of the body and mind, that we can easily abandon our faith or not having true faith in God, as how the Israelites and the people at the time of Jesus had done.

Yet, it is to all of us, these delinquents, rebels, stubborn and hardhearted people that Christ has come, to deliver us all from all these attachments to sin and our wickedness. He, Who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, willingly emptied Himself of all glory and honour, taking up not just the humble appearance of a Man, like us, but even more so, to be humiliated, ridiculed, rejected and made to suffer, enduring the worst of punishments, so that by all of that sacrifice and selfless giving of Himself, He may free us all from our sins and bring us to the salvation He promised us.

Every wounds that had been inflicted on Christ’s body, as He endured all the unimaginably painful suffering throughout the moments of His Passion, are in fact all of our imperfections, mistakes, our sins and rebelliousness, all of our iniquities and faults, all of our refusal to obey the Lord’s will and our selfishness. Every time we sin, we are causing that wound in the Body of Christ to fester and be even more painful, even as He endured it all and bore the burden of our sins on His cross.

Christ, in truth, showed us all, what it truly means for us to be Christians. First of all, all of us must be filled with love, the love for God and the love for our fellow brothers and sisters. It was love for His Father and the love that He has for each and every one of us, even the greatest and most wicked of sinners, that allowed Christ to endure the bitter and terrible pain of His suffering and death on the cross. Without His enduring love and compassion for us, God would not have done everything all the way to suffer death just that all of us may live.

And as Christians, we must be humble, and the greater we are, the humbler we are to be before God and men alike. For Christ Himself said, that He came not to be served, but to serve, and He showed His disciples at the Last Supper, what they ought to be doing to one another, loving one another as brothers and sisters, and to care for each other with true and genuine love. The Lord did not allow pride and ego to be in the way, and just as He rejected Satan’s advances through the temptations he attempted on the Lord, we too should cast aside our own pride and ego.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we journey through the Holy Week, let us all delve deeper into our understanding of our faith and our own relationship with God. If all these while, we have been distant and have not been spending our time with God, because of the many distractions and temptations we faced in life, then now is the perfect opportunity for us all to reorientate ourselves and to rediscover our true purpose in life, not for our own self-glory, but rather, for the greater glory of God.

Let us all grow deeper in our faith and in our conviction and dedication to love the Lord and to serve Him through our actions and deeds in life, that are pleasing to Him. Let us all also follow the Lord wholeheartedly from now on, carrying our own crosses with Him. He has called us and we should respond to His call. Let us all turn to Him with all of our hearts and with all of our might, and embrace the great love He has for us, that He was willing to suffer and die, just that we may live and not perish.

May the Lord continue to bless us all and may He continue to guide us as we continue to progress through this holiest of all periods and times of this year. May He sow in us all the seeds of faith, hope and love, so that we may grow ever deeper in faith, ever more hopeful in our lives, and be ever more filled with love at all times of our lives. May God be with us all, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 25 March 2018 : Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we begin the celebration of the most important events in our faith, that is the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His final earthly mission, to complete everything that the Lord has planned for mankind, the salvation of us all, by the suffering and the death of the Messiah, Our Lord Jesus, on the cross at Calvary.

This Holy Week of important events of our faith begins today with the Palm Sunday, celebrating the moment when the Lord Jesus entered in glory into the Holy City of Jerusalem on a donkey, as we heard just earlier in our Gospel passage at the start of today’s celebration of the Holy Mass. The people welcomed the Lord Jesus and hailed Him as the Messiah and King Who was to come to His city in glory, saying loudly, “Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna to the Son of David!”

They waved palm branches and placed their cloaks and clothes in front of Jesus, welcoming Him as if He is the King of Israel. Indeed, He is King and Lord of all, and among the people at that time, as mentioned later by the disciples who walked to Emmaus just after Jesus’ death that they had hoped that He was the One Who would have restored the Kingdom of Israel.

Yet, it was the very same people who would shout loudly in just a matter of a few days, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The same people who cheered and welcomed the Lord with much energy and spirit, were the same ones who would reject Him and call for His death, death at the hands of the Romans and a most painful death on the cross. How could this have happened, brothers and sisters in Christ?

The Scripture readings today show the nature of Our Lord’s plan of salvation, that He must suffer at the hands of His enemies and bear the cross on His own accord towards death and punishment for the crimes and sins that He Himself did not commit. But all of these are ultimately meant for our own good, for our salvation and liberation from the bondage to all of our sins.

The cross of Christ is the cross of our sins and faults, all of our shortcomings and rebellious attitudes against God. When the Lord Jesus bore that cross, He did not just bear the physical weight of the wooden cross, which according to historical data and research was already quite formidable in itself, but even more so, it was the massive and unimaginable burden of the combined weight of our sins, our shortcomings, our trespasses, our faults and all other things that should have been ours to bear.

