Sunday, 20 March 2016 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Holy Week (Passion Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 22 : 14 – Luke 23 : 56 (Palm Sunday Year C)

When the hour came, Jesus took His place at the table and the Apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I was eager to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”

Then they passed Him a cup, and when He had given thanks, He said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves; for I tell you that, from now on, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.” Jesus also took bread, and after giving thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My Body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

And after the supper, He did the same with the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant, sealed in My Blood, which is poured out for you. Yet the hand of the traitor is with Me on the table. Know that the Son of Man is going the way marked out for Him. But alas for that one who betrays Him!”

They began to ask one another which of them could do such a thing. They also began to argue among themselves which of them should be considered the most important. And Jesus said, “The kings of the pagan nations rule over them as lords, and the most hard-hearted rulers claim the title, ‘Gracious Lord.'”

“But not so with you; let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is the greatest, he who sits at the table or he who serves? He who is seated, isn’t it? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

“You are the ones who have been with Me, and stood by Me, through My troubles; because of this, just as the kingship has been given to Me by My Father, so I give it to you. You will eat and drink at My table at My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones and govern the twelve tribes of Israel.”

“Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you like grain, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have recovered, you shall strengthen your brothers.” Then Peter said, “Lord, with You I am ready to go even to prison and death.” But Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day before you have denied three times that you know Me.”

Jesus also said to them, “When I sent you without purse or bag or sandals, were you short of anything?” They answered, “No.” And Jesus said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and a bag as well. And if anyone is without a sword, let hm sell his cloak to buy one. For Scripture says : ‘He was numbered among criminals.’ These words have to be fulfilled in Me, and now everything written about Me is taking place.”

Then they said, “See, Lord, here are two swords!” But He answered, “That is enough.”

After this, Jesus left to go as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him. When He came to the place, He told them, “Pray that you may not be put to the test.” Then He went a little further, about a stone’s throw, and kneeling down He prayed, “Father, if it is You will, remove this cup from Me; however, not My will but Yours be done.” And an angel from heaven appeared to give Him strength.

As He was in agony, He prayed even more earnestly, and great drops of blood formed like sweat and fell to the ground. When He rose from prayer, He went to His disciples, but found them worn out with grief, and asleep. And He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Get up and pray, so that you may not be put to the test.”

Jesus was still speaking when a group appeared, and the man named Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss Him, and Jesus said to him, “Judas, with a kiss do you betray the Son of Man?”

Those with Jesus, seeing what would happen, said to Him, “Master, shall we use the sword?” And one of them struck the HIgh Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus stopped him, “No more of this!” He touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus spoke to those coming against Him, the chief priests, officers of the Temple and elders; and He said to them, “Did you really set out against a robber? Do you need swords and clubs to arrest Me? Day after day I was among you, teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest Me. But this is the hour of the power of darkness; this is your hour.”

Then they seized Him and took Him away, bringing Him to the High Priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance. A fire was kindled in the middle of the courtyard, where people were gathered, and Peter sat among them. A maidservant noticed him. Looking at him intently in the light if the fire, she exclaimed, “This man also was with Him!” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

A little later, someone who saw Him said, “You are also one of them!” Peter replied, “My friend, I am not!” After about an hour another asserted, “Surely this man was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”

Again Peter denied, “My friend, I don’t know what you are talking about.” He had not finished saying this, when a cock crowed. The Lord turned around and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the word that the Lord had spoken, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter went outside, weeping bitterly.

And the guards, who had arrested Jesus, mocked and beat Him. They blindfolded Him, struck Him, and then asked, “Who hit You? Tell us, prophet!” And they hurled many other insulting words at him.

At daybreak, the council of the elders of the people, among whom were the chief priests and the scribes, assembled again. Then they had Jesus brought before them, and they began questioning Him, “Tell us, are You the Christ?” Jesus replied, “You will not believe, if I tell you, and neither will you answer, if I ask you. Yet from now on, the Son of Man will have His seat at the right hand of the MIghty God.”

