Tuesday, 5 November 2013 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 14 : 15-24

Upon hearing these words, one of those at the table said to Jesus, “Happy are those who eat at the banquet in the kingdom of God!”

Jesus replied, “A man once gave a feast and invited many guests. When it was time for the feast, he sent his servant to tell those he had invited to come, for everything was ready.”

“But all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘Please excuse me. I must go and see the piece of land I have just bought.’ Another said : ‘I am sorry, but I am on my way to try out the five yoke of oxen I have just bought.’ Still another said, ‘How can I come, when I have just got married?'”

“The servant returned alone, and reported this to his master. Upon hearing his account, the master of the house flew into a rage, and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.'”

“The servant reported after a while, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out, but there is still room.’ The master said, ‘Go out to the highways and country lanes, and force people to come in, and make sure my house is full. I tell you, none of those invited will have a morsel of my feast.'”

Monday, 4 November 2013 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White (Bishops)

Luke 14 : 12-14

Jesus also addressed the man who had invited Him, and said, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends, or your brothers and relatives, or your wealthy neighbours. For surely they will also invite you in return, and you will be repaid.

When you give a feast, invite instead the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Fortunate are you then, because they cannot repay you; you will be repaid at the resurrection of the upright.

Thursday, 3 October 2013 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Nehemiah 8 : 1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12

In the seventh month, all the people gathered as one man in the square before the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which YHVH  had given to Israel.

Ezra brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all the children who could understand what was being read. It was the first day of the seventh month. Ezra read the book before all of them from early morning until midday in the square facing the Water Gate; and all who heard were attentive to the Book of the Law.

Ezra, the teacher of the Law, stood on a wooden platform built for that occasion. Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was in a higher place; and when he opened it, all the people stood. Ezra blessed YHVH, the great God; and all the people lifted up their hands and answered, “Amen! Amen!” And they bowed their heads to the ground.

The Law was explained to the people who were standing. They read from the Book of the Law of God, clarifying and interpreting the meaning, so that everyone might understand  what they were hearing.

Then Ezra, the teacher of the Law, said to the people, “This day is dedicated to YHVH, your God, so do not be sad or weep.” He said this because all wept when they heard the reading of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go and eat rich foods, drink sweet wine and share with him who has nothing prepared. This day is dedicated to the Lord, so do not be sad. The joy of YHVH is our strength.”

The Levites also calmed the people down, saying, “Do not weep. This day is a festival day. Do not be sad.” And the people went their way to eat, drink and share, and they had a great feast, because they had understood the words that had been proclaimed to them.

Sunday, 1 September 2013 : 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 14 : 1, 7-14

One Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and He was carefully watched. Jesus then told a parable to the guests, for He had noticed how they tried to take the places of honour. And He said, “When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat. It may happen that someone more important than you had been invited; and your host, who invited both of you, will come and say to you, ‘Please give this person your place.’ What shame is yours when you take the lowest seat!”

“Whenever you are invited, go rather to the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you, ‘Friend, you must come up higher.’ And this will be a great honour for you in the presence of all the other guests. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised.”

Jesus also addressed the man who had invited Him, and said, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends, or your brothers and relatives, or your wealthy neighbours. For surely they will also invite you in return, and you will be repaid. When you give a feast, invite instead the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Fortunate are you then, because they cannot repay you; you will be repaid at the resurrection of the upright.”

Thursday, 29 August 2013 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 6 : 17-29

For this is what had happened : Herod had ordered John to be arrested, and had had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her, and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.”

So Herodias held a grudge against John; and wanted to kill him, but she could not, because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man, and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him, although he became very disturbed, whenever he heard him.

Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs, and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you.” And he went so far as to say with many oaths, “I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.”

She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” The mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried to the king and made her request, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish.”

The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother.

When John’s disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.

Thursday, 9 May 2013 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Psalm)

Psalm 46 : 2-3, 6-7, 8-9

Clap your hands, all you peoples; acclaim God with shouts of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared; He is a great king all over the earth.

God ascends amid joyful shouts, the Lord amid trumpet blasts. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

God is king of all the earth; sing to Him a hymn of praise. For God now rules over the nations, God reigns from His holy throne.

Sunday, 10 February 2013 : 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time and Chinese New Year (Scripture Reflection)

We have seen today, that the Lord is everything for us, and He loves, and cares for us deeply. There is no other being with greater love. He provided for us in our daily lives, He guided us, taught us, and blessed us with abundance. That we have enough but not excessive, so that we may live comfortably, but not be ensnared by the lures of money and therefore greed.

As today, Chinese around the world celebrate Chinese New Year, the most important day in the whole Chinese calendar year, let us reflect on the readings today, with regards on the matter of blessing and prosperity, on which Chinese New Year frequently base itself on. On Chinese New Year, we Chinese visit one another in the family and relatives, and bring one another the spirit of joy and love. The day is a celebration of life, and of love, through the family blessed by God with ample goods and graces. This is what we should remember on this festive Chinese New Year day, and not instead, the culture of materialism, that increasingly become more and more common amongst Chinese, and people around the world in general.

Chinese New Year has often been associated with wealth, prosperity, money, auspiciousness, and lavishness, with lavish reunion dinners, lavish new clothings, and concerns about etiquette while visiting one another. In today’s modern world, intense commercialisation and materialism has led to Chinese New Year celebrations to become increasingly elaborate. This also applies to other types of celebrations around the world, which are becoming increasingly commercialised and with focus placed much on the glamour and glitz instead of the true meaning of the celebrations themselves.