All of us, each one of us are sinners, brothers and sisters in Christ. All of us have disobeyed God in one way or another, in small sin or in major sin. And each and everyone of us should have endured the consequences for all these sins and faults we have with us. What is the punishment of sin? Death, and also separation from God and eternal damnation in hell. That is what we should have suffered.

But God, Who loves each and every one of us, His beloved children so greatly, did not want this fate to befall us, as ultimately, as mentioned, He loved us all greatly, though not our sins and disobedience that creates those sins. Thus, He promised us all since the beginning, that He will save us, by the sending of a Saviour, or Messiah, He Who would reconcile all mankind, God’s beloved people with Him.

All of these were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Whom the prophet Isaiah prophesied in the first reading we heard today, about the Servant of God Who would suffer, be rejected and be persecuted for doing God’s work. The prophet Isaiah prophesied about the Suffering Messiah Who would suffer, and it was this suffering that the prophet was speaking about. Christ was obedient that He took up His cross for our sake, for the salvation of His own beloved people, that because He died, we may live.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this most important moment in our liturgical year, the Holy Week, how are we preparing ourselves that we may worthily commemorate the events that will come in a few days’ time? This is where we need to spend time to reflect on our own lives, on our actions and how we have lived our lives thus far. Have we been living our lives in disobedience and sin, and have we refused God’s rich offer of mercy and forgiveness?

We should use this time and the opportunity given to us, to reflect on our lives and on our actions. Have we had a good relationship with God? And indeed, how much time in a day that we actually spend with Him? Or have we instead forgotten about Him in the midst of our busy schedules, in the midst of our pursuit for power, prestige, honour, worldly comfort, money, and many other worldly desires we have?

Instead of spending so much of our time in these ultimately meaningless pursuit, shall we then turn ourselves towards God and learn to put our trust in Him? Shall we spend more time with the Lord Who loves us so much that He gave us His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour? Remember, brothers and sisters, that if not for the cross of Christ, all of us would have lived our lives with no meaning, as everything would have ended in the eternity in hell.

But because of Christ, and His loving sacrifice on the cross, by His willingness to endure the effects and the consequences of our sins, all of our punishments, all of us who believe in Him and who are willing to put our trust in Him will receive pardon from our sins and justification before God, that we who were once unworthy because of our sins, will be worthy of God’s grace, and be able to receive the eternal life He has promised to us all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let this day be a reminder for us all, that whenever we sin, we inflict the wounds and the pain on Our Lord Jesus, Who willingly bore those sins with Him on the cross. Let us all remember that we should turn away from sin, repent from all of our past wickedness, and ultimately, return to the Lord with an open mind and heart, that all of us will be reconciled completely with Him, and receive eternal life from Him.

May God be with us all throughout this Holy Week, and may He continue to guide us and bless us all the days of our life. Amen.

(Holy Week) Sunday, 9 April 2017 : Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the beginning of the Holy Week, the very significant and indeed holiest moment in the whole of the liturgical year, when we are commemorating and celebrating the final events in the earthly life, work and ministry of Jesus, the last week of His time when He endured all that He had to endure in order to fulfil God’s plan for our salvation to its perfection.

And it all began with the triumphal entry of Jesus into the Holy City of Jerusalem, when He was glorified and praised as a triumphant King, coming to enter His city, the city where God had made His dwelling, and He came riding on a donkey, much as the prophet Zechariah prophesied about the Messiah and King Who would come on the donkey into the city, thus fulfilling completely what God had promised His people.

And that is why we have the blessing of the palms and the procession of the palms, to commemorate that moment when the people of Jerusalem welcomed the Lord Jesus coming into the city, singing loudly and courageously, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!” They were welcoming the Messiah Who came to take up possession of His kingdom and His city, as the Heir of David, to whom God had promised that his kingdom would last forever.

Yet, we may wonder, why is it that we begin with the Gospel reading at the start of the celebration of the Holy Mass at the triumphal procession, and then suddenly, as we progress on to the readings, we then read about the Lord and Messiah Who would suffer for the sake of all people, as mentioned in the book of the prophet Isaiah, speaking about the suffering Servant of God, Who would offer Himself to be tortured and punished for our faults.

And in the second reading, in the famous passage from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians, the Apostle wrote about how Jesus had been exalted and given Name above every other names, because He has obeyed the will and the commands of His Father perfectly and completely, by taking up His cross and emptying Himself, allowing Himself to be the perfect sacrifice of love, to be the ultimate source of salvation for all of us mankind.