In chorus they asked, “So you are the Son of God?” And Jesus said to them, “You are right, I am.” Then they said, “What need have we of witnesses? We have heard it from His own lips.

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claming to be Christ the King.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up with His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him now; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while, the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence, I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

On the Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner. Therefore, shouting as one man, they protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder.

Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “To the cross with Him! To the cross!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes.

When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the fields, and laid the cross on him, to carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!'”

“And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the king of the Jews? Free Yourself!”

Above Jesus there was a inscription in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your Kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts.

But those who knew Jesus remained there, at a distance, especially the women, who had followed Him from Galilee; they witnessed all this.

Then intervened a member of the Jewish supreme council, a good and righteous man named Joseph, from the Judean town of Arimathea. He had not agreed with the decision and action of his fellow members, and he lived uprightly in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God. Joseph went to Pilate, and asked for Jesus’ body. He then took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a yet unused tomb, cut out of a rock.

It was Preparation Day, and the star which marks the beginning of the Sabbath was shining. So the women, who had come with Jesus from Galilee, followed Joseph to see the tomb, and how His body was laid. And returning home, they prepared perfumes and ointments. And on the Sabbath day, they rested, as the Law required.

 

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 23 : 1-49

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claming to be Christ the King.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up with His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him now; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while, the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence, I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

On the Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner. Therefore, shouting as one man, they protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder.

Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “To the cross with Him! To the cross!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes.

When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the fields, and laid the cross on him, to carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!'”

“And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the king of the Jews? Free Yourself!”

Above Jesus there was a inscription in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your Kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts.

But those who knew Jesus remained there, at a distance, especially the women, who had followed Him from Galilee; they witnessed all this.

Monday, 19 January 2015 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today in the Gospel and the readings, we heard about the nature of the incompatibility of the beliefs and practices of the people of God, Israel, between the ancient practice of animal offerings and harvest offerings to God at the Temple, the shedding of the blood of lambs and the offering of fats, which priests offered daily for various purposes, namely thanksgiving, giving praise, and most importantly, sin offering, for the remission of the people’s sins.

The priests offered the offerings of goat and birds’ blood for his own sins and for the sins of the people, but this is only a temporary measure to remit one’s sins, and thus the offering had to be made again and again, for the simple fact that no amount of animal offering, even the best fats of the lamb can account for the vastness and the depth of mankind’s sins and wickedness.

And all of the practices of the people of Israel, as the elders described them and included them in the customs, such as the ritual washing and purification, as well as the observation of fasting and penitence, are all external application of the people’s desire to be made pure and clean from the defilements of the world as they come to celebrate and worship the Lord.

But all those had been turned obsolete by the action of a single Man, who single-handedly carried all of the sins of mankind past, present and future, every single man from Adam the first man to the last man, that He might absolve them by His action as a priest, and indeed not just as any priests, but as the one sole High Priest of all creation, of all mankind, that is our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, our Lord Jesus Christ is our High Priest, just as the Letter to the Hebrews had highlighted in our first reading today. He is the High Priest who offered the perfect offering and sacrifice, the only one that is worthy to absolve and erase our sins, once and for all, for all eternity. And that sacrifice is none other than the very sacrifice that He had made on Calvary, the place of the skulls, where He laid down His life for us on the cross.

He offered not the blood of lambs, goats or doves, but His own Blood, the Most Precious Blood of the Lord, which is perfect beyond any others and the only one that is worthy enough to pay the entire debts of our sins, once and for all. He therefore offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sake. His suffering, the wounds He sustained and endured, and the nails that pierced His holy hands and feet are the manifestation of His love for us, that He was willing to endure all that so that we can be saved.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all these shows why the old ways and customs which the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law stubbornly clinged to, are no longer valid and necessary. The sacrifice of Jesus had made it unnecessary to offer regularly the animal sacrifices and the oblations which they persistently insist, along with the various laws and observations they imposed on the people of God.

