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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 18 : 8-11

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, 21 June 2013 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our faith in the Lord is possibly the greatest treasure that we will ever have in this world. What is treasure? A treasure is something that we find precious and really have a substantial meaning and value to us, either in financial terms or in any other terms. Basically, it is something very valuable to us, and presumably we will want to have it and keep it from losing it.

But, if we notice, in our world today, too many people are enamoured with treasure, so much, that they become obsessed with it. Treasure in this means worldly treasure, the treasure of wealth, possessions, goods, and amenities, that come with our world today and all its conveniences. All of these materialisms widespread in our world today, can easily be seen in the amounts of the advertisements in our television programmes, and in the internet media.

These advertisements take advantage of our human desire, of our greed and desire to have more of the material goods and pleasures that this world can offer in its various forms. Not that this is bad, brothers and sisters in Christ, as a tempered desire for possessions and wealth may indeed be beneficial if not necessary for mankind at times. We do need money and certain goods in order to lead a good normal life in our world today. What matters is however, do we really seek what we need? Or do we seek so much more than what we need, that it becomes a kind of greed?

When Christ mentioned that in the treasures lie our heart, He was not further than the truth. Indeed, our heart certainly lie with our treasures. Imagine a man with an enormous wealth stored inside a safety box inside his house. Certainly he will do all that he can in order to ensure that the treasure ‘chest’ remain safe from all external threats, such as thieves and even maybe natural disasters. He would not have done such things if his heart had not been with the treasure.

But what Christ had rightly warned us is that, these kind of wealth are temporary. my brothers and sisters. They are not permanent, nor will they remain with us forever. We will not bring our wealth and possessions with us to the afterlife, be it to heaven or hell, because in heaven we have no need for such possessions, because the Lord alone is our possession, and we will have enough, and in hell, no amount of material goods will be able to alleviate the ultimate suffering of the separation of man from God.

Another example I would like to bring to your attention is the recent curious cases of entire life savings being destroyed by termites that managed to get into the safely kept money, and almost brought disaster to the old lady who had saved the money. The bank kindly replaced most of the money for her, but this gives us yet another reminder that these possessions are not permanent, nor will they be able to withstand natural forces, just as Christ had mentioned.

And yet another case, where a safety box in a bank in India was thought to be untouched and safe, but in fact a colony of termites managed to find their way inside and destroy whatever it was that were kept inside that safety box. Nothing of this world lasts, brothers and sisters in Christ.

That is why, Christ told us, to seek the true treasure of our lives, that is God, because God, unlike the worldly material possessions can never be subjected to rust and the natural forces of destruction, termites or whatsoever. If we keep faithful to God’s covenant with us, keep His commandments at all times, God will belong to us, and we too will belong to God. This divine possession is lasting and eternal, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

Yes, of course, we are free to seek to obtain possessions and treasures of this world, but always remember that in doing so, let us always remember that in God, we have the true treasure, such that we will never be led astray by the worldly treasures or even overcome by our greed and human desire, that we fall into sin and be led away from God, which will end likely in eternal damnation in hell. No amount of our wealth in this world will be able to save us or alleviate our suffering in hell, my brethen.

Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a former noble youth from Italy, from the very renowned Gonzaga family of lords, dukes, and kings. But despite being the firstborn of the family, and therefore was entitled to inherit all the titles he was entitled to, with all its possessions and wealth, that many of us even today can only dream of, he was awakened to the true treasure of this life, that is the Lord.

He forsook all the privileges he had and his inheritance, seeking to become a religious, dedicating his entire life and entire being to the Lord. He forsook the inheritance of the powerful and the wealth of the world to seek a nobler and greater purpose in life, that is the Lord, and to serve the people of God. Yes, many opposed his decision, especially his father, who was completely surprised and angered by his decision. Nevertheless, in the end, St. Aloysius Gonzaga managed to be what he wanted to be.

