Monday, 17 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are called to reflect on the need for us to have a new attitude in life when we follow Christ, and not to continue living our lives the way that the world always expects us to live our lives. As Christians we are called to be different in that we follow the path that the Lord has shown us and to embark on this journey of faith in life, with God as our Guide and as our focus. This is our calling as Christians that we should embrace wholeheartedly.

In our first reading today we heard from the Book of the prophet Samuel regarding the time when King Saul of Israel disobeyed the Lord and His will, following the whims of his own judgment and desires instead of obeying the Lord completely and trusting in Him. King Saul did not listen to the Lord’s words telling him to completely destroy the Amalekites, a group of people that had always harassed and attacked the Israelites all the way from the time of their Exodus. Instead, King Saul spared their property and wealth, their herd and even their king and women, contrary to the Lord’s words.

As such, because of this disobedience, King Saul led the people of Israel into sin as to him had been granted the leadership and the guidance of the people as the King of Israel. If the leader falls into sin, then so will the people and all those entrusted under him may fall into sin as well. That is why those entrusted with leadership has to be upright, just and committed to the path that they have been called to follow, to be obedient and faithful servant of God in the way that Samuel himself had done, but which King Saul had failed to do.

Saul failed because he allowed worldly ways, customs and habits, all the worldly desires and temptations, the temptations of power, wealth and glory to distract and mislead him down the wrong path. Saul allowed himself to be swayed by those things, and tried to make an excuse of wanting to offer some of those that he spared as offerings to God, but in truth, he did all that he had done because he wanted to increase his own wealth, his own prestige and his own standing, perhaps by negotiating with the Amalekites, and for various other reasons. But this is plain disobedience and refusal to follow God’s path.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus and His words speaking to His disciples and the people, using a parable to make His intent clear to them. The Lord spoke about the parable of the new cloth and old cloth, new wine and wineskin and old wine and wineskin. Through this parable, the Lord wanted to make it clear to all of us that following the Lord often requires us to change our way of life, not to adhere to the past norms of the world and all the things that we usually are accustomed to. This is why, linking to the previous part, the disobedience of King Saul, all of us are called to reflect on this as well.

The Lord used this parable because at that time, the people would have been aware of the way wineskins were used to store wine and how clothes were made and repaired. He used such simple examples as means to deliver His message to the people, to make them aware of what they were supposed to do in order to be His genuine followers. They have to change their ways to suit the path that the Lord has shown them, that is the path of righteousness and justice, of faith and commitment to His truth. They should not remain in their old ways or continue to walk down the path of sin.

As the Lord mentioned in our Scripture passages today, what He wanted from us is not merely just lip service or mere appearances only, as King Saul had intended to do. He wanted to offer sacrifices to the Lord from the ones he spared in the battle against the Amalekites as an excuse for the greed in his heart for power, wealth and majesty. What the Lord needed from us is our love and commitment for Him, for us to live according to what we have been taught to do, through the Church and the Scriptures. And we also have many good role models to follow in that endeavour.

One of them, whose feast day we celebrate today, is none other than St. Anthony the Abbot, also known as St. Anthony the Great. He was one of the earliest Christian monks and one of the pioneers of monasticism in Christendom, dedicating his life to the service of God by withdrawing to the wilderness of Egypt. He left everything he had and dedicated himself to God wholeheartedly. St. Anthony spent many years in this state of spiritual journey and purification, while it was told that the devil often sent other demons and fallen angels to strike at him. He endured it all with faith and grace.

His works then came to fruition with the advent of monasticism in Christianity, as more and more people who considered themselves as his disciples came to follow his examples and began to lead a life of purity and fidelity to God. They strove to seek the Lord and commit themselves to Him, not swayed by the temptations of the world, and changed themselves for the better, much in the same way as the Lord’s exhortations in our Gospel today had been made clear to us, that we ought to change our ways to adapt to that of the Lord’s ways.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having been inspired by St. Anthony, let us all therefore commit ourselves to the Lord anew with a renewed spirit and zeal. Let us all be ever more genuine Christians not just in appearances only, but even more importantly, in spirit and in all things. May God be with us always and may He empower us that we may walk with Him faithfully, and that we may find it in us to glorify His Name by our every words, actions and deeds. Amen.

Sunday, 16 January 2022 : Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to remember the most wonderful and generous gifts from God to us. God has given us His love and kindness and it is up to us to treasure these gifts from God. He has revealed Himself to us out of love, and revealed the salvation for the whole world through His Saviour, Jesus Christ, Our Lord, the Son of God and Son of Man.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard the words of hope that the Lord presented to His people, the revelation of what God would do to save all those whom He loved and had called and chosen. At that time, during the life and ministry of the prophet Isaiah, the people of God has faced a lot of trials and tribulations as they suffered the consequences of their disobedience and sins. Their waywardness and refusal to budge from their sinfulness became their undoing, as they faced humiliation one after another.