And we end up with the long Passion reading, when we heard one of the three accounts of the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, which for this year is taken from the Gospel of St. Matthew. We heard how the Lord Jesus spent the last day from the time of the Last Supper, to His agony in the garden of Gethsemane, to His betrayal by Judas Iscariot, to His trial before the chief priests and before Herod, and how then He was tortured and put to death by false accusations before Pontius Pilate the governor of Judea.

We heard how the Lord Jesus took up His cross, having to walk the path of suffering from Jerusalem to the hill of Calvary among two other criminals. He was condemned to death like a criminal even though He was completely innocent. People mourned for Him, while many others mocked Him, jeered Him and rejected Him, throwing insults after insults, spittle after spittle on the way, and He ascended the cross, nailed onto it at Calvary, and died for all of us.

Why is it that a people who have greeted and welcomed the Lord Jesus as King and cried out, “Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!”, then within just a time span of less than one week, were also the ones who cried out, “Crucify Him!” and “We have no king but Caesar?” That is because we mankind, by our nature, are weak, brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all weak and vulnerable, easily falling into temptation.

Through falsehoods and false promises of pleasure and goodness, the devil, our great enemy, are planting in us the seeds of doubt, the seeds of evil and wickedness, and all these resulted in our lack of faith. Thus, the same people who believed in the Lord Jesus as Saviour and Master, easily turned away from Him and rejected Him, when they saw Him fallen from grace and arrested by His enemies. Those who would once call Him friends, left Him behind and abandoned Him.

Indeed, His own disciples abandoned Him when He was arrested, as they cowered in fear and were at loss on what to do. And one of His own twelve most trusted disciples betrayed Him for a mere thirty pieces of silver, tempted by the allure of money and worldly possessions. This is what had caused many of us to sin as well, to fall into darkness and wickedness.

Through this, all of us must realise that each and every one of us have sinned, be it small or great sin, but all of us have disobeyed God. At one point or more in our lives, we have walked away from our God, abandoned Him, betrayed Him and left Him behind for the pursuit of money, worldly temptations and all the false allures of the devil, which he had placed in our path to make us stumble, as what had indeed happened to all of us.

All of us have acted as the people of Jerusalem, as the disciples of Jesus, as Judas Iscariot, as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. We have been like them, in how we welcome the Lord and shout His Name for joy, praising Him and glorifying Him, but then, very quickly, when temptations come, when doubt entered into our hearts, when fear and other things arose, we abandoned the Lord and left Him behind.

Let us reflect, brothers and sisters in Christ, on what had happened throughout this Holy Week, this time when Jesus our Lord did all that He had done for the sake of our salvation. We have been the ones to condemn the Lord to His death, by our sins and by our faults. Yet many of us do not realise this fact and continue to carry on with our lives as if nothing had happened. We have often taken the love of God for granted.

If all of us can just come to the realisation that each and every sin that we ever committed in life are the wounds and the sufferings of Christ, Who has suffered and died for us, then all of us would have been very ashamed and would not commit any more sins. But the reality is that many of us have been oblivious and ignorant to the sins that we have committed, and some of us have even been desensitised to sin, because we have committed so many sins, that it feels just normal for us to sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all spend some time today, at the beginning of the Holy Week, to reflect on how fortunate we are, to have One Who loved each and every one of us so much that He was willing to give up His own life for us, He Who was willing to forgive us our transgressions and sins. He has called us to accept His mercy and to share in the burden of His cross, if we believe in Him and what He had done for us.

The question is, are we willing to be forgiven? Are we willing to accept God’s mercy and forgiveness? Are we willing to change ourselves and sin no more? The disciples may indeed have abandoned the Lord, but they all, except Judas Iscariot, turned back to God and sought His forgiveness. Peter, who denied Jesus three times, confessed his devotion and love before the Lord three times, as a sign of his atonement and commitment to be with God. Judas did not repent and change his ways, and that was why Satan used him as a tool to try and undo the good works of Jesus by betraying Him. God gave him chance but he refused to take it up.

Shall we choose to be like Judas or to be like the other disciples of Christ? That is a question that we need to ask ourselves. Let us ponder on this as we go on throughout this Holy Week celebrations, that whatever we do, we may do it with understanding and that we may benefit from them. May all of us find our way to the salvation in our God, and share in the love and mercy with which He had rescued us from death because of our sins.

