Wednesday, 24 September 2014 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture and Gospel readings highlighted to us the nature of God’s love for us, and how He will provide us with everything we need, and even when we encounter difficulties in this life, we shall not be disappointed by our loving and dedicated God, who takes care of us in everything we need. Yet, mankind are difficult to satisfy, and even despite the numerous goodness that we had received, we always like to demand for more and want for more.

That is in our nature, because men are greedy by nature, and we have been exposed to this ever since our first ancestors were tempted by Satan and failed, who offered them the ‘ultimate’ prize, supposedly beyond what goodness they had received up to that time. The first men, Adam and Eve, lived in perfect bliss, harmony and joy in the Garden of Eden, filled with all of God’s blessings, intended to live happily for eternity.

However, Satan in the form of the snake tempted them with the possibility for them to know the mind of the Lord, that is to gain knowledge of things good and evil, by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was forbidden by the Lord. Indeed, they had their reservations, but their tempted hearts was too much for them and they eventually succumbed to their desire and greed, wishing to have more than what they need.

In the end, they gained what they wanted, but they lost essentially everything. They were cast out of Eden and have to endure the sufferings of the earth, and they have to toil and work to sustain themselves. They were subjected to suffering and death because of the sin of their disobedience. Yet, mankind were slow to learn from their mistakes, and for ages past, countless peoples were lost because of their uncontrolled desire and greed.

Even today, we are still gripped and enslaved by our desire, which often ends up as our undoing. Many wars and conflicts, violence and hatred, destruction and chaos came about in our world because of our inability to control our desire, and instead we become controlled and enslaved by those desires. Many tyrants and those who committed great evils in the world were due to their inability to limit their pride, their arrogance, vanity and greed. In the process, they caused great damage and sorrow for many people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the readings of today remind us that as the followers of Christ, we should throw far, far away all of these human desires and negative traits and emotions, so that we can truly walk in the way of the Lord and follow His will. That is because, as long as we are under the thrall of our desire and emotions, we tend to serve our own will and purposes rather than listening to God, or to follow His will.

Jesus had called many from among the people to be His disciples, and twelve of these were chosen to be the Apostles, the chiefs of His disciples. But, as the followers of Christ, they did not have an easy life. The world that is opposed to Christ would also oppose the works of His disciples, and it is into this hostile world that Jesus had sent His disciples, to spread the Good News of salvation to many who still have yet to see the light of God.

They were also told to bring just what is sufficient for themselves, and not to bring extra items for them. That is because, God will provide, and indeed, God would walk among them and assist them on their efforts to bring the people of God back into the light. As long as the disciples and the Apostles remained faithful to the Lord, they have nothing to fear from the world, for God would take care of them, and no matter what suffering the world could inflict on them, none of them could destroy or damage the soul, which is something that only God can do.

The same therefore also applies to all the servants of God today, our priests, bishops and all those who have been called and who responded by their dedication to the works which God had entrusted them with. But this does not mean that they should do all the work, and we can rest easy. In fact, we too should help and play our role in our own ability, to bring the Good News of the Lord to those who are around us.

Let us all thus strengthen our faith, through prayer, charity and good works, so that gradually we can liberate ourselves from the slavery to our desires, so that we can truly follow the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who said to the angel, that she is the handmaid of the Lord, and thus all of the will of God would happen to her, and our Lord Jesus Himself, who had said in His agony in the garden, that not His will be done but the will of His Father, and through whose obedience, our salvation was made possible, and we have hope of a new life in God.

May Almighty God sharpen the edge of our humility and obedience, as well as our faith, and dull the edges of our pride, desire, greed and selfishness, so that in our lives we may become more and more like Christ, following God in all of our ways, and proclaim Him through our words, deeds and actions. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 31 August 2014 : 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the readings from the Holy Scriptures today all had a single and most important meaning as well as purpose, that is to remind us that, in all things and in all that happen in our lives, they are not within our control, and in everything, we should defer to the will of God, that is what God wanted for us to do in this life.

Brethren, God always means well for us, even when often it does not seem as such. That was exactly why the prophet Jeremiah in the first reading we heard today, while he grumbled for the difficulties, challenges and persecutions he faced, he eventually acknowledged that the Lord and His will had him in the best interest, and that God continued to help and support him amidst all the challenges, and thus Jeremiah continued on to preach the word of God to the people of Judah.