By the time of the prophet Isaiah, the northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed and conquered by the Assyrians, who destroyed their cities, razed their capital and brought many of their people into exile in faraway lands of Assyria, Mesopotamia and beyond. And there were many peoples from other countries and places that were brought in to dwell in their place in the land of the ancestors of God’s people, the promised land of Israel. The same fate would eventually fall upon the people of the southern kingdom of Judah as well, after the time of the prophet Isaiah.

That was why, understanding this context, we can see just how significant God’s words of encouragement to His people was. Those words were clear reminders for all of them that God never forgot about them, and although they had often betrayed and abandoned Him, but He still always thought about them and sought them out at every possible opportunities. And while they had to endure the consequences of their disobedience and sins, God wanted them to learn from their mistakes and embrace the forgiveness that He freely offered to them.

In that same passage we then also heard a peculiar reference at the end regarding how the Lord Himself will come to gather His people, and how they will one day again be blessed and be honoured, to be the crown of glory for all to see. And it was also mentioned how the Builder will marry the people, metaphorically represented as the bride. This Builder is a reference to God Himself as the Creator of all, and this symbolised the new union between God and mankind that became a reality in Jesus Christ, the Saviour Who has been prophesied by Isaiah and the other prophets.

For through our Lord Jesus, as He symbolically showed it at the Wedding at Cana in out Gospel passage today, God’s love and salvation for His people has become manifested in the flesh and dwelled among us. He came to us in our moment of need, and as He has shown in the miracle that He performed in the Wedding at Cana, He showed us that through Him everything is possible and that the days of our shame will be behind us if only we trust Him and listen to Him, obeying God’s will and the Law and commandments He has given to us.

At that well-known Wedding at Cana, as many of us would have known, the wedding couple was encountering a particularly difficult and potentially very humiliating problem as they somehow ran out of wine. Regardless of the reason for this shortage, running out of wine at such a happy and great occasion of a wedding is something that would have brought great shame on both the groom and bride, as well as their families, as they were the ones responsible in hosting and preparing for the celebrations.

It was at that moment, that Mary, the Lord’s Mother, who have come to know of the couple’s predicament, came to see Jesus and asked Him to do something to help them. The Lord initially showed His intention not to help as it was not yet His time to do so, and yet, as Mary did not yet give up on trying to help the couple, she told the servants to follow whatever her Son told them to do. That was thus how the Lord performed His first miracle, in a hidden and unknown way, as the servants themselves might not have fully realised what were actually happening.

The wedding couple was saved because they had the Lord by their side, and the celebrations could proceed without any further issues. And it is yet another reminder for us that the Lord always provides, and only if we trust in Him and His love and providence. Sometimes we are too impatient or blinded by our own desires and by the many temptations all around us to be able to see His loving presence in our midst. The Lord has always reached out to us through many people, through others whom we encounter in our daily lives.

Then, as mentioned by St. Paul in our second reading today, in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, that there are many gifts that God had given to us, the gift of intelligence, of speech and of other means to bring happiness to others and joy to many more people. He has given us various talents, gifts and abilities that are unique to each and every one of us. Because of that, all of us are called to reflect on these gifts that we have received and reflect how we can make better use of them in our lives.

All of us have been called by God to be involved in making good use of our various gifts and talents, all the blessings that we have received from the Lord. We should listen to the Lord speaking to us, asking us to do His will and telling us what we ought to do with our lives. We should do our best to live up to our Christian faith and dedicate ourselves in each and every moments to be faithful to God, to be loving to others and to be concerned with the needs of those who are less fortunate than us.

After all, that is what the Lord had done for us, loving us when we have done so many wicked things towards Him, in refusing to listen to Him and in shutting Him out of our hearts and minds. He still patiently reached out to us and offered us His hands, pulling us out of the darkness of our sins, just as He has promised. By His coming into this world, He revealed not just His love but He also took everything upon Himself, gathering all His scattered children from the world, and calling them to Himself.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through our baptism we have become a part and member of the Church, the Body of Christ, becoming united to God and to our fellow brothers and sisters, and share in the salvation that the Lord Himself has brought us through His Son. And by the virtue of our baptism too, we have been made sharers in the love and the inheritance that God has promised to us. What remains for us to do is, for us to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Him, and do our best to walk in His path, at all times.

