Friday, 24 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan in China (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us all of the commandments of God yet again, to love one another as we have loved God and ourselves, to give our love from our hearts and be sincere in the offering and giving of ourselves to our fellow men. And this has been the distinguishing feature of our Christian faith from the very beginning.

In the early Church, as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, there was once bitter division and feud between the opposing factions in the Church, between those who wanted to impose the rigours and strict observations and standards of the Jewish customs and laws on the whole community of the faithful and those who wished to relax the draconian and rigorous imposition of such laws on the whole Christian community.

But in all the bickering and conflict, they forgot that the most important thing for all Christians to do is not to be paying attention or putting the focus on these trivial matters that distract them all from doing what they have been called and commanded to do, that is to love. In their hastiness and focus on the external appearances, instead of doing the will of God, those early Christians ended up causing hurt and troubles to the Body of Christ, the Church.

And in all of these, we are all called to the examples shown by none other than Christ Himself, the Lord of all, Who has shown His love so generously and lovingly, that He sacrificed Himself for the good of all His people, bearing the burden of the Cross and endured the bitter humiliation and pain so that we may all live and not perish. If God had not loved us in such a way, all of us would have perished because of our sins.

And today we remember in particular all those who have also suffered with Christ because of the love and dedication that they had for Him, their faith and commitment in Him and their desire to be part of the larger Universal Church, which had been suppressed and prevented by the circumstances that they had to encounter. On this day we remember therefore our brethren of faith of the Church in China suffering persecution in a way how the early Christians had suffered.

Despite the challenges and difficulties they faced, the faithful there still held on fast to the hope in God and to the assurance that Christ had brought into this world that no matter how they had suffered, but God and His faithful ones will be triumphant in the end. God has always been with His people, and through His mother Mary, the Blessed ever Virgin Mary, God has always watched over them and protected them.

That is why today, on which day one of the Marian feasts recognised by the Church, that is of Our Lady of Sheshan, we also remember her as the Help of Christians, as when the troubles, challenges and persecutions of the world come upon the faithful, it is to Mary that many of them turn towards, just as children turn towards their mother seeking for protection, guidance and loving care, so do us the faithful turn to our blessed Mother for help and protection.

Today, let us all keep in our prayers, our brethren in faith in China, as well as many others around the world, who truly love God genuinely and desire to worship Him and to be His followers, and yet, facing intense persecution and challenges at the same time, just because they are Christ’s disciples. And this is where we can truly grow in our love for God, just as these brethren of ours truly love God so deeply and sincerely from their hearts.

If we have thus far taken our faith for granted and not being sincere and true in our love for God, then perhaps now is the time for us to change our mindset, our attitude and our way of living our faith lives. Let us all draw closer to God, thanking Him and loving Him for each and every moment He has loved us so dearly, and love our brethren and keep them in our mind, at every possible moment. Amen.

Friday, 24 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan in China (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 12-17

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This is My commandment : Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are My friends, if you do what I command you.”

“I shall not call You servants any more, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learnt from My Father.”

“You did not choose Me; it was I Who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in My Name, He will give you. This is My command, that you love one another.”

Friday, 24 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan in China (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 56 : 8-9, 10-12

My heart is steadfast, o God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul, awake, o harp and lyre! I will wake the dawn.

I will give thanks to You, o Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to You among the nations. For Your love reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness, to the clouds.

Be exalted, o God, above the heavens! Let Your Glory be over all the earth!

Friday, 24 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan in China (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 15 : 22-31

Then the Apostles and elders together with the whole Church decided to choose representatives from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. These were Judas, known as Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers. They took with them the following letter :

“Greetings from the Apostles and elders, your brothers, to the believers of non-Jewish birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We have heard that some persons from among us have worried you with their discussions and troubled your peace of mind. They were not appointed by us.”

“But now, it has seemed right to us in an assembly, to choose representatives and to send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. We send you then Judas and Silas who themselves will give you these instructions by word of mouth.”