May the Lord, our loving God, Who suffered and died for us, taking our place in suffering and bearing upon Himself our crosses, bless us all and keep us all in His grace and love at all times. May we all draw closer to Him and to His love, and may we find succour and redemption by the loving sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, and accept wholeheartedly the love which He had given us all. May God be with us all, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 25 March 2016 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is Good Friday, and we all know that today marks the very special moment in the history of our faith and of our salvation, because on this day we celebrate together the love of our God, the great and infinite love which He had for every single one of us, by bearing our own sins and iniquities upon Himself, and ascending to the hill of Golgotha, He bared Himself before all to see, and though rejected and ridiculed, He persevered to the end for our sake. Yes, so that by His suffering and death on the cross, He may bring us all out from the darkness and into the eternal light.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, one might be asking, that given the gravity of the situation of the day, of what we commemorate, then why we do call this day Good Friday? Should it not be one of sorrow and sadness, remembering how our Lord and Saviour was hated, rejected, cast out and sentenced to death on the cross? But this is where exactly we have to understand the meaning of our Lord’s works and His greatest work of all, that by sacrificing Himself and offering Himself on the cross, He has brought us all a new hope, and as well as a new life. Today is Good for us, because if not for this day, all of us would have no hope, and our existence in this world would have been meaningless.

Yes, we have ever suffered in this world, suffered pain and bitterness, sorrow and sadness, and all the other forms of sufferings because of the consequences of our sins and disobedience against God. We have betrayed our Lord, broken our promises to Him, failing to keep His laws and covenants, and by listening more to the words of Satan the deceiver and also to our own human desires, pride, greed and submitting ourselves to sin, rather than to obey the Lord and to live in accordance with His will. It was our destiny and fate for us to face persecution and punishment at the end of our earthly lives, an eternity of suffering and separation from the Lord our God in hell.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God does despise our sins and He was angry at us with our disobedience. But we must not forget that just as much as He was angry with our sins and wickedness, He also still loved us with equal and even greater intensity, for all of us are beloved in His eyes, and He had created all of us out of love, to enjoy forever the blessings and graces that He had promised to all of us. Yet, because of our disobedience, we have been sundered from Him, separated from those blessings and graces intended for us, and that is why we suffered, because of our sinfulness.

And therefore to that extent of helping us and to keep us away from our fate of being destroyed for our disobedience, God Himself intervened for our sake, by sending to us His Deliverer, the Saviour Who would bring all mankind out of their sins and their misery, and bring them from the darkness of sin and into the light of righteousness in Him. And for this purpose He would send no mere man or any mere servant, but He sent to us His own Son, the very Lord God and Creator of all life and all the universe. He sent to us as a Redeemer, the Word of God, He Who is part of the Trinity, One God and Lord of all things, and yet, in all these, He was willing to empty Himself and came down to us in the form of a humble Man.

All these were done, so that by His humble and perfect offering before God His Father, the Lord God may accept His offering, and use it as the redemption and grace for all of us mankind who have ever lived, from the days of Adam to the days of the last man at the end of time. God offered Himself on the cross for us, that all of us who have a share in His suffering and death, may receive the gifts of eternal life and redemption from our sins. This was a sacrifice beyond all other sacrifices and offerings, for if in the past, the people of Israel offered the blood of goats and doves in order to absolve them temporarily from their sins, but God Himself offered His own Flesh and Blood, the perfect and spotless offering beyond all others, which was the only one worthy to redeem the whole multitude of our sins, every single taint of original sin that had held us back from our salvation and reunion with our loving God.

And if He had loved us so much, then what are we all supposed to do, brothers and sisters in Christ? Christ had chosen to die for all of us, for all mankind, from the least of sinners to the greatest among them, and from the humblest and smallest person, to the great and the mighty. He did not choose from us, and neither was He biased against a certain group or towards a certain person, but He offered His love, mercy and salvation to all. It is our choice now then, whether we are to accept that rich offering of love and mercy, or whether we want to reject them and instead continue to proceed on with our own lives.

Today we are all reminded that the cross that our Lord bore on His way to Calvary, and the cross on which He was nailed to, and hung between the heavens and the earth is a cross of love, the cross of mercy, the cross of forgiveness. For it was through that cross, that God made His love evident to all, and it was through that love, that He endeavoured to gather all of His beloved children to Himself, and took for us, for our sake, the punishments intended for us. And that cross is also the cross of victory, of the triumph against evil and sin, and of the triumph against death. For we know that His death was not forever, and neither did death had any power over Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, but we also have to realise that the cross of Christ is also a cross of suffering, as well as a cross of responsibility. Jesus Himself had said to His disciples, that all those who want to follow Him ought to take up their own crosses and follow Him. So, all of us mankind also have the same obligation to carry up our crosses with us, if we are to follow Him. This is what Jesus told us about how by becoming His followers and disciples, life will be difficult for us, because of all the opposition by the world, and by all the forces of darkness that did not desire to see us saved from our fated destruction.