Let us all seek the Lord with a renewed heart and mind, brothers and sisters, knowing that God has loved us so much, and how beloved we are, that He gave us His Son to be our Saviour. And now, let us listen to Him and obey Him, sin no more and do whatever we can, making use of the talents and opportunities for the good of others and for the greater glory of God. Let us all ask the Lord for the strength and guidance to walk in His path, now and always, and that we ourselves may become great role models for one another. May our lives be fruitful in God and may we always be blessed in all things. Amen.

Saturday, 15 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all brought to reflect on the Lord’s intentions in leading us all to Himself, that all may find salvation through Him and be saved. He has revealed to us His amazing love, compassion and kindness, and He will not abandon us to the darkness and destruction. He provided us all that we need and gave us all ultimately, His true love manifested in Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our first reading today, as we heard from the Book of the prophet Samuel, God had chosen Saul to be the king over His people, after they all had demanded Samuel to give them a king to rule over them. Saul was called from a humble beginning, hailing from one of the smallest and often least important among the tribes of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin and also from among its smallest families and houses. Saul was also physically distinctive and imposing, although initially he did not know of what God planned for him.

Samuel then poured the oil over Saul’s head, anointing him as king over all Israel, handing over the leadership and guidance over the Israelites to his hand, as their king and new leader. Samuel told Saul what would be expected of him and he was to keep all the commandments of God and help to guide the people down the right path, and not into the path of sin. But very soon, Saul would disobey the Lord and followed the whims of his own thoughts and desires, which then resulted in the people being misled into sin, just as Samuel himself had warned the people earlier how having a king to rule over them was not necessarily a good thing.

Nonetheless, the Lord still listened to His people and patiently engaged with them despite their repeated transgressions. He did not give up on them and even after many occasions when they betrayed Him and abandoned Him, He still sent prophets and messengers to help and guide them down the right path. The famous prophets Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were among the many other prophets, mentioned or unmentioned, known or unknown, all showing the proof of God’s continued love for His people.

Today in our Gospel passage we heard of the Lord Who came to call a tax collector named Levi, the future St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist to follow Him. Levi quickly left everything behind and followed the Lord, and not only that, but he also introduced the Lord to the other tax collectors and they all invited Him to a dinner at Levi’s house. At that time, tax collectors were the ones who were among the most despised and hated among the people as they were seen as greedy, wicked and self-serving in their actions.

But as we can see from the Gospel passage, those same tax collectors eagerly welcomed the Lord into their midst, listening to Him and paying attention to Him. On the contrary, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, who often criticised the Lord and used the opportunity to further criticise Him for interacting and even visiting the house of a tax collector, often refused to listen to Him and continued to harass Him and His disciples, making it difficult for them to do their work.

The Lord still patiently dealt with them and He also reached out to those marginalised tax collectors, as He Himself mentioned that He came to heal the sinners who are in need of healing. In Him alone there is healing and forgiveness of sins, and therefore He made it all available for them and also for us. And we must remember that the Lord Himself also offered the same healing to those very same Pharisees and teachers of the Law who had often made His life and work difficult. That is just how loving God has been towards us.

Now that we know how beloved we have been by God, then we should embrace His love wholeheartedly and seek Him with a renewed heart and faith, full of zeal and commitment to walk in His path and serve Him at all times. Each and every one of us share in the mission that God has entrusted to us, to be the missionaries of our Christian faith and truth, spreading the Good News of Our Lord to all the ends of the whole world. Through our exemplary life, faith and actions more will come to believe in the Lord and be saved together with us.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He empower each and every one of us to live ever more worthily from now on in His presence. May God bless us all in our every actions and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 14 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to reflect on Our Lord’s love for us, that He, as our King, has always shown us care and love, His genuine affection and attention all these while, even when we often disobeyed Him and betrayed Him, abandoning Him for various worldly pursuits and desires. The Lord has always shown great patience towards us, and He has always made His intention clear, that He wants us to be reconciled with Him.

In our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Samuel, we heard about how the people of Israel demanded to have a king to reign over them just like that of all their other neighbours. At that time, in truth, although the Israelites had no king to rule over them, God sent Judges to be their guide and leader, to be the ones to help enforce the will of God and the Law and commandments that He had entrusted to His people. The Lord had given many Judges to the Israelites and Samuel was the last of all the Judges of Israel.

As we heard, the people demanded to have a King over themselves, to be ruled by kings as like that of their neighbours. At that time, they had no need for kings because simply God was truly their King, and they were God’s people, and God exercised His will and power through His Judges. Samuel was under great pressure by the people who wanted him to give them a king, and the Lord gave the people what they wanted. Of course Samuel also spoke of the Lord’s words to them, speaking of how the kings that the people had wanted would eventually come to oppress and make their lives difficult, especially when those kings became corrupt and no longer walked in the path of the Lord.