Jesus reminded us today, that God as our Father has given us everything that we need, and that He as the Ultimate Judge of all life too, has the life of all creation known and measured, without our knowledge of these. Indeed, no matter how much wealth we accumulate in this life on earth, how many houses, cars, or even private jets we have, ultimately, when we die, we will not bring these with us. What we instead bring with us is just ourselves, our soul. Will you rather choose to be wealthy in this world and then judged unworthy by the Lord in the end? To suffer separation from Him all eternity, out of which there is no hope? Or would you rather to be not so wealthy in this world, but build up spiritual wealth instead, and be richly rewarded by God for your meaningful life filled with actions out of love for others and God?

Do not however, be mistaken. God does not hate or condemn wealth and money, and indeed, naturally, we need those to support ourselves, our own families, and to live rather comfortably. However, the main point is, not to be mastered by these instead of us mastering them. We must take charge of our wealth, and whenever we can, try to share some with the less fortunate.

Unfortunately, in our present day world, as it had happened in the past as well, many people guard their treasures with greed and jealousy, without even thinking of others in need. Many concern themselves everyday on the pursuit of gathering more wealth, buying more luxury goods, possessing more cars and other amenities, until to the point that they are actually mastered and enslaved by wealth, instead of the other way around.

Wealth is not everything indeed, and although it is essential, we Christians should heed the message in the readings today, to know how to feel ‘enough’, to know the ‘limit’ of our wishes, and to know how to be satisfied. We should look at others around us, when we are engrossed in our pursuit of wealth and prosperity, so excessive that we neglect even to look around. There are many others amongst us who are not so fortunate, and these people are already very thankful when they even have enough to eat for the day, and there are even those who do not have enough.

One may then ask, isn’t the Lord saying that He provides enough for all of us everyday? Then why are there these people who beg? Why are there people who hunger? Why then there are people who still die of neglect and poverty? This is because, the Lord does His work, through us, through His children, and Jesus taught us in the Scripture to give thanks to God for what we receive, and to share them with our fellow brothers and sisters in God.

It is we who ought to open our ‘granaries’ of food and ‘banks’ of wealth to share some of excesses we have, which we do not need, with those who cannot afford them. Remember, the Lord does not disdain or hate wealth, it is just that He wants all of us to live happily in love, sharing our joy together, sharing our sorrow together, in a community based in the faith in the Lord, who gives enough to all everyday, without the need to worry.

The poor no longer will need to worry about what they will survive on tomorrow, and whether their children will be taken care of properly, and the rich will also no longer need to worry about what investment to make tomorrow, where to profit on tomorrow, and what car or what property to buy tomorrow. Do as you always do, and work as you have always worked, but do not make yourselves slaves to your career and to whatever you are doing. Rather, always remember the Lord in all things that we do, and make Him the centre of our lives. We will realise that once we put God into all things that we do, we will no longer desire more and more, and will be satisfied with whatever blessings and generous gifts God has given us.

Let us therefore, in this Chinese New Year celebration, renew the commitment to love one another, and not just within one’s family, but also to others beyond that, for we are all one family in Christ. While we party, drink, and eat much food, remember always in our prayers those who are less fortunate. Whatever excesses we have in our celebration, let us pass them to them, that they too will be able to joyfully participate in the celebration. Let us be inclusive as the Lord wants us to be, and not be greedy and exclusive.

All said, as the other readings show us, we still have our missions to fulfill, namely to reach out to others who have yet to listen to the Word of God and the Good News, and that is why Christ told His disciples on the boat to go out and put the net out to the deep. So far, we have caught the ‘fish’ on the surface and those who are near, but there are many who are located deeper and farther away from the love of God, who are yet caught by us.

Christ made Simon the fisherman into Peter the fisher of man, and so did He make the other Apostles fishers of men. This mission, reiterated by Christ after His resurrection, to go out to all the nations and deliver to them the Good News of the Lord, and baptise them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, is still true today, and all of us Christians, should also reach out further and deeper, to those amongst us, who are yet to receive the grace of the Word of God.

Do not worry that we cannot do this mission as Christ asked us to. Remember that God provides everything for us, and He will provide all that we need to do our mission. We can begin simply with our own lives, to live a life of love and faith to God, such that we become such a shining beacon of goodness, that others will come to us, and through us, God will make His wonderful work, and the Word of God will be brought to all mankind, even through just one faithful and dedicated disciple of the Lord.

Let us be fishers of men, just like the Apostles, beginning from ourselves, and even our own families. I myself came from a non-Christian family background, and although my mother is a Catholic, but my father is not, and he was a very staunch follower of his own beliefs. It is not easy to bring the Word of God, the Good News to everyone, but we can begin indeed in showing that God is Love, and through His Spirit, that our own actions will be filled with love and all, even those who do not yet believe in God, will believe in Him, through us, and our actions.

May God bless all of us on this wonderful day, and bless all the Chinese people throughout the world celebrating this magnificent Chinese New Year, and remind us always that on top of the parties and the celebrations that we have, we also have a mission to do, that is to share the Good News to all, and indeed, to share the joy, happiness, and blessings that we receive, particularly on this festive moment, with those who have little or none. God bless us all, and bless His holy Church! Amen.