Although unfortunately, St. Aloysius Gonzaga died early in his early twenties, in his short life, he had shown us the virtue of seeking the true treasure of our life. No, this does not mean that all of us should enter the monasteries and embrace the ascetic lifestyle of monks, and neither we should impoverish ourselves by selling all the things that we have. Yes, some of us can do that, if they do choose to do so, but what matters is, to look beyond the material and the pleasures of this world, in seeking the real treasure that will never be depleted, and that will never be lost.

No matter how much money and possessions that we have, eventually, they can run out. No matter how much pleasures we have in our lives, they can also run out, and we can also become bored of such possessions and pleasures, because they are not the true treasure. The love of God, that is our true treasure, will fill us and renew us, such that we will never be empty again. He will fill us and make us whole. God is always with us, if we too, love Him and remain in His grace. Amen.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 5 : 43-48

You have heard that it was said : ‘Love your neighbour and do not do good to your enemy.’ But this I tell you : ‘Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on both the wicked and the good, and He gives rain to both the just and the unjust.

If you love those who love you, what is special about that? Do not even tax collectors do as much? And if you are friendly only to your friends, what is so exceptional about that? Do not even the pagans do as much?

As for you, be righteous and perfect in the way your heavenly Father is righteous and perfect.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

To Caesar, give to him what is his due, and to God, give to Him what is His due. Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the well-known tale from the Scripture, in which Christ countered the attempt of the Pharisees to test Him, by giving them a perfect answer which they could neither deny nor use against Him. Because Jesus did not say give all things to God or to the civil authorities, but give to each, what is due for each one.

Because if Jesus had said that we should not obey the civil or secular authority, the Pharisees and the chief priests would surely accuse Him to the Romans of inciting the people against them, and therefore would ask the Romans to punish Him. On the other side, if Jesus said that we should obey the civil authorities completely, which was actually disliked at the time, remembering that tax collectors were seen very negatively by the people at the time, the Pharisees too would accuse Jesus of colluding with the Romans and therefore was at fault.

That was why, Christ gave them the perfect answer, the truthful answer. What matters for us in this world is that we obey God, with all our hearts, our minds, and our soul, but in this world, we are not alone, or by ourselves only, for in this world, we also have the often secular, civil governments having power and authority over us, just as God has the power over all mankind and all governments of this world.

We should obey the rules and regulations of the civil authorities, as long as they do not violate our ultimate obedience to God. It is our right to choose out of the free will God has granted us all. But if the state and the nation do not reflect God’s will and love in their actions, we should be awakened to our conscience and our hearts, to not follow the same path, which will certainly lead to disobedience against the Lord.

But if the civil authorities are doing this for the good of all, and in accordance with God’s commandments of love, by all means we should also obey them, and give them what is due. For the states have rendered service to us by ensuring that a proper system is in place, from education and all others like healthcare which enable all of us to have a comfortable life in this world. Therefore it is just right for all of us to repay them in a way, through what is commonly used form as taxes.

But never forget, brothers and sisters in Christ, that our ultimate obedience should always be in God, and God alone. States and nations are human-made, and as human things, they also can err, because they are not perfect, unlike God who is perfect and good. That is why, often at times, states become erroneous in their path and development. But to all of us, that is in fact not the time for us to run and shy ourselves from that erroneous path. Indeed, what all of us should do, is to inspire a change in that error, that the error can be rectified, that states and nations can once again reflect the nature and the will of God in all the things that they do.

Obey the authority in this earth, and the authority that is in heaven, but place our complete and ultimate obedience in God only, brothers and sisters in Christ, and be proactive in our society, that whenever the society begins to go astray from the path of God, let it be that through our actions, things can be made right and straight once again. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 31 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of the Visitation of our Blessed Virgin to her cousin, Elizabeth, who had become pregnant earlier than Mary herself, when the angel appeared to Zechariah her husband, that she would bear in her old age, the one who was to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus, the Messiah. That child born of Elizabeth, as we all knew, is St. John the Baptist, who straightened the path for the Lord and brought many to repentance through his baptisms at the Jordan, and his call for repentance.

Mary herself had been pregnant by the time of that visitation to Elizabeth, after another angel, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her and revealed to her, the culmination of the promised salvation that God promised His people through the prophets throughout history, that she would bear a Son who would be the Son of God Most High, Jesus Christ, the Messiah who would save all mankind and bring them back to God their Father who loves them all.

