Tuesday, 25 March 2014 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus.”

“He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the angel left her.

 

 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 19 : 23-30

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you : it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, believe Me : it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

On hearing this the disciples were astonished and said, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus looked steadily at them and answered, “For human beings it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

Then Peter spoke up and said, “You see we have given up everything to follow You. What will be our lot?” Jesus answered, “You who have followed Me, listen to My words : on the Day of Renewal, when the Son of Man sits on His throne in glory, you will also sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. As for those who have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or property for My Name’s sake, they will receive a hundredfold, and be given eternal life. Many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first.”

Thursday, 27 June 2013 : 12th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop (First Reading)

Genesis 16 : 1-12, 15-16

Sarai, Abram’s wife had not borne him a child, but she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar, and she said to Abram, “Now, since YHVH has kept me from having children, go to my servant; perhaps I shall have a child by her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said.

Abram had been in the land of Canaan ten years when Sarai, his wife, took Hagar, her Egyptian maid, and gave her to Abram her husband as wife. He went in to Hagar and she became pregnant. When she was aware of this, she began to despise her mistress. Sarai said to Abram, “May this injury done to me be yours. I put my servant in your arms and now that she knows she is pregnant, I count for nothing in her eyes. Let YHVH judge between me and you.”

Abram said to Sarai, “Your servant is in your power; do with her as you please.” Then Sarai treated her so badly that she ran away. The angel of YHVH found her near a spring in the wilderness and said to her, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am running away from Sarai, my mistress.”

The angel of YHVH said to her, “I will so increase your descendants, that they will be too numerous to be counted.” Then the angel of YHVH said to her, “Now you are with child and you will have a son, and you shall name him Ishmael, for YHVH has heard your distress. He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, defiant towards all his brothers.”

Hagar gave birth to a son and Abram called the child Hagar bore him, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.

 

Alternative Reading (shorter version)

Genesis 16 : 6b-12, 15-16

Then Sarai treated her so badly that she ran away. The angel of YHVH found her near a spring in the wilderness and said to her, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am running away from Sarai, my mistress.”

The angel of YHVH said to her, “I will so increase your descendants, that they will be too numerous to be counted.” Then the angel of YHVH said to her, “Now you are with child and you will have a son, and you shall name him Ishmael, for YHVH has heard your distress. He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, defiant towards all his brothers.”

Hagar gave birth to a son and Abram called the child Hagar bore him, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.

(Special) Sunday, 23 June 2013 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are celebrating the feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist, the relative of our Lord Jesus Christ by virtue of his mother, Elizabeth, being the cousin of Mary, the mother of our Lord. St. John the Baptist is known for his role in preparing the way for Christ, straightening the path for His arrival into this world, preceding the Lord Himself by a few months. He baptised peoples and asked them to repent from their sins, so that they would not fall into damnation, and be open for Christ when He came.

St. John the Baptist is a great saint, brothers and sisters, and he is considered by many to be one of the prophets reborn once again, particularly that of Elijah, sent by the Lord for the sake of Christ, as His messenger, and as His herald, proclaiming His arrival into the world. The events surrounding his birth is not ordinary either, because he was born out of an aging parent, an aging mother who could no longer conceive, but because of the power of the Lord and the Holy Spirit, conceived, and brought John into this world.

Like the passage in the first reading from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, the words themselves spoke about St. John the Baptist and his life, in that he had been chosen by the Lord since his conception, and before he was even born, as the angel told Zechariah, John’s father in the Temple of Jerusalem. He had been chosen from among many, to be the messenger of the Lord’s message and words, and to prepare the way for the Word Himself, Christ, our Saviour, who is also the Word of God.

Being chosen by the Lord, St. John the Baptist did not shy away in fear, but instead fully embraced the tasks that had been entrusted on him, and passionately went into his ministry, preaching to the people of God and repeatedly asking them to repent and return to the Lord who loves them. He worked tirelessly throughout his ministry in this world, and he did not show any fear even to the corrupt authority, the way he chastised King Herod for his improper relationship with the brother of his wife, Herodias.

He did not fear death while doing so, and faced death willingly when he was beheaded by the order of King Herod. In his humility he told his own disciples to follow Christ, and proclaimed to them the Messiah, with his words, “Behold the Lamb of God!”, and many who followed John then followed Christ in turn. He did not seek human glory and praise, and in his humility, told his disciples that while Christ increase, he must decrease.

He recognised his own human weakness and accepted the will of God without hesitation. He followed the Lord and obeyed His will. St. John the Baptist is indeed an example for all of us, how to be the true disciples of the Lord. When we are called by the Lord to be His servants, we must not give in to fear and doubt, but place all of our trust in the Lord, just the way that St. John had done, that we can truly give our all in the work for the sake of the Lord, and for the sake of God’s people, that is all mankind.

