Friday, 15 November 2013 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the reading today, particularly that of our first reading today, can be no further from the truth. This is the reality facing mankind today. Our world has grown to be a world where people turned skeptical, especially against anything that they cannot truly prove by their common sense. Men believe the things that they can see and are awed by the achievements that they had made.

Mankind become ensnared in their own selves, and praise their own greatness, through the achievements they had accomplished. Mankind were not satisfied with just believing in God and all of His goodness, because the devil had sown in each one of us, distrust and lack of faith, the seeds of rebellion against God and His will.

They grow merry and indulge themselves in the pleasures of the world. They give no regards to the Lord or to His laws and precepts. They grow only to care for themselves and turned themselves against one another. They grow engrossed in the pleasures that they see and observe in this world, thinking at the same time that they are smarter and wiser than their Creator. Their attachment to the world, became their greatest undoing.

The Lord will punish these people who grew proud and become disrespectful of their Lord and God. This is sadly the things that is happening now in our world. Mankind grew more and more disrespectful of the Lord their Creator, being distracted by the pleasures of this world, and by the beauty of God’s creations themselves. They worshipped these, regarded these as thing of marvel and worthy of praise, and yet do not praise the very One who created them all, in their ignorance.

Take for example, the growing apathy for the faith and for God, which many people attributed to their attachment to ‘science’ and ‘reason’. They argued that they discarded their faith because of the advancement of science, which opened their eyes to reason and therefore, they argued again, opened their eyes and minds to rational thinking. Thus, they grew hostile to any ‘superstitions’ which to them is exemplified by none better than our faith itself.

These people allow their ego and their senses to delude them, into thinking that what is actually real is unreal. God is real, and He is truly present for us, with us, and even within us. Remember that it was Him who gave us life! And yet, because we cannot truly feel Him with our feeble and limited senses, we think of. Him as non-existent, and instead chose the things of creations that He made, as new object of marvel, and even to the point of worship.

Brethren, this was no different from how people in the past, in many different civilisations, and some even until today, worship the natural elements and other things of great wonders to us. They worship the sun, the stars, the moon, the trees, animals, and other natural objects, even this world itself. This is no different from what is happening today.

We may not worship these inanimate objects, the creations of God anymore, but we have done essentially the same in a different way. First, we worship money and all things of material, giving it great honour and place it foremost before all other things. Then, we also marvel a lot at our universe and its splendour, seeking to see more, understand more, and find out more about the mysteries of our universe, but doing these, without giving due honour to the One who created them all, that is God.

We tend to forget that these wondrous things are merely things created, and they are just like us. It is perfectly alright for us to go and observe them, observe and note the phenomena that happen around us, and learn from them, as it is in our nature to be curious and want to seek more. But what is not right is if we do not pay attention or honour the One who created them all, who is God. These things may indeed be distractions in our attempt to seek God if we are not careful.

Use science, learning, and wisdom of the world for good, that is to utilise them for good purposes, and for tools to help us on our way to reach God our Lord and Creator. Do not let them instead control us or corrupt us in any way. That is what St. Albert the Great, the saint whose feast we are celebrating today has exemplified through his own life. A pious saint, and yet a wise and well endowed saint, with the knowledge of the world and with great faith to the One who created all things.

St. Albert the Great was a religious who was made a bishop in the medieval era Europe, where he spent much of his time in intellectual pursuit, studying the ancient philosophers and various other knowledge. St. Albert the Great learnt a lot of knowledge and worldly wisdom, and it was reflected in his numerous writings and works. And yet, at the same time, his piety and zeal for the Lord burned brightly, and his faith is undimmed.

St. Albert the Great went around Europe at the time, preaching the Good News, and was particularly caring about the people who are without wisdom and knowledge. He established many institutions of learning and schools, aimed at bringing more people to be aware of their surroundings, understanding their existence, and the beauty of God’s creations, while at the same time rooting out any misunderstandings about the faith in the people.

Through St. Albert the Great, many souls were saved and taken away from damnation, by enlightening them with the knowledge of the world, and even more importantly by endowing them with greater understanding of the Lord their God and Creator. It is through him that many has been made aware of the love of God, and the care that He has for all of them.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, inspired by the example of St. Albert the Great and other saints, let us adore the Lord our God, and praise Him for His wonderful works, just as we adore and be captivated by the good things we observe around us. Let us not be distracted and be misled by the evil one, and let us make the effort, to strengthen our faith, that in all things we do, we will always proclaim the Lord, profess the Lord, and be with the Lord at all times. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Colossians 2 : 6-15

If you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, let Him be your doctrine. Be rooted and built up in Him; let faith be your principle, as you were taught, and your thanksgiving overflowing. See that no one deceives you with philosophy or any hollow discourse; these are merely human doctrines not inspired by Christ but by the wisdom of this world. For in Him dwells the fullness of God in bodily form. He is the head of all cosmic power and authority, and in Him you have everything.

In Christ Jesus you were given a circumcision but not by human hands, which removed completely from you the carnal body : I refer to baptism. On receiving it you were buried with Christ; and you also rose with Him for having believed in the power of God who raised Him from the dead.