And just how do we carry our crosses, brethren? It is by remembering that the cross itself is a symbol of love, a bridge between God and mankind, which our Lord Jesus had built for us. For once because of our sins, a great and wide chasm had existed between us and God, and none of us could go to the Lord without crossing that chasm, which was impossible. But our Lord Jesus made it all possible by His death on the cross. For we all who share in His cross, dying to ourselves and our sins, share with Him the glorious joy of His resurrection and brought into a new life of righteousness worthy of our Lord. It was through this that God Himself made the bridge between Him and ourselves, that is the cross of Christ.

Therefore, in order to carry our crosses, we ought to remember that the cross itself is a joining between two components, the vertical bar and the horizontal bar. The vertical bar represents the love and the relationship we have with God, while the horizontal bar represents the love and the relationships we have with one another, with our fellow men. And hence, if we are to be faithful to the Lord, and to be worthy of the salvation which He had offered us through His cross, we ought to remember to obey His covenant and His laws, that is by loving Him with all the might of our bodies, minds, hearts and soul, and do the same to our fellow brethren around us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all use this opportunity to reflect on our own lives. Have all of us been faithful to the Lord, and obeyed all of His laws and commandments? Or have we instead been more faithful to our whim and desires? Have we been loving and merciful in our interactions with our brethren around us, showing them acts of love and mercy, of care and compassion, of tenderness and justice? Let us all do so, if we have not done so yet. Let us all go forth in celebrating this Easter Triduum and the whole joyful season of Easter, by bringing forth the joy that God brought us, and share it with others who have little or none. May God bless us and keep us, and may through His holy Cross, He brings us to eternal life in Him. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Sunday, 20 March 2016 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great beginning of the Holy Week, the very important week of celebrations of the core tenets of our faith, of the very crucial events surrounding the history of our salvation in God through Jesus Christ, His Son. For it was through Christ that we were all saved from destruction and damnation guaranteed for our sins.

Today we begin the celebration of the Holy Week with the celebration of the Palm Sunday, where we all know that it celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus our Lord into Jerusalem, the Holy City of God. Then, certainly, one may ask, what is the significance of such an entry? Did Christ not enter the city of Jerusalem on other occasions as well? After all the Gospels did say about how Christ went to the Temple of Jerusalem for a few times throughout His journeys, and surely He had entered the city a lot of times, even when He was still young and was only twelve years old.

But no, brothers and sisters in Christ, for this entry into Jerusalem is different from the other entries and visits by Jesus and His disciples to Jerusalem. For this entry marked the beginning of the end, that is the end of the earthly ministry of Jesus our Lord in this world, and yet also the beginning of God’s final phase of the plan to save us all mankind.

For it was what happened in that Sunday, a week before the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, which set up the stage for the whole culmination of the work of our Lord, that began in Bethlehem on the day of His birth into this world, which came to His baptism, His ministry, and then His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and then how the people who had proclaimed Him as King would then turn on Him, and demanded the Romans to crucify Him instead.

Jesus knew that going into Jerusalem at such a time would mean that He would have to face rejection, suffering, punishment and death, and death by the hanging on the cross, by the Romans. But even knowing this, and knowing all of the persecutions, torture, the pain that He would have to endure, He still pressed on, and entered Jerusalem regardless, going forth to face whatever it was that those who were opposed to Him were trying to do to Him.

And why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because of His love for all of us, which transcended everything else. If God did not love us the way He had done, then He would not have bothered even to rescue us from our seemingly hopeless situation. After all, we mankind have proven ourselves throughout history to be very stubborn and resistant to the love and mercy which God is showing us.

We continued in our rebellious ways, not listening to God reminding us and constantly trying to pull us away from our fallen ways. And we resist even those whom He had sent to call us back into righteousness, the messengers, the prophets and the other holy men and women. God fully knew how His rebellious people would treat Him if He Himself were to come into their midst and call them to do the same thing, that is to repent.

But He did so regardless, just as at the mountain where He was transfigured, at Mount Tabor, where He did not remain forever, but continued to descend down the mountain, knowing that in order to save mankind from their fate, there is something that must be done, and it is to offer a worthy sacrifice as the means to absolve them from their sins.

And in order to absolve the whole multitude of mankind, all the billions and countless billions of them, and all the sins each had accumulated or will accumulate in their respective lives, which is really a gargantuan, a humongous amount of sins, nothing is worthy save if the Lord offers Himself, the one sole, perfect sacrifice, worthy to absolve us all. Just imagine all the sins, big and small that we have committed in life, and we should realise just how many sins we have committed.