All those things did come to happen, beginning with King Saul himself, the first king of the Israelites who became wayward and no longer fully followed the Lord. His actions increasingly became led by fear and by his own personal ambitions and desires, and that resulted in the sufferings in some people, and also in the long run, some divisions and chaos that ensued before King David stabilised everything again under his rule. Future kings would lead to the division of the people of God and the eventual downfall of Israel by their disobedience and sins.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard about the Lord Jesus, Who was teaching the people in a building when a paralytic man was brought up to Him. And because there were so many people in that building, they were not able to come near to the Lord, and because of that, they carried the paralytic man atop the building and opened the roof just so that they could lower him before the Lord. Those people must have cared so much for the paralytic man, that they were willing to do all that for him, and they all must have had such faith in the Lord, that He could make him whole again and heal him.

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were there took offence when the Lord told the paralysed man that He has forgiven his sins, as they considered that God alone could forgive sins and the Lord was therefore acting blasphemously in doing so. They refused to see reason and truth even after they themselves had likely seen many signs and wonderful things that the Messiah and Holy One of God alone could have done, and how they, as the most intellectual and knowledgeable about the words of the prophets and the Lord could have failed to recognise the coming of the Lord’s Promised One.

The Lord has come to us Himself, to help us and lead us, guiding us all to the right path, to find the path to Him. Yet, just like in the past, at the time of the prophet Samuel, the people hardened their hearts and were led by their desires and ambitions. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were likely influenced by their hold on power and their respected position in the society which became a truly major barrier in their acceptance of the Lord and His truth, although some among them like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea did become the Lord’s disciples.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to be vigilant lest we may end up being misled and misguided by our own personal desires and the many temptations present all around us. We have to guard ourselves against the pressures and temptations to give in to the desires for worldly power and glory, and we can do that by focusing on the Lord and doing whatever we can to follow His path. Let us all commit ourselves to His path and open our hearts and minds to allow God to lead us down the right path.

May the Lord be with us all and may He strengthen us in our courage and faith, so that we may always endeavour and do our very best to follow Him and serve Him faithfully in each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 13 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to heed the words of the Lord in them, calling on us to listen to the Lord and to obey Him. We should follow the path that He has shown us and not be distracted by the temptations of following the whim of our worldly desires and the desire for glory and power of the world. We have to walk in the path of the Lord and be exemplary in how we live our lives as good Christians.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Samuel, we heard of the time when the people of Israel were fighting against the Philistines who were often invading their lands and oppressing them, and because the Philistinian forces were strong, the Israelites were at a disadvantage and sought to use the Lord as their leverage. They therefore brought the Ark of the Covenant, the Ark of God’s Presence with them into battle, led by the two sons of the Judge Eli, namely Hophni and Phinehas.

We have to understand the context of what happened at that time, as Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Judge Eli were wicked and corrupt, often taking from the sacrifices intended to God for themselves, in contravention of the Law and customs of the people of God. As such, they were wicked and evil in their deeds, and their participation at the battle marred the sanctity of the Ark of the Covenant. They were exploiting the Ark and hoping that the presence of God would help them to win the battle, and yet, the people did not truly have faith in the Lord.

As such, the people of Israel were defeated, those two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas were slain, and the Ark of the Covenant itself was taken by the Philistines in a most humiliating and crushing defeat for the Israelites. Their defeat was a consequence of their own disobedience and wickedness, as many of them, especially those two sons of Eli, had lived a wretched life and filled with sin. They refused to follow the Law and the commandments of God, following their own desires and their own worldly wishes instead of obeying God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord Jesus healed a man who had been suffering from leprosy. Leprosy was one of the most dreaded conditions at the time of Jesus and before that, as those who suffered from leprosy must exclude themselves from the community and forced to wander off away from the towns and villages, not allowed to return until they could prove that they were no longer suffering from leprosy. That man had no one else to turn to, and he asked the Lord to have mercy on him.

The Lord healed him and told the man not to tell anyone but to show himself to a priest as prescribed by the Law. Instead, the man told others what the Lord had done unto him, and that made the Lord’s works difficult, as He could no longer enter any town. The healed man might not have intended any ill will or harm to the Lord, but may simply have been too excited having been healed from his condition. However, his disobedience came at a great price to the Lord and many others who needed His help.