The way of the Pharisees were filled with human laws and human interpretations of the Law, which is often flawed, and indeed, in its execution, they lost the true focus of why they observe the laws of God, that is to serve God and to follow His will. They end up serving human purposes and even misuse them to glorify themselves and bringing human praise to themselves.

That is what Jesus meant by His parable of the cloth and the wineskins. One cannot patch old and new cloth together, as they are incompatible. When you wash the two together, they will shrink differently and thus will tear apart from each other. And old wineskin cannot be filled with new wine, and vice versa for the same reason. Things that are incompatible will not be able to match, and they will bring about difficulties and conflict, just as the Law of Christ are incompatible with the laws of men advocated by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Then some of us may ask, why then, our priests and the Church continue to celebrate the Holy Mass daily and regularly? The Holy Mass is a sacrifice, the Sacrifice which our Lord Jesus had made on the cross. Does this mean then that Jesus is crucified again and again? Does this mean that we ignore the fact that Christ died once and for all, for us?

No, brothers and sisters in Christ, for the Holy Mass is the same sacrifice that Christ had offered at Calvary, and not a new sacrifice. The priests represent Christ Himself, as Alter Christus, who offered the same offering on the cross at Calvary. The Holy Mass is united in meaning and purpose, in substance and reality to the same sacrifice made that day when Christ laid down His life for us.

And that is why we also believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, for the bread and wine which the priest by the power of God invested in him as the Christ personified, are truly transformed in material and spirit, into the Real Body and Real Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, even though in appearance, they remain as bread and wine. This is our faith and this is what we believe in, for our salvation.

Remember that Jesus told His disciples and the people that those who eat of His Body and drink of His Blood will live forever and not die. And thus this is what will happen to all of us who believe and worthily accept Him into ourselves. If we choose to believe in Him and follow Him, we can be assured that we will be well taken care of. Thus, we need to support our priests, who are working hard, and who daily celebrate the Mass for our sake, that through the Mass which is the same Sacrifice of Jesus our Lord, we may receive eternal life through His sacrifice.

May Almighty God be with us all, bless us all and guide us in our life. Let us no longer be stubborn in our sinfulness, but remain faithful to the Lord and be grateful ever for the love He had shown us all. God bless us. Amen.

Thursday, 9 May 2013 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today is Ascension day, a very important day in our faith, because today we celebrate a central tenet of our faith. That is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is resurrected on the third day after dying on the cross for the salvation of all  mankind, but that today, most importantly, we celebrate the glorification of God, in which Christ, who had descended to this world as a humble man, returns to His glory in heaven as the divine God.

For Christ, our Messiah and our Lord, is both fully man and fully divine at the same time, with both of His human and divine nature united indivisibly in a mysterious and holy link that is beyond our best understanding. In Christ, who had been made incarnate to be a lowly human like us through His birth in Mary, His mother, lies our salvation, and our only hope.

Because, Christ, who is the Lamb of God, gave up Himself to be the sacrifice for the sake of our sins, just as God instructed the people of Israel to sacrifice unblemished lambs to erase their sins and their unworthiness before God. Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God is not merely unblemished, but also perfect, and as the only perfect and worthy sacrifice to take away all the sins of the world, once and for all, through the sacrifice He made on Calvary.

We celebrate this every time we celebrate the Mass, in which the bread and the wine that we offer are truly turned into the Precious Body and the Precious Blood of the Lamb, which He Himself had offered to His disciples at His last supper, so that He will continue to live in them, and therefore remain within us, that He will be within us, and therefore belong to Him and the Father. We have all been mark as His own, and we will not be lost, as long as we keep Him ever in our hearts, and invoke Him in all our actions.