And then imagine how that many sins being committed by all mankind who have ever lived, past, present and future, and all their sins, our sins are placed firmly on the shoulders of our Lord, Who willingly bore them all the way to the cross, and die for the sake of all of us criminals through our sins, so that our punishment may not be ours, but our lot becomes that of eternal life with God Who loves us.

And as we think and reflect about the love which our God has for us, let us also reflect on our own lives, our actions, words, deeds and all the things we have done in our lives. Have we been like the people of Jerusalem in their deeds, in how they treated the Lord Jesus? They welcomed the Lord with great pomp and celebrations, hailing Him as the Son of David, the Messiah and King, and yet, just less than a week later, they were the same ones who chose Barabbas over Jesus, and cried out, “Crucify Him!” when Pilate asked them what he should do with Jesus.

That means, have we proclaimed ourselves as Christians, saying that we are faithful to the Lord, and yet, have we been truly faithful to God? Are we faithful in our actions and in all our dealings with one another? If we say that we are faithful to God and yet our actions are detestable to Him, then we are no better than those people in Jerusalem, who proclaimed Jesus as King and Messiah on one day, and on the other day, called for Him to be crucified.

But remember, Jesus forgave them all, and He prayed for them. And He also died for them all, for He gave Himself up to be crucified, to suffer and die for all mankind, and not just for all those who are good to Him. Ultimately, it is our acceptance to His offer of mercy, and our commitment to make our own lives a better one that will make a difference in our lives.

As we proceed into the Holy Week celebrations beginning from today, and as we rejoice in God, crying out aloud, “Hosanna!” Let us also remember that we today also celebrate the Holy Passion of our Lord, He Who suffers for our sins and Who were tortured and wounded because of our trespasses. Let us be thoroughly and completely changed in body, mind and heart, so that we may become more devoted and faithful in all things, and be worthy of God’s promise of everlasting life. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 3 April 2015 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is Good Friday, which we all know is the celebration of that momentous occasion when all of mankind were brought out of the hopelessness and despair of the darkness of the world and into the new hope because of one singular act of God, who made it all possible, through what Jesus Christ had done. It is exactly by His obedience to God His Father and by laying down His life on the cross, that He had brought us mankind to salvation.

That is why today is a good day, the Good Friday, for it is because of what had happened on this day that changed our fate. For once we had expected only suffering and death, and we feared death because it brings us nothing but anguish, sorrow, difficulties, uncertainties and many others, and because of what Christ had done on the cross for us, now we can look forward and head to the world that is to come, one that lies beyond death, and one that is of hope and joy.

There are indeed several aspects to the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and there are several dimensions and significance that all of us should be aware of. And on this occasion when we commemorate that moment of the crucifixion, is the most appropriate moment for us to reflect on the significance of this to our own lives, and to our own faith in God.

We most likely know of the fact that when Christ carried that burden of the cross, He was in fact carrying the burdens of our sins. We most likely should also know that, based on what we have commonly heard in catechisms and teachings of the Church, that because He carried for us the burdens and punishments for sins, in place of us, then that was why we who believe in Him have been made free from the consequences of the sins we had committed.

However, the significance extended even much deeper beyond what we often knew, and indeed, the crucifixion, the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ, was the culmination of God’s grand plan to rescue us mankind, the pinnacle of the entire Holy Scriptures and all the things in them. God has planned our salvation and liberation from sin from the very beginning of time, a very, very long time ago, and in Christ, all those plans and promises were completed perfectly.

God had made Himself into Man through Jesus, assuming the flesh of a lowly and humble Man, so that in doing so, He might reverse what mankind had erred at the beginning, starting from the first man, Adam, who disobeyed the Lord’s commandments together with Eve, his wife, and ate the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They were persuaded and tempted by Satan to listen to their own desires rather than to listen to and to obey the Lord.

The new Adam, that is Christ, has been the One who showed mankind, all of us, that it is possible to resist and reject the temptations of our flesh and of Satan. It is possible indeed for us all to refuse the malicious offers of the evil one, but indeed only if we follow what Christ had done. He listened to the Lord, who is His Father, He refused to listen to the sweet lies of Satan and to give in to human desires and wishes.

He is God, Almighty and All-Powerful, All-Knowing and Ever-Present. There is nothing in this world that is impossible for Him. If He wanted it, He could have had it easy, refusing the cross and the suffering, letting us all to perish because of our sins. And yet, He did not do that, firstly because He loves us all so much, to the point that He was willing to go through the most horrendous and greatest of sufferings just so that we may be brought to freedom from our sins and their consequences.

