(Usus Antiquior) Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Double II Classis) – Sunday, 21 September 2014 : Holy Gospel

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke

Luke 7 : 11-16

In illo tempore : Ibat Jesus in civitatem, quae vocatur Naim : et ibant cum eo discipuli ejus et turba copiosa. Cum autem appropinquaret portae civitatis, ecce, defunctus efferebatur filius unicus matris suae : et haec vidua erat : et turba civitatis multa cum illa.

Quam cum vidisset Dominus, misericordia motus super eam, dixit illi : Noli flere. Et accessit et tetigit loculum. Hi aurem, qui portabant, steterunt. Et ait : Adolescens, tibi dico, surge. Et resedit, qui erat mortuus, et coepit loqui. Et dedit illum matri suae.

Accepit autem omnes timor : et magnificabant Deum, dicentes : Quia Propheta magnus surrexit in nobis : et quia Deus visitavit plebem suam.

English translation

At that time, Jesus went into a city called Naim, and there went with Him His disciples, and a great multitude. And when He came nigh to the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and many people of the city were with her.

And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” And He came near and touched the bier, and those who carried it stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He delivered him to his mother.

And there came a fear on all of them, and they glorified God, saying, “A great Prophet has risen up amongst us and God had visited His people.”

Wednesday, 5 March 2014 : Ash Wednesday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

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.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White

Luke 7 : 11-17

A little later Jesus went to a town called Naim. He was accompanied by His disciples and a great number of people. As He reached the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; there followed a large crowd of townspeople.

On seeing her, the Lord had pity on her and said, “Do not cry.” Then He came up and touched the stretcher, and the men who carried it stopped. Jesus then said, “Young man, I say to you, wake up!” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

A holy fear came over them all, and they praised God saying, “A great prophet has appeared among us; God, has visited His people.” This news spread throughout Judea and the surrounding places.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Psalm 102 : 6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13

The Lord restores justice and secures the rights of the oppressed. He has made known His ways to Moses and His deeds to the people of Israel.

The Lord is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger; He will not always scold nor will He be angry forever.

He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve. As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him.

As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ! Indeed, we are all brethren, brothers and sisters to one another, because all of us share the same Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, who is our Brother. He did not leave mankind behind when we sinned against Him and rebelled against His love and His will. Instead, as the reading pointed out today, He came to dwell among us, and be with us, that we become His brethren, and will have part in Him and His salvation.

The Lord dwells within us, because we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, which must be kept holy at all times, and free from the filth of sin and evil. To do so, we must reflect Christ in all the things that we do, in all the words that we say, and in all the works of our hands. And to reflect Christ simply means to love, loving God with all our hearts and our entire being, and also to love our neighbours, our brethren as much as we love ourselves.

If we do all these, in the complete awareness of what we are doing, which glorify Christ more and more, we will be brought closer and ever be with God. He will accept us as His own, as His brethren, and He will protect us from the harm caused by the evil one. To us, He had shown compassion and love, just as the love shown by shepherd to his sheep. If we are lost, like the lost sheep, He will do all the things He can, in order to bring us back to Him again.

But we must also remain obedient to Christ, as even if we are already saved, we can be lost once again, if we do not remain faithful to our calling in life, that is to be with Christ and to love Him with all our strength. Especially, in our world today, it is easy for one to fall away from grace, because of the increasing materialism in this world, the temptations of pleasure and false happiness that this world provide to many people, that they began to turn away from the teachings of Christ.

Doing the will of God is what God truly desires from us all, and in following Christ and His teachings, we are doing the will of God, that is love, for one another, and for God Himself. If we show love in our actions, we are doing God’s will and therefore will always remain in God’s grace, and we will be save from damnation of death and hell that awaits those who disobeyed the Lord and continued their lives in sin.

Today, we are celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, an important feast day for the Carmelites, a well-known religious order, which began at Mount Carmel itself, which is located in Israel today, the same location where the prophet Elijah contested against the four hundred and fifty priests of Baal, the pagan god, in front of the people of Israel, on who is the true God of Israel.

Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, appeared to St. Simon Stock, who was the founder of the Carmelite Order, and gave him what is well-known today as the brown scapular, closely associated with this feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The Carmelites themselves placed the Blessed Virgin Mary as the perfect role model for all faithful to follow, in their faith to the Lord, in following the example of Mary herself, in her dedication to her Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, from His birth, to His suffering on the way to Calvary and death on the cross.