He may be no longer with us in physical form, because He was indeed taken up to heaven with His glorious Ascension, when He parted ways from His disciples and left physically this world, but He actually remains with us, within all of us, that we are empowered with His presence. He granted us the Holy Spirit, the Helper, which came to the Apostles at Pentecost, and from them, the Holy Spirit is passed down to us, with the Sacrament of Baptism and strengthened at Confirmation, the fire of the spirit is burning with us, the living symbol of Christ’s presence within each one of us.

This Spirit that we have within each of us will stay dormant if we do not do anything to make use of the gifts that the Spirit had granted within each of us. Yes, all of us have the power and ability to make the difference, in our own lives, and in the lives of many of those who are around us. The Spirit has planted within us the seeds of faith and love, and these seeds will not sprout unless we provide them with ever greater faith and love, that can only be provided through solid and true actions made in the name of the Lord, and reflecting that we truly are God’s children.

If we allow the Holy Spirit to grow within us and use our beings to bring about love and peace in both ourselves and those around us, it will allow us to grow and bear much fruit, fruits of love and blessings, the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Christ who was taken up on Ascension will come again as He promised all of us, in His Second Coming, which is coming soon. When He comes again, He will see if we, the plants that He, the seed spreader, had grown to the results that He wants.

If we do not bear any fruit, like that of the barren tree, He would destroy us and curse us, because we have not bear any fruit, despite having been planted with seeds of faith. Just like those who had been given money by the master to be invested, but wasted the money in idleness, and did not invest it to let the value of the money to grow for profits. In this, the love that God had given us had become useless, because love cannot just remain within ourselves, because love is between us and another party, and remember that the Lord Himself had commanded us to love both Himself, and our fellow brethren.

The Lord Himself has told us that to love the least and weakest of our brethren, we have loved Him. That is why to just love the Lord alone, is in fact not sufficient, because this love that we have is not perfect, and can only be made perfect by us also loving our fellow brethren, particularly those who lacks, and those who are weakest and persecuted. Therefore, only in living our faith, and using the gifts that the Holy Spirit has placed in us that we can truly bear fruit and be found worthy when Christ once again comes into this world to judge it.

He will welcome and congratulate us, if we had done what we can to fulfill His wishes and His commandments. He will say to us, “Well done, My faithful servants. Come and take your rightful place at My Kingdom.” But if we do not make use of the chance we have now, and waste it on idleness, or worse, that is to spurn God’s love and Spirit, and indulge instead in the worldly temptations and pleasures and the world of hatred, we would be banished by the Lord from His presence, because we will be found unworthy of Him.

The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ therefore, serves also as a reminder. Indeed, we rejoice in His glorification and ascension in heaven, to take up His rightful place at the right hand of the Father, but as the angels had said to the disciples on that day, that Christ will come again and that time when He comes again, He will judge the world and gather His faithful ones to Himself while banishing those who strayed from His way, together with Satan and his fallen angels, into the eternal damnation that awaits them.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us not be complacent, and let us strive to be always ready for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, which indeed will come soon, and will come at a time when many are at their most unprepared moments. Do not be caught unprepared, and let us make sure that all of us, from now on, put Christ at the very centre of our lives, and reflect Christ in all our thoughts, our words, and our actions, that we show that we belong to Christ and to Him alone.

Love one another and love God with all our hearts, our minds, and our beings. Put our trust completely in Him, and let Him transform us with His Holy Spirit, and bear much fruit in us, the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Remember that Christ ascended to heaven, is always within all of us, with all of us serving as the Holy Temples of His Divine Presence. May God be with all of us, always, till the end of time. Amen.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013 : 6th Week of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we belong to God, and we are His alone. Why is this so? Because we are created by Him, He who is our Creator, who created all the universe and gave life to all things that have life, including all of us, to whom He gave the greatest love of all. For in Christ’s words Himself, He said that there is no greater love than for one to give up his life for the sake of his friends. And that exactly what God has done.