He obeyed the will of the Father, and even though He was tempted during His moments of agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, He obeyed and pushed on, out of His infinite and undying love for all of us. And His perseverance brought us much goodness, the liberation from the bonds of sin. God gave His only Son, for this very purpose, and He showed us as the new Adam, that mankind has the choice and the potential to change their fate, and to reject the rebellious ways of our ancestors.

And we can indeed compare this moment, the new covenant and Passover of the Lord, with the ancient and first Passover, when the people of Israel were liberated from their slavery under the Egyptians and their Pharaohs. At that night, before they were freed, they were told to eat the Passover meal, where the Passover lamb whose blood had been used to mark their houses and the flesh as the food for the people, had been given as sacrifice for their liberation.

That night was different from every other night, and at every Passover, the Jews commemorated that moment, including at the Last Supper, when Jesus had the Passover meal with His disciples. At that night however, it was indeed very different from any other night, and from any observation of the Passover. It was because instead of the usual celebration of the Passover, Jesus gave His own Body and Blood as the sacrificial offering, offered freely by the Lamb of God, through whom then He liberated us all from the true slavery, that is the slavery by our sins.

So, just as the people of Israel were set free, we have also been set free by our Lord through the cross. The cross of Christ represents the symbol of hope for us all, that by the Lord’s power, the power and poison of death had been destroyed forever. At the time of Moses, when the people of Israel were journeying through the desert, they rebelled against the Lord and as a punishment, God sent fiery and poisonous serpents that killed many of them.

Moses pleaded for the mercy of God, and God instructed him to craft a bronze serpent mounted on a tall staff, so that all who saw it may not die but live. And as Jesus told to Nicodemus, that just as the bronze serpent was lifted up and people who saw it were saved, so thus He, the Lamb of God, would also be lifted up high on the cross, that all who believe in Him and His cross, will be saved.

The cross, on which Christ hung from, is a clear reminder of that act of ultimate selflessness and ultimate love which our Lord had shown us, but it is also a reminder of what we need to do on our side, in order to fulfill the covenant, the new covenant which God had sealed with His own Blood and His own sacrifice on the cross. It is love that we should do and commit to in our lives.

The cross is made of two bars, joined together, namely the vertical and the horizontal bars. This is to remind us that act of love, that is when we love, we cannot separate the two important acts of love we need to do, firstly to our God, and then to our brethren, our neighbours around us, our fellow men. The vertical bar represents the love which we should have for our Lord, who had loved us so much first, so much so that He was willing to sacrifice Himself and suffer all the consequences of our sins, for the sake of us lowly humans, sinners and unrepentant rebels.

But it will not be complete, if we also do not love those who are around us. This is represented by the horizontal bar of the cross. A cross will not be complete without the vertical or the horizontal bar. This is to show us that we cannot just love ourselves and others without loving God and loving what He had done for us out of live, and neither can we just love God and ignore others who are around us. There are many people out there who are ostracised, rejected and unloved daily, and if we have the capacity to love, then why not?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we commemorate this important moment, let us all reflect on our own actions, whether we have loved God with all of our hearts and with all of our strength, as well as loving our fellow brothers and sisters, without bias and without prejudice. It is what we should do. Remember also that every time we come for the Mass, we share together the meal of the Last Supper of the Apostles, where our Lord Jesus Christ transformed the bread and wine into the substance of His own Body and Blood.

Therefore, we all in the Eucharist also share the same Body and Blood of our Lord, who had given them freely, so that we who worthily receive them, receive also Him, who dwells in us, justifies us, and allow us to receive the heavenly grace of salvation and eternal life, which Christ had made possible by His suffering and death on the cross. Let us all today therefore commit ourselves to be better servants and followers of our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, 2 April 2015 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, tonight we celebrate the beginning of the three most important days of our Faith, the Easter Triduum. Tonight we celebrate that night when our Lord Jesus Christ had given to us all, through His disciples, His own Body and His own Blood, which He gave to us through the Eucharist, the bread and wine which He transformed into the very essence of His Body and Blood.

And tonight we also commemorate that moment when God renewed His covenant and promise of love for us, which He made by the renewed gift of the Passover lamb, which blood once became the hope and liberation for a people and a nation under slavery, whom God marked among the nations with the blood of the lamb, as a people blessed and favoured by God, whom He brought out of Egypt in the first Passover.

That Passover was a very important moment for the people of Israel, for it was at that Passover that God, with His own mighty power and deeds, singularly freed the people whom He had chosen, from the slavery of the Egyptians. They were freed, all those whose houses were marked by the blood of the unblemished lamb, as they ate the flesh of the same lamb at the threshold of liberation and salvation from the Egyptians.

