Sunday, 29 December 2013 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Colossians 3 : 12-21

Clothe yourselves, then, as is fitting for God’s chosen people, holy and beloved of Him. Put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience to bear with one another and forgive whenever there is any occasion to do so. As the Lord has forgiven you, forgive one another.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful.

Let the word of God dwell in you in all its richness. Teach and admonish one another with words of wisdom. With thankful hearts sing to God psalms, hymns and spontaneous praise. And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as you should do in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not get angry with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, because that pleases the Lord. Parents, do not be too demanding of your children, lest they become discouraged.

My Prayer Intention for Friday, 2 August 2013 and Saturday, 3 August 2013

1. For the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, my beloved Cathedral. May the Lord continue to bless all the people who come to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at this aged but wonderful church. May the Lord moved the hearts of many to donate generously to the Restoration Fund, to repair the damages that had been caused by the constructions around the Cathedral in the past few years, and made it rejuvenated once again, as the Mother church of the Archdiocese of Singapore.

2. For healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, and all involved with the care and well-being of others. May the Lord continue to bless and strengthen them in their work, that they will be able to continue to provide many with their service, which they offered to ensure that everyone has no need to worry of being sick, just as Christ once came to heal the sick and those with infirmities. May the Lord remind them always of the commitment that they have to love those who are sick, that they will truly be men and women for others, and not for the money the career offers them.

3. For our parents and elders. May the Lord bless and protect them all the days of their life. May He grant them good health and happy life, especially in their old age. For they had been our protectors and our guardians for much of the early parts of our life, even till this very moment. May He bless them just as they have blessed us, and may He protect them just as He has always protected us, giving them the same grace and love that we enjoy from our Lord today and forever.

May the Lord have mercy on us and show His love for us always, as He had done through the ultimate sacrifice of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. The victorious and triumphant cross, a sign of hope for all of us, that He, who hears all the prayers and petitions of His beloved children, will never abandon us, but will bring us all to eternal life in Him. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 26 July 2013 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the Ten Commandments given by our Lord to His people, the people of Israel, through Moses, His servant, written on the two stones that would bear the very writings of the Lord, the Commandments that He wanted His people to follow for all eternity. The Ten Commandments carry the basic tenets of what being the people and children of God is all about, that is indeed summarised by Christ as the commandments of love.

For the commandments in the Ten Commandments, when looked deeper into, would show that mankind need to love God with all their attention, their hearts, minds, and soul, and with all their strength, that they will obey and worship no other god but the Lord God, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. Automatically too, they should honour the Holy Name of their God, YHVH, the God who AM, and whose Name has also been revealed to us, Jesus, the Name above every other name, and the Name upon which all knees will bend, be it on earth, in heaven, or in hell.

Loving God with all our hearts and our strength is important, but that is just one half of the entire law and commandment. That is because as Christ had taught His disciples and which we read in the Gospels, we must also love our brothers and sisters, all our neighbours, fellow mankind, just as we have loved our God and ourselves, in the same way, giving to them our love, care, and compassion. That is the other half of the commandments, that will make perfect our observation of God’s laws and commandments.

To love our brethren and our fellow men means to give unconditional love to others, especially to those who are starved of love, to those who hunger for love and compassion, and those who are in the midst of suffering and persecution. But this is not all that love is about, because love is about giving ourselves not just to those whom we love, or just to those who we think need our love, but to love is also to embrace our enemies, those who hate us, those who persecute us, and those who did evil things to us. Love means to be able to forgive them from their faults to us, and to embrace them as our fellow brothers and sisters of the One True God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

That is why the Ten Commandments also included commands such as not to kill nor to covet one another’s goods and properties, as these are likely to be borne out of animosity that arose between two parties in the first place. Hatred leads to animosity, and then it may result in something that hurt one or both parties, or even kill, in the case of murder. The Lord wants all of us to respect one another and let go of our hatred and our animosity, replacing them instead with love, the kind of love that Jesus Christ had shown us, on the cross at Calvary.

For Jesus Himself had forgiven His enemies, the Pharisees and the chief priests, as well as the people who cried for His death. He embraced them from the cross, and His Blood is poured down the cross to wash the sins of all mankind, because He redeemed all men, without any exceptions. He also embraced His enemy, Saul, the reaper of early Christians, who hunted many people who believed in Christ and tortured them. Christ embraced Saul with His love, and made him into the greatest instrument of His works in this world, from an enemy into the most valiant defender of the faith.