Out of His infinite love, God came down to this world and walked among us as lowly humans like us. He gave Himself fully for our sake, and He did not even shirk from giving us His own flesh and blood in the ultimate gift of love, not only so that we may not die from the death that we deserved for the evils that we had done, but also that we may have nourishment and strength in life, that we can become truly the children of God.

By His blood that flowed down the cross on Calvary, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Lamb of God had marked all of us as His own, and the Father recognises all of us the faithful ones in Christ because of that. This blood is no different from the young lambs sacrificed during that first Passover in Egypt, when the people of Israel was being delivered from their torturer and their slave masters. God showed His might and brought His people out of Egypt by punishing hard on those who persecuted His beloved people.

But different from that earthly blood of the lamb, which was splattered on the doorposts of the believers, that the angels of death would not kill the firstborn children of the people of Israel, the perfect and precious Blood of the Lamb of God not only marked the people of God, and differentiating them from those who placed their trust in the evil one, but the Blood also cleanses and purifies our beings from sins and faults, making us righteous and perfect once again, and worthy of God our Father who is good and perfect.

By this Blood had the martyrs and the holy people of God washed their clothes white again, that is with the Blood of the Lamb, just as St. John the Evangelist had seen in heaven in his Book of Revelation. We too, who had been persecuted for our faith in Christ in this world, those among us who had been ridiculed and ostracised by our steadfast belief in the truths of the Lord, had been marked by this precious Blood, which we also receive through the Eucharist in the Mass.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, remain steadfast and unflinching in our faith and dedication to our Saviour and our God. Do not let the devil, his lies and temptations disturb us or cause us to go astray from our path towards righteousness in the Lord. We had been marked by God through baptism, when we are washed from our impurities, sins, and unworthiness, and like His saints, we had receive a new gown of purity, washed by the Blood of the Lamb, as a sign of our salvation, that the angels of death seeking the destruction of the sinful ones will ‘pass over’ us.

This is our Christian Passover, that is Easter, when we celebrate Christ resurrected and triumphant over death and evil. May all of us be granted courage, faith, and strength at all times in our lives. God bless all of us. Amen.

Saturday, 4 May 2013 : 5th Week of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we who believe in Christ, and put our trust in His words, and place ourselves in His great love, do not belong to this world, which is owned by the evil one, with the sole intention of steering all of us away from the true path, that is the way of Christ. This they have done together by tempting the faithful ones in Christ, God’s sheep with the false promise of earthly pleasures and false joy and happiness.

Do not fear though, my brethren in faith, for Christ, our Lord Himself had also suffered such temptations and yet He won, because of His obedience to God His Father, and His unshakeable faith. We too ought to have that kind of faith and love for God, that we can deny the evil one, a passage into our hearts. Do not let the devil dwell inside us, but rather, let us put God at the centre of our very being, making our own body into a Holy Temple of His Presence.

God has made all of us His own, and gave Himself freely for our sake, giving His own flesh and blood that we can live eternally with Him in eternal joy and bliss. Not the temporary and false joy and happiness that this world can offer, but the lasting happiness of heaven. True happiness, and true joy, that the world cannot give, for there is only true joy when we are together and united with Christ our Lord and God, never again to be separated from Him.

The world hates the Lord, because it belongs to the devil, and therefore it will hate all of us too, who keep the faith in God strong. But if we remain faithful to the Lord, the devil and this world will have no power over us. We must keep our faith in God strong, and how to do this? By constant and healthy prayer life, to anchor ourselves in God, by being in constant direct line to God, we can keep ourselves from the power of evil. We also should receive the Lord regularly in deep devotion during the Mass, by attending Mass frequently, and devoutly receiving the Lord in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist, that is our Lord’s Precious Body and Blood will transform us into a Holy Temple of His divine Presence, as He enters our own unworthy bodies, and from the inside, He would transform us and made us worthy of Him, but only if our minds, our hearts, and our soul are open to Him and willing to accept Him.