That is because just as the lepers were ostracised and forced to stay away from the community, no one were supposed to come in contact with them, or else all those who came in contact with the lepers would themselves be considered as being unclean as well. Thus, as the man told everyone how he was healed by the Lord, then although the man had appeared to be healed, but it also meant that the Lord Jesus had associated and come into contact with the leper, and therefore, many would have considered Him to be unclean as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is just yet another example of how disobedience could lead us to cause suffering either upon ourselves or on others. If we disobey God, then more likely than not we may end up falling deeper and deeper into the trap of sin. We have to trust in the Lord and obey His will, and not to go astray because of all the temptations around us. We have to be vigilant and focus ourselves on the Lord and His truth.

Today, we should follow the good examples set by St. Hilary of Poitiers, one of our holy predecessors. St. Hilary of Poitiers was the Bishop of Poitiers in southern France during the years of the late Roman Empire after the Christian faith had been accepted, tolerated and eventually adopted by many of the people throughout the Roman Empire. St. Hilary of Poitiers was well-known for his great dedication to the Lord and for his care for his flock despite the challenges he faced throughout his ministry.

At that time, the Church and the faithful communities were bitterly divided among the Arian faction, those who followed the heretical teachings of Arius, denying the equality and consubstantiality of Christ to the Father, and those who held on to the true teachings of the Church, the Nicene Creed and profession of faith. St. Hilary tried his best to bridge the divisions and bring all those who had been swayed by the false teachings back to the truth.

But this was not easily done, as he has to endure so many tough obstacles and even had to go through exile for several years away from his diocese, due to the actions and machinations of those who opposed him and the Church. Yet, St. Hilary never gave up and continued to do his works, even when he was away in exile. When he returned, he continued to work for the sake of God’s people to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all seek the Lord wholeheartedly and serve Him the way that St. Hilary of Poitiers had done, and obey Him and His will, walking in His path as we all should. Let us all not be swayed by the temptations of evil, and instead let us be exemplary in faith and in our way of life, now and always, so that we may be good source of inspiration to our fellow brothers and sisters. May God bless us all, in our every good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded of God’s call in our lives to be His followers and to serve Him in our lives, in our daily living and at every place we are in, as genuine Christians. In this world we are living in, in our communities, all of us are expected to follow in the examples of our holy predecessors, and that of the Lord Himself, in obeying the will of God and doing whatever we can to contribute to the greater glory of His Name.

In our first reading today we heard the continuation of the story of the prophet Samuel from the Book of Samuel, as the young Samuel had been offered to the Lord’s service by his grateful parents. Samuel was still very young back then and he was under the care and tutelage of Eli, the High Priest and Judge of the people of Israel. Eli was then the leader and the guide of the people of God, but as he was growing old, his two sons had been misusing their influence and authority, becoming corrupt and wicked.

Samuel was called by God to follow Him even from those early days, when he did not fully know about the Lord yet. Nonetheless, he listened and obeyed, and when Eli told him to respond to the Lord, he did just as he was told to do. God would guide him and protect him, and eventually he would grow on to become a great prophet and leader of the Israelites during the difficult years of the Philistine invasions and raids over all of Israel.

Samuel would come to be the one who anointed both King Saul and King David as king over the people of Israel, handing over the leadership of the people to them, while retaining his spiritual leadership and guidance over the people of God. He was a truly faithful servant of God, and a bastion of fidelity and truth, when King Saul began to veer off from the path of the Lord. Samuel remained truly faithful to God even amidst all the challenges he faced during his ministry.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard about the Lord Jesus and His works among the people of God. The Gospel passage detailed how the Lord healed the mother-in-law of Simon, later known as St. Peter the Apostle, and how that quickly became known among the people who began to bring their sick and those who were suffering from ailments for Him to heal. He performed many miracles and many people were healed by His hands. He worked with the help of the disciples throughout the night, but then slipped away and disappeared even though there were still many who were looking for Him.

The Lord told His disciples away from the crowd that He ought to go to many other places, and He still had a lot of other work to do. He would not stay in one place and revel in the glory and all the fame that He would have gained from staying there and letting all the people come to Him. It would have been much more convenient for Him to stay in one place, but in doing His Father’s work and will, the Lord Jesus did all as He has been sent to do, and not to do things for His convenience. After all, He came into this world not to be served but to serve.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to these words of the Scripture and heed its message, let us all reflect on our own lives. Are we all able to do the will of God and obey Him in our lives in the same way as the prophet Samuel, the other prophets, and the Lord Himself had done? As Christians, all of us are called to be the true and dedicated disciples of Our Lord, or else, we are no better than hypocrites who believe one thing and yet act in a different manner, or even act in ways contrary to our faith.