“We, with the Holy Spirit, have decided not to put any other burden on you except what is necessary : You are to abstain from blood from the meat of strangled animals and from prohibited marriages. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

After saying goodbye, the messengers went to Antioch, where they assembled the community and handed them the letter. When they read the news, all were delighted with the encouragement it gave them.

Saturday, 30 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we have heard today of the doubt of the Pharisees, and how they doubted the works and the authority of Jesus, when He taught in the Temple, by challenging Him to provide the origins of His teaching authority, which came to clash with the authority with which the Pharisees themselves had taught.

The Pharisees were jealous with the popularity of Jesus, who from time to time again proved to be able to draw big masses of people who clamoured and wished to hear the truth which Christ had brought into the world. The Pharisees taught as with they were judging the people, by asserting how they were right and that the people whom they taught were wrong. Well, Jesus did the same too, but when He taught them, His teaching was such that it was done with true and clear authority.

It is indeed like what we heard from the first reading from the Book of the prophet Sirach or Ecclesiastes, on the nature of revelation of God’s truth in us. It is like a people who had longed for something good and then saw what they want. Truly, once they saw it, they would do all in what they are able to in order to find it and get hold of it. And thus, the same too happened with the people who longed for the truth, and having been oppressed for a long time under the lies of the world.

The moment they see the truth which Christ brought, it was like a great Light which pierced the darkness of the world, and which pierced the darkness that had once veiled our eyes. What Christ had taught, is done with true authority and rings true in our hearts, because deep within all of us, we have that desire to love the Lord and to follow what is right.

The Pharisees refused to listen and believe, because they have that one weakness which all of us also have and share among us, that is our pride. The human pride is one of the greatest obstacles that prevented us from being truly faithful and devoted to the Lord. It prevented us from being able to introspect into ourselves to look at our shortcomings and weaknesses, which we truly ought to seek the Lord who could have helped us to redress the issue.

Therefore, one of the first thing that we must do is, to throw far, far away our pride and to learn humility, that is the readiness and willingness to listen to others, and not least of all, but in fact the most important is, for us to be able to listen to the Lord, our loving God. We are often too distracted with the variety of things, temptations and other things in the world, and all these noise prevented us from truly hearing the word of God, which He spoke softly inside our hearts.

We often miss this because we are unable to perceive the subtlety of the Lord speaking to us because we are so occupied with the things of this world. We are too busy with ourselves to even pay attention to Him and to spare some thoughts to Him. That is why we have the tendency to always think that firstly, we are always right. We always blame others first in all things.

Can we learn to dispose our ego and cast away our pride? If we are unable to do so, then I fear that the word of truth, that is the word of God will be drowned in the ocean of ego and human desires. If we want to move forward in the path towards salvation and eternal life, then the only way is by growing deeper in our spirituality, and most importantly, by nurturing our prayer life. If we are able to pray regularly and frequently with genuine intention, then we will be able to communicate more efficiently with our Lord and know what is His truth.

Let us learn to take a break from all the distractions and noise in the world, and learn to quieten ourselves down, so that we may find the voice of God in us, and speak with Him in the silence of our hearts. Let us devote ourselves ever more to the Lord our God. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 30 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 11 : 27-33

At that time, Jesus and His disciples were once again in Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking in the Temple, the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the elders came to Him and asked, “What authority do You have to act like this? Who gave You authority to do the things You do?”

Jesus said to them, “I will ask you a question, only one, and if you give me an answer, then I will tell you what authority I have to act like this. Was John’s preaching and baptism a work of God, or was it merely something human? Answer Me.”

And they kept arguing among themselves, “If we answer that it was a work of God, He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?'” But neither could they answer before the people that the baptism of John was merely something human, for everyone regarded John as a prophet.

So they answered Jesus, “We do not know,” and Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you what authority I have to act as I do.”

Saturday, 30 May 2015 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

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.