Let us put our trust in God, who is our divine Master and Lord, who had triumphed over death, and who had won for us the fight against evil, and banish evil forever into the ultimate fate that awaits him, that is the lake of fire. Let us not fear evil and the world anymore, but continue to put our trust in God and love both Him and our fellow men. Keep our guard up, that the evil one will not ‘steal’ us from under God’s watch, but we need not fear if we stay in our faith in Him. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 3 May 2013 : 5th Week of Easter, Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles (Scripture Reflection)

Christ did not die, but He lives. He did not die a death that lasts, since He was risen by God the Father from the land of the dead, as the firstborn from the dead, the first One to rise from death and conquer death itself, to prove that death does not have the final say, and neither Satan, the evil one, has final say over us, and all creation.

For Christ, through His death and then His resurrection, made all creations new, and He rejuvenated all of creation, by the shedding of His Most Precious Body and Blood, which He offered as a perfect and unblemished sacrifice that day on the cross on Calvary. The Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed for us, and has been found worthy, that we too, can be found worthy by God, our Father.

We are the sons and daughters of God, our Father, and therefore we should also be like our Father, who is good and perfect. Yet, sadly, we had been tainted by the evils of sin, by the disobedience of Adam our forefather, and Eve, his wife, being seduced by Satan, the deceiver. But God did not want  us to suffer death and eternal separation from Himself, and He wants us to be once again worthy of Him who is good and perfect.

Christ became the new Adam who renewed mankind’s contract with God, by providing them with a new life through the Spirit, but this time, He completed and made perfect that union between God and mankind, sealed through His own blood, as He is fully man and fully divine, indivisible and one. Christ came so that we can have hope once again, of life in the Spirit. God breathed life into mankind by His Spirit, that is His breath, but mankind squandered that life and made it imperfect by their disobedience.

The Blood of the Lamb that is sacrificed on the cross justifies all those who believe in the One sent by God, that is Christ, once again, and made them whole, just like the days before the fall of mankind. He then was resurrected from the dead and became the living proof and truth of all that He Himself had brought and taught to all those who had listened to Him and His preaching,

Today, we commemorate the feast day of the two apostles of Christ, in both St. Philip and St. James, both of whom became His witnesses to the entire world. They preached the Good News of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, which are indeed Good News, for they brought the long-awaited redemption to all mankind who believes in God and in Christ, His Son.

St. Philip and St. James worked hard to spread the Good News of the Lord to the many peoples of their time, and they converted many to the cause of Christ. Philip once told and explained the Word of God to the emissary of the ruler of Ethiopia, and converted him through the word of God and baptism. They did many other good things, just as Christ Himself had said, that those who belong to God, will do just like what the Lord Himself had done, that is what Christ had done in His short life and ministry in this world.

St. James, who was also called James the Just, became the first leader of the Christians in Jerusalem, becoming its first bishop and was one of the most important leaders of early Christendom with Peter, the leader of all the apostles and disciples.

Both of them endured rejection, persecution, and intense suffering for their service of the Lord, and they ultimately faced death with courage, in their ministry and in their defense of their faith in God. They had done well in this earth, and were rewarded with eternal life with Christ that is their due. Brothers and sisters in Christ, can we follow in their footsteps? The footsteps of the apostles and many other holy men and women who had walked the same path in following the example of Christ in doing God’s commandments and what is good in His eyes?

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us strive to be more like these holy apostles, and follow in their footsteps, to be always courageous in proclaiming the Word of God and the Good News, to our fellow men, and to explain them to our brethren in faith, who are wavering in their faith in God. For in our world today, there is still a great need, if not greater than ever, for evangelisation, to bring light to many in our world, darkened by sin.

May God bless us and strengthen our faith and love, and may His holy apostles and saints pray for us and watch over us. Pray for us, St. Philip and St. James, apostles, that we may be more like you and can dedicate ourselves to Christ our Lord, ever more. Amen.