The moment of salvation at the time when the visitation happened was truly at hand, because the Saviour Himself is about to be born into the world, and preceded by another, John, who was born before Him to prepare for His way. It is through both John’s call for people to repent, and ultimately, the works of Jesus the Messiah, that the plan for salvation that God has crafted since the day that men fell from grace, came into perfection.

Yes, that is because, ever since our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, had rebelled against the commandments of the Lord by choosing instead to follow the foul advice of the evil one hidden as the devilish snake, and therefore brought sin into mankind and into the world. Ever since, men has suffered as a result of sin, because of our sinfulness, we became unworthy of God, who is perfect and good.

But God did not abandon us, and neither did He leave us with nothing and condemn us directly into hell that is prepared for Satan and his rebellious angels, who followed him in his rebellion. He loves all mankind, whom He created last of all creations, and whom He loved over all other things. It was a great sadness surely that has been in God’s heart, seeing that men who have sinned against Him, having to suffer eternal separation from Him, suffering the same fate as Satan and his angels.

Therefore, God gave us a promise at the beginning of creation, to Adam and Eve herself, that from them would rise a salvation that will deliver mankind from the hands and tyranny of Satan, the snake, and whom the deliverer would destroy Satan and his hold over us forever. This deliverer is none other than Christ the Messiah, the very Son of the Most High God, who was born through Mary.

God even said that although Satan would harass the children of Adam throughout time, but eventually the woman born from them would crush the snake under her feet. This woman is Mary, whom through her crucial role of being the Mother of God, and the Mother of our Saviour, she crushed Satan forever under her feet.

Why did Elizabeth said that Mary is blessed amongst all women? That is because of Mary’s own actions that allow salvation to be executed perfectly, for through her humble acceptance on the will of God, she had made possible the salvation that God offered through the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ, incarnate into man, through Mary, His mother. She is blessed because she, amongst so many other women, many with much greater wealth, and many with much greater power, was selected to be the vessel for the coming of the Messiah in this world.

Her own humility, and her acceptance of her part in the divine plan of salvation made her blessed among every other women, and indeed, that is why she also became our greatest intercessor, the greatest of all saints, because of her own purity in life, through her Immaculate Conception, and through her great virtues throughout her life. And who would be best to help us to bring our prayers to the Lord if not Mary, our Lord’s own mother? Remember that at Cana, through the urging of Mary, Jesus was willing to perform His very first miracle, which saved the wedding couple from potentially disastrous humiliation.

But be careful, brothers and sisters, that we do not glorify Mary beyond God Himself, because, Mary is the Mother of God, but she is not a goddess. We revere and glorify her because of her great virtues, and we ask her for her intercession, and that is why all the prayers that we have for her, so that she would bring her Son to listen to our cause. But we do not worship her and neither do we accredit her with the goddess status, as many people outside the Church had misunderstood, and even used this misunderstanding to attack the faithful ones in the Church.

Today, we celebrate and commemorate the great joy that accompany this Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, because on this day, it was proclaimed that Mary is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Saviour, Jesus, who would come to save all mankind and complete the long planned salvation. Mary, filled with the Holy Spirit that had dwelled within her ever since the conception of Jesus, praised God in a song that we know knew as the Magnificat, as a song of pure and unadulterated joy.

A great joy indeed because the Lord is about to come and end all the works of evil in this world and on mankind. He who is the great judge would make all things good once again, and bring justice to this world, protecting the humble and the weak, and punishing those who are arrogant and overconfident in their own powers.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us glorify God, for His willingness to come down upon us as a lowly man through His mother, Mary, had enabled us to hope once again, for the eternal life and salvation, which Christ, through His death on the cross, had freely offered everyone, without exception. Through Mary, let us reach Christ her Son, and allow her to help us in our attempt to reach salvation.