We have to nurture love, not hatred; peace, not violence; hope, not despair; light, not darkness; and faith in God; not in Satan and his devices and temptations. We have to plant the seeds of love, hope, and faith in our youths, in our own families, within our circle of friends, and within our respective societies. For actions not done in love, and life lived without love is empty, and neither does any actions or life that are not bound by hope and faith. To be loving is key to achieving salvation.

Today we commemorate the feast day of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our God, that is St. Joachim and St. Anne, the grandparents of Jesus Christ our Lord. They are role models for all families, Christian families in particular, in how to bring God’s love into our homes. They brought up the mother of our Lord from her infancy to be the blessed person our mother Mary came to be. They cared for her since her Immaculate Conception inside her mother’s womb, the womb of St. Anne.

The care and love that St. Joachim and St. Anne had shown to Mary, the mother of our Lord, is replicated in her care for Jesus, whom Mary cared since His humble birth at the stables in Bethlehem, protecting Him from King Herod and those who would wish to harm Him. She accompanied Him through His childhood and teenage years, being revealed that Jesus is truly the Son of God when He was left behind in the Temple at the age of twelve. Mary accompanied Christ through His ministries and eventually until His death, and resurrection.

All these are made possible by the tender love and care given to Mary herself by her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne, who showed her the meaning of love, compassion, and faith in God, that she herself become role models for all of us, the mother of God, and the greatest among all saints and apostles of Christ. St. Joachim and St. Anne are truly role models for us, and we should indeed follow in their footsteps, as well as the footsteps of Mary, the mother of our Lord, towards Christ, who longs to welcome us back into His embrace.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us renew our commitment to our Lord today, and also to renew our commitment to love, that is to love everyone, without exception, even to those who hate us the most and those who wished for our misfortune and death. Let us be gracious and courageous to forgive and to embrace those who do not have love in them, that in doing so, we will obey the commandments of the Lord, as once given to Moses, His servant so that the people of Israel will know the Lord’s laws, and so may we too, obey the same law, that is the law of love.

May the Lord bless us all with abundance of graces and blessings, and plant the seeds of love, hope, and faith within us, that they may blossom, and through our words, actions, and deeds, may we spread love, joy, and hope to all mankind, bringing everyone closer to God who is our Lord and Father. St. Joachim and St. Anne, pray for us too. Amen.

Friday, 26 July 2013 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 13 : 18-23

Now listen to the parable of the sower. When a person hears the message of the kingdom, but does not take it seriously, the devil comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed that fell along the footpath.

The seed that fell on rocky ground stands for the one who hears the word, and accepts it at once with joy. But such a person has no roots, and endures only for a while. No sooner is he harassed or persecuted because of the word, than he gives up.

The seed that fell among the thistles is the one who hears the word, but then the worries of this life and the love of money choke the word, and it does not bear fruit.

As for the seed that fell on good soil, it is the one who hears the word and understands it; this seed bears fruit and produces a hundred, or sixty, or thirty times more.

Friday, 26 July 2013 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 11

The law of the Lord is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of the Lord is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of the Lord are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of the Lord are true, all of them just and right.

They are more precious than gold – pure gold of a jeweller; they are much sweeter than honey which drops from the honeycomb.

Friday, 26 July 2013 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Exodus 20 : 1-17

God spoke all these words. He said, “I am YHVH your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

Do not have other gods before Me.

Do not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, YHVH your God, am a jealous God; for the sin of the fathers, when they rebel against Me, I punish the sons, the grandsons and the great-grandsons; but I show steadfast love until the thousandth generation for those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Do not take the Name of YHVH your God in vain for YHVH will not leave unpunished anyone who takes His Name in vain.

Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days, you will labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath for YHVH your God. Do not work that day, neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter nor your servants, men or women, nor your animals, nor the stranger who is staying with you. For in six days YHVH made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, but on the seventh day He rested; that is why YHVH has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

Honour your father and your mother that you may have a long life in the land that YHVH has given you.

Do not kill.

Do not commit adultery.

Do not steal.

Do not give false witness against your neighbour.

Do not covet your neighbour’s house. Do not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his servant, man or woman, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is his.”

Thursday, 25 July 2013 : Feast of St. James, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 20 : 20-28

Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favour. Jesus said to her, “What do you want?” And she answered, “Here You have my two sons. Grant that they may sit, one at Your right hand and One at Your left, when You are in Your kingdom.”

Jesus said to the brothers, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They answered, “We can.” Jesus replied, “You will indeed drink My cup, but to sit at My right or at My left is not for Me to grant. That will be for those for whom My Father has prepared it.”

The other ten heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to Him and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations act as tyrants over them, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you : whoever wants to be more important in your community shall make himself your servant. And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man who has come, not to be served but to serve, and to give His life to redeem many.”