You were dead. You were in sin and uncircumcised at the same time. But God gave you life with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He cancelled the record of our debts, those regulations which accused us. He did away with all that and nailed it to the cross. Victorious through the cross, He stripped the rulers and authorities of their power, humbled them before the eyes of the whole world and dragged them behind Him as prisoners.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Mark 12 : 18-27

The Sadducees also came to Jesus. Since they claim that there is no resurrection, they questioned Him in this way, “Master, in the Scriptures Moses gave us this law : ‘If anyone dies and leaves a wife but no children, his brother must take the woman, and with her have a baby, who will be considered the child of his deceased brother.”

“Now, there were seven brothers. The first married a wife, but he died without leaving any children. The second took the wife, and he also died leaving no children. The same thing happened to the third. In fact, all seven brothers died, leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. Now, in the resurrection, to which of them will she be wife? For all seven brothers had her as wife.”

Jesus replied, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry, but are like the angels in heaven. Now, about the resurrection of the dead, have you never had thoughts about the burning bush in the book of Moses?”

“God said to Moses : ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is the God not of the dead but of the living. You are totally wrong.”

Saturday, 1 June 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we heard about how the Pharisees and the chief priests doubted the power and authority of Christ, questioning the origins of His authority and works, and in doing so, failing to see the work of God that is in Christ. For all the miracles and the wonders that Christ had done in this world, are the works of the Father, and in doing all that, He did not do it for His own glory, but for the Father who had sent Him.

Why did then, the Pharisees, and the chief priests, who are supposed to be people most knowledgeable in anything related to the Scriptures and the prophecies of the prophets regarding the Messiah failed to see that Christ is the Messiah, and failed even to see the works of God in Jesus? That is, brothers and sisters, because they are blind! They are blinded by their own weaknesses, by jealousy, by hatred, and by prejudice, and the pride they had in their own abilities, in their own intellect, and in their own worldly power.

The Pharisees claimed to serve the Lord and showed this through their external piety, through loud and well-recognised prayers in public places, and by their ultra-orthodox approach to the faith by very strict observation of the Law of Moses, and the norms of the society at the time, even to the little matters such as the washing of the hands prior to meals. But in their strict observation of that Law, they had in fact become corrupted by the power and authority that had been entrusted to them as priests of the people of God.

To them had been granted the authority, the same authority and priestly power as granted to Aaron, the brother of Moses, who became the first High Priest of the people of Israel after the Exodus from Egypt. To them had been granted also the responsibility of guiding the people to remain faithful in the path and ways of the Lord, that the people would not falter and stray in their lives, and remain in God’s grace.

Yet, they had, over the centuries, grown to trust men much more than they trusted God. They placed human glory and acclamation ahead of true, heavenly glory that only God can give. They had grown so accustomed to the privileges they had in their position of authority and power, that they themselves began to stray from the path that God has appointed for them and entrusted them to keep the people faithful in. They, the leaders of the people, out of all others had themselves been bought over by the evil one. Indeed, the saying cannot be further than truth, that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

In their position of authority, and with the privileges and honour they had grown so accustomed to, the priests and the elders had become arrogant, and jealous against anyone they see as rivals to their own authority and power, even if that rival is in fact the very Messiah that God had sent to save the people of Israel, and all mankind. This defiance against the Messiah was very evident today, given how they questioned the authority of Christ, which as God, has authority over all creation.

However, it is important to note that although it seems that those priests and elders look evil from how they were portrayed in the Gospels, but they themselves were not inherently evil. All mankind are inherently capable of doing what is good, and also what is evil. Ever since our ancestors, Adam and Eve, ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we had been exposed to both good and evil, and therefore, are fully capable of doing both. Whether to do good or to do evil, is entirely within our own decision capacity.

That is why, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important that we keep our faith in the Lord strong at all times, and anchor ourselves firmly in His love, so that we will not go astray, tempted and bought off by the enticing offers of the evil one, who had in his possession, all the world and all its ‘good’ things, that can easily tempt and seduce those who are weak-hearted, and those without firm faith in the Lord.

Today, therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, and from here on, we should always be reminded on the evils of this world, and the dangers that we constantly face in our daily struggles against evil and all that he employed in this world against God’s children. Especially, brethren, if we had been entrusted with positions of authority and power, do not abuse that power that the Lord had entrusted you, and do not let the sheep entrusted to you, their shepherd, to go astray from the truth of God.

But we need not fear, brethren, for Christ is amongst us, and He is always with us, if only that we remain faithful and obedient to Him and do all the commandments that He had given us, we are safe. The devil will have no power over us, and we will truly become God’s children. And instead of jealousy, we will be in complete awe and wonder for the glory of God, and with the angels and saints, we shall glorify Him forevermore when we are reunited with Him once again, in the eternal bliss of heaven.

Today we also commemorate the feast of a great early martyr of the Christian Church, St. Justin the Martyr, who died for the faith in the second century after the coming of Christ, in the early Church times. St. Justin was born a pagan and a philosopher, with a great intellect and quality education, that made him a very well-educated person in the society at the time. St. Justin encountered many believers of Christ in his journeys and travels, and despite being involved in arguments and debates with them, in fact, gradually, it kindled in him the love for God, and the steadfast faith in Christ.

St. Justin, despite his great intellect and knowledge, did not give in to his pride and human weakness, and instead put himself in God’s love and place his full trust in Him. That is why He was glorified in death, out of his steadfast and unfailing faith, even unto death, because, unlike the Pharisees and the chief priests, he did not let human pride and arrogance to get in the way of salvation. May we be able to follow in the footsteps of St. Justin, and become truly the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. St. Justin the Martyr, pray for us. Amen.