So devoted is our Lady to her Son, our Lord Jesus, that she followed Him all the way through His suffering for our sake, to the cross, and stood by below Him, accompanying Him through the time of His greatest ordeal. Though sword pierced her heart, for seeing the cruel death of her Son, she persevered and our Lord gave her to His disciple, John, and gave him to His mother too.

Therefore, in the same way, our Blessed Virgin Mary had been given to us by the Lord Himself, and we had also been given to the care of our Lady, whom we celebrate today as the Lady of Mount Carmel, to be our mother and helper. Why helper? Because our Lady is the greatest of the saints, through her own position being the mother of God, but even more importantly because of her purity and dedication to the Lord and all God’s children.

Today we follow the example of the Carmelites, to give our love and dedication to the Lord, through His mother, our Blessed Virgin Mary. Because, just as the Carmelites stress in their formations and principles, there is no better way to the Lord other than through Mary, His mother. Mary is our greatest intercessor before the Lord for His mercy and help, because, just as at the wedding at Cana, Jesus did listen to His mother, when she pleaded with Him to help the wedding brides despite Him telling her explicitly that the time has not yet come for Him to reveal His power.

That is why we dedicate ourselves in prayer through the Blessed Virgin Mary, who became a guide in our journey towards the Lord. She helps us through her prayer, and because she is closest among the saints in heaven to the Lord, our prayers will be heard, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

That is why it is good for us to follow the example of the Carmelites and indeed, of our Lady herself, in their dedication to Jesus our Lord, on the love they have to our Lord and Saviour. Jesus did not mean any disrespect when He seemingly rebuked His own family when they were waiting for Him as told in the Gospel today. Indeed, Jesus actually affirmed the honoured position His mother had, because Jesus told the people that whoever does the will of God and do things for the sake of the Lord, they are His brethren, His family. Who else is more faithful and more obedient to the will of God other than Mary, our Lord’s own mother? The Virgin who readily accepted her role in the salvation of all mankind by accepting the Lord’s will for her, to be the vessel that brought the Saviour into this world.

Surely, today we must rejoice, that we have our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Blessed Virgin Mary, to intercede for our sake before her Son, our Lord and God. Through her we can be closer to Christ, and through her prayers for our sake, all of us who are sinners have greater hope of salvation, because Christ Himself will surely be moved by the petitions and pleas of His own mother, who cares for us just like her own children. Remember, when Christ gave His mother to John to be cared for, He also gave her to us, that we become her own, and receive the love and care that she had once shown Jesus.

May our Lady of Mount Carmel, our Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, pray for us and protect us from the harm of evil that is in our world, and through her, may we be able to get closer and reach higher to Christ, her Son, that in the future, we will be able to praise Him together with her, and all the saints and holy people of God in heaven. Amen.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Saints Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 9 : 32-38

When they had just left, some people brought to Jesus a man who was dumb, because he was possessed by a demon. When the demon was driven out, the dumb man began to speak. The crowds were astonished and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

But the Pharisees said, “He drives away demons with the help of the prince of demons.”

Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and He cured every sickness and disease. When He saw the crowds, He was moved with pity, for they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are only few. Ask the Master of the harvest to send workers to gather His harvest.”

Sunday, 7 July 2013 : 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Lord challenges all of us, to be His disciples and His followers, and what we are expected to do, when we choose to become His servants, the extensions of His will in this world. For to become the followers of Christ does not mean an easy life to us, or a leisurely work. Indeed, becoming the followers and disciples of Christ, mean that we die to this world, and abandon all the pleasures and the good that is in the world, for the sake of Christ.

There will be those who accept us, and there will likely be even more who will reject us, sometimes may not even be in a friendly manner. That is because not all people attune themselves to the Lord and His message, and many prefer to live in the ignorance provided by the world and all its temptations. To be a servant and disciple of Christ therefore means to struggle against the world and fight in this uphill battle for the sake of the Lord.

However, we must not give up, for certainly the Lord Himself did not give up on all of us. He still keeps up hope on us, and still continue to love all of us. Indeed, He embraced all of us, gave us all the love that He has in Him, that is infinite, and treat us like His own children. Nothing less indeed than giving us His own life, through His death on the cross, that we may have eternal life ourselves, those of us who believe in Him and accept Him as our Lord and Saviour.