This time, as we progress through this Ordinary season of the year, in between Christmas and Lent, let us make good use of the time and opportunities that have been given to us, for us to embark on a journey of faith, to be faithful in all things, in our every words and actions. Let our exemplary actions be the source of inspiration for all of those whom we encounter in life, that through us, more may come to know the Lord and be inspired to follow in our footsteps, in believing in Him and His salvation. May God be with us all and may He bless us all in our every endeavours, always and evermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded of the Lord’s compassion and love for us, which He has shown us from time to time, again and again. He has provided for us in our time of need, listened to our prayers and pleas for help, and He gave us all ultimately, the gift of His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Saviour, through Whom we have been liberated from the tyranny of sin and death.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Samuel, we heard how the Lord helped Hannah, Samuel’s mother as she sought the Lord’s help after she had always been teased and bullied by her husband’s other wife, Peninnah in her barrenness and inability to bear a child for her beloved husband Elkanah. The Lord has heard Hannah’s prayers and answered her with the gift of a son. That son was to be the great prophet and the last Judge over the people of God before the days of the Kings.

That was how God showed His love and kindness to us, all of His beloved people. He is always listening to our prayers and He knows everything about us. But He will do things according to His will and all in His good time. He will do what is best for us, and He is always watching over us even when we ourselves have not always been faithful to Him, doubting Him and refusing to believe in Him wholeheartedly. And to us sinners, God has sent us His own beloved Son to save us from certain destruction.

That is what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, of the time when the Lord Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour, came to midst of the people of God, revealing the truth and love of God and teaching them all that God wanted to reveal to the people. And not only that, He also confronted a man possessed by evil spirits, and He cast out those evil spirits and demons from that man, showing the power and authority of God to free us from the bondage and tyranny of sin. In Him, we find the truth of God’s grace and salvation.

Through all that God had done for us, we have been truly so fortunate to have been beloved in such a way by our Lord and God. He has always loved us since the beginning and even as we have sinned against Him, we still have been given one chance after another, as He sent reminders, messengers, prophets and then lastly, even His own Son to help us to find our way back to Him, to be reconciled with Him so that we do not end up in everlasting death and destruction.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, have we appreciated all that the Lord had done for our sake all these while? God has shown us the path to follow Him and what we can do to be His good disciples and followers. But we have to make the conscious effort and the dedication to embark on that path which God had shown us. Are we willing to do that, brothers and sisters? Are we willing to do this, knowing all that God had done for our sake?

As we enter into this Ordinary Time, let us all not make our lives be truly ordinary or even mundane. This time of the Ordinary season is not meant for us to excuse ourselves from any actions befitting of being good and faithful followers of Christ. Instead, this is the time for us to do whatever we can to show our love for Him, to be exemplary in our actions and deeds, in the smallest of things so that all those who witness our actions and interact with us may come to know more of the Lord.

That is our calling as Christians, brothers and sisters, as those whom God had called and chosen from this world. And as Christians, let us all be courageous in sharing our faith to the others, and do whatever we can to glorify the Holy Name of God. May God be with us all, and may He empower us all to remain faithful to Him, always and at all times. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 10 January 2022 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to reflect on the Lord’s calling for each and every one of us in life, and we are also called to trust in Him, in the path that He has shown us. God has always called on us to follow Him, just as He had called His disciples, to walk in His path and to do His will. Ultimately, it is up to us whether we want to respond to His call or not.

In our first reading today, we heard of the passage from the first Book of the prophet Samuel, in which we heard how the prophet Samuel, one of the greatest prophets in the history of salvation, came to be conceived and born. Samuel was born of his mother Hannah, who had been barren for many years despite a most loving marriage to her husband Elkanah. In addition, Hannah herself was often bullied by Peninnah, Elkanah’s other wife, who despised and was jealous of Elkanah’s love for Hannah.

Thus, today we heard how Hannah was distressed at this bullying by Peninnah, who often teased and harried her for having no child when Peninnah herself had many children. Hannah was truly distressed, and later on, she would come to the House of God, praying before Him and begging Him to listen to her pleas, which the Lord did. And as Hannah also offered her firstborn son to the service of God, hence, when Samuel was conceived and born, he was offered to the Lord and became His servant.

Samuel has been called by God in his youth and he answered the Lord’s call with great faith and vigour. He would go on to dedicate his whole life to the Lord, guiding the Israelites as a great Judge, the last in the line of Judges sent by the Lord to the people of Israel. And as a prophet, he also spoke God’s words and proclaimed His will before the people, leading them and guiding them to the right path, to help them find their way through the darkness of the world.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard how the Lord called His first disciples, whom He called from the fishermen of the Lake of Galilee, namely the brothers St. Peter and St. Andrew, as well as St. James and St. John, the sons of Zebedee. In that occasion, the Lord told all of them to follow Him and be the fishers of men. They would be His instruments in reaching out to the people whom the Lord wanted to call to His presence.