Friday, 19 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter, Eighth Anniversary of the Election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 (Scripture Reflection)

We heard today, the story of the conversion of Saul, the hater and the destroyer of the Church, who would later become Paul, the great saint and apostle, the Apostle to the Gentiles, who brought the Good News of our Lord to the pagan nations. Such a change indeed, from the ultimate enemy of the Church and those who believed in Christ, into the greatest of the champions of the Lord.

This indeed shows the power of God’s providence, and the mysterious ways through which He made His will known to us and manifest in this world. We do not choose ourselves to be worthy of Him and therefore salvation, but He chose us out of many in this world, to be among those who had been called and chosen to be the servants of our God.

Those whom He had chosen, He gave the grace of faith and also the gift of love, in order to spread this faith and love among those who have yet heard the Good News of our Lord, and those who have yet embraced Christ as their Messiah, their Saviour. Paul was one of this, whom the Lord had chosen, from those who had persecuted the Church and the people faithful in Him, no less.

This in fact only showed the greatness of our God, the depth of His mercy and love, and the nature of His redemptive works in our world, even today. He shows us that no one is beyond His mercy, and no one who had sinned and done bad things is unworthy of His love, if only they would repent and change their hearts and minds, turning back towards He who loves us.

Paul did sinful things in the eyes of the Lord by persecuting His faithful ones, but yet, he repented, and was turned into the greatest tool of early evangelisation of the faith, in which we will often hear in this Easter season, of Saint Paul’s numerous contributions to the early Church, in his four travels across the Mediterranean world.

Jesus today, in the Gospel reading, also offered us His love and redemption, through none other than His own Precious Body and Blood, which He offered freely out of His great and infinite love for all of us, that all of us who would share in His Precious being would not die an eternal death and be lost to Him forever, but be reunited with Him and the Father, and be raised in glory on the last day, just as He Himself had been risen from the dead on the Easter day.

That is why, dear brothers and sisters, today, we are called to be the light to the nations, the light to the world, just as Paul himself had been called on that day on the way to Damascus. In our own lives, we may not experience the kind of conversion that Paul has had, but in our own ways, and in God’s own mysterious works, we would be transformed into just like Paul, if we would turn our heart truly and entirely towards the Lord.

We are called to be the bringer of the Good News to the nations, just as Paul once had been the apostle to the Gentiles and the pagan nations. First, let us anchor ourselves in Christ that our faith would be strong, and we would have that capacity to spread God’s good message of truth. Let God and the Holy Spirit transform us, by frequently and devoutly receiving the Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist in the Mass. Attend the Mass frequently, and devoutly offer our prayers and worship to the Lord in the Mass.

Do not be distracted by worldly desires and temptations, for the devil would want to derail us from our path towards God, and he desires nothing than the fall of mankind, and therefore he would do all he can to prevent us from being the apostle Paul was. Once our faith is firm, keep a good and strong prayer life, and in prayer, spread the Good News to others, both through our words, and also our actions.

For in our words, others will be able to listen to the Good News of the Lord, and therefore would believe. If they would not believe in what we say, then at least through our actions, we could show them what God’s love and Good News is truly about. Remember that the Lord said, that whoever loves Him will do His will and will do the works that He had done.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today renew our commitment to evangelisation, and to conversion, both of ourselves and that of those who had yet to receive the grace of faith in God. Let us strive to spread God’s message to all, beginning in our own daily lives, and within our own families and friends.

Let us also pray for our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was elected as our Pope and leader 8 years ago on this day, on 19 April 2005. Let us pray for him that he will be able to continue serving the Church through his prayers and his dedication to our Lord. A praying Pope is indeed a powerful enemy of Satan and his angels. May God then bless us all, and bless our Holy Church, and all those who had given themselves in the service of the Lord. Amen.