God cares for all of us and He will bless us if we stay true to Him and follow Him as His disciples, particularly for those of us who have been called by the Lord to be His servants and serve His people. He will provide for all of us, and even if we face difficulties and opposition, as we surely will, the Lord will always be with us, and we should not need to worry at all.

The problem with our world today is that there are so much things that are good and enticing to men, and there are so much things that tempt us away from the Lord and His call. It is not that we should ignore or shun all of the world’s goodness, but we must know the limit to such goodness, otherwise we would succumb to our natural weakness of desire and greed. If we can understand self-control, we would be able to prevent the world from corrupting our hearts and blocking our path towards the Lord.

Our world has become very materialistic and secular in nature, that many people no longer place God as first in their hearts, and even no longer has the Lord in their hearts. In God’s place came in all the greed that is of the world, for material wealth, possessions, luxury, comfort, and excesses. The crazed search for more money and wealth is just one of the many examples of how our world had changed for the worse.

Especially it is increasingly becoming very difficult for the Church to find new priests today, and new servants of the Lord. Even the numbers of religious brothers and sisters have also dropped significantly, a sign in tandem with the increasing secularism of the world, and the increasing temptation of the world on us mankind.

In the past it is easy for the Church to find new priests and religious members because God still lives strong in many people’s hearts, and many willingly give up everything they have in life for the sake of the Lord, and serve His people through the Church, be it as priests, brothers, nuns, or even as lay worker. However, as I had mentioned and all of you knew, that times had changed. Now, many people are too fixated on their material possessions that they are increasingly unwilling to abandon all of them for the sake of God and His people.

However, internal reasons are not the only reasons, though it does play a very important part in why we have a great decline in the number of people in our seminaries today. The other reasons are external, from our friends, our society, and ultimately, our own families. In many parts of the world, success in life had increasingly been equated with monetary and economic success, and educational achievements, both linked to each other in such a way that, our life becomes more like an investment than a life.

Yes, as you know, in our modern world, raising a child increasingly become more and more expensive as years go by. Every year, inflation brings all living costs higher and higher, and consequently it becomes ever more difficult to raise a child, with soaring expenditures and declining income relative to those expenditures. Education, in particular, became so expensive, that educating a child in our society today becomes something like a chore.

That is why, coupled with the increasingly stronger link between education, its achievements and success in life, made so many parents becoming more and more reluctant to let their children go, when they reveal to them about their intentions in life. You see, God chooses whom He wants to be His servants, and He calls them all, through subtle means. Not many would take up that offer and that call, but many did answer and treasure the calling.

Yet, parental objections often stood in the way of the Lord’s call, because the parents thought of priestly life and a life dedicated to the service of the Lord and His people is a wasted life, a shameful life, and indeed, an investment wasted, because we gradually see our lives less as a life that we truly should see it, but merely more and more as an investment, about money and material possessions.

Friends and society also play a great deal in shaping one’s calling, because peer pressure and objections in the society do prevent one’s calling from being realised, especially when coupled with parental objection. These are in fact, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, some of the crosses that we must bear if we are to follow the Lord. This is exactly because the world does not love Christ, and neither does it welcome Him. The world follows its own ways, and those are not the ways of the Lord.

The purpose of today’s readings however is not to attack or put down parents, just because they rejected or opposed their children’s calling, but rather, to remind all of us that, life is not just about our possessions, or about how much money we have in the bank, or how big is the salary we receive in a month, or even, how many cars and other utilities we have. Life is indeed about Christ, and about loving Christ and our fellow brethren.

We Christians who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ must be brave and courageous, in defending our faith against the assaults of the world and its temptations, and must be ready at all times to take up our crosses, to walk alongside Christ in His suffering. These crosses mean to take an active part in our participation in the Church, according to our own calling, that is for those called and chosen to serve the Lord in divine priesthood, to be brave in embracing one’s calling and rejecting the voices that try to prevent one’s call from being realised; and for those in religious orders, to be faithful in prayer and service; and lastly, but not least, for the laity themselves, that they will take up a more active participation in the Church and groom themselves for better understanding of their faith.