We should not give in to doubt as Zechariah, John’s father had done. It may be understandable because it may seem impossible for humans that an elderly woman should be able to bear a child. But to God, nothing is impossible. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we who have received the Good News of Christ, let us be renewed by the Holy Spirit of the Lord, and let us be courageous and passionate in spreading the Good News and salvation of the Lord, inspired by the example of St. John the Baptist.

Remember that God chose us and not we chose Him. He called us from the many, to be His disciples, and those of us who had accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour, gained salvation and life eternal. May God remain with us, bless us, and strengthen us in our task, that is to bring the Word of God to many in this world. St. John the Baptist, pray for us too. Amen.

Monday, 27 May 2013 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Mark 10 : 17-27

Just as Jesus was setting out on His journey again, a man ran up, knelt before Him and asked, “Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?”

Jesus answered, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments : Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not cheat, honour your father and mother.”

The man replied, “I have obeyed all these commandments since my childhood.” Then Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him and he said, “For you, one thing is lacking. Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow Me.”

On hearing these words, his face fell and he went away sorrowful, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were shocked at these words, but Jesus insisted, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

They were more astonished than ever and wondered, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus looked steadily at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God; all things are possible with God.”

Sunday, 5 May 2013 : 6th Sunday of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, peace of Christ be with all of you. For Christ is the true peace, and the true light of the world. There is no true peace without Christ in it, since Christ is the Prince of Peace and the bringer of salvation to all creation. For in Him lies the true peace that only God can give, the peace of knowing that we are saved, and will no longer be separated from He who created us, and peace of knowing that we will live with Him in bliss and true joy for eternity.

Peace is not something to be easily found in this world today. We do not even need to refer to the true peace that only Christ can offer, but even it is difficult to achieve worldly and temporal peace in this world. Look around you, and you can easily find in any kind of situation, in any society, violence and hatred running rampant throughout, showing that we still have much to go to achieve true and lasting peace.

For since evil has entered the hearts of men since the beginning of creation, peace has been shrouded by veil of violence and hatred, and love has dissipated from mankind. It is evil and our rebellion that has veiled our hearts and darkened it against the light of God’s love and peace. We who believe and keep our faith in God has received new love and peace through Christ, and if we keep His commandments of love, we will remain always in His love.

If we remain in the love of Christ, we will receive the reward that is due to us, that is the bliss of eternal life of true joy, happiness, and love in the heavenly Jerusalem, as we had heard in the second reading from the Book of Revelation. Heavenly Jerusalem is not just a city of joy and physical happiness, as it may indeed be very beautiful and magnificent, as St. John had described it in the Book, but in fact the even greater happiness that we will receive, if we remain in God’s love, is the pure, inexplicable happiness of our soul, a spiritual joy that nothing else can replace.

For if we do what is good in the eyes of God, and follow His commandments, to love Him greater than any other things, and to love Him unconditionally with all our minds, our hearts, and our souls, and if we also love and care for our fellow men, just as we love Him and just as we love ourselves, we would gain true peace and calmness in our hearts. This is a peace that only God can give, that will remain in our hearts, forever and ever.

With God, all things are possible, and nothing is impossible. He will renew us and our spirit, that we be reborn as people of peace, of justice, and of love. But, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, those of us that believe, and indeed have received the peace and love of the Lord, will still need to be active in our world. We cannot be idle while there is still violations to peace, justice, and love in this world.

Just as St. Francis of Assisi said in his famous prayer, let us be the bringer of peace, to bring peace when there is violence, and to bring love when hatred ruins the harmony of the people of God. Let us be the harbinger of peace wherever peace had been silenced, and let us bring love where love had been snuffed out from the hearts of men. Show this world that love and peace that is of the Lord, is still the norm and let us show the power of God, against the violence and hatred of Satan.

Peace is not impossible to achieve, and with God’s help, we will surely gain it. Not even Satan can keep us away from the Lord and His everlasting peace, if we remain faithful to Him. Let us from now on, commit ourselves to peace, and love, that we become the children of peace, the children of our One, true God, who is peace and love. Work for peace, love, and harmony in our world, that everyone can also enjoy the peace that our Lord has offered, that they too eventually will believe and listen to the Word of God through Christ.

Therefore, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us renew our commitment to peace in this world, and to achieve everlasting peace both in this earth, this world, and also in the world that is to come. Let us renew our commitment to bring peace to all mankind, to let Satan has his hold over us no more, and let violence and hatred to no longer have any place in our hearts. Let God remain in our hearts, and let Him transform us into beings of light, that we will be like Him, who is peace, who is love, and who is perfect.

May God remain with us, at all times, within our hearts, and protect us, always. May all of us also remain in His love, forever and ever. Amen.