And St. Paul in the second reading, in his letter addressed to the Church in Rome, the great Apostle urged the people there to listen to and heed the will of God, understanding what the Lord wanted from them rather than following the ways and the norms of the world, which were filled with wickedness and injustice unworthy of God’s chosen peoples in the Church. And he also urged the people to live and bound themselves to God’s great mercy, making themselves a favourable sacrifice in heart and prayer to Him.

And lastly we heard how Jesus rebuked Satan, who entered Peter’s heart, to remind both St. Peter and all of us, by our listening and understanding of the message of that encounter, of the need and importance for us to follow and obey the will of God in all things. St. Peter commented on how Jesus should not have said that He would suffer persecution and rejection in Jerusalem by the Pharisees and the chief priests, because he was afraid and fear filled his heart.

And the same applied to us all, brethren, because we all also often feel fear and are afraid of many things. We are easily concern about many aspects of our own well-being, as we mankind are by our nature selfish. And the many things in this world served to fuel our insecurities further, often leading us to carry out deeds and works that often benefit ourselves but disadvantage and even hurt others. Often, this means that we are also frequently disadvantaged by others when others acted in self-preservation out of the same fear.

Some fears that we have, be it we are rich or poor, weak or strong, young or old are the fear of death, the fear of suffering and pain, the fear of loss of properties and material goods, and many others. We are insecure over these, and it is easy for us to think that when times are difficult, when things do not go our way, and when someone who loved are lost through various means, be it old age or even unexpected events such as accidents, we often feel such despair and anger in us over the loss that we often think and even say, where is God in all these?

Yes, brethren, it is very easy for us to blame God and put the fault at Him for such apparent ‘neglect’ of His beloved creations. However, this is because many of us did not understand the nature of God and the nature of our relationship with the Lord. If we look into our lives, we can often see that we frequently overlook the presence of God in our lives, and we often only turn to Him whenever we are in dire strait and in trouble. And many of us misunderstood our relationship with our Lord, thinking and expecting that the Lord will ‘listen’ to our petitions, prayers or even whining and demands.

That is because for many of us, prayer to God is nothing more than a litany of requests and even demands, which we bombard the Lord with, with the familiar, constant and ubiquitous phrases of ‘Lord I want that…’, ‘Lord I wish for…’, ‘Lord, please do something…’, ‘Lord, give me…’ and other similar phrases, without giving a chance for the Lord to speak to us in our hearts.

Yes, as we all should know, the essence of prayer is not for us to bombard the Lord with all these. We did these exactly because we feel insecure and fearful, and we think that God is someone who can just fulfill and admit all of our wishes. But He is not our slave nor our servant, in the sense that we can just order Him around for anything. On the other hand, we are the ones who actually should live according to what God wants from us, and yet many of us failed to do so.

We have to realise that we live in this world not just for ourselves, and we have to live with one another in faith, peace and love. We have to learn that the true meaning of prayer is for us to open our hearts and all sorts of our senses to the Lord, who will then converse with us in the silence of our hearts, in the deepest part of our selves, which we have often overlooked and forgot, in the midst of all the things we are so concerned about in life.

God is always there for us, and He always watches over us. He wants to speak to us all the time, and yet we always find our excuse or pretend to be ignorant, refusing to listen to His words. We always think that God does not listen to us, or that He does not care for or love us, and we even think that He had abandoned us to the forces arrayed against us, but we often never stop to think that the Lord is always with us and around us, and it is we who have often shut ourselves from. His care and love.

We are surely familiar with the story of someone who walked in the beach, on the seashore, where he walked with God. There were two sets of footsteps, one that belonged to the man and one that belonged to the Lord. Then the man encountered great difficulties in life and he suffered from it. He looked at the footsteps and realised that there was only one footstep there. The man complained and protested against God, alleging that God had abandoned him and did not care for him.

When the Lord asked him what he thought, he presented the evidence of the one set of footsteps to accuse the Lord of leaving him back there alone during his time of troubles. But the Lord patiently and lovingly told the man, that when the man was in his most difficult moments, the Lord carried the man on His own shoulders, and thus the footsteps that the man saw, actually belonged to the Lord who carried and guided the man in his difficulty, even without him knowing it.