In doing so, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have done God’s will, to be His disciples and preach the Good News to all of the world, including to our fellow brethren and ourselves. Therefore, now, let us pray that the Lord will give us strength and courage to face all the troubles in life, and also give us the understanding of the nature of God’s call and vocations, and bravely defend the faith of the Church in all of our deeds.

May the Lord give us His Holy Spirit, that we will always ever persevere, amidst the difficulties and challenges in this world, in showing God’s love to all, and also to preach the Good News of the Lord to all nations. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 9 June 2013 : 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard that Jesus returned the dead only son of a widow to life. He had pity on her and brought her son back into life. That shows how great is our God, how great Jesus is, because He is truly Lord over life and death, because not even death can keep his hand against His authority. Even the dead is risen from their slumber, and the spirit is returned to them in life.

Brothers and sisters, God is life, and those who believe in Him will gain eternal life with Him. If only we would believe in Him! There are still so many among us who lack that faith and do not believe in Him, and they trust only in themselves and the world, instead of putting their faith and trust in God.

Today we heard the death of an only son of a widow, and in fact just yesterday, we celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and we are reminded that that pure heart of Mary was stabbed with a sword, as prophesied by the prophet Simeon, at the Passion of Christ, when He was dying on the cross at Calvary.

Such great sorrow and sadness that is in Mary’s heart, seeing her only Son whom she loved, dying on the cross in great suffering, all for our sake and for our salvation. Jesus knows that this would happen, and therefore, He too understands the feeling of the widow, who had lost her only son, the only one who could provide for her.

God loves all of us, brothers and sisters, He loves us so much, that He gave us His only Son in death, that through His death, through His Blood, we are redeemed of our sins, and have hope of salvation, and that death would no longer have power over us, and that we would gain eternal life, if only we would believe in Him who is our Lord and Saviour.

Even a great sinner He did not shy from, nor close that sinner from the path of mercy. He turns to great sinners and works hard to bring them back to Him. That was what happened to St. Paul. As a young man, he persecuted the people and the Church of God, and his hands were soaked with the blood of God’s believers. But yet, God is willing to provide him a new life, by His appearance on the way to Damascus, that led to the conversion of St. Paul, from being the enemy of the Church of God, into its greatest champion.

Today, let us all reflect on these readings, and keep in mind always that our Lord loves all, all of us, without exception, and without preferences, and that He would give Himself, even to the greatest of sinners. He wants us to be His once again, and He wants us to be reunited with Him. He is merciful and loving, and that was why, seeing a widow in great sadness of loss, He revived her son. And that because of this, we know that He is life itself, and He has authority over all things in creation.

May God be with us and let us also remain always in His love, and let us always ask Him for mercy, in repentance of our sins and unworthiness. Amen.

Sunday, 2 June 2013 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi (Gospel Reading)

Luke 9 : 11b-17

So, Jesus welcomed the crowd, and began speaking about the kingdom of God, curing those who needed healing.

The day was drawing to a close, and the Twelve drew near to tell Him, “Send the crowd away, and let them go into the villages and farms around, to find lodging and food, for we are here in a lonely place.”

But Jesus replied, “You yourselves give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves and two fish. Do You want us to go and buy enough food for all this crowd?” For there were about five thousand men. Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Make people sit down in groups of fifty.”

So they made all of them sit down. Jesus then took the five loaves and two fish, and raising His eyes to heaven, pronounced a blessing over them; He broke them, and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the crowd.

They ate and everyone had enough; and when they gathered up what was left, twelve baskets were filled with broken pieces.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013 : 4th Week of Lent (First Reading)

Isaiah 49 : 8-15

This is what YHVH says : “At a favorable time I have answered you, on the day of salvation I have been your help; I have formed you and made you to be My covenant with the people. You will restore the land, and allot its abandoned farms. You will say to the captives : Come out, and to those in darkness : Show yourselves.”

“They will feed along the road; they will find pasture on barren hills. The will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the scorching wind or the sun beat upon them; for He who has mercy on them will guide them and lead them to springs of water.”

“I will turn all My mountains into roads and raise up My highways. See, they come from afar, some from north and west, others from the land of Sinim.”

Sing, o heavens, and rejoice, o earth; break forth into song, o mountains : For YHVH has comforted His people and taken pity on those who are afflicted. But Zion said : “YHVH has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.”

Can a woman forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child of her womb? Yet though she forget, I will never forget you.