In that calling, the Lord revealed His intentions and love for each and every one of us. As Christians, all of us are called to be the bearers of the Good News of God, which He has entrusted to us as the ones walking in the footsteps of the Apostles. The Lord has called us all to embrace His path and proclaim His truth at every opportunities that He has given us in our lives. We are also charged with the same mission that the Lord has entrusted to His Apostles, to do what He has called us to do, to be His witnesses to all the peoples of all the nations.

Today, we mark the beginning of the first half of the Ordinary Time. Yet, we must not misunderstand the meaning of this Ordinary Time, as it was by no means meant to be ordinary in any way. Instead, it is a time for us to do whatever we can in our daily lives and in our daily actions to be true and faithful witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and to be the ones to do His great and wonderful works. Through us and our exemplary lives, we can inspire so many more to come to believe in the Lord as well, and to follow Him and be saved, together with us.

Let us dedicate ourselves with a new heart and a new spirit, dedicating ourselves to serve the Lord. Let us all draw ever closer to Him and do our very best to bear witness to His truth and love, at each and every moments of our lives. May God bless us always, in our every good endeavours. Amen.

Sunday, 9 January 2022 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today on this Sunday we mark the occasion of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This marks the liturgical end for the season of Christmas as we begin the first part of the Ordinary Time tomorrow. Traditionally, the Christmas season of course still continues for an entire season length of forty days up to the second day of February, on which day we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord or Candlemas.

But today as we celebrate this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we remember that moment when the earlier, more obscure years of Our Lord’s life came to a conclusion, and He began His ministry openly after His baptism by St. John the Baptist at the River Jordan. The earlier years of His life, His infancy, childhood and earlier days that we remembered and celebrated in Christmas has now moved on to the reflection of the works and ministry of Our Lord that was begun on His baptism, which we are celebrating on this very day.

First of all, as we heard from our first reading today, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the words of the Lord’s salvation spoken through the prophet, the promise of His salvation and the coming of the One through Whom God would redeem all of His people. In that revelation through the prophet, the Lord mentioned how He would send a servant to come before Him and to prepare His way, as the voice that would cry out in the wilderness, calling on all the people to prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord.

This was the prophecy of the coming of St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah or the Saviour, as St. John the Baptist did exactly as the prophecy had foretold, as the one who cried out in the wilderness, spending his time living in those wilderness, calling on the people to repent from their sins and to prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord. The Lord has sent him to make ready the people to welcome the One and True Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

St. John the Baptist gathered a large following, as many people from throughout Judea and even beyond came to him in the River Jordan, and gave themselves to be baptised, to be immersed in the water of the Jordan. The site of this baptism was significant, as it was also the same site where the Israelites once came to the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, who succeeded Moses. It was a reminder of God’s love and providence for His people, and how He had guided them all throughout their journey and life.

The Lord opened the River Jordan and allowed the people of Israel to pass by the dry riverbed, just as He had once done at the Red Sea, when He rescued them from the Pharaoh and the Egyptians. And through the symbolic act of baptism at the River Jordan, the people whom St. John the Baptist had called and then responded to his call, committed themselves to a new life, away from the slavery of sin and stating their desire to seek the Lord and the promise of eternal life, much as their ancestors going away from their old slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan.

Then, we all know that today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, marking the moment when the Lord Jesus Himself, the very Saviour Whom St. John the Baptist was sent to this world to prepare for His coming, was baptised. We might find it confusing or perplexed on why the Lord need to be baptised, just as St. John the Baptist himself had felt exactly the same thing. In fact, he said to the Lord that he was the one needed baptising. But the Lord told him that everything was to be done as decreed.

Through baptism, Our Lord shared fully in our humanity, not because He needed that forgiveness for sin or because He needed any form of cleansing, as He is the One without any sin. Yet, through His baptism, He united all of us sinners to Himself, and sanctifying the waters of baptism, that from then on, through the New Covenant that He would make with us all, He would redeem us and cleanse us through the blessed waters, passing on from death and sin into a new life blessed by God.

At the Easter Vigil, during the time when all the catechumens are to be baptised by the holy water blessed that night, the Paschal or Easter Candle made from pure beeswax is immersed into the water three times, much like how baptism is done through the thrice immersion into the sacred waters. This represents that same moment when Our Lord was baptised, as the Paschal Candle represents the Body of Christ, united to His divinity as the One Saviour of the world, Son of God and Son of Man Who had willingly taken up His Cross to suffer for us and die for us, so that by His death we may all have a new life through Him.