Thus, brothers and sisters, learning from the Scriptures which we have heard today, and what we have reflected and pondered on this day, we have to keep always in our hearts. First, we mankind cannot presume what is in God’s mind, and we have to learn to trust in the Lord, as whatever He has for us in His will and mind, it is the best of the best for us. Second, we have to always trust in His providence and love for us, as God is always with us and He will never leave us even for a moment, and in fact it is men who left Him first.

And lastly, we all have to know that to follow the Lord means that challenges, difficulties and persecutions from the world and all in it will be part and parcel of our lives. What we need to do is to carry our cross and follow the Lord, as Jesus Himself said. If Christ had suffered and was rejected by the world, we who are part of Christ as His disciples and servants are bound to suffer in the same way as well.

Jesus told us to get rid of from our hearts all desires of self-preservation, selfishness itself and seek to be upright and righteous in all things. If we do so, we will save our souls, as the Lord who sees all and who knows all will reward us for our hard works. And we ought to do this by showing love, care and concern for our fellow men.

Those who are so concerned for themselves, fearing the loss of their properties, their other concerns in life will be paralysed by that fear, or act in ways that hurt or disadvantage others, and the Lord who sees this, will cast them out of His presence into eternal damnation, and hence, saving the world and their glory in the world but losing their soul for eternity.

We can do our part, brethren, by changing our lives if we have not done so, or do even better if we have indeed done as the Lord had taught us. Be courageous to defend the weak and the oppressed, and be courageous to defend our faith as well. Live our faith consciously and actively by loving acts and dedications to our brethren around us, especially those who are in need. And lastly, keep a good, vibrant and healthy prayer life, spending time with God whenever we are able to. And in our prayers, keeping silent and focused on the Lord, so that He may speak in our heart and that we may then know His will for us.

May Almighty God bless us, protect us and be with us always as He had always been all this time. May His light shine upon us that we may find our way to Him and may all souls in this world be saved, by following the only God and Saviour Lord, Jesus Christ, Saviour of all mankind. Let us all also bear our crosses of suffering in this life together, that in the end, the Lord may transformed those crosses into the crosses of His glory and power. Amen.

Saturday, 21 December 2013 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Priests)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of one of the great saints of the past centuries, that is of St. Peter Canisius, also known as Peter Canis or Petrus Canisius. He was a German who joined the then growing and newly established Society of Jesus, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Peter Canisius also happen to be the saint whose name, together with that of St. Peter the Apostle, I adopted as my own name at baptism, because both of them are truly inspiring role models to me.

St. Peter Canisius lived during a time of great difficulty for the Church, because at that time, numerous people were swayed under the heresy of Protestantism, which spread like wildfire, based on ignorant and fallacious teachings and ideas of men. These ideas were manipulated by some to gain followers and broke apart the unity of the Church. This was particularly bad in Germany, where numerous occurrences of the mentioned heresies happened.

Yet St. Peter Canisius was not to be daunted by challenges, and he put his full trust in the Lord and spearheaded the efforts countering the damaging effects of the Protestant heresy. He and several other leaders such as St. Ignatius of Loyola were crucial in the process of Counter-Reformation, where these courageous leaders fought to stem the tide of corruption on the faithful and return them to the one true faith in God.

The problem was that we have grown lax in our faith, and we no longer stay truly faithful to the Lord. And neither did we put our trust in the Lord, trusting rather more the forces of this world, and our own feeble abilities and desires. Faith is weakened when we no longer put ourselves completely in God’s hands, and evil may enter our hearts. The same, then, happened as it had, during the heresy, which sadly continues all the way until even today.

At that time, indeed, the Church had grown powerful, and it had gained many worldly properties and accumulated much influence and wealth. That was when human desires and the corrupting power of Satan entered into the Church. The Church became a nest of impurities, debauchery, and sinfulness, far from being the holy congregation of the Lord’s faithful ones. Popes, cardinals, bishops and priests were influenced by the forces of the world and quite a few of them were corrupted.