And today, we commemorate the renewal of that covenant which God had established anew with all of His people through Jesus, His Son whom He had sent into the world to be the salvation of all who believe in Him. There is a strong parallel between the Passover and the true, Christian Passover instituted at the Last Supper. While at the first Passover, the Lord freed a nation from the tyranny and slavery of the Egyptians, the true and renewed Passover was when the Lord in His might brought all of His beloved people, out of the tyranny of evil and the slavery of sin.

And while the people of Israel marked their houses with the blood of a young, unblemished lamb and ate its flesh roasted over the fire, as a sign of God’s salvation, Christ is the true Paschal Lamb, the true Lamb of God, who gave Himself freely to all of us, offering His own Body and His own Blood, so that all of us who ate of His Body and drank His Blood shall not die but receive everlasting life.

Through the bread and wine which Jesus Himself transformed into His own Body and Blood, He had marked us all as His chosen ones, all of us who have been baptised into His Church and who have received Him in the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist. Just as the angels of death passed over the people of Israel whose houses were marked with the blood of the lamb, from which came the term ‘Passover’, thus we all who have been marked by the Blood of the Lamb of God shall also be passed over from death, and shall receive the rich rewards of eternal life.

But today’s very special occasion also reminds us all that this does not come easily and without challenges. We cannot be passive in our faith life, and neither can we just expect salvation to come while we sit down and relax. Our faith is not one where we just have to wait for the Lord to come and feed us an guide us, and we do not need to do anything else. On the contrary, our faith must be a living and real faith, filled with action and deeds that justify our faith.

And our Lord Jesus Himself showed by example what this means. He took of His garments, and wearing the clothes of a servant and slave, He went down on His knees to wash the feet of His disciples, an act that at that time, and even today, would be considered in terms of the world, a very humiliating and debasing act for whoever is the one who performed the act of the washing of the feet.

To wash someone else’s feet is among the greatest if not the greatest act of lowering oneself before another, for that is indeed the act showing greatest amount of humility and total disregard of one’s own pride and self. And this was what Jesus had done. He is King of all kings, Lord of all lords, Creator and Master of all the universe, the Almighty God and Omnipotent Lord of all, and yet there He was, washing the feet of His own disciples, sinners and mere men.

What Jesus wanted to show us is that, to be greater and to be endowed with greater gifts come equally great responsibility, and a leader should not boast or gloat in his or her power or might, but instead he or she should serve and give the best to guide all those who have been entrusted under his or her care. In this Jesus also showed us that as a King, a Lord, a Master and a Leader, He was like a shepherd guiding his flock of sheep.

A good and dedicated shepherd serve the needs of his sheep, and guide them to safety. He does not run when danger comes, and when wolves come to strike at the sheep, the good shepherd would even gave his life in exchange for the safety of his sheep. And that was what Jesus had done. Not only by His service to those who had been entrusted to Him, but also by His perfectly selfless sacrifice on the cross.

On this day, all of us are called to serve one another, to love one another, and to give of ourselves, our entire being and selves, to help one another and give of our heart, our attention and care to others around us. We cannot be selfish in our faith, and neither can we just be concerned only about salvation. No matter how much piety we have or devotions to the Lord we have, but if we do not have love for our brethren, our faith means nothing.

Today is also named Maundy Thursday, and the word Maundy comes from the term ‘Mandatum’ which is the Latin word for ‘command’, and this is because on this occasion, at the Last Supper, which we commemorate tonight, our Lord Jesus Himself had given is all a command, a new commandment as part of our new Covenant with God.

And this commandment, is exactly as what Jesus Himself had said about the essence of the Law, the true meaning of the Law of God as revealed first to Moses long ago during the Exodus. It is that we should love one another, just as our Lord Himself had loved us, and therefore, vice versa, we should also love our Lord in the same way too. There is no greater love than for someone to lay down his life for his friends, and Jesus died for all of us, even while we are still sinners and rebels against God.

We have to give it all when we love others. We cannot be biased or be judgmental in loving one another. Forgive the faults that others had done to us, just as they should forgive whatever faults we have done to them, and we must not hold grudge. These things are easy to be said, but not easy to be done in reality. Therefore, on this occasion of Holy Thursday, we are also reminded that we have much homework to do, in order to become ever better, ever more faithful servant and followers of our Lord.

Therefore, let us all pray, pray fervently and obediently, that all of us may be ever strengthened in our faith, so that we may be justified also by our actions based on that same faith we have in us. Let us be reminded always that our faith must be made real through action, and all of us have the duty and responsibility to one another, to help each other grow in faith and love, and to be more devoted servant of our Lord. Let us follow the examples of our Lord Jesus Christ and walk ever in His light and grace. God bless us all. Amen.