Therefore, today this Sunday as we rejoice and celebrate Our Lord’s baptism at the River Jordan, let us all remember the moment of our baptism, whether it is as an adult through conversion, or if we had been baptised as infants and were too young to remember, let us all ask about that moment through our parents and godparents if we have no idea of what had happened back then. It is important for us to remember the moment of our baptism, as it was the moment marking our entry into the Church and in sharing the Lord’s promised salvation, becoming a member of the Church of God.

Through baptism, all of us have resolved to leave behind our past existence filled with sin and evil, and embark on a new journey of faith, in a new life blessed by God. No longer should we allow ourselves to be dictated by the whims of our human desires and worldly temptations all around us. That is why it is so important that we remember our baptism that we remember our commitment and also everything that we need to do as Christians, as those whom God had called and chosen to be His own.

And now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this season of the Ordinary Time, our lives are by no means supposed to be ordinary, as how many of us will often misunderstand the meaning of the ‘Ordinary’ in the Ordinary Time. The meaning of ordinary there is truly not just being ordinary, usual or mundane, but rather is a reminder for us of the actions we must all do, in giving our lives over to the service of God. Just as the Lord began His ministry after His baptism, thus we are also called to embark on this journey of faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore do our best to commit ourselves to the Lord from now, especially if we have not done so. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to bless us and empower us to to live our lives with good Christian outlook, and do whatever we can to glorify God’s Holy Name and serve Him wholeheartedly. May God bless us in our every good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 8 January 2022 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to be good and committed Christians who do our part to care for one another, in reminding each other to live good and virtuous Christian lives at all times, distancing ourselves from sin. All of us are called to be part of the missionary outreach and works of the Church, for the salvation of many more souls, for us to be great role models for our fellow brethren at all times and in every opportunities.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. John, we heard the Apostle exhorting the faithful people of God to follow the Lord and His path, to be faithful to Jesus Christ, the One Whom God has sent into our midst, God’s own beloved Son incarnate in the flesh, and born of His mother, the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary. The Lord has shown us the path of freedom from the bondage of sin and the tyranny of death. By His suffering and death, He has purchased for us the redemption for all of our multitudes of sins.

In that same passage, we heard how sin can lead to death, for sin is caused by our disobedience against God and our refusal to obey His will. And since we have rejected the Lord of life, Our Master, then it is only right and just that we have to suffer the consequences of our sins, that is death. But death is not the final fate for us unless we have consciously rejected the Lord right to the very last moments of our lives, refusing all the opportunities and the generosity by which God had given us the chances time and again to repent and turn away from our sinful ways.

When St. John mentioned that not all sins lead to death, this highlighted the fact that Christ Our Lord has freely given His love and merciful compassion to us. He has reached our even to those who have condemned Him to death and made Him to suffer, praying for them all and forgiving them their sins and their faults. He has given even the worst of sinners the chance to find redemption and the path to eternal life through His compassionate love. He came into our world, to our midst to look for us all, to find those who have been lost to God due to sin.

Yet, it was our stubbornness that had led us astray and prevented us from finding our way back to Him. Our continued attachments and desire for worldly temptations and sins eventually led us back into a wicked life and a state of sin, from which God kept on calling us and trying to bring us out, to allow us to return to Him. He has prepared the path and the place for us with Him, but everything in the end depends on us and whether we are willing to accept His love and compassionate mercy. Too often that we have rejected His love and mercy, brothers and sisters in Christ.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard how St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah worked hard for the glory of God, and when the Lord came and revealed Himself, and gained more and more followers, he humbly receded from the public popularity and allowed his Lord and Master to become more important than he was. When some of his disciples confronted him regarding this, he humbly mentioned how it has been his purpose from the very beginning to serve his Lord and Master, the One for Whom he had been sent into this world, to prepare His way before His coming.

In that way, St. John the Baptist was very happy that the Lord was gaining more follower and attention, and he was happy that everything went as it should be. He did not do all his works, the baptisms and others for his own sake and glory, unlike what many other people would have done. He did everything all for the greater glory of God, and gave his whole life to serve the Lord and to follow Him, and show the path to His salvation to all who followed him and were willing to listen to him. He is truly an example that all of us can and should follow.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the great examples of faith and dedication showed by St. John the Baptist, let us all strive to walk humbly from now on before the Lord, dedicating ourselves to follow Him and to be faithful to Him in all things. Let us all appreciate all the love and compassionate kindness, the mercy and forgiveness that God has shown us all these while. Let us embrace God’s love through Christ, His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, and strive to become ever better Christians, ever better disciples of Our Lord from now on. May God be with us all, and may He remain with us in His love for us, always. Amen.