Indeed, many of those who had submitted themselves to Protestant heresies, would argue that the very reason why they broke away from the one and only Church of God was because of its impurities, such that as if the Church no longer had any legitimacy or spiritual authority over the faithful. They elected their own leaders and established their own so-called ‘churches’ in the delusion of righteousness that they experienced.

Yes, that delusion in fact served the purposes of the devil. Some of the proponents and leaders of the heresies had truly noble intents in their actions, but many if not all were eventually succumbed to the designs of the evil one. Instead of helping to reform the Church and purge the impurities out of the holy Church, they succumbed to their own human vanity, pride, and stubbornness, and broke apart the unity of the One Body of Christ, that is the Church.

Remember what the Lord had said, that He is the vine and we are the branches. In the unity of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, the one and only Church, that is our Church, we live in grace and love because of the love and life-giving strength that God bestowed upon us through that unity. Broken and torn apart from that unity, those splinters withered and died, just as history itself had proven to us.

“There were as many churches as there were heads.” Such was the sayings that time, when numerous churches were founded and established, and each with their own ideas and own way of interpreting the messages of the Lord, and therefore, confirming further the devil’s hold on many souls and on the hearts of mankind. Many of these ‘heads’ could not agree upon each other on what they were to believe in God and about God.

They quarrelled, fought, debated, and wasted much energy doing nothing but attacking each other and badmouthing each other, blaspheming that in doing so, they obeyed and followed God’s will. The devil sowed the seeds of distrust, division, and strife among the people of God. Instead of the intended good, only evil and division came out of the events.

That was what St. Peter Canisius was so eager to combat, the divisions within the Church and among the faithful ones. He championed both the reform within the Church as well as the deliverance of those who had lapsed and went outside of the saving grace of Christ in the Church. He led the Jesuit order to restore the faith in his native Germany. And he made great successes there, converting many thousands upon thousands back to the true faith.

St. Peter Canisius stemmed the tide of heresy, from what is an unstoppable wave into a controllable tide. He championed reaching out to those who had fallen away from the faith and explaining to them in great clarity and truth, the truth about the One and True faith, our Catholic faith. That was why St. Peter Canisius was also well known for his contribution to Catholic education. He educated the faithful of the future, as well as future zealous and dedicated teachers of the faith who would bring back the faithful back into the Church.

The Catechisms written by St. Peter Canisius helped many to return to their true faith in God, explaining the faith in clear terms to the people. His Mariology and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary was also exemplary, and in fact laid the foundations of much of the devotion to the Blessed Mother of God as we know today. It was he who included the phrase, ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners” to the Hail Mary prayer.

Indeed, seeing the examples of the life of this saint, St. Peter Canisius, we see how much we need to come closer to God, and dedicate ourselves even more intimately to Him. We cannot separate ourselves from the Lord, or we risk the corruption of evil, through the ways of this world. To keep ourselves close to the Lord, with the help of His Blessed mother, is to keep our faith pure and acceptable to the Lord.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we come even closer to the celebration of Christmas, and as we rejoice in this feast day commemorating the great Doctor of the Church and the Defender of the Faith, St. Peter Canisius, let us heed the lesson on the importance of our faith, and how important it is to make sure that we adhere to the teachings and to the will of God, putting aside our human ego, our human weaknesses, and all the temptations of the world.

Instead, let us open ourselves fully and completely to the Lord, and the Lord who loves us completely and dedicatedly will grant us His endless blessings and graces. Let us also follow in the footsteps of St. Peter Canisius, preaching the truth about the Lord, especially to our separated brethren. Proclaim the truth to them and reveal to them the fullness of the Lord’s saving power, and what is true faith in the Lord, that is in the teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, the one and only Church of God.

St. Peter Canisius, pray for us, and help us that we may be strong in our faith and remain vigilant against the powers and temptations of the evil one. May the Lord too watch over us, and love us dearly and tenderly as He had always done. May the prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ut Omnes Unum Sint, that they all may be one, come true, that all the faithful ones in God can be reunited once again, purging themselves of all the errors of human judgments, emotions, and thinkings. Amen.

Thursday, 24 October 2013 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 12 : 49-53

I have come to bring fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what anguish I feel until it is over!

Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on, in one house five will be divided : three against two, and two against three.

They will be divided, father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.