Wednesday, 5 March 2014 : Ash Wednesday (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the very beginning of the sacred season of Lent, the season of penitence and repentance, and the season of fasting and mercy. Today is the Ash Wednesday, the day when we have ashes placed on our forehead or head, to mark that on this day, we begin our journey of repentance and towards mercy and forgiveness.

Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are all sinners, and we all have fault before God. The ashes reminds us that we are all unworthy of God, because of sin which had corrupted us from the time when we first fall into sin, in our ancestors. Ash Wednesday also reminds us of our own mortality, that we are all mortals and we are all weak.

We are all created from dust, and so from dust we came and to dust we shall return. Our physical bodies will crumble like dust, and yet our spirits, the Spirit of God, shall remain. This season of Lent aimed at bringing to our realisation that we are sinners and mortals, and our lives depend on God and on His love and kindness. And He has indeed shown us great mercy.

Our Lord told us that what He wants from us is a heart full of regret and repentance. This heart of ours should not be filled with pride and reluctance, but instead with the eagerness of welcoming the Lord into our own lives. And this Lenten season serves to remind us of this reality. That God loves us and He wants to be reunited with us in love.

Many of us today are no longer aware of the love that God has for us, as well as the sinfulness and wickedness of our souls. We are also no longer aware of the need for us to be constantly in touch with our Lord and God, that is through prayer. We are often distracted by many things, some of which include pride, fear, reluctance, and stubbornness, which prevent us from listening to God and His will.

And it is these same obstacles that have afflicted the people of God at the time of Jesus, and even today. When we say that we have faith in God, that is not truly because we truly love God and devote ourselves to Him. Instead, our faith is often a faith based on fear of the Lord, fear of punishment, and the lack of understanding about what our faith is about.

Some of us love prestige and human acceptance, and that is why we pray loudly and hope that people will see us praying and praise us, or we pray because we look for something in that prayer, that is asking God to fulfill our wants, wishes and desires. It is this which further hinder our way towards the Lord and keep us away from salvation in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we begin the season of Lent today, let us all reflect even as we receive the sign of the ashes on our forehead. Many people were reluctant or downright embarrassed of wearing the ash sign on the forehead, because they were concerned about what others will think about them, if they mar their own beauty and appearance.

That is why, brethren, today, let us receive the ash on our forehead with deep understanding, that first we are mortals, and all that have been given to us, our appearance and possessions, are all gifts and grants from the Lord, and we owe Him thanks for all of them. Let us all bear our sign of the ashes with pride, that we show true repentance on our sins and actions, humbly seeking the forgiveness of the Lord.

I hope that this year’s season of Lent will be a very fruitful season, both for us to make pure ourselves from the corruption of sin, as well as coming to a greater understanding of our sinfulness, and ask the Lord for His mercy, grace and love. May the love of God be with us, strengthen us, and be our defender against all the forces of evil.

Let us all go and seek the divine mercy, that He may forgive us from all the sins we have committed, and God be with us all. Amen.

Saturday, 25 May 2013 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor; Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope; and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Gospel Reading)

Mark 10 : 13-16

People were bringing their little children to Him to have Him touch them, and the disciples rebuked them for this.

When Jesus noticed it, He was very angry and said, “Let the children come to Me and don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

Then He took the children in His arms, and, laying His hands on them, blessed them.

Saturday, 4 May 2013 : 5th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 16 : 1-10

Paul travelled on to Derbe and then to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy lived there, whose mother was a believer of Jewish origin but whose father was a Greek. As the believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him, Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him.

So he took him and, because of the Jews of that place who all knew that his father was a Greek, he circumcised him. As they travelled from town to town, they delivered the decisions of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, for the people to obey. Meanwhile, the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number every day.

They travelled through Phrygia and Galatia, because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

There one night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and begged him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” When he awoke, he told us of this vision and we understood that the Lord was calling us to give the Good News to the Macedonian people.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013 : Ash Wednesday (First Reading)

Joel 2 : 12-18

YHVH says, “Yet even now, return to Me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your heart, not your garment. Return to YHVH, your God – gracious and compassionate.”

YHVH is slow to anger, full of kindness, and He repents of having punished. Who knows? Probably He will relent once more and spare some part of the harvest from which we may bring sacred offerings to YHVH, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion, proclaim a sacred fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather the people, sanctify the community, bring together the elders, even the children and infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his bed, and the bride her room.

Between the vestibule and the altar, let the priests, YHVH’s ministers, weep and say : “Spare your people, YHVH. Do not humble them or make them an object of scorn among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples : Where is their God?

YHVH has become jealous for His land; He has had pity on His people.

(Special) Sunday, 10 February 2013 : Chinese New Year Day Mass (First Reading)

Numbers 6 : 22-27

Then YHVH spoke to Moses saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and say to them : This is how you shall bless the people of Israel; you shall say :

‘May YHVH bless you and keep you! May YHVH let His face shine on you and be gracious to you! May YHVH look kindly on you, and give you His peace!’

In that way shall they put my Name on the people of Israel and I will bless them.”