For Mary, the greatest saint, is the perfect role model for all of us to follow. By following her virtues and examples, we can only become closer to God, as long as we do God’s commandments, by following the examples of our Lady. Have faith, brothers and sisters in Christ, for God will never abandon us, and today, we are joyful, and we are commemorating that completion of salvation, which allows mankind to be reunited once again with God, God who is love, and God who loves us, so much that He sent His only Son, for us, that we may live. Amen.

Thursday, 30 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Sirach 42 : 15-26

Now I shall remind you of the works of the Lord and relate what I have seen. The Lord’s works depend on His word, and creation obeys His will. The sun shines on everything and the work of the Lord is filled with His glory.

Not even to His holy ones has the Lord given full knowledge of all His marvellous works. The Lord, Master of the Universe, has ordained that all should stand firm in His glory. He penetrates both the depth of the abyss and the human heart and knows their secret. For the Most High has full knowledge and ordains the signs of the heavens.

He knows the past and foretells the future and reveals the traces of the world’s mysteries. No thought escapes Him, no word is hidden from Him. He has ordered the marvellous works of His wisdom, from ever and forever. Nothing can be added, nothing can be taken away and He has no need of counsel.

All His works are beautiful, even to the smallest spark of light. All this lives and endures forever : all is useful and obedient to His will. All things are in pairs, one opposite the other, and nothing He makes is in any way deficient.

One thing emphasizes the excellence of the other; who could ever weary of admiring His glory?

Thursday, 18 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Jesus again reiterated the message in today’s Gospel reading, that He is the bread of life, the source of salvation, which can only come through Christ, and through the ultimate sacrifice He had committed on that hill of Calvary on that fateful day, when He was raised high between the heavens and the earth. That moment marked the moment when the pure and unblemished Lamb of God was sacrificed that His blood, splashing down on us, washes us away from our sins.

The Lamb of God did not resist when He was about to be killed, He kept His mouth shut and silent against the false accusations of those who tried to kill Him and bring about His death. Through His submission to the will of the Father, He had been glorified after His death through resurrection, and through this submission, He brought about salvation and reunion of all mankind with God who loves them all.

He died for us that we might live. His blood purifying us from our faults and sins, making us pure once again and worthy to stand before the presence of our God in heaven. Heaven had been closed to all of us since the day when our ancestors defied the will of God, and obeyed the evil one instead, believing in the wisdom of Satan rather than God, and through their disobedience, mankind fall into sin and become the thrall of death.

That was because Adam and Eve, our first ancestors failed to resist the temptation of evil in order to gain more knowledge into themselves, and desiring to become equal as God. But they, who were pure since the day of their creation, now knew the meaning of evil and sin, and as a result, the white slate of paper became splotched with ink and became ruined. That was the state of our soul too before our salvation in Christ.

We suffered the same punishment that Adam and Eve had been made to suffer for their rebellion, that is to roam this earthly plane, to work and toil hard, and death would claim us, and to dust our bodies would return, and we were to be enslaved by Satan. But yet, God is loving just as He is just. He hates sin, but He did not leave us His beloved children without hope of salvation. That hope He brought into our world through Christ His Son, whom He sent to be the Messiah who would save all mankind, once and for all, from the dominion of the evil one.

Christ had become the new Adam, the new beginning, by virtue of being born as man, but unlike Adam, who was sinless and pure as Christ was, but sinned through disobedience, Christ as the Lamb of God obeyed the Lord fully unto His death. This perfect obedience became the perfect offering that entirely countered the rebellion of our ancestors and made all of us worthy once again of God.

Through His Precious Body and Blood, which He offered to all of us freely, He made us into one body in Himself, the Body that is our Church, that all who believes in Christ may be united as one people, and praising God as one people, and sharing the faith that we have in God with one another, and also share the love that He had given us, that love would reign as the motivation behind all our actions.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us always remember that Jesus Christ our Lord is the bread of life, and also the way, the truth, and the life, and in Him alone lies salvation. Let us treasure the Eucharist that we receive in the Mass, that we truly honour the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord, and worthily take Him into ourselves, that we may always be united with Him, and be united with our fellow brethren, who also believe in Him our Saviour. God bless us all. Amen.